California’s proposed high speed rail system linking the north to the south is going to cost nearly $100 billion, according to a new estimate that figures the cost at three times as high as the original projection approved by California voters. The railroad also won’t be operational until 2034. The Christian Science Monitor has the story:
The new cost estimate, formally released Tuesday by the California High Speed Rail Authority, is $98.5 billion, more than twice the previous estimate of $43 billion. The finish date is 2034, 14 years later than first predicted.
The Golden State might have bitten off more than it could chew. Included in the new business plan is another depressing revision: when California voters approved the plan in 2008 they were told 55 million people would ride the rails; in 2009 that number was revised down to 41 million riders. Now it is 36.8 million.But politicians and the rail authority expect to make a profit, eventually. They hope to open the railroad in stages, taking in revenue as well as government grants and private investment. Yet the outlook keeps getting worse. $100 billion is a huge number for the United States’ most indebted state. Revenue and ridership forecasts decrease with every new analysis of the railroad business plan.When (or, perhaps, if) construction begins, expect the country’s biggest public works project to continue having problems. California is spending money it doesn’t have to build a system it doesn’t need.