At issue is whether to proceed with a $2.7-billion bond sale that would be combined with $3.3 billion in federal grants. The feds want to begin construction in the San Joaquin Valley, where land is cheap, but LAT columnist George Skelton suggests it's better to pause and regroup:
Starting construction in San Joaquin Valley farm fields -- rather than in high-ridership Los Angeles or San Francisco -- always has been controversial. Then in November we learned that the first-phase cost had tripled to $98.5 billion. Beyond the initial $3.3 billion from Washington, no other federal money was on the horizon. And no private investors were in sight. State Sen. Doug La Malfa (R-Richvale) advocates sending the issue back to voters. A Field Poll last month found that in a revote, the rail bond would fail by nearly 2 to 1. "I'm not anti-rail, anti-new ideas," La Malfa says, "but this has to adhere to some type of sensible business plan. Voters were misled."
The funding structure of the Westside subway construction is different than that for the bullet train, but I can't help suspect that economics are just as questionable, perhaps more so. I'm not sure there's a place these days for massively expensive and lengthy public works projects, especially when the money is coming from taxpayers rather than bondholders.