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California bullet train blasts through budget projections

California bullet train blasts through budget projections

Not even started yet, and already $3.6 billion over budget and seven years behind schedule

I have chronicled the saga of the California bullet train and its construction since 2012.

A report obtained by The Los Angeles Times confirms my concerns about the project’s fiscal drain on our state. The review shows that this monstrosity will cost $3.6 billion more than original budget projection.

A confidential Federal Railroad Administration risk analysis, obtained by The Times, projects that building bridges, viaducts, trenches and track from Merced to Shafter, just north of Bakersfield, could cost $9.5 billion to $10 billion, compared with the original budget of $6.4 billion.

The federal document outlines far-reaching management problems: significant delays in environmental planning, lags in processing invoices for federal grants and continuing failures to acquire needed property.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority originally anticipated completing the Central Valley track by this year, but the federal risk analysis estimates that that won’t happen until 2024, placing the project seven years behind schedule.

Even more disturbing is that the estimated overrun is merely for the easiest leg of the track to be constructed. I shudder to think about how many more taxpayer dollars will be squandered to build the entire system.

Officials overseeing this project are quick to dismiss the report:

The rail authority’s chief executive, Jeff Morales, insisted to the Times that the project would cost less than the feds projected.

“The point of doing this analysis is to identify the challenges and work through them,” he said. “They are not conclusions and not findings.”

Governor Jerry Brown, who treats this train as a pet project, has been publicly opposing the policies and authority of President-Elect Donald Trump. So, it will be fascinating to see what happens when the bullet train budget hits the desk of the incoming federal administrator.

The Federal Railroad Administration is tracking the project because it has extended $3.5 billion in two grants to help build the Central Valley segment. The administration has an obligation to ensure that the state complies with the terms, including a requirement that the state has the funding to match the federal grants.

The railroad administration’s analysis shows that the state authority could lose $220 million in one of the federal grants this year if it cannot submit paperwork by June 30, to meet the Sept. 30 deadline of the Obama administration’s stimulus act.

Trump has experience in building structures under budget and ahead of schedule. I suspect his appointments will take the same approach, which will mean that the consultants, bureaucrats, and politically-connected appointees associated with the California bullet train will be under the microscope shortly after Jan. 20.

I suspect that the California bullet train is on track to be derailed by the Trump administration. Trump may even hold up this project a clear example of what not to do, in terms of federal infrastructure spending.

I sure hope so. It seems that California’s politicians can’t manage any form of fiscal restraint, so Trump would be doing us all a big favor.

Perhaps Brown can the console himself by launching the state’s satellite?


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“Not even started yet, and already $3.6 billion over budget and seven years behind schedule”…now that is talent!

    And these numbers are just for building it. If it ever gets running, operating costs will never be covered by fares so huge sums will further be lost. And everyone involved will get a huge pension so the losses will go on in perpetuity.

    Don’t even mention maintenance expenses. They won’t bother to maintain it because there will be no money so a few years down the line…you get the picture.

The High Speed Rail is being built right behind my house. As in, RIGHT behind my house, within 50 feet of my bedroom. For obvious reasons I (and my neighbor’s) are not thrilled with its construction. I’ve been attending many meetings and one thing I found out is that when California solicited bids from construction companies only two companies submitted one. The first company had been successfully involved in building half of the high speed rail projects in Europe. The second company had no experience at all but was politically connected. Guess which company got the bid?

Yeah. You just can’t make this stuff up.

And it goes nowhere — slow.

Progressive Cost.

With that stupid rail to nowhere breaking California’s budget, the idiot governor (Moonbeam Brown) is calling for massive tax raises to bail-out democrat payoffs to unions:

Reality and its costs and consequences are never the concern of the Californian Left. Trump administration must intervene to save the needless waste of hardworking peoples’ money. Time to hold California accountable for all of its actions. Make California America again.

Henry Hawkins | January 15, 2017 at 7:02 pm

I hear the train a comin’
It’s rollin’ ’round the bend
And I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when,
I’m stuck in Folsom prison, and time keeps draggin’ on
But that $4 billion dollar train keeps a rollin’ down to San Antone..

Can’t Trump kill the slow train to no where because it isn’t conforming to the requirements of the original ballot measure which required that funding be established before construction could be started?
Furthermore, Trump has a pen and a phone. He can delay funding of this boondoggle for 4 years the same way Tyrant Obama the Liar delayed ObamaCare.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to ConradCA. | January 16, 2017 at 7:19 am

    Let CA handle CA’s problems. And how does one abhor Obama’s tyrannical behaviors and then call for Trump to do the same?

Yet another reason why I am glad to no longer live in California.

Let us not forget where and how these Federal dollars got to the Left Coast. Since I have homes in Florida and New Hampshire I can relate to the corruption involved. The first disaster was the BIG DIG in Boston that went over budget by a factor of three or four times the predicted costs. That public works project caused havoc with commuter traffic for years. But on the bright side the Union voters for the Democrats remained dumb and happy for years.

Then came the bright idea of connecting Tampa to Orlando via the Mouse Kingdom with eventual plans to lay track all the way to Miami with perhaps Jacksonville getting into the loop. Fortunately the current Governor of Florida, Rick Scott saw into the future and said “Hell No”. Thus came about the transfer of Federal Funds from the Sunny East Coast to the Sunny Left Coast.

As I get older I get more cynical about these Public Works projects, and in particular I find trains very bothersome. Every train track in this country would likely be bankrupt without constant infusions of Federal money. I make no claims to having any type of solution to the problems of commuter traffic in Metro areas but if there is one to be had, I suspect private industry is the path to a resolution.

It make no sense that my wife and I can fly between New Hampshire and Florida for a few hundred dollars in a few hours. But try to do it by train and we look at the cost of a few hundred dollars more than by air and a couple of days of travel each way.
The difference of course is between private / public ownership of companies and government interference into what should be a private solution to the problems. Only then will uncontrollable spending of tax dollars be controlled.

The problem with high speed rail systems, in the US, is that seem to spring up where they are most likely to be a failure.

It is possible to run a high speed rail system from one large, urban center to another. That is what airlines do. But, air travel is faster than ground travel. Then you have the safety issue. There are not tens of thousands of vehicles crossing the path of a jet liner, as there are with a train.

So, these thing get proposed for for developed areas. This essentially eliminates the high speed factor. It then requires efficient public transportation services within the destination areas. Many times these simply do not exist. And, it places public transportation in direct competition with the most efficient, flexible form of transportation in the world, the private motor vehicle.

These projects sound good to the liberal wienies, and swell the pocketbooks of certain parts of corporate America, but they produce no positive benefits to most of our society.

Based on the final costs of past time $ infrasctructure estimates nationwide, the cost will be around $30+ billion, with an optimistic finish date of 2040.

No one who estimates the current figures will even be around when the actual bills are paid!

Underestimating the costs and schedules of major civic projects is par for the course. Estimates are justifications, not commitments. The Brooklyn Bridge effort was constantly monitored and overseen by the most advanced engineering company on Earth, but it still took much longer and cost more $ than ‘planned’.

Surprised they haven’t required background checks and 30 day waiting periods for anyone even mentioning BULLET trains.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to 4fun. | January 16, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    They speak of *Silver* Bullet trains in California because that’s where most werewolves are filmed.