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High Speed Rail Costs Questioned In Assembly Hearing

California High-Speed Rail / Flickr

Mock up of the San Jose high speed rail station.

California High-Speed Rail / Flickr

The California High Speed Rail Authority is again defending its estimates of the project’s $68 billion cost, this time, to lawmakers.

The Assembly transportation budget committe held a hearing Wednesday, partly in response to a November Los Angeles Times story.

At the hearing, the project’s most vocal critic in the Assembly, Republican Jim Patterson, questioned rail authority board chair Dan Richard about the projected $68 billion cost and 2022 opening date.

"You are representing to the people of the state of California that you have high levels of confidence," Patterson said. "And if the answer to that is yes, then say so. If the answer is maybe, then say so."

"Well, let me give you the best answer I can give you right now today," Richard responded. "There are a range of uncertainties here, so I can’t look you in the eye and tell you it will be $68 billion. I will tell you this: When you see our new business plan, the numbers are going to be less than $68 billion — today, right now, snapshot of what it’s going to be. I’m more confident about the dollars, sir, than I am about the time. It may take us a little longer to do this than we said."

Richard left open one possibility: The upcoming business plan could recommend trains begin running first from San Jose to Bakersfield, before the Southern California segment opens.