Citizens Against Government Waste Releases Timeline of California’s Failed High-Speed Rail Boondoggle | Citizens Against Government Waste

Citizens Against Government Waste Releases Timeline of California’s Failed High-Speed Rail Boondoggle

Press Release

For Immediate Release
Contact: Curtis Kalin 202-467-5318

February 13, 2019

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) released a timeline of California’s high-speed rail boondoggle after Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) announced that the state would be abandoning the project. 


2008 – California voters approve $9.95 billion in bonds for a first in the nation, 800-mile high-speed rail project with an initial cost estimate of $35 billion to be completed by 2020.

2010 – Then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) vetoes a financial accountability measure to preserve his legacy project. 

2011 – The project’s cost estimate rises to $98.5 billion and the completion date is pushed back to 2033. 

2012 – The boondoggle is “scaled back” and now includes, “speculative funding sources that might never materialize.”

2014 – Construction has yet to begin, but in his State of the State address, then-Gov. Jerry Brown (D-Calif.), “ad-libbed [a] summary of the Little Engine That Could, rhythmically chanting its signature line, ‘I think I can,’ four times.”

2015 – Gov. Brown wildly claims, “I think we’re approaching that point of inevitability,” with the project. 

2016 – The boondoggle is beset by, “legal, financial, and logistical delays.”

2017 – The Orange County Register pans the seemingly never-ending project: “More time-consuming and tens of billions of dollars more expensive than estimated when California voters approved the funding measure in 2008.”

2018 – A new business plan again moves the goalposts on price targets, ride schedule, geography, and overall taxpayer cost.

2019 – Gov. Newsom announces the project’s overdue demise: “Let's be real. The current project, as planned, would cost too much and respectfully take too long. There's been too little oversight and not enough transparency.”

CAGW President Tom Schatz said in a statement: 

“California’s high-speed rail fantasy quickly became a train to nowhere at taxpayer expense.  This failed boondoggle should be taken as a giant red stop sign for any politician who supports the ‘Green New Deal’ and its equally farcical promise of ending air travel by forcing taxpayers to pay for a California-style rail system across the entire nation.”

Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government. 


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