California's liberal Democratic governor nixes high-speed rail line due to cost

Gov. Gavin Newsom pledges to scale back high-speed rail and twin tunnels projects in State of the State speech

Gallagher's Northern California district includes the town of Paradise, destroyed by a wildfire late past year that killed 85 people.

Hill said delays in purchasing the land, the need to buy more parcels than projected, and the increase in land prices account for about $725 million of the cost increase; construction delays, $325 million; intrusion barriers to separate bullet-train tracks from adjacent railroad lines, $450 million; increased costs with outside agencies, $600 million; and contingencies set aside for future increases, $600 million. "There's been too little oversight and not enough transparency", Newsom said in his first State of the State Address Tuesday to lawmakers.

In his address - which lasted almost 45 minutes, more than twice the length of the average State of the State speech by former governors Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger - he also signaled support for a single Delta tunnel.

The project was already years behind schedule, and, before its cancellation, was not due to be complete until 2033. He says building the line could bring economic transformation to the agricultural region.

"The Democratic governor acknowledged critics who want the state to abandon the project entirely, but said he doesn't want to waste the billions already spent on the project, nor does he want to return $3.5 billion the state has received in federal funding", writes the Sacramento Bee.

The embattled $77-billion bullet train has been an embarrassment for the Golden State and has been plagued by problems nearly from the start.

Now it looks like he's scaling even that back.

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Newsom said he had convened a strike force of lawyers to help the state advocate for fire victims and consumers as the giant utility PG&E Corp goes through bankruptcy proceedings.

Whatever may come next, this is happy news for most California citizens.

A scaling back of the high speed rail project in California was announced by Governor Gavin Newsom in his first State of the State address on February 12.

But it didn't take long for all those claims to be shown as unlikely, especially the costs. The train's cost ballooned from $64 to $77 billion (and it would likely end up well over $100 billion if actually completed).

"There simply isn't a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to Los Angeles", he said, and thus the north and southern sections of the proposed route would not be built. 'The current project, as planned, would cost too much and respectfully take too long.

This comes after 400 members of the California National Guard were deployed there by Newsom's predecessor Jerry Brown. No matter how much evidence was presented that the whole deal was a big boondoggle that would leave taxpayers holding the bag, Brown didn't waver. As bad as they are, those aims are at least preferable to an absurdly overpriced makework project meant to line certain people's pockets at the expense of the taxpayers.

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