January 14, 2017

"California’s bullet train could cost taxpayers 50% more than estimated — as much as $3.6 billion more."

"And that’s just for the first 118 miles through the Central Valley, which was supposed to be the easiest part of the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco," the L.A. Times reports.
A confidential Federal Railroad Administration risk analysis, obtained by The Times, projects that building bridges, viaducts, trenches and track from Merced to Shafter, just north of Bakersfield, could cost $9.5 billion to $10 billion, compared with the original budget of $6.4 billion....

“Despite past issues with funding this boondoggle, we were repeatedly assured in an August field hearing that construction costs were under control,” [said Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), chairman of the House rail subcommittee]. “They continue to reaffirm my belief that this is a huge waste of taxpayer dollars.”

The railroad administration’s analysis shows that the state authority could lose $220 million in one of the federal grants this year if it cannot submit paperwork by June 30, to meet the Sept. 30 deadline of the Obama administration’s stimulus act. To hit those milestones requires spending $3.2 million per day, a very high rate of construction spending....

The California system is being built by an independent authority that has never built anything and depends on a large network of consultants and contractors for advice....
Isn't it ironic that we're about to get a President who is the opposite of "never built anything"? How will Obama's train fare under President Trump?

From last March:
In a freewheeling speech Thursday afternoon, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump stumbled into a riff about how great trains are. It’s sad, he said, that the American rail system is so dilapidated while China’s is now slicker than ever.

“They have trains that go 300 miles per hour,” the populist billionaire exclaimed. “We have trains that go chug … chug … chug.”...

“Our airports, bridges, water tunnels, power grids, rail systems—our nation’s entire infrastructure is crumbling, and we aren’t doing anything about it,” he wrote in his 2015 book, Crippled America. He went on to promise that fixing it would spur economic growth.

“These projects put people to work—not just the people doing the work but also the manufacturers, the suppliers, the designers, and, yes, even the lawyers. The Senate Budget Committee estimates that rebuilding America will create 13 million jobs,” he wrote. Which, incidentally, was Obama’s point in 2011, when Congressional Republicans blocked his $60 billion infrastructure jobs bill.
I don't think Trump is about thinking small and scrimping. But we will not tolerate him dreaming big and throwing money at sprawling projects that never get done. Dreaming was Obama's gig. Trump will have to do that on-time-and-under-budget magic he's bragged about. The pressure is on. 

What if, in the end, it's the Obama-fan types who like Trump the most? 

123 comments:

rehajm said...

Remember that estimate we gave you a few years ago? Well, we were WAAAAAYYYY off!

-said me always

Cybrludite said...

"How will Obama's train fare under President Trump?"

I see what you did there.

David Begley said...

These are the same consultants working on Madison's public market.

Curious George said...

"What if, in the end, it's the Obama-fan types who like Trump the most?"

That's not going to happen. He could adopt every Obama plan and they would still hate him. But that not going to happen...quite the opposite. Some dumb choo-choo isn't going to matter at all.

Michael K said...

Trump is not into lefty dream palaces. The "Bullet Train" will get a bullet in the head. It was a global warming fantasy. At least the drought is over.

SayAahh said...

There is always a possibility that in the end nobody will like Trump.
That seems to be the recent history of our presidencies.

MayBee said...

I still cannot believe this train is actually happening. I really thought it would get stopped at some point prior to actual building.

What would a Venn diagram look like, do you think, if the two circles were "people who support this train" and "people who think a border wall is impossible and too expensive"

traditionalguy said...

The California Governing Idiots should just spend all 10 billion on one giant worthless windmill on the coast. It would produce all the power to keep Los Angeles Lights on during the parts of the day, during the parts of the season, during the parts of the time during a part of an existing demand. That way another 10 billion can be spent building and maintaining readiness of the back up power plants for all the other parts.

Ann Althouse said...

"Trump is not into lefty dream palaces. The "Bullet Train" will get a bullet in the head. It was a global warming fantasy. At least the drought is over."

But Trump did rave about fast trains, and he may not be into "lefty dream palaces" and the "global warming fantasy," but he is into building ambitious, great, beautiful things and showing how he can do it fast and profitably. It's not the medicinal imposition of the train because of the environment and at hemorrhaging costs. He's got to do it in the brilliant, show-off way where everyone wins. If he does that, he will be loved. It will be the most satisfying presidential narrative we have ever seen. Everyone will have to like it in spite of their erstwhile hostility.

If he can do it. He simply must achieve. There's no shortcut to love for him. He must deliver. Unlike Obama.

Michael K said...

Eventually, Socialists run out of other people's money, even California.

The middle class is leaving.

The lower middle class is looking for a way to get out. I talk to some of them. Some of the employees where I work found out I'm moving to Arizona and asked me to look for opportunities for them there. The ones who are looking are the smarter, harder working ones.

Quayle said...

Trump is used to doing projects with his own money at risk. However leveraged he may be, he still has at least some of his own skin in the game.

Big fancy public projects don't ever have politicians' real skin in the game. The explanations for failure always become more PR, more weasel-words, more excuses, but the politicians always show up to take any credit for even the smallest benefit.

The LA Times has previously reported on how much propaganda and fact hiding is alread going on with the cost projections for this train system. The world's experts on geology and tunnel construction are saying that nobody has a clue how to build a tunnel through the San Gabriel mountains, and therefore nobody has a clue on what it will cost, because it is one of the top 3 most complex fault lines in the world and nobody has ever tried anything even close before. But the state transportation authority keeps saying it is all in hand and all correctly costed out. In short, the decisions and referendum votes are built on lies.

