Surprise! California high-speed rail cost explodes

posted at 1:00 pm on August 14, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Do I hate to say, “I told you so“?  Er … not really:

Building tracks for the first section of California’s proposed high-speed rail line will cost $2.9 billion to $6.8 billion more than originally estimated, raising questions about the affordability of the nation’s most ambitious rail project at a time when its planning and finances are under fire.

A 2009 business plan developed for the California High-Speed Authority, the entity overseeing the project, estimated costs at about $7.1 billion for the equivalent stretch of tracks. Officials say those estimates were made before detailed engineering work and feedback from communities along the proposed route.

The latest estimates are contained in two environmental impact studies that were shared with The Associated Press before their public release on Tuesday.

In May, I explained in my column at The Week that the first section in question connects two population centers that don’t have much population at all:

Thanks to rules attached to federal subsidies in President Obama’s stimulus package, California has to break ground on the project by next year. That has forced the state to focus much of its $3.5 billion on an effort to connect the bustling metropolises of… Borden and Corcoran. The latter is a town of fewer than 25,000 people located 174 miles north of Los Angeles, while Borden, 167 miles south of San Francisco, is an unincorporated area that doesn’t even have a population listing. Its county, Madera, boasts a population of 148,000, making it 33rd out of 58 counties in California in population.

Taxpayers throughout the country therefore paid more than $3 billion to connect fewer than 175,000 people by rail. That may not be a “train to nowhere,” as the Times‘ editors put it, but it’s pretty darned close. Moreover, thanks to California’s own budget meltdowns, the state won’t allow any bond issues for rail projects that don’t generate enough revenue to pay for themselves — and with the fabulous destinations of Borden and Corcoran as end points, the state won’t sell enough tickets to have the engines pulling out of the station.

The AP confirms that this is the section where costs appear to have almost doubled in the past three months:

Construction of the first stretch of tracks – as much as 140 miles from south of Merced to just north of Bakersfield – is scheduled to begin by September 2012 using $3.5 billion in federal money and an estimated $2.8 billion from the sale of state bonds approved by voters.

The higher cost estimates already have been factored into the federally funded construction, van Ark said.

As a native Californian and a long-time resident of the state (over 30 years), I can confirm that the populations around Merced and Bakersfield would dearly love to go somewhere else … but not switch places.  Now it appears that the original, ridiculous estimated cost to connect two points in relative Nowhereland have either doubled or tripled since the Obama administration funded the project.

Let’s put this in perspective.  The higher-end estimate of just the cost overruns is more than twice the cost of Cash for Clunkers.  It’s also about one-sixth of the entire reduction to the FY2011 budget forced by Republicans in April after a long showdown with Democrats.  The California high-speed rail is not a train to nowhere — it’s an express to bankruptcy, especially if the project continues past this sideline spur.

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“Monorail”!!!

ConservativeTalkRadio on August 14, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Ok, well that settles it. Let’s start on that high speed rail from Chicago to Milwaukee instead cause I hear the shopping in Milwaukee is fabulous//

Knucklehead on August 14, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Surprise! California high-speed rail cost explodes

HOW COULD THIS BE????

After the great success of the Bay Area Rapid Transit project, which came in under budget….

….oh, wait…

landlines on August 14, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Choo Choo Obama. High speed railroading of America.

William Amos on August 14, 2011 at 1:05 PM

I can confirm that the populations around Merced and Bakersfield would dearly love to go somewhere else … but not switch places.

Witty! :-)

KS Rex on August 14, 2011 at 1:05 PM

I’m reminded of a story on the news this morning, about union workers, working at the WTC site, spotted in bars drinking shots of whiskey, and beer.

How much of the over costs are stemming from this? How much are stemming from the rail station? Either way, this is an over bloated, and way to expensive project at a time when no state, least of all California, can afford. Nor should any other tax payers in the other 49 states be paying for it.

capejasmine on August 14, 2011 at 1:07 PM

This!

pain train on August 14, 2011 at 1:07 PM

But, but, this can’t be. Obama said HSR was a top priority of his, remember. And, this was also a shovel-ready project, too. Oh, the humanity!

