"Better, faster and cheaper” is the mantra for a new business plan unveiled Monday for California’s high-speed rail project. The electric-powered trains would be capable of transporting passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in less than three hours at speeds up to 220 mph.
California High-Speed Rail Authority officials said the revised 212-page plan chops off almost $30 billion from the ambitious effort’s cost by using some existing tracks rather than building new ones, bringing the project’s estimated cost to $68.4 billion. That’s still $25 billion more than the project’s original price tag, reported the Los Angeles Times. L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa praised the updated plan, saying a speedy bullet train path stretching 520 miles from downtown L.A. to downtown San Francisco is a natural extension of a transportation network being built in Southern California.
Construction would begin this year, if the plan is approved, on a 300-mile swath of high-speed tracks from Merced to the San Fernando Valley to be completed by 2022. Rail officials Monday said construction of the entire system would be completed in 2028, and open to the public a year later. Supporters of the revised plan say it will infuse the state’s flailing economy with jobs. Critics say the project isn’t what voters were promised in 2008, when they approved a $9 billion bond measure to jumpstart the rail system, and that the state can’t afford it.
Do you support high-speed rail in California? Is it worth it, when it comes to jobs and connectivity, or is it still just costing too much?
Julie Small, KPCC's State Capital Reporter