Friday, June 27, 2014

California High-Speed Rail Project Takes a Step Forward (on Paper, at Least)

Well, I hope it gets built.  But at what cost?  Projects in CA have a way of spiraling out of control.

The Federal Railroad Administration says it has issued a Record of Decision for the 114-mile Fresno to Bakersfield section of California’s High-Speed Train System.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called the decision “a major step forward, both for the State of California and for High Performance rail in the U.S.”

The FRA announcement Friday said the decision “clears the way to break ground on the project.” But federal funding for the project remains doubtful, as a Government Accountability Office report underscored last year.

“Obtaining $38.7 billion in federal funding over the construction period is one of the biggest challenges to completing this project,” the GAO said.

The GAO said the 2012 business plan for the project “relies on approximately $42 billion in federal funding for the project’s construction, which includes the $3.3 billion that has already been obligated. The remaining $38.7 billion in federal funds have not been identified in federal budgets or appropriations” but would amount to an average of more than $2.5 billion annually — more than the federal government’s average annual appropriations to Amtrak since 2008.

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