Newsom to meet with Valley mayors after bombshell high-speed rail announcement

Cheryl Sanders
February 14, 2019

The governor also chose to replace former Gov.

Newsom said the state will complete a high-speed rail link between Merced and Bakersfield. Brown wrote, adding, "There is no massive wave of migrants pouring into California".

The Governor's office later clarified that Newsom was still fully committed to building a high-speed rail connection between San Francisco and Los Angeles, despite there not now being a path to do so.

Newsom said the project "as now planned" would "cost too much and take too long", and added that there had been too little oversight and not enough transparency. Of the many high-speed rail lines built in the developed world, only two (Tokyo-Osaka and Paris-Lyon) have ever been profitable, and in each case highway tolls for the same routes exceed $80 one-way, making high-speed rail in those cases an economical consumer choice. Oil-rich California has been replacing in-state production for imported petroleum, to the enrichment of Saudi Arabia but to the detriment of California workers. Jerry Brown, after construction costs doubled initial projections, private investment never materialized and public opinion on the project turned sour. He also appointed Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg to a lead commission on homelessness and chose Linda Darling Hammond to lead the state Board of Education, saying it's time for an "honest conversation" about how California's schools are funded.

Newsom cited the larger project's cost overruns, "little oversight and not enough transparency" for his decision.


The project was long opposed by Republicans in the statehouse and in Congress, who tried to choke off federal funding.

'Last week, we heard (Trump) stand up at the State of the Union and offer a vision of an America fundamentally at odds with California values, ' he said. With Brown finally in retirement, Newsom took the opportunity to free up billions of dollars that his Democratic allies would like to spend in other ways. The Central Valley segment was expected to cost $10.6 billion, according to the latest business plan.

"We're building high-speed rail, connecting the Central Valley and beyond", Newsom replied.

Hill said delays in purchasing the land, the need to buy more parcels than projected, and the increase in land prices account for about $725 million of the cost increase; construction delays, $325 million; intrusion barriers to separate bullet-train tracks from adjacent railroad lines, $450 million; increased costs with outside agencies, $600 million; and contingencies set aside for future increases, $600 million.

"Abandoning high-speed rail entirely means we will have wasted billions and billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises, partially filled commitments and lawsuits to show for it", Newsom said.


"The status quo is not an option", the governor said of the contentious project.

Assemblyman Davi Chiu (D-San Francisco) told KPIX he wants a full high speed rail system, but he supports the Governor's position.

On housing, Newsom said he has invited the leaders of 47 cities that haven't kept up with mandated affordable housing goals to meet next week for a "candid conversation".

"I know that some critics will say this is a 'train to nowhere.' But that's wrong and that's offensive", he said.

Newsom actually turned against the bullet train project years ago but then went quiet about it when he began his plans to run for governor.


He said he has convened a team of the nation's best bankruptcy lawyers and financial experts from the energy sector to work with his administration to develop a strategy to protect the state's power grid, wildfire victims, company employees and ratepayers. He also promised to address the pressure that climate change is putting on utilities.

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