Thursday, October 25, 2018

Democrats are dumb on high-speed rail

2015 HSR Groundbreaking
The Shame of the Democratic Party

I like Andrew Gillum, the Democrat'candidate for Governor of Florida. I saw the debate between him and Ron DeSantis the other night, and I thought he did well, with one important exception: I was disappointed that he criticized Governor Scott for turning down the money from the Obama administration for a high-speed rail system:

Talking about Florida's transportation problems gives Democrats a platform to attack Gov. Rick Scott. In 2011 he turned down federal funds for high-speed rail between Tampa and Orlando. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum did just that when he spoke to Jacksonville's WJCT. "We had an opportunity during the Obama administration to pull down 1.3 billion (it was actually more than $2 billion) dollars to help build high speed rail across the I-4 corridor---the fastest growing corridor in this state," Gillum said. "We've got to lean into the future of transportation in this state. Asphalt will not build us out of gridlock."

The high-speed rail idea is The Shame of the Democratic Party, and I say that as a Democrat who would never vote for a Republican for any office.

This may be the only important issue that Scott was right about. Why turn down all that federal money to start building a high-speed rail system?

The answer is simple to anyone who has examined the issue: because the Federal Government wouldn't guarantee Florida any money for the inevitable construction cost overruns and to operate and maintain the system if/when it's ever built.

As Wendell Cox explained years ago, that would surely amount to billions of dollars for Florida's taxpayers:

As in the program announced in 2009, the state, group of states, government agency will be required to demonstrate its financial capacity (that is, the capacity of their taxpayers) to pay for cost overruns (page 9). This open-ended liability led Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey to cancel a new Hudson River rail tunnel, which had costs that were escalating out of control that would be the obligation of the state's taxpayers.

Governor Christie and Governor Scott were both aware of the disastrous record of major infrastructure cost overruns, such as in the Boston Big Dig project, the Korean high-speed rail program and the overwhelming majority of passenger rail projects in North America and Europe, according to a team led by Oxford University Professor Bent Flyvbjerg...

Randal O'Toole sums it up best"All you have to do is mention the words 'public transit' and progressives will fall over themselves to support you no matter how expensive and ridiculous your plans."

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