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NYT: California's High Speed Rail Saga Is a Complete Debacle That May Never End

This isn't exactly breaking news, as California's ludicrous money pit known as a "high speed rail" project has been a rolling disaster for years. But it's still something to see it all written down so bluntly in the pages of a liberal newspaper, a brutal indictment of one of the nation's most excessively "progressive" states' most embarrassing excesses.  

A complete, failing mess:

The design for the nation’s most ambitious infrastructure project was never based on the easiest or most direct route. Instead, the train’s path out of Los Angeles was diverted across a second mountain range to the rapidly growing suburbs of the Mojave Desert — a route whose most salient advantage appeared to be that it ran through the district of a powerful Los Angeles county supervisor. The dogleg through the desert was only one of several times over the years when the project fell victim to political forces that have added billions of dollars in costs and called into question whether the project can ever be finished...the tortured effort to build the country’s first high-speed rail system is a case study in how ambitious public works projects can become perilously encumbered by political compromise, unrealistic cost estimates, flawed engineering and a determination to persist on projects that have become, like the crippled financial institutions of 2008, too big to fail.

...When California voters first approved a bond issue for the project in 2008, the rail line was to be completed by 2020, and its cost seemed astronomical at the time — $33 billion — but it was still considered worthwhile as an alternative to the state’s endless web of freeways and the carbon emissions generated in one of the nation’s busiest air corridors.  Fourteen years later, construction is now underway on part of a 171-mile “starter” line connecting a few cities in the middle of California, which has been promised for 2030. But few expect it to make that goal. Meanwhile, costs have continued to escalate. When the California High-Speed Rail Authority issued its new 2022 draft business plan in February, it estimated an ultimate cost as high as $105 billion. Less than three months later, the “final plan” raised the estimate to $113 billion. The rail authority said it has accelerated the pace of construction on the starter system, but at the current spending rate of $1.8 million a day, according to projections widely used by engineers and project managers, the train could not be completed in this century.

Astonishing. This boondoggle was supposed to have been completed two years ago at a cost of $33 billion. It's nowhere close to finished, with no end in sight, and the price tag has nearly quadrupled.  It's so bad questions are swirling about "whether the project can ever be finished." Ever. California's one party rule is dominated by the political tribe that believes the government must always do and spend more. Bigger, bigger, bigger. More, more, more. But they can't keep the lights on. They can't keep the streets safe. They can't come close to completing existing, huge projects on time and on budget. They fail on core functions, and yet, they always want more. Meanwhile, on energy costs, the governor is engaged in moronic scapegoating to deflect away from the myriad failures of the state government – which Sarah noted were the subject of another stinging piece over the weekend, this one in the Los Angeles Times:

California officials have had repeated warnings over the last two decades that the state’s unique blend of gasoline is susceptible to supply shortages and sharp price spikes. But despite multiple reports and special committees, California has struggled to find solutions as it tries to rapidly reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. Motorists got a reminder of this in recent weeks as prices hit record levels in an increasingly fragile gasoline market, after almost half the state’s refineries experienced recent or ongoing outages, pushing the supply of West Coast gasoline to its lowest level in a decade...Yet state leaders remain far from a comprehensive fix. “We’ve got to make longer-run plans and not just wait until the crisis is upon us,” said Severin Borenstein, the director of UC Berkeley’s Energy Institute at the Haas School of Business, who sat on statewide committees in 1999 and 2015 aimed at finding possible solutions for the state’s volatile fuel market. None were implemented, he said.

They're too busy congratulating themselves for banning things and setting hyper-aggressive "green" mandates to actually address the real problems. So they don't. I'll leave you with this story about other so-called leaders in the state's largest city. What a disgraceful embarrassment (content warning): 

The council's president admitted it's her voice, saying that her racial insults arose during a moment of "intense frustration and anger" (update: she has now resigned). These are the people who believe themselves to be our betters, and who want to remake the United States in the image of their state. Oh, and here's how their "sanctuary state" policies are working out: 

ICE didn't have a record of him because such information is deliberately withheld by California, as a matter of official policy.


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