Fullerton to Anaheim ARTIC

Dec 28th, 2009 | Posted by

by Rafael

as part of the recent Happy Holidays Open Thread, I took a potshot at local opposition to the at-grade option for HSR through Anaheim. The ensuing discussion prompted me to devote a full post to the subject. First, some general context.

Funding vs. Tunneling

The most recent update to CHSRA’s business plan, which we discussed at length here, already included an increase of ~$500 million in real terms for a bored tunnel, even though the decision to go with this alternative has not yet been made. There were of course other changes in real terms, plus a huge adjustment reflecting the shift from net present value to year-of-expenditure accounting.

Since funding headaches are going to be a permanent condition for California HSR, it is imperative that CHSRA resist local pressure to construct expensive tunnels through suburbia that do not increase ridership. According to Bob Doty of Caltrain, the per-mile construction cost of bored tunnels is ~6.5 times that of tracks at grade, though that does not include legal costs and delay-related inflation and opportunity costs that might well be associated with widening the right of way for a solution above ground. The exact multiplier depends on the number and complexity of the modifications to cross roads in the at-grade scenario, but the SF peninsula is roughly comparable to Anaheim in that regard.

Caving without securing a substantial local contribution from non-HSR sources – which Anaheim would have to corral on its own – would make it much harder to stand firm in the SF peninsula, i.e. the total cost escalation in real terms could ultimately be in the range of several billion dollars, something the authority cannot afford to allow. In addition, tunneling presents serious technical and environmental challenges of its own: large footprint construction sites at the tunnel portals, long construction period with high cost overrun risks, impacts on water table and gravity-drained conduits, ventilation systems, escape routes, limited scope for ever grade separating cross roads in the ascent/descent sections, tunnel boom, risk of subsidence during construction, risk of fire during construction and operation etc. More here and here.

With that preamble, let’s look at the nuts and bolts of the local situation in Anaheim.

Right of Way

One of the more contentious sections of the proposed HSR starter line runs from the Fullerton Metrolink station to the site of the future Anaheim ARTIC multimodal transit hub next to the Santa Ana river in Southern California.

CHSRA is counting on using the SCRRA-owned railroad right of way between the two cities. Originally part of the Southern Pacific network, it is now used for standard-speed Metrolink and Amtrak Pacific Surfliner passenger services plus limited BNSF freight traffic down to San Diego and Mexico.

Curt Pringle’s Conflict of Interest

Republican Anaheim-mayor-cum-Chairman-of-the-CHSRA-Board Curt Pringle was the primary proponent of including Anaheim in the HSR starter line, which was initially slated to terminate at Los Angeles Union Station. He is also one of the driving forces behind the ARTIC project. Appointed by Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2007, his two roles now present a glaringly obvious and highly problematic conflict of interest in this particular context: how can he possibly properly represent both the interests of state and federal taxpayers and those of his local constituents when these are clearly at odds? Moreover, Pringle’s second term as mayor is up in 2010 and afaik, he intends to run for re-election.

The decent thing for him to do would be to recuse himself from this particular decision. Somehow, I doubt he’s going to.

CORRECTION: Anaheim limits mayors to two terms. That means the conflict of interest will resolve itself naturally but for the moment it does exist. (h/t commenter Elizabeth)

Mixed Traffic vs. Dedicated HSR Tracks

The original HSR concept for section south of Fullerton was developed by CHSRA Executive Director Mehdi Morshed and his staff. It called for improving the existing tracks and rely on upgraded signaling to implement mixed traffic via guaranteed time separation south of Fullerton. This was overruled by the CHSRA board after Curt Pringle took over the rotating chairmanship of the CHSRA board. Morshed’s strategy would have been permissible under existing FRA rules, but there was also a risk it could have seriously complicated the “rule of special applicability” that CHSRA must obtain from FRA in order to operate non-compliant off-the-shelf rolling stock at up to 220mph at all. Note that south of Sylmar, HSR trains will run at less than 110mph. In the short Fullerton to Anaheim ARTIC section, there is no need to run any faster than 79mph, though even that might not have been possible in mixed traffic.

A regulatory requirement to use FRA-compliant rolling stock would jeopardize the entire project (cp. Amtrak Acela Express). Even if FRA played nice, the mixed traffic approach would have permanently restricted feasible HSR service frequency to Anaheim (and Irvine in phase 2), though only 15 trains each way are currently planned (p14 PDF) for the six-hour peak period. The recent switch to a high fare strategy will reduce that, though CHSRA will stick to the original number until and unless the state legislature instructs it to do otherwise. Overbuilding is lucrative for planning consultants and construction companies alike.

Another factor in the decision was track geometry maintenance, as super-heavy FRA-compliant trains and poorly maintained freight cars can impose exorbitant costs if conventional ballast track is used. Slab track is much stiffer, which is why Deutsche Bahn prefers it for new construction, in spite of the greater stresses small geometry deviations will exert on train suspensions and wheelsets. Japan’s shinkansen lines use it for enhanced seismic safety. Floating slab track is built on expensive damped mass-springs foundations that reduce the risk of premature metal fatigue and also dynamically reduce vibrations that could otherwise damage the foundation slabs of abutting buildings. However, the extra cost would be appropriate in the Anaheim context, especially compared to tunneling.

Complicating matters is the fact that there is as yet no agreed-upon technical standard for implementing the largely unfunded Congressional mandate on positive train control (PTC) imposed by H.R. 2095-110th (PRIIA) in the fall of 2008. The signaling upgrades must go live by 2015, but even if it pays for the infrastructure, CHSRA cannot simply select a system and force Amtrak, Metrolink and BNSF to adapt their rolling stock and train their staff accordingly.

Threading the Needle

Given the preliminary decision to construct additional tracks dedicated to HSR rather than operate in mixed traffic, the biggest issue in Anaheim is now the 1.5 mile section between North and E Vermont streets, indicated by the longer of the solid red lines along the ROW (the author’s best guess in blue) on the map below. At just 50 feet, it is too narrow to accommodate more than two tracks (cp. San Mateo and Menlo Park in the SF peninsula).