TXUS on August 14, 2011 at 1:07 PM

STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

golfmann on August 14, 2011 at 1:07 PM

I’m shocked, shocked I tell you. Now how much would one of these cost on a national level, taking in to account the whopping success (at leaking away money) Amtrak is.

Tuari on August 14, 2011 at 1:08 PM

Officials say those estimates were made before detailed engineering work and feedback from communities along the proposed route.

In other words, they low-balled the cost to get the project going, and then jacked up the cost after the commitment had been made. The ol’ bait-and-switch …

What California, and America, needs is another Chris Christie who will look at these updated costs and say STOP!

furytrader on August 14, 2011 at 1:08 PM

Ok, well that settles it. Let’s start on that high speed rail from Chicago to Milwaukee instead cause I hear the shopping in Milwaukee is fabulous//

Knucklehead on August 14, 2011 at 1:04 PM

What, 80-some minutes on either the train or I-94 too long? There really is no speed limit on the Tri-State if that’s the concern.

Steve Eggleston on August 14, 2011 at 1:10 PM

The only high-speed rail link we need is from Washington DC to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean – one way.

virgo on August 14, 2011 at 1:10 PM

But it would be so great for jobs! And the environment too!

/libtard

MJBrutus on August 14, 2011 at 1:12 PM

This!

pain train on August 14, 2011 at 1:07 PM

Sorry, I should have included “NSFW!”

My bad.

pain train on August 14, 2011 at 1:12 PM

I hope the House GOP refuses to appropriate one penny more for this.

There’s no Teddy Kennedy from California to keep the spigots open for another Big Dig-type project.

Wethal on August 14, 2011 at 1:13 PM

Wasting this money is no laughing matter. Is there any politican who can articulate a way to stop this atrocity?

GaltBlvnAtty on August 14, 2011 at 1:13 PM

HellOOOOOO! California! This is why all the other states laugh at you!!! You elect Moonbeam, refuse to throw the Dems out of the legislature and think bonds are free money! it’s so typical of you to live in a big house you can’t afford and drive a Mercedes you can’t pay for so you can keep up with the Jones of Beverly Hills.
Did you think Florida’s Gov. Scott turned down the stimulus $ because he is a right-wing ideologue? LOL! No, you clowns, he’s not stupid, that’s why! Enjoy!

cartooner on August 14, 2011 at 1:13 PM

We have to build the trains to make sure they run on time.

/Nancy Pelosi

Left Coast Right Mind on August 14, 2011 at 1:15 PM

Building tracks for the first section of California’s proposed high-speed rail line will cost $2.9 billion to $6.8 billion more than originally estimated,

A FOUR BILLION DOLLAR spread is still the closest estimate they can give? That’s like taking your wrecked car to the body shop and having them tell you, “My best estimate is that it will take somewhere between $2,000 and $200,000 to take out those dents and put on a new bumper.”

tommyboy on August 14, 2011 at 1:16 PM

EVERYTHING liberals do ends up a failure. Every single thing.

angryed on August 14, 2011 at 1:17 PM

This thing is going to have about as much ridership as the Cannonball had between Hooterville and Pixley.

trigon on August 14, 2011 at 1:18 PM

I’m waiting for “Casey Jones” Biden to weigh in before I take a side . . .

tpitman on August 14, 2011 at 1:19 PM

California High-Speed Rail — because we all need to get to Bakersfield as quickly as possible.

scrubjay on August 14, 2011 at 1:20 PM

A FOUR BILLION DOLLAR spread is still the closest estimate they can give? That’s like taking your wrecked car to the body shop and having them tell you, “My best estimate is that it will take somewhere between $2,000 and $200,000 to take out those dents and put on a new bumper.”

tommyboy on August 14, 2011 at 1:16 PM

But in this case
mechanic = union
customer = Democrat Party
union = Democrat party

I don’t buy this we underestimated BS. They knew exactly what it would cost. They just straight up lied with a lower number knowing full well when the real number was revealed they would still get it.

angryed on August 14, 2011 at 1:20 PM

This the same week the story about the Chinese bullet train recall came out.

