More Headaches for California's High-Speed Rail Project

This article is from the archive of our partner .

The financing of the bullet train from LA to the Bay Area is already threatened by Republicans in Congress. Now the route itself is under fire.

One building standing in the way of the proposed high-speed rail line is Bakersfield High School. That's the same public school to which House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, a Republican and critic of the rail project, sends his kids. The Los Angeles Times investigates the discontent along the proposed route of the rail line, whose construction is supposed to begin in the agricultural flatlands of central California, around Bakersfield.

The price tag is steep — $43 billion over ten years, with private investors getting cold feet — and that's even before one considers the fervor of Republicans in Washington to cut back on major federal spending. But the route of the tracks could be just as big a problem, The Times shows. Those trains will be running more than 200 miles per hour, and the buildings now in their path will have to move. Easier said than done:

More than a mile-long segment of California 99, the major freeway serving the farm belt, would have to be moved about 100 feet and three exits would have to be closed. In Kings County, a processing plant that handles about a quarter of a million pounds of dairy cow carcasses would be bisected by the rail, said Jim Andreoli, chief executive of Baker Commodities, owner of the plant. Shutting down for even a few days would leave a mountain of carcasses.

There's support for the project, too. High school students rallied in favor of it on Friday, and Sen. Barbara Boxer is pushing for a deal in Congress to free up transportation infrastructure money, some of which could be dedicated to high speed rail projects. And defenders of the project, especially the agency itself, say that providing a high-speed rail link along the West Coast will ultimately be a cheaper alternative to the build-out of airports and highways that would be necessary to keep pace with California's population growth and already eye-popping traffic congestion.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.