Widening it could require a significant number of eminent domain (ED) takings, unless homeowners decide to sell voluntarily. Either way, they would have to be compensated at “market value”, always a bone of contention. As in parts of the SF peninsula, there would be significant risk of litigation and associated project delays, given that the state California has not (yet) set up a special temporary court dedicated to CEQA lawsuits related to this one mega-project. Note that homeowners could also sue for inverse condemnation, hoping to force the state to cough up compensation or purchase their property against its will. To avoid that fate, the state and/or county and/or city need to clarify the total equivalent noise and vibration immissions levels and line-of-sight obstructions that must be tolerated by residents of nearby properties as well as nearby businesses.

Involuntary takings are an ugly can of worms, which is precisely why CHSRA has been careful to tiptoe around the subject, even though homeowners are required to disclose the risk of future ED if they try to (or have to) sell their property.

Historic Buildings, Park and Affordable Housing

In addition to the usual issues presented by residential properties immediately abutting a narrow yet busy railroad right of way, Anaheim is one of California’s older cities. It contains a large number of homes that are considered historic under the (overly?) generous terms of the state’s Mills Act. Owners are given discounts of 25-60% on their property taxes in return for preserving the substance and distinctive architecture of their properties. This also tends to increase the value of newer properties nearby, as many people prefer to live in areas with an established history. To leverage this for electoral gain and perhaps even a larger aggregate tax base, Anaheim politicians have officially designated three districts as historic: the Colony, Five Points and the Palm District, all colored peach in the map below. Two of these abut the railroad tracks.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the person maintaining the web site for the largest and oldest of these, the Anaheim Colony, is a realtor. She has included a number of tours organized over the years by the local Historical Society and others, these presumably cover the most noteworthy properties, indicated by green arrow markers on the map, with clusters indicated by purple lines. As you can see, the majority are located well west of the railroad tracks, though four properties on Vintage Lane are separated from only by that road. These particular buildings were actually already moved once before to save them from encroaching development.

There is an old SP depot, a Spanish Colonial confection at E Center and S Atchison that is no longer served by any trains. Apparently, it is now a YMCA preschool offering extended day care to a small number of local children.

In addition, there are the adjacent Citrus Park and the recently constructed affordable housing on E South St (shown in orange) to consider. Depending on the ethnicity of the residents and other factors, takings there could raise environmental justice issues. The fact that these buildings were completed only recently is a shame but afaik irrelevant for legal purposes. It might be possible to move the park to one of two large, apparently undeveloped parcels of land nearby, marked in lime green and with question mark icons. However, those might already be in use as covered landfills, reservoirs or otherwise be spoken for.

UPDATE: the northern mystery parcel is indeed a dry reservoir. The southern one earmarked for another affordable housing project. Depending on how densely that is built, it may or may not be possible to site a small public park there if any portion of Citrus Park has to be taken. Fixed. I also added the Kroeger-Melrose district in peach, it lies entirely within the Colony district but contains houses on the National – as opposed to local – Register of Historic Places. (h/t to commenter Kevin)

View Fullerton-Anaheim in a larger map

Tip: switch to Map or Satellite mode to zoom in all the way.

Grade Crossings

In addition, there are a total of 10 remaining grade crossings between Fullerton and Anaheim ARTIC, in order: E Orangethorpe, La Palma, E Sycamore, E Broadway, E Santa Ana, E South, E Vermont, E Ball, E Cerritos and S State College. These are marked in yellow on the map, in contrast to the already grade separated roads in dark green. Ideally, the HSR project would eliminate all remaining grade crossings for safety, noise and capacity reasons. However, the construction of tall over- or deep underpasses would have major construction impacts as well as non-trivial permanent impacts on local traffic patterns. While there are no frontage roads to contend with, a number of streets parallel to the railroad would lose their intersections with cross roads and become dead ends that require room for turnaround circles. In addition, some homeowners could lose curbside parking spaces.

Implementing an FRA quiet zone would only deal with the bells and horn noise while maintaining safety at present levels. However, Metrolink currently runs 44 weekday trains (both directions combined) through the area and, OCTA has long planned an increase to 76. For now, budget constraints have forced the agency to scale that back to 56, but even this recession will not last forever. Add to that 32 weekday Amtrak Pacific Surfliners plus some number of BNSF trains. Weekday subtotal in the 2020 time frame: ~110 over 18 hours, i.e. one every 9.8 minutes on average. Assuming a 90 second average for gate closures, that would imply 75-85% availability of cross roads during rush hour – borderline at best.

UPDATE: BNSF service is erratic but generally limited to a small number of long trains outside of Metrolink operating hours. (h/t to commenters Kevin and Spokker)

Also running HSR at grade would add perhaps 60 weekday HSR trains in the 2030-2035 time frame, for a grand total of ~170, i.e. one every 6.4 minutes on average. That would be tight but perhaps sustainable in terms of railroad operations, even with four independent operators sharing two tracks. It would be no problem at all wit four. However, either way, any remaining grade crossings would only be open 65-75% of the time during rush hour. In other words, full grade separation is highly advisable wherever HSR trains will run at grade between Fullerton and Anaheim ARTIC.

The decision to retain grade crossings in Anaheim or to separate them will be driven by availability considerations for the cross roads, rather than safety or noise aspects. In that regard, the area is similar to the SF peninsula.

Status of CHSRA Project-Level Planning

Details on the current status and planned progress of the LA-Anaheim section are included in the Program Summary Report – July 2009 Update. The timeline calls for the Final EIS/EIR to be submitted to FRA no later than March 2011. If California receives an H.R. 1 (ARRA) grant, construction contracts for related contracts must be awarded no later than Sep 30, 2012. If USDOT accepts the state’s self-imposed condition of matching federal funds dollar-for-dollar, the state legislature would have to actually appropriate the requisite prop 1A(2008) bond funds no later than the summer of 2012, though CHSRA appears to be counting on getting them a year earlier.

