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Trump Administration Derails California’s High Speed Rail Project

Trump Administration Derails California’s High Speed Rail Project

Trump administration officially terminates $929-million Obama-era grant for California bullet train.

Earlier this year, we reported that the US Department of Transportation (DOT) cancelled millions in grants for the high speed rail project that California Governor Gavin Newsom has substantially scaled back.

Newsom has tried fighting this move, arguing that California needed these funds to complete a more limited-scale project than the Los Angeles to San Francisco route originally planned. However, the Trump administration did not buy the argument, so it has officially ended the Obama-era agreement.

The Trump administration transformed its threats against the California bullet train project into a sour reality Thursday, terminating a $929-million grant for construction in the Central Valley.

While loss of the money poses a potentially devastating hit to the project, state officials said, no immediate construction changes are planned because the federal government’s action could be reversed in future legal action.

Termination of the 2010 grant was based on the state’s multiple failures to forecast accurate schedules, report key milestones and show that it can meet deadlines to complete work by 2022, the Federal Railroad Administration said in a 25-page letter announcing its decision.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority “is chronically behind in project construction activities and has not been able to correct or mitigate its deficiencies,” said Ronald Batory, chief of the federal agency.

It gets even better. The administration has also planned to go after funds already towards this fiasco.

“California has abandoned its original vision of a high-speed passenger rail service connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles, which was essential to its applications for FRA grant funding,” the agency said in a statement.

What’s more, it added, construction delays mean the state hasn’t complied with conditions for federal funding “and has failed to make reasonable progress on the project.”

The Trump administration said it “continues to consider all options” for clawing back the $2.5 billion in federal funding that California has already received for the project, something state officials said would be against the law.

Newsom is less than thrilled with the move.

“The Trump administration’s action is illegal and a direct assault on California, our green infrastructure, and the thousands of Central Valley workers who are building this project,” Newsom said in a statement Thursday.

The governor added, “Just as we have seen from the Trump administration’s attacks on our clean air standards, our immigrant communities and in countless other areas, the Trump administration is trying to exact political retribution on our state.

California Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove asked for the funds to go towards water infrastructure. Given the condition of the state’s dams and the struggles of our Central Valley farmers to irrigate their fields, those projects would benefit more from taxpayer dollars.

This is the kind of green new deal I can support! However, safe dams and productive farms don’t have the same virtue signaling power as high speed rail.



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(In)actions have consequences. It’s time public employees are held to the same standards as those working in the private sector.

    artichoke in reply to RNJD. | May 17, 2019 at 11:55 am

    But that’s not fair! You know government jobs aren’t supposed to be really hard! That nobody is supposed to be fired for inadequate performance!

The project was already derailed by California state government corruption, incompetence and graft. Trump just saved the rest of us from pouring more of our good money after bad.

Don’t fret oh dear people of Cali, it’s going to be redirected to a high speed wall project on your southern border.

Gov. Nuisance just needs the money to prop up union support and other payoffs. If he really was concerned with the Central Valley he would be using phrases from Victor Davis Hanson. But…he isn’t and that is all that needs to be said.

In the early 80’s the catch phrase was “live the dream”. Now it is “survive the nightmare.”

With the way fresh water was drained directly to the Pacific, bypassing irrigation needs, allegedly to preserve the delta smelt or something (I remember these lame excuses all the way back to the snail darter) they deserve not a nickel for water infrastructure. None of that is our problem any more.

It was dead by the time they changed the first stage from the hardest, tunneling thru the San Gabriel Mountains, to the easiest, building across a couple hundred miles of flat farmland. And they’re even having trouble getting that done.

Good for Trump. I don’t want to have spent a bunch of money there already, then be on the hook for a truly heroic project thru the SG mountains, another difficult leg into SFO, just to justify the money already spent. Stop the bleeding now.

Wow. For a minute there I read ‘Trump administration officially re-purposes $929-million Obama-era grant for Border Wall.

JusticeDelivered | May 17, 2019 at 12:18 pm

California wants to be an illegal haven, then what other funds can be held back?

Has anyone checked the original ballet initiative that started this disaster with $12 billion? It had some conditions including financing. Now that it’s become the train to no where with few passengers I doubt that they have real financing which would violate the requirements of the initiative. That would hopefully require canceling and paying off the $12 billion in bonds. The California government deserves this mess.

