California High Speed Rail

Discussion continues three-and-a-half years after California Proposition 1A was approved by voters in most of the counties that would be served by high speed rail service.

Pro

The decision to go forward with high speed rail in California was made back in 2008 when Proposition 1A was passed by a 52.6% to 47.4% margin.  All of the discussion in the press right now is just second guessing that 2008 decision.

Regarding proceeding with the high speed rail project during the bad economy, one thing you might try is adopting a long range perspective.  Put yourself 50 years in the future.  If high speed rail is successful, ‘future you’ will appreciate that California was bold enough to move ahead during a recession when prices were low.  It’s a big “If”, and it seems really big right now.  But air travel between northern and southern California has grown steadily over the last few decades, to the point where now all three Bay Area airports are operating at such high volumes that on days when weather is bad flights start backing up.  That means we are already pretty close to maxing out.

In the face of that strong and still growing demand, it’s hard for me to imagine HSR not being successful if we can get it up and running.

“Steve,” an engineer in California who works in a field that will benefit from the public spending

map showing counties that voted Yes on Prop 1A

Con

Here we are the greatest nation on Earth and the greatest state in the nation and we’re proposing early 20th century technology for our high speed rail project.  Japan is currently working on a magnetic levitation (maglev) high speed rail project and will have it in service long before we can build our antiquated system.

This high speed rail project must go back to the voters in California.

The original cost estimate approved by the voters, $33.6 billion, was a blatant, fraudulent lie!  The most recent estimate of $98.5 billion proves this.  The lower estimate was designed to get voter approval to start the project, after which additional costs must be paid based on the “logic” that we can’t stop part way through, no matter the ultimate cost.

The estimate of a million jobs being created is also a blatant, fraudulent lie.  One job for ten years is NOT ten jobs!  This lie too was propagated to make the project appear beneficial.

There is no Federal money!  The US Congress cut all high speed rail projects from the past and current budgets.  In fact, there is no “government money”!  It’s OUR money, your money and mine.

There is no private money!  No one with any business acumen would invest in a dead loss project that has no possibility of any return.

Florida unceremoniously dumped their high speed rail project.  I’d hate to think that Floridians are more intelligent than we Californians, but it surely looks that way.

This high speed rail project appears to be just like The Big Dig in Boston only at a much higher cost!  That project was scheduled to be completed in 1998 at an estimated cost of $2.8 billion.  The project was not completed, however, until December of 2007, at a cost of over $14.6 billion.  The Boston Globe estimated that the project will ultimately cost $22 billion, including interest, and that it will not be paid off until 2038.

This project can never be completed for $98.5 billion.  Only after it has been started will we be told the actual cost.  Based on the way California is currently governed and the way government in general handles large public works projects, I’d say $300 billion might cover the actual cost.

“Glenn,” a retired engineer in California

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