Price Tag for California Bullet Train Rises Yet Again

Engineering firm hired by the state raises estimate for first leg by 15%.

| Thu May 8, 2014 11:15 AM EDT

I imagine that most of you are tired of my endless linking to news articles reporting that the California bullet train will cost ever more, more, more. Some of you are tired of it because you don't live in California and don't care. The rest of you care, but are dismayed at the sight of a fellow liberal who opposes the bullet train.

I hear you. But I can't help myself. Here's the latest from an engineering firm hired by the state:

The estimated cost of building a key Central Valley segment of the California bullet train has increased by nearly $1 billion from the original estimate, based on figures in an environmental impact statement approved by the rail agency Wednesday....The lowest cost estimate for the 114-mile segment in a 2011 environmental report was $6.19 billion. The comparable figure increased 15% to $7.13 billion in the new report.

The California High Speed Rail Authority said in a statement that it believes the cost will be lower than URS is projecting.

Well, I'm willing to bet that the cost will be higher than URS is projecting. Most construction costs rise after actual construction begins, after all, and so far the rail authority hasn't laid a single mile of track.

There have been all sorts of disputes between rail supporters and URS, so it's pretty easy to ignore their estimates if you're inclined to. As for me, I'm sticking to my prediction that the bullet train will end up costing at least $100 billion in 2011 dollars, assuming it gets built at all. I don't think anyone has been willing to take me up on that bet yet.