High-speed rail price tag drops by $30 billion in new plan
Original post made on Apr 4, 2012
Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012, 8:08 AM
on Apr 4, 2012 at 8:37 am
If they really wanted to address California's mobility needs the rail line would start in the SF & LA areas and end out of the state. That seems to be the travel plan of anyone with good sense and a little money.
on Apr 4, 2012 at 11:07 am
I actually support a high-speed rail system. However, I think the rail authority organization has gotten so far out of hand that it may not be salvageable. The rail authority has taken on a life of its own ambitions and ideals, and no longer represents the views and approval of the voters. If I recall correctly, the voters in mid 2008 approved this project with a $9.9B bond. The project estimated cost was about $20B. The Federal government was going to contribute another $10B for the project. By November 2011, without any rail actually being laid, the rail authority increased the estimated cost to nearly $100B. And now, in April 2012, they announce their greatest achievement, a 30% reduction of projected cost. However, the great achievement appears to have been reached by simply changing their plans and not building the project that the voters originally approved. And on top of that, the new plan is still more than $48B over the original projected cost. I'm sorry but I see this as completely unacceptable. I realize that this project has been dragging along, due in part to multiple objections by multiple groups, thereby increasing project costs by at least the rate of inflation. However, I note to myself that since the economic meltdown at the end of 2008, inflation has played an insignificant part, if any, with increasing across the board costs. There are a couple of exceptions such as gasoline. And if $48B in gasoline is the problem, well, one can easily see the fallacy of that excuse. Therefore one might conclude that the actual cost of the project was either withheld or hidden, or was completely unknown and comes as a surprise. If the former is true, and the real costs were not stated to the voters (perhaps just overlooked or misplaced, or the infamous alternate way of not disclosing the whole truth, "To Be Determined at a Later Date"), then the vote would have been based upon a misrepresentation. Therefore the project must be resubmitted to the voters for their approval with the true projected costs and known issues. If the latter is true, and the cost reality of the project is a surprise, then one would conclude that the project organization and promoters were incompetent or simply incapable of anticipating real world conditions. Here again the real cost of the project was not stated to the voters. And here again the project must be resubmitted for approval. Lastly, with their latest announcement, the rail authority has decided not to implement the high-speed rail project that was approved by the voters. Instead they plan to implement their own plan for a hybrid rail system. If this is their final decision, then I believe their existence and authority to proceed has been revoked. Since the rail authority will not be performing the functions and tasks authorized by the voters, they can not legally function nor spend tax dollars to achieve their own goals.
This project needs to go back to the voters for approval. Leaving this group in place, without seeking voter approval is in essence raising taxes upon the people without their vote. If the rail authority continues to spend California tax collections for a project plan that has not been authorized and whose actual cost has not been approved, then the rail authority has just raised taxes. The rail authority, not our representatives have just raised taxes. Continuing without a vote means the expenses will continue to be paid, either with bond money (paid from taxes upon the people) or from another taxing source within the state, which means that some other department or need of the people will go wanting. I want to reconsider this project, this spending plan.
on Apr 4, 2012 at 11:14 am
I don't recall ever seeing any details concerning the type of high-speed rail envisioned here. Are they planning to hire Japanese Shinkansen companies to build a high-speed rail system here? Or is the plan to get a European TGV-type system? Or is the plan to have American companies design and build a high-speed rail system?