On Sunday, the New York Times published a lengthy piece documenting the long and arduous task of constructing a bullet train running from Los Angeles to San Francisco which became so politically burdensome that the company charged with constructing it fled to North Africa instead of staying in California.
“Now, as the nation embarks on a historic, $1 trillion infrastructure building spree, the tortured effort to build the country’s first high-speed rail system is a case study in how ambitious public works projects can become perilously encumbered by political compromise, unrealistic cost estimates, flawed engineering and a determination to persist on projects that have become, like the crippled financial institutions of 2008, too big to fail,” the New York Times began their piece.
“Political compromises, the records show, produced difficult and costly routes through the state’s farm belt. They routed the train across a geologically complex mountain pass in the Bay Area,” the piece continued. “And they dictated that construction would begin in the center of the state, in the agricultural heartland, not at either of the urban ends where tens of millions of potential riders live.”
“When the California High-Speed Rail Authority issued its new 2022 draft business plan in February, it estimated an ultimate cost as high as $105 billion,” the Times wrote about the project which was initially advertised to cost $33 billion in 2008. “Less than three months later, the “final plan” raised the estimate to $113 billion.”
The Times interviewed multiple former railroad chairmen who were responsible for the project over the years and each of them stated that the bullet train was politically hampered, difficult to accomplish, and “a strategic mistake.”
“The state was warned repeatedly that its plans were too complex. SNCF, the French national railroad, was among bullet train operators from Europe and Japan that came to California in the early 2000s with hopes of getting a contract to help develop the system.”
SNCF pulled out of the project in 2011 and went to Morocco to build a rail line there: “’There were so many things that went wrong,” said project manager Dan McNamara. “SNCF was very angry. They told the state they were leaving for North Africa, which was less politically dysfunctional. They went to Morocco and helped them build a rail system.”
The Moroccan bullet train was completed in 2018. Meanwhile, California’s plan will only connect a few cities in the Mojave Desert by 2030 with hopes of connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco now out of the question, as reported by Breitbart.
Upon the election of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) the project was scrapped with funding now being prioritized with the connection of smaller cities within the Central Valley of California. While Californians may hope to one day have a bullet train, even if it is far below their initial expectations, given their track record, residents may be more likely to have a completed project in Morocco than in Palmdale.
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