Trump Administration Blocks Caltrain Grant
I’ve been meaning to write in detail about the Republican attack on Caltrain electrification. But today the Trump Administration dropped the bomb: they’re delaying the grant decision, perhaps for a year:
The Federal Transit Administration delayed a decision Friday on whether to approve a $650 million federal grant for electrification of a San Francisco Bay Area train system that would also help California’s high-speed rail project.
Congressional Republicans had pushed the administration to reject the application from Caltrain. In a letter sent Friday, the same day a decision was due, the agency said it was deferring a ruling so the project could be considered as part of President Donald Trump’s budget. No timeline was given in the letter, and spokeswoman Angela Gates said the project would be reviewed along with the president’s other fiscal 2018 budget considerations.
While it’s possible this means Trump wants to take credit for it, or turn it into a public private partnership that can enrich his allies, it’s also likely that this is just a fuck you to California – siding with the Republicans who want to smash rail everywhere they see it.
This is a bad sign for federal rail funding more broadly, at least in California. It will encourage more interventions by Congressional Republicans to block federal grants.
Most importantly, it shows the urgent need for California to find its own sources of rail money. The federal government is now completely unreliable. If California is serious about climate change, infrastructure, and resisting Trump, they will find a way to replace the billions in lost federal funding for projects all over the state – including HSR.