Newly minted Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has put the brakes on $647 million for Caltrain to go electric — and in the process pretty much killed hopes for high-speed rail coming to San Francisco anytime soon.…In a Jan. 24 letter to Chao, all 14 Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation called for the Caltrain money to be put on hold until a full audit is done on high-speed rail. On Friday, Chao obliged — the Federal Transit Administration, which she oversees, said a decision on the $647 million federal grant needed to keep the project going would be delayed.
In response, Brown is now rethinking his earlier, independent stance and is requesting that Trump administration release the monies to the state.
Gov. Jerry Brown has asked the Trump administration to reverse itself on a key decision to withhold a $647-million grant for a state passenger rail project, a request that comes two weeks after other California Democrats waded into the fray.….Obviously, what has happened is a huge curve ball,” said Jim Earp, a longtime supporter of the high-speed rail project and a member of the California Transportation Commission. “I hope calmer head prevail and the funding goes through.”It hasn’t helped the state’s case that there is not a single Republican in the Bay Area whose district might benefit from the grant.Chao’s decision in mid-February was sharply criticized by many of California’s Democrats, including Sen. Diane Feinstein and Sen. Kamala Harris. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said the Transportation Department was holding the project hostage in an effort to attack the bullet train. The Caltrain goes through her district.Their protests appeared to have had no effect, and whether they were even heard is unclear.In a handwritten note on the one-page letter that Brown sent this week, he wrote, “Can we discuss this on the phone?”Brown’s office declined to say why he asked for the phone call, as opposed to having his staff set up such a call with Chao.