FRESNO, Calif. - We continue our coverage on the High Speed Rail project, as the Federal Government now plans to audit the project.
The High Speed Rail Authority said it's committed to transparency and will cooperate in the investigation. The bullet train is supposed to go from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and it's estimated to cost $77.3 billion dollars. That's an uptick of at least $13 billion from the estimates made as recently as two years ago.
It's a project that's become a lightning rod for controversy. The High Speed Rail, which is expected to run through most of the state, is over budget and now running behind construction schedule.
Former Fresno major, and now Assemblyman, Jim Patterson said, "I think these audits are absolutely necessary to unwind the spin and start to tell the truth."
Patterson has been a long time critic of the bullet train, and supports the Federal Government's move to audit the project. The state already has one underway.
"It could mean that the State of California may have to give back an awful lot of that federal money, that's how risky this project has developed over the last year or so," stated Patterson.
The audit will specifically evaluate how the Federal Railroad Administration determines whether California has complied with federal guidelines.
Kathy Omachi with Downtown Fresno's Chinatown Revitalization Incorporated said the project has been ravaging businesses, instead of providing a promised infusion of cash.
"We have had businesses hanging on by the fingernails. Some of them have lost 50-percent business, a couple of them have lost 75-percent of their business because of the street blockages, but they're still hanging in," commented Omachi.
But High Speed Rail Authority CEO Brian Kelly said they're committed to transparency. He released a statement on Monday that said, "We will cooperate fully in this and any other audit of our funding or program. We look forward to working closely with our federal partners to deliver the nation's first truly high-speed system."