Full speed ahead!

misterpeasea on August 14, 2011 at 1:20 PM

It’s only tax money,…oops,… no..sorry. It’s only borrowed or freshly printed money. And, we have a new debt ceiling, so no worries.

a capella on August 14, 2011 at 1:25 PM

while Borden, 167 miles south of San Francisco, is an unincorporated area that doesn’t even have a population listing

Well, you can take CalTrain down from San Francisco to Gilroy (about 80 miles) then rent a car and drive across 152 and then 99 (about 100 miles) and hook up with the high-speed rail there. Then, when you get off in Corcoran, you can rent another car and drive the remaining 200 miles to Los Angeles. Heck, if you’re feeling lazy, you could even stop in Bakersfield and just fly down to LAX. Whatevs. This high-speed rail thingy is gonna be super convenient and attract a large ridership. Of this, I am sure.

steebo77 on August 14, 2011 at 1:25 PM

That has forced the state to focus much of its $3.5 billion on an effort to connect the bustling metropolises of… Borden and Corcoran. The latter is a town of fewer than 25,000 people located 174 miles north of Los Angeles, while Borden, 167 miles south of San Francisco, is an unincorporated area that doesn’t even have a population listing.

About 8,000 of the 25,000 population of Corcoran are PRISONERS. They are’t commuting anywhere!

Blake on August 14, 2011 at 1:26 PM

Submit a plan to run the tracks straight through the heart of Beverly Hills and Malibu, the resultant screaming of outraged leftists could be heard on Neptune.

Bishop on August 14, 2011 at 1:26 PM

The worst part?

They’ll build it anyway.

And the cost overruns are still probably lowballing things…

catmman on August 14, 2011 at 1:28 PM

$7 billion for 140 miles of RR track is $50 million per mile (all in). We do new oil & gas pipelines for between $3 million and $8 million per mile (all in).

So laying railroad track costs 15x what laying pipeline costs. That’s the difference between public works and private works.

ss396 on August 14, 2011 at 1:30 PM

Build it from LA to Tijuana and start sending illegals back at high speed and it might help the economy.

profitsbeard on August 14, 2011 at 1:31 PM

Somewhere in America, a municipality is meeting with their general counsel and an outside legal bankruptcy expert to discuss exit strategies from their idiotic and disastrous decision to pay Siemens Corporation of Germany $2 billion for a worthless “light rail” boondoggle.

Somewhere in America, citizens are cursing Siemens and spitting.

Somewhere in America, conservatives are laughing at the city liberals and saying “I told you so…”

Jaibones on August 14, 2011 at 1:35 PM

I’m sure contracts specify only union workers … so this is really nothing more than a union payoff.

darwin on August 14, 2011 at 1:35 PM

This whole ‘high-speed rail’ has been a farce from Day One. Currently it’s a cash cow, paying outrageous salaries, trying to foist an idea on a gullible public.

The costs were minimized, the “potential ridership” maximized. The original ridership figures were laughable. EVERYONE in the state would need to ride 2-3 times a week to make those numbers.

Then there’s the ‘won’t cost taxpayers a dime’ because investors would flock to put their money down. So far, NO ONE has put any down. Buffett? Soros? Gates? Here’s your chance!

GarandFan on August 14, 2011 at 1:35 PM

Can they even put compatible rolling stock on this section without extending it?

burt on August 14, 2011 at 1:36 PM

About 8,000 of the 25,000 population of Corcoran are PRISONERS. They are’t commuting anywhere!

Blake on August 14, 2011 at 1:26 PM

Well, now we can whisk those inmates to Corcoran in high speed comfort!

BallisticBob on August 14, 2011 at 1:37 PM

Officials say those estimates were made before detailed engineering work and feedback from communities along the proposed route pulled out of some politician’s posterior.

