Trump administration derails California's high-speed rail project, pulling $1B in funding

The Trump administration is withdrawing nearly $1 billion in federal money for California's high-speed rail project.

The Federal Railroad Administration announced Thursday it will not give California the $928,620,000 it was originally promised, saying the state “repeatedly failed to comply with the terms” of its grant, “failed to make reasonable progress on the Project,” and “abandoned its original vision” for a train connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco.

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The administration will also be seeking to recover an additional $2.5 billion in funds from the state that were allocated to the project through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a move that the California Rail Authority pleaded against in March, stating that it will “gravely harm” a shorter project.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in February that the line from San Francisco to Los Angeles would “cost too much” and “take too long” to complete, and that instead, the state would be going forward with another, shorter train line between Bakersfield and Merced, with plans to continue the intended project at a later date.

The original train line would have been 520 miles long, connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles, with the ability to transport 120,000 passengers per day, at speeds of up to 200 mph in the year 2023. Instead, it was cut down to 150 miles, connecting Bakersfield, Fresno, and Merced.

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“As described further below, CHSRA [California High-Speed Rail Authority] is chronically behind in project construction activities and has not been able to correct or mitigate its deficiencies. Overall, such critical failures completely undermine FRA's confidence in CHSRA's ability to manage the project effectively,” FRA chief Ronald Batory wrote in his statement on Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.