- Biden’s administration restored $929 million in grant funding for California’s high-speed rail.
- Trump’s administration cancelled the funding after he called the rail project “a ‘green’ disaster!”
- The train will get passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2 hours and 40 minutes.
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President Joe Biden’s administration has restored about $929 million in funding for the California high-speed rail project, reversing a cancellation by President Donald Trump’s administration.
In May 2019, the administration said the state hadn’t stuck to its original plan for the high-speed rail between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Federal Railway Administration mentioned in a letter that month California’s “repeated failure to submit critical required deliverables” and make progress on the project.
California and its High-Speed Rail Authority responded this year with a legal action against a grouping of federal agencies and officials, including the transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg.
They requested that the grant funding be restored, saying the Trump administration’s cancellation was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law.”
The parties entered talks in March, according to Reuters. A month later, Biden introduced a sweeping infrastructure proposal with about $80 billion for upgrades to Amtrak and other federal and state rail services, although high-speed rail projects were notably absent.
The parties reached a settlement on Thursday, June 10, which restored the funding and barred California from bringing future claims over the funding cancellation.
California politicians praised the funding, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi releasing a statement saying it was “great news for our state and nation.” She said the funding would keep the “transformative project moving down the track.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the news on Thursday night, saying the project had more than 35 active construction with an average of about 1,100 workers on site each day.
“Tonight’s action by the federal government is further proof that California and the Biden-Harris Administration share a common vision – clean, electrified transportation that will serve generations to come,” he said in a statement.
California voters in 2008 approved $9.95 billion in bonds to partially fund the project. In the 12 years prior to that, the state had spent about $60 million on “pre-construction” activities, according to the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office, a nonpartisan advisory group. The total project was expected to cost about $68 billion.
When completed, the train promises to be among the quickest in the US. Hitting speeds over 200 miles per hour, it will make the trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in about 2 hours and 40 minutes, according to the state.
The project officially broke ground in January 2015 under Governor Jerry Brown.
Newsom and Trump traded tweets about high-speed rail in 2019, before the Trump administration cancelled the $929 million.
“California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars,” Trump said on Twitter. “They owe the Federal Government three and a half billion dollars. We want that money back now. Whole project is a ‘green’ disaster!”
Newsom called Trump’s tweet “fake news,” adding: “This is CA’s money, allocated by Congress for this project. We’re not giving it back.”
Construction on the first leg was expected to be completed in 2029.