On Tuesday far left California Governor Gavin Newsom cancelled the Golden State’s massive high-speed rail project from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
The boondoggle is more than a decade behind schedule and billions in the red.
On Wednesday President Trump called on California to return the $3.5 billion to the government for the “green disaster.”
President Trump: California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars
They owe the Federal Government three and a half billion dollars. We want that money back now. Whole project is a “green” disaster!
President Trump and California Gov. Gavin Newsom got into a Twitter battle Wednesday night over the curtailment of the state’s massive high-speed rail project from Los Angeles to San Francisco that was more than a decade behind schedule and billions in the red.
In a tweet, Trump wrote: “California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars. They owe the Federal Government three and a half billion dollars. We want that money back now. Whole project is a ‘green’ disaster!”
Newsom, a Democrat — who previously said there had been too little oversight and not enough transparency about constructing the high-speed train in the nation’s most populous state — shot back 40 minutes later.
The governor wrote: “Fake news. We’re building high-speed rail, connecting the Central Valley and beyond. This is CA’s money, allocated by Congress for this project. We’re not giving it back. The train is leaving the station — better get on board! (Also, desperately searching for some wall $$??)”
Newsom, delivering his first State of the State address Tuesday, said he’d shift his focus to completing just a 171-mile segment of the line already under construction in the state’s Central Valley. The project is key to the economic vitality of the state’s agricultural heartland, he said.
A high-speed rail line linking Los Angeles to San Francisco was the goal when voters approved a ballot measure in 2008. The roughly 520-mile line initially was estimated to cost $33 billion and was pegged for completion in 2020. Officials eventually hoped to connect the line to San Diego and Sacramento.
Subsequent estimates more than doubled the cost to $77 billion and pushed the timeline to 2033.
Newsom said the state risked having to return $3.5 billion in federal money if building stopped on the Central Valley leg or it didn’t complete environmental reviews. Rail leaders have long said they did not have enough state money to complete the line. Private investment has been tied to getting more government investment.
Newsom used the speech, as well, to take issue with Trump. He blasted the president’s views on immigration — Newsom called the border emergency “a manufactured crisis.”
Fox News’ Barnini Chakraborty and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Tuesday he is pulling the plug on the state’s massive high-speed rail project from Los Angeles to San Francisco that was more than a decade behind schedule and billions in the red.
“Let’s be real,” Newsom said in his first State of the State address. “The current project, as planned, would cost too much and respectfully take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.”
Newsom added that while California has “the capacity to complete a high-speed rail link between Merced and Bakersfield,” “there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A.”
The embattled $77-billion bullet train has been an embarrassment for the Golden State and has been plagued by problems almost from the start.
The idea, long championed by Newsom’s predecessor, Jerry Brown, is years behind schedule with the latest estimate for completion set for 2033.
Bullet train planners had been under increasing pressure to make progress on the system that many believe had no plausible way of living up to its goal of getting riders across the state in three hours or less.
California voters approved the pricey proposal in 2008. Backers – including several Democratic lawmakers – heralded it as an inventive concept that would connect Californians and transform transit policies down the road.
But critics claimed the bullet train project was a waste of time and money.
“This so-called bullet train is a solution in search of a problem that is plagued by billions of dollars in cost overruns and fiscal mismanagement,” San Diego Councilman Mark Kersey told Fox News in 2018, adding that the billions wasted on the project “could have been invested in our current infrastructure needs, such as water storage, flood control, highways and bridges.”
Some supporters over the years argued the project should continue because millions of dollars had already been spent.
Others said it was time to cut and run.
In late November, a state audit highlighted the flaws in the project, which began the pressure on then Gov.-elect Newsom to consider cutting back the construction of the train or make other major changes.
According to the audit, the state risked having to pay back as much as $3.5 billion in federal funds.
“This audit is so damning that it basically says there is no path to completion and has now triggered a federal audit,” Assemblyman Jim Patterson, a Republican from Fresno who pushed for the audit, said.