Bullet Train Project Costs Could Increase by Billions due to Inflation and Delays
According to the Los Angeles Times, the California High Speed Rail Authority will have to increase daily spending by up to nine times over the next four years in order to hit its 2033 deadline and $77 billion budget. Shockingly, the California bullet train project has cost state taxpayers an average of $3.1 million a day over the last year, which is a construction spending rate higher than any U.S. transportation project in recent history. In August, the spending was ramp up and the estimates were officially adopted by the rail authority board in its 2018 business plan. However, outside infrastructure experts don’t believe the $27-million-a-day outlay necessary under the plan would even be feasible. Civil engineer James Moore, director of USC’s transportation engineering program, told the Los Angeles Times the following,
That burn rate is ludicrous. It is so far outside standard experience that it doesn’t make sense to assume it will occur.
The spending schedule is based on whether the rail authority can avoid further engineering problems resulting from the state’s complex geology and assuming that rates of inflation remain as optimistic as the rail authority believes it will be. Unfortunately, the actual costs will depend on things such as the price of building material, the cost to buy land, and labor costs. However, those prices are subject to unpredictable factors such as import tariffs, labor shortages, and possible litigation by irate property owners. When the bullet train project was first proposed, it was estimated to cost $33 billion and the original plan was that it would eventually reach from Sacramento to San Diego. However, the current plan is that it will only connect San Francisco to Los Angeles, with the costs increasing due to the completion date being pushed back 13 years. Hopefully, the price of the project does not continue to increase and the completion date does not get pushed back further.