Monday, June 18, 2018

Only 31% support high-speed rail project

Image result for california high-speed rail cartoons
Lisa Benson (Tunnel work story)

A recent poll by a very well-respected polling firm shows that while 48% of the voters are supportive of the concept of High-Speed Rail, only 31% of California voters want to keep paying for the proposed high-speed rail project once these voters have been informed about the massively escalating cost. 

You can read all the details in this excellent story in the LA Times by veteran reporter Ralph Vartabedian. The bottom line is that while Californians love the "dream" of a functional high-speed rail system, they have no confidence in the performance of the state's High-Speed Rail Authority that oversees the project. 

The voters' lack of confidence is well-justified! 

NOT gaining much press coverage was the recent endorsement of the Authority's 2018 Business Plan that supposedly outlines how the Authority will make the high-speed rail project happen. Authority Board Members and the recently-appointed CEO applauded themselves for their "honesty" in highlighting the challenges that the project faces. 

What the Board of Directors and the CEO didn't say in patting themselves on the back is that the "honest" part of the document makes quite clear that there is simply no money available, now or in the foreseeable future, that would allow the Authority to connect tracks in the Central Valley with either Los Angeles or San Jose. 

In other words, as CC-HSR has been saying for years, what the taxpayers are getting for their willingness to put $10 billion on the table in upfront money is exactly NOTHING. The Authority is going to deliver a stranded set of tracks in the Central Valley that has destroyed Central Valley farms with no connection whatsoever to the major urban centers that the high-speed rail project is supposed to serve...

Rob's comment:
The Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail has always provided the best in-depth criticism of this dumb project, which has been aptly described as the Democrats' version of the Bridge to Nowhere.

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At 3:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Expect this dumb project to continue with newsom as gov.

At 7:32 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Not necessarily. Newsom has done some flip-flopping, on the issue, but at least he seems to understand that the project has a serious financing problem.

He just sounds dumb when he talks about "private money" coming to the project's rescue, even on the Central Valley to San Jose segment. Since Newsom used to be a businessman, surely he understands that investors insist on making money on their investments, which means that anyone who invests in this project will have to be paid, that is, by the taxpayers.

Disappointing that he's willing to settle for the Central Valley/Northern California segment and punt on the link to L.A. But even that limited segment is prohibitively expensive. The state doesn't have the money to pay for a 13.5 mile tunnel under Pacheco Pass.

At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the voters repeal the gas tax will this stop the project?

At 11:13 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No. The state legislature and/or the governor can stop it. It will be up to the next governor, Gavin Newsom, to put a stop to this waste of money.

From the 2008 Proposition 1A ballot measure:

"Bond Costs. The costs of these bonds would depend on interest rates in effect at the time they are sold and the time period over which they are repaid. While the measure allows for bonds to be issued with a repayment period of up to 40 years, the state's current practice is to issue bonds with a repayment period of up to 30 years. If the bonds are sold at an average interest rate of 5 percent, and assuming a repayment period of 30 years, the General Fund cost would be about $19.4 billion to pay off both principal ($9.95 billion) and interest ($9.5 billion). The average repayment for principal and interest would be about $647 million per year."

Hard to believe that a future governor will be able to justify that, especially when the next inevitable recession happens.


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