I'm starting to feel that is why progressives really complain about possible Russian involvement in our elections. It isn't the possibility of propaganda and lies they fear. It is the competition for propaganda and lies they fear.

Mary Beth said...

There is always a possibility that in the end nobody will like Trump.
That seems to be the recent history of our presidencies.


I have it on good authority that everyone loves Obama. Well, the MSM said so...so not "good" or necessarily "authority", but they're loud and insistent.

traditionalguy said...

By God, she's got it. The Professor @ 7:59 has nailed the real Trump. He is an obsessive compulsive winner. That probably comes from Wrestling, where losing is unthinkable, and pleasing his father Fred. Add resources and bake at 500 deals for 45 years, remove from oven, serve and eat.

Now, let's enjoy eating him up to fix the horrible mess Obama engineered.

sykes.1 said...

Antiplanner ( http://ti.org/antiplanner/ ) has a number of posts on this boondoggle and other city/regional planning lunacies. If Europe's experience is any guide, Californians will stay in their cars, and the train will run nearly empty, mostly because it doesn't go anywhere.

WisRich said...

[i]Blogger traditionalguy said...
By God, she's got it. The Professor @ 7:59 has nailed the real Trump. He is an obsessive compulsive winner. That probably comes from Wrestling, where losing is unthinkable, and pleasing his father Fred. Add resources and bake at 500 deals for 45 years, remove from oven, serve and eat.

Now, let's enjoy eating him up to fix the horrible mess Obama engineered.

1/14/17, 8:17 AM[/i]

My gut feel is that Trump want's to erase the "Obama Era" as much as possible. The bullet train is a "loser" so he won't want his name associated with it. He'll call it "Sad!"

HT said...

What if, in the end, it's the Obama-fan types who like Trump the most?

What if indeed. Keep in mind, though, he's installing a fairly conservative team in his cabinet, so it's a long shot.

WisRich - you are after these: < > to enclose the "i" for italics. not these: [ ]

HT said...

but he is into building ambitious, great, beautiful things
Entirely a matter of opinion.

Hagar said...

"Creating jobs" leads to wrong-think.
What you want is to facilitate trade and business, i.e. create a demand for labor.

And you cannot create the business; you just have to get out of the way and hope there are live wires out there who will see opportunity and think of something.

Ann Althouse said...

"The bullet train is a "loser" so he won't want his name associated with it. He'll call it "Sad!""

You think he, responsible for the whole country, will stand back and let things collapse on the theory that somebody else started it?

When you come in as President, you take over a project that got started a long time ago. You can't say it's okay to sit back and let everyone see how bad it already was. You've got to fix it. He said: "I alone can fix it." He had damned well better fix it. His name is on it now.

Some projects are canceled. That's part of building. But even cancellation and destruction are active. He is responsible now for everything, and I think he's not a less-is-more guy. It's going to be big. You don't know exactly how it will be big, but he will not take the easy way out. He's not going to sit back.

Ann Althouse said...

""Creating jobs" leads to wrong-think. What you want is to facilitate trade and business, i.e. create a demand for labor. And you cannot create the business; you just have to get out of the way and hope there are live wires out there who will see opportunity and think of something."

That sounds like the Scott Walker administration. I don't think that's what we've got.

lemondog said...

So..... who pays for it when California secedes from the union....?? :-))

mockturtle said...

Californians are not about to quit driving and take the train.

Hagar said...

Jerry Brown's bullet train is like Bill Richardson's RoadRunner train from ABQ to Santa Fe x 20.
Richardson took the money from 50 highway projects to get the project off the ground. Last year it took 28.4 million dollars to operate, took in 2.8 million in fares, and the state paid 50 million on the outstanding debt.
And there is no way the Democrats are going to admit failure and shut it down. Because environment, etc.


But wWe would have been much, much better off with the highway projects.

Owen said...

Trump's turn-around on NYC's Wollman Rink is perhaps predictive. The City had screwed up the rink --6 years behind schedule and $13MM over budget and it still didn't work. Trump taunted Mayor Koch who challenged him to fix it in 6 months with $2.5MM. Four months later, at $2.25MM, Trumo delivered the working rink.

The Bullet Train in California is IMHO doomed. But Trump will find other public works projects and salvage them. I imagine he will re-bid the work and if the current contractors don't want to play ball, they can take a number to file their complaint.

Who knows? We certainly have enough aging infrastructure, some parts of a Trumpian Overhaul might be worthwhile, and it would keep a lot of people busy. But the bill would be yuuuge.

Hagar said...

As General Sherman said: "If you see carrion, it is a fair assumption that there are vultures nearby."

Quayle said...

As a 5 year Europe resident and lover of the Fast trains, I still have admit that fast trains currently make sense in Europe because when you get to the destination city, you have public transportation options to get almost anywhere desired.

That's not so in present USA, with only a few exceptions.

Now, looking ahead, when driverless pods get on track, we'll have something here to match.

And one obvious additional opportunity and application shows up if I want to drive from Madison WI to Boulder CO. I shouldn't have to control my own vehicle and pay attention all the way across Iowa and Nebraska on I-80, if I don't want to I should be able to drive my car onto a train or remote platform add an entry point for I 80 and just sit and be moved along.

All that technology is certainly coming. Wouldn't it be cool if Trump was the person who pushed us forward in that direction to make it happen sooner. Like a new version of Kennedy's vision to go to the moon, from which spring so many revolutionary enabling technologies such as the integrated circuit, not to mention a national self image that was so forward looking and positive.

