Panel says lawmakers should hold off on rail bonds

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – An independent panel says California lawmakers should not authorize $2.7 billion in bonds to build the initial section of the state’s high-speed rail system. In a report issued Tuesday, the California High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group said the current plan is not financially feasible. In November, the California High-Speed Rail Authority approved a plan that requests $2.7 billion in state bonds to match $3.5 billion in federal money. It would be used to build 130 miles of track between Chowchilla and Bakersfield. The report criticized the authority for failing to identify long-term funding and having inadequate staff to manage a large construction project. The authority responded by calling the report “deeply flawed.” The cost has more than doubled to $98 billion since voters approved $9 billion in bonds in 2008.

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