Lee Ohanian at Hoover:
In 2008, California voters approved $9.95 billion of state bond funding as seed money to build an 800-mile high-speed rail (HSR) network connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the Central Valley to coastal cities, at speeds of up to 220 miles per hour, with an expected completion date of 2020.
But now, 15 years after the bond issue, three years after the expected completion date, not one train has left the station. Not one route has been completed, even though nearly all the $9.95 billion seed money has been spent. And the original budget of about $33 billion for the entire 800-mile system is now inadequate to build just one route (Bakersfield to Merced), whose cost pencils out to $207 million per mile—a cost that will almost certainly rise in the future, and for a route that may not be ready for ten years. Or more. Or perhaps ever.
California’s HSR is perhaps the greatest infrastructure failure in the history of the country. And the reason it failed is because of a gross failure of state governance, one on such a grand scale that it is nothing short of a betrayal of Californians.