High-speed rail price tag soars again, this time on pace to surpass $60 billion
For the second time since voters approved California’s massive bullet train project, the state on Tuesday raised the total price tag for the first stretch by several billion dollars — and now the cost for the entire rail line is on pace to skyrocket to an eye-popping $60 billion to $80 billion or even more.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority’s new cost estimates released Tuesday show the initial stretch of construction between Merced and Bakersfield will cost $10 billion to $13.9 billion depending on how it’s built. Project planners had previously pegged the section at $6.8 billion.
If the cost of the entire project balloons at the same pace as the Central Valley section, the San Francisco-to-Anaheim railroad would cost from $63 billion to $87 billion, similar to what independent analysts have been predicting. And those figures do not include inflation, which could push the final cost toward a staggering $100 billion.
When California voters approved the project in 2008, the state said it would cost $33 billion, but it soared to $43 billion a year later — already making it the single largest public works project in the nation. Even now, the state only has about one-fourth of the money needed to fund the entire rail line and no clear plan on how to secure the rest.