The Project California voters will be asked to approve a nearly $10 billion bond issue in the November election as the beginning of funding for the a high-speed rail system intended to serve San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, Fresno, Riverside-San Bernardino and points between. Promoters claim that the remaining necessary funding (from $45 billion to $71 billion, depending upon who you believe) would come from the federal government and private investors. There is no federal program to provide such massive funding and private investment seems highly unlikely given the overwhelming prospects for financial failure.
The Issue Emerging public opposition will likely spread as site-specific urban, suburban and rural impacts become better understood. It is unlikely that the California HSR program will find smooth sailing among impacted communities. This finding is based in part on nascent opposition to the project. Opposition to prior HSR projects has been based on underestimated costs, overestimated ridership, eminent domain and environmental impacts. Also, the credibility of HSR promoters has waned as pledges of “no subsidy” or “only low subsidies” turned into calls for high subsidies. This Due Diligence Report identifies such factors as weaknesses in the CHSRA planning process.
In prior cases opponents have shown great resourcefulness in sustaining campaigns to oppose HSR construction. Opposition could spread, particularly in communities where train speeds and noise would be considered excessive, where massive elevated railways would create a “Berlin Wall” effect that divides communities—a prospect that has caused Menlo Park and Atherton to join in a lawsuit against the CHSRA’s environmental review process—or where a history of staunch opposition exists, such as in Tustin or San Diego County.
Adapted from The California High Speed Rail Proposal: A Due Diligence Report By Wendell Cox & Joseph Vranich