WH: You bet we’re gung-ho on that boondoggle that’s tripled in cost before it’s begun!

posted at 11:10 am on December 17, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

The projected cost of the California high-speed rail project has tripled from the $33 billion estimate the state used to get voter approval for the necessary bonds — borrowing, in other words — in 2008, just three short years ago.  The state hasn’t even broken ground on the project, and even its former supporters are questioning the wisdom of putting a state that’s already sinking in red ink on the hook for a boondoggle that will require them to borrow almost all of the $99 billion cost and not have any service to show for it for more than a decade.

Don’t expect the Obama administration to show that kind of critical thinking, however:

The Obama administration vowed Thursday at a House committee meeting in Washington that it would not back down from its support of California’s bullet train project despite attacks from critics who alleged it is tainted by political corruption.

“We are not going to flinch on that support,” said Joseph Szabo, chief of the Federal Railroad Administration.

Szabo said that his agency had committed itself to provide $3.3 billion for a construction start next year in the Central Valley and that federal law prohibits any change of mind about where to begin building the first segment of the state’s high-speed rail system.

“The worst thing we could do is make obligations to folks and start to renege on our word,” Szabo told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Er, no.  The worst thing they could do is to waste taxpayer money on a boondoggle that, at least at this point, actually has no realistic final price.  The new estimate includes a risk of a 20% increase from the new $99 billion estimate based on “route options,” and that’s before any work has even been started.  Once ground breaks, the project will undoubtedly face unexpected setbacks and need for new cash infusions, a pattern seen on every public works project in memory.

What will this project deliver in the end?  A fixed-rail transport system that takes longer to deliver people between two points than air travel — with multiple service providers — takes now.  As with all public-transport systems, taxpayers will have to heavily subsidize the service to make it price competitive with the other options of driving or flying, and unlike the tradeoff cities make in that calculus to relieve congestion, there is no public detriment that the rail system will relieve in exchange for those billions in subsidies that will have to flow into the California Choo-Choo.  No one has proposed how California even plans to power the train system, since California is a net importer of electricity now.  The only realistic options for generating as much power as will be needed on a reliable basis are fossil fuels and nuclear power, neither of which improves on cars or planes, at least in the eyes of Californians and Democrats supporting this project.

And don’t forget that this fixed-track system, which for passenger service is a relic of the 19th century, will necessarily sit astride and parallel one of the largest fault lines in the US — the San Andreas fault, where most people believe California’s next big earthquake will originate.

The worst thing that the federal government can do is to be a poor steward of public capital, and that’s exactly the choice that the Obama administration and Jerry Brown are making by continuing this embarrassment of a boondoggle.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

DO YOU THINK WE CAN MAKE IT TO NOVEMBER?
OH GAWD…GET THESE B@ST@ARDS OUT OF THERE!!!!!!!!!

KOOLAID2 on December 17, 2011 at 11:14 AM

No one will EVER ride this thing. It will be slower than driving, much slower than flying. It won’t be high-speed rail because it will have to stop more times than a city bus. It’s just a make-work project for lawyers who will sue over the right of way land and NIMBY issues. High-speed rail works in Japan and China because there are no lawyers and no lawsuits. If the government wants the land, it just takes it.

fleiter on December 17, 2011 at 11:16 AM

Obama will never let go of his choo choo trains.

ElectricPhase on December 17, 2011 at 11:16 AM

KOOLAID2 on December 17, 2011 at 11:14 AM

No. All is doom.

listens2glenn on December 17, 2011 at 11:16 AM

I need to get in the environmental impact study business. I bet I could get this train-set over $1 trillion in costs in no time. LOOK AN ENDANGERED MOSS GROWTH, that’ll be $150 billion please.

Meric1837 on December 17, 2011 at 11:17 AM

You gotta give them credit, they aren’t afraid to double down on stupid every fricking time. They are consistent as he**.

Tim Zank on December 17, 2011 at 11:17 AM

To the left, pouring money into unions, which in turn fund democrat campaigns, is never wasted.

See the “big dig” as an example.

