California’s high speed rail project, the crown jewel of President Obama’s vision for the future of public transportation, is announcing today that its proposed bullet train from San Francisco to Anaheim will cost nearly $100 billion, smashing earlier estimates. It’s also now projected to be completed in 2033, or 13 years longer than originally announced, according to the Associated Press.
The rail project has been a boondoggle from the get go, as indepenent analyses have questioned its cost estimates, ridership projections and financial plan. At the same time, environmental groups, farmers and local communities have opposed its proposed routes for carving up land and ripping through neighborhoods. Originally projected to cost $43 billion just two years ago, it’s now projected to cost $65.4 billion in 2010 dollars, or $98.5 billion assuming 3 percent inflation over the 20-year life of the project.
The business plan says that it can only expect 20 percent of the cost to be financed with private money, meaning that the cash-strapped state and federal governments will have to pick up the remaining $80 billion. It’s highly unlikely that they’ll ever get that amount of money and the project will be tied up in years by lawsuits and environmental impact assessments. So the only question now is whether the California legislature will kill it before it squanders billions of dollars.