California’s bullet train project confronts an array of political and financial challenges, but its biggest problem involves mismanagement of land acquisitions, which has contributed to construction delays, cost increases, litigation and the launch of a federal audit.
Seven years after its land buying program began, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has yet to acquire hundreds of parcels, even though the state has the power to condemn property in the way of its future tracks.
At the same time, the rail authority has become landlord to surplus acreage that serves no purpose in furthering high-speed rail but still must be managed by the state. It owns toxic waste sites, vacant lots and rental homes.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority is now a player in the agriculture industry with at least 466 acres of land under cultivation, a side effect of having to purchase entire fields just to acquire a corner for the rail route.
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