Alex Goldmark is a senior producer in the newsroom for New Tech City and Transportation Nation.
Better, Faster, Cheaper? That's the promise being pushed by the agency in charge of California's ambitious high-speed rail project as it unveiled an updated business plan for the ambitious project to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco by bullet train. The California High-Speed Rail Authority released an updated business plan that now puts the price tag at $68.4 billion with a completion in 2028.
That's about five years sooner and $30 billion cheaper than a draft plan released last fall that drew wide criticism as a potential boondoggle. The new cost is still $25 billion more than the plan approved by voters four years ago in a referendum to allow the issue of bonds to finance the project.
The new business plan was created at the behest of Democratic Governor Jerry Brown who has remained a steadfast supported of high-speed rail unlike Republican governors in Wisconsin and Florida. Some lawmakers questioned the convenience of the new estimates in the updated business plan.
Some of the cost and time savings will come from a "blended" approach to rail construction, merging the new bullet trains with existing commuter lines. It would involve upgrading commuter rail in L.A. and in the San Francisco Bay Area while building the initial HSR line in the Central Valley as planned using federal funds. Los Angeles gets linked to the Central Valley first, then San Francisco in a following phase.
To pay for it CAHSRA wants to use "cap and trade" revenues as a potential "dedicated funding source." Private investment continues to be spotlighted as a major source.
with Julie Caine -- KALW, and Associated Press