Gov. Plans to Downsize High-Speed Rail, Water Projects

Pauline Gross
February 14, 2019

Instead, the state should focus on a 160-mile route that will connect Merced to Bakersfield in the Central Valley.

One tweet connected Newsom to Simpsons' character Lyle Lanley, who, in an episode of the iconic TV show, tricked Springfield residents to spend millions building a monorail in the city only to pocket the money himself and flee. The project's estimated cost is now more than $77 billion, more than double the initial estimate, and has been delayed time and again. "I'm not interested in sending $3.5B in federal funding-exclusively allocated for HSR-back to the White House". The current project, as planned, would cost too much and, respectfully, take too long.

With the utterly predictable demise of California's high-speed rail project, however, the Golden State may prove the unlikely place where would-be planetary redeemers were brought back to earth.

The embattled $77-billion bullet train has been an embarrassment for the Golden State and has been plagued by problems nearly from the start.

The California project's envisioned 800-mile network, with trains speeding as fast as 220 miles per hour, made it one of the largest, and most costly, public works developments in recent USA history.

California Governor Gavin Newsom used his first State of the State address Tuesday to drop twin bombshells: He wants to dramatically downsize the $77 billion high-speed rail project and his predecessor's dream of a enormous pair of tunnels delivering water under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

"Right now, there simply isn't a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego", Newsom said, "let alone from San Francisco to L.A".

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The governor also said he will name his economic development director, Lenny Mendonca, to chair the High-Speed Rail Authority, and vowed new transparency and to hold contractors and consultants accountable to explain how tax dollars are spent. He said his administration would seek to align economic and workforce development strategies in that region - anchored by high-speed rail - and pair them with tools like opportunity zones, to form the backbone of a reinvigorated Central Valley economy.

Construction on the rail line began in 2015 in Fresno under Phase One, and since then crews have been working on 119-mile (191-kilometer) stretch in the Central Valley. And I know this, in the bottom of my heart: "The best is yet to come".

The governor also said he will continue to push for federal and private funding for the entire rail line.

"Last week, we heard (Trump) stand up at the State of the Union and offer a vision of an America fundamentally at odds with California values", he said. He says he won't preside over "neglect and denial", and says cities must provide their fair share of affordable housing.

"The project can still be achieved", Newsom told reporters after the speech.

He rebuked President Donald Trump once again on border security, highlighting his decision to withdraw most of the state's National Guard troops from the Southern border.

"Taking care of each other, showing courage when it matters most - this is what we do in California", the governor said after recognizing Pierce in the Assembly gallery.

Other reports by GizPress

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