Wait... is Newsom canceling the high-speed rail line or not?

Yesterday, Allahpundit took a deep dive into the somewhat shocking announcement that Gavin Newsom, the new governor of the Golden State, was canceling California’s massive, decades-long cash sinkhole known as the high-speed rail line from LA to San Francisco. It seemed like a fairly common sense decision, given how much cash has been poured down that particular rathole and the ballooning estimates of the additional bills to come. But it creates some very sticky political terrain, particularly at the dawn of the Green New Deal (GND) era. Perhaps that’s why Newsom appeared to be walking the announcement back the same day he issued it, according to a statement from his spokesman. (Miami Herald)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office says he is fully committed to building a high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

That’s despite his comments Tuesday that there “isn’t a path” right now for the project…

Newsom said the project would cost too much and take too long. But his spokesman Nathan Click said he’s not walking away from it.

Okay, so if we put the two statements together (the one from his speech and the one from his spokesman), Newsom is saying, “I’m fully committed to finishing this project that will cost too much and take too long and for which we have no path to completion.” That’s got to be one of the most California statements ever recorded.

It sounds to me like somebody came and put a bug in Newsom’s ear after his initial remarks. Apparently, nobody is allowed to rain on the GND parade of AOC and her new, socialist colleagues. As AP alluded to yesterday, if a stupidly expensive project is a bad idea in one state, why not roll it out across the entire country? And if the California boondoggle goes down in flames, that would be some seriously bad PR for a national progressive agenda of rail lines replacing planes.

Just for the moment, let’s assume that the high-speed rail project really is canceled, or at least put on hold in perpetuity. The rail line has already received significant federal funds including $3.3B in stimulus funding in 2009. Most of that money is now gone. But what if the project is finally put into its grave? Shouldn’t California give the money back? The planning for this debacle has been a disaster from day one but it sounds like no one will be held accountable.

I personally love train travel myself and would rather take a train than a plane any time it’s practical. That’s particularly true of trips up and down the northeast corridor. But it needs to be cost-effective, planned intelligently and meet an actual demand from the public. Los Angeles already has a futuristic subway system that almost nobody rides. That’s not an example we need to be duplicating nationally.