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US DOT cancels $929 million in grants for California’s aborted high-speed rail project

US DOT cancels $929 million in grants for California’s aborted high-speed rail project

Sacramento’s plans for the money may just have been derailed by the Trump Train.

California’s top officials spear-headed a lawsuit to end the implementation of President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration.

Now, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) has cancelled millions in grants for the high speed rail project that has been substantially scaled back by California Governor Gavin Newsom.

The fate of California’s troubled high speed rail project was cast into further doubt Tuesday when the U.S. Department of Transportation said it will cancel $929 million in grant funds, a move that some viewed as political payback.

The action marks an escalation in the battle between President Trump and the state of California since Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that the project lacked a path to complete a statewide system and vowed to scale back the $77 billion mega project.

The transportation department also said it was “actively exploring every legal option” to get back another $2.5 billion grant that is being used to finance the construction of 119 miles of rail line in the Central Valley.

The two federal grants represent about one-fourth of all the funding for the project — money critical to completing even a partial 119-mile segment in the Central Valley and finishing environmental reviews for other segments from San Francisco to the Los Angeles. If the funds are lost or tied up in a long legal battle, the state would have to either make up the money or further curtail the project.

In the announcement, the DOT’s Federal Railroad Administration said that the California High Speed Rail Authority project has missed “timely and satisfactory financial reports,” as well as several important deadlines tied to the $928 million appropriation.

The letter addressed that CHSRA has no chance of finishing the first phase of the project by the 2022 deadline.

The Federal Railroad Administration said it “has regularly communicated its concerns on the above issues to CHSRA,” and noted that “California Governor Newsom presented a new proposal that represents a significant retreat from the state’s initial vision and commitment.”

The FRA said because the CHSRA “failed to take appropriate corrective actions,” the FRA plans to “de-obligate the full $928,620,000 obligated under the agreement.”

California’s politicos are angered by the move.

“This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won’t sit idly by,” Newsom said in a statement. “This is California’s money, and we are going to fight for it.”

However, Sacramento’s plans for the money may just have been derailed by the Trump Train.


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Sounds like California just ran out of other people’s money.

    This is a great second step, following the limitations for SALTaxes. California resident here: Trump’s actions are a breath of fresh air.

amatuerwrangler | February 22, 2019 at 11:22 am

Governor Newsom is an a$$. Of course its payback. And Newsom would be incensed if President Trump went on a twitter rampage over the lawsuit claiming that the suit was political retribution for his winning the election in 2016.

Isaac Newton addressed stuff like this hundreds of years ago: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It applies to things other than physics, too.

The Moonbeam rail project was doomed from the very start, and everyone knows it; its a bone thrown to the construction unions for supporting the Dem party.

    Newsom is an idiot, but in fairness- he did inherit the mess. I think the working theory on him cancelling was that he wasn’t going to be able to shake down the pay to play people.

    Speaking of pay to play… I wonder if Amazon refused to pay off AOC.

      No, Newsom simply understands that his own socialist/one-world/green projects need a source of funding and CA’s budget is very precarious by being woefully dependent on “the rich” paying most of the taxes. Newsom is a much worse socialist than Brown ever dreamed of being.

      Milwaukee in reply to Andy. | February 22, 2019 at 3:19 pm

      “Newsom is an idiot, but in fairness- he did inherit the mess.”

      Andy: He was the Lieutenant Governor just before this, right? So he should have had some idea of what was going on with this mess. Further, he didn’t “inherit” the mess, he campaigned hard for the job. He worked really hard to jump with both feet in that pile of methane generating cow plop. His problem is how to keep the scam going to enrich the right friends.

JusticeDelivered | February 22, 2019 at 11:37 am

California is a great place to find funds for the wall. With declining finances, California will need to press their homeless into service cleaning up each others crap.

Federal funds for transportation projects can and should come with strings, milestones, and consequences if the politicians do not move the project along. One of the nice things about having a builder in the Presidency is that he can recognize the signs of fecklessness.

Very early in DJT’s run for the Presidency, the story about the Wolfman skating rink in Central Park of New York City resurfaced.

According to Forbes in 2015:

“Once upon a time there was an ice skating rink in Central Park that could no longer make ice. No one could figure out how to fix the skating rink. Years went by and millions of dollars were spent and still no ice. One day a white knight wearing a bright red tie showed up and said: ‘ Let there be ice!’ Four months later there was ice. When asked by the press why the people had been unable to fix the rink themselves the knight said ‘they’re very nice people and I like them very much but they’re all idiots!’ And everyone lived happily ever after.”

That train could probably still be built, but to get it done, the Governor of California and his cronies would have to do something they have as yet been unable to do: listen to, and co-operate with, a nominal Republican who has agreed with most of their policies over the last 30 years.

Something that any contract with Federal Funds comes with is strings attached. It is just screaming for a GAO Audit. Maybe all this noise is to prevent that.

