SACRAMENTO (CBSLA/AP) – California Gov. Gavin Newsom says he’s ending the state’s effort to build a high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Newsom said Tuesday in his State of the State address it “would cost too much and take too long” to build the line long championed by his predecessor, Jerry Brown. Latest estimates pin the cost at $77 billion and completion in 2033.
Newsom says he wants to continue construction of the high-speed link from Merced to Bakersfield in California’s Central Valley. He says building the line could bring economic transformation to the agricultural region.
And he says abandoning that portion of the project would require the state to return $3.5 billion in federal dollars.
Newsom also is replacing Brown’s head of the board that oversee the project and is pledging to hold the project’s contractors more accountable for cost overruns.
Several residents in Sylmar – one of the areas that would have been impacted – were ecstatic about the change of plans.
“It’s just wonderful news,” said resident Mike Luna.
“I went wow, so that includes us, we’re not gonna be affected by this, it was really exciting,” Mark Wilcher added.
The announcement comes just days after New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unveiled a so-called “Green New Deal” plan that had an ultimate goal of building high-speed trains across the U.S. to replace air travel.
Back in November, California’s High-Speed Rail Authority board Board vice chairman Tom Richards defended the decision to begin construction of tracks in the Central Valley without all necessary approvals in hand.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)