High-speed rail is turning out to be a slow-speed proposition.
The first segment of California’s first-in-the-nation bullet-train project, currently scheduled for completion in 2018, will not be done until the end of 2022, according to a contract revision the Obama administration quietly approved this morning. That initial 119-mile segment through the relatively flat and empty Central Valley was considered the easiest-to-build stretch of a planned $64 billion line, which is eventually supposed to zip passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles in under three hours. So the four-year delay is sure to spark new doubts about whether the state’s—and perhaps the nation’s—most controversial and expensive infrastructure project will ever reach its destination.
“Four years? It just shows that something deep inside this project has gone terribly wrong,” says state legislator Jim Patterson, a Fresno Republican who recently shepherded a bill to increase oversight of high-speed rail through the Democratic-controlled assembly. “The time is coming where we’re going to have to call a halt.”