Democrats have long touted California’s high-speed rail as an example of an alternative form of transportation, while reducing greenhouse gases and revitalizing the struggling Central Valley. As an added bonus, the state has repeatedly said the rail’s construction would bring decent construction jobs to the Golden State. But now it’s looking as though the state padded the rail’s jobs numbers.
According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, banners in the San Joaquin Valley previously touted “5,000 workers and counting” near the rail’s construction site. The problem, however, is the state “has never had anywhere near 5,000 construction workers on the high-speed rail project at any one time,” the Times concluded.
While the state boasts 5,000 workers, it turns out the rail authority is counting the same employee multiple times.
“The boast of 5,000 jobs refers to the number of workers dispatched from union halls,” the newspaper stated. “Each time a worker is sent to a job site, whether for one day or hundreds of days, it counts as a job for the purpose of the banners.”
But this isn’t a new phenomenon. Rail authority Chief Executive Brian Kelly told the Times the count is “a valid measure of progress” because the agency has done it that way “for years.”
Even though the high-speed rail is supposed to have “good-paying jobs,” a majority of the money is going to consulting firms, not construction workers, the paper discovered.
An internal report, which was obtained by The Times, noted that the construction program has generated a total of 3.9 million hours of craft labor between 2015, when construction began, and the end of February. The average direct pay, health coverage, pension contributions and other benefits to union labor run about $66 per hour, based on interviews with union officials and on the master labor agreement for Southern California.
It means that hourly workers have received about $265 million of the $6.1 billion that has been spent on construction, representing just 4%. Of the total $8.1 billion spent on the project, the labor portion is even smaller, 3%. The $265 million is less than what the rail authority spends every three months.
On top of those inflated numbers, the agency currently sits at roughly 1,000 jobs, after recently laying off roughly 200 people earlier in the year. The promise, however, is that those numbers will be doubled to almost 2,000 jobs in the next few years, Kelly said.
This is only one of the major issues facing the infrastructure project. Not only does the state lack adequate land to build on, but it’s hemorrhaging money left and right. The largest major highway construction project in the state, the expansion of the 405 freeway in Southern California, cost $2.1 billion. The state spent roughly $1 million per day, with more than 1,000 workers on the site. The high-speed rail, in comparison, costs the state three-and-a-half times that amount per day and has roughly the same number of jobs.
The bullet train was doomed since the state started building it in 2012. Not only are there physical barriers for the state to overcome, but there are billions – potentially trillions – being poured into a project that could easily come to a halt, either through geographic challenges or financial constraints.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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