Skip to comments.Jerry Brown will request billions for high-speed rail project (Anticipated cost now triple!!)
Posted on 11/14/2011 12:22:24 PM PST by SeekAndFind
I missed this during my travel to BlogCon 2011 in Denver, which I reached by airline travel — an economical and safe choice on a route served by multiple carriers and requiring little government subsidy to use. The competition for this route falls short of that for the Los Angeles-San Francisco route, though, where more than a half-dozen carriers offer flights between California’s two largest metropolises, complete with choices of departure and arrival airports on either end. Despite the lack of need for fast and reliable transportation between the two cities, Governor Jerry Brown told the LA Times editorial board that he intends on requesting the funds for a high-speed rail line — a project whose anticipated costs have tripled while still on the drawing board, and which dwarfs the annual state budget:
Gov. Jerry Brown said Thursday that he will formally request that the Legislature approve billions of dollars to start construction of the California bullet train next year and will work hard to persuade skeptical lawmakers that the project is critical to the state’s future.
In his first extended remarks on the $98.5-billion project since a controversial business plan was unveiled last week, Brown said that the state will have a broad need for the system in the long term and that it represents a significantly cheaper alternative to additional highway and commercial aviation investments.
“As an idea, if you think of California as growing and expanding, then it fits into it,” Brown said at a meeting with The Times’ editorial board. “It is based on an optimistic assessment of where California is going.”
The California High-Speed Rail Authority last week approved a new business plan that more than doubled the project’s cost and a related financing plan that would ask for the first construction money, tapping $2.7 billion in state bonds and $3.3 billion in federal grants.
“More than doubled”? The projected costs have nearly tripled. When first proposed, backers predicted that the rail service would cost $33.6 billion, a figure that eventually won the bonding approval needed it 2008. Without laying a single piece of rail, the costs have exploded to the $98.5 billion figure noted in the article — but that doesn’t reflect the potential for $20 billion in extra costs depending on route “options.” And that assumes that costs don’t inflate further as the project actually continues.
So what will the first few billion in state and federal money buy? Not much:
Rail officials hope the money can cover construction of a 140-mile Central Valley segment from Chowchilla to Bakersfield, though it would not pay for electrification, trains or other necessary parts of an operating system. To actually carry passengers will require more than $20 billion of additional investment in track and equipment, money that the state now does not have.
For $26 billion, the state of California could buy fifty brand-new Boeing 777-300ER passenger jets. All California and US taxpayers will get from the initial $6 billion will be track laid between two population centers that won’t produce any significant transportation demand on their own. It won’t even pay for the power connections to this supposed green-energy project, let alone answer the question of where California — a net importer of electricity, not a net exporter — will get the power to run even this remote segment of track.
On top of this good news, the state is already projecting that its tax receipts will fall $1.5 billion short in 2011. Why pursue this project in the middle of a fiscal disaster? Brown has an answer for that:
Even though the cost of the project has doubled, Brown said it is manageable over the 23-year construction period.
“Lincoln built the transcontinental railroad during the Civil War, and we built the Golden Gate Bridge during the Great Depression,” Brown said.
First, Lincoln didn’t build the transcontinental railroad; the railroads built the line themselves with minimal support from Congress. But Brown misses the larger point, which is that there were no other technologies for efficient transcontinental travel in the mid-19th century. Fixed rail and locomotives were the cutting edge of transportation technology at that time. If we had had airports in St. Louis and San Francisco at that time, there would have been little incentive to build a fixed-rail system at all. Air travel is both more efficient and much more scalable than rail service regardless of how fast the choo-choo travels — and in this case, it doesn’t move fast enough to beat airplanes anyway.
Fixed rail as a modern passenger transportation solution makes as much sense as requiring motorcycle riders to carry buggy whips. It is a 19th-century solution for a 21st-century problem, and one that will probably cost us in debt and subsidies well into the 22nd century if California proceeds with its boondoggle.
Well, just because they don’t have the money to build it and there’s no logical reason to build it doesn’t mean that some Democrats couldn’t make money off this project. Democrats - they don’t really care if they accomplish anything so long as the taxpayer money keeps going into their pockets.
High speed rail systems are a Marxist social corral system, to force the collective into the state-ordered societies....controlled by central government edict.
Government in the US has been made from individualism and private property—the freedom to go where ever they wanted—when they wanted. This freedom created individuals who bucked collective societies and all efforts of govt. to control their lives and telling them where they could live and what they are allowed to do.
These systems are going to determine where the masses can live and what areas they are allowed to enter (and when). Government it buying up all lands that will be off limits to the masses....agenda 21. The elites will control all aspects of the ignorant masses in the US if we allow these to be built. They are only for mass control of population in a slave society.
No he's not. He knows who he MUST pay off or else, and it's not just the unions (Buffet, Kiewitt, Times/Mirror, SPX, Kaufmann & Broad). Speaking of which...
This is for those of you who have been following the Bay Bridge debacle.
Just think: Do a crappy job for cheap, pay off a State inspector to fake his report, blame the union, get a follow on contract to "fix the problem."
What's not to like? Betcha the "high speed fail" project goes just the same way!
Wiles, the Sandusky of bridge construction inspectors. How many knew of his shortcomings and for how long did they know it?
LOL You get what you pay for.
California did achieve greatness, once upon a time, without high speed rail. Those days and the greatness are over.
Boston’s “Big Dig” direct construction costs came in at 7 times it’s original projected cost of around 2 billion dollars and with the bond financing costs added in will come in at around 10 times it’s projected cost.
I would apply those factors to the projected costs of the California HSR project. Should it ever get built, the cost will be somewhere between 300 to 400 billion dollars for a system that will carry very few people at enormous operating cost/losses and will ultimately be abandoned.
Well there ya go. Had California a high speed rail their decline never would’ve happened. The air would be clean and sweet, housing prices low, high paying jobs abundant and children would respect their parents.
Can anyone set a price on that?
That's the point I was trying to make! That everything the railroad bosses were doing in order to build the transcontinental railroad was fraudulent. They fleeced investors, the government, land-owners and customers. The four railroad tycoons who built the western segment from Utah to California made billions. Leland Stanford is one, left Stanford University as a legacy to his son's name, built with scam money. When they got the free land, they enticed people back east to move here by promoting infrastructure that didn't exist, sold them land and high-priced tickets to get there, and upon arrival the people found empty land.
Anytime there is talk of building a huge rail project, look for the public getting ripped off bigtime. This new high-speed rail is unnecessary except for the few who want to scam the taxpayers.