California HSR Drops Another Bombshell

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Me, writing three months ago about California’s LA-San Francisco bullet train project:

I’m no engineer, but I’m willing to risk a few C-notes that this project ends up at $100 billion or more in 2011 dollars. Any takers? This is a very long-term bet, of course, since the line isn’t scheduled to be finished until 2020—and I’m willing to put up a few more C-notes that it’ll be more like 2025 or 2030.

The LA Times, today:

California’s bullet train will cost an estimated $98.5 billion to build over the next 22 years, a price nearly double any previous projection and one likely to trigger political sticker shock, according to a business plan scheduled to be unveiled Tuesday. In a key change, the state has decided to stretch out the construction schedule by 13 years, completing the Southern California-to-Bay Area high speed rail in 2033 rather than 2020.

In fairness, this $98 billion estimate is still only $65 billion in 2011 dollars, so I haven’t won the first half of my bet yet. But it’s sure looking like I won’t actually have to wait until 2020 to do so. At the rate that new, “more realistic” estimates are being shoveled out the door, we’ll hit the $100 billion mark in another few months.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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