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Bullet-train project's risks expand, California auditor says

January 24, 2012 |  1:19 pm


California’s bullet-train project has become “increasingly risky”  because of  uncertainty about how to pay to finish even the first phase, the state auditor warned Tuesday.

“The program’s overall financial situation has become increasingly risky, in part because the [California High-Speed Rail] Authority has not provided viable funding alternatives in the event its planned funding does not materialize,” the state auditor found.

The pronouncement is the latest in a series of cautionary reports by outside agencies and groups. It says the rail authority has made some progress in addressing planning and fiscal concerns, but still has important work to do to ensure the project can be built as promised.

The authority has secured $12.5 billion for the first Los Angeles to San Francisco leg of what is planned to be an 800-mile network, the report says. But it notes the projected cost of that phase has risen to between $98.1 billion and $117.6 billion.

“The success or failure of the program” depends on obtaining up to $105 billion in additional funding, which has not been identified, the report says.

The concerns expressed in the report generally echo or amplify on issues previously raised by authorities including the state auditor, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office and an expert review panel created by state law.


High-speed rail backup plan criticized

Some fear rail won’t deliver on early promise

Auditor: California bullet train's financing 'increasingly risky'

-- Rich Connell