Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, urged Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg against funding or supporting California’s high-speed rail during a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development hearing on DOT’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget request.
“My hope is that while we aspire to fund programs that create jobs…we’re not only creating jobs but we’re also solving problems and bringing value to our communities relative to transportation,” said Garcia.
Garcia said funding programs that create jobs is important, but it is also just as important to make sure there is an emphasis on not funding programs that are behind schedule and hemorrhaging massive amounts of money.
“There are going to be programs that we should not be funding,” said Garcia. “There are programs that are either way behind schedule, that are hemorrhaging with massive overruns, that have little or no meaningful value to the transportation and infrastructure to our grids, to decompressing traffic in our local areas. I come from California, I come from Southern California where we have nightmare traffic. it’s the blueprint for disaster on our freeways.”
During the hearing, Garcia said that while there are many transportation and infrastructure needs in California, the federal government should not waste funding on the state’s failed high-speed rail project.
“[California’s high-speed rail project] is now over a decade behind. It was supposed to be done by 2020. It’s really just now beginning,” said Garcia. “It’s way over budget. It was supposed to be $33 billion and it’s now looking to be about $100 billion, which is effectively about 20% of what the transportation elements of the JOBS Act will be. That’s a lot of money. And it’s still not a necessary means of transportation through California when we have alternative rail, we have Metrolink rail that just needs to be expanded and improved upon, we have highways that need to be expanded and improved upon.”
Garcia concluded his remarks saying that, while California has a big traffic problem and is in need of improvements to infrastructure such as the highways and Metrolink, California’s failed high-speed rail process would not help with traffic problems.
“I will go on the record this high-speed rail in California will not help our traffic problems, not in Southern California, Northern California and certainly not in Central California,” said Garcia.
Garcia also joined fellow California Republican lawmakers in sending a letter to Buttigieg urging DOT against funding or supporting California high-speed rail.
“The California high-speed rail project has been a costly failure from day one,” the lawmakers wrote. “It has cost California taxpayers enough for this failed Obama-era project and we can’t afford to take on more dead-weight projects with our $27 trillion debt still growing. We must avoid furthering our financial crisis before it’s too late.”
Earlier this year, Garcia originally co-sponsored the Stop the High Speed Money Pit Act, which would prohibit the use of federal financial assistance for certain high-speed rail development projects in California.