At this juncture, the project-level plans for LA-Anaheim are not yet set in stone, though CHSRA has already eliminated the option of running just the HSR tracks on an aerial (see the Anaheim to LA Alignment Alternatives Report) in response to complaints about the visual impact. IDK if a retained fill embankment was ever considered, but I’m not advocating the introduction of a new option.

Available Options

The remaining options are:

  1. No Project, i.e. no true bullet train service south of Anaheim. Instead, the existing Pacific Surfliner route would be upgraded to operation at up to 110mph where feasible. This is what CHSRA recommended for the coast corridor all the way down to San Diego before scoping it out of further consideration, i.e. it considers its remit to include only what the Obama administration has defined as “express HSR”. Eliminating the LA-Anaheim segment from the bullet train network would be permitted under AB3034(2008), but the political decision state voters took when they approved prop 1A(2008) is that the southern endpoint of the starter line should be Anaheim ARTIC rather than LA Union Station. Besides, Curt Pringle and other Orange county leaders would presumably strongly oppose any such exclusion, if only because of the construction jobs / indirect campaign contributions involved.
  2. Dedicated HSR tracks between LA and a terminus in Fullerton. Partial implementation of a segment is also permissible, but this variant would undermine plans for ARTIC and ignore voter intent. Besides, Fullerton Metrolink might not be a viable site for anything other than a secondary through station, if that. The plan of record is a station in Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs. Overnight stabling would be an even greater headache in Fullerton than near ARTIC, as would parking. As for an extension of the Disneyland monorail, fuggedaboudit. CHSRA has no plans to extend the network via the BNSF Transcon corridor at least as far as Corona, as this would serve fewer people than the preferred LA-San Diego route through the San Gabriel valley, which also includes Ontario airport. A station there is considered essential if HSR is to have a snowball’s chance in the hot place of achieving one of its core objectives: avoiding the construction of an additional runway at LAX while also providing limited relief for Lindbergh Field. For all of these reasons, terminating phase 1 in Fullerton has never been seriously considered.
  3. Dedicated HSR tracks between LA and Fullerton plus upgrades to at-grade legacy tracks and signaling to enable mixed traffic between Fullerton and Anaheim, for limited direct service to Anaheim ARTIC. This was Morshed’s original plan, conceivable only because there are no active stations in this section and HSR trains will anyhow travel at standard speeds. However, it would entail merging a fourth service into an already fairly busy timetable. As discussed above, full grade separation would be highly advisable even if speeds remain moderate. Sound/vibration mitigation for abutting properties should also be looked into. That said, Curt Pringle has all but nixed this option already.
  4. Dedicated HSR tracks between LA and Anaheim ARTIC, with dedicated tracks at grade south of Fullerton. This would entail widening the right of way as discussed above. The best currently available information on just how much width is absolutely required for four tracks is provided here in the context of the SF peninsula segment. The final number for especially constrained sections is not yet available. Full grade separation of all four tracks would be highly advisable, as would sound/vibration mitigation since the outer tracks would run even closer to abutting homes and businesses.

  5. Dedicated HSR tracks between LA and Anaheim ARTIC, with dedicated HSR tracks in a very expensive bored tunnel directly underneath the legacy tracks, covering at least the constrained section between North and E Vermont streets in Anaheim. Elevation transitions featuring a 3.5% gradient and vertical transition curves would also be needed. Again, full grade separation of all four tracks plus sound/vibration mitigation would be advisable in the sections where the ROW is already wide enough to permit laying dedicated HSR tracks at grade. In the stacked track section and the associated elevation transitions, future grade separation options would be constrained to just one: tall overpasses. Without those, the anticipated expansion of legacy rail operations might render cross road availability just borderline acceptable by the 2020 time frame. In other words, spending a lot more to put the HSR tracks underground could have the unintended consequence of bisecting the core of the community.

Community Meeting Jan 20

At the request of OCTA and the city of Anaheim, CHSRA will host a Community Meeting next month to present the status of the project-level planning and obtain additional input from local agencies and members of the general public. Hopefully this post will give anyone planning to attend a more comprehensive primer on the complex and partially conflicting interests of the parties involved. I myself will be traveling on that day.

Location: Anaheim City Hall, Council Chambers, 200 S. Anaheim Boulevard, Anaheim, CA 92805
Date/Time: Wednesday, January 20, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

  1. Spokker
    Dec 28th, 2009 at 03:21

    Freight traffic South of Fullerton might be limited enough that mixed-traffic on Metrolink owned right of way with time separation from freights and advanced signaling could work.

    It’s only ~5 miles. Preserving the one-seat ride without a ridiculous tunnel or four tracks might be worth it.

    Rafael Reply:

    Mixed traffic doesn’t just refer to bone fide freight trains. Metrolink and Amtrak also operate FRA-compliant equipment, i.e. their “freight” happens to be people.

    Note that Metrolink could decide to buy some non-compliant HSR rolling stock and operate strictly regional HSR service between Anaheim and Palmdale on the dedicated HSR tracks where those exist. BNSF has told OCTA there is no scope for additional trackage rights on its tracks between Redondo Junction and Fullerton, that’s why the Metrolink service upgrade can’t extent to LA Union Station. However, there are no plans for Metrolink-branded regional HSR service at this time.

    frozen Reply:

    I do however have a proposal that will keep ALL freight capablities AND allow Anaheim to have grade-seperated HSR-dedicated tracks to Anaheim. It will add a considerable amount of time with the detour for Metrolink legacy trains, I realize, but this is probably the cheapest option I can see that will allow Anaheim (and Pringle in extension) to get his HSR, and for Metrolink to continue servicing the LAUS-Oceanside line with legacy engines if they chose.


