by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Less than one week after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced her “Green New Deal,” which includes fantasies such as replacing air travel with high-speed rail in 10 years, reality kicks in. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, announced earlier this week that he will abandon the plan of building a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
His exact quote? “Let’s be real. The current project, as planned, would cost too much and, respectfully, take too long.” …
… Once reality set in, however, California voters had a rude awakening. The initial 2006 cost estimate of $35 billion and the target date of 2020 were way too optimistic and unrealistic. The Obama administration kicked in a federal grant of $3.2 billion, much less than Californians expected.
Over time, due to litigation, construction delays, engineering issues, property rights issues, and other environmental issues, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) kept increasing the price tag while postponing the target completion date and shrinking the distance the rail line would cover. In the meantime, the progress has been painfully slow.
Starting in 2010, CHSRA only gave a cost estimate for Phase I of the 800-mile project, a 520-mile line between San Francisco and L.A. It was $43 billion for Phase I. No estimates were given for Phase II, the extensions to Sacramento and San Diego. A year later, however, the estimated cost for Phase I skyrocketed to $98 billion.