What a stark contrast to Obamas backward-looking and apologetic National self-image.

Rusty said...

Althouse @ 8:31

He won't let it go on because it isn't profitable and besides all the wrong people are making money off it.

Railroads start somewhere and end somewhere. They go where people and goods need to be not want to be. High speed rail is useful in places as population dense as Japan where not everyone has or wants a car.
This is just stupid especially in a state where the ordinary infrastructure is in such bad shape.
Well. Every dictator wants his monuments, I suppose.

The Drill SGT said...

Ann Althouse said...
You think he, responsible for the whole country, will stand back and let things collapse on the theory that somebody else started it?


Yep.

Jerry Moonbeam Brown owns the train because of the Lies, that CA Dems have told the public. The Feds have like $3B in the game, with the CA Taxpayers on the hook for a $60B Bond with a bunch of provisions in place (must make money, must stay under xx, must...) that are clearly not going to be met, but the Functionaries are LYING to the people to keep the money being pissed away.

Hell, the tunnel is the easy part. The impossible part will be the last. Bulldozing a hundred miles of $10M houses up the SF Penisula.

WON'T.BE.FINISHED.EVAH!

David Begley said...

Unless Trump can get his people running that CA train project, he will cut off the federal money. He put his people in charge of the Central Park ice rink. He has to have control. He can't risk failure with people he doesn't know or trust running the show.

Ann Althouse said...

"The impossible part will be the last. Bulldozing a hundred miles of $10M houses up the SF Peninsula."

The impossible part is the fun part.

Ann Althouse said...

He loves eminent domain.

Bay Area Guy said...

After the Bullet Train is completed, (after 100 Billion is spent), we should all hit Buck Owens Palace in Bakersfield for a beer-infused shindig.

Quayle said...

"He loves eminent domain"

We'll, he'll probably have to break up the 9th circuit then.

Not complaining; just saying.

MadisonMan said...

Is the thing actually being built -- or are they in land-acquisition still? (I don't keep track). Throwing good money after bad -- that phrase comes to mind.

My chief alarm about CA -- and Illinois, and PA -- is that they will go bankrupt and the USA will step in and absorb all the losses. That would suck.

WisRich said...

Ann Althouse said...

You think he, responsible for the whole country, will stand back and let things collapse on the theory that somebody else started it?



Not entirely. Although Trump likes to build things, he doesn't like wasting money. He'll know this not a viable project just like Scott Walker knew the high speed train for WI was not viable. Walker pulled the plug, rightly so, and I think Trump will do the same (well, at least not allocate any additional monies). He'd want the money used in a more practical manor....roads, bridges, airports, and especially walls.

Trump is not afraid of tearing things down, just look at the ACA.

David Begley said...

Hagar is right. That CA bullet train will bleed operating losses. I had no idea about the failed New Mexico Rail Runner train. Why doesn't the MSM report on the NM failure?

Michael K said...

You think he, responsible for the whole country, will stand back and let things collapse on the theory that somebody else started it?

Trump lost his shirt in Atlantic City because of corrupt politicians. Corrupt politicians in California have started this monstrosity.

They will never finish it. The defiance of Trump on "sanctuary cities" will give him the button to push. All he has to do is tell them to call him when the sanctuary cities are gone.

Then he can get on with other business in states that aren't defying him on immigration.

Quayle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quayle said...

"Why doesn't the MSM report on the NM failure?"

The Russians. That's why, Begley.

The Russians.

Ever heard a Russian talk about a failed train project, DB?

sunsong said...

"...Second, Trump's own instincts and inclinations, a thirst for attention that leads to hyperactivity. His need to dominate every news cycle feeds an almost compulsive tweet habit. It has placed him just about continuously at the center of the national conversation and not always to his benefit.

"Trump simply can't resist playground pushback. His tweets gave Meryl Streep's Golden Globes screed priceless publicity. His mocking Arnold Schwarzenegger for bad "Apprentice" ratings — compared with "the ratings machine, DJT" — made Trump look small and Arnold (almost) sympathetic.

"Nor is this behavior likely to change after the inauguration. It's part of Trump's character. Nothing negative goes unanswered because, for Trump, an unanswered slight has the air of concession or surrender

"Finally, it's his chronic indiscipline, his jumping randomly from one subject to another without rhyme, reason or larger strategy. In a week packed with confirmation hearings and Russian hacking allegations, what was he doing meeting with Robert Kennedy Jr., an anti-vaccine activist pushing the thoroughly discredited idea that vaccines cause autism?.."



Krauthammer

dda6ga dda6ga said...

lets not forget the NYC subway extension which opened this year: 68 years from start of construction to finish, more that 3 billion dollars and for that the city got THREE (count 'em) three new station on a section of Second Ave.
rd Ave.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/01/nyregion/second-avenue-subway-opening-upper-east-side-manhattan.html


David Begley said...

MadisonMan

I think there is a bill in Congress to allow the states to use Chapter 9 BK. Puerto Rico will be the test case. Something must be done in PR.

In a Chapter 9, state bond owners would take a haircut. Sounds fair. They lent money knowing the credit rating, preexisting debt and tax revenue.

buwaya said...

Before fixing the train, Trump will have to march in several thousand new FBI agents and Federal prosecutors to deal with the California Democratic party. The lot of them will have to be imprisoned before anything can be done here. That will be a time consuming job, because of the sheer numbers.
Fortunately, since their corruption has become so open and blatant for decades, they are defenseless, like animals that have known no predators.

