Trump administration cancels $929M for high-speed rail in California

The Trump administration announced Thursday it is officially canceling $929 million in funds that had been awarded for California’s high-speed rail program after rejecting an appeal from the state.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) said in a letter to California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) CEO Brian Kelly that it had canceled the funding because the state “repeatedly failed to comply” with the 2010 agreement's stipulations and “failed to make reasonable progress on the project.”


The letter went on to accuse California of failing to deal with issues with the projects that had been identified by the FRA. 

“Despite FRA's identification of Project issues, and the ample time provided to CHSRA to take appropriate remedial actions, CHSRA instead chose delay and inaction,” the FRA said in the letter. “In FRA's view, there is nothing in FRA's long working relationship with CHSRA to suggest that CHSRA would likely be able to initiate and complete the necessary corrective actions, if given yet another opportunity.”

The agency said in a statement Thursday that it is considering "all options" to reclaim the $2.5 billion in federal funding already given to California.

“FRA continues to consider all options regarding the return of $2.5 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds awarded to CHSRA,” the agency said.

Thursday’s letter marks the latest escalation in an ongoing clash between the White House and California.

The state has repeatedly sued the Trump administration over a slew of policies and is expected to do so again over the cancelled funds.

The administration first considered cutting off the funding after California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin Christopher NewsomOvernight Energy: Trump tweets he's revoking California's tailpipe waiver | Move comes as Trump visits state | California prepares for court fight | Climate activist Greta Thunberg urges lawmakers to listen to scientists California governor signs Uber, Lyft bill California prepares court action against Trump's move on tailpipe emissions MORE said in February that cost hikes, delays and management concerns would force the state to curtail the high-speed rail project, which was originally projected to cost $77.3 billion. Newsom vowed to institute a revised plan to build a smaller section.

The original plan called for a 520-mile rail in its first phase that would allow trains to travel up to 200 miles per hour and connect San Francisco and Los Angeles by 2033. The revised plan would instead build a 119-mile connection between Merced and Bakersfield in the state’s Central Valley.

Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoThe Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? House committee launches investigation into Transportation Secretary Chao Trump awards Medal of Valor, civilian honors to responders in Dayton and El Paso shootings MORE said in February slammed the revision as “a classic example of bait and switch.” 

The Obama administration first awarded California the funds in 2010, giving the Golden State $3.5 billion in addition to the $10 billion in bond proceeds the state’s voters had approved in 2008, according to Reuters.