Off the Tracks

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

The Legislative Analyst issued
a report yesterday
slamming California’s High Speed Rail project. The
analyst cited a number of problems including uncertain funding, conditions
attached to federal funds and poor management of the project. While the analyst
recommended some changes that might help the project, I wonder if the voters would
like a second crack at voting on high-speed rail. Cut their loses before things
get worse.

The huge $9-billion bond voters approved as Proposition 1A
in 2008 passed with 52.6% of the vote with pretty much all the money spent in
the campaign on the Yes side. (Full Disclosure: I participated in a number of
debates representing the No side.) Ultimately, the cost of the huge project is
pegged at $43-billion.

Calculations in support of the project never seemed real,
especially the projected number of riders to make it financially stable and the
actual cost. Sure enough, once the measure passed, estimates on the project’s
cost inflated and the numbers of potential riders deflated.

Then the team in charge of the project decided to start it
in a less populated section of the state and California’s ballyhooed high-speed
rail project was soon dubbed "the train to nowhere."

There is no assurance that the legislative analyst’s
remedies will save the project. The state cannot afford a boondoggle. The
analyst is even suggesting that a $185 million payment to high-speed rail be
cut to $7 million this year. The rest of that money could go toward the
deficit, I suppose.

The larger issue is should the voters have a chance to
reconsider their decision from three years ago. Yes, taxpayers will have lost
some big money if we pull out now.  But,
will we lose even bigger money if the project continues its downward spiral?

Should the voters get a chance to vote again? 

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