SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A bipartisan team of lawmakers is expected to request a formal audit of California’s high-speed rail project after the projected cost of one segment rose by nearly $3 billion.

Democratic Sen. Jim Beall of San Jose and Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson of Fresno will make their pitch for the audit Tuesday to a joint committee, which will choose whether to authorize it. A representative from the California High-Speed Rail Authority has been asked to testify.

“As a vital partner in the delivery of the high-speed rail system, it is incumbent upon us as a legislative body to provide strong oversight and guidance to ensure that the project is on an effective path toward successful completion,” the lawmakers wrote in their audit request.

California’s plan to build high-speed rail from Los Angeles to San Francisco is now estimated to cost more than $65 billion, up substantially from a decade ago.

Earlier in January, the project’s board announced a $3 billion hike in the costs for a segment of track in the Central Valley, the project’s first phase. A segment from San Francisco to Bakersfield is slated to be open by 2025, with the tracks to Los Angeles open by 2029, but that timeline could face delays.

Despite those challenges, Gov. Jerry Brown forcefully defended the project last week in his State of the State address. It would be the nation’s first high-speed train if completed. He noted the project has created 1,500 construction jobs in the Central Valley.

The audit would examine ideas for accelerating the project’s timeline and reducing its costs. It would also evaluate the authority’s contract management and the community and economic impacts.

The lawmakers’ audit request comes as the authority brings on a new chief executive officer, Brian Kelly, most recently the head of California’s state transportation agency. The lawmakers said an audit would help ensure “effective management” of the project.

“Without question, the high-speed rail program is the largest, most complex and, in some ways, most far-reaching public infrastructure project in the nation,” they wrote.

The High-Speed Rail Authority is also preparing to release its biennial business plan. It’s typically due by May 1, but the board requested a month-long extension, prompting criticism from Democratic Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. Lawmakers must pass a budget by June 15, and the rail project is paid for in part through revenue from the cap-and-trade program.

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments (2)
  1. We all know the actual costs are going to double or triple before they are done. They present low cost estimates to get the project approved then those costs skyrocket once the project has begun. If the they had said $65 billion when it first went to voters it would never have been approved. And the timeline for completion will likely be pushed into the 2030’s or beyond. And the taxpayers footing the bill for it today will very likely be retired before it ever becomes a viable commute alternative. Did we learn nothing from the building of the new segment of the Bay Bridge? Anybody who believes otherwise has their head buried in the sand.

  2. Instead of this idiotic project of gov. Moonbeam, this money should be spent on building water pipeline from Oregon to California, but stupid is as stupid does. Moonbeam will build this disaster come hell or high water. It’s his legacy, and a fitting one as that, as it will go bankrupt within a decade and siphon taxpayers’ money for decades to come. Typical Dem idiocy. If it doesn’t make any sense, they are SURE to do it.

    California truly is a special kind of stupid.

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