California won’t be building a high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles after all, as Governor Gavin Newsom (D) announced on Tuesday that the project would “cost too much and, respectfully, take too long.”
“We face hard decisions that are coming due,” said Newsom. “The choices we make will shape our future, and the future of quite literally millions, for decades to come.”
Newsom told a joint session of the Legislature that, for the high-speed rail, “there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A. I wish there were.” –SF Chronicle
The project – the type of transportation centerpiece included in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s so-called “Green New Deal,” was slated to cost California taxpayers approximately $77 billion, with a completion date of 2033.
Newsom says that instead of a statewide system, he wants the high-speed rail line to go from Merced to Bakersfield along California’s Central Valley, which he says could bring an economic transformation to the state’s agricultural region.
Totally abandoning the project would require the state to return $3.5 billion of federal dollars.
In 2008, California voters approved a $10 billion bond for a bullet train between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The state finally broke ground in 2015 on a 119-mile segment between Madera and Bakersfield – however it quickly began to blow through deadlines and budgets.
Newsom said he would appoint a new chair of the High-Speed Rail Authority, his economic development director Lenny Mendonca, and bring more transparency to the project by posting spending online. He also vowed to push for more federal and private funding to eventually complete the entire line.
“But let’s get something done once and for all,” he said.
Newsom, who had previously toyed with the idea, also committed to a preference for one delta tunnel, rather than the twin tunnels that former Gov. Jerry Brown wanted to build.
Last October, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison panned the $77 billion project.
“Trains leave when you don’t want to leave, from a place you don’t want to leave from, and take you to a place you don’t want to go to, at a time you don’t want to get there, and then you have to get into a car and go wherever you’re going. It is a crazy system,” said Ellison during an interview with Fox‘s Maria Bartiromo.