Brown’s rail project an expensive “boondoggle”

Not Len Brown this time, but Jerry Brown, the Governor of California and his ill-fated rail project.

The similarities are astonishing though.

As California breaks ground this week on its new high-speed rail line, it is clear what the $68 billion dollar project amounted to: though the project will surely make unions, construction workers, and bond salesmen happy, it is little more than money the state doesn’t have for a train that its residents don’t need and probably won’t use. TheWashington Post reports on the project’s continued financial troubles, and it’s not pretty:

Voters approved a $9.95 billion bond aimed at funding the initial construction of the rail project in 2008, by a slim five-point margin. The Obama administration added another $3.2 billion in federal grants, and the legislature agreed in 2014 to provide funding through cap-and-trade taxes on greenhouse gases, which will add another $250 million to $1 billion per year.

That means the rail authority will have about $26 billion at best, less than half the estimated total costs. California High-Speed Rail Authority officials have said they expect advertising, real estate developments and private investors to fund up to a third of the total costs.  

And as with most major infrastructure projects, costs are likely to rise as new hurdles emerge. Last year, the rail authority boosted its cost estimate for one key segment in the Central Valley by 15 percent, or about $1 billion. Some opponents believe the costs could skyrocket to about $250 billion or more.

IF the internet doesn’t change the way people work, reducing both commuting and the demand for business travel, IF the giant project doesn’t mimic almost all similar projects and develop gigantic cost overruns that make a mockery of the initial cost elements, IF resourceful NIMBY groups and their lawyers don’t find too many endangered species in its path or otherwise tie it up in endless litigation, IF self driving cars don’t make rail travel obsolete, IF the fares aren’t so high even with subsidies that passengers shun it, and IF unlike almost all other passenger rail service in the U.S. it doesn’t lose buckets of money, this project could look like a smart move.

I can’t wait until Len Brown has to come forward and explain why Auckland Transport along with Kiwirail and Veolia think the rail loop will actually grind the city to a stand still.

Apparently it has something to do with the plethora of level crossings and the increased rail traffic will have key suburban roads closed for over 30 minutes per hour blocking the surrounding roads and creating snarl ups.

When alerted to this little problem Len’s response was reportedly to tell the person who raised it to shut up, that he was focussed on getting the trains come hell or high water.

We’ll see where it ends up, but I suspect that the cost for Len’s own rail boondoggle is set to explode in order to fix all those level crossings with either underpasses or bridges…the cost will be enormous.


– American Interest

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.