California High-Speed Rail Authority leaders question project overruns

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. —California High-Speed Rail Authority members say cost overruns are hurting the project's public image and are demanding answers.

Board members approved $50 million in contract amendments for unexpected construction and environmental costs recently, but the Associated Press reports that authority leaders fear additional costs are damaging and they want a more thorough review of the budget process.

The board is responsible for the $64-billion project connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles with high-speed rail service. Original estimates put the cost at around $40 billion.

The $50 million approved Sept. 19 was already budgeted in other areas, but authority officials warn that that money will have to be made up somewhere and will likely lead to an increase in the overall budget later.

Authority members also approved $35 million in contingency funds for a 32-mile section being built between Madera and Fresno counties in California, which increases the budget for unexpected costs up to $190 million. The total cost for the first segment is $1.5 billion.

The funds will be used for right-of-way purchases, environmental permits, and other costs.

Board members also voted in favor of adding $10 million to the $36 million environmental and engineering contract for segments from San Francisco to San Jose and Merced, Calif.

In response to the contract amendments, California High-Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard says budgets are expected to change with any large project, adding that authority staff members are working on transparency with shifting costs.

See the original story online.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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