    It involves building a wye at the BNSF (I think?) transcon line so the legacy trains from LAUS (the OC Line) continue on what is currently the 91 Line west to the 91 Line/IE-OC line and turn south on the IE-OC line, and to their regular line before Orange rather than take the turn at Fullerton.

    The cons I can see with this is twofold: Anaheim loses their commuter train transfer point, rendering ARTIC a glorified HSR station with no service IF Metrolink does not adapt and send HSR-compatible trains down to, say, Irvine; and it will add a longer distance to the current OC line.

    On the other hand, if they could go ahead and electrify the line from Anaheim down to, say, Irvine utilizing Metrolink HSR stock, and drop the Phase 2 to Irvine extension, I think this would be workable. Maybe integrate OCTA’s plans of increasing their frequency by making the line Emerging HSR? I think that would be a major feather in OCTA’s hat IF they can afford the upgrades.

  2. Spokker
    Dec 28th, 2009 at 03:29

    Also, the lime green patch at La Palma is indeed a reservoir. It’s mostly dry when I see it but there’s water in it sometimes.

  3. Alon Levy
    Dec 28th, 2009 at 04:01

    I propose solution #6: rename LAUS after Pringle so that he no longer needs ARTIC as his shining temple.

    Rafael Reply:

    That’s a LAUSy idea, even though it would cut the cost of the starter line by ~$4 billion. State voters – not Pringle – decided that OC should be included in phase 1 when they approved prop 1A(2008). It was a package deal that can’t just be picked apart on a whim. A ballot proposition is a law, not an opinion poll.

    In political terms, a No Project decision in the LA-Anaheim segment would have to be justified by insurmountable obstacles related to the environmental review, regulatory approval, HSR technology or funding.

    Spokker Reply:

    A No Project decision can be justified right now. Cynthia Ward is against it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Does 1A require dedicated HSR tracks, or does it allow electrifying and grade-separating legacy tracks and running HSR trains on them, on the model of the TGV east of Marseille or south of Tours.

    Rafael Reply:

    AB3034(2008), the legislation enacted by prop 1A(2008), does not explicitly require dedicated tracks. It does, however, require that headways of no more than 5 minutes must be possible. The least stringent interpretation of that is that the signaling and emergency brake systems must support such headways. The most stringent one requires that there must also be sufficient capacity for a second HSR train to follow a first one at any time and at any place in the network. CHSRA has chosen the latter interpretation to maximize scheduling flexibility for the future operator, but that entails having dedicated tracks.

    However, given the speed differentials, that is anyhow necessary just about everywhere. Reasonable exceptions are the SF peninsula north of Bayshore and Orange county south of Fullerton. In those case, the entirely separate regulatory issues regarding mixed traffic kick in, since there’s enough raw track capacity to enable the desired service frequency if some minor concessions are made wrt scheduling.

  4. morris brown
    Dec 28th, 2009 at 06:15

    Pringle has more conflicts of interest than stated here. He owns a PR firm, that has and may still have Parsons (not PB), as a client. Parsons is a sub-contractor to the HSR project.

    The whole context that locals should be willing to pay for tunneling or stations points out how completely the promotion of the Prop 1A bond measure was conducted with fairy tales and outright lies. Time and time again, the voters were told “Pass Prop 1A” and this 9.95 billion is all the funds Californians will have to pay. Now all we hear is, locals have to pay for stations, local have to pay for running tracks underground.

    Ridership of 117 -120 million now down to 43 million; cost up to 43 billion and still climbing.

    Very important hearings coming up in January. We shall see if restrictions in Prop 1A are going to be enforced or whether there will need to be lawsuits to make them stick.

    BTW, my understanding is that Diridon’s term expires now or has expired. Anyone know anything about this?

    Rafael Reply:

    So Parsons is a subcontractor to Parsons Brinkerhoff, the prime contractor? If so, was Pringle involved in awarding that contract?

    IMHO, CHSRA is on the hook to build functional and aesthetically compatible basic stations above ground, e.g. in the SF peninsula. It is not on the hook for fully funding multimodal transit temples like those in SF, SJ or Anaheim. That’s primarily what the billions from cities and counties refer to, though I’ll admit CHSRA has not formally nailed down exactly where its financial responsibility ends and that of cities/counties with stations begins.

    Tunneling through suburbia is similarly a local preference, not basic functionality. In SF, there is point blank no way to reach the downtown above ground without massive eminent domain and major impacts on busy city streets. Since a site downtown will attract substantially more ridership than a 4th & King terminus would and Caltrain will leverage the infrastructure and the city of SF is contributing a completed environmental planning process plus land plus billions in cash to the endeavor, there’s arguably a strong case for having the HSR project pay for a short tunnel under the city, pro-rated by the number of platform tracks reserved for it at the station. I don’t like the functional design TJPA has come up with for the heavy rail component at all, but I’ve never questioned the need to go underground there.

    However, SF is very much the exception that proves the rule. Tunneling is not essential to getting the job done in Santa Clara or San Jose or LA or Anaheim or anywhere else except the mountain crossings, so CHSRA quite rightly isn’t proposing it. So, if Atherton/Menlo Park/Palo Alto or Anaheim want a tunnel that doesn’t add any ridership, they are going to have to come up with a way to pay for it.

    CHSRA’s forecasts never claimed there would actually be 117+ million riders in 2030, that was always the ultimate capacity of the fully built out network. The lower of the ridership forecasts, around 65 million, was actually echoed by SNCF’s independent modeling – albeit for 2040. However, those were for a low-fare strategy. The high fare strategy CHSRA is now proposing to maximize profits to improve the chances of one day attracting private investment obviously reduces ridership. The experience with public-private partnerships in other countries has been mixed to negative, but California Republicans are insisting on one for fiscal reasons, which is to say ideological ones.

