California’s Bullet Train project brakes for animals

Major projects are always followed by lawsuits over promises not kept, alleged violations of law and, of course, environmental concerns – in this case, birds, a fox and a rat. Some of the environmental issues to be argued in court include the habitat of the Fresno kangaroo rat, which happens to be vital to a particular ecosystem and only found in California’s Central Valley, where the first track is to be laid. Erik Bruvold of National University’s Institute for Policy Research has studied these issues over the years.

“In the end, what we see in big infrastructure projects like this in the past is ultimately given enough lawyers, enough time and deep pockets, the project moves forward.”

The same is true for the tri-colored blackbird and the San Joaquin kit fox. Perhaps the more significant court challenge will be over the $10 billion in bond money the voters approved back in 2008; that money had very stringent conditions attached.

“In terms of operating without subsidies in a cost effective manner, the speeds that were promised and with the link between San Francisco and Los Angeles.”

The project had a price-tag of $45 billion, then jumped to $100 billion, then back to $68 billion. Some estimates of the total cost are beyond $200 billion. The Rail Authority and Governor Jerry Brown are continuing to move forward in the face of these significant challenges. The project relies on billions from the Feds, and Congress recently said don’t count on it. So California taxpayers are on the hook and the state is struggling with hundreds of billions of dollars in debt.

“It will pay for itself out of the fares, people will pay.”

It won’t be long before the population reaches 50 million; there will have to be some sort of way to move people other than the highway system.

“You have to be concerned as a resident of our state about how big infrastructure projects are really challenging.”

In many cases, that’s due to the projects being much more costly than original estates, and the end result oftentimes has no semblance to what the voters approved.

“The more that you see these sorts of things, the further we get away from the promises that were made when they passed those bonds.”

There is a chance this train can be stopped. If not, the first riders will probably be your grandchildren.

“Eventually, the thing will get bought, and eventually, it will cost what it costs. These suits – they typically delay and raise the price-tag.”

As with all major projects, this will be decided by the courts. They will have to balance what the voters were promised against what the Rail Authority is delivering.

Categories: KUSI