Government grants are routinely siphoned for other government purposes and/or used to benefit political supporters. The California High Speed Rail project was no exception. And, it is not that unusual for the feds to ask for their grant money back, if the entity receiving the grant uses it for purposes other than those for which it was granted or the entity failed complete the project so funded. The town, in which I live, had that problem some 20 years ago. They received a federal grant to upgrade the water and sewer system in a specific part of town, which they had expressly labelled as a “slum” to qualify for the grant. They subsequently spent the money to build a new city hall and upgrade infrastructure and landscaping to the downtown area and residential areas outside of the “slum”. The feds wanted their money back. The avoid that, and charges of fraud, the city took matching funds from its general fund to make the improvements to the area specified in the grant.

The action by the feds is not unusual.

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to Mac45. | May 17, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    There shouldn’t be federal grants in the first place. Infrastructure should be state, county, or municipal projects. I see no reason for a taxpayer in Bucksnort TN (yes, it exists) to be funding the Big Dig, or for a Bostonian to be funding a sewerage treatment plant in Bucksnort.

      True. But, the thinking is that federal infrastructure spending is returning some federal tax dollars to a given state, county, municipality or community to assist state and local governments with needed public works projects. It can also be argued that transportation projects actually benefit people far outside of the area where these projects occur.

      This does not, however, eliminate the waste and other mismanagement inherent in these projects.

        Paul in reply to Mac45. | May 17, 2019 at 3:00 pm

        You’re both right. And the solution to the problem is to stop sending all that money to the feds where it gets skimmed and doled back out to curry political favor.

        Keep the money at home where it belongs.

        Starve the swamp and it will drain itself.

I’m not close enough to KNOW the full details of the consequences, but bear in mind, you can’t just STOP a project like this w/out ramifications. This will cost California big time.

Would that all progressive (e.g. open-ended) contracts be assessed and terminated for cause.

“Trump Administration Derails California’s High Speed Rail Project”

Did a Leftie right this headline? Trump didn’t derail anything. California derailed it by continuing to vote into office pinheads who have no idea what they’re doing.

Richard C. Blum (Mr. Dianne Feinstein) hardest hit. This will cost him billions.

Blue & yellow is one fugly paint combo.

It’s California. Keep it traditional—chrome and pinstriping.

The Oroville dam seems to be having problems again – they’ve had two years. Mother Nature is not known to be patient.

As to the rail, they should either figure out how to build the stupid thing they originally agreed to or give the money back.

johnny dollar | May 17, 2019 at 3:38 pm

The “bullet train” was a colossal lie from the beginning. Initially, it was represented as extending from San Diego to Sacramento, with legs into Los Angeles and San Francisco. The “estimates” (the proper word is “lies”) of the duration of travel between any two of these points were complete fantasies, as were projections of ridership, and ticket cost. The biggest lie of all was the cost of construction. Anyone with a brain knew that this proposal was a pack of lies.
Unfortunately, there were not enough voters with brains to recognize this farcical pipe dream for what it was, and the voters passed the measure against all logic. Which, of course, clearly demonstrates the prime reason that California, in the long term, is doomed. The voters are uninformed and not interested in becoming informed.
The legislature’s reasons for supporting this fiscal black hole are probably grounded in abnormal psychology or, most likely, mere corruption.
If this travesty of transportation was ever completed, even the truncated version now being discussed, it would require massive subsidies every year.
It will never even break even.

    artichoke in reply to johnny dollar. | May 18, 2019 at 12:36 am

    These days it would be impossible to accomplish building I-5 if it didn’t already exist. Or Hoover Dam, or the Empire State Building. We can’t do those things any more.

notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | May 17, 2019 at 3:47 pm

How oh how will Millionaire Sandy OC ever get to Hawaii now?

amatuerwrangler | May 17, 2019 at 4:06 pm

Let’s clear up a couple things:
1. The vote to do this fiasco was NOT unanimous. Some of us saw through the BS used to sell the project;
2. “High speed” it is not; too many intermediate stops between SF and LA;
3. They have never had anything close to a viable plan to get over the hill from Bakersfield to the LA basin.
4. The whole boondoggle is a pay-back to the construction unions for supporting Jerry Brown’s (Grandpa Simpson) gubernatorial campaign.

And, yes, the Oroville Dam is back in the news. Anyone interested should Google for the independent assessment report that came from the original spillway failure. there appears to be some problems with the original dam construction, c.1966.

But our highways still have potholes….