MadisonMan said...

according to Bent Flyvbjerg, an infrastructure risk expert at the University of Oxford

That is a great name, I have to say.

If the USA is going to spend money on rail infrastructure, I'd say a great place to start would be the rail bridge over the Mississippi at Memphis. If that structure were to fail, so would the economy. (The park next to it on the Memphis side is a great place to watch trains).

WisRich said...

Hagar said...
Jerry Brown's bullet train is like Bill Richardson's RoadRunner train from ABQ to Santa Fe x 20.
Richardson took the money from 50 highway projects to get the project off the ground. Last year it took 28.4 million dollars to operate, took in 2.8 million in fares, and the state paid 50 million on the outstanding debt.


Wow, these train projects are worst than I thought!

Matthew Sablan said...

Some day, people will lose their jobs for grossly under estimating things like this.l

geoffb said...

Quayle,

I always wondered why we never developed the car on train concept to drive longer distances. Seems a natural for a large country like ours.

Owen said...

David Begley: agree about Trump need to control a project that has his money or name. Again, Wollman Rink: the city engineers had apparently never bothered to consult the people who, you know, build skating rinks: the Canadian experts who handle NHL projects. Trump hired them. They were astonished at how badly wrong the NYC team had been.

I think Trump will demand accountability and we will some spectacular waves of firings and demotions. Whether he has the energy and cunning to overcome the entire Federal bureaucracy, and the boondoggle specialists in projects like the California train, only time will tell. But consider one other point that came out in his press conference this past Wednesday: the F-35. He denounced it as vastly overbudget and behind schedule and not fit for purpose: and promised a great result. We don't know *how* he will do this. I bet *he* doesn't know either. But he has put his name on fixing it, and I expect a lot of heads will soon roll as he sets about keeping his promise.

Pass the popcorn. And the hat: lots of public money will be spent.

David Begley said...

Owen

Trump knows jets. I think that's why he picked the F-35 and Air Force One projects. He knew there was fat to cut. The CEO of Lockheed Martin was at Trump Tower this week and she promised to cut the price.

Bob Boyd said...

Trains are for moving freight and communists. – David Burge

Hagar said...

And Winston Churchill said that a successful politician is one who can divine where the people wants to go and rush on over and get in front of the parade.
The same goes for a business.
The liberals besetting sin is that they always want to push the people where they don't want to go "because its good for them."
But, as has become a trite saying lately about their ACA, "the dogs just don't like what you are giving them and won't eat it."

Hagar said...

Begley and Owen both,
It's not Lockheed-Douglas that is the problem. It is the U.S. Congress and the Pentagon.

retail lawyer said...

This train would be a big shiny thing that many people would love to build, but it is too expensive to do all the tunneling and land purchasing is this geologically unstable area. Anybody who tries it will go bankrupt. Trump knows that. The Governor wants it, so it will stagger on for awhile. I was hoping the first stretch gets built, though. I envisioned it as a real-life working museum of government incompetence. It would be a theme park with only one ride. People could ride it from one place nobody wants to go to another place nobody wants to go, and then back again, and then make their way back home in the car, eventually being stuck in horrible traffic. Something to do with the family . . . .

Hagar said...

Tucker Carlson had a viewer thing last night about what would you do if you had absolute power in this country for a day.
My choice would be to repeal the 17th Amendment.

Freder Frederson said...

What if, in the end, it's the Obama-fan types who like Trump the most?

Ain't gonna happen. Trump is all for building a bunch of stuff but he has no mechanism to pay for it. Even if he didn't claim that he was going to have these huge infrastructure projects, his tax cuts are going to further explode the debt and deficits.

but he is into building ambitious, great, beautiful things and showing how he can do it fast and profitably.

You really have swallowed Trump's bullshit. He hasn't built that much, except for a few golf courses. The last twenty years or so, except for the golf courses, he has mostly just tacked his name onto other peoples' projects. He doesn't even fully own Trump Tower. When he was building stuff, his record of failure was pretty spectacular. He managed to lose almost a billion dollars in one year and has been through bankruptcy four times.

As for beautiful, give a freaking break. His taste is extremely tacky.

Trump is not afraid of tearing things down, just look at the ACA.

Hasn't torn it down yet, and he has yet to tell us what the replacement will look like other than it will be better and cheaper. More bullshit.

wendybar said...

Isn't it convenient, that Dianne Feinsteins husband won the contract?? Nepotism is okay when you are a democrat getting rich off of the taxpayers...

Mike Sylwester said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Sylwester said...

Michael K at 9:07 AM

The defiance of Trump on "sanctuary cities" will give him the button to push. All he has to do is tell them to call him when the sanctuary cities are gone.

Brilliant !!

glenn said...

The Trump admin can bring in all the projects it wants to on time and under budget. He'll never get any credit from the Obamanauts.

buwaya said...

Re Feinstein - yes, most convenient.
And not interesting to the local press, or the NYT and WaPo for some reason.

sunsong said...

Althouse

You think he, responsible for the whole country, will stand back and let things collapse on the theory that somebody else started it?

When you come in as President, you take over a project that got started a long time ago. You can't say it's okay to sit back and let everyone see how bad it already was. You've got to fix it. He said: "I alone can fix it." He had damned well better fix it. His name is on it now.


He is so immature, so vindictive and emotionally negative I think he will make any number of bad choices. As someone said:

Trump is not afraid of tearing things down, just look at the ACA.

Obamacares is turning into Trumpdon'tcare

He is not a magnanimous guy. He is into himself and his show...

rehajm said...

