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Loco Motion
And They Want to Build a Bullet Train

Before California’s leaders allocate even more money to build a bullet train, maybe they should take a closer look at another big infrastructure project recently undertaken in the state. In City Journal, Lloyd Billingsley collects accounts of the mismanagement and corruption that has plagued the new eastern section of the Bay Bridge—a project that was ten years over deadline and $5 billion over budget. But that’s just the beginning, according to a report that had led to a hearing of California’s transportation committee:

 A state senate report…charges that Caltrans bosses “gagged and banished” at least nine top bridge engineers, scientists, and other experts. In “closed-door meetings,” transportation department officials reportedly approved “extra millions” for “incentives,” “accelerations,” and “mitigations” to open the bridge by Labor Day last year. Their behavior, the report alleges, amounted to “an institutionalized, if not malicious, lack of transparency in the project. […]

Several storms in recent years exposed parts of the bridge to flooding, and corrosion was evident even before the span opened to motorists. A few months before the bridge was scheduled to open last year, dozens of long metal support rods snapped. Metallurgical engineer Lisa Thomas testified that this was due to “hydrogen embrittlement,” a problem Caltrans invited by opting to use Grade BD steel, rather than the more robust Grade BC. Thomas says that hydrogen is to this type of steel “as Kryptonite is to Superman.”

Read the whole thing for a look at the massive dysfunction surrounding this project. Even its harshest critics admit the bridge is probably “safe enough.” But that’s a far cry from being twice as safe as the old Bay Bridge, as union leaders promised and still claim. Waste, delays, shoddy construction—these plague all too many projects CA unions get their hands on. It’s no wonder that the bullet train project has already been plagued by so much corruption. If the project continues, you can expect to see more where that came from.

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  • Andrew Allison

    Just one more reason to kill the High-speed money sink, which already reeks of fraud, waste and abuse (a construction contract to Dianne Feinstein’s husband????). Either that or give the job to the Chinese. China’s high speed rail with a maximum speed of 350 km/h has a typical infrastructure unit cost of about US$ 17-21m per km, with a high ratio of viaducts and tunnels, as compared with US$25-39 m per km in Europe and as high as US$ 56m per km currently estimated in California.”( China, of course has cost advantages, but note that the current, and likely to be exceeded by a wide margin, CA cost is roughly twice that in Europe.

    • douginsd

      Yes, and that’s despite not tunneling under the Tejon Pass, to have a much shorter route. Instead it’s the Tehachapi pass, Palmdale, etc.

      This will be a total waste of money California doesn’t have.

      • Despiser_of_Libs

        California will just raise fee’s, fines and create new regulations to pay for it. Its what Liberals do.

  • circleglider

    But James Fallows keeps saying that we must build “high speed rail” because… we aren’t yet enough like Europe, it’ll be cool, trains are so much more convenient than cars or airplanes, THINK OF THE ENVIRONMENT, blah, blah, blah.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    This is how monopolies work, you can’t ever fix them, the only solution is to limit the damage by limiting the size and scope of the government monopoly to only tasks and authorities that only a government can perform (Defense, Foreign relations, Justice). In this case the state should have put the job out for bid, and demanded bonding and insurance for completion and quality. The fact that bureaucrats are making any decisions more than releasing the next check for work performed, is beyond their competence.

  • Despiser_of_Libs

    When Liberals are in charge what do you expect, honesty?

    LIBERALS: … Abortion is GOOD, Executing convicted Murderers is BAD!!
    LIBERALS: … Getting Robbed & Murdered is GOOD, Owning a Gun is BAD!!
    LIBERALS: … Islam is GOOD, Christianity is BAD!!
    LIBERALS: … Higher Taxes are GOOD, Lower Taxes are BAD!!
    LIBERALS: … Communism is GOOD, Capitalism is BAD!!
    LIBERALS: … Gay ‘Marriage’ is GOOD, Traditional Marriage is BAD!!
    LIBERALS: … Black People are GOOD, White People are BAD!!
    LIBERALS: … Welfare is GOOD, Working for a living is BAD!!
    LIBERALS: … illegal Aliens are GOOD, Americans are BAD!!
    LIBERALS: … Sharia Law is GOOD, The U.S. Constitution is BAD!!
    LIBERALS: … Homosexuals are GOOD, Heterosexuals are BAD!!
    LIBERALS: … Teaching Kids about Sex is GOOD, Teaching about God is BAD!!
    LIBERALS: … Teaching Evolution is GOOD, Teaching Creationism is BAD!!
    LIBERALS: … Atheism is GOOD, Believing in God is BAD!!
    LIBERALS: … High Energy Prices are GOOD, Drilling for Oil and Gas is BAD!!
    LIBERALS: … The Mutant Federal Government is GOOD, Freedom is BAD!!
    LIBERALS: … Traitors are GOOD, Patriotic Veterans are BAD!!
    LIBERALS: … Anti-American Communist Obama is GOOD, Bush is BAD!!

  • MrJest

    While it’s easy for me to say this – I don’t work in SF and pretty much avoid the place at all costs, as I find it aesthetically unpleasing to hang out or work where it smells like human excrement all the time – I won’t drive on the new Bay Bridge. I don’t believe it’s safe.

    Period, end of story. Your tax dollars at work.
    (and mine)

  • nadadhimmi

    Being Mexifornia, no investigation will occur. Just imagine the level of kickbacks, shoddy materials fraud etc going on, for years. At least 5 Billion to date. Leland Yee should have just stayed with conventional graft, stayed away from RPG’s, and he would have retired a multi-millionaire.

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