A new study on the California High Speed Rail (HSR) project
released this week says the cost estimates for the first segment of the rail
are much higher than previously calculated. Everyone who is surprised by this
fact please raise your hands. I thought so. The High Speed Rail project has
received one credibility cut after another. Like the tree subject to continuous
hacks from lumberjacks, HSR is about to topple over.
As reported by the AP’s Adam Weintraub, supporters of the
rail are now having second
thoughts. He quoted rail supporter Senator Alan Lowenthal, "We really
need to re-examine what we’re spending and what we’re going to get for
The first leg was tagged at a cost of $7.1 billion in 2009.
The new study reports the cost at anywhere from $10 billion to $13.9 billion,
an increase of anywhere from 40 to 95 percent. And that’s the cost overrun of
just the first leg – a Central Valley leg that doesn’t run through the coastal
metropolises. What will the cost overrun be in trying to build the rail through
those high population corridors?
I looked back at the ballot arguments on Proposition1A, the
2008 General Election ballot measure that put the state’s taxpayers on the hook
for a $10-billion bond. The following argument stood out as if colored red: THE
USERS OF THE SYSTEM PAY FOR THE SYSTEM. (All CAPS in the original argument.)
If that statement were not so sad it would be worth a good
in this morning’s press has the cost of the rail system running as high as
$100 billion, even more than those who signed the ballot argument against the
measure predicted it could be ($90 billion.) Remember, when Prop 1A was on the
ballot the state told voters the project would run $33 billion.
The rider projections have already been heaped with scorn.
Estimates on the cost of a ticket have more than doubled from what the
pro-Prop1A side put out during the campaign.
The real cost can be measured by the news recently reported
that the state may face severe cuts to education if revenue predictions are not
met. The bonds will cost the General Fund over $600 million a year over 30
years to pay back the bond debt. That money could be used for other state
services in need.
And with soaring cost for the rail project more taxpayer
money would be required.
Last month, I wrote
on this site that the voters should be given a chance to reconsider their
vote on HSR. Assemblywoman Diane Harkey tried to get the legislature to defund
the project when she introduced AB 2121
and AB 76. Under Article XVI of the
state constitution, the legislature is permitted to repeal a law if no debt has
legislature did not support those measures evidence, continues to pile up
against the rail project. Perhaps legislators would vote differently if Harkey
tries again. The AP story reported that Senator Doug LaMalfa was preparing
legislation to allow the voters another chance to vote on HSR next June.
Given that the
federal government is unlikely to have funds to send to the state for the rail
project and private investors are not knocking down doors to buy into the
program, maybe the only money that should be spent now is a couple of coins to
place over the eyelids of this project and let it rest in peace.