LAO Reports: High-Speed Rail is at Critical Juncture

On Tuesday the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released a report assessing the cost of the CA high speed rail project (HSR) and issued recommendations to usher the project towards success. The HSR project is likely to be one of, if not the, most costly infrastructure project the state has ever seen. The completion of the first phase of the project is estimated to cost $43 billion and according to the LAO, the project price tag will undoubtedly go up.

The report highlights a number of concerns that threaten the success of the HSR project. On the top of the list are “high uncertainty” of future additional funding, and an “existing governance structure that is inadequate” for construction that lacks “good information” needed to make multi-billion dollar decisions. However as noted in the report, the current HSR decision making body, the High-Speed Rail Authority, is not the best means to ensure the construction of a successful high speed rail system in California. The LAO reports, legislative actions could improve the likelihood of the project’s success and end the present HSR project gridlock. Currently there is an active bill in the legislature, SB 517 (Lowenthal), urging a reorganization of the High Speed Rail Authority much like the recommendations made by the LAO. To read the full LAO’s report click here.