Republicans in Congress want details on California’s high-speed rail project


According to a letter initially acquired by ABC News, congressional Republicans are requesting details from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg over what they refer to as a “highly questionable” high-speed rail project in California.

The grandiose scheme intends to construct a vast high-speed rail route that would eventually link Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and numerous other cities. The idea was originally approved by California voters in a 2008 ballot measure.

However, the letter from Texas Senator Ted Cruz, the ranking member on the Senate Commerce Committee, and Missouri Representative Sam Graves, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee, states that the “California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) still has not completed a single segment of the system, the total estimated cost has ballooned to $128 billion and counting, and there is no expected completion date.”

According to a news statement from May, the California High-Speed Rail Authority stated that construction is now started on the first 171-mile section of the project, which would connect Merced to Bakersfield. The project has generated over 13,000 jobs in the state.

However, Cruz and Graves said that the project has had numerous setbacks and is far from being funded, with a further $2.5 billion still required for the Merced segment, which is presently under construction and expected to be finished between 2030 and 2033.

The senators are now requesting that the Department of Transportation inform both committees and submit project status records, with a special emphasis on a recent $3 billion federal funding to the California High-Speed Rail Authority from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“Despite evidence that continues to show that the California High Speed Rail project has critical issues indicating there is no reasonable path forward for successful completion of the project…the Biden administration continues to allocate substantial federal taxpayer dollars to this highly questionable endeavor,” the letter read.

A Department of Transportation spokesman told ABC News in response to the letter that “high-speed rail will revolutionize travel and expand economic opportunity here in America.” In addition to assisting current projects that, in the case of California, are now providing employment for thousands of people, we are also creating a pipeline of prospective projects across the nation that will come to fruition in the next decades.”

The Republican-led senators’ action coincides with President Joe Biden’s ongoing promotion of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s investments in high-speed rail and other infrastructure upgrades as one of his hallmark accomplishments along the 2024 campaign tour.

After Biden signed the measure in 2021, $1.2 trillion could be spent on infrastructure and transportation, with $550 billion set aside for new initiatives. Despite the fact that the package gave their states billions of dollars in money, Cruz and Graves both voted against it.

“Politics is what it is. In a statement, Brian Kelly, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, told ABC News that “this project has been a political football from the beginning.” “The truth is that this project has transformed opponents into supporters in the areas where building is currently underway, generating jobs and boosting the local economy. We anticipate that will continue as we expand high-speed rail into more areas of the state.”

The authority declared that it is still looking for money to finish the project’s first phase, which will run from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

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