HolyCoast: California Bullet Train Costs Triple, and Yet Gov. Moonbeam Will Support It

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

California Bullet Train Costs Triple, and Yet Gov. Moonbeam Will Support It

If this ever gets built there's no way it will ever operate at a profit:
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.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday was expected to endorse the long-awaited plan, the first major update to the project in two years and the last before the federal deadline to begin construction next year. But state legislators, who were already skeptical, will tear through the plan starting Tuesday before deciding whether to start building, or to kill the project.

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.
What I predict will happen is this thing will suck up billions of dollars before the project is finally abandoned. And in various parts of California there will be old right-of-way cuts, bits of rail infrastructure, and little else to remind taxpayers of this entire folly.

Republican Governors Chris Christie in New Jersey and Scott Walker in Wisconsin were smart enough to cancel their high speed rail projects when it became obvious they were going to go grossly over-budget.  Unfortunately, Gov. Moonbeam is not that bright.


Sam L. said...

OOH! OOH! I cans resist no more: Somebody got to Bite The Bullet-train and kill the project.

Larry said...

If they're not planning on completing it until 2033, $100 billion will look like a drop in the bucket by then. Democrats in California will demand the rest of the country bail it out.

It reminds me of a U-Boat in the Atlantic that was taking on water at one end, so the skipper flooded ballast tanks at the other end to make the leaking end poke out of the water -saving the boat. Are states running budget surplusses going to be forced under water to keep California dry?