Published: Wed, February 13, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Gavin Newsom To Scale Back, Not Abandon, California's High-Speed Rail

Gavin Newsom To Scale Back, Not Abandon, California's High-Speed Rail

California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Tuesday the state will dramatically scale back a planned $77.3 billion high-speed rail project that has faced cost hikes, delays and management concerns, but will finish a smaller section of the line.

Newsom has laid out his vision for California twice already, in his inaugural address and through his first crack at the state budget.

California planned to build a 520-mile (826.8 km) system in the first phase that would allow trains to travel at speeds of up to 220 miles per hour (354 kph) in the traffic-choked state from Los Angeles to San Francisco and begin full operations by 2033.

In 2008, voters gave the state permission to issue $10 billion dollars in bonds to finance the project, which was supposed to stretch from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

"Abandoning the 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", Newsom said, adding that he does not want to send the $3.5 billion in federal money allocated for the project back to the Trump administration. A document posted online fleshing out elements of the so-called Green New Deal suggests Democrats are looking to "b$3 uild out highspeed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary". He does not believe a short rail line from Merced to Bakersfield will help the Central Valley. And I know this, in the bottom of my heart: "The best is yet to come".

"Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate, it is cruel", Trump said at the State of the Union, linking immigration to violent crime and other serious problems.

Newsom said National Guard officials will instead be used to help with wildfire suppression and drug enforcement.

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Newsom disputed Trump's claim there is a crisis on the border and any need for National Guard troops was eliminated when Trump chose earlier this month to add 3,750 more USA troops at the border.

He appointed Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg to lead a new state commission focused on California's homeless crisis.

Newsom criticized "fear-mongering that's coming out of the White House", likening Trump's rhetoric on immigrants to George W. Bush opposing same-sex marriage when he was president, during an era when LGBT people had less public support and fewer civil protections.

The governor has invited the leaders of 47 other noncomplying cities to a meeting next week for what he called "a candid conversation". He says he won't preside over "neglect and denial", and says cities must provide their fair share of affordable housing.

"Newsom also promised to have a plan within 60 days for dealing with the recent bankruptcy filing by Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. after years of devastating wildfires".

"We've been sucked into this vortex of the absurd", Newsom told reporters Monday.

"California will not be part of the political theater", Newsom said, insisting that the sate would "stand up for those who are maligned, marginalized and scapegoated". "PG&E didn't do enough to secure risky equipment or plan for the future".

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