You think he, responsible for the whole country, will stand back and let things collapse on the theory that somebody else started it?

At Wharton they teach about the sunk cost fallacy and Trump was a good student. He'll avoid this loser.

It's easy to look at Trump and conclude he likes every huuge big debt project but he's actually been quite selective.

Paco Wové said...

"I always wondered why we never developed the car on train concept to drive longer distances."

I remember traveling with my family on the Auto Train when I was a mere lad back in the '70's. Apparently it's still running, but I hadn't heard anything about it in decades. It seems to be profitable, too.

It wasn't a bad trip – overnight to Florida! – though it did take a few hours at either end to deal with loading/unloading all those cars.

Unknown said...

Just remove the federal funding and it is done. But trump will illustrate what a overpriced crony project it has turned into first. Highlighting how bad our government has been with respect to money.

Cool, trump takes these dollars from California and says thank you, you just helped pay for your own wall section. Heh

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

“Our airports, bridges, water tunnels, power grids, rail systems—our nation’s entire infrastructure is crumbling, and we aren’t doing anything about it,”

True. But if public money is to be spent for infrastructure it should be instead of, not on top of, living expenses of unemployed able bodied workers and the bastard progeny thereby facilitated.

damikesc said...

You think he, responsible for the whole country, will stand back and let things collapse on the theory that somebody else started it?

As a developer, I'd hope he'd be aware of the concept of "not throwing good money after bad". At a certain point, the expense hits such a level that you cannot possibly recoup the losses.

Can these rail systems EVER come within a mile of recouping the massive expense? The answer is pretty clearly no. The cost they'd have to pay for usage to do so would make them unusable. And few of these trains are popularly driven. It is the government driving all demand, and doing so poorly. LA might be the worst possible place on Earth for a train (earthquakes, city set up for cars, etc). The Left's obsession with trains is mind-boggling.

He loves eminent domain.

I don't think he loves it if it does zero to help him.

There's a reason why these rail projects set to connect a large city to other areas doesn't handle the large city part of the travel first.

JTR said...

Congressional Republicans tied any aporoval of proposed infrastructure projects to non-defense budget cuts of domestic programs. They have attempted to permanently change the ownership of highways to private (tolls!) and would not actively approve of union labor building the projects. This would be the area to watch with Trump - keep your eye on where the profit goes.

JTR said...

Congressional Republicans tied any aporoval of proposed infrastructure projects to non-defense budget cuts of domestic programs. They have attempted to permanently change the ownership of highways to private (tolls!) and would not actively approve of union labor building the projects. This would be the area to watch with Trump - keep your eye on where the profit goes.

Michael K said...

"I always wondered why we never developed the car on train concept to drive longer distances."

Somebody else answered this. I knew about the autotrain and wondered if it was still running.

I guess it still is.

There used to be one in Alaska but that is now a tunnel for cars.

Lauderdale Vet said...

We're getting a "fast" train here in Florida, but it's on schedule and on budget. It's also the first private rail project in a long time.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brightline

Tim said...

bulldozing a hundred miles of $10M houses up the SF Penisula.

I'd pay to watch that.

Bob Boyd said...

So I guess California won't be seceding then?

Unknown said...

"What if, in the end, it's the Obama-fan types who like Trump the most?"

What if hell froze over?

Birkel said...

Freder Frederson: "...his tax cuts are going to further explode the debt and deficits."

In which Leftists who cheered adding more than $10 trillion in debt these last eight years pretend to care about federal debt.

What a fun game!

n.n said...

Progressive costs.

Fernandinande said...

wendybar said...
Isn't it convenient, that Dianne Feinsteins husband won the contract??


With a little luck this will happen to both of them:

"He was goin' down the grade making 90 miles an hour,
When his whistle broke into a scream,
He was found in the wreck with his hand on the throttle,
He was scalded to death by the steam."

readering said...

The train is folly but I think of it as Governor Brown's folly rather than Obama's. I think it will be a dark stain on the legacy of Brown's second governorship.

Sebastian said...

Rule of thumb for megaproject boondoggles like CA: double the cost estimate, halve the rider estimates.

@MM: "My chief alarm about CA -- and Illinois, and PA -- is that they will go bankrupt and the USA will step in and absorb all the losses. That would suck." Yes. This is the real significance of the blue vs. red divide, even if PA switched sides this time. It seems unlikely the country as a whole will want to bail out IL and CA. But the pressure will be yuge. Recipe for major conflict.

William said...

I get the sense that the self driving, electric car will be perfected within twenty years and that it will obviate the need for high speed trains. California is pursuing yesterday's dream. There are better, sleeker dreams on the market today.

William said...

I'd like to see more R&D money go into developing a first rate Princess Leia sex robot. The technology is there and it has the promise of improving the lives of millions of Americans.

Hagar said...

And David, the MSM does occasionally write about Bill Richardson's RoadRunner train - as one of his major accomplishments as governor.

Donald Trump to California: "Drop dead!"
You suppose that could happen?

mockturtle said...

The MSM are largely clueless about life in the western states.

mockturtle said...

Throwing good money after bad? Why bother? Maybe they could turn it into some kind of amusement park ride.

n.n said...

We could use a train here, there, somewhere specific. With a little planning, with a little integrity, these projects can be viable, and will not need to be aborted because of progressive cost, and dissociation from reality.

Drago said...

Unknownd: "What if hell froze over?"

Not going to happen.

Under Trump we will be increasing energy production dramatically so there will be plenty of heat in Hell.

Drago said...

