Against California High Speed Rail by Mark R. Powell

Mounting Costs and Dwindling Service for California High Speed Rail

$133,000,000,000 for California High Speed Rail

Proposition 1A Approved HSR

California High-Speed Rail Project: Program Summary Report July 2009

Voters were told the proposed High Speed Rail System would “connect the major metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Sacramento,  through the Central Valley, into Los Angeles, Orange County, the Inland Empire (San Bernardino and Riverside Counties), and San Diego” [Note 1].  Clearly it was important to demonstrate  a connection to all major metropolitan areas and to show low costs (if $45,000,000,000 is considered low) in an effort to gain statewide voter approval.  The High Speed Rail Authority (the Authority)  “estimated in 2006 that the total cost to develop and construct the entire high-speed train system would be $45 billion” [Note 2], but would cost California taxpayers only $9 billion. 

Only one year after Proposition 1A passage the Authority’s December 2009 Report to the Legislature  told a different tale.  Now the cost of the San Francisco to Los Angeles to Anaheim section alone was projected to cost $43 billion [Note 3].  A connection from Anaheim to Irvine is dropped entirely even though the Text of Proposed Law Proposition 1A (Article 2 subsection 2704.04(b)(3)(F)) [Note 4]speaks of a “Los Angles to Anaheim to Irvine” segment.  However, this missing track is nothing but chump change to an Authority that has already seen costs escalate to the point where all the track running from LA Union Station to Riverside to San Diego (175 miles ) as well as all the track from Chowchilla to Sacramento (150 miles) would, by the Authority’s own estimate, require funding well above the levels approved by the voters just 2 years ago.
    

Our reckless Authority, undeterred by  the lack of funds necessary to complete the promised system, has now approved a “65-mile stretch of track in the Central Valley. It would start north of Fresno near Madera (in Borden 5 miles south of Madera), include the construction of two new stations – one in downtown Fresno and the other east of Hanford – and continue to Corcoran, north of Bakersfield” [Note 5].  In fact well north of Bakersfield…70 miles north to be precise!  The Authority estimates this 65 mile section of track will cost $4.2 billion of which $2 billion will come from the $9 billion in bonds approved by the voters.
    

 It’s time for a reality check.  One year ago in its December 2009 Report to the Legislature the Authority said it could build the ENTIRE Merced to Bakersfield 170 mile segment for $5.8 billion [Note 6].  Now we are told we get 65 miles of this track for $4.2 billion.  On a prorated “$billions/mile of track basis” the  Authority’s 2009 estimate of $5.8 billion for track from Merced to Bakersfield will now translate to $11 billion [$4.2 billion*(170mi./65mi.)].  On a state wide basis, and using this same cost escalation, the $43 billion for the San Francisco to Los Angeles to Anaheim system will escalate to $82 billion [$43 billion*(11/5.8)] and with 325 additional miles of track to access Sacramento and San Diego the costs will exceed $133 billion [$82 billion*(845mi./520mi.].  It is also worthwhile to note that the planned 65 miles of track approved by the Authority includes 11 miles of temporary track needed to connect to BNSF tracks.  Only 54 miles will be part of a final HSR system.  Also of concern is the Authority’s planned use of nearly a quarter of the total bond funds for just 54 miles of high speed rail!

 The Authority’s reckless bet of taxpayer money has to stop and stop now.  This train has clearly gone way off the tracks.  Write to your legislators in Sacramento and to your members of Congress.  We can’t afford this train and we want no more stimulus money coming from Washington.

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Footnotes supporting what is said in this article are shown below.

Note 1 November 2008 Official Voter Information Guide
             page 5 top of left column in section titled  Analysis by Legislative Analyst

http://www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov/past/2008/general/pdf-guide/suppl-complete-guide.pdf#prop1a

Note 2 November 2008 Official Voter Information Guide
              page 5 top of left column in section titled  Analysis by Legislative Analyst

http://www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov/past/2008/general/pdf-guide/suppl-complete-guide.pdf#prop1a

Note 3 Authority’s December 2009 Report to the Legislature
              page 84

http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=6142

Note 4 November 2008 Official Voter Information Guide
              page  bottom left column in section titled Text of Proposed Law

http://www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov/past/2008/general/pdf-guide/suppl-complete-guide.pdf#prop1a

Note 5 California High Speed Rail Authority Press Release Dated December 2, 2010

http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/pr_approvedstart.aspx
     
Note 6 Authority’s December 2009 Report to the Legislature
              page 85, Table 1 Capital Costs by Segment

http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=6142

One Response to Mounting Costs and Dwindling Service for California High Speed Rail

  1. Annett Ells says:

    I have to admit that i sometimes get bored to read the whole thing but i honestly enjoyed what i read. Bravo !

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