(Source: Progressive Railroading 05/17/2019)
The Trump administration yesterday formally canceled nearly $929 million in previously awarded federal funds to California’s high-speed rail program.
In a May 16 letter to California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) Chief Executive Officer Brian Kelly, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) said it was terminating its agreement to obligate $928,620,000 in funding to California because the state had not made “reasonable progress on the project.”
The FRA announced the agreement termination after rejecting an appeal from state officials to reconsider the agency’s announcement in February that it intended to cancel the agreement.
Additionally, the FRA said it was considering “all options” to seek the return of $2.5 billion in federal funds that the state has already received for the project.
FRA officials announced their intention after California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in February that the state would scale back its planned $77.3 billion plan to build a Los Angeles-to-San Francisco high-speed rail line due to cost hikes and project delays. Instead, the state would focus on a shorter route in the Central Valley, Newsom said.
Following that announcement, President Donald Trump said he wanted the federal government to seek the return of the project’s federal funding.
In a statement yesterday, Newsom said the federal government’s action is “illegal and a direct assault” on the state.
“Just as we have seen 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,” said Newsom. “This is California’s money, appropriated by Congress, and we will vigorously defend it in court.”
Meanwhile, the CHSRA earlier this month released a draft supplemental environmental report on the Merced-to-Fresno segment of the high-speed rail line. The document was issued to meet requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act.
The authority is accepting public comment on the document through June 20.