AP NEWS

The Latest: Lawmakers discuss lack of bullet train money

March 26, 2019

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on California’s high-speed rail project (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

Funding challenges for California’s high-speed rail project are a key piece of discussions about its future.

A Senate committee on Tuesday heard testimony from several people who said lawmakers should either find new funding or consider changing the project.

Building the train between Los Angeles and San Francisco is estimated to cost $77 billion. California has less than $30 billion in hand.

The state is at risk of losing $3.5 billion in federal dollars if it doesn’t meet certain construction deadlines.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has indicated some changes to the project but his administration has provided few details.

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1:30 p.m.

California has sold $600 million in bonds for its high-speed rail project.

It was the largest chunk of $843 million in general obligation bonds sold Tuesday. State Treasurer Fiona Ma says Wells Fargo and Jefferies, LLC, bought the bonds.

California voters approved a nearly $10 billion bond in 2008 to build the high-speed train between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The state has regularly sold the bonds for the past several years.

Ma’s office says large purchasers such as Wells Fargo tend to buy state bonds, then sell them.

The bond sale comes amid possible changes to the project by new Gov. Gavin Newsom. A segment of track in the Central Valley is under construction and Newsom says he wants to lengthen that before building west to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Lawmakers are scheduled to discuss the rail project later Tuesday.

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10: 30 a.m.

California lawmakers are preparing to discuss the future of high-speed rail for the first time since Gov. Gavin Newsom suggested changes to the project.

The Senate Transportation Committee will hold a Tuesday hearing on the $77 billion project to build a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The project has faced numerous delays and cost overruns since voters approved it in 2008. A 119-mile segment of track is currently under construction in the Central Valley. Newsom has said he wants to focus on completing an even longer track in the Central Valley before moving ahead with the rest of the line.

Rail officials will share more details with lawmakers on May 1.

But lawmakers say they don’t want to wait to begin discussions about the project’s future.