Calif. Gov. Cancels High-Speed Rail Project: 'Would Cost Too Much and Take Too Long'

Gavin Newsom
California governor Gavin Newsom / Getty Images
February 12, 2019

California Governor Gavin Newsom (D.) said on Tuesday "it would cost too much and take too long" to build a high-speed train line between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Newsom announced that he is cancelling the state's plan on the project during his first State of the State address.

"I have nothing but respect for Governor Brown’s and Governor Schwarzenegger’s vision. I share it," Newsom said. "But let’s be real. The current project, as planned, would cost too much and take too long."

The train was a prized project of former Governor Jerry Brown (D.). The latest estimates put the project's cost at $77 billion and a completion date set for 2033.

The governor still wants to build a line between Merced and Bakersfield in California's Central Valley, claiming that it could encourage economic growth in the region.

Newsom will replace Brown's appointment to the state board that manages the project. He pledges more accountability for those involved in the project who spend over their budget. The project ballooned in cost under Brown, starting in 2008 with an estimated cost of $39 billion for the high speed rail connecting Northern California, Southern California, and the Central Valley. California has spent $5.4 billion on the train so far. The state has also received $3.5 billion from the federal government, which Newsom has no intention in returning.

Newsom's announcement comes in contrast to a proposal from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (D., N.Y.) Green New Deal proposal. The congresswoman published a FAQ page and sent it to some in the media, which highlighted several goals the Green New Deal wished to achieve. One of the goals was to create a high-speed rail system throughout the United States that would render air travel unnecessary.

The FAQ page said, "totally overhaul transportation by massively expanding electric vehicle manufacturing, build charging stations everywhere, build out high-speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary, create affordable public transit available to all, with goals to replace every combustion-engine vehicle" in the next 10 years.

Critics highlighted the FAQ page in order to show the radicalness of the Green New Deal.

Shortly after, Ocasio-Cortez's office deleted the FAQ page of the Green New Deal proposal from her web page. An adviser for Ocasio-Cortez tried to blame the more radical provisions being cited as doctored documents circulating around. When that was proven false, Ocasio-Cortez's chief of staff said the document was prematurely leaked, despite their office giving the document o NPR. Then her office said the provisions on the FAQ page were more aspirational and weren't in the actual resolution.