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February 20, 2019 11:00 AM, EST

White House Cancels $929 Million in Grants for California’s Beleaguered Rail Project

rail Gavin Newsom, Democratic candidate for governor of California, speaks to attendees during the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, Calif. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News)

The Trump administration on Feb. 19 said it will cancel more than $900 million in federal grants earmarked for a high-speed rail project California that the state’s Democratic governor announced would be scaled back from its initial vision amid delays and cost overruns.

In addition, the U.S. Transportation Department said it was exploring legal options to recoup $2.5 billion in federal funds granted to the project by the Federal Railroad Administration, according to a DOT statement.

Initially conceived as connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles with a high-speed train that would slash travel times and transform the state’s economy, California’s high-speed rail system has been beset by cost overruns and delays that have ballooned the project’s price.

President Donald Trump has lambasted the project as wasteful and called for the state to return federal funding.

“We want that money back now. Whole project is a “green” disaster!” Trump said in a Feb. 13 tweet.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state is properly using the money to build a scaled down version of the project to connect the state’s central valley. “The train is leaving the station — better get on board!” he wrote.

“This is CA’s money, allocated by Congress for this project. We’re not giving it back,” Newsom tweeted.

In a letter to California officials released by DOT on Feb. 19, FRA Administrator Ronald Batory said the state authority responsible for the rail project failed to comply with the terms of the $929.6 million in federal funds.

The press office for Newsom didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.