The San Jose Mercury News has an in-depth article on California's high speed rail project in today's Sunday edition--Who will pay for California's high-speed rail system? It does a good job of laying out the optimistic projections of the proponents and the pessimistic ones of the critics, and discussing both the opportunities and the challenges of the project.
I think an objective read of the article would make you wonder how likely this thing is to happen.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority, created to carry out the project, told voters in 2008 that the rail line would cost $33.6 billion. The price has since jumped 27 percent, to $42.6 billion. That much cash could pay to build a new Bay Bridge, extend BART to San Jose and Livermore, and repair California's water system -- with enough left over to erase the state's budget deficit. And historical data shows the undertaking will almost certainly get more expensive.
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[I]f the Rail Authority meets its new projected target, California's 520-mile system would actually be cheap compared with the per-mile cost of high-speed rail in other parts of the world.
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"The state of California does not do anything cheaper than the rest of the world," said Adrian Moore, vice president of the libertarian Reason Foundation. "There is no way it will be close to $45 billion."