It is the oldest line in the book. When white elephant projects fail rational economic analysis, promoters always claim that “the cost of doing nothing isn’t zero”.
A $98.1 billion outlay for high-speed rail must be measured against the alternative. Creating equivalent capacity with 2,300 miles of highways, 115 new airport gates and four new runways would cost $170 billion.
It is amazing how often this rationale is used, but not everyone falls for it: