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A speeding bullet: NH and California's train folly

January 20. 2018 4:21PM

Passenger rail proponents here, now including Gov. Mugwump, won't care, but New Hampshire taxpayers may find instructive the latest news from the California "bullet train" project.

At 800 miles in total, with much new construction involved, the California project dwarfs rail revival here. But the incessant cost escalations are typical of these government boondoggles.

California's was estimated to cost a cool $40 billion when launched in 2008. By 2016, it was up to $64 billion.

Last week, the project took another cosmic leap. It is now reported that just a 119-mile section through the California Central Valley will cost $10.6 billion. (That section was initially expected to cost $6 billion.)

These are all billions, with Bs.

As noted, a New Hampshire commuter rail revival is nowhere near the Golden State scale, but there are similarities.

"When it comes to large infrastructure investments, it is not unusual for public authorities trying to justify their effort to understate the costs and overstate the benefits," James Moore told the LA Times. He is director of the transportation engineering program at USC.

"It is in my opinion overly deceptive. We have seen on transportation projects this militant defense that is meant to cause the public to remain calm."

Perhaps our Gov. Mugwump (known to have his mug on one side of the fence and his wump on the other) will reassess his position now that the Amazon fever has broken. As Chris Sununu, the governor seemed to understand that expanding Interstate 93 is a far better bet for New Hampshire's economic well-being than subsidizing a train.

Economy Transportation Editorial

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