High-speed rail line in California sees cost projections triple
Here is a profile in government waste. A high-speed rail line in California, part of President Barack Obama’s vision for the future of transportation, has just seen its costs and estimated completion rise dramatically:
Faster than a speeding bullet train, the cost of the state’s massive high-speed rail project has zoomed to nearly $100 billion — triple the estimate given to voters and more than enough to run the entire state government for a year.
What’s more, bullet trains won’t be up and running until at least 2033, much later than the original estimate of 2020, although that depends on the state finding the remaining 90 percent of the funds needed to complete the plan.
The new figures come from a final business plan to be unveiled by the California High-Speed Rail Authority on Tuesday, though some of the details were leaked to the media, including this newspaper, on Monday. Officials at the rail authority did not respond to repeated requests for comment Monday.
The new business plan pegs the price tag at $98.5 billion, accounting for inflation — more than double the estimate of $42.6 billion from two years ago, when it was already the priciest public works development in the nation. It’s a little less than triple the estimate of $33.6 billion voters were told when they approved the project in 2008. By comparison, the total state budget this year is $86 billion.
It’s hard to call that a “business plan.” When you say that you think of an idea eventually making money or at least paying for itself. This high-speed rail line is a boondoggle that will drain taxpayer dollars for as long as it exists.
Philip Klein points out that the train doesn’t make much sense to begin with given a common sense cost-benefit analysis:
The initial 130-mile stretch of the train is supposed to be built in the less-inhabited Central Valley at a cost of $8.8 billion. For that money, according to the San Jose Mercury News, taxpayers would be paying “to build the tracks, which would be used to provide a 45-minute shortcut for the 3,000 riders on Amtrak’s San Joaquin line.” So nearly $9 billion to save 3,000 riders 45 minutes. It will take years and tens of billions of dollars more until the system could even theoretically extend to a major city and have enough track to run high-speed trains.
This seems like too much for even the People’s Republic of California, but Gov. Jerry Brown is apparently behind the project. Honestly, at this point, taxpayers in California have no one to blame but themselves for stuff like this.