Trump strips California of $930 million in high-speed rail funding

By Michael Bastasch

The Trump administration will terminate its agreement with California to fund the state’s struggling high-speed rail project, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) said Thursday.

In a letter to state officials, Administrator Ronald Batory said FRA would deobligate the $928.6 million set aside for the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) under a 2010 agreement. The agency will also continue to examine recouping the $2.5 billion in stimulus funds already spent on the rail program, according to a copy of Batory’s letter obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

State of California High-Speed Rail Authority

California High-Speed Rail project is under construction but indefinitely postponed due to cost overruns.

“FRA finds that CHSRA has repeatedly failed to comply with the terms of the FY10 Agreement and has failed to make reasonable progress on the Project,” FRA said in an emailed statement.

“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,” the agency said.

The decision to withdraw federal rail funding is likely to heighten tensions between the Trump administration and California.

Dubbed the “train to nowhere,” Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in February he shelved plans to complete the entire high-speed rail line that voters approved in 2008. The project was meant to connect major urban areas from San Diego to San Francisco by high-speed rail.

Instead, California intends to finish an 119-mile corridor in the Central Valley — at a cost of roughly $89 million per mile.

California’s once-celebrated dream of high-speed rail became bogged down by cost overruns, delays and mismanagement. State officials reported in 2018 that finishing the entire rail line could cost $77 billion.

Despite the high cost, Newsom, a Democrat, said he wanted to complete a section of the rail line to help the Central Valley’s economy and avoid having to send $3.5 billion in federal funds back to the Trump administration.

“I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to [President] Donald Trump,” Newsom said in February.

However, Trump quickly took to Twitter to demand California repay the federal government over the abandoned rail project. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) warned it was keeping a close eye on California’s high-speed rail plans, including whether or not the state would need to pay back $3.5 billion in federal funds.

Now, DOT officials have determined California violated the terms of its cooperative agreement with the federal government. That determination cost California nearly $930 million in funds, Batory wrote in his letter.

“Finally, the dramatically reduced scope of California’s current plan for its HSR System is simply not consistent with the Project as CHSRA proposed in its applications for Federal financial assistance on the Project,” Batory wrote.

“For these reasons, and those set forth in this decision, FRA has determined to terminate the FYlO Agreement, effective today, and will deobligate the associated funds,” wrote Batory.

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Image courtesy of State of California High-Speed Rail Authority

5 thoughts on “Trump strips California of $930 million in high-speed rail funding

  1. Way to go Donald. The project was a fiasco from day one and years later, over budget and far behind schdule, the chickens havee come home to roost. We the tax payers want our money back. Never should have been committed the funds in the first place.

  2. Make sure to get back the entire $3.5 billion.
    California should not be allowed to keep it as play money for other I’ll conceived idiocies.
    That money belongs to the American people.

    The RE nuttiness in the electrical sector has caused California electric rates, all sectors, to increase 24% from 2010 to 2017, during which the rates of the rest of the US increased only 5.5%.

    California is off the charts irrational.
    Several million have left the state, but they were offset by mostly illiterate, unskilled, sickly illegals.

    I visited California 50 years ago, when it was still worth visiting

    • :”Make sure to get back the entire $3.5 billion.”

      or just make them pay for a new border wall That would really rip pelosi amd thre rest of
      leftist dim bulbs.

      I was there also in the 60’s , camp Pendleton not so good and Laguna beach really good…
      I would have lived there then no way today.

      • DBean,
        No handing of any money to California.
        It would just disappear in squabbling and no wall would be buil.

  3. Good, just another progressive boondoggle, according to the DemocRATs newly announced
    queen of green AOC, we only have twelve years before the world explodes.

    If California wants a train why don’t Holywood and it’s Elite fund it, they waste money every
    day and it’s theirs……not taxpayers

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