    Cost rose primarily because of a switch from net present value to year-of-expenditure accounting in response to federal rules on ARRA applications. In real terms, the increase was a much smaller but still worrisome ~$1 billion, in spite of some cost reductions.

    There are certainly some restrictions in AB3034(2008) that need enforcing, among them the rash promise to match any ARRA grants dollar for dollar and, the 24 station limit for the network. The state legislature needs to clarify if that includes segments for which CHSRA is executing project level planning (because it has to) but ultimately does not use prop 1A(2008) bonds to actually construct. This is relevant for the Altamont Corridor project, the fate of the mid-peninsula station and the one Kings and Tulare counties want east of Hanford.

    Rod Diridon was re-appointed to the CHSRA board by the Governor in February 2007, along with new appointments Curt Pringle, David Crane and R. Kirk Lindsey who has since left. By statute, the board has overlapping four-year terms for each seat, with vacancies appointed only to the end of the term for that seat. There are no automatic term limits nor a defined procedure for revoking appointments. By default, that means board members are serving “at the pleasure of” the current holder of the office responsible for their appointment or re-appointments. The terms of two of the seats the Governor gets to fill expire on Dec 31, 2009. Rod Diridon may be one of them, though I cannot confirm that. Given the complexity of the statute, it would behoove CHSRA to clearly state the end of each board member’s current term, along with the already available information on how appointed him or her.

    morris brown Reply:

    It is easy to cherry pick the numbers you want to emphasize. So you pick SNCF ridership numbers. Look at the FRA’s numbers at 22 million or the Reason report numbers slightly higher at 24 million.

    The statement was made the other day, that all cities that want stations are expected to pay for those stations. The Authority is looking to extract all kinds of concessions from all local agencies, not only stations. Look at Fresno foaming at the mouth trying to get the maintenance yard.

    Now you neither you nor I are attorneys, but we certainly read AB-3034 differently. You bring up the possibility that the 24 station limit can be ignored, if the Authority doesn’t have to pay for any extra stations. WOW. I suppose that also means, that “no station between Gilroy and Merced” means “no station that the Authority must pay for” between Gilroy and Merced; put a different way, its ok for a station at Los Banos, just we (the Authority), can’t pay for it.

    And again, don’t forget “full funding must be in place for a usable segment or corridor” before Prop 1A bond funds can be expended. and only then on a matching 1:1 basis. Please try and reconcile that with the current promise by the Governor and the Authority to the FRA, to use Bond Funds to match the stimulus funding, none of the construction funds for which will result in usable complete segments or corridors.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Reason isn’t a reliable source for anything, except maybe for how to best spend ExxonMobil contributions.

    Where did the FRA say 22?

    Rafael Reply:

    Don’t put words in my mouth, Morris. What I said is that the state legislature needs to clarify how CHSRA should interpret the 24 station limit. Specifically, the bill puts a number of corridors on an equal footing, so CHSRA is legally obliged to dutifully plan for express HSR services. The question is whether or not stations that are planned but ultimately not built count toward the total.

    Concrete example: the Altamont Corridor project calls for stations in Tracy, the Pleasanton/Livermore area and the UC/Fremont area. If CHSRA succeeds in securing a ROW between San Jose and Gilroy, all of the prop 1A(2008) money will go to the SF-SJ-LA-AH starter line because the bill is written such that it enjoys funding primacy. That implies the Altamont Corridor project will not proceed past the Record of Decision stage until the starter line is fully funded. CHSRA has indicated as much in the past, they want to hand it off to someone else. However, if that happens, do those three (or more) stations still count toward the 24 or not. The answer has knock-on impacts on the core network.

    A related matter is if CHSRA is acting appropriately when it’s planning for a possible station east of Hanford, even though it knows it’s already over the 24 limit. Note that I’m not trying to create wiggle room for CHSRA here, I’d actually like the state legislature to reduce it. The worst of all worlds would be to half-promise a station to a given city or county and then back out of it years later on account of the AB3034(2008) limit.

    morris brown Reply:

    I certainly don’t mean to put words in your mouth, Rafael.

    Look at the inconsistencies.

    1. ” All of the money from Prop 1A will go to SF-SJ-LA-AH.” Look at the stimulus funding applications.
    Note promising to match with Prop 1A funds, studies extending to San Diego.

    2. Stimulus funding requests $50 million for the design of the San Jose, Diridon station — how does that fit in with the Authority only willing to pay for basic “bus terminal like” stations.

    I still don’t understand where the funding for the Altamont corridor came from. I thought it was from the $.95 billion that was allocated for other than HSR in Prop 1A, but I see that they are just now getting around to deciding how those funds are to be distributed. AECOM got a $60 million contract to do the study — where did the $60 million come from?

    Joey Reply:

    On Altamont:

    Money to study is different than money to build.

    Rafael Reply:

    I was referring to actual construction funding, that’s where bill gives the starter line primacy.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “bus terminal like” but yeah, $50 million from the feds plus the same again from the state, just for the station design – that sounds excessive. Rod Diridon wants to build Diridon Extragalactic, of course, but IMHO that’s San Jose’s private Idaho. Again, the state legislature should press CHSRA to clarify/negotiate just where its responsibilities end wrt station projects. Afaiac, it should be tracks + platforms + roof + ventilation/sprinklers/electrical + lighting + ticket machines + amnities for railroad staff/police/first aid + restrooms + grade separated pedestrian connection between tracks and to street level on either side of the right of way + land for all that. C’est tout. Even a waiting room is non-essential for a service that runs frequently and on time, some benches on the platforms are sufficient. Fancy schmancy starchitecture, retail facilities etc. are not part of CHSRA’s charter. There’s some reasonable negotiating room on infrastructure for connecting transportation, e.g. transfer passages to the platforms of other rail services (ped tunnel between TBT and BART in SF). That’s the sort of thing the $950 million reserved for HSR feeders should be spent on IMHO, though the state legislature appears willing to let Amtrak, BART et al. set their own capital investment priorities.

