The NeverEnding Project: CA HSR and the boondoggle that couldn’t

In another disappointing, yet unsurprising, turn of events, the initial segment of the California High-Speed Rail project has been delayed by an additional two years, now to 2025. This news comes just ONE WEEK after a business plan with a 2023 completion date was adopted.

The California High-Speed Rail project is one of the most expensive failures in State history and could cost $100 billion, more than three times the $33 billion that was initially estimated. This project, still nowhere near completion, was also expected to begin service in 2020. But that timeline has since come and gone, and now rather than three years behind schedule – which was already inexcusable to California taxpayers that were sold a bill of goods in 2008 – it is once again off the rails. As a comparison, the Transcontinental Railroad was built in 6 years almost completely by hand and over a century and a half ago.

But advances in modern technology couldn’t save this project from the fundamental flaws that have plagued it. In fact, every step of the way, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has mismanaged funds, misled Californians about timelines, and misinformed the public about ridership figures in a feeble attempt to hide the truth – the California High-Speed Rail project is an undeniable failure.

To help cut our State’s losses on this boondoggle, last Congress, Congressman Kevin McCarthy introduced a commonsense bill, the RAILWAY Act. This legislation would have repurposed certain unused federal funds for the California High-Speed Rail project to improve our State’s ailing water infrastructure, so that California’s nearly 40 million residents could actually see some benefits from its tax dollars. Unfortunately, the House Democrat majority refused to even consider the idea and did not allow a hearing or a vote on the matter.

The California High-Speed Rail project is going nowhere fast, and Californians should not be expected to foot the bill for a project that has been chronically stalled. California Republicans, including Congresswoman Michelle Steel, have rallied against this bad policy on the State level for years. And as a new Congresswoman, Steel has continued this fight on the federal level, recently introducing the Stop the High-Speed Money Pit Act. This legislation, which Congressman McCarthy was proud to cosponsor, would rightfully prohibit federal assistance for the wasteful California High-Speed Rail project.

The staunch evidence against this botched project is clear, yet somehow, President Biden has found California’s mismanagement of high-speed rail inspiring, and seems to be signaling that a $929 million grant, which was rescinded by the previous Administration for the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s failure to deliver on its contractual obligations, could be reinstated. Americans deserve infrastructure that is pro-worker, efficient in both time and costs, and effective, not an avant-garde concept that hasn’t delivered.

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  1. The nitwits are now in charge. In NM, Gov. Bill Richardson sold our state a bill of goods, promising a 60 mile “Rail Runner” project would cost $125 million, *only* $2M/mile. Once completed, it actually cost $500M, $8M/mile and now requires a subsidy of $9 per person per trip, a drive of 60 miles taking less than an hour and less than 2 gallons of gas. These projects are fantasies.

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