Rebar on December 17, 2011 at 11:17 AM

No one will EVER ride this thing. It will be slower than driving, much slower than flying. It won’t be high-speed rail because it will have to stop more times than a city bus. It’s just a make-work project for lawyers who will sue over the right of way land and NIMBY issues. High-speed rail works in Japan and China because there are no lawyers and no lawsuits. If the government wants the land, it just takes it.

fleiter on December 17, 2011 at 11:16 AM

Good point!

Tim Zank on December 17, 2011 at 11:18 AM

This is the democrat’s favorite kind of pipeline. A pipeline into the taxpayer’s money.

Flange on December 17, 2011 at 11:18 AM

It’s not like it’s real money. Just print some more! Who cares about inflation?

When are they going to consider that we are broke and stop shoveling?

Alferd Packer on December 17, 2011 at 11:20 AM

What’s the fascination with high-speed rail anyway? Don’t progressives want us slowing down? Not all this hustle and bustle associated with big corporate life? If the thing was free it wouldn’t seem to fit in with the majority of progressive platforms.

BKeyser on December 17, 2011 at 11:20 AM

If they build this crap, we will be stuck paying for it forever. It will never make any money and require huge subsidies till eternity.

Blake on December 17, 2011 at 11:21 AM

This pales in comparison to the $220 billion we’re leaving behind in Iraq. But that’s ok because that’s the GOP’s money.

Notorious GOP on December 17, 2011 at 11:23 AM

Blake on December 17, 2011 at 11:21 AM

Yep.

BallisticBob on December 17, 2011 at 11:23 AM

I can get from Burbank to SFO and/or Sacramento in a one hour flight. It’ll take me +5 hours to drive. Just like a lib, trying to justify bad decisions by “creating”…or more like “demanding” a need.

jbh45 on December 17, 2011 at 11:24 AM

Barack Hussein Obama
SOOOOOPER Genius!!!

Roy Rogers on December 17, 2011 at 11:25 AM

California needs something to sell off when it declares bankruptcy… and since this would be a luxury item, it would be the first to go…

The last thing will be the Outreach Administrators for Hyphenated Gendered Americans.

Priorities!

ajacksonian on December 17, 2011 at 11:25 AM

I blame the voters. As long they elect fools, they get what the deserve.

Kaffa on December 17, 2011 at 11:25 AM

This is a union boondoggle par excellence. A phenomenal transfer of wealth to union gangsters and associated suppliers.

I’m upping my projected budget actuals this. It’s going to come in at $1 trillion. All the projected figures are, like the OCare figures, just abject lies. You can get away with this in the public sector all day long. In the private sector you can too for a while but it tends to tank your career and can lead to jail.

CorporatePiggy on December 17, 2011 at 11:28 AM

California will be looking to the taxpayers across the nation to bail them out when they finally implode from the burden of ridiculous ideas being put to law!

AnnaS on December 17, 2011 at 11:32 AM

Californians – the time is coming for the rich to pay ‘their fair share’. I have written to Moonbeam that he needs a state income tax of 85% on the rich (those making more than $15,000 per year and all welfare recipients). Sales tax needs to go up to 300%. A new VAT on luxuries like water, gas, and air will also be levied at 65%.

If you want yo train, yo gots to have some skin in the game.

CorporatePiggy on December 17, 2011 at 11:32 AM

AMTRAK
The American taxpayer’s toy train, now in STANDARD gauge!

Eat your heart out, all you G gaugers, or Gauge 1, or O gauge, or S scale, or HO, or TT scale, or N scale.

listens2glenn on December 17, 2011 at 11:34 AM

I used to be able to count how few passengers were riding the Amtrak here in the Central Valley a few years back.They have tinted windows now so you can’t tell how few riders it has.The only ones riding this are parolees from Corcoran, Kern Valley and Wasco state prisons.

jeffinsjvca on December 17, 2011 at 11:35 AM

How much does Dianne Feinstein stand to make in kick backs and stock options?

Roy Rogers on December 17, 2011 at 11:36 AM

Alot of Floridians here have been ripping on Gov. Scott for turning down government funds to build a high speed rail here. Thank goodness, he turned it down.

vcferlita on December 17, 2011 at 11:36 AM

As a former public figure–now out of favor–once said, “All aboard Obama’s bullet train to bankruptcy.”