    The Altamont Corridor as studied by CHSRA is composed of usable segments of two corridors as defined in AB3034(2008). That’s permissible, though the feasibility of including Oakland (Coliseum) ought to be looked into. Each corridor, as defined in the law, may – read: is supposed to be – the subject of project-level EIS/EIR planning using prop 1A(2008) funds. Ergo, the AECOM contract is coming out of the $675 million (7.5% of $9 billion) that the bill makes available for planning and preliminary engineering. The concept of AB3034(2008) is that the individual corridors are supposed to compete against one another for construction funds, based on how much their respective champions (counties and cities) can rustle up in terms on non-state matching funds and how soon. In practice, the lion’s share will come from the federal government to the state, which will use it to fully fund the starter line built before committing to any other parts of the network.

    Rafael Reply:

    Btw, I believe the operative phrase was “corridor or usable segment thereof”. Thus, Redwood City to San Francisco could conceivably qualify, but that’s not how CHSRA structured the ARRA application. It’s possible the Feds might give them some wiggle room by not looking too carefully at whether each individual component project is matched dollar for dollar as dirt is turned. They might be ok with a match for the subtotal of each corridor as defined by the state or indeed, for the grand total. They might also be ok with the state opening its taps a little later than ARRA funds get spent, since HSR corridor development is “re-investment” rather than straight-up “recovery”, i.e. economic stimulus. Witness their patience with Florida on Tri-Rail funding.

    Note that the HSR portion of ARRA sets a deadline of Sep 30, 2012 for awarding construction projects, a full year later than any other part of the bill. Current plan call for the completed EIS/EIR work for the LA-Anaheim, SF-SJ and Merced-Bakersfield sections of the network to be submitted to FRA well before then so it can go through the NOD/ROD stage before the deadline. CHSRA can prepare and conduct a tender while that is going on but it cannot award a construction contract until there is an ROD. Other conditions also have to be met if it intends to spend prop 1A(2008) funds on that contract.

    morris brown Reply:

    My emphasis in not on worrying about whether the FRA might give “wiggle room”, since the stimulus funds don’t require matching funds. California voluntarily stated they would match the Federal funds as an effort to get more money coming our way. The key being, “hey you guys in Washington”, for every dollar you give us, we will match and that way you get twice the bang for your bucks.

    However, Prop 1A has its restrictions and the stimulus applications for construction don’t meet the Prop 1A restriction of completing corridors or usage segments. Therefore Prop 1A funds should not be available, even though promised, to match the funds received from the federal stimulus applications. This should certainly set off red flags at the FRA, since as written, the applications assume 1/2 of the funds for these projects will come from the State. If the State can’t fund its share, than nothing of utility is the end result, and having utility is a requirement of the Federal stimulus funding.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Where is the 43 million ridership forecast coming from, Morris? I’ve never heard a reliable figure lower than SNCF’s 65 million, which only includes Phase 1.

    morris brown Reply:

    From the new business plan…


    Rail authority explores higher ticket price (SJ Mercury article)

    The December 2009 business plan says the higher fare would reduce high-speed rail ridership by several million passengers a year—to 41 million in 2035. But that would also reduce maintenance and operations costs.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    Are SNCF figures as reliable for the US as they are for France? After all, they are at home in France and have a perfect knowledge of the local market and psychology. It might not be the case as regards the US.
    It is true that they tend to understate their ridership previsions, and this is probably a PR trick.
    “TGV meets expectations” is a far less sexy headline than “TGV beats all predictions!”.

    Rafael Reply:

    […] how appointed him or her -> […] who appointed him or her.

  5. Kevin
    Dec 28th, 2009 at 07:45

    Nice map. A few notes:

    Your northernmost mystery spot is indeed a reservoir; the southern spot is the former location of a Kwikset Lock manufacturing plant, which is slated to become an affordable housing project.

    Regarding the need (or not) for full grade separation in the contested section, the main rush hour street traffic in the area takes place on Lincoln Avenue, which is the widest street and already separated. Granted that much can change by 2020, but 75%-85% availability on the other E-W streets in the area might well be OK.

    BNSF use of this line is erratic and limited to a few long freight trains each week, running late at night or in the early morning before Metrolink traffic starts up.

    Kevin Reply:

    Also, beyond the city’s designations of historical areas, the Kroeger-Melrose district (the area bounded by Lincoln, Kroeger, Broadway, and Philadelphia — one street away from the ROW) is on the National Register of Historic Places.

    Spokker Reply:

    Are historic places really that important that they can’t be moved? The Mother Colony House was moved from its original spot to its current spot next to that huge ass tree.

    You’re right about the freight trains. The only time I’ve ever seen freights on this segment was at 5AM while waiting at Anaheim Station for a Metrolink train. I once saw a locomotive roll through in the afternoon, but he wasn’t hauling anything. I think he was going to Olive.

    Kevin Reply:

    Of course historic buildings can be moved, but I’d raise a few points:

    1) The downtown area is already close to being built out, and it’s getting harder to find infill lots to fill in (witness Rafael’s quandary as to where to put a park-as-mitigation if HSR ends up taking out Citrus Park).

    2) There’s a using-up-your-nine-lives issue; the UP depot (and all of the homes on that segment of Atchison Street) have already been moved once. How many more projects/chances do they get before someone says “screw it; it’s just easier to knock them down”?

    3) I think that you can only move buildings so far out of their original neighborhood and context before you begin to create a Colonial Willamsburgesque Olde Tyme Historick Park effect, with everything laid out neatly-but-randomly. It’s better than nothing, but you’re taking a lot of the history out of ‘historic’.

    Rafael Reply:

    If they preserve the old materials during a move – as opposed to replicating the blueprints using new ones – then I expect there’s also a limit to how often a building could be moved at all.

