Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Back in 2008, the state's voters were silly enough to approve a high speed rail project that was sold to them as costing a mere $33.6 billion and would take until 2020 to build.
The fact that the state was essentially bankrupt at the time made no difference. Neither did the fact that there's already rail service between the state's major cities,or that traveling from Los Angeles to San Francisco by car only takes six hours, most of it on relatively uncongested freeways.
Surprise! According to new figures from a final business plan to be unveiled by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the estimated cost has now ballooned to nearly $100 billion, almost triple the estimate given to voters and more than enough to run the entire state government for a year. Not only that,but the estimated completion time is now 2033 or longer, depending on how long it takes the state to somehow find 90% of the money needed to build it.
Needless to say, Governor Jerry Brown is expected to endorse the new plan.So are the mayors of Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose.
California's original 'plan' relied on more than $15 billion from the federal government, $10 billion from private investors and $5 billion from local governments.Only some of the government money has been forthcoming so far, three years after the voters approved this insanity.
If the State of California kills the project, it loses a $2.2 billion federal grant earmarked to create temporary construction jobs. But starting the project to claim the funds would require spending $6.3 billion, split between state and federal funds, to build a short stretch of track that would not be long enough to support bullet train service.
So that's the choice faced by the Democrat legislators who run California. What'll it be? Spend an additional $3.1 billion in funds the state doesn't have in order to get back $2.2 billion and commit to spending billions more the state doesn't have in order to build something unnecessary that most of the state's residents won't use anyway and private enterprise sees no profit in providing - OR - bag the whole project as a bad idea?
I can almost guarantee you that the plan will be approved enthusiastically.
Hey, the weather's nice.