Just 24 hours after his State of the State address, California Gov. Gavin Newsom was in Fresno meeting with three Central Valley mayors.
Although the governor pumped the breaks on a statewide high-speed rail, he says this first phase is really the train getting “back on track.”
He is starting with focusing in on the Central Valley section, in an attempt to prove the success, then going big picture to the rest of california.
“Remarkable things are happening in Fresno, in Bakersfield, in Merced, and my job as governor is to express that to the rest of the state,” Newsom said to the group of mayors.
This is one day after putting a plan for a train from San Francisco to Los Angeles on hold, at least, for now.
“I’m trying to save this project, I’m trying to do it responsibly, and I’m making a case that the worst thing we can do, is walk away from it,” Newsom explains.
He confirms environmental work will be done by the end of the year, and by the end of next year, for a valley to valley portion.
From there, he’s hoping to make a case for a train to Los Angeles in 2027.
“There’s enough money remaining in the proposition, the $9.95 billion, there’s enough remaining, and the cap and trade to get things done, I’m confident of that, or trust me I wouldn’t put myself out on a limb on that,” he says.
The mayors say they are hoping for the Silicon Valley connection, and are thrilled Newsom is promising more transparency in the project.
“The worst thing that could happen, is to leave it undone, and he made a commitment that they have the money, and he’ll give us realistic timelines,” says City of Fresno Mayor Lee Brand.
Adding, “This is a major, major deal for the quality of life in the City of Fresno.”
As for fears of a worse-case scenario, a “train to nowhere,” Newsom says, there would be opportunities to connect to Bay Area commuter trains and investments would be made.
He explains: “So worst case we get that done, but for me, worst case is not just train, worst case is huge rebranding of the Central Valley on economic development and changing the narrative.”
Newsom also promised all monetary dealings within the California High-Speed Rail Authority would be put online for the public to see.