Although it has been dubbed a "bullet train to nowhere," California Gov. Jerry Brown has pushed forward over the years with the state's high-speed rail project. But now the day of reckoning may come sooner than expected for the state's most expensive infrastructure project.
A business plan released Friday by the California High-Speed Rail Authority shows its projected baseline cost is now $77 billion — up 20 percent from two years ago — and it indicated the cost could rise to as high as $98 billion. The opening date for the Los Angeles-to-San Francisco bullet train has also been delayed by at least four years, to 2033.
"It appears that they are finally bringing forth more realistic cost estimates and a more realistic schedule," said Stephen Levy, executive director and senior economist with the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, a Menlo Park-based research group. "The whole project remains in doubt as the costs increase and the funding gap increases."
Political uncertainty and opposition to the project have only increased over time. A decade ago, California voters approved Proposition 1A, authorizing nearly $10 billion in bond money for the construction of the high-speed rail system.
Since the 2008 vote, though, the project been plagued by delays and cost overruns, and polls show most California voters want the funds to go for something else other than high-speed rail.