Freder: "Hasn't torn it down yet, and he has yet to tell us what the replacement will look like other than it will be better and cheaper. More bullshit"

Lol

Sorry dummy. Perhaps we will employ the pre-approved "We must pass the bill to see what is in it" strategy of THE ENTIRE DEMOCRAT PARTY!! But of course, we won't.

The plan will be fully debated in congress viewable on CSPAN (assuming you are not so much of a special, sensitive, footie-pajama wearing lefty that you can stand to watch it....which I doubt).

Any other laughably hypocritical BS you'd like to offer on top of all your other failed predictions/projections?

I must say its great fun reading them!

Carry on!

Big Mike said...

Tourist railroads are popular. Maybe California can recoup its investment by getting some of its old steam locomotives out of museums and running. People pay good money to ride in old fashioned railroad coaches and lowering the windows to get smoke and cinders in their faces.

Ah, some scold will complain about carbon footprint.

Hagar said...

The background on the RoadRunner train is that Santa Fe is the capital of New Mexico and with the enormous growth in government since WWII - Federal, State, and local - the city has grown enormously right along with it. It is the only industry Santa Fe has.
However, the town is also known as "San Francisco of the Rockies" and is a favorite second home location or retirement destination for the rich and famous, Hollywood stars, and other celebrities, who like to dabble in politics in their spare time.
Together they have driven up the cost of living in Santa Fe, especially with restrictive home building regulations, such that it is difficult for normal people to live there unless the family owned the home there since before the expansion in government.
Thus the RoadRunner train is intended to allow Federal and State government employees to live in Albuquerque - and even as far south as Belen, 100 miles south of Santa Fe - and still work in Santa Fe.
Which they do, and did before the RoadRunner train, and still do, many still driving their own or government cars rather than riding the train.
These are well paid jobs.

Martin said...

Trump thinks big but will not knowingly throw money away. Read The Art of the Deal, wherein he riffs for 2-3 pages about how value engineering saves money without sacrificing quality. Or, more recently, how he has challenged defense contractors to sharpen their pencils, a necessary prelude to a defense buildup, and one that, unfortunately, Reagan and Weinberger did not do.

damikesc said...

Together they have driven up the cost of living in Santa Fe, especially with restrictive home building regulations, such that it is difficult for normal people to live there unless the family owned the home there since before the expansion in government.

Yet, if you asked why home prices are so high, they'd blame AirBNB.

Chuck said...

An open question for all:

Trump has this great reputation as a builder. I started to think about specifics, and had a very hard time thinking of anything really big, that he has built. There is the Trump Tower, built amid much controversy, with a great many compromises, and no longer owned by Trump since it is a condo building.

There's the Wollman skating rink in Central Park, a kind of a puny project by Manhattan standards, but one in which Trump seems to have clearly beaten the municipal project managers in New York City (a profoundly low bar, I'd say).

There are the golf courses. Almost none of which Trump "built." Trump's U.S. specialty was taking run-down private clubs and sprucing them up. And in Scotland, Trump did indeed build Trump International Links in Aberdeenshire (pissing off most of the people in and around Aberdeen in the process), and he purchased the Turnberry Resort after other buyers had had mostly poor success in operating it at a profit. Trump did a large number of renovations, mostly to wide acclaim there, and the course hosted a British Open Championship very successfully. But now, there's lots of talk about the Royal and Ancient Golf Club (which operates the Open) never going back to Turnberry as long as Trump owns it. Much like the PGA Tour's fraught relationship with Trump.

There are lots of buildings and hotels with Trump's name on them. Very few if any were projects that Trump "built." If you can think of any, name them.

Hagar said...

Chuck, Trump is a developer, not a "builder."

Fabi said...

Interesting that the smartest "real Republican" on the planet doesn't understand the difference between builder and developer. Several months ago when Chuckles was trashing Trump's managerial skills he said that Trump wouldn't know what an org chart was since he didn't have that many people working for him. I had to inform him that the Trump Organization is estimated to employ between twenty and thirty thousand people.

Joe said...

“Our airports, bridges, water tunnels, power grids, rail systems—our nation’s entire infrastructure is crumbling, and we aren’t doing anything about it,”

Not true. Travel throughout the southwest and marvel at the new roads, bridges, power grids. Crumbling infrastructure is largely an eastern US thing.

Moreover, most of this are issues with the states, not the federal government.

Art in LA said...

"Bullet train" ... hmm, needs a more PC name. "Wizard train" comes to mind.

For me, I'd rather see the money spent on de-salination technology (always a water crisis here in California) or autonomous vehicle R&D (why yes, there's lots of traffic here!) than a Wizard train boondoggle.

mockturtle said...

Joe: I-5 in CA south of Sacramento is, as Trump would say, 'a disaster'. And, yes, it's a state issue. Oregon's highways are wonderful, including I-5.

traditionalguy said...

Developers are totally involved from Archtect to Grading and site prep, to foundation testing, to steel erection, to plumbing and wiring to, to concrete floors, to sheet rock and facade attachment making every decision with the Builder providing good site managers and their subs.

On top of that the Developer arranges his people for cost control, legal soft costs, and sales.

Chuck is full of it. Maybe he knows some passive investors, but not developers.

Joe said...

Where are the environmentalists on the California Choo-Choo? Though there could be some environmental benefits, the environmental destruction involved in this project would be massive.

(By the way, one way the CA high speed rail will allegedly have net zero emissions is that they plan on planting lots of trees in the central valley. Big leafy trees, not those silly palm trees! It's a farce.)

Big Mike said...

