Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, has sponsored a new bill that would prohibit the use of federal funds to pay for California’s high-speed rail project, a section of which could run along Highway 14 in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The High Speed Money Pit Act was introduced by GOP Rep. Michelle Steel, of Orange County, who called the project “unacceptable and an embarrassing waste of taxpayer dollars,” saying the project received $2 billion from President Barack Obama’s administration. President Donald Trump’s administration withheld $929 million in expected funding.
“Our nation currently has $27 trillion in debt, which is a real threat to our nation’s security,” Garcia wrote in a prepared statement. “This debt is only going to increase if Congress continues to carelessly throw money at liberals’ pet projects. There are many pressing issues in the state of California that Congress should support and work to improve, but funding the state’s high-speed rail project should not fall to the federal government.”
The high-speed development launched in 2009, with the goal of having a bullet train transporting passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco by 2020.
The project, now priced at about $100 billion, still faced myriad delays and, in February 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced it had to scale back because it “would cost too much and take too long.”
Construction in the Central Valley, however, is already underway, while progress continues on the environmental process in the Southern California region from Bakersfield to Anaheim, according to Rachel Kesting, information officer with the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which is responsible for planning and building the project.
Within that SoCal route is the Palmdale-to-Burbank project section, which would travel past or through the SCV. A total of six alternatives are included in the environmental review, two of which would pass alongside the 14 freeway. Of those two routes, one would travel underground through the community of Acton within the Angeles National Forest and the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, reads the project description. The segment cost for the 41-mile stretch is estimated to reach $17.8 billion, according to the CHSRA.
Santa Clarita City Council members have expressed concern over the project, including over cost overruns and harmful effects the project would have on the area’s wildlife corridors.
A series of meetings, including hearings for the environmental impact report, for the Palmdale to Burbank segment have been scheduled to take place sometime in the spring and summer this year.