A Superior Court judge has derailed Governor Jerry Brown plans to build his doomed, expensive, California High Speed Rail project. Brown desperately wants to satisfy two major constituencies, big labor (who will build it) and Wall Street (who will finance it.) One small snag, California doesn’t have the money, even as they continue to pretend they do.
California High Speed rail is sleazy pork barrel politics at its worst. It will cost upwards of $100 billion, under current estimates, and will not get people from San Francisco to Los Angeles faster than airports. It just won’t. HSR will be a ecological disaster in the Central Valley. There is no chance a high speed rail line will be built up the peninsula towards San Francisco because of vocal, well-funded opposition and the impossibility of constructing new tracks at any sane price because they must go above or below ground and not on the surface.
The judge ruled construction cannot begin because the State has no credible source of funding and further said they could not issue an $8.6 billion bond. Good.
As a practical matter, this means construction can’t start unless the state finds $25 billion or more in solid financing — which is highly unlikely given a ban on revenue guarantees to investors. Nor can it start until the state completes all environmental reviews for the initial 300-mile segment — which could take years.