American Elephants


Obama’s High-Speed Rail “Not Financially Feasible”…says California by The Elephant's Child

When the California Legislature signed on for the most expensive public-works project in American history,  in a moment of sanity they created an independent review board to ensure that the Los Angeles to San Francisco high-speed rail project would have a solid financial basis.  Yesterday the California High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group sent a “scathing letter” to the political leadership in Sacramento urged delay in borrowing billions for the bullet train.  They said the high-speed rail program “is not financially feasible.” Support for the proposed $98.5 billion train as shifted according to recent polls.

Gov. Jerry Brown has said he will ask the Legislature in the coming months to issue the first batch of $9 billion in voter-approved bonds for a high-speed rail network that backers say will create jobs, help the environment and transform the state’s economy.

Once the state exhausts the $9 billion in available bonds and $3.3 billion in federal grants, there is no certainty about how the rest of the project is supposed to be funded.

The panel includes private-sector financial experts, a University of California dean of engineering, a former Caltrans director and a local government representative. Their warnings are likely to weigh heavily on lawmakers as they consider the project in coming months, said Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), a longtime supporter of high-speed rail who has grown increasingly concerned about the project. Simitian has raised the possibility of putting the entire project on hold for a year to reevaluate the current plan.

All sorts of experts on high-speed rail, light rail, mass transportation have weighed in on this project for years. The first very expensive stretch is supposed to run between two small towns in the Central Valley, and if I remember correctly, every independent review of the project has said it wouldn’t work.  Another Green Fantasy — because “we must get  people out of their cars.”

The frightening thing is that governments seem to be impervious to new information. They become enchanted with their big project, and nothing will dissuade them or Governor Brown.

Brown spokesman Gil Duran said in an e-mail that the Peer Review Group’s report “does not appear to add any arguments that are new or compelling enough to suggest a change in course.”

California’s broke, businesses are leaving California in droves, the state-mandated review board tells them it can’t work.  Nevermind.

 




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