California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) told President Trump Monday that one way to "Make America Great Again" is to endorse his state's new bullet train system. It's a much easier project to get behind than that old border wall, he suggested.
After you’ve examined your wall prototype on the border, I invite you to head north to the Central Valley – the heart of California. Here in cities like Fresno and Madera more than a dozen bridges and viaducts are being built for the nation’s first and only High-Speech Rail line. We are already putting 1,700 Americans to work.
You have lamented that we don’t have one fast train in our country. Well, Mr. President, in California we are trying to fix that. We have a world-class train system under construction. We invite you to come aboard and truly “Make America Great Again.”
In his letter, Brown did not mention that the bullet train costs a pretty penny. The system is already $13 billion more than it was expected to cost two years ago. Current estimates put the price tag at $77.3 billion and it could rise to $98.1 billion, according to the Los Angeles Times. That number can be attributed to unexpected rise in costs for building track in the Central Valley, costly environmental reviews, lawsuits, and the relocation of communications cables.
Its start date has also been delayed. The high speed rail is now expected to open on a partial basis in 2029, four years later than the initial estimate. It won't be fully operational until 2033.
Even Brown's fellow California Democrats have their doubts.
"At first glance, the High Speed Rail project is still over budget and the funding to complete the program hasn't been identified," said Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay), chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, which will hold an oversight hearing on the plan on April 2. "We still have no realistic way to pay for the project."
There are supporters like the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California who argue the bullet train is "critical" for a state that needs to adapt to its growing population.
Brown insists California is making America great because it's "focusing on bridges, not walls."
Trump is unlikely to accept Brown's invitation to visit his state, considering he is already quarreling with California officials over their full-throated defense of their sanctuary city policies.
It's a "disgrace," he said.