Can We Build Mega Projects Anymore?
Even though the high-speed rail project in California is not local, it is such a compelling story that I am writing about it again.
I am writing about whether it is possible to ever build a “Mega Project” like the High-Speed Rail Project can actually get passed and built in the USA again. Projects like the Alaska Pipeline, the Transcontinental Railroad, or the California High Speed Rail Project.
I do not believe a Mega Project will ever be passed again in the USA. I think voters feel they were “duped,” and the Country will have a tough time ever coming together in a bi-partisan manner to back a huge project given the polarity and politicizing of both parties regarding infrastructure construction. I do not think the Public will ever believe the backers of a Mega Project given the over zealous and “fantasy” nature of the backers’ arguments to build the California High Speed Rail Project. Voters will be more skeptical and will not vote to tax themselves because they do not trust the promises being made to them on these Mega Projects.
Here is the “Argument in Favor or Prop 1” that the voters read on their voter information in 2008:
“Proposition 1 will bring Californians a safe, convenient, affordable, and reliable alternative to soaring gasoline prices, freeway congestion, rising airfares, plummeting airline service, and fewer ﬂights available. It will reduce California’s dependence on foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Proposition 1 is a $9.95 billion bond measure for an 800-mile High-Speed Train network that will relieve 70 million passenger trips a year that now clog California’s highways and airports— WITHOUT RAISING TAXES. California will be the ﬁrst state in the country to beneﬁt from environmentally preferred High-Speed Trains common today in Europe and Asia. Proposition 1 will bring California: —Electric-powered High-Speed Trains running up to 220 miles an hour on modern track safely separated from other trafﬁc generally along existing rail corridors. —Routes linking downtown stations in SAN DIEGO, LOS ANGELES, FRESNO, SAN JOSE, SAN FRANCISCO, and SACRAMENTO, with stops in communities in between. —High-Speed Train service to major cities in ORANGE COUNTY, the INLAND EMPIRE, the SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY, and the SOUTH BAY. —Nearly a billion dollars to beef up commuter rail systems that connect to High-Speed Trains. Proposition 1 will save time and money. Travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about 2½ hours for about $50 a person. With gasoline prices today, a driver of a 20-miles-pergallon car would spend about $87 and six hours on such a trip. Ten years of study and planning have gone into PREPARING FOR construction, ﬁnancing, and operation of a California bullet train network modeled on popular, reliable, and successful systems in Europe and Asia. Their record shows that High-Speed Trains deliver, both in service and economy.
Air travelers spend more time on the ground than in the air today. Proposition 1 will create a new transportation choice that improves conditions at our major airports. There’s no room for more runways. High-Speed Trains can relieve that demand. Electric-powered High-Speed Trains will remove over 12 billion pounds of CO2 and greenhouse gases, equal to the pollution of nearly 1 million cars. And High-Speed Trains require one-third the energy of air travel and one-ﬁfth the energy of auto travel. Proposition 1 will protect taxpayer interests: —Two independent ridership and revenue forecasts by outside experts were subject to tough peer review. —Existing High-Speed Train system operators are directly involved in oversight of the design of California’s system. —The new system will be subject to legal and ﬁnancial oversight by the Governor, the Legislature, the Attorney General, and an independent outside expert. —Proposition 1 bond funds will provide a match for AT LEAST ANOTHER 9 billion dollars in federal funding and private investment. Vote Yes on Proposition 1 to IMPROVE MOBILITY and inject new vitality into California’s economy by creating nearly 160,000 construction-related jobs and 450,000 permanent jobs in related industries like tourism. These are American jobs that cannot be outsourced. Vote Yes on Proposition 1. www.californiahighspeedtrains.com “
Following the voters passing Prop 1, the effort then began to make those “160,000 construction jobs” in building the train all union as a PLA was put in place. Again, to remind you, I am not taking the side of Labor or Merit Shop, I am making comments on whether voters were “duped” into voting for something that was never going to cost just “$40 Billion”. If Labor wanted all those jobs to be union only, the backers of Prop 1 should just say so.
Voters will demand honesty in the future. And voters deserve honesty.
So, can we ever build a “Mega Project” again in the USA? I say no because I do not believe the voters will ever get the honesty and transparency, they will demand on future Bond Measures.
That’s All Folks