You'll recall there was some hubbubb this past winter after the California High-Speed Rail Authority released a revised cost projection that put the project at $100 billion, more than double an original estimate of $43 billion made in 2008. Well, the CHSRA went back to the drawing board and managed to shave some $30 billion off that estimate, announcing this week via a new revised report that they now think the 520-mile project can be done for $68.4 billion, and could be completed by 2029, four years ahead of the earlier schedule.

By that point in time, California will have 20 million more people than it has now, and Karen Hedlund, Deputy Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, said yesterday that an LA-to-SF high-speed rail system will be an essential alternative to over-crowded airports and well-trafficked freeways. The central "backbone" of the system connecting the Central Valley with the San Fernando Valley, would be done first, in about ten years.

Costs were able to be shaved by jettisoning a plan for a four-track network in the Bay Area and in Southern California, allowing high-speed trains to run on their own tracks separate from local rail lines. On the Peninsula, this would mean the train will share a two-track system with CalTrain, and some critics argue this will make the trains too slow and that the voter-mandated travel time of two hours and forty minutes between S.F. and L.A. won't be achievable with this plan.

The CHSRA is set to meet next week, on April 12, to vote on the new revised plan.

So maybe this thing isn't dead after all!

[SF Appeal]