California’s Infrastructure Boondoggles Continue

High speed rail constructionEvery news story about the bullet train seems to be accompanied by a photo of workers building a viaduct in Fresno County.

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This does nothing to dispel the impression that high-speed rail in California is actually a Marx Brothers movie.

Groucho: Over here is a viaduct leading over to the mainland.

Chico: Why a duck?

Groucho: I say that’s a viaduct.

Chico: All right, why a duck? Why a duck? Why not a chicken?

The latest news from the Marx Brothers is that the 119-mile Central Valley section currently under construction is $2.8 billion over budget.

That brings the estimated cost of the first phase to $10.6 billion and the cost of the entire project to at least $67 billion. Voters were told in 2008 that the high-speed train from San Francisco to Los Angeles would be completed for $40 billion, but more than a quarter of that money is gone and it’s not out of Fresno yet.

The train may not be going anywhere, but the project’s chief executive moved on in June, shortly after promising that there was no truth to a leaked federal report warning that the train was on track for cost overruns of more than $2 billion.

The new CEO, at a salary of nearly $385,000, is Gov. Jerry Brown’s transportation secretary, Brian Kelly. He says part of his job will be to “restore credibility” to the high-speed rail project, which would be a startling break with tradition.

Part of the problem in the Central Valley, the rail authority now says, is that construction began before all the land was acquired. This decision, which HSR executives promised not to repeat, was made because federal funds would have been lost if a deadline for the start of construction was missed.

That turned the negotiations for land into a W.C. Fields movie, “Never Give a Sucker an Even Break.”

The federal deadline for starting construction was just one of many safeguards that were put in place to try to prevent the rail authority from wasting billions of dollars on a half-finished train to nowhere. Sadly, Gov. Jerry Brown and the HSR authority found ways around all of them.

Another questionable infrastructure proposal from the Brown administration, the so-called California WaterFix, is also running into budget difficulties.

The original plan called for spending $17 billion to construct two huge tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The idea was to get around the restrictions on pumping water from the delta to the Central Valley and Southern California, restrictions that have cut the flow of water in half since the 1980s.

The pumping restrictions resulted from lawsuits and settlements to protect declining populations of smelt and salmon, forcing another population — the people of California — to pay more for water, and for everything that’s produced with water, like food. Now billions will be spent to capture and clean up stormwater and groundwater, which wouldn’t be needed if California’s state and federal water projects hadn’t been shut down to protect the cast of “The Incredible Mr. Limpet.”

Some water districts refused to pay for the twin-tunnel project, so the Brown administration may downsize California WaterFix to one tunnel. It would still cost billions of dollars, but proponents would like you to know that none of the money will come from taxpayers. The whole thing will be billed to water users.

Californians who want to save money should take W.C. Fields’ advice: Never drink water.

olumnist and member of the editorial board of the Southern California News Group, and the author of the book, “How Trump Won.”


  1. Stupid is as Stupid does.

    When the State’s own analyst stated it could not travel at speed except for 40% of the distance that should have killed it.

    Need help with transportation issues contact CAB at

  2. California voters own this as well as all the fiscal damage the DNC and RINOS have and are continuing to do to California taxpayers. Moonbeam had a huge Tax and Spend reputation in the 70’s (reason for Prop. 13) but the airheads in Cali let the wolf back into the hen house again! Stupid is as stupid does…

    • Yeah, and we did it twice, that’s beyond stupid. But it’s easier to sit on our butts, and play with our smart phones, while the illegals go and vote for us.

  3. Gotta to have a way for the illegals to get from San Diego to the central valley quickly and have the tax payers fund it.

  4. Gotta Gedada Displace says

    “…… but proponents would like you to know that none of the money will come from taxpayers. The whole thing will be billed to water users. ….”

    Um, water users like ……..taxpayers ? Or can you show me all the taxpayers who are NOT water users ???
    You can’t FIX stupidity, but there should be a pill that makes it HURT.

    • K. Reisner says

      Gotta…, I think you missed the author’s sarcasm in that statement. She is clearly pointing out that the proponents of this sham believe that ALL Californians are STUPID!

  5. J.J. Wilson says

    A few things, that go unmentioned, unknown, or left as some kind of “taboo.”

    ** Delta Smelt – A junk fish introduced in the 1980’s to support the Snowy Egrets of California. OH!! Those birds aren’t native species. They were imported by the Chinese in the last part of the 1800’s, as part of their fishing traditions. So…why are we supplementing the food supply of an invasive species?

    ** Peripheral Canal – voted down by voters, after all the hype by Gov. Moonbeam, and others. WE knew better then! But, wait, there’s MORE! This “Twin tunnels” project just happens to follow the same basic path as the peripheral canals.

    ** The “High Speed Rail”.. SHUT it the **** Down! Why don’t we voters petition the President, and the DOJ to investigate the cost overrun? Miss management .. sure… Fraud? Maybe? Heck it wouldn’t surprise me in this State.

    Having grown up here, and had to suffer Gov. Moonbeam the first term (by that I mean when I was in high school during his governorship in the late 1970’s (YEAH folks.. he’s tried to run this State into the ground before!) I’ve had enough! It’s gone from the “Republic of California” to “California Soviet Socialists Republic of California.” Yeah… time to let this State die the slow death the political hacks and Democrat minority have created.

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