They’re baaack! The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority is now asking for another $2.3 billion from the federal government to see high-speed trains running from San Francisco to San Jose as part of the already years-delayed, over budget Bay Area Rapid Transit project, according to The Mercury News.
The total cost of this section of California’s high-speed rail project has exploded to $9.3 billion, 35 percent higher than the last estimate of $6.9 billion and almost twice what it was estimated to cost in 2014, the Mercury News reported. And it’s unclear whether that $9.3 billion figure will go up again.
Santa Clara County residents have paid for some of the project by voting for tax hikes in 2000 and 2008, paying almost $3.2 billion from sales taxes and bridge tolls.
The Federal Transit Administration already committed $2.3 billion to the project but Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority officials want to shift the overrun burden to federal taxpayers, asking the federal agency to double its commitment to $4.6 billion by moving the project to a federal program called New Starts.
This would bring the project in by 2034, four years later than current projection of 2030.
Santa Clara officials say that they don’t know the actual cost or timeline of the project. A better estimate will come during a top-to-bottom “rebaselining” effort that could end in a lower or higher estimate, VTA General Manager Carolyn Gonot said in The Mercury News.
The Federal Transit Administration completed a risk review more than a year ago, when the estimate was $9.1 billion. But the Mercury News reported in July that the FTA “continues to be concerned that the project estimate is under-representing the total cost due in part to contingency, inflation, and an optimistic base schedule and risk profile.”
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