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.

3 thoughts on “The NeverEnding Project: CA HSR and the boondoggle that couldn’t

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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.

  2. The promise of this rail has caused people to put all their eggs in one basket, especially in regards to real estate. The people that have lived in this valley for over 25 years and have aspired to continue living here cannot afford the prices in the housing market. I get it, those that work in other more profitable counties can afford to pay these prices because they are a third of what they are used to paying. So the promise of a rail that gets them back and forth to work in record time gives them cause to buy in the valley. What happens when this rail fails? Tulare county cannot afford to put all their eggs in that basket. Real estate prices have skyrocketed to a point that long term residence of Tulare county cannot afford to buy a home. I have lived in Tulare county for over 25 years. I have worked hard as a single mom to save money and improve my credit so that I can buy my first home. A 225,000 dollar home will cost me 1500 a month. That is more than half of my income. The homes that are selling for less than 250,000 need so many repairs that it is not a financially sound investment to spend over half my income on a house payment when the home needs extensive repairs. It seems as though the housing market is banking on all these high dollar people moving into the valley because that high speed rail is going to make the commute so much easier for them. In the meantime, I am having to find a home in another county and that is going to cause me a long commute everyday, not to mention my son will have to change schools.
    I realize this is just my opinion and it probably doesn’t matter to “the powers that be” but I love living in Tulare. I want to stay here. This is where I raised my kids and where my roots are. It breaks my heart that this housing market is making me have to pull up roots and move to another county or I just have to give up my dream of owning my own home in the town that I love.

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