    Fortunately, in this case there appears to be a grand total of one building (the old SP depot) that would be directly affected by widening the right of way by approx 25 feet. It’s a nice enough structure but is it worth preserving forever as a unique example of the faux Spanish Colonial architectural style? There are many other fine examples of that around the state, especially in San Diego. A new building nearby would have to be found for the preschool service, but that’s a separate issue.

    One compromise would be to eliminate only the rear portion of the building, leaving the facade intact. The rump structure could then still be used for an appropriate purpose.

    There’s an outside chance even that could be avoided, if a slight chicane directly above Lincoln is possible at the target speeds for the trains. That would involve a new bridge above the road, with all four tracks crossing at a slightly more acute angle. They’d pretty much have to prefab the entire structure, tear down the old one and and install the new one over the course of a weekend, though. Metrolink and Amtrak need to keep operating on weekdays.

  6. Elizabeth
    Dec 28th, 2009 at 07:46

    Couple of quick things:

    1) Curt Pringle will be termed out. Anyone know what his future plans include?
    2) The place that looks like a vacant lot on google maps is actually this development: http://bkf.brookfieldsouthland.com/bkf/about/full_story.asp?NewsId=12142006 which is mostly an affordable housing project (co-sponsered with the City of Anaheim’s RDA) JUST BUILT right up to the tracks. At the time the alternatives analysis came out, I actually called the complex. They were unaware of the proposed HSR project.
    3) The latest cost, according the biz plan, is $5.5 billion in YOE.
    4) Spokker, why are you opposed to this segment’s plans?
    5) I did web search and search of OC register archives. I could not find any community meetings in Anaheim since the original scoping in 2007 nor any local press coverage of alternative analysis (change from mixed traffic to dedicated tracks). Anyone know of any previous community meetings held? Was there a meeting when the alternatives analysis was released?

    Spokker Reply:

    I’m opposed to the Anaheim-LA segment because it’s going to cost an assload of money for only a marginal benefit over upgrading the LOSSAN corridor to 110 MPH operation, which is shovel ready. They just need funding.

    Connecting Anaheim to HSR is not as important as connecting LA and San Francisco. Metrolink and Amtrak trains will not see the same kinds of benefits that Caltrain trains will in the North. If a one-seat ride to Anaheim is important (and I think it is), sharing tracks with Metrolink/Amtrak at 110 MPH could get you to Anaheim, though that would require advanced signaling and an FRA waiver or something. Even then it’s far fetched.

    Otherwise, timed transfers can be implemented at LAUS for travelers heading South. Since HSTs should run on time it shouldn’t be too bad. Integrated ticketing could make the process much easier.

    Now, if HSR was going all the way to San Diego along the LOSSAN corridor, I’d be screaming for the entire Anaheim Colony to be bulldozed. Unfortunately that isn’t feasible due to various technical problems along the coast.

    Also, the monorail being planned between ARTIC and an under-performing outdoor mall that just defaulted on its loans is a horrible project that should be canceled immediately.

    Rafael Reply:

    I presume you’re referring to a term limit as mayor of Anaheim, since there is none for CHSRA board members. Whoever is Governor at the time could re-appoint him for another 4 years if they both wanted to. If so, the current conflict of interest will resolve itself in the fall of 2010, but the decision on just how to run HSR trains through Anaheim will need to be take before then.

    The upcoming Community Meeting will be hosted by CHSRA. Apparently, it was requested by OCTA and the city of Anaheim. CHSRA picked that name to differentiate it from the legally required series formal scoping meetings, which is all it has hosted to date in the area. So, the one on the 20th is distinct from any meetings set up by grassroots activists within the community.

    CHSRA presented the Alternatives Analysis at one of its monthly board meetings, which are open to the general public (except for legal deliberations and security-related issues). They’re usually up in Sacramento, though.

    Rafael Reply:

    Btw, when I hear “affordable home”, I’m thinking “subsidizing rentals for the poor”. The pictures on the web site you provided suggest we’re talking about swank townhouses aimed at first-time home buyers, which is fair enough. However, ED against any of those would probably not trigger environmental justice issues.

    If you own property next to existing active railroad tracks, that’s just the risk you take. Caveat emptor. I’m not at all surprised the developer claims not to have heard of HSR, they really don’t want to know because if they did, they’d have to disclose the risk of ED or rail construction nuisance to prospective customers. That sort of thing is bad for business. The LA-Anaheim segment was only added to phase I a couple of years ago, the whole project was still a paper tiger back then. This particular developer may already have been in the middle of permitting or even construction at that time, but that’s the risk they took.

  7. dejv
    Dec 28th, 2009 at 07:50

    Keeping any grade crossing with rail speeds over 30-40 mph when there’s opportunity to get rid of it is a crime. Not connecting neigbouhoods by pedestrian-friendly grade-separated paths is similar case.

    Better approach to mixed traffic safety than just high static load resistance would be to split requirements to several use cases:
    – shunting accidents: relative speeds up to 20 mph, apart from crush zones, the train should be intact
    – head-on collisions, collision to rigid structures: relative speeds determined by statistical analysis. After crash, there should be a survival room in driver’s cab, peak acceleration in the rest of train shouldn’t exceed some peak value.
    – grade crossing collisions with HGVs: again, there should remain survival room in driver’s cab.
    – collisions with low objects: plow should be strong enough to protect train bottom. It should be held in place by crush elements to be car-friendly
    Such policy would favor lighter trains with more crush zones.

    More tracks allow more levels of service. From high speed in both senses (fast train that stops rarely) to locals stopping every other block, allowing the line to be useful for local residents.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The problem with your proposal is that it still has the FRA designating rail safety standards. This is a recipe for disaster, as the FRA knows nothing of modern passenger rail operations. You should want standards to be as foolproof as possible, and this means using established international standards.