ElectricPhase on December 17, 2011 at 11:37 AM

fleiter on December 17, 2011 at 11:16 AM

Those are very good points.

listens2glenn on December 17, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Why next thing you know you will see California governments kicking people off their land they own because they dare to not bother anyone and live off the grid… I am sure all of this is done in the name of ‘progress’.

ajacksonian on December 17, 2011 at 11:38 AM

What’s the fascination with high-speed rail anyway? Don’t progressives want us slowing down? Not all this hustle and bustle associated with big corporate life? If the thing was free it wouldn’t seem to fit in with the majority of progressive platforms.

BKeyser on December 17, 2011 at 11:20 AM

So freakin’ weird.

Other countries look at the United States, see massive and technologically sophisticated industries like the aerospace industry and feel that they need to do something massive and sophisticated as a matter of national pride — and they each, in turn, create and blazon their high-speed super-trains.

So what do we do? Apparently, when you are a europhile, you want to swap tired space programs and airliner manufacturing infrastructures for your own awesome train.

It’s a %$%#$@^ train. It’s not impressive. We’ve been to the moon.

Axe on December 17, 2011 at 11:41 AM

As with all public-transport systems, taxpayers will have to heavily subsidize the service

No Ed! Kalifornia voters were ASSURED that this farce would be SELF-SUPPORTING! That investors would flock to invest their hard-earned dollars to finance it.

And all of this was said with a straight face!

GarandFan on December 17, 2011 at 11:44 AM

Alferd Packer on December 17, 2011 at 11:20 AM

nice nom d’net

tommy-t on December 17, 2011 at 11:44 AM

Trains are used by the progressives to herd the sheeple. It is all about them trying to control. They will need tinted glass on these trains so no one can see that they are empty.

kenny on December 17, 2011 at 11:49 AM

Gasoline to LA? $40. Ticket on Southwest to LA? $49. The taxes they’ll plaster on both to force us onto that train? Priceless.

Javahog on December 17, 2011 at 11:49 AM

Union slush fund. Nothing more. 20 of the 33b willl funnell back to DNC campaigns over the next 10 years.

angryed on December 17, 2011 at 11:53 AM

“We are not going to flinch on that support,” said Joseph Szabo, chief of the Federal Railroad Administration.

Who cares when you’re spending other people’s money? That’s $3.3 Billion in taxpayer money to be absolutely wasted; because even the most stupid in California are flinching at funding this boondoggle. Another prime example of this Democrat administration doubling down on STUPID and not a jot what the rest of us think. Szabo should be fired!

Bob in VA on December 17, 2011 at 11:53 AM

Gasoline to LA? $40. Ticket on Southwest to LA? $49. The taxes they’ll plaster on both to force us onto that train? Priceless.

Javahog on December 17, 2011 at 11:49 AM

So wish that called for a sarc tag :)

:/

:(

Axe on December 17, 2011 at 11:55 AM

A Train Trestle to Nowhere

Electrongod on December 17, 2011 at 11:58 AM

They are becoming parodies of themselves. Thinking themselves wise, they became as fools.

Hannibal on December 17, 2011 at 12:01 PM

Congress needs to act now before Botox Pelosi hears about it. Here’s what she said yesterday: Extending jobless benefits will “make a difference of 600,000 jobs”. http://hotair.com/archives/2011/12/16/pelosi-extending-jobless-benefits-will-make-a-difference-of-600000-jobs/. They didn’t teach that kind of math when I was in school. I’m confused.

tmgrant on December 17, 2011 at 12:01 PM

Like all of this administration’s stimulus projects, this one is “shovel-ready.”

They’ll dig a hole, shovel in billions of taxpayer dollars, bury it, and send the bill to our kids and grandkids.

Shovel-ready!

IndustrialGypsy on December 17, 2011 at 12:04 PM

Trains are used by the progressives to herd the sheeple.

Spot on.

