The Trump administration said on Thursday, it was formally canceling $929 million in previously awarded funding for California’s high-speed rail program after rejecting an appeal by the state.
The U.S. railway regulator, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), said on Thursday it had canceled the funding awarded in a 2010 agreement after it said the state had “repeatedly failed to comply” and “failed to make reasonable progress on the project.”
“Additionally, 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.”
“It is now clear that California has no foreseeable plans, nor the capability, to pursue that statewide High-Speed Rail System as originally proposed,” wrote Ronald Batory, the federal railroad administrator, adding that the state “is chronically behind in project construction activities and has not been able to correct or mitigate its deficiencies.”
In a statement, the FRA said it was still considering “all options” on seeking the return of $2.5 billion in federal funds the state has already received.
Governor Newsom called the action “illegal and a direct assault on California, our green infrastructure, and the thousands of Central Valley workers who are building this project.”
He added “the Trump Administration is trying to exact political retribution on our state,” and vowed to go to court to protect “California’s money, appropriated by Congress.”
The traffic-choked state had planned to build a 520-mile (837-km) system in the first phase that would allow trains to travel at up to 220 miles per hour (354 kph) from Los Angeles to San Francisco and begin full operations by 2033.
Newsom said in February the state would instead complete a 119-mile high-speed link between Merced and Bakersfield in the state’s Central Valley.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who overseas FRA, in February said California’s drastically scaled back rail project “is a classic example of bait and switch… We have a right to ask for that $2.5 billion back as well.”
The state said in March that ending funding “would cause massive disruption, dislocation, and waste, damaging the region and endangering the future of high-speed rail in California.”
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