Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Your California high-speed choo-choo update


He's gonna do it. The crazy old man is actually going to do it.

Gov. Jerry Brown said Thursday that he will formally request that the Legislature approve billions of dollars to start construction of the California bullet train next year and will work hard to persuade skeptical lawmakers that the project is critical to the state's future.

In his first extended remarks on the $98.5-billion project since a controversial business plan was unveiled last week, Brown said that the state will have a broad need for the system in the long term and that it represents a significantly cheaper alternative to additional highway and commercial aviation investments.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority last week approved a new business plan that more than doubled the project's cost and a related financing plan that would ask for the first construction money, tapping $2.7 billion in state bonds and $3.3 billion in federal grants.

And just between us girls, that $98.5 billion is near triple what voters here in California were told some 3 years ago what the high-speed choo-choo system would cost when they were asked via ballot measure to commit tax-payer money to it. Oh, and we found out last week that $98.5 may be low by a cool $19 billion.

A bullet train business plan released Tuesday notes that the system cost of $98 billion could jump an additional $19 billion depending on the route and construction features.

The article never detailed what those "features" were.

Back to the article:

Rail officials hope the money can cover construction of a 140-mile Central Valley segment from Chowchilla to Bakersfield, though it would not pay for electrification, trains or other necessary parts of an operating system. To actually carry passengers will require more than $20 billion of additional investment in track and equipment, money that the state now does not have.

If we don't have that $20 billion, we sure as hell don't have the $98 billion either.

And it's not clear from the article whether or not that $20 billion to merely make the system operable is for that 140 mile stretch out in the Central Valley or for the whole system. Either way, it looks as if all that potential cost of just under $120 billion is getting us, thus far, is just set of tracks from San Fran to Los Angeles. No transmission lines, no gates, no signals, no choo-choos, no nuthin'.

While Governor Brown is urging California legislators to "think big" in committing funding to getting this thing done, we have a sneaking suspicion we will be writing again very shortly on some very big cost re-projections for California's high speed choo-choos.

Stay tuned.


Harrison said...

This thing is going to cost $1.5 trillion by the time it's done and nobody will ride it.

SarahB said...

Sprinter to Escondido...3 times over budget and you aren't even allowed to bring bikes and strollers on board. Yah, trains rock.

Dean said...

Harrison, so essentially 2x Porkulus. I'm not taking that bet.

Sarah, real green, huh?

Doo Doo Econ said...

Someone never got that HO scale model train for Christmas. All those dear Santa letters to the North Pole went unanswered. Thank goodness for the Left Pole, where progressives always gets the tax payers to pay for their presents!