It was supposed to be a way to get around traffic, airport strip searches and more. It was the high-speed rail corridor from San Diego to San Francisco in California, and thanks to an amazingly high price tag, it has now been cut down to a stretch from Bakersfield to Merced which is in the middle of the project…where not nearly the number of people live as in the big cities.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in his first State of the State speech that he intends to scale back California’s $77-billion bullet train project, saying that while the state has the capacity to complete the first leg in the Central Valley, extending the rail line to Southern California and the Bay Area would “cost too much and, respectfully, take too long.”
The Democratic governor supports finishing the controversial high-speed rail line between Bakersfield and Merced, and said it would invigorate the economy in California’s midsection and reduce the region’s air pollution. But because of the project’s persistent cost overruns, mismanagement and delays, the grand vision of bullet trains whisking passengers from San Diego to San Francisco doesn’t appear viable and will need to be reassessed, Newsom said.
The high-speed train corridor was actually approved by voters, and, truthfully, that stretch of California is one of the few places in the United States where such a project makes sense, but the new governor of California, being more realistic than his predecessor, isn’t willing to send money down a rathole just to be able to say he did.
“There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency,” Newsom said. “Right now, there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A. I wish there were.”
Newsom also said he will continue to push for federal and private funding for the entire rail system, leading to some confusion about whether he planned to scrap all but the Central Valley portion or simply postpone construction of the remaining legs of the project. After the speech, a spokesperson for the governor’s office confirmed the latter.
But, in the end, the new governor of California still wants the project done, and wants the rest of us to help pay for it.
Keep dreamin’ California. Keep dreamin’.