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California bullet train blasts through budget

California bullet train blasts through budget

The only thing “high speed” about the train is the rate at which it goes through money!

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.


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casualobserver | January 19, 2018 at 9:09 am

It’s a one party state. Not sure why much of the ideological activity surprises people any more. Costs and consequences were discounted a while ago.

Maybe the only surprise is how the state elected class isn’t really content with running local politics. They really seem to spend as much time on being the beacon to other progressives as they do to the workings of their own state. A lot of “look at us” going on. Which is kind of ironic, considering the real results are not inspiring. But, hey, if they find other progressives who are only impressed by progressive legislation and not real world outcomes, so be it.

“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.”

Which means you at least lived in CA in 2008, if not currently.
My condolences.

    I have been a resident of California since 1985. I moved there from Michigan…for its economic opportunities.

    Regrets…I have a few.

      LOL… i’ve lived here since 1959.

      it used to be a great place to live, damn near paradise.

      now it’s just another corrupt turd world 5hithole.

      i blame all the East Coast a55holes who moved here, then voted to make it just like there.

        Barry in reply to redc1c4. | January 19, 2018 at 7:21 pm

        “i blame all the East Coast a55holes who moved here…”

        While I’m sure you have an abundance of those, you have an even larger number of home grown ones, IMO.

          redc1c4 in reply to Barry. | January 19, 2018 at 8:20 pm

          much of the current voting population are children of the first invasion wave of the 70-80 time frame, as well as the grandchildren of the Hippie/Boomers…

          they may be locally raised locusts, but they are still locusts. and lets not forget all the illegals & their spawn, all of whom vote.

The Friendly Grizzly | January 19, 2018 at 10:00 am

If they can keep it limping along for a while, a Democrat administration and congress will appropriate the money to finish it.

“…to the point we will aspire to achieve sh**hole status.

Too late. That sh!thole limited has already left the station.

“California, poverty capital of the USA”

These construction costs are unfathomable. The original $6 billion breaks down to $50.4 million PER MILE. The newest figure is even more criminal: $89 million PER MILE.

Speaking as someone employed by a well-known corporation that is a major player in the track construction/maintenance/signal industry, I can assure all that there’s more than hint of graft, corruption, kickbacks & cronyism involved in this brutal, public rape of the California tax payer that would make Ajax blanche in revulsion.

I think this organized criminal activity is worthy of a federal DOJ RICO investigation. No wonder there’s a ‘new state’ fever out West.

Hmm. Looks like Mark Twain had it right when he said that the US was tilted westwards, and everything loose was sliding ddown to California.

But we wanna take the train to Bakersfield.

This is not a particularly “progressive” cause. It’s not like it’s a statewide chain of midnight basketball courts, or a program to put a drive-thru abortion clinic on every street corner, or some such thing. So it’s not obvious that even the wackiest California progressives should be so fixated on this disaster. The cause is probably more one of the “classics” than it is left-wing lunacy. Classics, like good old corruption. Somebody is planning to make a lot of money off this boondoggle. And this somebody doubtless finds that a persuasive argument for proceeding with said boondoggle. In such a case, the object is not to complete the project at a minimum cost, but the maximize the cost; what is actually accomplished—that is, a functioning rail system—is inconsequential. When dealing with this level of corruption, there is no good outcome.

    Barry in reply to tom_swift. | January 19, 2018 at 7:24 pm

    “This is not a particularly “progressive” cause.”

    I disagree. The progs want to control every damn thing in your life and forcing you to use public transport like the europussies is part of it.

    Then there’s the graft that the progs build into any project…

And I thought Boston’s Big Dig was a fiasco [original budget $2.4B, final cost around $18B]. By the time this gets done (if ever) I bet your pushing $60B plus.

buckeyeminuteman | January 19, 2018 at 12:55 pm

American’s don’t ride trains for intrastate travel because everybody already owns a car that will get you there just as fast, cheaper and you’ll have a set of wheels to get you around at your final destination. For interstate travel, planes are much more dependable and take less time.

California doesn’t need a new train. It needs desalination plants so they can stop whining about droughts and wildfires.

It is a bullet train because it puts a large hole in the finances of California and is self inflicted. It is about spreading the wealth and paying off unions. As Lenin noted, trade unions are the path to communism… with a train stop at California socialism.

Full metal jacket is designed to maximize penetration and invites collateral damage.

notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | January 19, 2018 at 6:25 pm

Sorry OT, but have you seen this? HORRORS!

“San Francisco is a …..

We know this thanks to an interactive map created in 2014 called Human Wasteland.

The map charts all of the locations for human excrement “incidents” reported to the San Francisco police during a given month. The interactive map shows precise locations of the incidents by marking them with a….”

fatolddrunkguy | January 19, 2018 at 7:14 pm

Obama gets no credit for the low cost Velocibus:

This train was the fantasy of leftist loons suburban-prosperity haters of the likes of obama freaks, who envisioned the central part of the state populated by people living in tiny apartments being ferried like cattle to their jobs in the cities.

At a cost of 10.8 billion dollars to construct 119 miles of track, this works out to around 90 million dollars per mile or roughly $17,000 per foot of track. How can this cost be justified in any intelligent manner? And to think…. Never mind. This is all so absurd that trying to argue about it rationally will simply lead to heads exploding.