Delays plague bullet train

The Merced-to-Bakersfield segment of California’s bullet train was supposed to be done by Sept. 30. “Not even close,” reports the Fresno Bee.

“And while all of the stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has indeed been spent and construction is happening in earnest in Fresno and Madera counties, much of the Valley route in Kings, Tulare and Kern counties – considered the “backbone” of a system to eventually link San Francisco and Los Angeles – remains on the drawing board.”

What happened? Implacable resistance from farmers, who implacably resist everything but farming; ditto their conservative, small government elected representatives; California Environmental Quality Act hurdles and CEQA lawsuits; lawsuits alleging the project failed to comply with Proposition 1A requirements (the high-speed rail bond measure approved in 2008); slower-than-expected right-of-way property acquisition; and cost overruns which required redesign of the system.

So now a bullet train that was supposed to be whisking between Merced and Los Angeles by 2022 will move more slowly between Bakersfield and San Jose by 2025. Maybe. Now voters who approved a $9.9 billion bond in 2008 are looking at $64 billion estimates.

“It’s going to be expensive, probably more expensive,”Dan Richard, California High-Speed Rail Authority board chairman, tells the Bee. “It’s going to take longer. But 50 years from now, people are going to forget that, just like they forgot the 2,300 lawsuits over the Golden Gate Bridge or that it took 30 years to finish Interstate 5,” he added. “It’s here now; we’re going to get this done. And it’s going to be hard.”

I agree. Still If this is what a state’s greatness looks like from the inside, give me sausage.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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