© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: US President Joe Biden greets his arrival at Cornwall Newquay Airport, near Newquay, Cornwall, Britain, on June 9, 2021. REUTERS / Phil Noble / Pool / File Photo
By Derek Francis and David Shepardson
(Reuters) – The Biden administration on Thursday night restored a $ 929 million grant for California high-speed rail that former President Donald Trump revoked in 2019.
The parties, which also include the California High Speed Rail Authority and the U.S. Department of Transportation, agreed to restore the grant within three days, per the https://hsr.ca.gov settlement agreement. / wp-content / uploads / 2021 /06/California-v.-DOT-Settlement-Agreement-Final-May-26.pdf.
Talks began in March, months after Biden took office, to settle the lawsuit filed in 2019 after Trump withdrew funding for a high-speed rail project in the state, hampered by long delays and mounting costs. Trump had repeatedly clashed as president with California on various fronts.
The California lawsuit alleged that the Department of Transportation lacked the legal authority to withhold the $ 929 million that the Obama administration allocated a decade ago, but had been left unexploited.
“The Biden Administration’s restoration of nearly $ 1 billion for California’s high-speed rail is great news for our state and our nation,” said Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat. California, in a statement https: // www. speaker .gov / newsroom / 61021-4 reacting to the agreement.
The restoration of funding comes as the Biden administration tries to reach an infrastructure spending deal with lawmakers.
“The announcement also comes as House Democrats advance under President Peter DeFazio on a solid surface and rail reauthorization bill, which includes heavy funding for intercity and high-speed passenger rail.” Pelosi said.
The U.S. Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While Trump ridiculed the California project as a “disaster,” Biden strongly supports high-speed rail and has vowed to ensure that the United States “has the cleanest, safest and fastest rail system in the world.” Biden wants to dramatically increase funding for passenger rail networks.
The California system, which is listed by the state as the first high-speed rail project in the US, is estimated to cost $ 69 billion to $ 99.8 billion and aims for completion within the decade 2030.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said https://www.gov.ca.gov/2021/06/10/governor-newsom-statement-on-federal-funding-agreement-for-california-high-speed-rail -project financing the restoration “will bring the state one step closer to getting the trains running in California as soon as possible.”
California voters approved the initial $ 10 billion bond for the project in 2008, and two years later $ 3.5 billion in federal money was allocated. California previously received $ 2.5 billion.
California State Treasurer Fiona Ma noted in a letter Monday (NASDAQ 🙂 that the Obama administration had allocated $ 10.5 billion for high-speed rail projections in 2009 and 2010 and that, as a result, there are still no high-speed rail lines in operation in the United States.
“To be clear, a repeat effort spending billions without putting any new lines into operation after another decade will be the death of high-speed rail in America,” Ma wrote to congressional leaders.
“There is simply no way the public will continue to support such an agenda without seeing tangible results.”
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