Fixed it for them.

percival on August 14, 2011 at 1:39 PM

so the overrun, at a minimum, will be 40 Boeing 737′s… and that’s in the middle of nowhere, where the construction is the easiest…. STOP THE MADNESS

phreshone on August 14, 2011 at 1:40 PM

This atrocity was the result of a proposition that was put on the ballot in 2008. The Obambi election brought out all kinds of liberal mentally deficients who couldn’t comprehend math or common sense.

The John and Ken show on KFI have been on this and recently mentioned an effort to put a new proposition on the ballot to KILL this stupid thing.

kurtzz3 on August 14, 2011 at 1:40 PM

A typical Obama “investment”.

cartooner on August 14, 2011 at 1:41 PM

The biggest obstacle to any type of railway development, innovation, or (dare I say it) profitability in the US is the government, from the socialist enterprise of Amtrak on down. I am a railway advocate, but what Obama and the Dems have done – bastardizing high speed rail (especially when calling pathetic service of fewer than 100mph HSR) and turning it into a cash cow for unions – has more or less buried any kind of innovation for a generation.

As for the Californians, if they really wanted HSR they wouldn’t have allowed their politicians to create a giant entitlement state and paid for HSR themselves instead of stealing from other states via Congress. The only hope the California HSR has – if it is even finished – is to be privatized and the operating company given a lot of leeway. But the unions will never allow that.

fiatboomer on August 14, 2011 at 1:45 PM

Thank you Scott Walker!!!

Add another accomplishment for the Wisconsin governor who put the brakes on the high speed rail plans for Wisconsin.

PackerBronco on August 14, 2011 at 1:46 PM

P.S. Palin: ‘All Aboard’ Obama’s ‘Bullet Train to Bankruptcy’

steebo77 on August 14, 2011 at 1:27 PM

Winner!

idesign on August 14, 2011 at 1:46 PM

I don’t buy this we underestimated BS. They knew exactly what it would cost. They just straight up lied with a lower number knowing full well when the real number was revealed they would still get it.

angryed on August 14, 2011 at 1:20 PM

I am sure that they knew that they were under reporting what they estimated. I don’t believe they knew how much it would cost. I think it likely the cost will be greater than the current highest estimate.

burt on August 14, 2011 at 1:47 PM

All aboard the Fail Train!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7m013wTmYls

yubley on August 14, 2011 at 1:52 PM

“Building tracks for the first section of California’s proposed high-speed rail line will cost $2.9 billion to $6.8 billion more than originally estimated…”

Who did the original estimate…?

Seven Percent Solution on August 14, 2011 at 1:53 PM

“A 2009 business plan developed for the California High-Speed Authority, the entity overseeing the project, estimated costs at about $7.1 billion for the equivalent stretch of tracks. Officials say those estimates were made before detailed engineering work and feedback from communities along the proposed route.”

Horse crap. If the detailed engineering work — which, at EIS level, isn’t “detailed” — and community input resulted in estimate increases of 40% to 95%, then no serious engineering work or community input was sought at the “2009 business plan”, at all.

Then there is this:

“The rail authority’s chief executive, Roelof van Ark, said planners anticipated the higher costs as more information about land acquisition and other details related to actual construction became known.”

No, the planners didn’t anticipate either, but they are now. If they had anticipated these issues they would have sought some reputable consultants to provide input on “land acquisition costs and other details related to actual construction cost” to the 2009 Business Plan.

Lastly, I object calling those folks planners, as it’s obvious they weren’t or we’d not have a 40% to 90% increase.

Dusty on August 14, 2011 at 1:53 PM

The Obambi election brought out all kinds of liberal mentally deficients

as well as a large quota of illegals

who couldn’t comprehend math or common sense.

burt on August 14, 2011 at 1:55 PM

“Building tracks for the first section of California’s proposed high-speed rail line will cost $2.9 billion to $6.8 billion more than originally estimated…”

Who did the original estimate…?

Seven Percent Solution on August 14, 2011 at 1:53 PM

The same people who did the estimate for the cost of ObamaCare.

