President Joe Biden’s administration has awarded $6 billion in federal infrastructure spending to California for two high-speed rail projects — one, a failing public-sector effort by the state; the other, a private rail line from Southern California to Las Vegas.
In a press statement, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said:
Today, California was notified that the Biden-Harris Administration is awarding $6 billion to the state to build high-speed rail, investing in the whole system – San Francisco, Los Angeles and the Central Valley, creating connectivity north, south and with our neighbors to the east.
California High-Speed Rail Authority will receive nearly $3.1 billion for construction in the Central Valley, supporting the overall end goal of connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles. Another important rail project, Brightline, will receive $3 billion to connect Los Angeles to Las Vegas with 80% of the project’s construction in California benefiting the state’s economy and labor market.
The “bullet train” between San Francisco and Los Angeles is widely regarded as a failure. It was supposed to be finished by 2020, and to cost $33 billion. Nearly ten years ago, Breitbart News exposed the fact that the proposed train would not make the San Franciso-to-Los Angeles trip in under three hours, as originally promised to voters when they approved the project in a 2008 referendum.
The only portion that is under construction is in the rural Central Valley, and the overall cost of the project has ballooned to $113 billion. Newsom canceled most of the project in his first weeks in office, telling legislators that it would “cost too much” and “take too long.” But he fought the Trump administration to keep billions in federal funding despite failing to deliver on the project. The Biden administration has since restored funding — and is now adding billions more to the project.
The other project, a private high-speed rail line to Las Vegas, is more promising, partly because the ride itself will be seen as part of the entertainment of Las Vegas, rather than an actual travel convenience. As Breitbart News reported, that project reached a crucial milestone in March when the company, Brightline, announced a labor agreement for its construction. The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that the trip to Vegas would take two hours (as opposed to four, driving), would be ready by the time Los Angeles hosts the 2028 Summer Olympic Games, and would cost a total of $12 billion, mostly raised through private capital.
In 2018, President Donald Trump proposed an infrastructure plan in which projects would use a small portion of federal money as seed capital, and private investors would provide the rest. Democrats rejected that proposal, and have mocked Trump for not passing an infrastructure bill ever since. But the Biden administration appears to be following Trump’s model — at least to Vegas.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.