California’s Bullet Train Project Jumps in Cost

The first phase of the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s bullet train project have rocketed 35% ($2.8 billion) to total $10.6 billion. The project at large now carries a price tag of $67 billion, coming in well over the $40 billion cost that the authority promised to voters when they approved the project. The primary cause of the price spike was a result of the authority creating construction contracts before gaining key rights of way to move forward on the bullet train. Contractors blame the authority’s delays and internal mismanagement for their increasing expenditures. The authority attributed the hurry to a September, 2017 deadline required to access Obama-era stimulus money. A growing cost has strengthened calls for an audit of the authority, which comes as state officials wait for a complete update on costs and a revised business plan. Both should arrive this spring. Other bullet train initiatives around the country are looking to learn from the California authority’s mistakes. The $15 billion Houston-Dallas line recently received a draft environmental review from the Federal Railroad Administration, a key step forward. Developers on the project are seeing pushback from landowners, and advocacy groups against the project are encouraging landowners to be vocal about their opposition. The chief concern is ecological, likely to prompt further studies that risk slowing the project down. That could mean a second bullet train project well over budget.

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