In late 2009, the California High-Speed Rail Authority projected a roughly $7 billion cost to lay track from Merced to Bakersfield. Now, the Authority puts that total at between $10 billion and $14 billion. The cost estimates come in newly-released environmental impact reports - a significant step towards starting construction. Authority spokeswoman Rachel Wall:
Wall: "I think this is really a landmark showing that instead of it being just a conversation in California for the last few decades, it's closer to reality than it ever has been."
But to critics like Republican Asssemblywoman Diane Harkey, the increased price tag is just one more reason the voter-approved project should be scrapped.
Harkey: "The legislature has the ability to pull funding for this, and just say, sorry, voters, you were lied to, this isn't what we thought it was, and we're not going to issue any more debt on it."
The High-Speed Rail Authority hopes to start construction by fall of next year.