By Matthew Renda, Courthouse News
SACRAMENTO (CN) – California’s planned bullet train, one of the nation’s largest infrastructure projects, just got a lot more expensive and will take years longer to come to fruition.
The cost of connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco by high-speed rail spiked 20 percent, ballooning from an estimated $65 billion to $77 billion according to the draft business plan released by the California High-Speed Rail Authority on Friday.
Include Phase II of the project – spurs linking Sacramento and San Diego to the network – and the cost soars to $86 billion.
Besides more expense, the revised plan acknowledges it will take longer to get the trains running. The Central Valley Line connecting Bakersfield to San Jose will not be operational until 2029, while the original plan for trains running from Los Angeles to San Francisco will not be realized until 2033.
“Building the nation’s first high-speed rail system, consistent with the will of the California voters, remains a tremendous challenge, but it is achievable if we remain committed to getting this transformative project done,” said Rail Authority CEO Brian Kelly on Friday.
While not unexpected after officials in January said the Central Valley segment was running $2 billion over budget, Friday’s announcement stoked the fires of those long critical of the project.
“And here we go again,” said Assemblyman Dante Acosta, R-Santa Clarita. “Like the sun rising in the east, so too does the scheme for the high-speed rail scheme rise.”
GOP leaders at the state and national level have long lobbed invective at the project, characterizing as a boondoggle and a colossal waste of taxpayer money.
Kelly maintains a large portion of the projected cost hike is due to price increases on the Central Valley portion of the project. Litigation, right-of-way acquisitions, environmental review and other assorted costs related to securing land for track have driven up costs.
Inflation and a larger contingency budget also contributed to the spike, Kelly said. But officials also said they have learned valuable lessons from the actual construction of track in the Central Valley, which they can apply to future segments of the line.
Furthermore, they believe the cost estimates as presented in the current plan will hew closer to actuality going forward.
“The plan reflects our commitment to apply lessons learned and make organizational improvements necessary to deliver this project,” Kelly said.
But Friday’s plan also acknowledges severe funding challenges in the near-term, as the $10 billion voters initially approved for high-speed rail is quickly running out and private investment has been slow to materialize.
The authority has also run through $2.5 billion in federal stimulus funds provided by the American Recovery Act.
While the Trump administration has sent mixed signals regarding high-speed rail in California and infrastructure projects in general, state officials say they need rely on themselves.
“Last year, AB 398 was approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Brown extending the cap-and-trade program through 2030,” Kelly said, adding that it was a significant attempt to secure long-term funding.
However, critics point out the money generated annually by the program amounts to an insignificant portion of the overall project costs.
The high-speed rail authority releases business plans every two years. The public is encouraged to comment on them as they are released.
The comment period for the current plan is open until May 7.
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There are many things in this state that we need more than this train.
What a waste of money. Get rid of Jerry Brown.
Term limitations…he’s out.
That’s an expensive homeless shelter!! ? Keep rockin it Cali!???
And liberals complain about the cost of a wall!
Yup! God damn liberals!
Jascha Dlugatch but but but….:: lol
Money we don’t have because the illegals are more important than the California citizens . Get rid of jerry brown . we don’t need this train.
Illegals are the ones putting vegetables, fruits among other things on ur table.
Ignorance at its best!…
Yeah so I did the math. A one way flight is $153 from LAX to Sacramento you could buy 503,267,973 flights. And there’s 39 million people in California. That’s six round trip tickets for every person in California to go from Los Angeles to Sacramento. Somebody check my math…
Haha okay minus getting to the airport hours before your flight and having to drive to LAX or Burbank.
What a monumental waste of money vitally needed on more worthy projects
Now up to 98.7 billion dollars and has been delayed to 2033…. My taxes and I’ll never see it.
This train will never be worth it. How many centuries will it take to pay off the billions or even trillions it’s going to take to pay it off? They are BILLIONS over budget ON THE EASIEST PART OF THE BUILD!!! They haven’t even reached the mountains between Central Valley and San Francisco and the mountains between Bakersfield and Los Angeles. They want to build a massive tunnel several miles long. Want to guess how expensive that is? Brown and the Democrats are doing their best to destroy California and the idiots that vote for them are too stupid to see it.
You knew this one was coming, name one government project that didn’t go into ridiculous cost overruns
They’ll wish they spent the $ on Desalination plants when we’re out of water.
The next governor will likely drop this project. Perhaps they will finish the leg under construction although it goes from North Nowhere to South Nowhere and wouldn’t be feasible to operate. The structures will end up as an enormous and very visible monument to our inept and corrupt state government.
And our A**hole governor says “i like trains”.
Let’s elect a non democrat/non socialist for governor and as state reps so we can stop this crazy train …the lawlessness… squalor in our cities…lack of punishment for committing crimes….and high taxes….and make our state great again.
No dems yes but No form of socialism will fix the time bomb that is CA.
I clarified that it should have said non Democrat..non socialist….since our Democrat leaders are also socialists
If we could stop the illegals from voting this might be possible
That’s why they are fighting the feds on illegal immagration…they care about non citizens over citizens because citizens who work in this state are fed up ..I wish they would VOTE these crooked politicians out instead of moving out of state..
Victory for bloated government funded programs everywhere
When u award programs to spouses of state leaders….what would anyone expect. What’s going to suck is even with this portion built who is going to go from Bakersfield to outside of Fresno. Facepalm
Dump it. Build freeways
I have yet met one single person that is looking forward to riding this disaster. The cost of riding will be more expensive than just hopping a Southwest flight there. I have friends in the central valley and it makes no sense to then either. It’s a big waste of money for a high speed train that really is not high speed since it is supposed to share existing tracks.
Jonathan Michael Vincent
This needs to be scrapped NOW ?‼️This is the BIGGEST waste of money with ALL that this state needs ‼️Can’t wait until Jerry Brown’s term is up‼️He’s a joke spending OUR money like a drunk sailor ?‼️
They don’t have bullet trains in Arizona
They keep saying that the voters gave them the okay to spend money. I do not remember authorizing that kind of money. The time frame that they gave in the beginning was like would be done within 10 years. California is in the red, with that train to nowhere and all the money spend on the illegals, and waste, the democrates have destroyed Calif. WE need fresh ideas and sound judgement to get us off of this merry go around.