The very first, very incomplete section of track for the California high-speed rail boondoggle is running nearly $2 billion over budget and is now projected to cost $8 billion, 27 percent more than original estimates.
Ralph Vartabedian of the Los Angeles Times has been documenting the skyrocketing costs of the program, warning it's going to be wildly over its $64 billion budget. This comes as not surprise to the project's critics, who have been warning all along that costs were underestimated and benefits exaggerated. He reports:
Officials have disputed outside estimates that indicate the project's price tag is growing — including one in December by the Federal Railroad Administration that cited a cost of $9.5 billion to $10 billion. In 2015, the authority's main consultant, WSP, also had said in an internal assessment that costs were rising.
The overruns raise a serious possibility: If the reasons for the Central Valley increase also affect other parts of the Los Angeles-to-San Francisco project, then it could drive up the price for the entire $64-billion system by billions of dollars.
Critics long have forecast that the final tab could top $100 billion. But supporters of the bullet train — the nation's largest infrastructure project — reject those assertions, saying the rail line will become a cornerstone of the state's transportation system and that such cost increases should be taken in stride.
No, a high-speed train will not become a cornerstone of transportation in California unless it bans cars (heaven knows, Gov. Jerry Brown would eventually try if his term weren't ending in a year). It will instead require heavy state subsidies in order to operate, unless they massively jack up the price of tickets (currently estimated at $86 to travel the completed length, from San Francisco to Los Angeles).
The ballot initiative authorizing the building of the train does not permit subsidies, so that might be a bit of a challenge.
But nobody can say they were not warned. The man behind the initial ballot initiative to authorize the rail's construction, Quentin Kopp, realized the project had turned into a massive scam and financial boondoggle. He's been suing to try to halt its construction. Watch ReasonTV's recent interview with him below:
Photo Credit: CHSRA