The governor scaled back the high-speed train, calling for a more limited rail line now but leaving the door open to a statewide project in the future.
In 2008 California voters approved the high-speed bullet train connecting Northern and Southern California. The estimated cost was $32 billion dollars, and it was expected to be complete in 2029. According to the business plan by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the costs grew to $77 billion. And they could have gone up as much as $98 billion. However, Governor Gavin Newsom has now called a halt on the project.
California’s new governor, Gavin Newsom, sharply scaled back plans to build a high-speed train from San Francisco to Los Angeles on Tuesday, saying the program had been botched and cost too much.
It is unknown why the costs continued to soar. However, Newsom admits that contractors were not transparent in the expenses or held accountable to show where the money was being spent.
Newsom on Tuesday blamed oversight failures and a lack of transparency, saying he wasn’t “interested in repeating the same old mistakes.”
He said he would name Lenny Mendonca, his economic development director, as the authority’s next chairman, with a mandate to “hold contractors and consultants accountable to explain how taxpayer dollars are spent” and to put all expenses online “for everybody to see.”
So can we use the California bullet train as an example of what a high-speed rail system across America would cost? This past week Democrats proposed a Green deal that would “build out high-speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.” The resolution itself doesn’t mention air travel at all but does call for the goal of “investing in … clean, affordable, and accessible transportation; and high-speed rail” as part of a 10-year national mobilization.
So here are some things to think about:
If the cost for a 160-mile rail system costs California $98 million, what would it cost to expand a rail system across America? So expansive that we can eliminate air travel.
If it has been ten years since the high-speed rail system started in California and only a few miles were completed, is a 10-year plan possible?
I hope we don’t get trillions into the whole before these politicians realize it can’t happen at the scale they want it.
UAF Contributor: Marie Penetranti