High-speed rail helped keep housing affordable in japan. California next?
The future of California’s ambitious but troubled high-speed rail project is murkier than ever.
Always controversial, the California High-Speed Rail project, which promises to whisk passengers from Los Angeles to the Bay Area in about 2 hours and 40 minutes at speeds that hit 220 mph, has experienced cost overruns and delays since it was conceived a decade ago. When approved by California voters in 2008, the project was projected to cost $40 billion. Since then, however, the price tag has swelled to $77 billion, with some estimates going up to $100 billion. Construction is now in progress in the state’s less-populated Central Valley, and the first phase of the line, between San Jose and Bakersfield, could open by 2025, with San-Francisco-to-L.A. service beginning in 2029. Phase 2 of the project would extend service to Sacramento and Stockton in the north and San Diego to the south.
CHSR has been touted as a job creator and smog fighter, as well as a way to help lower the state’s carbon footprint by taking cars off the road and airplanes from the skies. Bullet-train boosters are hoping that another, less-examined impact of the project is due for attention: the possibility that the rail network could eventually help ease the housing affordability crisis in the cities at either end of the line.