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Monday, August 15, 2016

California State Rail Authority: Mo Money, Mo Money, Mo Money

By Douglas V. Gibbs
AuthorSpeakerInstructorRadio Host

In Alaska they had the "bridge to nowhere."  Here, in California, we have the "rail system to nowhere."

Government control of Amtrak has been dismal.  What makes California think they can run the rail system so well, especially when nobody wants to, nor needs to, use it?

The Democrats in California are hoping to have everyone out of their cars, soon.  With an increase in ridiculous laws regarding pollution standards, and fees for use (plus the threat of a per mile tax) there won't be enough people left in the State to ride the overly expensive rail system the bankrupt State of California is moving forward with.

And, just to add insult to injury. . . they need more money.

Highway 99 in Fresno is getting relocated, and that alone is over budget, and behind schedule.  It's all about moving a 2.5 mile stretch of roadway, and they still need million more dollars to do the job.

Work has been held up by litigation over obtaining rights to private property, the same issue that has contributed to a more than a two-year delay in building the first 29 miles of rail in the Central Valley.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is asking for a $35-million increase in state funding from the original $226 million for a project the citizens of California are largely against.

Plus, there is a separate request for an additional $200 million for improvements to a Bay Area commuter rail system that were part of a 2013 agreement to make early investments in the so-called bookends of the rail system. The $64-billion bullet train project is supposed to carry passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco - as if there is a big demand for that.

The original agreement called for $600 million to help Caltrain, the Northern California commuter rail line, electrify its tracks, but the cost is now $713 million with an additional $84 million for other work. The rail authority also has increased similar funding for Southern California projects by several hundred million dollars.

All of this in a State that is broke, and not long ago was issuing IOUs to taxpayers as a form of refund.

In June, the rail authority board approved a $63-million increase for the first 29 miles of rail structures, because, according to the company in charge of the project, California failed to deliver land parcels on schedule, costing it additional overhead and idle machinery charges.

The Highway 99 project has used up 61% of its allowable time, but only spent 36% of its funding, suggesting it has to speed construction to avoid further delays. Rail authority spokeswoman Lisa Marie Alley said Caltrans was originally supposed to complete work by June 2018, but now the deadline is December 2018.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

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