Jaibones on August 14, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Yeah living here is so cool. I know how jealous everybody is.

/s

Grayson on August 14, 2011 at 1:57 PM

The surprise would have been if it didn’t.

Socratease on August 14, 2011 at 2:03 PM

The John and Ken show on KFI have been on this and recently mentioned an effort to put a new proposition on the ballot to KILL this stupid thing.

kurtzz3 on August 14, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Did those two goofs plus Handel shill for Obama and vote for him? They make me sick.

Blake on August 14, 2011 at 2:04 PM

I find it interesting that Obama is all for cutting Nasa and all for spending unlimited amounts of money connecting two ghost towns in California. Of course, on the international scene they do project different views of America. The first supports the view of American, the Exceptional, and the second supports the view of America, the dumb and wasteful. Is it any surprise this adminsitration picked the second to fund?

Fred 2 on August 14, 2011 at 2:05 PM

Remember the 100 million dollar bridge to nowhere in Alaska? The boondoggle the showcased GOP waste and corruption?

This is a Democrat $14 billion train to nowhere.

Give me Republican waste anytime.

Nethicus on August 14, 2011 at 2:07 PM

The AP confirms that this is the section where costs appear to have almost doubled in the past three months

Considering the crash in the real estate market in California, nobody with a brain would believe the costs doubled in three months. What it really means is that, as everyone said at the time, the costs were ridiculously low-balled when the voters were presented with the proposal.

Socratease on August 14, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Do I hate to say, “I told you so“? Er … not really:

Ed, when do we get tried of saying, “I told you so?” Are Conservatives the only ones who get that these programs never come in under? And are military or aerospace projects the only government programs that the liberals care to point out as running high on original estimates?

Throws arms up and wishes we had an objective media.

hawkdriver on August 14, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Did those two goofs plus Handel shill for Obama and vote for him? They make me sick.
Blake on August 14, 2011 at 2:04 PM

J&K no. Handel yes, big time.

kurtzz3 on August 14, 2011 at 2:13 PM

Yeah living here is so cool. I know how jealous everybody is.

/s

Grayson on August 14, 2011 at 1:57 PM

I’ve been in that entire region of the country many times. I am jealous for your beautiful mountains, the high desert and forests in the North. Californians can still be proud about many things. And to hold on out there as a Conservative, you’re a better man than me.

hawkdriver on August 14, 2011 at 2:14 PM

Isn’t it weird that Lefties just love subsidized transportation. I bet they use it constantly.

Cindy Munford on August 14, 2011 at 2:16 PM

That’s OK. By the time the bill comes due, I’ll be in Minnesota with you, having left the workers’ paradise to its own devices.

Sadly, my city just enacted a sales tax to get around Prop 13 which I’ll have to pay when I sell my home.

unclesmrgol on August 14, 2011 at 2:17 PM

Quit dwelling on the negative and try to look at it in a positive light.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQvmCzILBfE

heshtesh on August 14, 2011 at 2:17 PM

Did you think Florida’s Gov. Scott turned down the stimulus $ because he is a right-wing ideologue? LOL! No, you clowns, he’s not stupid, that’s why! Enjoy!

cartooner

Scott’s MY Governor!

honsy on August 14, 2011 at 2:20 PM

bayam will be along any minute now to scold us for ceding the High Ground on HSR to the Chinese.

After all, they’re superior to us. Their Regime is run by “Engineers”.

Del Dolemonte on August 14, 2011 at 2:23 PM

That’s OK. By the time the bill comes due, I’ll be in Minnesota with you, having left the workers’ paradise to its own devices.

Sadly, my city just enacted a sales tax to get around Prop 13 which I’ll have to pay when I sell my home.

unclesmrgol on August 14, 2011 at 2:17 PM

I have a brother in law that lives in San Diego. He told me he thought they’d tax you for using the sun to make tea if they thought they could get away with it.

hawkdriver on August 14, 2011 at 2:24 PM

I’m reminded of a story on the news this morning, about union workers, working at the WTC site, spotted in bars drinking shots of whiskey, and beer.

