Posts Tagged ‘California.high.speed.rail’


Friday, May 17th, 2019

California’s “Train to Nowhere,” the alleged high-speed rail that would link San Francisco and Los Angeles (originally), and, now, the thriving metropolises of Shafter (just north of Bakersfield) and Merced is in deep trouble. Well, it has been in deep trouble since day one of the project but the trouble is now far worse: The US Department of Transportation canceled funding of nearly $929 million. That cancellation stops $929 million of funds from heading to California. Making matters worse, the US is considering asking for $2.5 billion to be returned.

Based on CHSRA’s repeated failure to submit critical required deliverables and its failure to make sufficient progress to complete the Project (as defined in Attachment 2, Section 1 h, of the FY 10 Agreement) hy the close of the performance period, and after careful consideration of the information presented by CHSRA in its March 4, 2019, letters to me and to Ms. Jamie Rennert (CHSRA Response) (included as Ex. C and Ex. D, respectively), FRA has determined that CHSRA has violated the terms of the FY 10 Agreement and has failed to make reasonable progress on the Project.

CHSRA consistently and repeatedly failed in its management and delivery of the Project, and in meeting the terms and conditions of the FY 1O Agreement, all of which constitute violations of the FY lO Agreement. Despite extensive guidance from FRA, CHSRA was unable to prepare and submit fundamental Project delivery documents (e.g., budgets, Funding Contribution Plans (FCPs), and Project Management Plans (PMPs)). CHSRA’s inability to track and report near-term milestones, as described further below, shows that CHSRA is likewise unable to forecast accurately a long-term schedule and costs for the Project. Further, after almost a decade, CHSRA has not demonstrated the ability to complete the Project, let alone to deliver it by the end of 2022, as the FY 10 Agreement requires. As described further below, CHSRA is chronically behind in Project construction activities and has not been able to correct or mitigate its deficiencies. Overall, such critical failures completely undermine FRA’s confidence in CHSRA’s ability to manage the Project effectively. [footnote omitted]

This is what almost every critic of this project has said from day one. The cost has gone from $10 billion to somewhere north of $70 billion (I’ve seen estimates that range from $72 billion to well over $100 billion). The demand for high-speed rail between Bakersfield and Merced isn’t high, so the project is going to have problems breaking even.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said he would fight the decision in court. But for now, I will not be surprised if the California high-speed rail line turns into a brand new bikeway sometime in the future.

What’s $62 Billion Among Friends?

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

I used to live in California’s central valley. It’s prime agricultural land, with citrus, almonds, pistachios, stone fruits, grapes, and practically anything else that you can eat. The cities there aren’t big (Fresno is the largest), and poverty and unemployment are rampant.

The central valley is also where California will begin construction of a high speed rail network. The idea is to build the first stage from Madera (population 61,416) to Bakersfield (population 347,483). It will pass through my old hometown of Visalia (population 124,442) and Fresno (population 509,039). To date, California has raised $6 billion of the current cost estimate of $68 billion.

Most rapid transit needs subsidies; clearly, a rail line from Madera to Bakersfield is going to be a money-loser. Meanwhile, California has been raising taxes, driving businesses out of the Bronze Golden State. The state has yet to purchase any property that will be needed for the route (though approval was granted earlier this month to begin that process). Given that the land is of good use for agriculture, expect court battles to develop over what a fair price is.

Meanwhile, where is the other $62 billion going to come from? Given the recent uproar in Congress with the fiscal cliff and the upcoming uproar over the debt ceiling, I doubt any proposals for high speed rail will make it through. There’s also the basic problem that you can fly from Los Angeles to San Francisco in an hour; high speed rail will take just as long (or longer)…so there is no speed advantage. At least it’s no longer my state tax dollars going for this project.