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High-Speed Rail Cost Jumps By Billions

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Aired 8/9/11

The cost of California’s ambitious high-speed rail project is going up according to new environmental reports from the state’s High-Speed Rail Authority.

The cost of California's ambitious high-speed rail project is going up. New environmental reports from the state's High-Speed Rail Authority say the price tag for building track from Merced to Bakersfield is now between 10 and 14 billion dollars -- several billion dollars more than the Authority estimated in late 2009.

The High-Speed Rail Authority said Tuesday's reports bring the project closer to reality than ever before. Spokeswoman Rachel Wall said the Authority now has a clearer picture of the cost.

"If you look at the range of the costs - there is a high and there is a low - the low is very close to the estimates that we had put forth a couple of years ago - of course, accounting for escalation or increases in unit prices for materials or labor," she said.

But critics like Republican Assemblywoman Diane Harkey believe High-Speed Rail is a boondoggle that the state simply can't afford. She hopes the project will be challenged through the environmental review process.

The Authority plans to start construction in fall of 2012.

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