California Bullet Train Blues

The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results. Not surprisingly, this thoguht first appeared in the Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous, in 1981. Even less surprisingly, the hard left mandarins that rule the State of California have ignored this sensible advice and continue to express a junkie's craving for building a high-speed rail line in the Central Valley. Cost estimates for the entire rail system range from $65 billion to $137 billion.  Planned completion is estimated to be sometime before humankind starts colonizing the habitable planets in the Orion nebula.

From the LA Times:

High-speed spending: Bullet train may need $3.5 million a day

California would have to pay $6 billion to complete a 130-mile segment by September 2017, a plan that requires 120 permits and buying 1,100 parcels of land.

The bullet train track through the Central Valley would cost $6 billion and have to be completed by September 2017, or else potentially lose some of its federal funding. It would mean spending as much as $3.5 million every calendar day, holidays and weekends included -- the fastest rate of transportation construction known in U.S. history, according to industry and academic experts.

Over four years, the California High-Speed Rail Authority would need as many as 120 permits, mostly from a tangle of government regulatory agencies not known to rush their business. It would need to acquire about 1,100 parcels of land, many from powerful agriculture interests that have already threatened to sue. And it would need to assemble five teams of contractors with giant workforces positioned from Fresno to Bakersfield, moving millions of tons of gravel, steel rail and heavy equipment across the valley.

A final environmental report on about half of the 130-mile project is uncompleted and months behind schedule, forcing the agency to start work initially on a 29-mile section from Madera to Fresno and hope that it can get the review problems with the rest of the line cleared up later this year.

In a status report this month, Mark Ashley, a senior vice president with the rail authority's consultant T.Y. Lin International Group, noted that the project has identified 25 issues in the Merced-to-Bakersfield construction plan as high risk or very high risk and that the project is now nine months behind schedule in securing official approval from the Federal Railroad Administration.

Well, this project is off to a swell start.

According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, to build a rural freeway costs $8 million a mile. Let's double that for California.  So for the $6 billion dollars that are planned to be spent on the initial 130 mile section, California could built a 12 lane freeway and never have any operating subsidies.

One final thought.  Once the California legislature and Governor Moonbeam have balanced the state budget, reduced taxes, ended the criminal union syndication of the electoral process, stopped illegal immigration, streamlined the education bureaucracies, paid off the half a trillion dollars in unfunded pension and health care liabilities, ended welfare abuse, and paved our roads, it would make sense for these paragons of fiscal responsibility to turn their collective wisdom to running a railroad.

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