The proposed bullet train - so called because taxpayers will feel like pointing a gun to their head after the true costs of the project are revealed - between San Francisco and Los Angeles has seen a teentsy weentsy increase in costs over the two years since it was proposed.
Cash strapped and broke California is about to build a $100 billion high speed rail system that nobody wants, that the private sector won't back, and that the state will have to borrow massive amounts of money in order to get the project off the ground.
The Mercury News:
Faster than a speeding bullet train, the cost of the state's massive high-speed rail project has zoomed to nearly $100 billion -- triple the estimate given to voters and more than enough to run the entire state government for a year.
What's more, bullet trains won't be up and running until at least 2033, much later than the original estimate of 2020, although that depends on the state finding the remaining 90 percent of the funds needed to complete the plan.
The new figures come from a final business plan to be unveiled by the California High-Speed Rail Authority on Tuesday, though some of the details were leaked to the media, including this newspaper, on Monday. Officials at the rail authority did not respond to repeated requests for comment Monday.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday was expected to endorse the long-awaited plan, the first major update to the project in two years and the last before the federal deadline to begin construction next year. But state legislators, who were already skeptical, will tear through the plan starting Tuesday before deciding whether to start building, or to kill the project.
The new business plan pegs the price tag at $98.5 billion, accounting for inflation -- more than double the estimate of $42.6 billion from two years ago, when it was already the priciest public works development in the nation. It's a little less than triple the estimate of $33.6 billion voters were told when they approved the project
Yes, you read that correctly. The boondoggle now costs three times as much as when the voters first approved the measure. An honest government, a transparent government, a responsive government would take the project back to the people and have them vote again.
But this is California we're talking about so none of those definitions apply.
So where is the money going to come from?
With the Golden State nearly broke, it now plans to secure funding largely by borrowing more, the Associated Press reported, though specifics were unclear. About 20 percent would come from the private sector.
Until now, the state had been relying on more than $15 billion from the federal government, $10 billion from private investors and $5 billion from local governments. But the state hadn't gotten any closer to raising the money in the three years since voters approved the plan.
The bullet train project, which would link San Francisco and Los Angeles with the nation's first high-speed rail line, has seemed to be a dream for job-hungry politicians, unions and business groups.
Like Brown, the mayors of San Jose, San Francisco and Los Angeles are also in favor, saying it is pivotal to start quickly and create jobs by taking advantage of a $2.2 billion federal grant that would expire next year.
Welcome to Obama's future America.