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Responsible public servants in California save taxpayers $30 billion on rail project

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By Doug Powers  •  April 2, 2012 04:38 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

Note: The above headline is written as it will appear in next month’s issue of “Sustainable Green Politician” magazine.

The original cost of California’s high speed rail project was pushing $100 billion, but thanks to fiscally responsible, budget-minded public officials, the purported cost will be a little less than the previous purported cost:

State transportation officials have slashed the price tag for California’s controversial high-speed rail project by $30 billion and expanded the first stretch of track to run from Merced in the Central Valley south to the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles.

The California High Speed Rail Authority’s revised business plan, which will be released Monday in Fresno, calls for those dramatic changes as the agency prepares to ask the Legislature to use $2.7 billion in state high-speed rail bonds to start construction by early next year.

The drastic revision, which puts the proposed cost of the system at $68.4 billion instead of the $98.5 billion estimated in November, intends to cool opposition to the project, which has been labeled a “train to nowhere” for its plans to start in the state’s rural center, and criticized for its high costs and uncertain funding plan.

It’s not as if California has a debt to pay off or anything.

As the LA Times notes, this revised figure comes from some of the same people whose original figure was way off the mark:

Even with the $30-billion reduction, the project remains $25 billion more than the original price tag.

Over $2 billion of all this is from the Stimulus.

Taking all these predictions at face value, instead of $100 billion nobody can afford they’re planning to spend $70 billion nobody can afford. In the mind of many politicians, they’ve just saved taxpayers $30 billion!

That “savings” prompted Nancy Pelosi to say damn we’re good!

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement after introduction of the California High-Speed Rail Revised Business Plan which shows the total cost reduced by nearly $30 billion, and 1 million jobs created by the project.

“Under the superb leadership of Chairman Dan Richard, it is clear that the Rail Authority has listened to the concerns of Californians and produced a high-speed rail plan for the future that is better, faster and cheaper.

“High-speed rail will transform journeys into commutes, uniting our state and ensuring our citizens can travel as fast as our innovative ideas. In additional to the 1 million jobs created across California, this project will offer a cheaper travel choice to consumers, improve the air we breathe, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil in a time of rising gas prices. As the report demonstrates, the price of inaction is far outweighed by the cost of building for the future.”

And all this time I didn’t think she cared about the bottom line. Ultimately however, as Nancy might say, we’ve got to build it to find out how much it’s going to cost.

**Written by Doug Powers

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