The ink is barely dry on California legislation to start building high-speed rail, and now they reveal a $2.5 billion hidden cost that wasn’t included in previous estimates, that being the cost of tunneling the final mile into San Francisco. It shouldn’t really matter, as they don’t have the money to build the last 130 to 150 miles of rail from the Central Valley to San Francisco anyway.
On top of that, California residents are discovering that their high-speed rail authority has been keeping controversial aspects of the planned route as secret as possible, at least until it is too late for people to do anything about it. For example, the plan calls for running the track 75 feet above the city of Alhambra, which is likely to be a major eyesore.
Speaking of eyesores, former Hawaii Governor Ben Cayetano is putting the above ad on television showing just how much visual blight will be created by the Honolulu rail project. Cayetano is running for Honolulu mayor, and if he is elected in August, he may be able to kill it.
There is also a lawsuit challenging the adequacy of the Honolulu project’s environmental impact statement; if that suit wins, it will set a precedent affecting rail plans all over the country. The lawsuit charges that the EIS failed to consider a full range of alternatives; if rail proponents had to consider real alternatives, they would be forced to admit that rail costs far more but does little if anything more than buses.
The lawsuit’s plaintiffs are seeking tax-deductible donations to cover their legal costs, and any contributions made before July 31 will be matched by a local foundation. If you are fighting rail in your city, it might be worth your while to donate something to the Honolulu group.
On the lighter side, some comedians are making fun of the Honolulu rail plan.