Friday, December 2, 2011

Your (California) high-speed choo-choo update


Who's up for a mulligan on that 2008 ballot initiative that initially committed state tax payers to $9 billion dollars for a high-speed choo-choo system here in the state that won't stretch southward past Anaheim, excluding, of course, our current domecile of San Diego?

The new plan to build high-speed rail for California — for $98 billion — is more expensive than the original $45 billion project sold to voters in 2008.

It’s also shorter.

The financing plan only covers the first phase of the project, stopping in Anaheim instead of stretching south to San Diego.

Given the higher price tag, and shorter route in the financing plan, some local elected officials want the matter to return to voters.

“I would suggest with the new numbers that the complete facts now in the business plan be presented to voters again to let them see all of the numbers and the costs,” said Assemblyman Martin Garrick, R-Solana Beach. “Voters should be aware of the obligation they will be taking on, the cost they will be burdening their children with. I think it should go back to a vote of the people.

“I am in the second largest city, and yet I am going to be paying for something that will not even reach or bring any help to San Diegans.”

The 800-mile line was presented to voters in 2008 to connect the Bay Area to San Diego. The ballot language contained no price tag, but estimates given by the California High-Speed Rail Authority during the campaign ranged from $33 billion to $45 billion.

Quick note: that finance plan also includes a caveat that the price of the shortened rail line could jump to near $120 billion.

Quick note Pt. II: the money committed so far to the initial build out in the Central Valley only buys us the steel, as in, the tracks. No transmission grid, no crossing gates, no signals... no actual choo-choos!

From a low-ball estimate of $33 billion when this turkey was put on the ballot back in '08 to potentially $120 billion just 3 years later... not too shabby.

Also, let's do a quick common sense thought exercise: how fast can that high-speed choo-choo be if it is expected to make 12 stops between Anaheim and San Francisco*? 12 stops! We don't care how efficient your unloading and loading techniques are, there is a quantifiable human, logistical, mechanical and security inertia that just can't be overcome for one to claim they are going to make it from Southern California to Northern California in an hour's time.

* The absolutely worst web version of a newspaper on the face of the planet at the San Diego Union-Tribune won't allow us to open and cut'n'paste the map of the rail line which would illustrate the number of stops.


W.C. Varones said...

Alt-PrintScreen, my good BwD.

SarahB said...

I'm looking at this map and all I can figure is that the San Francisco elite just want an easy way to take their grandkids to Disneyland.

And why include San Diego? They wouldn't want our relatively conservative urban flavor to contaminate the rest of the big cities.

Harrison said...

The price doubled and the route got shorter? What's not to love except Liberals not wanting this to be put for a re-vote.

What a debacle. I would never take such a train were it built.

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