President's Jobs Plan Might Spell End of California High-Speed Rail

The state's high-speed rail plan is a zombie -- the walking dead -- still alive but with no real future.

Rising cost estimates and a lack of money for the project make it seem unrealistic. Momentum is building to abandon it and even de-authorize the bond funds voters approved for high-speed rail.

The federal commitment to the project is in doubt, as the LA Times explains here.

The only thing that could change that: a big boost in federal funding for the project. And if that were going to happen, it should have been mentioned by President Obama in his jobs plan speech Thursday night.

It wasn't.

Obama's plan includes more money for infrastructure -- $140 billion -- but that covers everything, including roads, bridges and rail. More details need to be laid out, but there doesn't seem to be enough money to make the high-speed rail plan financially and politically viable.

That's because saving the project in California requires a firm federal investment that must be an 11-figure number that starts with a 2 or higher. $25 billion would be amount the minimum.

Why so much?

Because the state is broke, and is unlikely to be able to come up with more than the $9 billion that voters approved. Private investment is not there. And the cost estimates of the project has soared -- with the low-end estimates in the $60 billion range. High-speed rail won't happen in California without the federal government paying the freight.

Since California is the most supportive state for high-speed rail, a failure here means a failure for high-speed rail across the country.

If the president means what he says about high-speed rail, he should have been bolder.

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