Tag Archives: California bullet train

California Off the Rails, State a Disaster Zone, by Joe Guzzardi

California is turning into a third-world country and its leading politicians are deeply concerned about…plastic straws. From Joe Guzzardi at theburningplatform.com:

When former California Gov. Jerry Brown announced his ill-conceived, ill-fated high-speed train that no one wanted, and no one ever thought would be completed, he unwittingly sent the message that the once Golden State would soon be spiraling into disaster. Before current Gov. Gavin Newsom killed the train, California had squandered $5 billion on the boondoggle, and cost projections soared billions more from the original estimate. New York Times’ analysts pegged the train’s final total at a staggering $100 billion.

Brown envisioned himself as a forward-thinking leader who would secure California’s self-proclaimed position as the nation’s preeminent cutting-edge state. Brown put California on the cutting-edge, all right, but of catastrophe.

Consider a short list of what California has become since the bullet train flop. California, a sanctuary state for illegal aliens, has cemented its position as the nation’s inequality leader, with disparities between rich and poor greater than those in Mexico and Guatemala. Speaking of poverty, California is also America’s capital in that sad category. According to the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, California outstrips states traditionally associated with acute poverty – Mississippi, West Virginia and New Mexico.

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An Obituary For California’s Bullet Train, by Tyler Durden

The California bullet train had cost and delay problems. At last estimate, the cost had gone from $33 billion to $100 billion, and the completion date of the LA to San Francisco had been moved back to 2033. The new California governor has put Jerry Brown’s pet project out of its misery. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

California’s ill-fated statewide bullet train project – which has been reduced to a “train to nowhere” between Merced and Bakersfield so the state doesn’t have to return $3.5 billion in federal funds – took residents of the Golden State on a ride for over a decade.

While initially projected to cost $33.6 billion in 2008, former Gov. Jerry Brown’s “special legacy project” ballooned in estimated size to nearly $100 billion in 2018, with service beginning from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2033.

Opining on the demise of the bullet train in an “I told ya so” Op-Ed, the WSJ editorial board provides a post-mortem on yet another failed attempt towards a progressive utopia using taxpayer dollars.

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More Money, More Problems—Bridge Problems—with California’s Embattled Bullet Train, by Scott Shackford

Here’s an excellent slap in the face to all those who think that government is an efficient provider of infrastructure. From Scott Shackford at reason.com:

First California took billions of taxpayer dollars to build an unneeded, overpriced (but underbudgeted) bullet train through the middle of the state. Now, even though an operating train line doesn’t even yet exist, part of it has to be rebuilt.

For the past several years, the state has been building its first segment of a high-speed rail line near Fresno. Late last year, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) ordered one of its contractors to stop construction of a bridge over a street and start it all over.

This apparently was all done fairly quietly. Los Angeles Times reporter Ralph Vartabedian (who has been doing excellent work documenting exactly how this gaping money pit has been growing larger and larger) just found out and wrote about the situation late last week:

In a statement, the authority said the Avenue 8 bridge design did not meet its “level of quality for a work product” and showed “signs of distress.” Some time after last September, the authority had [contractor] Tutor Perini start on an entirely different design, agency documents show. The decision has not been previously reported.

The rail authority said it is discussing who will bear the cost of the rework.

I’m guessing…Californians? The head of Tutor Perini insists that the CHSRA previously approved the bridge structure, then changed its mind. Apparently the first bridge was made with retaining walls filled with carefully packed earth and concrete support pillars. The new version they want would use poured concrete instead of soil, which is less likely to fail.

It’s also, obviously, going to be more expensive. Reason has been reporting the financial ups and downs of this train boondoggle for years. Californians may recall that the bullet train’s boosters sold it to taxpayers by getting the purported price down to $68 billion. Critics have been warning all along that the agency had dramatically underestimated the cost of building the train; this incident is a good illustration of how that happened.

The train agency has now finally admitted that the project is going to cost billions more than estimated, possibly as much as $98 billion. Oh, and it’s going to take longer to construct as well. Set your calendar for another decade, Californians! Seriously, it’s not expected to be in service until 2029. By then we’ll all have self-driving vehicles (I exaggerate—but maybe not as much as I think).

To continue reading: More Money, More Problems—Bridge Problems—with California’s Embattled Bullet Train

California High-Speed Rail Is A Budgetary Trainwreck As Cost Soars 20% To $77 Billion, by Tyler Durden

You could see this train wreck coming from miles away. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

California’s bullet train will be coming in over budget and behind schedule, after its estimated cost was revised from $64 billion to $77 billion – a 20% increase, and an estimated completion date of 2033, four years later than originally projected. The new estimates, contained in a 114-page business plan, was issued in draft form on Friday by the rail authority ahead of public hearings and a formal legislative review in approximately two months.

The rail authority previously argued that it had just enough money to build the grade-separated tracks for its route between San Francisco and Los Angeles at speeds of up to 220 mph.

The new estimates will force California’s leadership to double down on its political and financial commitments if it wants to see the system completed, against a backdrop of rising costs, years of delays, strident litigation and backlashes in communities where homes, businesses, farms and environmental preserves will have to give up land to the rail’s right-of-way. –LA Times

The revised plan will leave California legislators scrambling to grapple with higher costs amid an uncertain economic future in the state with the nation’s worst poverty rate and already strained balance sheet.

While the endgame will be to connect Northern and Southern California, from upper San Francisco to San Diego – the new plan is to focus on the track between San Francisco and the Central Valley – the primarily agricultural and less populated region of California, which is set to be completed in 2029.

One of the current hurdles is how to content with traveling through California’s mountainous regions – which designers are still trying to figure out.

The $77 billion cost, a 20 per cent increase, is a baseline estimate, but Kelly also included high and low ranges in the plan based on potential risks.

To continue reading: California High-Speed Rail Is A Budgetary Trainwreck As Cost Soars 20% To $77 Billion

California’s bullet train is hurtling toward a multibillion-dollar overrun, a confidential federal report warns, by Ralph Vartebedian

The California bullet train never made much sense, and makes even less sense now that huge (and completely predictable) cost overruns are in prospect. You’ve gotta wonder how much longer the Golden State can continue to defy economic gravity as its middle class continues to shrink. From Ralph Vartebedian at latimes.com:

California’s bullet train could cost taxpayers 50% more than estimated — as much as $3.6 billion more. And that’s just for the first 118 miles through the Central Valley, which was supposed to be the easiest part of the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

A confidential Federal Railroad Administration risk analysis, obtained by The Times, projects that building bridges, viaducts, trenches and track from Merced to Shafter, just north of Bakersfield, could cost $9.5 billion to $10 billion, compared with the original budget of $6.4 billion.


The California High-Speed Rail Authority originally anticipated completing the Central Valley track by this year, but the federal risk analysis estimates that that won’t happen until 2024, placing the project seven years behind schedule.

The report, the most critical official assessment of the project to surface so far, is labeled a “confidential-draft deliberative document for internal use only” and was presented by senior Federal Railroad Administration executives to California rail authority board Chairman Dan Richard and Chief Executive Jeff Morales on Dec. 1 in Washington.

This analysis puts the state on notice that it could face bigger cost overruns than anticipated and much longer delays than have been made public, a troubling critique by an agency that has been a stalwart supporter and longtime financier of the nation’s largest infrastructure project.

To continue reading: California’s bullet train is hurtling toward a multibillion-dollar overrun, a confidential federal report warns