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Wed Jul 11, 2012, 05:24 PM

Mercury News editorial: California high-speed rail is high-spending folly

California's high-speed rail project has left the station, and we're taking bets on how far it goes. The smart money is on: Not very.

While the plan's origins go back more than a decade, high-speed rail has become Gov. Jerry Brown's would-be legacy. But if all we end up with is some really spiffy railroad track in the Central Valley, which is the best bet at this point, it may become Jerry Brown's folly -- especially as people see tens of millions of dollars each year coming out of the state general fund to pay interest on the $4.5 billion in bonds the Legislature authorized last week.

That money should go to schools, children's health care and other services that are wasting away amid continuing budget deficits. And even if the state spends all $9 billion in bonds voters authorized in 2008, it will build only a fraction of the project, now estimated at $69 billion (but who's counting). The rest of the money is expected to come from imaginary federal grants and pipe-dream private investment. Perhaps those sources will come through, but objective analysts so far see no good reason to think so.

Last week's vote was the Legislature's last clean chance to dump this project. Now there will be the usual lawsuits and other challenges that go with any major public works project, as staff writer Mike Rosenberg reported in Wednesday's newspaper, and there might be another ballot initiative at some point. But an initiative can't roll back contracts already signed or take back money already spent. All that can happen now is a decision to stop spending more -- and not building more. That is the likeliest scenario, at least for the foreseeable future.

full: http://www.mercurynews.com/editorials/ci_21052954

Thoughts about this? The Merc editorial board is NOT like those at the Washington Times or Wall Street Journal, so I think it is quite telling when this newspaper is editorializing against high speed rail. Maybe the Merc is doing this to keep selling papers and avoid a mass exodus of conservative subscribers?

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Reply Mercury News editorial: California high-speed rail is high-spending folly (Original post)
alp227 Jul 2012 OP
JayhawkSD Jul 2012 #1
JDPriestly Jul 2012 #2
GReedDiamond Jul 2012 #3
JDPriestly Jul 2012 #4
Throd Jul 2012 #8
XemaSab Jul 2012 #5
KamaAina Jul 2012 #6
XemaSab Jul 2012 #7

Response to alp227 (Original post)

Thu Jul 12, 2012, 12:40 AM

1. Mercury News is dead right

This project is a massive waste. It will create jobs? Sure, a few temporary jobs constructing a bullet train in the middle of nowhere, but meanwhile the state is shedding permanent jobs which provide real services needed by California citizens.

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Response to JayhawkSD (Reply #1)

Thu Jul 19, 2012, 12:21 AM

2. The bullet train will connect Southern California to Northern California.

That is somewhere to somewhere.

We use far more gasoline per capita than other countries and part of the reason for our lack of success in meeting minimal environmental protection goals is our lack of decent public transportation.

Trust me. Traveling by fast train through Central California will be far more pleasant than waiting for an hour before your flight on each leg of your trip to Seattle or Oregon and then traveling by plane in a seat just wide enough for the bowl of peanuts they serve you on the plane but not for an adult passenger.

I hope that I live long enough to take the train from LA to SF.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #2)

Thu Jul 19, 2012, 02:48 AM

3. I agreee, and, how long will it take to build, SF to LA?...

...LA to SF?

Are these "temporary jobs," or jobs that may last for ten years or more?

How long will it take to fund/build the full LA to SF bullet train?

I'm thinking, more than what I would call, a "temporary job."

Plus, after that, there's the ongoing operation and maintenance.

Edited to add: Don't get me wrong, I'm for the bullet train.

It will create jobs and provide a great service to Californians like myself.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #3)

Thu Jul 19, 2012, 04:21 AM

4. California will show the way for the rest of the country.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #4)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 01:02 PM

8. Yes. We will show the other states how to go bankrupt.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #2)

Thu Jul 19, 2012, 04:36 PM

5. I think it would be more useful

to take BART out to Santa Rosa, Vallejo, Livermore, and San Jose. Hundreds of thousands of people a day would ride those trains.

The Bay Area to LA? I dunno what the demand is for a train ride that would dump you off somewhere where you're not well connected to other forms of public transportation.

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Response to XemaSab (Reply #5)

Thu Jul 19, 2012, 05:23 PM

6. BART to San Jose just broke ground

assuming I'm still down here, I should be able to ride up to civilization by 2017. A Livermore extension is in the planning phase.

As I've mentioned previously, running tracks over the bridges to the North Bay is problematic. Sonoma and Marin are working on their own SMART rail line, that will eventually connect to the ferries at Larkspur. As for Vallejo, I've often thought while riding the Capitol Corridor through Crockett that they should put a station there and have bus and/or ferry service over to Vallejo.

edit: The SF terminus would be in the new Transbay Terminal at 1st and Mission, a block from BART and MUNI Metro. The one in LA would presumably be at Union Station, the hub for Metrolink as well as the Red and Gold Lines.

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Response to KamaAina (Reply #6)

Thu Jul 19, 2012, 05:38 PM

7. The GG Bridge

originally had a train on it.

I don't see why we couldn't put the train back on the thing.

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