WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump went after California’s troubled high-speed rail project, claiming it is “hundreds of times more expensive” than a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
“The failed Fast Train project in California, where the cost overruns are becoming world record setting, is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!” Trump tweeted Tuesday.
Trump declared a national emergency Friday to divert more funding to build wall along portions of the southern border. Many Democrats have cited the high cost of a southern border wall as a reason to oppose it, so Trump is trying to compare a wall to California’s largely abandoned high-speed rail project.
Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom abandoned the state’s controversial high-speed rail project after years of delays and massive cost overruns. Newsom’s announcement came after state auditors issued a scathing report late last year.
The High-Speed Rail Authority’s “flawed decision making regarding the start of high-speed rail system construction in the Central Valley” and poor management led to billions in cost overruns.
Newsom said the state would finish the 119-mile Central Valley portion of the line, adding that not finishing that corridor would force the state to return $3.5 billion in federal funding. He doesn’t want Trump to have those funds.
While it’s not clear if California’s high-speed rail line would cost hundreds of times more than a border wall, estimates show that on a per-mile basis, high-speed rail is about four times more expensive.
Finishing the entire high-speed rail project would cost an estimated $77 billion, however, finishing the Central Valley portion is projected to cost $10.6 billion or $89 million per mile.
Trump asked Congress last year for $5 billion to build 215 miles of border wall, kicking off a funding fight that only ended after the longest federal government shutdown in history. The price tag for that wall funding ask came out to $23 million per mile.
Congress recently authorized roughly $1.4 billion for 55 miles of border wall at $25 million per mile. The president’s national emergency order allows him to tap another $6.7 billion for border wall funding.
Sixteen states, led by California, sued the Trump administration to reverse the national emergency order.