How much of the over costs are stemming from this? How much are stemming from the rail station? Either way, this is an over bloated, and way to expensive project at a time when no state, least of all California, can afford. Nor should any other tax payers in the other 49 states be paying for it.

capejasmine on August 14, 2011 at 1:07 PM

It’s government money, so the progs are not going to let anyone work on the project that isn’t a greedy union member.

New York City though is uniquely corrupt. Any union construction job is likely to have ‘no-show’ jobs assigned as special favors to persons or ‘organizations’. Same goes with sh!tholes like Philadelphia or Chicago. Garbage, construction, and trucking were corrupted by organized crime many decades ago and is near impossible to undo. Giuliani or Trump can tell you all about it.

slickwillie2001 on August 14, 2011 at 2:25 PM

The latest estimates are contained in two environmental impact studies that were shared with The Associated Press before their public release on Tuesday.

Oh, now I see how this works! Because it is a dem administration it’s ok to impact the environment for a high speed rail line, but it’s not ok to keep the central valley fertile and green growing food for our nation due to the delta smelt!

When it comes to saving the delta smelt lets turn a once beautiful, productive, and job providing argricultural area into a dust bowl! The liberal left are just what we’ve known them to be, hypocrites!

A project that impacts the environment is just fine when it’s a DEM project, but if it’s a REPUB project, the liberal left greenies cry “it’s those demonic conservative trying to rape and destroy the environment again!”

Liberty or Death on August 14, 2011 at 2:27 PM

Isn’t it weird that Lefties just love subsidized transportation. I bet they use it constantly.

Cindy Munford on August 14, 2011 at 2:16 PM

They have always loved Trains, because Trains are a method of controlling the Workers.

The Left can’t control where you go and when you go to get there when you drive your car.

Del Dolemonte on August 14, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Socialists love trains. They are a taxpayer-funded, physical manifestation of the abdication of one’s individuality to “benefit” the “greater good.”

Wingo on August 14, 2011 at 2:31 PM

The kickbacks were misunderestimated. Who would have thunk it?

Look at slAmtrak’s bottom line and that of the Post Office… mix thoroughly with Mexifornia hyper-regulation, Gov. Moonbeam flaketocracy and on a nationwide scale it will probably make the Gummint Motors UAW payoff look cheap.

viking01 on August 14, 2011 at 2:35 PM

The higher cost estimates already have been factored into the federally funded construction, van Ark said.

This is getting real old real fast. The stupidity of our government and the politicians that keep rolling with it left and right truly are clueless. The left’s overall obsession with rail is astounding. I thank God that Kasich killed it in Ohio.

CW on August 14, 2011 at 2:50 PM

Liberals just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE trains. So stupid.

It’s worked out really nicely here in Seattle. The light rail is way over budget, way under used and the plan to add a lot more track because it’s so awesome. They put NO parking at the stations and then make it illegal to park near the stations unless you are a local resident. You have to ride a bicycle or bus to the train station.

So amazing. HOPE AND CHANGE!!!!!!!!

Cinematicfilm on August 14, 2011 at 2:51 PM

Well, you can take CalTrain down from San Francisco to Gilroy (about 80 miles)

steebo77 on August 14, 2011 at 1:25 PM

Which, depending on the day, will be anything from an hour and a half to about two and a half hours.

During that time period, of course, you could have driven to SFO, hopped a $99 flight, and gotten to Los Angeles about the time you would have finished haggling with the rental-car agency in Gilroy.

The Obama Party is nuts. That’s just all there is to it.

northdallasthirty on August 14, 2011 at 3:04 PM

I don’t know if Noo Yawk still has their “Culture Loop” bus tour through Harlem (doors bolted shut at its start Midtown near the UN and remain bolted shut until return to Midtown near the UN) but anyone who has experienced the joys of ever riding Atlanta’s MARTA crackheads / glue-sniffers delight would certainly be lining up to get from, say, Detroit to Toledo by rail as quickly as possible. Bring your dental records.

viking01 on August 14, 2011 at 3:05 PM

It’s worked out really nicely here in Seattle. The light rail is way over budget, way under used and the plan to add a lot more track because it’s so awesome. They put NO parking at the stations and then make it illegal to park near the stations unless you are a local resident. You have to ride a bicycle or bus to the train station.

