Calif. high-speed rail loses support from prominent former backer

California’s controversial high-speed railway has lost the support of a prominent backer, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Republicans in California and Washington have staunchly opposed the proposed high-speed railway, which would run between Los Angeles and San Francisco because of the cost.

However, the San Francisco newspaper reported this week that Democratic California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom also now has doubts about the railway, which has received more than $3 billion from the Obama administration.

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"We were selling a $32 billion project then, and we were going to get roughly one-third from the federal government and the private sector," Newsom told the paper. "We're not even close to the timeline [for the project]; we're not close to the total cost estimates, and the private sector money and the federal dollars are questionable."

The California high-speed railway has been the centerpiece of a push by the Obama administration to spur the development a national network of trains the president said could eventually grow to rival the interstate highway system.

The rail plan faced staunch opposition from Republican governors in states like Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin, which all rejected money from the 2009 economic stimulus package that was intended to spur rail development.

The administration responded to the high-profile rejections by redirecting most of the money that was turned down to California, pinning its hopes of seeing the construction of a functional high-speed railway before President Obama leaves office largely on the Golden State.

California officials in charge of shepherding the railway plan have come under fire since cost estimates rose from $33 billion to $98 billion in 2011. More recently, critics have said the state does not have the means to come up with its requirement portion of the construction costs to win matching funds that have been promised from the federal government.

Republicans in Congress have sought to deny additional federal money from going to the California high-speed railway, arguing it would be more effective to concentrate efforts to build high-speed trains on densely populated areas like the northeast U.S.