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Why California’s high-speed rail is taking so long to complete

In 2008, California voted in favor of authorizing a $9 billion bond to build the nation’s first high-speed railroad. plan Build a train that connects Los Angeles to the Central Valley and San Francisco in 2 hours and 40 minutes.

But 15 years later, not a single mile of track has been laid, and officials say they don’t have enough money to complete the project. The latest estimates from the California High-Speed ​​Rail Authority suggest that completing the entire system from Los Angeles to San Francisco could cost between $88 billion and $128 billion. Inflation and rising construction costs are contributing to the high prices.

The project has cost $9.8 billion so far, according to Brian Kelly, CEO of the California High-Speed ​​Rail Authority.

“From the moment the project started, we knew there was a funding shortfall,” says Kelly. “What I do know is that the faster you build it, the cheaper it will be.”

However, at this time it is not clear where the funding will come from. So far, 85% of them come from California.

“One of the biggest hurdles is obviously funding,” said California Transportation Commissioner Tokus Omisyakin. “We cannot do this project without federal support. It won’t happen.”

The 2021 bipartisan infrastructure bill states: $66 billion for railroadsbut many of them Amtrak And no funding was set aside specifically for California’s high-speed rail. But Emeritus Chairman Nancy Pelosi is optimistic that federal money is pouring into the project.

“We are confident that the infrastructure bill will free up resources at the federal level in California,” Pelosi said. “I didn’t say anything specifically. It has categories and we fit into those categories.” And he’s a railroad guy in every way. He’s an advocate for railroads, and this is the ultimate high speed rail.”

Nancy Pelosi speaks in support of high-speed rail at the American High-Speed ​​Rail Conference in Washington, D.C., May 16, 2023

Jenise Pettit, CNBC

Despite funding challenges, there was progress on the project. In California’s Central Valley, 119 miles are under construction. The project recently celebrated hiring its 10,000th construction worker. Infrastructure design work has been completed and 422 of the 500 miles have been ecologically protected. This is a very important issue for California.

“If you just go through the environmental cleanup process, the cost will be about $1.3 billion,” Kelly said. “And that’s true when there’s no steel or cement in the ground.”

Some are calling for changes to the National Environmental Policy Act to encourage infrastructure projects that have a positive impact on the environment.

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton said, “It’s good that the National Environmental Policy Act makes us think seriously about building 14-lane highways because 14-lane highways are bad for the environment.” said. If building high-speed rail, which is essentially environmentally friendly, in America is very difficult, we have a problem. That is where reform is needed. “

In California’s Central Valley, 119 miles are under construction for the state’s high-speed rail project.

One of the most expensive parts of the California project is the tunneling section required outside Los Angeles. As such, construction began in 2015 in Fresno, California, first in Central, as it is the section that is cheaper to build.

Kelly said the project got off to a rocky start. “They started building before they were ready to go into construction,” he said. “The good news is that most of it is in our rearview mirrors. I am very confident about the future of

Rail officials said their goal is to have the Bakersfield-Merced section operational by 2030-33.

CNBC visited the under-construction Central Valley, California, to find out what it would take to complete the nation’s largest infrastructure project. Watch the video for the full text.

https://www.cnbc.com/2023/05/17/why-californias-high-speed-rail-is-taking-so-long-to-complete.html Why California’s high-speed rail is taking so long to complete

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