Plus, this one time, when they went to Paris and everyone lived in the city, it was like so cool. Then they took the train to Amsterdam, and it was like, so cool.

Of course, progressives finally destroyed the cities in the mid ’60′s and most folks (not feeding from the government trough) moved out to the suburbs – and the rest is history.

reaganaut on December 17, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Got to get these Solyndra, Light Squared types paid before Obama gets thrown out.

RAGIN CAJUN on December 17, 2011 at 12:06 PM

Maybe the dumbest idea of all time. If you doubt me, just take one look at the route map. It’s the most convoluted, indirect thing ever. The LA Times wrote earlier this week that the original voter authorization promised a 2:40 trip from LA to SF, and that is what is driving up the costs as they need dozens of miles of tunnels and viaducts in order to maintain those kinds of speeds. Meanwhile, we continue to crawl around our urban areas on outdated, overcrowded, crumbling freeways. It’s the land of the loonies out here.

Progressive Heretic on December 17, 2011 at 12:09 PM

It’s OK for the California high-speed rail project to slaughter and destroy habitat of the innocent endangered Delta Smelt in the Central Valley, but farmers are not allowed to water crops because of the poor and innocent endangered Delta Smelt…er, ok.

Karmi on December 17, 2011 at 12:10 PM

If there’s one thing Obama is, it’s stupid.

Add to that, stubbornness and arrogance, and you get mega-stupid.

Alana on December 17, 2011 at 12:14 PM

The worst thing that the federal government can do is to be a poor steward of public capital, and that’s exactly the choice that the Obama administration and Jerry Brown are making by continuing this embarrassment of a boondoggle.

right behind solyndra

SSDD with this administration…

cmsinaz on December 17, 2011 at 12:16 PM

If there’s one thing Obama is, it’s stupid.

Add to that, stubbornness and arrogance, and you get mega-stupid.

Alana on December 17, 2011 at 12:14 PM

This is what you idiot wingnuts who drove us into this ditch don’t understand: triple the cost, triple the jobs!!!

/Obama

jarodea on December 17, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Big Dig Part Deux

cmsinaz on December 17, 2011 at 12:18 PM

But wait it gets better, the 99 billion is only for the first stage of the stop at every town rail, the first stage is from SF to LA, there is another stage that is supposed to go in, Sacramento to SF and LA to San Diego. The second stage is going to be the same mileage as the first with a similar estimate in cost… another 99 billion. There is talk that hopefully it will be brought back to the voters to get rid of this “project”? Hopefully and this is what makes it extremely difficult other voters here will strike it down?

DustInCa on December 17, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Can’t wait to see the results when this thing gets up to 150 mph and the earthquake hits, I wonder how much air the thing will grab in the most spectacular train accident ever recorded?

D.Mockracy on December 17, 2011 at 12:26 PM

Here is another link (with a H/T acknowledgement to HotAir) concerning the crony back-scratching of the Obama administration in promoting energy and other boondoggles. Take a look at how the “stimulus” promoted select companies.
http://kleinonline.wnd.com/2011/12/14/outrage-author-of-%E2%80%98stimulus%E2%80%99-tied-to-companies-funded-by-bill-received-hundreds-of-millions-in-government-grants-loans/

onlineanalyst on December 17, 2011 at 12:30 PM

So Obama shares Mussolini’s love for trains, but unlike Mussolini, he has no idea how to make them run on time.

Andrewarama on December 17, 2011 at 12:38 PM

All the better to transport the “Occupiers” from city to city.

angrycodgr on December 17, 2011 at 12:38 PM

I’ve been in Union Station in downtown Los Angeles at three O:Clock on a Friday afternoon and it’s like a morgue. I don’t know if I just picked a slow day or what but it seems like very few folks here in Southern California use the rail system for commuting. But hey – it’s not like it’s Omama’s trillion dollars.

The left remind me of Lemmings. And they’re going off the cliff here in the Peoples Republik Of Kalifornia.

greasywrench on December 17, 2011 at 12:43 PM

The Obama eco-scammers big hard-on is to have every farmer’s field covered with solar panels, as far as the eye can see. They envision every hill top densely bristling with unsightly windmills. Traversing (and powered by) this unsightly utopia is the high-speed rail project…$$99 billion is such a paltry amount for such grandiosity !

