Here is a 20-minute news report on the California high-speed rail project in four parts. I can think of several lessons people should learn from this fiasco.
First, don’t vote to partly fund a project. The government agency in charge will spend all of the money even if there is no chance to get the rest of the money.
Second, don’t vote for a high-capital cost project, especially when low-cost options are available already. The costs are certain to end up being far more than the original projections, but that won’t stop the from spending the money.
Third, don’t believe claims that taxpayers’ interests will be safeguarded by any checks and balances. Once they have the money, all promises will be forgotten.
Finally, it is a lot harder to stop a project once they have even partial approval than it is to simply deny that original approval. Unless it is going to be funded entirely out of user fees, if they have to ask, you can’t afford it.