FRESNO COUNTY, California - The price tag for the so-called "train to nowhere" keeps rising--leaving many upset and in need of answers. Republican lawmakers are calling on Governor Jerry Brown to pull the plug on the high speed rail project after reports project the costs will top $77 billion.
A new business plan released Friday says the costs could reach as high as $98 billion. That's a $13 billion increase from previous estimates. The 114-page report also pushes the operating date for a functioning train connecting the Bay Area to Los Angeles to the year 2033.
"The fundamental question that this business plan does not answer is 'what is plan B?' and they don't have one. And plan A is failing terribly because they simply cannot connect a usable system that has any value", said Fresno Assemblyman Jim Patterson.
Republican lawmakers say the business plan, meant to shed light on the controversial bullet train, only adds to the uncertainty.
High speed rail authority officials say they do not yet have all the funding necessary to complete the mega-project.
"The big problem here is that they're spending billions in the Central Valley, billions up in the Bay Area, they have absolutely no money to go through the Hatachapy mountains to complete the route. This has been my concern from the beginning that what they're producing here is rump railroad that runs just outside Bakersfield to just outside Merced," stated Patterson.
Many lawmakers say the bullet train is no longer the same project the voters approved nearly a decade ago.
"I think it's time to go back to the voters, tell them they've really messed up, admit what they problems are, really price tag the entire plan, and if it's 80 to 100 billion, be honest with the voters about it and ask permission to build what they're building now, not what the voters told them to build a decade or more ago," he added.
Officials from the high speed rail authority are expected to testify before the legislature in April.
Today Governor Brown extended an invitation for President Trump to tour the high speed rail construction during his first visit to California this week.
In a letter to the president, Brown said the project has employed 17-hundred people so far.