Point of View: California's bullet train

Remember the bullet train? 

This is a project the voters thought they wanted, but if they’re still paying attention, it’s clear there isn’t anywhere near enough money to complete this project. And in the great California tradition, the red tape is strangling it.

The original price tag voters approved in 2008 was $40 billion for the entire project. Experts now say that it’ll cost $90-$100 billion. Does anyone believe that number will hold?
Recent engineering studies, rather than bringing clarity, have raised more questions than answers, so what are the big problems that weren’t understood in 2008? 

To meet the speed and time requirements set by state law, the High Speed Rail Authority is considering building an enormously expensive tunnel under the Burbank airport. But environmental studies, FAA concerns, neighborhood groups, and the airport itself are all slowing it down.

There’s an existing stretch of track between Anaheim and Los Angeles that the High Speed Rail Authority wants to use, but BNSF holds that track, and they own it. They don’t particularly want the high speed train to disrupt the schedules of their freight trains. That could cost billions more to expand. 

Even the easiest part of the project – the 119 miles of construction in the Central Valley -- is both over budget and behind schedule. It certainly appears that this is just not going to be affordable, and too many separate interests are working to torpedo the project including California’s own bureaucracy. Other than that, this sounds like an easy breezy project designed by angels in Heaven.

Governor Newsom, before we pour billions of additional dollars down a black hole, maybe we should pump the brakes and reassess this train to nowhere. If you can’t assure us that you can build this high speed train with twice the money taxpayers approved, then shut the project down and reallocate the remaining funds.

This could be the most expensive infrastructure mistake in the history of the United States, and if you don’t move quickly, this mistake could be your legacy. 

As viewers, travelers, and taxpayers, what do you think?

Call 310-584-2030 or email me at fox11pov@foxtv.com.

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I’m Bill Lamb, and that’s my Point of View.

The views expressed are not necessarily those of the station or its employees.