BigSven on December 17, 2011 at 12:56 PM

kenny on December 17, 2011 at 11:49 AM</block

reaganaut on December 17, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Mass Transit in train and/or bus is being used to herd the “sheeple”, and raid our earnings.
Some local area rail commuter trains do make “capitalist sense”, but not this current Intercity/Interstate buisness that Amtrak represents.

Steel wheel on steel rail is for FREIGHT!

listens2glenn on December 17, 2011 at 12:59 PM

“Damn the budget torpedoes! Full steam ahead!”
- Admiral Barack Farragut

or more appropriately…

Obama on Christmas morning: “WAAAAH!!! I don’t WANT an HO-scale train! I want a REAL high-speed train like my friends in Europe and Japan!”

Because, you know, if you want to be part of the IN crowd, you gotta have the same BLING…

Marcola on December 17, 2011 at 1:03 PM

Proponents of passenger rail of any kind are, by definition, progressives. Amtrak — currently the sole operator of passenger rail in the US — was formed in the first place because commercial passenger rail had become a losing proposition — a ready-made stupid government program, kinda like Solyndra. Even now, after more than 40 years of subsidies, Amtrak has exactly ONE passenger line that turns a profit — the Acela Express connecting DC, Philly, NYC and Boston; all the rest lose money.

There are places where passenger rail makes sense AND money: Japan and England are two obvious examples. But there are huge differences between those places and the US. Drivers in both those countries are paying roughly $8/gallon for gasoline, for one thing. And neither country has developed a roadway or commuter air network that begins to resemble what’s in place here. But the primary consideration, one that just about every discussion on the subject ignores, is population density. PD is the only thing that allows Amtrak’s Acela Express to make a few dollars, and it’s the biggest reason that passenger rail works in other countries. PD for the US as a whole: 87; for California: 234; for Japan: 874; and for England: 1023. That’s right, all 51 million or so Brits are crammed together in a country roughly the size of Michigan.

Government exists to do the incredibly stupid things that normal individuals would never do.

Humphrey on December 17, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Steel wheel on steel rail is for FREIGHT!

listens2glenn on December 17, 2011 at 12:59 PM

Love that. Is that yours? Never heard it.

… maybe shortening it to “Steel wheels are for freight!”

:) I have to get all my ducks in a row for my Hippie sister’s Christmas visit.

Axe on December 17, 2011 at 1:06 PM

“The worst thing we could do is make obligations to folks and start to renege on our word,” Szabo told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Would Mr. Darcy then consider the rashness of your original intention as atoned for by your obstinacy in adhering to it?

Elizabeth Bennet

KGB on December 17, 2011 at 1:27 PM

At least, when the drunk guy does something Stupid after his “Hey, Y’all – watch this!”, it’s funny. Not so with Politicians.

zenron on December 17, 2011 at 1:28 PM

If you think the construction costs were underestimated, wait until you see how much the ridership is underestimated!

Transpo on December 17, 2011 at 1:30 PM

Anyone think they will find an endangered species or will elect one that will shut this project down?

RAGIN CAJUN on December 17, 2011 at 1:31 PM

If it ever is completed it will provide the union operators a perfect new tool for work stoppage. Though with zero ridership I doubt the effect will be noticed.

red villain on December 17, 2011 at 1:41 PM

Hannibal on December 17, 2011 at 12:01 PM

Good point.

Since progressives never want to grow up I was thinking “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child”

chemman on December 17, 2011 at 1:48 PM

Can’t wait to see the results when this thing gets up to 150 mph and the earthquake hits, I wonder how much air the thing will grab in the most spectacular train accident ever recorded?

D.Mockracy on December 17, 2011 at 12:26 PM

Consider this. If the train is at absolute max velocity when a SHALLOW 7+ hits and it meets the surface waves at a right angle it could be like cracking a bullwhip. The whiplash just might allow the train to achieve low-orbit.

