The California High Speed Rail system is not only the largest single recipient of stimulus spending with $3.5 billion to date not counting state bond money for total spending of $4.3 billion. But this is the theater of the absurd at work as the prospect of real construction ahead now is causing communities along the Peninsula south of San Francisco to complain that the train will come too near them for comfort—NIMBY at pure gold prices. There are also problems at the other end of the line near Los Angeles.
The problem for the High Speed Rail Authority is that the clock is ticking to get this money spent before the deadline runs out in 2017 or give it back. So there is a triage effort at work to identify the segments of the high speed rail that are ready to move forward and leave others behind.
Now don’t laugh!
The problem now is the sections of the high speed rail line designed to link the major metro areas of San Francisco in the North and Los Angeles in the south are out of the running because of these NIMBY problems with the routes. So two sections—San Francisco to San Jose, and Los Angeles to Anaheim—are now stalled.
The section of the route to be built first is the one needed least either Merced to Fresno (60 miles in length), or Fresno to Bakersfield (113 miles in length). You can check out the route online on an interactive route map here.
But U.S. Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, last week introduced the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Rescission Act,” which would return the final $12 billion in unspent and uncommitted stimulus funds to the U.S. Treasury to help fight the $1.3 trillion U.S. deficit. If adopted it would take back any unspent stimulus money.
So what if California needs more money to complete the route to get the railroad to the station in San Francisco or Los Angeles by 2017?
California will have spent $4.3 billion on a railroad to nowhere—if you want to get to it—TAKE THE BUS!