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$100 Billion High-Speed Rail Estimate is 'Way Off,' Says Brown

Photo: Courtesy California High-Speed Rail Authority
Photo: Courtesy California High-Speed Rail Authority

Despite recent changes in leadership and unpopular public opinion, Governor Jerry Brown still supports high-speed rail and is campaigning on behalf of the project, as seen on ABC 7's Eyewitness Newsmakers this past Sunday, assuring the costs will not soar to $100 billion. "That's way off," he said.

The Governor is fighting high-speed rail detractors who have momentum since a peer budget review report earlier this month said costs have soared and a poll revealed that voters wish for a do-over of Prop 1a, which boosted the project's budget with bond money in 2008.

"Phase 1, I'm trying to redesign it in a way that in and of itself will be justified by the state investment," Brown said, before introducing an idea for additional funding from a Cap and Trade measure "where you make people who produce greenhouse gasses pay certain fees. That will be a source of funding going forward for the high-speed rail."

California state auditors last week released a follow-up review warning that the project's ability in securing federal funding is at risk, supporting previous findings from the Legislative Analyst's Office and the Authority's own peer review group

On Monday, State Senator Doug LaMalfa introduced legislation that would allow voters to reconsider the $9 billion bond measure passed in 2008, placing the fate of high-speed rail on California's November ballot.

Combined with federal funds, the state has up to $12 billion to start the project in the Central Valley, yet can lose the money if construction on the Merced-to-Bakersfield leg does not begin later this year, according to California Watch.

"We can connect this thing," said Brown, fighting off "train to nowhere" criticisms. "It's going to be a lot cheaper than people are saying."

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