California rail cost jumps to $8,000 per household

Estimated construction costs for California’s high-speed rail line have risen to $100 billion (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/30/us/california-high-speed-rail.html) – or $8,000 per California household – according to the latest estimates. Years behind schedule and $60 billion over budget, estimated construction costs have now risen to over $1.2 million per mile of track.

In 2008, California voters approved a state legislature-supported plan to build the rail line, with voters approving $10 billion in public bond sales for what was expected to be a $40 billion project. California has already spent more than $20 billion on the rail line, but now state officials say the estimated completion costs have more than doubled.

The high costs are merely for construction of the rail line. Passengers on the line – assuming it is ever completed – would still have to pay sufficient fares to keep the line operating.

The California rail line should be a powerful warning to policymakers and voters in other states being asked to approve expensive government spending projects. While Californians strongly supported the idea of high-speed rail in 2008, a Los Angeles Times poll (https://dornsife.usc.edu/news/stories/2814/poll-on-gas-tax-repeal-high-speed-rail/) shows a plurality of Californians who are told of the high costs and overruns support shutting down the project even if it means eating the $20 billion already spent.

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