Costs skyrocketing for high-speed rail project 

The California High-Speed Rail Authority recently doubled its 2011 construction cost estimate just for laying tracks in the flatter, more unpopulated Central Valley from $7.1 billion to $14 billion. And as actual construction gets closer, costs continue rising. Official estimates are currently $67 billion to $100 billion for San Francisco to Los Angeles, with numerous experts predicting over $200 billion.

Now the authority is falsely claiming that its “phased implementation” proposal is consistent with Rep. Anna Eshoo’s “blended rail” proposal for the Caltrain corridor through the Peninsula. This is a lie because Eshoo’s proposal requires high-speed rail to stay within the current two-track Caltrain right-of-way alignment permanently and never expand in the future to a four-track alignment.

Eshoo did this due to the complaints from Peninsula cities about elevated construction through the middle of their business districts and homes.

Mike Brown, Burlingame

It’s hard out here for a pol

Our 435 congressional representatives say it is time for their automatic annual salary increases and they really need it, and so they do not want to vote on a cancellation. At $174,000 plus free health care, pensions, travel and mail paid by the taxpayers, they feel especially deserving — even though they make 3.4 times as much as the average American worker and by this standard are the highest-paid legislators in the developed world.

Today, Congressional members have only a 17 percent favorable rating, but back in 1982 when they had much a higher approval, they increased their salaries by 86 percent. Since then I have wondered why they spend so much money to be elected, if they are really so underpaid.

Frank Norton, San Francisco

King comparison off base

Star Parker’s essay comparing Martin Luther King Jr. to Steve Jobs failed to note that while King worked for justice and advocated for lifting Americans out of poverty, Jobs had successful Apple products built by an underpaid and exploited workforce in China.

Perhaps Parker might have taken a moment to comment about the horrific working conditions of Chinese workers at Apple’s iPad contractor Foxconn — so abysmal even by Chinese standards that there has been an epidemic of laborer suicides at Foxconn factories.

Paul D. Burton, Oakland

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