The report, which was leaked Thursday to the news media, appears to run counter to widespread criticism of the state rail authority's ridership revenue estimates and is likely to provide a dose of good news to the controversial project. But at the same time, the 90-page report renews concerns about future funding for the $68.4-billion venture. It will depend on the federal government for $38.7 billion and private sources for $13.1 billion, which the report terms "one of the biggest challenges to completing this project."
The report was requested by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), the House Republican Whip and a strident bullet train critic who has worked to block additional funding.
"Apart from the questionable business plan, fluctuating cost estimates and lack of public support, the California High-Speed Rail Authority's continued reliance on additional federal spending is naive and misguided at best," McCarthy said in a statement Thursday. "The authority's plan is irresponsible and reckless, and that is why I am developing legislation to stop more hard-earned taxpayer dollars from being wasted on California high-speed rail."
A spokesman for the rail authority said it had not seen the report and could not comment on it.
The GAO had been recommending to the authority that it use a set of guidelines to estimate the cost of the project and said that the authority has only adopted some of its recommendations. As a result, it could face "increased risk of such things as cost overruns, missed deadlines and un-met performance targets."
Separately, Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday appointed Katherine Perez-Estolano, an adjunct professor at USC and co-founder of urban consulting firm Estolano LeSar Perez Advisors LLC, to the authority's board of directors.