FRA pulls funds from California high speed project


Trump's comments about a "failed" project followed Newsom's comments last week that the current plan for an LA-San Francisco train would cost too much and take too long.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) responded by accusing President Donald Trump of "political retribution" after California was joined by 15 states in a lawsuit on Monday challenging the president's declaration of a national emergency at the U.S. -Mexico border. Mr Newsom is fighting the president over emergency funding for the border wall, so the Trump administration is going after the state's rail funding.

(Ralph Vartabedian and Matthew Ormseth, Los Angeles Times) The fate of California's high-speed rail project was cast into further doubt Tuesday when the U.S. Department of Transportation announced plans to cancel $929 million in grant funds, a move that some viewed as political payback.

Just weeks after suing Huntington Beach for allegedly failing to comply with state housing laws, Gov. Gavin Newsom met with more than a dozen city and county officials in Long Beach on Tuesday, warning that local concerns would not override his plans to address the state's housing affordability crisis.

The administration's move comes amid escalating tensions between it and Democratic leaders of the most populous USA state.

"This is California's money, and we are going to fight for it", said Newsom with regards to the railroad funds.

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The Trump administration has sent a notice to California High-Speed Rail Authority announcing the termination of a $929 million federal grant intended for the project, effective March 5. Now, after cost overruns and cutbacks in the scope of the ambitious project, the president wants the federal money back.

This railway system would have ultimately allowed trains to travel at speeds of up to 220 miles per hour (354 km/h), connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco.

But Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson, who represents Fresno, lashed out at the state's High Speed Rail Authority, calling it a rogue agency that has mismanaged the project and has torn up Fresno during construction without apparently having the money to finish. The initial goal was to complete the $77.3 billion 520-mile (826.8 km) project by the year 2033.

Newsom said he planned to refocus the high-speed rail project to link Merced and Bakersfield, a Central California route that by vehicle can take up to three hours.

"Unfortunately, President Trump is playing politics with California's jobs, infrastructure, and economy", he said in an emailed statement. That work is a requirement for keeping the federal money. The Trump administration argues that California hasn't provided required matching dollars and can't complete work by a 2022 deadline. This is CA's money, allocated by Congress for this project.

Under the grant agreement between California and the federal government, signed in 2010, there are several scenarios in which the federal government could take the money back.