California was one of the winners in the redistribution of high-speed rail money from states that refused the funds, to the tune of $300,000,000. Diane Feinstein was giddy at the windfall:
“This is great news for Californians, who have already made strong financial commitments to infrastructure projects,” Feinstein said. “I applaud Secretary LaHood for responding to our request and allowing the state of California to utilize these funds to advance high-speed rail. No other state is as ready and able to lead the way in demonstrating the viability of high-speed rail.”
Which brings us to last night, when the independent agency overseeing California’s high-speed “infrastructure” spending basically derailed the entire project:
Among the recommendations, the report calls for:
• The state Legislature to reject the $185 million in state funding the project calls for this year for consultants and public outreach and approve only $7 million.
• Passing legislation this session that would shift responsibility from the High Speed Rail Authority to the California Department of Transportation.
• Re-evaluating where the first segment of the line is built – perhaps a more densely populated area with enough ridership to financially support the line.
Are you kidding me? $185 million for consultants and public relations? Middle-class jobs my butt.
Oh, and the recommendation that the first line of the train actually pay for itself. Brilliant!
The rail authority has about $3.5 billion in place from federal funds and about $6.3 billion overall. In total, the line has been estimated to cost $43 billion.
But Tuesday’s report determines that those costs might have risen substantially since that 2009 estimate. It also warns that funding could be too reliant on politics and could be cut off at any time based on whether leaders support high-speed rail. The $300 million California received Monday, for instance, came from the federal government after Florida leaders rejected the funds as wasteful spending.
Translation: we have no idea how much this is really going to cost.
Please, please Congress — end high-speed rail now. Oh, and California, give us the $300 million back.