June 10, 2015

California's slow motion economic high speed train wreck

In 2008, California voters approved a ballot measure to authorize $9.95 billion in bonds to fund construction of the country's first bullet train. It would, the ballot measure promised, whisk passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in two hours and 40 minutes.

Construction got off to a late start, but it finally broke ground in January, in beautiful Fresno. The California High Speed Rail Authority (or CHSRA) hopes to have the L.A.-to–San Fran section completed by 2029. The authority claims, to much doubt, that the bullet train will reach a top speed of 220 miles per hour (America's current fastest train tops out at around 150 mph). It will cost at least $68 billion, probably more – a lot can happen in 14 years.

Aside from the $9.95 billion in bond money and $3.3 billion that California got in stimulus money from the federal government, no one really has any idea where the rest of the $68 billion (or however much) is coming from.

Big Dig firm getting close to $1 billion for California high speed rail consulting.

The board overseeing California's high-speed rail project has voted to give a $700 million contract to consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff. $200 million in past fees for Parsons Brinckerhoff were also approved.

Parsons Brinckerhoff partnered with rival engineering firm Bechtel to build the troubled Big Dig in Boston, Massachusetts. The Big Dig, or Central Artery / Tunnel project, as it was officially known was intended to replace an elevated Interstate freeway and connecting roads with a tunnel system underneath Boston. The project was beset with bad engineering, shoddy workmanship, and the death of an automobile passenger as a poor ceiling design caused a tunnel roof section to collapse on a car in the tunnel, crushing the victim. The Big Dig was years over schedule and engineering costs to several times of Bechtel / Parsons Brinckerhoff's original estimates, from $8 Billion to in excess of $24 Billion.

I guess if they are going bungle a giant engineering project they should learn from the pros.

High speed train wreck in Spain. California is just an economic train wreck. Any actual high speed California train wreck will not be for decades and likely involve only people in hurry to go from Los Angeles to Shafter

First leg of the California high speed rail is now 8 miles shorter and wil terminate in Shafter and not Bakersfield

The 130-mile first leg of California High Speed Rail is now 122 miles, and initial plans to terminate the first segment in Bakersfield are now officially out the window. State bullet train officials say the decision is the result of legal disputes with local cities.

Instead of stopped on the outskirts of Bakersfield, the construction will now stop just north of Shafter, and an ongoing legal battle could halt a proposed elevated structure that would have carried high-speed trains through Shafter's downtown.

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