The authority had rejected The Times' request under the
True, the presentation was labeled a draft. And authority officials said they used "scores of analyses and assessments" to develop the updated cost estimates. Still, it's worrisome that the staff was given a detailed report on increasing costs from the project management contractor, and yet that information is missing from the 2014 business plan the authority presented to lawmakers and the public. The agency says it chose the more optimistic estimates because it's confident that it can keep the costs down, an ability we won't be able to measure until the project is well underway.
This should raise red flags for the Legislature and Gov.
This page has long supported the train project because of its potential to provide an environmentally friendly way to handle the increasing travel between Los Angeles and San Francisco, to integrate Central Valley communities more tightly into those two cities and their economies, and to maintain the state's position as a technology leader. With the rail line now under construction in the San Joaquin Valley, however, lawmakers should be asking hard questions to make sure the project can live up to that potential without breaking the bank.
Is the rail authority being frank and transparent with the public about the costs of the project? Can the project attract private investors to fill the gap between the government's contributions and the total bill? Yes, the first construction contracts have come in under budget — that's good news. Now, can those contracts stay within budget? These are fair and important questions, especially when the public has already seen the price of the rail line double since 2008 and the scope of the project scaled back.