LA Time story $68-billion California bullet train project likely to overshoot budget and deadline targets The monumental task of building California's bullet train will require punching 36 miles of tunnels through the geologically complex mountains north of Los Angeles. Crews will have to cross the tectonic boundary that separates the North American and Pacific plates, boring through a jumble of fractured rock formations and a maze of earthquake faults, some of which are not mapped. It will be the most ambitious tunneling project in the nation's history. And then they talk to a bunch of tunneling experts and geologists about how wildly optimistic the estimates are. 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. The state will probably opt for twin bores — one for each of two parallel tracks. That means as many as 72 miles of tunneling before 2022. Can it meet that schedule? "No way," said Leon Silver, a Caltech geologist and a leading expert on the San Gabriel Mountains. "The range is far more complex than anything those people know." Herbert Einstein, an MIT civil engineer and another of the nation's top tunneling experts, said, "I don't think it is possible." What California needs to do is build a twin pair of large canals, with locks where required, so people and goods can travel by ship between LA and San Francisco.