In 2008, Californians voted to fund a high-speed rail project that promised to whisk passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in just under three hours. The project was estimated to cost around $33 billion and debut by 2020. Now, 14 years on, the project has ballooned well past that figure and is nowhere near completion.
California Senate Republicans say the project will require at least $105 billion, and the earliest estimates of completion are around 2029.
State Sen. Brian Dahle, who is running to unseat Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in November, says it is high time the Golden State pulled the plug on the project altogether.
"I think this whole process has been flawed from the start," Dahle told FOX Business in an interview. "Californians are never going to get what they paid for. It’s not going to reduce carbon output. We should scrap the program and do other things with the available resources."
Last month, California lawmakers agreed to release $4.2 billion earmarked for the train’s first phase, linking Bakersfield, Fresno and Merced in the Central Valley.
Toks Omishakin, California State Transportation Agency’s secretary said the investment reflects the state’s "highest transportation priorities and will accelerate our transition to a cleaner, safer, more connected and more equitable transportation system."
Dahle was raised in Bieber, a tiny community of a few hundred people in the state's northeast corner. His grandfather, a World War I veteran, came to California during the Great Depression and got a land grant in Siskiyou County that, according to family legend, he won when his name was pulled from a pickle jar. The deed is signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dahle said.
A farmer by trade, Dahle has likened the high-speed rail project to a bad crop that is doomed to fail.
"There are times when you have a bad crop, and it doesn’t matter how much water you put on. It doesn’t matter. It’s not going to change the outcome. And that’s what I think is happening here," Dahle said.
Dahle suggested those billions being poured into the high-speed rail project, would be better spent on projects to help the environment.
"If we want to reduce carbon, we can do forestry, or we build water storage or a lot of other things with the available resources," Dahle said, referring to mass fires and droughts, two major problems affecting California each year.
The state is currently battling its largest blaze of the year. Since erupting near the state line with Oregon last Friday, the McKinney Fire has burned nearly 88 square miles and is the largest of several wildfires burning in the Klamath National Forest.
"Let’s thin our forests so we don’t have forest fires," Dahle said "We spent $3 billion fighting fire, and we spent a couple $100 million trying to do preventative maintenance. Well, it should be the other way around."