California Bullet Train Undergoes Routine Bureaucratic Clarification

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California’s bullet train has already taken hit after hit, with costs rising ever skyward and schedules getting extended relentlessly. Today, Mike Grunwald reports on the latest schedule hit:

The first segment of California’s first-in-the-nation bullet-train project, currently scheduled for completion in 2018, will not be done until the end of 2022, according to a contract revision the Obama administration quietly approved this morning. That initial 119-mile segment through the relatively flat and empty Central Valley was considered the easiest-to-build stretch of a planned $64 billion line.

….State and federal officials downplayed the shift in the timetable, saying it partly reflected more ambitious plans for the Central Valley work, and in any case merely ratified construction realities on the ground….While they described today’s agreement as a routine bureaucratic clarification, they said they expect an explosive reaction from opponents looking to score political points in Sacramento and Washington. “We’re just doing due diligence, but everything about California high-speed rail gets magnified and overblown,” said FRA head Sarah Feinberg.

A routine bureaucratic clarification! I think that’s the excuse I’ll use the next time I miss a magazine deadline. But I suppose Clara will just blow it all out of proportion and wonder if I’m ever going to finish. Everything with me is magnified and overblown, I tell you.

By the way, for those of you wondering what “Central Valley” means, it means Bakersfield to Fresno. Exciting, no? The official reason for building this leg first is blah blah blah. The real reason for building it first is to get something—anything—done. Once you’ve got some track laid, it’s really hard to kill the project because, hey, you don’t want all that money to have been wasted, do you?

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