California’s high speed rail costs rise to $128 billion

By Andy BrownMarch 22, 2023

The cost for California’s high-speed rail system has risen to $128 billion, according to a California High Speed Rail Authority project update report – an increase of more than 20% from the previous estimate of $105 billion from last year.

According to the report, the latest increases are due to “inflation/escalation, enhanced scope definition and greater contingency for risk.”

The rail authority’s next goal is to finish the 119-mile Central Valley line currently under construction by 2028, and its “highest priority” is to extend that line to the full 171-mile Merced-Bakersfield segment and start passenger service by 2030-2033.

Construction has been delayed due to difficulty relocating utilities and getting permissions, but the report said those problems are close to being solved and the authority has 96% of the right-of-way needed to build the line.

In his report to the state, CEO of the Rail Authority Brian P. Kelly, said, “Megaprojects that last for decades need long-term, stable funding. Every country around the world that has built high-speed rail has dedicated billions of dollars over several decades to see it through. We don’t have one penny of state support for this project identified after 2030.”

It was initially estimated in 2008 that the project would cost approximately $33 billion.

Last November, the California High-Speed Rail Authority announced it selected the AECOM-Fluor joint venture (JV) to provide Program Delivery Support (PDS) services for an amount not to exceed $400 million for a four-year term.

When complete, California High-Speed Rail will connect the 500-mile stretch between the Los Angeles region with the San Francisco Bay Area in less than three hours.

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