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Gov. Jerry Brown said this afternoon that California's embattled high-speed rail project should move forward, despite growing criticism about the project's management and cost.

While the nation is in a "period of massive retrenchment," Brown told The Fresno Bee's editorial board, "I would like to be part of the group that gets America to think big again."

The Democratic governor has said little publicly about the project since it came under fire this year in Sacramento, with cost estimates rising and lawmakers questioning its oversight. The project, to connect San Francisco and Los Angeles, was once expected to cost about $43 billion, a figure the California High-Speed Rail Authority is expected to update this fall.

Brown said he is "really getting into" the project and that "we're working directly with the authority to get their act together."

He said he will appoint a commissioner to fill a vacant seat on the agency's governing board this week, though he declined to say who.

"I'm doing the best I can to keep this train running," Brown said.

The rail project is one of two major infrastructure projects on Brown's agenda. He said today that he will have a plan for the other project - a peripheral canal or other way to move water through or around the Delta - within a year.



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