Gov. Jerry Brown has just a few weeks left in office. Among the priorities he'll have to leave incomplete are his multibillion- dollar, and controversial, high-speed rail and Delta tunnels projects.
Both have faced delays, cost increases and court challenges. The high-speed rail project, which would eventually connect San Francisco with San Diego, has seen its projected cost balloon to more than $77 billion. The Delta tunnels, which would carry water from Northern to Southern California, are now projected to cost $17 billion.
Still, Brown remained optimistic when he was asked about the projects while speaking to the Sacramento Press Club this week.
“They’ll be built. And they’ll be built in a timely and responsible way," he said.
Brown was blunt when talking about the need for the tunnels, which would be built under the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
"The delta will be destroyed unless we have some kind of peripheral canal or a tunnel," he said.
Critics maintain the project could cause more harm than good to the environment. Some also worry it would lead to Southern California taking too much water from the north. Brown concedes the latter point could raise some issues, but he said new laws could ensure Southern California doesn't get too much water.
When it comes to the high-speed rail project, Brown said it has already created thousands of good-paying construction jobs. He also said traveling by train is preferable to driving or flying.
"On a high-speed rail, you can have a cocktail. You can walk up and down the aisle shaking hands. It's much more pleasant," he joked.
Brown also noted bullet trains would allow people to live in more affordable areas, like the Central Valley, and easily commute to places like the Bay Area for work.
Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom is expected to continue both projects, but has indicated he will re-evaluate them when he takes office.