California’s Bullet Train’s costs just soared some more, as the Los Angeles Times reports.
The price of the California bullet train project jumped sharply Friday when the state rail authority announced that the cost of connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco would be $77.3 billion and could rise as high as $98.1 billion — an uptick of at least $13 billion from estimates two years ago.
The rail authority also said the earliest trains could operate on a partial system between San Francisco and Bakersfield would be 2029 — four years later than the previous projection. The full system would not begin operating until 2033.
The disclosures are contained in a 114-page business plan that was issued in draft form Friday by the rail authority before public hearings and formal submission to the Legislature in about 60 days.
The new estimates will force California’s leadership to double down on its political and financial commitments if it wants to see the system completed, against a backdrop of rising costs, years of delays, strident litigation and backlashes in communities where homes, businesses, farms and environmental preserves will have to give up land to the rail’s right-of-way.
The rail authority’s previous business plan made the case that it had just enough money in hand to build an initial operating system that could carry passengers and generate revenues, which would potentially attract private investors to help finance completion of the system. The new business plan implicitly makes clear that higher costs and uncertain funding leave it short of that critical goal.
The rail authority has wrestled with a more than $40-billion funding gap for the full system, which would increase further under the new cost estimates. It is still counting on the Legislature to amend the state’s greenhouse gas auction system so that the system could borrow against future fees through 2050, but even with that benefit the project faces a financial shortfall that only partnerships with the federal government and private investors could plug, said rail authority chief executive Brian Kelly.
The new business plan is based on a wide range of uncertainties, Kelly said. Among the most challenging is the cost of about 36 miles of tunnels through mountainous Southern California, which could range anywhere from $26 billion to $45 billion, according to the report.
Retrieved March 10, 2018 from http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-bullet-train-cost-increase-20180309-story.html