By: Chris Hanrahan
The money that was going to be spent on the now-cancelled project in California will not be returned to taxpayers, according to officials. President Trump says that the Federal Government wants its money back for the project which didn’t materialize in an actual High-Speed Train system being built. While they did attempt to do the project, using funding passed by Congress, they failed to get 100% of the land rights for the route, and it wasn’t even close. In some areas, they got only 5% of the rights they needed. Overall they only got 30-50% of the resources under contract, but then never actually did the project. Not a single mile of track was laid.
Then there’s the case of Elon Musk, whose Boring Company keeps popping onto the radar.
So I propose that the State of California should give the money back and that funding should be passed for a permit-less tunnel construction to go into effect along the same route. New laws need to be enacted which change the landscape for tunneling projects of all scales and in all states. There’s an added bonus to the subterranean alternative to a surface-train, too. Where high-speed rails have failed above ground, we have to start thinking about tunneling as a solution rather than an obstacle.
Railways that go from the surface and burrow underground, can be designed so that transportation happens in a better way for all who choose to do the bold thing, and take their transportation routes underground. While not many City Halls will be open to the suggestion that roads be adjusted to include underground networks, there is a bigger opportunity to be contemplated. Think of the way a new transportation age could come along if every city had its own connection to both a local and an inter-city network.
If the prevailing idea turns out to be that nobody is interested in getting serious about tunneling in the USA, then that’s what we will end up doing. In our Country, rich in its land resources, we will just continue to operate on the surface level. I can only hope that eventually, enough success stories about new tunnels are a factor in driving the trend. And not the Washington State way, but a better way that wastes less taxpayer money to fund, while at the same time being a more expansive tunnel network. Washington State is infamous for its waste and fraud in the way taxpayer money flows to construction activities. The entire region is in great need of a facelift – as seriously as is Los Angeles.
The goal for the high speed railway in California is still a goal – to connect the communities with a new way of transportation. They’ve already got the money. They’ve quickly stated publicly that though the project is cancelled, they will not be returning any of the money. This is just the start of that debate. There are strong and weak arguments being made by both sides of this issue – as some property owners would never sign off on their state coming in and trying to buy out their land. I can see this happening locally, in any state and in any town. But until we reframe the way that new train track gets designed (and I would suggest, underground becomes the norm rather than the exception) we will see the debate run its course in time. There are many Californians who see this as a chance to have their outcomes met by other means. I suggest that those other means may be under our feet already. Right there, underground.