June 1, 2011
The Left still resents Governor Scott Walker declining to swallow the bait of $800 million in (borrowed) federal money for a “high-speed” rail line between Milwaukee and Madison. So it’s worth watching developments where high-speed rail is still a happenin’ thing.
Two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that California’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) told lawmakers the state’s high-speed rail authority grossly underestimates the cost of a planned 500-mile line between Anaheim and San Francisco. Officially $43 billion, the LAO says the line will really cost at least $67 billion, and more if there are cost overruns.
Not to worry. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is sending $300 million in rail money Florida turned down. That’ll fix it.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government has stopped work on a high-speed project, citing violations of environmental rules. Another Wall Street Journal item strongly suggests there’s more to it than that.
Devotees of high-speed rail tout China’s growing network as an example the U.S. should follow, but the Journal reports that “concerns over debt levels, train safety and graft have shone a new spotlight on its development in recent months.”
Liberals who dislike Americans driving cars see rail as yet another magic energy solution. But in China, concerns about energy efficiency are prompting authorities to slow down their high-speed trains as of July, the Journal reports.
Oh, and tickets to ride the high-speed trains are said to be prohibitively expensive for most Chinese.
Even before he took office, we said Walker’s decision to turn down “stimulus” money for high-speed rail had liberals sounding like drug pushers angry because someone had the good sense to spurn their offer of free heroin. The more we learn, the more that sounds right.