The California bullet train project took a sharp jump in price Friday when the state rail authority announced the cost of connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco would total $77.3 billion, an increase of $13 billion from estimates two years ago, and could potentially rise as high as $98.1 billion.
The rail authority also said that the earliest trains could operate on a partial system between San Jose and the farming town of Wasco would be 2029, five years later than the previous projection. The disclosures are contained in a 114-page business plan that was issued in draft form by the rail authority and will be finalized this summer in a submission to the Legislature.
The rail authority has wrestled with a more than $40-billion funding gap, which would increase sharply under the new cost estimates.
The biggest immediate driver of the cost increase has been in the Central Valley, where the rail authority is building 119 miles of track between Wasco and Merced. The authority disclosed in early February that the cost of that work would jump to $10.6 billion from an original estimate of about $6 billion. Roy Hill, one of the senior consultants advising the state, told the rail authority board, "The worst-case scenario has happened."
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