High-Speed Rail Authority
Building California’s high-speed rail project could cost $98.5 billion over 20 years, more than twice what was previously thought, according to a draft copy of a business plan obtained late Monday by a media partnership covering the project.
The amount is still far less than the cost of expanding airport and highway systems to accommodate the state’s growing population, the California High-Speed Rail Authority said in the report. Even with conservative ridership and cost estimates, it said, the system will operate at a profit.
In the plan, the authority recommits to starting construction in the Central Valley, a source of controversy because it is far from California’s population centers. The authority would start construction a year from now on the project’s first segment, from Bakersfield to near Chowchilla.
It would push completion of the full, San Francisco-to-Los Angeles area line back to 2033.
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The plan comes at a critical time for the project, whose management and cost have come under heavy criticism since voters approved $9 billion in rail bonds in 2008.