Price Tag for California Bullet Train Rises Yet Again

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


I imagine that most of you are tired of my endless linking to news articles reporting that the California bullet train will cost ever more, more, more. Some of you are tired of it because you don’t live in California and don’t care. The rest of you care, but are dismayed at the sight of a fellow liberal who opposes the bullet train.

I hear you. But I can’t help myself. Here’s the latest from an engineering firm hired by the state:

The estimated cost of building a key Central Valley segment of the California bullet train has increased by nearly $1 billion from the original estimate, based on figures in an environmental impact statement approved by the rail agency Wednesday….The lowest cost estimate for the 114-mile segment in a 2011 environmental report was $6.19 billion. The comparable figure increased 15% to $7.13 billion in the new report.

The California High Speed Rail Authority said in a statement that it believes the cost will be lower than URS is projecting.

Well, I’m willing to bet that the cost will be higher than URS is projecting. Most construction costs rise after actual construction begins, after all, and so far the rail authority hasn’t laid a single mile of track.

There have been all sorts of disputes between rail supporters and URS, so it’s pretty easy to ignore their estimates if you’re inclined to. As for me, I’m sticking to my prediction that the bullet train will end up costing at least $100 billion in 2011 dollars, assuming it gets built at all. I don’t think anyone has been willing to take me up on that bet yet.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate