SACRAMENTO (AP) – California sued Tuesday to block the Trump administration from canceling nearly $1 billion for the state’s high-speed rail project, escalating the state’s feud with the federal government.
The Federal Railroad Administration announced last week it would not give California the money awarded by Congress nearly a decade ago, arguing that the state has not made enough progress on the project.
The state must complete construction on a segment of track in the Central Valley agricultural heartland by 2022 to keep the money, and the administration has argued the state cannot meet that deadline.
But Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom says the move is retribution for California’s criticism of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
“The decision was precipitated by President Trump’s overt hostility to California, its challenge to his border wall initiatives, and what he called the “green disaster” high-speed rail project,” the state said in the lawsuit.
California has worked for more than a decade on the project to bring high-speed rail service between Los Angeles and San Francisco, but the project has been plagued by delays and cost overruns. It’s now projected to cost around $77 billion and be finished by 2033.
The $929 million the Trump administration plans to cancel is a key funding for a Central Valley track segment expected to cost about $12 billion.
California was not expected to tap that funding until 2021. If the lawsuit is not resolved before then, the election could put Democrats in the White House and Congress who may be friendlier to the project.
The state has already spent $2.5 billion in federal funding, and the Trump administration is exploring whether it can try to get that money back.
The lawsuit also asks the court to block the administration from awarding the money to any other project.
The suit was filed in the Northern District of California.
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press.