Central Valley Segment of Bullet Train Costs up $1.7 Billion
According to a new document, the bullet train project in California is facing $1.7 billion in cost overruns on a 119-mile segment currently under construction through the Central Valley, which is a 27 percent jump over the original estimate. The project has already been mired by major delays and other rising costs and this new increase reflects difficulties officials have encountered over the last five years, including buying land, moving underground utilities and negotiating agreements with freight railroads. The Central Valley construction and planning is now projected to cost $8 billion and work on the track, originally scheduled to be finished this year, is about seven years behind schedule. If the reasons for the Central Valley increase also affect other parts of the Los Angeles-to-San Francisco project, then it could drive up the price for the entire $64 billion system by billions of dollars. California High-Speed Rail Authority spokeswoman Lisa Marie Alley stated,
We put our best estimates forward. There are going to be cost increases, but there could be cost decreases.
The Central Valley segment was priced at $6.3 billion, but a report to a joint budget committee in the Legislature in December stated that the tab for the Central Valley segment had hit $7.8 billion due to signals, electrical systems and a maintenance facility that were not part of the Central Valley construction program’s original scope. The rising total could challenge California to find new sources of revenue to complete the project as its biggest proponent, Governor Jerry Brown, is going to be termed out of office after next year. The costs have been increasing from a variety of sources including: property values increasing, the number of parcels needed to complete the project has grown, and officials have faced more work than expected with utilities. The rail authority has looking at ways to control costs and one idea they came up with would be to run trains slower in urban areas to avoid building multimillion-dollar safety barriers, which could affect travel times. Hopefully the costs do not continue to rise for the project and more delays are not caused.