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Like the Sun rising in the East...
Building tracks for the first section of California's proposed high-speed rail line will cost $2.9 billion to $6.8 billion more than originally estimated, raising questions about the affordability of the nation's most ambitious rail project at a time when its planning and finances are under fire.
A 2009 business plan developed for the California High-Speed Authority, the entity overseeing the project, estimated costs at about $7.1 billion for the equivalent stretch of tracks. Officials say those estimates were made before detailed engineering work and feedback from communities along the proposed route.
The latest estimates are contained in two environmental impact studies that were shared with The Associated Press before their public release on Tuesday.
The truly scary part of this continuing sad saga of high speed trains here in California is that the "first section" that has been under-estimated, on the conservative side, to the tune of the entire federal Cash for Clunkers program ($3 billion), is that they underestimated the easy part of the track-laying.
If the powers-that-be are underestimating what it's going to cost to lay tracks between the sprawling metroplises of Borden and Corcoran out in the middle of the Central Valley, just wait for the budget-busting fun to begin when it comes time to sharpening the pencil up over mountain passes into Los Angeles and right-of-ways in and around San Francisco. What could possibly go wrong?
We've had ourselves quite a few completely senseless boondoggles over the past few years, but if California's high-speed choo-choo endeavor stays on its current trajectory (and it's early, gang) then it may prove to be the queen-mother of all boondoggle debacles. And we're looking at you, ethanol.
(UPDATE #1) We are gladly liberating what B-Daddy shared in the comments section.
Matt Groenig: pork buster?