SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California’s High-Speed Rail system is facing new setbacks Tuesday after the federal government announced it’s pulling funding.
Voters approved a bond to build the bullet train in 2008 and construction broke ground in 2015. California was depending on federal funding to finish this project, but now that money may be gone.
This letter was sent to California from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) says it intends to cancel more than $900 million in federal funding for California’s High-Speed Rail project. Additionally, the FRA said they are pursuing legal action to have the state pay back the $2.5 billion dollars already paid to the project.
In a tweet, President Trump says the state has “wasted billions of dollars on their out of control fast train, with no hope of completion.”
But is it an effort to cut wasteful spending or retribution from the Trump administration? It depends on who you ask.
Transportation advocate Roger Dickinson says the high-speed rail is an important project to meet California’s future transportation needs.
“We can’t expect our airports and our road system alone to handle the amount of traffic that we need,” Dickinson said.
California Assemblyman Jim Patterson says the project is poorly managed, behind schedule, and billions over budget.
“That is a legitimate oversight responsibility of the federal government when it is doling out federal money,” Patterson said.
The announcement to pull funding comes just one week after Governor Gavin Newsom announced the bullet train plan was being scaled back, with the first phase running only through the Central Valley instead of linking Los Angeles to the Bay Area.
Bullet train supporters fear the project may have a tough time proceeding if California has to give the money back.
Governor Newsom issued a statement Tuesday saying in part, “This is California’s money, and we are going to fight for it.”