So amazing. HOPE AND CHANGE!!!!!!!!

Cinematicfilm on August 14, 2011 at 2:51 PM

You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, my friend.

The corrupt Democrat Machine that has run Hawai’i for a half a century is just getting started on their own rail project in Honolulu.

They’ve been trying to get this Monorail built since the time I lived there in the 1960s.

Just this year alone, it’s been a 3 ring legal circus. Latest lawsuit against the project just filed last week by a law professor. Native Hawaiians had also earlier filed suit because of the possibility the construction would unearth Native remains.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

Del Dolemonte on August 14, 2011 at 3:08 PM

China balks.

Mason on August 14, 2011 at 3:09 PM

You guys are just anti-jobs.

CW on August 14, 2011 at 3:09 PM

Building tracks for the first section of California’s proposed high-speed rail line will cost $2.9 billion to $6.8 billion more than originally estimated. . .[first] estimated . . . at about $7.1 billion

So, the new estimate for 140 miles of track is between $10 billion and $13.9 billion.

For $10 billion, you can buy 115 brand new Boeing 737-900ERs, the latest model.

For $13.9 billion, you can buy 160 of those brand new 737s.

Moreover, building tracks all the way from SF to LA could cost $41.7 billion–or 3 times the 140-mile cost. With the same funds, you could have an airline with 480 of those 737s–almost as big as Southwest Airlines. (Southwest Airlines has about 550 Boeing 737s, although the planes are not brand new.)

Emperor Norton on August 14, 2011 at 3:19 PM

In other words, they low-balled the cost to get the project going, and then jacked up the cost after the commitment had been made. The ol’ bait-and-switch …

What California, and America, needs is another Chris Christie who will look at these updated costs and say STOP!

furytrader on August 14, 2011 at 1:08 PM

Standard operating procedure.

Kenosha Kid on August 14, 2011 at 3:23 PM

First we had the bridge to nowhere. Now we have the train to nowhere.

stefano1 on August 14, 2011 at 3:24 PM

Ok, well that settles it. Let’s start on that high speed rail from Chicago to Milwaukee instead cause I hear the shopping in Milwaukee is fabulous//

Knucklehead on August 14, 2011 at 1:04 PM

They’re also pushing a longer route, from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Chicago. You would actually be able to drive to Chicago faster than the train route would take. So much for “high-speed”.

strictnein on August 14, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Look for the union label……….

ultracon on August 14, 2011 at 3:31 PM

They’re also pushing a longer route, from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Chicago. You would actually be able to drive to Chicago faster than the train route would take. So much for “high-speed”.

strictnein on August 14, 2011 at 3:26 PM

In Ohio Gov. Kasich nixed a train that would have ran from Cincinnati to Columbus to Cleveland. While it sounds great it was actually a “higher speed” train not high speed. I assume that would be the same for the one of which you speak. With the Ohio train you could have as well driven faster to Cleveland in your car . The train would have been used on existing track thus they would have to slow down through most towns often down to 35 mph.

Half the cost of the tickets though would have been paid for by the tax payer. What do you think this was about? Even after the federal money would have been used for construction it would have cost the Ohio tax payer millions each year.

CW on August 14, 2011 at 3:33 PM

Maybe bayam and ernesto can warm up with a trip on this.
http://secondavenuesagas.com/second-ave-subway-history/

Oh, wait!

katy the mean old lady on August 14, 2011 at 3:41 PM

Just heard on the radio this morning that some bay area cities are suing to stop it from going through their cities.

xplodeit on August 14, 2011 at 3:51 PM

Moving the initial section of tracks from the Central Valley would jeopardize federal money received for construction because it was granted with a strict timetable and requires that the work be done in the valley.

