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Jon Fleischman

New High Speed Rail Cost Estimate Means Voters Should Get A Re-Vote

Today, according to the Sacramento Bee,  the California High Speed Rail Authority will formally announce that the estimated cost to construct a HSR system in California was not the already outrageous $43 billion that had previously been publicly stated by the Authority — instead a new report will show that the costs are $98.5 million — over twice the original amount!

If you need a reminder about why moving forward with this project is a bad idea, let me draw your attention to an opinion piece that ran earlier this year in the Washington Post (the Post is not exactly a repository for right-wing thought, I might add).

Back in 2008, when the measure to approve the $9 billion borrowing measure for HSR was on the ballot, the Reason Foundation released a study in which they made it clear that the cost estimates being used by proponents of a HSR system were way too low.  Ironically, though, even Reason was too conservative in its estimates of costs  — “With the high costs of building in California and the history of cost overruns on rail projects, the final price tag for the complete high-speed rail system will actually be $65 to $81 billion…”

California voters barely approved massive bonded indebtedness back in 2008 — the vote was 52.7% to 47.3%.  And, of course, the 2008 election was right before the nation would slide into a pretty steep recession.  I have no doubt that even if the original projections for the cost of a HSR system hadn’t changed, that a 2012 vote to authorize $9 billion in bonds to help finance the project would be defeated by the voters.  But with the news today of the massively increased costs, I think such a measure would go down in a landslide.

That having been said, I don’t think we should have to wonder what the voters would do — instead, I think that we should actually ask them.  The California legislature should actually place a repeal of the bonds on the ballot for next year, and let the voters stick a fork in this terrible public policy endeavor that we simply cannot afford.

2 Responses to “New High Speed Rail Cost Estimate Means Voters Should Get A Re-Vote”

  1. Roy Reynolds Says:

    If the Legislature and/or the Governor (who continues to support HSR to ensure his unions friends and developer contributors are taken care of) has the power to simply cancel this debacle and did so, it would speak volumes. Perhaps we’d learn that they actually do care about the extraordinary waste this project represents (fwiw, its first cost estimate was $34 million).

    Since it started as an Initiative, perhaps they can not simply cancel it, but they can defund it and eliminate the High Speed Rail Authority itself, the tax takers and political cronies that inhabit its office.

  2. Ernie Konnyu Says:

    A revote on Cal High Speed Rail is a must given the doubling and than some of the HSR official cost estimate. California is nearly broke, the Fed deficit spending has reached its limits so the taxpayers should cull this dog of a law.