mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
California Bullet Train on Track for Blue Disaster


California’s high-speed rail project would be a bad idea in the best of times, but the state is handling it so poorly it almost seems like it’s trying to fail. The LA Times reports that Tutor Perini Corp. beat out five companies to build the train’s first 29 miles. Tutor Perini submitted the lowest bid, but it ranked lowest on design, safety and engineering and has the least amount of bullet-train experience (none). It’s also already in a lawsuit over construction issues with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency.

Buried deep into the LA Times report is a clue as to why this lowly contractor won the day over Spanish firms that have actually built bullet trains before:

Before Tutor Perini was selected some financial analysts predicted that it would win the competition only because of its chief executive’s close ties to organized labor, one of the project’s biggest supporters.

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), the chairman of the U.S. House subcommittee on rail, reckons that the union-tied company’s low bid shouldn’t be trusted, and that it will push up costs with “wild change orders and wild price increases” to “make money on the back end” as the project rolls forward.

Despite the fact that the combined debt of state and local governments will soon pass $1.1 trillion, California is going ahead with a $68 billion (and counting) construction project that the GAO claims is underfunded by nearly 60 percent. The state is entrusting this difficult work to a firm allegedly tethered to organized labor that’s never built a bullet train and is already suspected of deliberately fleecing the state for extra cash.

This project seems well on its way to becoming California’s Sagrada Família—130 years in the making and still unfinished. Voters should be given another chance to stop this boondoggle in its tracks.

[Blue bullet train image courtesy of Shutterstock]

Features Icon
show comments
  • Corlyss

    “California’s high-speed rail project would be a bad idea in the best of times, but the state is handling it so poorly it almost seems like it’s trying to fail.”
    Sometimes you amaze me, WRM. You can’t seriously have EVER thought the bullet train was anything BUT a way to shovel money to Dem supporters, a la Obama’s many “green” schemes.

  • bigfire

    The point of this project is not to build anything. It’s government union jobs. Who care if nothing ever gets build, a lot of money is still wisely wasted on the right people.

  • Fat_Man

    “This project seems well on its way to becoming California’s Sagrada Família—130 years in the making and still unfinished”

    Taking a few centuries to complete the construction of the great Cathedral Churches of Europe is typical to their condition. As Gaudi the architect of Sagrada Familia said: “My client is not in a hurry.”

    The comparison between a great work of sacred art and a purely utilitarian object like a railroad is not apt.

    • M snow

      Right. At least Spain will have a nice cathedral some day.

  • jfb1138

    Sagrada Familia offers something wonderful to look at while it’s still under construction. A rail line? No so much.

  • Mogumbo Gono

    Criminal theft from the taxpaying public. As if we don’t already pay too much…

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service