When I voted against Proposition 1A in 2008, I knew that the proposed California high-speed rail was likely to be a real budget buster.
It appears that I was right, once again. The only thing “high speed” about this bullet train is the rate at which it goes through money!
The estimated cost of building 119 miles of bullet train track in the Central Valley has jumped to $10.6 billion, an increase of $2.8 billion from the current budget and up from about $6 billion originally.
The new calculation takes into account a number of intractable problems encountered by the state rail agency. It raises profoundly difficult questions about how the state will complete what is considered the nation’s largest infrastructure project with the existing funding sources.
The new estimate was presented Tuesday by Roy Hill, who leads the main consulting firm on the project, WSP (formerly Parson Brinckerhoff). Hill said the cost increases were mainly driven by problems including higher costs for land acquisition, issues in relocating utility systems, the need for safety barriers where the bullet trains would operate near freight lines and demands by stakeholders for the mitigation of myriad issues.
“The worst-case scenario has happened,” Hill bluntly told the rail authority’s board at its regular monthly meeting.
A new business plan is being drafted, based on the new numbers, for the state’s legislature to consider when it addresses the state’s budget for next year
The every-other-year plan is when the rail authority provides not only updated cost projections, but also changes in strategy – as happened in 2016 when the agency pivoted from Merced-Los Angeles as its initial operating segment to Bakersfield-San Francisco.
The formula for the major revisions in cost estimates unveiled Tuesday by Hill for the Valley will probably be applied to the statewide project based on the travails the authority has experienced in Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties.
Those problems have included the slow pace of buying right of way needed for construction and associated delays, an abundance of lawsuits over issues ranging from the use of state funds to the adequacy of environmental reports, and change orders to contractors that tack on a few million dollars here and a few million dollars there. The logistic, legal and technical challenges confronting the rail authority in the Valley will almost certainly be magnified in other parts of the state.
If California were a normal state, addressing this fiasco with a common-sense plan to end this boondoggle and redirect the monies for more sensible infrastructure plans (e.g., dam maintenance and road repair) would be at the top of any gubernatorial candidate’s platform.
But the Golden State’s politicos have other priorities, such as their War on Trump.
California Democrats competing to be the state’s next governor unloaded on President Donald Trump, calling him a racist at a Saturday debate and casting doubt on whether they could work cooperatively with his administration.
At their first town hall event of the race, the candidates running to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown were asked about a disputed comment attributed to Trump deriding Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations as “shithole countries.”
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa opened the 90-minute event saying he was surprised it took people so long to conclude Trump is a racist.
“He was calling Mexicans rapists and criminals. He was going after Muslims. He was comparing white supremacists with people protesting racism in our country,” said Villaraigosa, whose grandfather immigrated from Mexico. “How can I work with him? With great difficulty, obviously.
…Fellow Democrats Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor, and Delaine Eastin, a former state schools chief, flatly labeled Trump a racist, with Newsom calling it “pretty self-evident” based on the Republican president’s “own admission in terms of his words and his actions and his deeds.”
Given the emphasis on President Trump and the lack of focus on California issues, I suspect our new Governor will continue bullet train’s construction and drain the state’s resources to the point we will aspire to achieve sh**hole status.DONATE
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