Odd the way just about all of California’s left wing leadership comes from Northern California

    amatuerwrangler in reply to maxmillion. | February 22, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    If you use the Monterey-Salinas-Fresno dividing line, you are correct. Most of those we love to hate come from either the LA area or the SF Bay Area, the latter being north of that line.

    If you go 5 miles north of SF and/or 100 miles east, you find a CA that few outside the state can imagine. Lots of agriculture and open spaces; big trees and all kinds of wild animals –4-legged ones. We also have fences and gates and pre-established fields of fire, just in case. We don’t vote for those you speak of.

      maxmillion in reply to amatuerwrangler. | February 22, 2019 at 1:53 pm

      Pat Brown, Jerry Brown, Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, Gavin Newsome, Kamala Harris, Barbara Boxer, Willie Brown, to name the main players, are/were all from the SF Bay area, and it’s clear the core of the Democrat leadership in the state comes from there and it has for a long time. Which is odd, because Southern California is much, much larger population-wise.

If any twosome Newsom really wanted an efficient method for transporting people from SFO to LAX he should have Boeing make a 520 mile long 737 fuselage with conveyor belts going in both directions. Project would be done by the end of the year for 10% of the cost. S/O.

    MajorWood in reply to judgeroybean. | February 22, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    Baltimore built a subway extension from Downtown to Hopkins. We quickly determined that a fleet of taxis running 24/7 to do the 2 mile trip would have been cheaper, faster, and more reliable.

buckeyeminuteman | February 22, 2019 at 12:41 pm

It’s definitely not California’s money. It’s America’s money. All money squandered in this train to nowhere should be paid back to the Treasury.

It’s not viable. Still, it’s just a train, a collection of diverse plates, wheels, and cushions. Perhaps it can be Planned/cannibalized for another application. The Choice is hers… his… theirs.

    amatuerwrangler in reply to n.n. | February 22, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    n.n– that part of the operation does not exist. They don’t have an actual train. They are still building some bridges and such that are intended to support track that might have an actual locomotive and cars on them some day. And…. they do not even have the real estate under their control that would be the right-of-way for the actual railroad. And they admit they have no way yet to get trains south of Bakersfield into the LA basin, or at the other end to get them westward and through the San Jose area and then north to SF proper.

    Railroads are for freight; airplanes move people.

    MajorWood in reply to n.n. | February 24, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    The train costs nothing. The cost is the land and the track/station infrastructure. Rather than light rail, build 2 lanes of asphalt for dedicated bus use at 1/10th the cost. I doubt many roads cost $100M/mile as does light rail. Because of transfers to secondary vehicles, the average trip using light rail now takes longer than the old express buses.

With that money, he can build the wall and make the most northern state of Mexico pay for it. Promise fulfilled.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to james h. | February 22, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    OK, I know I keep repeating this, over 70 billion dollars a year is being sent by Hispanics in America to their families south of the border. Use fees or taxes to capture at least 20% of that. Make the people who created this problem pay for it ! ! !

4th armored div | February 22, 2019 at 4:16 pm

the late great Howard Hughes
would have built the spruce train

Start the project, securing a bunch of grants.
Cancel the project, planning to redirect the grants.

Complain when the grants for the project get cancelled along with the project.

Am I missing anything?

Just attended San Jose’s Community Working Group meeting for the HSR. I can guarantee the High Speed Rail Authority is going full speed ahead, no slowing down at all. The funding was discussed last night and the upshot was that this is a federal grant and it is highly unusual for fed grants to go back. The Rail Authority is planning as if there will be no drop in funding. Gov. Brown’s SOTS remarks were also addressed and clarified – the governor still completely supports high speed rail for the state.

Some people on the committee questioned the disparity between what they had been reading in the press and online and what we were hearing last night and we were assured again and again, that there is nothing wrong with the Titanic, oops! I mean the High Speed

These projects never die.They are just put in stasis and revived periodically. Portland had the Mt Hood highway as rte 26 through Portland, but it was postponed so they could build light rail that services less than 1% of the commuter traffic. One can look at Powell Blvd on google maps and see the remnants still of access and service roads to the proposed highway. About 10 years ago an acquaintance was hired to do environmental work around Johnson Creek Blvd, which he saw as prep work for a revitalized Mt Hood Highway, which coincidentally would connect to a new huge parking project and light rail track recently built into downtown (a place where people used to work) at Tacoma Blvd. So, at 60 yrs old, the highway project is still alive in both mind and practice.

We have also recently had two major roads that were 2 travel lanes each way and a center turn lane turned into really wide single lane roads with parking on both sides. If one looks at a map it becomes very obvious that someone is doing the groundwork to convert these two roads into part of a huge trolley loop. And and inner part of this area is now being rebuilt as a series of large apartment blocks (post-modern Stalinist architecture revival) with “no” parking, so that in 10 years the people will be begging for a train to take them somewhere. They key is that they do it in baby steps. they weren’t satisfied with bike lanes, and are now just making car-free greenways by taking away entire streets.