The California High-Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) released a new business plan this month, estimating that it will cost US$68bn to build the first phase of the high-speed train project. However, the HSRA has secured only about US$9bn in voter-approved bond funds and US$3.5bn in federal funds.
LAO, which is a non-partisan fiscal policy advisory group, said that HSRA has not provided sufficient detail and justification to the legislature regarding its plan to build a high-speed rail system.
The governor’s budget plan for 2012-13 requests US$5.9bn to continue the high-speed rail project. In addition, about US$800m is requested to make improvements to existing passenger rail services and about US$250m to complete preliminary design work and environmental reviews for various sections of the project.
LAO said that funding for the project remains highly speculative and important details have not been sorted out. It recommends that the legislature should not approve the governor’s various budget proposals that would provide additional funding for the project. It does however recommend that some minimal funding be provided to continue planning efforts that are currently under way.