Yoop on December 17, 2011 at 1:48 PM

The “embarrassed to be a native Californian” episodes are increasing in frequency. Crikey!

BubbaCluck on December 17, 2011 at 1:49 PM

California needs to talk to New Jersey. Maybe they can trade the Bullet Train for a Tunnel.

unclesmrgol on December 17, 2011 at 1:57 PM

Although never to me…
This may have made sense in the 80′s/90′s when money was flowing.
Now it is sheer madness.

tacodawn on December 17, 2011 at 2:01 PM

I am a railfan, rail is super for freight. thats where improvements will pay off.

people are not freight.

this whole thing is just someones wet dream impregnating other idiots.

dmacleo on December 17, 2011 at 2:02 PM

This will never happen and be similar to the funding of the fence on our southern border. Remember when it was passed and the joy was short lived when the Dems gutted the fund and used the money for more entitlements. President Johnson did the same thing with Social security and gutted the fund for his war on poverty. Where did all the money go that was slotted for stimulus programs?

mixplix on December 17, 2011 at 2:06 PM

When they ban cars and airplanes to “save” the planet, then this outdated way of transportation will seem like a big improvement to walking…..

liveammo on December 17, 2011 at 2:08 PM

Part of ARRRRRNOLD’s legacy…

Strike Hornet on December 17, 2011 at 2:17 PM

Hey Californians! Wake up! Don’t you realize that the folks in the other 56 states are laughing at you behind your back?

BigAlSouth on December 17, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Democrat economics says “If you can print it and/or borrow it, you can spend it” and “If you design it, the unions will build it and operate it” or “If we can put a man on the moon, then we can certainly build a train to nowhere in California.”

stefano1 on December 17, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Axe on December 17, 2011 at 1:06 PM

I didn’t originate that term, and so help me I can’t remember where I did originally hear it.
It is used by professionals in the transportation industry and railfans, alike.
I do remember thinking it’s a great descriptive term for the railroad industry the first time I heard it, as well.

listens2glenn on December 17, 2011 at 2:35 PM

bfinstock79 on December 17, 2011 at 1:29 PM

One of the best episodes, EVER! : )

North Haverbrook, where have I heard that name before?
Oh NO . . . . . OH NO”

Lyle Lanly unknown date/time

listens2glenn on December 17, 2011 at 2:44 PM

this whole thing is just someones wet dream impregnating other idiots.

dmacleo on December 17, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Now there’s an analogy!

listens2glenn on December 17, 2011 at 2:46 PM

On a similar topic-and once reason I am proud of my vote for Kasich:

Early on his administration, former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland tied himself to the idea that a 39 mph train, running from Cincinnati in southwest Ohio to Cleveland in the northeast with stops in between in Columbus and Dayton and in smaller stations, would create thousands of jobs, be a boon to students and seniors, take cars off the road and wouldn’t leave Ohio orphaned in a network of rail lines all leading to and from Chicago, the nation’s capital of rail.

Then-candidate Kasich laughed at Strickland’s idea to spend the $400 in federal funds on a project that even the biggest booster of them all, Jolene Molitoris, the first woman to lead Ohio’s sprawling Department of Transportation as a result of her appointment to the post by Strickland, said would necessarily need a state subsidy of at least $17 million, for untold years, to make ends meet. Soon after he was elected, Gov-elect Kasich told Obama Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to take his $400 million back. Not only did Lahood recall the money, but he redistributed it to other states who wanted it to augment their smaller sums. Indeed, California was one state that said send it their way.

Sanity prevailed. Good luck California. You deserve what you get….sadly the American taxpayer is being screwed.

CW on December 17, 2011 at 3:17 PM

What is it with Choo Choo trains and Democrats ?

Illinois Moves Towards Rail Authority with Goal of Developing True High-Speed Service

Slaughter Says High-Speed Rail in New York Vital Component to Economic Revitalization

Columbia River Crossing finances offers a September surprise: $147 million more from Oregon, Washington

Do they get to blow the whistle? Cause they sure are blowing a bunch of taxpayers hard earned cash for these boondoggles.

stormridercx4 on December 17, 2011 at 3:17 PM

California deserves very bad political disaster that happens there. They worked hard for this kind of insanity and need to continue to reap the whirlwinds that result.

