California residents may have to wait a few decades before hopping on a proposed high speed rail transit system – and it won’t come cheap, either.
The California High Speed Rail Authority has decided to extend the construction project by 13 years, from an original projection date of 2020 to 2033. This extended timeline has allowed inflationary costs to drive up estimates for the project, which will span from San Francisco through Bakersfield, Palmdale, Los Angeles, and end in Anaheim.
The project has already come under heavy public scrutiny for unreasonable ridership and cost projections, and many fear this latest change will ground the project indefinitely. Cost estimations have jumped from an original $39 billion to almost $43 billion by 2009, and now swelling to $98.5 billion. Whether the state will be able to secure additional funding from Congress remains unclear, but many are pessimistic about additional sources.
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Proposals for high speed rail systems have sprouted up around the country in the last decade, thanks in part to federal stimulus projects and worries about the United States' aging, and inferior, infrastructure. In the midst of the economic recession, however, many projects have been postponed or abandoned entirely. Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin have all turned down bids, and with its worsening fiscal crisis California may soon follow suit.
Some, though, point to rising California population figures and potential job creation from the project to bolster public and governmental support for the venture. The Legislature will vote on whether to approve the new figures when they return in January.