California High-Speed Rail Starved For Cash


ca-highspeed-trainGov. Jerry Brown’s administration has petitioned the California Supreme Court to overturn rulings that’ve stopped the California High Speed Rail project.

The California High Speed Rail project has been in trouble for some time now, and for a myriad of reasons. Estimated costs have ballooned north of $68 billion,and recent legal action has prevented the state of California from selling $8.6 billion in voter approved bonds in an effort to get the project moving. Opponents of the high speed rail line have consistently said that the project is way over budget, poses environmental concerns, and that the rail authority has deceived voters who had voted for Proposition 1A back in 2008.

In other words, it’s a mess that Jerry Brown still wants to push through.

Opponents of the high speed rail project are trying to financially starve this beast – and so far they are succeeding.  The federal government awarded around $3.5 billion in grants to the California High Speed Rail Project, and within this these grants is $2.5 billion in federal stimulus money that requires a dollar for dollar match by the state of California. That match must be spent/made by 2017, or the Golden State loses the money, which represents just about 5% of the total estimated cost of the project.

Because California didn’t have the money to pony up to match the $2.5 billion in federal grant dollars, the state turned to bonds to fund the match. The question of using bonds went to ballot, and the bonds were approved by California voters. Problem solved, right? Not quite. Two recent court decisions have prevented the state from selling $8.6 billion in the voter approved bonds. SO even though voters approved the sale of the bonds, the courts have said “Nah.”

The filed petition by the Brown Administration is saying that the courts have no right to stall the high speed rail project – in essence that the people voted for this measure, and to stall it any further is an infringement on their rights In addition to the petition, a new draft of the high speed rail proposal is being made public. This new business plan is the first of its kind to reach the public’s eyes since the rail authority’s April 2012 business plan. The new forecast is down slightly from $68.4 billion as estimated in 2012, but remains more than double the $33 billion projected in 2008.

What do you think? Should voters get the bonds they voted for, or should the whole project be scrapped and started over?

Source: Fox

Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail.


About the Author

Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison

  • Chris Jordan

    Ah! It is not Springtime yet- days of the tourists, traveling nomads and gypsies! The ones sitting on sidewalks with that “woe is me” lifestyle will arise and want or need to roam! That will solve *everything*! Yeah, right. Prisons bulging, dangerous people breaking laws, drought/floods, etc., etc., etc. This train wreck is financially hurting us Californians now- the future is worrisome.

  • M@

    Please be careful citing your source as Fox News — that’s an AP wire story republished on Fox’s website. It shouldn’t be tainted by their flavor of news… my first thought was to laugh it off as more Faux…

    To put things in proportion (which is critical when throwing around billions of dollars here and 500 million there), between 1995 and 2007 California spent a total of $190 billion on their highway/road system. Only 39% came from user revenues, the rest subsidized by the state/federal system. — that means that drivers and freight haulers in California are only paying 40% of the cost of “the ticket” to get from point A to point B, and the other 60% we’re all paying for.

    The point is not that we don’t need good, decent roads but rather to put the amounts in perspective: California spends about $15-20 Billion a year on repair and upkeep of roads (and can’t keep up with it). The entire construction project to link Northern and Southern California by high speed rail, which will save money, time, and massive amounts of fuel/CO2 comes in at a mere 3-4x the cost of California’s yearly expenditure on roads. That’s a steal.

    Above facts and figures from:

    • Jon_Irenicus

      What a ridiculous comparison. 15-20 billion per year on roads that span the entire STATE, not just a north/south corridor ALREADY serviced by freeways and air travel. How much is spent on the 5? That would be a better comparison if you were trying to be more accurate or honest.

      I think the obsession on chu chu trains boils down to a hatred of gas cars and trucks. Just wait a few decades, we will replace the combustion engine fleet with electric cars, and hopefully, electric trucks, all while allowing much more freedom of movement than STATIC railways.

      I’d MUCH rather see California take HALF the money allotted to high speed rail that no one cares about, and pump it into fiber broadband infrastructure. We ALL need and want faster internet, and that is infrastructure that is actually USEFUL.

      I don’t have a problem getting from Southern California to Northern California and vice versa, I have a problem with local cable monopolies charging high fees with slow service with no incentive to do better. THAT is something we can shake up and change.

  • The court said no because the bond measures said adequate total financing must be found before construction can begin. The 2014 federal budget killed HSR financing. Private investors don’t want to touch it. CA HSR has nowhere near the financing it is legally required to have before starting to build.

  • Joshua Zev Levin, Ph.D.

    The proposed California HSR system is just an update of a 200-year-old technology that ought to be put to rest, and replaced with a low-friction Magnetic-Levitation (MagLev) system using Danby-Powell architecture. See

  • Burnerjack

    Instead of spending billions on faster rail service to/from Las Vegas, maybe Cali should INVEST in desalination plants. No water=no food=no economy.
    Maybe its time for Jerry, et. al. to get serious.

    • Robert Macfarlane

      There is no plan for Calif. “Bullet Train” to run to Las Vegas. Water vs. Transportation? They are so easily confused!

  • Nat

    Congratulations to the California High Speed Rail Authority awarding five contracts for a total $16 million with 1/2 million going to Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises. Not only will this help by creating so many new jobs over the next 4 years, the servicewomen and servicemen deserve this. Let’s all join together in helping all those who served our country return to good paying, highly skilled jobs! If you know of other good government or private sector jobs for those who are in need and deserving, please spread the word.

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