Windsweeping on December 17, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Now, don’t be poking us all with the same pitchfork. There is a substantial percentage of us who are not insane. We are just not the BIGGEST percentage.

Javahog on December 17, 2011 at 3:46 PM

Look, if you want a high speed rail project that will put people to work, here is one I will get behind:

A national, coast to coast, nuclear-electric rail system along the lines of the Interstate Highway system. Completely electrified with nuclear power plants (completely immune to shutdown from foreign fuel boycotts or shortages) and designed for 100MPH on all sections with most of the line double-tracked (slow track, fast track). The rail bed would be publicly owned just like the highways are airways are. Traffic would be dispatched with a public traffic control system much like air traffic is (but a little easier to manage as trains travel along very fixed routes). Railroad companies, unburdened with road bed maintenance would be able to concentrate on their rolling stock and be more competitive. Transportation companies could then get back in the passenger business. No longer relegated to lower priority behind some line’s freight traffic, companies could get into the passenger rail business.

One living in Podunk would be able to catch the United Airlines train into the airport of a major city near them. If stranded in a city due to inclement weather, the airline could put them on fast rail toward their destination. Chicago closed? No problem, United puts them on a train from the airport to Denver airport or to St Louis or Pittsburgh to contine their journey.

UPS and FedEx could run their own trains.

Today’s rail system is a relic of the 18th century. Imagine of you wanted to start a trucking company today to haul goods but in order to do that, you had to build your own roads! That is the situation the railroads are in. With public highways, one CAN start a trucking business and not have to also be a road building / maintenance company.

That would put thousands of people to work immediately at ALL skill levels. The engineering required for bridges and tunnels in order to meet the 100MPH speed through mountain areas would be amazing. From the lowest manual laborer to the engineering PhD, there would be jobs for practically everyone coast to coast.

Now look at the costs of things like a TRILLION dollars of stimulus? We could have built a lot of public access rail for that kind of money. Users of the railroad would be a fee for access. That fee would go toward maintenance. Combine the nuclear power with fuel recycling using fast neutron reactors (like Bill Gates is supporting in China) and we would have a system that could run decades on a load of fuel.

In the meantime, it would spark free enterprise as more companies could get into the rail transport business because they wouldn’t have to be construction companies in addition to transportation companies. Maintenance could even be contracted out to local engineering firms. In fact, the current road maintenance divisions of the existing railroads could be spun off as private companies that contract for the maintenance of sections of that rail.

The problem with this administration is a lack of imagination and a lack of thinking big. We have a huge problem that requires HUGE solutions that actually add something to the economy and benefit us for decades, maybe centuries ahead.

That is one way where government could actually foster free enterprise, spur competition, and get people working while at the same time improving the security of our economy by providing reliable, fast transport coast to coast that does not require any fossil fuel and is not subject to being shut off by foreign powers.

crosspatch on December 17, 2011 at 3:58 PM

In other words, California doesn’t need to build high speed rail from scratch. We ALREADY HAVE rail lines all across the state. The state would save a huge amount of money simply upgrading the EXISTING right of way for higher speed traffic, taking public ownership of it, and allow private enterprise to compete on those roads.

Simply upgrade the lines to handle high speed traffic and tell private companies that they can put rolling stock on the line and that road maintenance is not their direct responsibility (or liability!) and you will see competitors of all sizes going into that business. We do not NEED a completely new government constructed railroad system. We simply need to convert the existing road from private to public ownership just like the highways, rivers, and airways, and then allow private enterprise and competition to do what it does best.

crosspatch on December 17, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Let’s not kid ourselves.Obama and Brown aren’t stupid.They know exactly what they are stealing.

docflash on December 17, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Present rail service between distant points in Cali is pathetic. I plotted a trip for my wife, here in SoCal and our daughter’s place in a Sacramento suburb – a distance of 420 miles – at 23 hours, or about 18 miles an hour!! That’s an average of well, a Monday morning commute into LA on the 10 freeway!! Then add driving her 15 miles to the station here and my son in law or daughter driving 60 miles round trip to pick her up.

