Increasing concerns over cost of California’s high speed rail

Serious questions are being asked about the viability and affordability of California High Speed Rail. The project was approved by voters in Nov. 2008, allocating almost $10 billion in bonds. When and if completed, it would link San Francisco and Los Angeles with trains capable of going 220 mph, making the trip in 2 ½ hours.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Most voters, when asked, say they favor such a system.

But would they still favor it if they knew it would cost at least $43 billion?

Given the apocalyptically bad state of the California budget, the money can’t come from California. It doesn’t have any to spare. The federal government has ponied up $2.3 billion so far, and California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) is asking for $1 billion more. But, this is nowhere near enough, and that $10 billion in bonds has to be paid back with interest, ultimately by you the taxpayer, should the project prove unprofitable.

The Washington Post details a number of serious problems and challenges in building High Speed Rail (HSR.) The rail beds need to be built of concrete not crushed rock. They can’t deviate, even slightly, as that could cause derailment for a train going 200+ mph. Such rail beds are not capable of taking the extreme load of freight trains, thus they are passenger only. With hauling freight not an option, would a L.A.-S.F. route carry enough passengers to pay for itself?

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