Gavin Newsom Flip-Flops on $64 Billion High-Speed Rail

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty

Lieutenant Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Wednesday that he now supports California’s $64 billion high-speed rail system, after opposing it and withdrawing support for the controversial project just two years ago.

“I want to be honest about the concerns, and transparent about how this project’s changed, and be honest about the fact that it’s unlikely to generate a big surplus,” Newsom told the Sacramento Press Club, according to the Associated Press. “There’s only one rail system in the world that actually generates a profit. I’m not opposed to the vision.”

He reportedly added that he would “100 percent” seek a public source to fund the massive train project if he becomes California’s governor in 2018.

Newsom had reportedly been supportive of the bond measure for the high-speed rail when it initially was proposed, and had even campaigned with then Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for the plan. However, he became the most well-known Democrat to reject the bullet train once it ballooned from a $33 billion plan to a $98 billion plan.

The project, which is largely seen as a legacy marker for Gov. Jerry Brown, is now estimated to cost $64 billion.

According to the AP, during Wednesday’s press club meeting, Newsom recalled that the project was approved by voters who were told that approximately one-third of the funding for it would come from state bonds, another third from the federal government, and the remaining third from private financing.

However, the AP notes that the Golden State has so far only received $3.2 billion in federal stimulus money, and Republicans in Congress are hesitant to provide more.

The AP notes that Lisa-Marie Alley, a spokeswoman for the High-Speed Rail Authority, sent an email in which she stated that project construction is underway, jobs are being created statewide, “and we certainly welcome additional support from the state’s business, community and government leaders.”

Many of these construction jobs are temporary.

Still, California residents also have another option: the state’s low-speed rail, or several budget airlines.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter and Periscope @AdelleNaz


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