[guest post by JVW]
It’s my curse in life to wander the state as a crusty old man, inveighing against the disastrous California High-Speed Rail Authority’s plans to build “bullet trains” up and down the state. You can read my past lamentations here, here, and here, and the boss has chimed in a couple of times to register his displeasure with the project here and here.
So naturally you have figured out that I am setting you up for yet more aggravating news about this boondoggle of boondoggles, and you, dear reader, have surmised correctly. News came yesterday that the costs of the project have risen by an additional $1 billion while we dither on whether or not we want to fund the damn thing or finally put it out of its misery. If you want to find the silver lining in things, the $1 billion increase for this past year is only half of the increase estimate from last year, so perhaps we’re making progress!
In any case, the total price tag of this fiasco is now estimated at $80.3 billion, up from $77 billion back in 2018 which was up from $64 billion two years earlier. Just as a fun reminder, when my foolish fellow Californians (all you guys excluded, of course) voted for this cockamamie idea back in 2008, the project cost was set at under $34 billion, and the San Francisco-Anaheim portion of the line was scheduled to open up for service this year. Now the rail authority is reckoning we’ll be riding from the Golden Gate Bridge to Disneyland by 2033, even as they admit the Silicon Valley to Central Valley portion — which is supposed to be the proof of concept testing — won’t be fully operational until 2031, an 18-month delay from the last estimate.
I would guess that if there were a secret ballot vote taken that the California Legislature would probably vote to ditch this monstrosity, but it is beloved by the twee progressive urbanites (or at least the ones who don’t live near the rail lines), the government employee unions, the railroad construction industry and its unionized workers, and central planners everywhere. Accordingly, though legislative leaders on the Democrat side go through the pro forma motions of expressing “disappointment” and “concern” about the missed deadlines and soaring budget, they refuse to pull the plug on the project and put us all out of our misery. Republican legislators, to their credit, appear to be united in their desire to kill the project, even the Central Valley legislators whose districts are supposedly benefiting from the work on the rail line.
Today’s California, with that “we can do it if you give us lots and lots of time and tons and tons of money” spirit.