Written by Gordon Webster, Jr.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement this week about the high-speed rail project ignited a firestorm, and even has him on the defensive, blaming the media for (mis)reporting his words.
Many in the Valley are not surprised by his announcement to pull the plug on high-speed rail. No matter how he wants to frame it, this system was sold to taxpayers as connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco. After millions of dollars spent, businesses uprooted, property owners drained financially and emotionally, we might be left with a glorified Amtrak route from Bakersfield to Merced.
According to a November 2018 audit of the project, construction of the Central Valley section had $600 million in cost overruns, and needs an additional $1.6 billion for completion.
That adds up to $2.2 billion.
That number is close to the $2.8 billion estimate to build a dam at Temperance Flat –a project that state water regulators have shown they have no interest in funding.
With those funds, wouldn’t it have been great to have paid off most of Temperance Flat’s construction bill? To bring the Central Valley more water security? Not just for farmers, but towns and cities as well?
If you believe climate change is real, then in the future, more water will fall as rain and snowmelt instead of forming a reliable snowpack that will last through the season.
I don’t know about you, but I’d trade slightly easier travel from Merced to Bakersfield for water security in the future.