California Bullet Train Suffers From a “Number of Miscalculations”

This is an artist's conception. It will be a very long time before California has anything more than that.California High-Speed Rail Authority

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.

The LA Times reports today about a minor little cost overrun on the California bullet train. Over the course of five years, the cost of utility relocations along a short section of track near Fresno increased nearly 6x, from $69 million to $396 million:

The California High-Speed Rail Authority board on Friday took up the problem, hearing from its staff that the original estimate contained a number of miscalculations. The number of linear feet of utilities that have to be moved was underestimated, as was the cost per foot for the job, according to a staff memo. Then, there were utilities that nobody even knew were in the ground. The authority changed its mind about some of the work, as well, the report said.

….The history of the utility relocations suggests some turmoil in management decisions — which the rail authority staff said it would not repeat in the future….The staff said that “best management practices,” along with a new database, will enable it to better estimate costs in the future. “Additionally, the assumption that utilities will perform relocations will not be repeated,” the staff memo said.

No worries! This won’t be repeated in the future! I feel relieved.

The California bullet train is obviously one of my bugaboos, and I figure that all bloggers are entitled to one or two. But seriously, reading this stuff makes me wonder if anyone involved in this boondoggle has any experience whatsoever with large construction projects, let alone high-speed rail projects.

POSTSCRIPT: In fairness, I want to note that that this is not, strictly speaking, a new cost overrun. It’s all part of the “worst-case scenario” unveiled in January.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2021 demands.

payment methods

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2021 demands.

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