**Written by Doug Powers
In 2009, Joe Biden, the Conductor of the Train to the Future, gave California’s high speed rail proposal his full support. Subsequently, $2.25 billion of the money for California’s rail construction came from the federal stimulus — a drop in an ever expanding bucket as it turns out.
Faster than a speeding bullet train, the cost of the state’s massive high-speed rail project has zoomed to nearly $100 billion — triple the estimate given to voters and more than enough to run the entire state government for a year.
What’s more, bullet trains won’t be up and running until at least 2033, much later than the original estimate of 2020, although that depends on the state finding the remaining 90 percent of the funds needed to complete the plan.
The new figures come from a final business plan to be unveiled by the California High-Speed Rail Authority on Tuesday, though some of the details were leaked to the media, including this newspaper, on Monday. Officials at the rail authority did not respond to repeated requests for comment Monday.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday was expected to endorse the long-awaited plan, the first major update to the project in two years and the last before the federal deadline to begin construction next year. But state legislators, who were already skeptical, will tear through the plan starting Tuesday before deciding whether to start building, or to kill the project.
The new business plan pegs the price tag at $98.5 billion, accounting for inflation — more than double the estimate of $42.6 billion from two years ago, when it was already the priciest public works development in the nation. It’s a little less than triple the estimate of $33.6 billion voters were told when they approved the project in 2008.
If the projected cost of the California project has tripled just since 2008 and construction hasn’t even started yet, imagine what the cost will be by the time it’s finished — if the state (and country for that matter) hasn’t gone beyond bankrupt by then.
Politicians in other states have been offered federal money for high speed rail projects, run the numbers, and said “thanks, but no thanks.”
**Written by Doug Powers
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