California's liberal Democratic governor nixes high-speed rail line due to cost

Nellie Chapman
February 13, 2019

Gavin Newsom walks up up the center aisle of the Assembly chambers to deliver his first of the State of the State Tuesday in Sacramento, Calif.

"This is our answer to the White House: No more division, no more xenophobia and no more nativism", Newsom said in a wide-ranging speech.

FILE PHOTO: California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom speaks after being elected governor of the state during an election night party in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November 6, 2018.

But the only time the governor mentioned Trump's name was to praise him.

"This is a bipartisan issue - at least it should be - and I hope he follows through, and takes the lead of California in the process", he said.

Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that he would be ending the state's plan to build a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Voters approved a ballot measure in 2008 calling for the linking of Northern and Southern California, a rail project initially estimated to cost $33 billion and be completed in 2020. The project's price tag at one point hit $99 billion. He acknowledged critics would ding this move as a "train to nowhere, but I think that's wrong and I think that's offensive".

Responding to the announcement, California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Brian Kelly said 'the Governor has called for setting a priority on getting high speed rail operating in the only region in which we have commenced construction: the Central Valley.

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Newsom is just a few weeks into the job, but the progressive is emerging as a key voice among Democrats pushing back against Trump's agenda. Newsom did not, however, cancel a portion of this rail line that will stretch from Bakersfield to Merced and is already under construction.

But other Republicans scorned the governor for trying to have it both ways. The state finally broke ground in 2015 on a 119-mile segment between Madera and Bakersfield, but the project has lost popularity and become a growing political target as it blows through deadlines and budgets. Jeff Stone, R-La Quinta.

Gallagher's Northern California district includes the town of Paradise, destroyed by a wildfire late a year ago that killed 85 people. However, the section in the Central Valley will still go ahead.

High-speed rails have been in the news lately after freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, proposed building a rail network extensive enough to eliminate air travel.

And in a tweet, the governor's chief of staff, Ann O'Leary, said Newsom "fully committed to high speed rail as part of All in California economic transformation, and clean energy future".

[Jerry] Brown, and Gov. [Arnold] Schwarzenegger's vision. "Our collective effort must be to cross the finish line on real agreements to save the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta".

Newsom hedged his bets a little, indicating that he would seek more funding: "Abandoning high-speed rail entirely means we will have wasted billions and billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises, partially filled commitments and lawsuits to show for it". "We're more united than ever, and we're not going back".

"I know the valley".

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