The Los Angeles Times (!) eviscerates Governor Moonbeam’s bullet train fantasy
The monumental task of building California’s bullet train will require punching 36 miles of tunnels through the geologically complex mountains north of Los Angeles.
Crews will have to cross the tectonic boundary that separates the North American and Pacific plates, boring through a jumble of fractured rock formations and a maze of earthquake faults, some of which are not mapped.
It will be the most ambitious tunneling project in the nation’s history.
State officials say the tunnels will be finished by 2022 — along with 300 miles of track, dozens of bridges or viaducts, high-voltage electrical systems, a maintenance plant and as many as six stations. Doing so will meet a commitment to begin carrying passengers between Burbank and Merced in the first phase of the $68-billion high-speed rail link between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
However, a Times analysis of project documents, as well as interviews with scientists, engineers and construction experts, indicates that the deadline and budget targets will almost certainly be missed — and that the state has underestimated the challenges ahead, particularly completing the tunneling on time.
“It doesn’t strike me as realistic,” said James Monsees, one of the world’s top tunneling experts and an author of the federal manual on highway tunneling. “Faults are notorious for causing trouble.”
The California High-Speed Rail Authority hasn’t yet chosen an exact route through the mountains. It also is behind schedule on land acquisition, financing and permit approvals, among other crucial tasks, and is facing multiple lawsuits. The first construction began in Fresno in July, 21/2 years behind the target the rail authority had set in early 2012.
A confidential 2013 report by the state’s main project management contractor, New York-based Parsons Brinckerhoff, estimated that the cost of building the first phase from Burbank to Merced had risen 31% to $40 billion. And it projected that the cost of the entire project would rise at least 5%.
Parsons Brinckerhoff briefed state officials on the estimate in October 2013, according to the document obtained by The Times. But the state used a lower cost estimate when it issued its 2014 business plan four months later.
Read the whole thing, please. It is pretty damn, er, damning.
I especially liked this part, which really sums up so much that is wrong with our government these days from on all levels, from local up to federal:
The rail authority still has not identified sources for about $53 billion to complete the entire Los Angeles-to-San Francisco line.
State officials are moving ahead without firm financial commitments, contending that private investors will eventually help finance the system. This month, three dozen companies solicited by the state said they are not ready to invest.
They don’t have the money, they don’t have a realistic plan to get the money, but they are going to go ahead and put you into crushing debt anyway because, well, they can.
Let’s hope that this article ignites a rebellion against this ridiculous project, and others like it from top to bottom.