California’s High-Speed Rail Project in Existential Crisis as Construction Costs Balloon

Only two years ago, the California rail authority unveiled an ambitious plan to begin operating a segment of bullet train service between San Jose and the Central Valley by 2025. It would take nearly every penny in its checkbook, but the rail authority assured the public it would work.

In this handout image provided by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, workers construct the San Joaquin River Viaduct that will span the San Joaquin River in north Fresno and the Union Pacific tracks parallel to State Route 99, July 5, 2017.

In this handout image provided by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, workers construct the San Joaquin River Viaduct that will span the San Joaquin River in north Fresno and the Union Pacific tracks parallel to State Route 99, July 5, 2017.

But that plan has been crushed by the acknowledgment Tuesday that the cost of building just 119 miles of rail between the farm towns of Madera and Wasco has soared from about $6 billion to $10.6 billion, siphoning off money that the authority had planned to allocate to the ultimate goal of connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco.

It has left the broader high-speed rail project, a lofty objective that Gov. Jerry Brown has pursued since the 1980s, in an existential crisis.

Over the next year, Brown, the Legislature and the next governor will have to decide whether to create new revenue sources, dramatically delay its construction or scale it far back from a complete 550-mile system, among other possibilities.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.