Washington DC, Feb 19 (EFE).- The federal government of the United States on Tuesday said it was exploring legal options to get back $2.5 billion it had spent on the now-defunct high-speed rail network project in California.
The US Transportation Department in a statement also announced that it was cancelling $929 million in funds yet to be paid for the construction of the high-speed rail line between the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco.
“The US Department of Transportation_is actively exploring every legal option to seek the return from California of $2.5 billion in federal funds previously granted for this now-defunct project,” the statement said.
The decision come after US President Donald Trump published a tweet calling the project an “out of control fast train, with no hope of completion”.
“The failed fast train project in California, where the cost overruns are becoming world record setting, is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall,” Trump said in another tweet.
The president’s criticism is being seen as a response to the federal lawsuit filed on Monday by California – with the support of 15 other states – against the declaration of national emergency with which Trump aims to fund the border wall with Mexico.
Last week, California’s newly elected Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, announced the suspension of work on the high-speed rail line due to cost hikes and repeated delays.
The original plan had set an estimated cost of $40 billion for the line and the deadline for completion as 2022, but recent estimates had raised the cost to $77 billion and postponed the deadline to 2033.
“I have nothing but respect for (former governors) (Jerry) Brown, and (Arnold) Schwarzenegger’s vision. (…) But let’s be real. The current project, as planned, would cost too much and, respectfully, take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency,” Newsom said in a speech in the Californian Assembly.
However, the entire project has not been canceled, as a small section of the line, which passes through the Central Valley and is already under construction, will be completed.