High-speed rail faces slow-speed land buy
California’s ambitious plans for a high-speed rail network may soon become known as “the little engine that couldn’t” if the state doesn’t begin purchasing land for the project.
While procurement of the crucial land is expected to be made in the next few weeks, experts report that the state faces a complicated legal process that is expected to drive up prices, according to the Los Angeles Times.
As a result, the inflated value of the land will give farmers, businesses and homeowners leverage to delay the project by weeks or months.
In fact, prices have already spiked in the Central Valley where agricultural land is highly valued and property owners are optimistic that the state will pay top dollar for the property.
In 2008, California voters initially approved plans for a 220-mph bullet train system to link the Bay Area and Southern California.
The plans noted a cost of $32 billion, which is now less than half the actual estimated cost of the project. And costs will only increase as schedules become delayed for this project, which has already had its fair share of hurdles.
State official insist they can acquire the land and begin construction of the project on time as construction on the first part of the $68 billion project is slated to begin in July near Fresno.
Jeff Morales, the rail agency’s chief executive, told the LA Times:
“It is a challenge. It is not unlike virtually any project. The difference is the scale of it.”