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State Democrats at an impasse over bullet train project

An artist's rendering of a California high-speed railway station
Flickr / Creative Commons
An artist's rendering of a California high-speed railway station

The $105 billion bullet train project -- for which $10.3 billion has been spent so far -- would be the largest single investment in state history, the most ambitious civil works effort in the nation and now a symbol to many experts of how not to build a railroad, all of which define the stakes in the current impasse.

EdSource reports the feud has festered for about a year-and-a-half, since Gov. Gavin Newsom asked the Legislature for a more than four billion dollars appropriation in early 2021. The request has triggered a standoff with Assembly Democrats, who have steadfastly refused to hand over the last remaining funds from a 2008 bond measure for high-speed rail.

The rail authority estimated in 2008, when voters approved $9 billion for the system, it would cost $33 billion and start running by 2020. But slow land purchases, delays in environmental documents, employee turnover and litigation over the last 14 years keep putting the goal further out of reach.

The latest estimate, made earlier this year, set the cost at $105 billion.