So don’t tell me about high speed rail making it in 3 hours. Which, as I think about it, is about the average wait at the DMV.

crankybutt on December 17, 2011 at 4:33 PM

“North Haverbrook, where have I heard that name before? Oh NO . . . . . OH NO”

Lyle Lanly unknown date/time

listens2glenn on December 17, 2011 at 2:44 PM

Haha!! Thank you, can’t help but imagine that’s how they do things out in CA.

“This sounds more like an idea for….Arizona…where they can capture illegals and bullet-train ‘em down to Mexico in half the time!!!”

bfinstock79 on December 17, 2011 at 4:40 PM

Add to my previous post:

Present rail service between distant points in Cali is pathetic

Driving time, SoCal to Sakatomatoes with a stop for gas and a burger is about 6 1/2 hours, including the time you have to wait while the Prius in front of you goes 63 MPH past a train of 18 wheelers doing 61. You don’t know how much skill it takes to put the Pitt manuever on them!!

crankybutt on December 17, 2011 at 4:45 PM

C’mon, if this project finishes under $175 B, I’m a purple-***ed baboon.

This story only has one ending.

HitNRun on December 17, 2011 at 4:59 PM

We don’t need “new” railways. We need to reinvent the existing rights of way and spur competition.

crosspatch on December 17, 2011 at 6:38 PM

This is one of the many reasons why we retiring OUT of CA.

DanvilleMom on December 17, 2011 at 6:45 PM

I’m all for this, as long as every state and federal official or politician that supports it is required to personally guaranty all debt and operating expenses by pledging all of their assets and all their children’s and grandchildren’s assets; the guaranty would not be dischargeable in bankruptcy. Further, if the cost over-runs exceed 10% each of them is given an automatic 20 year jail term.

You want it and think it is a great idea? Put your money and freedom on the line.

Over50 on December 17, 2011 at 6:47 PM

Don’t you get the feeeling that economic considerations are not taken seriously by Obama? That is, if it sounds like a good idea, the cost is immaterial, it will still sound like a good idea and that really is all that counts. The same with a drilling ban because of “safety considerations” and the XL pipeline stoppage due to further studies and their anti-nuclear power stand due to the risks involved and their slow down of Fracking operations due to possible, theortical ground water threats. Who is against safety, studies and minimizing risk after all? The fact that each decision makes no sense economically is never given any weight. They don’t argue against the economic cost, they disregard them entirely.

Fred 2 on December 17, 2011 at 6:50 PM

But, but, but it’s gonna created 600,000 new permanent jobs!!! (Yeah, that is an actual claim by the proponents.) Why the people who spout these claims aren’t institutionalized is beyond me – instead they get appointed to 6 figure jobs on boards with authority to spend taxpayer money.

As to the cost, you have to put this into perspective, CA spends an estimated $12B/year on services to illegals, so the state portion ($9.9B in bonds) is a small one-time spend. Proponents claim the rest will come from the feds and private investors.

BTW – a newly floated idea says the line will make money as soon as the first segment is completed by leasing the line to freight trains and Amtrak. To do that, the federal law forced through by the Dems in Congress (that requires the first segment to be built in the middle of nowhere to ensure the other segments will get funded) has a provision banning the use of the line by anything that isn’t a HS train. Guess the DOJ will need to get involved and “clarify” the meaning of that provision…

in_awe on December 17, 2011 at 7:00 PM

They keep yanking our train….

punditbob on December 17, 2011 at 7:18 PM

Trust me that a lot of us in CA don’t want this stupid train. And even some of us (but unfortunately not enough) didn’t even want it at the original supposed price.

I have little doubt (I’m still a believer in sanity) that it will never get built. The question is how many more millions or billions are wasted before the project is killed.

The sad thing is this money can’t go into NASA or the collider project that got built in Europe or any other number of science / technology programs that would provide good jobs and provide payback in the future (and no I don’t want to make investments in solar companies).

CharlieCA on December 17, 2011 at 8:15 PM

Comment pages: 1 2