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    High-speed rail waste continues
    • July 10, 2024

    A Google search for “California high-speed rail” and “boondoggle’ returned 31,900 results. One linked to a New York Post story, “California mocked over high-speed rail bridge to nowhere,” after the project boasted its completion of the Fresno River Viaduct.

    Then on June 27 the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which runs the project, announced its Board of Directors cleared Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) approvals for the segment between Palmdale and Burbank.

    That completed all approvals for the Los Angeles-to-San Francisco section, the largest for the project, “with only the Los Angeles to Anaheim section remaining in Phase 1” of construction.

    CEO Brian Kelly called it “a transformative project for the state of California as a whole, and today’s approval is a major milestone for connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles in less than three hours.”

    The problem remains that the funding for the project is as unrealistic as when then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger talked voters into approving Proposition 1A in 2008.

    Sixteen years ago voters were promised, as they read in the initiative’s fiscal impact statement, “State costs of about $19.4 billion, assuming 30 years to pay off both principal ($9.95 billion) and interest ($9.5 billion) costs of the bonds.” It was supposed to be completed by 2020.

    However, on March 12 the Legislative Analyst’s Office analyzed the project’s 2024 Draft Business Plan and found the cost had ballooned to $107.6 billion. The plan included grabbing $3.3 billion in federal funds, and “identifies a target” of getting another $4.7 billion from federal taxpayers.

    That money will be tough to get with Republicans in Congress questioning more funding. On May 29, Sens. Ted Cruz of, R-Texas, and Rep. Sam Graves, R-Missouri, wrote a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg maintaining “there is no reasonable path forward for successful completion of the project.”

    As they continue their August recess, legislators ought to ask constituents whether more taxpayer funding ought to go to this boondoggle, or to filling potholes.

    ​ Orange County Register 

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