Engineering consultant: "Mr. Trump, our estimates for the first, easiest, segment of the high speed rail were a little off.

Trump: Over estimated or under estimated?

Consultant: Under

Trump: Before I fire you, how much are we talking about?

Consultant: $3.6 billion

Trump: You're fired!

Consultant: you can't fire me, Mr. President, because my father contributed lots of money to Governor Brown.

Trump: He's fired too!

Consultant: You can't fire him, Mr. President. He's an elected official.

And now what? Even if Trump can get the stupid consultant fired, Trump would have to burn political capital to keep Moonbeam Brown from appointing crony's son who's as bad or worse. Better to cap Federal exposure and make the federal payment contingent on completing the entire project. The project will die, but Trump will be able to point to Democrat ineptitude as the reason for its collapse.

buwaya said...

Intermittent water supply makes planting Central Valley trees a bit of a gamble. It was not a forest pre-agriculture, but grass and shrub much of it arid. California oak forest on the hills around, but that is still there.
The native, pre-human state of the Valley would include at least a couple of very large lakes and swampland, present until the early 20th century, but a whole lot of dams, flood control works and agriculture/irrigation will have to go to make that happen.

Michael said...

Chuck

Where he was in his thirties Trump bought the Commodore hotel from the bankrupt Penn Central Railroad. As a man of the world you know that that building was converted into the Hyatt Regency at Grand Central. This was a massive project and required threading through the maze of NY regulations, union rules, Hyatt's demands, NY concrete providers (read mob), steel costs, purchase and installation of furniture, fixture, equipment for rooms and the f & b outlets. Also he had to navigate the city rules relative to the cab entrance on the Vanderbilt side.

As to the Trump tower on 5th you would have to be a total moron to not understand it was a massive undertaking to get that done, in that location in the time it took to build it with the minimum of disruption to 5th at 56 and environs. The logistics of building in Manhattan are staggering and impressive. Deliveries in the dead of night. No staging areas nearby. Elevators being acquired in advance of building.

You would have to be stupid on stilts to suggest that Trump does not know what he is doing as a developer.



Gk1 said...

We will have uberlike automated flying cars by the time this boondoggle is ever completed. As a Californian I shake my head there is no way to kill this train. Slow, costly and built to help pad the wallets of the well connected in Sacramento.

Joe said...

mockturtle: haven't been on that section of road in over thirty years. The I-15 work before the El Cajon pass is finally done as is the work on the Virgin River Gorge rebuild (in Arizona.) The I-15 work in northern Utah is fantastic. Back in the LA area, I-91 will finish sometime relatively soon. I-5 through the LA area is looking good in Orange County; not so great in LA County, but getting there. (Granted I-10 through west San Bernardino Co. needs work, but it's not a disaster.)

Hagar said...

@buwaya,
You need to read "1492".

Hagar said...

and "1491" and "1493."

Chuck said...

Michael:

First of all, since one good insult deserves another, fuck you.

Yeah, I know he remodeled the Commodore Hotel in the 1980's. I already said that I knew he built the Trump Tower.

He also drove the Pan Am shuttle into the ground, went bankrupt in the casino business which is damn near impossible to do, and "developed" Trump University into a $25 million civil fraud case.

I just think that a very large myth has been built, er, developed, around Trump's Commodore Hotel and Trump Tower developments, both decades ago.

He's a guy who lends his name to projects, and the projects he seems to be best at is rehabbing old hotels and golf clubs.

Joe said...

"went bankrupt in the casino business which is damn near impossible to do"

Not in Atlantic City where most casinos go bankrupt including almost all of the major players. MGM Resorts is giving it a try, but I think they're going to fail too. (Atlantic City itself is on the verge of bankruptcy.)

damikesc said...

went bankrupt in the casino business which is damn near impossible to do

Atlantic City is a bit of a shithole and most of the casinos are near death all of the time. And as gambling opens up on the East Coast more, it will only get worse.

Michael said...

Chuck

You dumb cluck he didn't "remodel the Commodore" he completely gutted it and re-skinned it. And no, you did not know he had done than until I told you he did or otherwise you would not have made your earlier moronic post.

And by the way it is not at all difficult to go bankrupt in the gaming business: The Rivera in Las Vegas, Ceasars (18 properties including Las Vegas), SLS Vegas, Harrah's and Horseshoe casinos. I could go on but that should be enough to refute your very stupid statement.

So fuck you too dumbass.

Yancey Ward said...

The California train will never be finished. What amazes me is that anyone really believes it will be finished someday. I suspect the denouement will occur in the next couple of years when it becomes clear that the the project has violated every single one of the financial conditions on the CA proposition bonding law.

And if it is ever finished, it will be sometime after 2030 and will have cost half a trillion dollars in 2016 bucks.

gadfly said...

Trump went bankrupt in Atlantic City because he unwisely used high-interest junk bonds to raise cash. Cash velocity attracts lots of players, but the junk bond cash-eating vortex was much stronger as was Trump's greed. The frightening and most unsettling fact is that he now has access to the printing machine that processes our paper currency.

As for mass transit, especially passenger rail, the cash flow is only one way - outbound from the taxpayers pocket. There is not a single profitable government run system anywhere and the cost of the bullet train to nowhere will be far higher than anything imaginable with 24 miles of underground tunneling to do including tunneling through the San Gabriel and San Andreas faults - are you kidding me?

And when all is said and done, new technology - self-driving highway vehicles, is already available - which means that efforts will be diverted to new infrastructure on our roadways - long before this political nightmare can ever move the first train.

gadfly said...

