Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state is canceling its plan to build a high-speed railway connecting San Francisco with Los Angeles. The initiative, that was so hotly debated, would undoubtedly turn out to be overly costly and time-consuming, the governor said in his address to the state in Sacramento. The project of the railway was suggested by the previous gov. Jerry Brown and backed up by voters. Newsom also added that the initiative has been lacking proper oversight and has not delivered the transparency such a large-scale project would require.
Other infrastructure projects will get a priority instead, in particular a 120-mile road in the Central Valley, which stretches across the state’s rural heartlands. The road is currently under construction.
A few years ago, California became one of the pioneers in the U.S. in campaigning for a state-owned railroad that would span large chunks of territories and connect key hubs, the likes of which are so widespread in Europe. Brown, the then governor, argued that such infrastructure would step at the forefront of positive climate change in the country. The project, covering some 800 miles, was estimated to cost $77 billion, thus becoming one of the most expensive infrastructure programs in the U.S. However, while voters approved allocation of $10 billion worth of bonds even more than ten years ago, the project has never really been given the green light due to numerous lawsuits and construction delays.
Project’s funding was expected to encompass several sources, primarily private funds. However, it was never entirely clear how much of the overall funding private assets would constitute. The Central Valley chunk alone is planned to cost over $10 billion, according to the most recent cost evaluations.
Newsom pointed out that the line connecting Bakersfield and Merced would nevertheless be built, as it was expected to help boost the local economy in the Central Valley. It could lay the groundwork to creating open zones in the region to foster economic growth. Not everyone in the state is optimistic about this particular announcement, but the governor says the Central Valley experiences an acute need in a high-speed railway. Its residents breathe the most polluted air in the whole of the state and traffic congestion results in unreasonably long commute times.
- Railway construction cannot start now