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Tue February 19 2019

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California scraps plan for LA-San Francisco high-speed rail

5 days California’s governor has cancelled plans for a high-speed railway linking San Francisco and Los Angeles, saying that that it would cost too much and take too long.

However, a stretch of the line will be completed.

Governor Gavin Newsom added that there has been too little oversight and not enough transparency. “Right now, there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to LA,” he said. “I wish there were. However, we do have the capacity to complete a high-speed rail link between Merced and Bakersfield.”

Newsom acknowledged that some critics will say this is a “train to nowhere”. “But that’s wrong and offensive,” he said. “The people of the Central Valley endure the worst air pollution in America as well as some of the longest commutes. And they have suffered too many years of neglect from policymakers here in Sacramento. They deserve better.” Merced, Fresno, Bakersfield, and communities in between are more dynamic than many realise, he said.

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Regional projects will be continued and the state will finish Phase 1 environmental work. “We’ll connect the revitalized Central Valley to other parts of the state, and continue to push for more federal funding and private dollars,” said Newsom. Abandoning high-speed rail entirely would waste billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises and lawsuits to show for it, he said.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority responded: “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 ‘book end’ 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.”

He is also ordering new transparency measures. “We’re going to hold contractors and consultants accountable to explain how taxpayer dollars are spent – including change orders, cost overruns, even travel expenses,” he said. “It’s going online, for everybody to see.”

MPU

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