By Barnini Chakraborty Published March 13, 2013 FoxNews.com
While the Transportation Department warns that the sequester will lead to cutbacks causing snarled lines at airports across America, the agency is still considering a massive $5.5 billion government gamble on a high-speed train from suburban California to Vegas.
The total cost of the XpressWest project is $6.9 billion, with 80 percent potentially being fronted by the federal government. It would create a train that runs from Victorville, Calif., to Las Vegas and, if green-lighted, would be the largest loan of its type issued in America.
But there are severe roadblocks, which skeptical lawmakers are once again drawing attention to at a time when the government is supposed to be looking for savings.
“We are deeply troubled by the prospects of subsidizing another costly, wasteful and risky high-speed rail project, particularly when our nation is facing a debt crisis that threatens the well-being of the current and future generations of Americans,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., wrote in a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on March 6.
The so-called train-of-the-future’s success depends on sunny ridership projections, which would be four times the ridership of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Acela, says Heritage Foundation visiting fellow Wendell Cox. The chances of that ridership being achieved aren’t likely. Last year, Amtrak clocked its best year ever with more than 11.4 million passengers on that route. Read more…