California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday he’s abandoning a $77 billion plan to build a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco and will focus instead on completing a 119-mile (190-kilometer) segment in the state’s agricultural heartland.
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. Subsequent estimates more than doubled the cost and pushed the timeline to 2033.
“Let’s be real,” Newsom said in his first State of the State address. “The current project, as planned, would cost too much and, respectfully, take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.”
Newsom pledged to finish the segment already under construction through California’s Central Valley. He rejected the idea critics have raised that it will be a “train to nowhere” and said it can help revitalize the economically depressed region. While that construction continues Newsom said the state will conduct environmental reviews on the entire Los Angeles to San Francisco route and push for more federal and private money to connect the valley to the state’s economic powerhouses, though he didn’t say how.
What will be the benefit of a high-speed rail from Merced to Bakersfield? Would anyone ride it? What do you think of Newsom’s move?
With files from the Associated Press.
We reached out to the High Speed Rail Authority. They declined our request for an interview but sent us this statement, attributed to Brian Kelly, California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO.
“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. We are eager to meet this challenge and expand the project’s economic impact in the Central Valley.
Importantly, he also reaffirmed our commitment to complete the environmental work statewide, to meet our “bookend” investments in the Bay Area and Los Angeles and to pursue additional federal and private funding for future project expansion.
We welcome this direction and look forward to continuing the important work on this transformative project.”
Mike Murphy, mayor of Merced
Andrae Gonzales, Bakersfield city councilmember
James Moore, professor of industrial, systems and civil engineering and director of the Transportation Engineering Program at USC
Elizabeth Goldstein Alexis, co-founder of Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design
Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, professor of urban planning and the associate provost for academic planning at UCLA; she is also a research associate at the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University