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"Faults are notorious for causing trouble."The California High-Speed Rail Authority hasn't yet chosen an exact route through the mountains.It also is behind schedule on land acquisition, financing and permit approvals, among other crucial tasks, and is facing multiple lawsuits.But the state used a lower cost estimate when it issued its 2014 business plan four months later.Jeff Morales, the rail authority chief executive, said he was not aware of the Parsons Brinckerhoff projection.The bullet train will require about 20 miles of tunnels under the San Gabriel Mountains between Burbank and Palmdale, involving either a single tunnel of 13.8 miles or a series of shorter tunnels.As many as 16 additional miles of tunnels would stretch under the Tehachapi Mountains from Palmdale to Bakersfield.And it projected that the cost of the entire project would rise at least 5%.Parsons Brinckerhoff briefed state officials on the estimate in October 2013, according to the document obtained by The Times.
The 11-mile East Side Access tunnel in New York City, for example, is 14 years behind schedule, and the tab has grown from .3 billion to .8 billion.Rail officials have said they plan to choose a route and secure environmental approvals for the Burbank-to-Merced line by 2017, at which point the tunneling itself could be put out to bid.So far, land acquisition has been the biggest cause of delays.Morales also said the project can make up for any delays.But Bent Flyvbjerg, a University of Oxford business professor and a leading expert on megaproject risk, said the lagging schedule, litigation, growing costs and permit delays arising so early in construction are warning signs that even more delays and higher costs are coming."You have an 80% to 90% probability of a cost overrun on a project like this," Flyvbjerg said.