California governor sinks SF-LA high speed rail plans

State to proceed with Bakersfield-Merced segment
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A high speed rail bridge under construction over the Fresno River near Madera in May 2016.
Two photos, Bob Johnston
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – In his “state of the state” message Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he intends to withdraw the state’s support of the California High Speed Rail Authority’s plans to build a San Francisco to Los Angeles route.

“Let’s be real,” he says. “The project as currently planned would cost too much and, respectfully, take too long. Right now, there isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A. I wish there were,” the San Francisco Gate reports.

Instead of completing the intended route, pegged at $77 billion to build in the next decade, Newsom wants to finish tracks between Bakersfield and Merced in the Central Valley. Roadbed construction, including several massive bridges, is nearly complete on the initial Fresno-Madera segment.

“Abandoning high speed rail entirely means we will have wasted billions and billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises...and lawsuits to show for it.,” he claims. He intends to make use of the investments already made rather than send $3.5 billion in federal funds back to Washington, D.C.

In a statement, California High Speed Rail Authority CEO Brian Kelly attempts to put a positive spin on today’s surprise development and noted that environmental studies will continue.

“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,” Kelly says.

Trains News Wire will continue to follow this developing story.
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BNSF’s San Joaquin Valley line passes near high speed rail construction in May 2016.
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