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California’s bullet-train to nowhere: $44 billion in the hole and not a foot of track laid

September 5, 2016

From my latest for the Weekly Standard:

Image result for california high speed rail construction images

Building the first viaduct: So you can travel at 220 mph to an almond orchard

 

What I was to see consisted of a 1,600-foot viaduct spanning the Fresno River on the rural outskirts of Madera, a rundown city of 63,000 in the heart of the state’s agriculturally rich but economically parched San Joaquin Valley—a landscape that is geographically, topographically, demographically, and culturally far away from the bustle of the two coastal metropolises that the train was supposed to be designed to serve. The Fresno River viaduct is part of an initial 130-mile stretch of track through the valley that would allow passengers to travel from Madera, 164 miles -southeast of San Francisco, to Bakersfield, 110 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Well, actually not quite all the way to Bakersfield, California’s ninth-largest city, with a population of 364,000, but to the edge of an almond orchard on the fringes of Shafter, a sleepy farm town of 17,000 some 19 miles to the north. That was because the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA), the autonomous state agency in charge of planning and building the train, didn’t have quite the money in its budget to take the train to downtown Bakersfield, and passengers bound for that city would presumably have to board a low-speed connector bus to actually arrive there. The estimated date for completing this initial stretch was September 2017, the deadline for spending $3.5 billion in “stimulus” money from the Obama administration. Actually linking San Francisco and Los Angeles with a southerly terminus in Anaheim on a total of 520 miles of track had been pushed out to the year 2022. Critics have dubbed the high-speed rail project the “train to nowhere,” and it was easy to see why.

Those longueurs are only part of the story. The rest of the story is the astonishingly widespread political opposition to the train by California voters these days, even though 53 percent of them approved the idea when it was on the state ballot in the November 2008 election. The opposition spans ideological left and right and demographic rich, poor, and middle-class: from wealthy Silicon Valley technocrats horrified that the ultra-fast rail lines, with overpasses only every 10 miles or so, would wreck their leafy, bicycle-friendly upscale-suburban neighborhoods, to Latino-majority working-class towns in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley that would be split in half by the train corridors, to equestrians in the San Gabriel Mountain foothills who would see their horse trails destroyed and environmentalists concerned about wetlands destruction in Northern California and threats to wildlife and endangered plant species in Southern California’s Angeles National Forest, through which several of the proposed train routes would plow.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

 

 

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21 Comments
  1. Mark hensley permalink

    She do your name Justice.
    Stupid girl.
    Idiots like you are why America still doesn’t have a decent national public transit system. Shortsighted moron.

    You must be a Republican, or worse, a Libertarain.

    • OingoBoingo permalink

      Liberals oppose it because it ruins thier liberal trails and it is Republicans fault? You are an amusing liberal Mark. Reality is hard for you Mark, so you lash out at others.

    • Libertarian actually, so please tell me about all the local public transportation systems that are self supporting and not leaching taxpayer dollars.

    • roman marquez permalink

      We do have a decent national public transit system, its called getting in the car and driving there, nobody wants to be hoofing it when they get to shafter, idiot.

    • Mike Bromley permalink

      Gee, Mark, how nice of you to spread your gratuitous insults around for all to see.

    • Libtard ideals are all the left has. In theory they sound like geniuses, in reality they sound like the idiots they are.

    • Mark hensley, I agree with you. Those words will be said after:
      I lose 40 I.Q. points;
      Have a frontal lobotomy;
      Drop a chromosome and,
      Have a skull crushing accident.

      You sir, are a Moron. You literally can not even capitalize both letters of your OWN name. Sorry, can not, will not take you seriously.

      Finally, you are the reason America is where it is.

      (Mic Drop)

    • I don’t get it, Mark Hensley. It’s because of “idiots” like her, who point out what a tragic boondoggle this system is? I don’t think it’s her fault that we don’t have a “decent” national transit system. I’m thinking it’s the government’s fault, you know?

    • David Welsh permalink

      You funny.

  2. They are spending all the money they can to feed labor unions, lawyers and real estate tycoons who then donate the money back to political office holders…….and these are the “same” people that call Russia and China corrupt countries.

  3. This high speed is going to cost so much money we do not have—-if it does ever get built I bet the tax payer is going to have to support it because it will never support itself—why go on a train when you can go on a airplane and get there faster

    • Stuart permalink

      Apparently you do not fly very often. A One hour flight from San Francisco to LAX turns into 4 to five hours of misery. Drive to the airport, arrive two hours early due to security then your flight then and hour to get off the plane and another hour to get of the airport. If High Speed rail is so bad then explain why Europe and Japan have invested so heavily in it.

      • The downsides to flying are all because the government owns the airports and runs the security. Without the TSA nonsense we are all subjected to, taking a flight would be a hell of a lot faster.

  4. Kevin Wirth permalink

    To the dingbats in charge: It would have been a MUCH better decision to build desalination plants with that money.

  5. Mike permalink

    You have to start somewhere. I’m betting if you were doing a blog several decades ago you would write what a waste of money and how much over budget I5 is. Some of us look forward to riding in order to avoid the costs of driving all the time, spending hours in traffic and not having to wait 1 1/2 for a flight when a train ride that will get us places in 2-3 hours. And, of course they are starting the project where it was easier in terms of access and property rights. Best place to start? Not in my opinion, but you have to start somewhere.

    • james ross permalink

      Then do that without tax payer money. Pay what the actual ticket price would be with out being funded with money who do not want to ride.

  6. I would like to know where you got the $44 billion figure. It’s not in the linked article. That is a HUGE chunk of change, and it’s hard even for me to believe that the state wasted *that* much.

    • It’s the difference between the $64 billion estimated cost and the $20 billion that California can conceivably get its hands onto.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. California’s bullet-train to nowhere: $44 billion in the hole and not a foot of track laid | Stupid Girl – The Moral Of The Story
  2. California’s bullet-train to nowhere: $44 billion in the hole and not a foot of track laid | Stupid Girl – State Of Jefferson US LI

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