@Michael said...
Chuck
You dumb cluck he didn't "remodel the Commodore" he completely gutted it and re-skinned it. And no, you did not know he had done than until I told you he did or otherwise you would not have made your earlier moronic post.

The rest of that story:
But that book ["The Art of the Deal"], and numerous interviews over the years, make little mention of a crucial factor in getting the [Commodore] hotel built: an extraordinary 40-year tax break that has cost New York City $360 million to date in forgiven, or uncollected, taxes, with four years still to run, on a property that cost only $120 million to build in 1980.

Big Mike said...

@Althouse, FWIW, if you're serious about finishing a project it's wise to start with the tough parts first.

Michael said...

gadfly

The tax break as a component of the project financing was necessary to get the hotel built. The improvement of that side of 42 and of the building itself brought many financial benefits to the city. You are not likely aware of the very hefty hotel tax levied on hotel guests, guests that otherwise would not have stayed in the shuttered Commodore. The hotel tax revenues dwarf the tax abatement.

I am not sure where you got the tax data and I don't recall the specific deal. But forgiven taxes are not the same as uncollected taxes and uncollected taxes implies they were due when they may not have been under the terms of the abatement agreement. Also, it is not Kosher to crib word for word from New York times articles. Bad form.

Fred Drinkwater said...

"$10 million homes up the SF peninsula"
That's not going to happen, but not because of rich SV types fighting against eminent domain.
It not going to happen because those houses are almost all in the coast range foothills, where nobody is going to run a train track of any kind.
However, the real estate along plausible rights-of-way (basically where the CalTrain line and the BART line run) is plenty expensive, covered with tech firms and $1 million houses, surrounded by extensive freeway structures, and prone to earth movement and/or flooding.
The Cal High Speed Rail fans are not ignorant of the sunk-cost fallacy. On the contrary, they are starting the development in the central valley BECAUSE of the POPULACE'S ignorance of that fallacy. (There's certainly, absolutely, no technical or operational reason to start in the valley. It's just cheaper and annoys fewer "important" people.)
The fan base is absolutely counting on being able to convince the state and feds to cough up the finishing costs, on the grounds that "So much has been accomplished so far, it would be a shame not to finish it. (Besides, we can't operate the train just for the benefit of those troglodytes in the valley, you know.)"

Also, it's so nice of the MSM to keep us posted on the doings of Feinstein's husband. I've lived in her shadow since forever, and try to keep an eye on what she's up to, but I learned of his involvement here, of all places.

Commander Crankshaft said...

I don't think Trump is about thinking small and scrimping.

Right. Thinking big is all about denying the public all forms of non-manual transportation except two. Especially if a third one works very well in industrial economies that kick our ass when it comes to transit.

You are the queen of bad arguments and a total partisan shill.

Danno said...

Chuck said..."He also drove the Pan Am shuttle into the ground, went bankrupt in the casino business which is damn near impossible to do, and "developed" Trump University into a $25 million civil fraud case."

First, not a single airline has been successful in the long run. The industry has a cumulative net deficit. Other Althouse commenters have covered the Atlantic City casino issue, as there are no casino success stories in that locale. And last of all, the federal government has been attacking almost all of the for-profit colleges in the U.S., well except for the one that has Bill Clinton associated with it.

MPH said...

The fiction that he is a builder, not a grifter, is depressing. He wasted daddy's money on casinos and airlines. Ended up with his name on steaks and water bottles instead.

Rusty said...

Blogger MPH said...
"The fiction that he is a builder, not a grifter, is depressing."

No. The fiction was that Hillary was qualified to be president.
Trump won.
Change is acomin'.

Deal with it.

Freder Frederson said...

And when all is said and done, new technology - self-driving highway vehicles, is already available - which means that efforts will be diverted to new infrastructure on our roadways - long before this political nightmare can ever move the first train.

First of this is bullshit. Self driving highway vehicles are not already available. Yes you can, in limited circumstances (e.g., the weather has to be perfect, and there can't be any construction) get a self driving vehicle to work on the highway, but getting it to work in all weather conditions and emergency situations is a hurdle that has not been crossed.

Also, highway vehicles running on rubber tires will never approach the speeds of high speed rail. To see the physical limitations of the automobile look at cars designed to run flat out at 200 mph (NASCAR and Indy cars). How often do they change tires in a race (answer, a lot)? And in any race a good proportion are going to drop out of the race with mechanical problems. The engines are shot (Indycar rules allow four engines per season) after a few races.

Finally, to argue that trains and mass transit is bad because it is a net cost to the government ignores that fact that roads do not pay for themselves, even if you claim that the gas tax is the mechanism to pay for roads.

Freder Frederson said...

First, not a single airline has been successful in the long run.

Trump Airlines wasn't even successful in the short run. From first flight to bankruptcy was less than 15 months.

DavidPSummers said...

I really think Republican are against trains because Democrats are for them. I mean, they are willing to build airports, dams, highways, etc. They all have encountered cost overruns (though, to be clear, this article was about an over-run that would happen if nothing was done). The complain about Democrats picking away at their projects just as people are picking away at high speed rail.

For example, there already is a rail line running from San Jose from San Franciso, so one has doubts that it would be impossible to run a trains up there.

George said...

We can actually afford the cost of a California bullet train. What we cannot afford are decades of delay and exponentially expanding costs due to man-created legal barriers to its construction. It is a deep irony that believers in a powerful state tasked to build great things empower forces that prevent those things from being built. That's how you get Obama and paying vast sums of money for dreams that are pushed further and further into the future.