The California High-speed Rail that will transport passengers from San Francisco to L.A. in just 2 1/2 hours, the largest proposed public works project in the state’s history, has it another speed bump (cheesy, over-used pun intended of course). Said speed bump being a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The report indicated that many problems plague the project, something of which California Law-Makers and the California High-Speed Rail Authority are well aware. The major set backs for the 68 billion dollar project is the volatility in ridership projections, the lingering environmental issues and a serious lack of available funds.
The $68 billion estimate (a mind-boggling number) breaks down like this:
- $11.5 billion in state and federal funds have been set-aside. That means that as of right now, only 16% of the project is actually funded. And that is not including the millions and probably billions of dollars that the project will go over budget.
- The CA High-speed Rail Authority has projected that $37 billion will come from the Federal coffers.
- That still leaves a shortfall of $20 billion dollars.
The Authority believes that once construction of the rail has begun private investors will take the project seriously and jump on board. They will cover the rest of the costs for a cut of the profits.
This article may seem a bit cynical, but it is not because the project is undesirable. A high-speed rail that connects Northern and Southern California is great for the state. Any public transportation is a step forward in a country that is so automobile-centric. However, this project has many obstacles that need to be overcome. This is not to say that they cannot be addressed in a fiscally feasible way, but it will take time and planning. It definitely will not be a smooth ride for the high-speed rail project, but it will be worth the bumps along the way.