Brown rejects $100 billion high-speed rail cost estimate

dsiders@sacbee.comJanuary 30, 2012 

California's high-speed rail project will cost far less than the state's current estimate of nearly $100 billion and environmental fees paid by carbon producers will be a source of funding, Gov. Jerry Brown said in an interview aired in Los Angeles on Sunday.

The Democratic governor's remarks suggested Brown may make substantial changes to the rail plan before seeking legislative approval this year.

"It's not going to be $100 billion," Brown said on ABC 7's Eyewitness Newsmakers program. "That's way off."

It was the California High-Speed Rail Authority's own business plan – a document embraced by Brown's administration – that said the project could cost $98.5 billion over 20 years. Brown supported the project in his State of the State address and said further revisions to the plan would be released within weeks.

"Phase 1, I'm trying to redesign it in a way that in and of itself will be justified by the state investment," Brown said Sunday. "We do have other sources of money. For example, cap-and-trade, which is this measure where you make people who produce greenhouse gases pay certain fees – that will be a source of funding going forward for the high-speed rail."

Brown said, "It's going to be a lot cheaper than people are saying."

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