It was just last year that Gov. Gavin Newsom said he would need to downsize California’s ambitious bullet train project, because the state could afford only a limited system from Merced to Bakersfield.
But even the viability of that scaled-down $20.4-billion plan is becoming uncertain as construction costs rise in the San Joaquin Valley, expected revenues are under pressure and land acquisition problems continue to mount.
The changing conditions have prompted the California High-Speed Rail Authority to launch a comprehensive reassessment of its plans, said Chief Executive Brian Kelly, who is facing tougher questions by state leaders, given the austere outlook.
“I just want the truth,” said Assembly Transportation Chairman Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay), a former general contractor who has grown distrustful of the project’s planning. “I want an independent analysis of what can be accomplished and how much it is going to cost.”
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