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California high-speed rail project’s estimated cost rises to $79B, report says

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Critics of California’s plan to link the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas by high-speed rail have cited the estimated cost of the project – and now that cost is projected to increase by about $2 billion, according to a report.

The state’s High-Speed Rail Authority now estimates that the plan will cost about $79 billion – with the price of the Central Valley segment already under construction rising from $10.6 billion to $12.4 billion, Bloomberg reported.

The revised cost estimates were attributed to changes in the scope of the project and planning for contingencies, the report said.

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FILE – In this Feb. 26, 2015, file photo, a full-scale mock-up of a high-speed train is displayed at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. (Associated Press)

In February, President Trump blasted the project’s leaders for “having spent and wasted many billions of dollars.” He added that the federal government planned to recoup federal dollars spent on the project.

“Whole project is a “green” disaster!” Trump wrote.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who has frequently clashed with Trump, expressed his own reservations about the plan in February, announcing his preference to focus only on the Central Valley portion in the short term, saying the full project “would cost too much and take too long,” Bloomberg reported.

In March, the head of the state’s rail authority fired back against Trump’s effort to block more federal dollars from going to the California project.

At that point, the Federal Railroad Administration had given California $2.5 billion to construct a Los Angeles-to-San Francisco link, with another $929 million pledged. But federal authorities – and the president – claimed the terms of the federal grant had not been met and threatened to withhold any future payments while demanding repayment for the funds already doled out to California.

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The project, long championed by Newsom’s predecessor, Jerry Brown, is years behind schedule with the latest estimate for completion set for 2033.

Trump and Newsom have also clashed over federal funding to help California recover from deadly wildfires. Trump has blamed the wildfires on a lack of “proper Forest Management”  – and again has threatened to reconsider federal funding.

Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly and Lukas Mikelionis contributed to this story.

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