U.S. DOT announces grant funding cancellation to Calif. high-speed rail

The department announced it is seeking the return of $2.5 billion in federal funds from the state

February 20, 2019
California high-speed rail

The U.S. DOT announced yesterday that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) intends to cancel $929 million in federal grant funds yet to be paid for the California High-Speed Rail project envisioned to connect the L.A. Basin to the San Francisco Bay Area.

In addition, the department announced it is actively exploring every legal option to seek the return from California of $2.5 billion in federal funds FRA previously granted for what the agency is referring to as a "now-defunct" project. The completion of the $77 billion Los Angeles-to-San Francisco bullet train has been a goal of California transportation planners for decades.

FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory notified the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) of this action in a letter yesterday. In the notice, Batory indicates his agency has determined that CHSRA has failed to comply with the terms of its agreement with FRA regarding the project and that the rail agency has "failed to make reasonable progress." 

Last week, in his State of the State address, California Gov. Gavin Newsom annonced his plans to scale back the high-speed rail project, citing high costs and extensive project delays

The FRA's move to defund the high-speed rail project comes a day after the state of California filed a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s emergency declaration on the border. The president took to Twitter to criticize the rail project yesterday, calling the cost overruns "world record setting." 

Gov. Newsom said in a statement that he believes the agency's decision is in retaliation for the border wall lawsuit. “This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won’t sit idly by," the governor said, as reported by the New York Times. "This is California’s money, and we are going to fight for it.”


Source: U.S. DOT / Office of Gov. Gavin Newsom / New York Times