And now we know why the water was turned off.

journeyintothewhirlwind on August 14, 2011 at 3:58 PM

They have always loved Trains, because Trains are a method of controlling the Workers.

The Left can’t control where you go and when you go to get there when you drive your car.

Del Dolemonte on August 14, 2011 at 2:29 PM


STOP.

I hate this bullshit meme.

Rail transportation is not a conspiracy to get you out of your car. It is an option that works well in certain environments and compliments auto, bus, and air travel networks.

Besides, if you want to discuss controlling the worker, I think air travel pretty much has a stranglehold on that these days.

If I choose to take Metrorail to a Redskins game instead of driving the nasty Capital Beltway and then having to pay a crapload of money to Dan Snyder to park, well guess what – I like that option.

Keep your garbage conspiracy theories to yourself.

fiatboomer on August 14, 2011 at 3:59 PM

Do a Private Rail instead, they could definitely use something like this from San Diego to LA to Santa Barbara to San Francisco to Sacramento.

jp on August 14, 2011 at 4:00 PM

I’m sure glad Gov. Rick Scott squashed this moronic high speed rail idea here in Florida. It drove the left nuts.

Bill Nelson was a big supporter of the high speed rail plan, and hopefully his opponent next year will remind everyone of that fact. We need to make sure he is defeated and we send one more Republican to join the ranks in the Senate.

bartonbulletin on August 14, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Thank you Rick Scott for standing your ground.

vcferlita on August 14, 2011 at 4:13 PM

It was actually the 2008 vote for the HSR bond that I finally made the break between what I think California is and the reality of how dumb Californians are. Who the EFF would borrow money, $8 BILLION, two months after Lehman Brothers? WHO???!!!

Apologetic California on August 14, 2011 at 4:13 PM

I hate this bullshit meme.

Rail transportation is not a conspiracy to get you out of your car. It is an option that works well in certain environments and compliments auto, bus, and air travel networks.

Oddly enough, Fiat, getting people out of their cars is an explicit “selling point” for train advocates.

Mason on August 14, 2011 at 4:17 PM

Awww poor California. I know how to fix all of this : more investment in infrastructure, high speed rail and green energy! With increased revenues from corporate jet owners and millionaires and billionaires we can win the future and hope for change!

Oh and Ryan is going to kill your grandmother. Yes, your grandmother will die, poor sweet granny will stop breathing.

GRRR I hate acid flashbacks. They really alter your mind.

Rambotito on August 14, 2011 at 4:20 PM

They could save some money by closing the gyms in the prisons and letting the prisoners stay in shape out on chain gangs laying rail.

Annar on August 14, 2011 at 4:21 PM

Keep your garbage conspiracy theories to yourself.

fiatboomer on August 14, 2011 at 3:59 PM

Rail was already failing in LA by the 1930′s as roads and automobiles made their steady upward climb in affordability. Rail here finally disappeared in the 1960′s.

Rail works well in the Northeastern corridor, but Amtrak loses money on every other line it runs.

In Southern California rail is making a comeback, but not in the way you’d expect. It isn’t customers driving the creation of rail lines here, it’s liberals who are taxing (a) the communities through which they build the lines and (b) the bus-riders and auto drivers. Of these groups, the bus riders are so incensed over having to pay their lower class wages to support an upper class fare system for the rail lines that they’ve formed their own union to try to separate the MTA into two parts — neither of which would be allowed to rely upon the other.

Here, we built out, not up, so the liberals will have to densify us to get rail to work again.

unclesmrgol on August 14, 2011 at 4:25 PM

If I choose to take Metrorail to a Redskins game instead of driving the nasty Capital Beltway and then having to pay a crapload of money to Dan Snyder to park, well guess what – I like that option.

Keep your garbage conspiracy theories to yourself.

fiatboomer on August 14, 2011 at 3:59 PM

Yeah, so how many Redskins games you going to this year? How ’bout we taxpayers just pay your cab fare each way? It would be a lot cheaper!

2L8 on August 14, 2011 at 4:33 PM

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