Feds halt latest high-speed rail contract

California Connection
Data pix.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (NEXSTAR) -- The federal government and California are sparring again over the funding of the state’s high-speed rail project.

According to letters provided by the High-Speed Rail Authority Thursday, the Federal Railroad Administration is urging California to hit the brakes on the project’s largest contract ever.

The multi-billion-dollar, 30-year contract would install track and high voltage electrical lines and cover future track from San Jose to Bakersfield.

Overseeing funding for the project, the FRA wrote to the High-Speed Rail Authority, “It is premature to undertake another major design-build contract ... The current construction packages continue to face significant and continuing delays building the necessary civil construction.”

High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Brian Kelly said the FRA’s letter was surprising and disappointing. He replied saying the FRA “demonstrates a continued disengagement on this project that appears intended to frustrate the authority’s undaunted commitment to meet its federal obligations.”

This is the latest in a funding feud between the federal government and state. Earlier this year, the state sued the FRA for the billions it tried to claw back from the project.

That happened after Governor Gavin Newsom said in a speech that the project’s original vision of San Francisco to Los Angeles would cost too much and take too long.

Newsom later clarified the comments, saying the project’s current focus is on a segment from Bakersfield to Merced, with expansion expected. The FRA has said this is not what it agreed to.

The court battle over the clawed back money is still ongoing. A High-Speed Rail Authority spokesperson said Thursday they are still waiting to hear back from the federal government on the latest contract.

 

Ashley Zavala filed this report.

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