    Spokker Reply:

    Essentially, we don’t want to end up with an Acela Express.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    Aren’t you a bit severe towards the FRA? Out of curiosity I browsed through their site and realized they are not as ignorant of the outside world as many people think. They collaborate with foreign companies, notably the SNCF.
    Up to now their regulations were adapted to a given situation: the dominance of freight companies. With the emergence of a new type of transport, they will certainly produce regulations adapted to the new situation. The fact they keep in touch with foreign engineers seems to indicate that they are already working at it.
    The overweight Acela was blamed on the FRA, but I’ve read that Amtrak’s management didn’t do much effort to obtain a waiver and readily accepted to comply with the existing regulations.
    I’m quite sure the Acela will be the last “bank vault on wheels”.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    A few months ago, there was a post on this blog about a press conference about CAHSR featuring people from the HSR Authority and someone from the FRA. The FRA person was asked point-blank about FRA crash safety regulations; his response was “We will not compromise our safety record.” Elsewhere, I’ve read a report prepared for Congress about Amtrak’s situation, which acknowledges that Amtrak is hobbled by FRA regulations, but say that they ensure American trains are safer than European trains.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Further English grammar fail:

    I’ve read a report prepared for Congress about Amtrak’s situation, which acknowledges that Amtrak is hobbled by FRA regulations, but says that they ensure American trains are safer than European trains.

    Rafael Reply:

    There’s always some bureaucratic vanity, plus FRA remains beholden to the freight rail industry. However, since California HSR will run on dedicated tracks, there’s no reason for FRA to insist on its rules. Cp. BART, which also uses non-compliant equipment.

    It’s quite possible the decision to quad-track in Anaheim was influenced by a concern on CHSRA’s part that it might not be permitted to operate non-compliant equipment at all if any part of its network involved freight trains running on the same tracks. That said, there will inevitably be freight trains crossing HSR tracks in the SF peninsula as they use turnouts to move between the Caltrain/UPRR tracks and freight spurs. That’s what PTC signaling is for.

    Red tape would be a lousy reason for quad tracking at great expense. California should use a small amount of the prop 1A bond funds to pay FRA for a headcount dedicated to sorting out the various equipment waivers, PTC implementation, platform height and other technical details for the state – even before the EIS/EIR work is done. Have that person sit opposite the one doing similar work for the California Public Utilities Commission so they don’t end up drafting conflicting rules.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They collaborate with foreign companies, notably the SNCF.

    And they have some relationship with the UIC. Amtrak is part of the working group for GSM-R.

    The overweight Acela was blamed on the FRA, but I’ve read that Amtrak’s management didn’t do much effort to obtain a waiver and readily accepted to comply with the existing regulations. I’m quite sure the Acela will be the last “bank vault on wheels.

    The short version of the foamer’s story is that the mean old FRA changed it’s mind late in the design process and demanded all sorts of obsolete buff strength etc requirements.

    A more rational version would be that Amtrak has been planning higher speed service since there’s been an Amtrak. They’ve been slowly chipping away at the problem. In the early 90s the vendors told them they were working on this fantastic signal system that would allow mixed traffic, there were a few bugs to work out. The vendors, the FRA and Amtrak had a series of discussions. They all agreed that with a signal system, one that is functionally the same as ERTMS 2, they could run mixed traffic. The vendors and Amtrak in a fit of hubris decided to fast track both. The signal system wasn’t as easy as they thought it would be. If fell farther behind schedule. Late in the design stages of the trainsets the FRA said “not until you have a signal system” Instead of postponing the trains Amtrak and the vendors altered it to comply with FRA regulations.

    I’m quite sure the Acela will be the last “bank vault on wheels.

    I hope. The commuter agencies along the line have an incentive too. Lighter cars are cheaper to build, cheaper to maintain, cheaper to run and are easier on the track. Amtrak has the same incentives, besides Acela they run the Regionals on the same tracks. . . NJTransit and MARC have equipment that can do 125 now, Supposedly all of NJTransit’s fleet is using ACSES. I haven’t been able to find out anything about the new SEPTA Silverliner’s signals but they are supposed to capable of using 25Hz or 60Hz. .. All of them are getting ready for upgrades. . .

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Your version doesn’t make Amtrak look any better. It inherited the second fastest train in the world, the Metroliner; it already knew that the main issue was the tracks and not the trains, which ran at almost the same top speed as the Shinkansen but had a much lower average speed. It also knew it was going to extend fast service to Boston, following the New Haven Railroad’s aborted attempt at electrifying the New Haven-Boston line. But it made no effort to secure ROW for curve easements and bypasses ahead of time, or experiment with high superelevation, or even bypass Metroliner curves in New Jersey and Maryland.

    ACSES alone wouldn’t get the FRA to budge about the buff strength rules, because freight trains don’t use it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They passed the High Speed Ground Tranportation Act of 1965 and didn’t fund it. Amtrak can’t go out and spend a billion dollars it doesn’t have. Freight trains do use ACSES, the P&W is equipped and uses it on the NEC. By 2015 they will all be required to use something. Either Amtrak and all the commuter agencies rip out ACSES or the freight railroads go with ACSES. ACSES is modular, I can see some hybrid emerging that is compatible with a North American standard.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They did fund it – the act helped launch the Metroliner, which was the second high-speed train in the world, using a 200 km/h top speed definition.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They were going to have 2:20 trip times between NY and DC by 1970. Down to an even 2 hours soon after that. Everybody was going to whisking between NY and DC on Metroliners. They bought some trains and didn’t do much else. Acela was going to be the same thing. Replace Metroliners with Acela then when the second generation came out use the first generation for Regional Service… and by now we’d all be whisking between NY and DC in 2:30, or a half an hour more than they were proposing in 1965. Typical strategy of the kill-Amtrak crowd. Let Amtrak propose something, agree to it, throw some money at it and then complain they never get anything done. There was the HSGR act of ’65 which wasn’t funded fully. Then the Northeast Corridor Improvement Program which wasn’t funded fully. The ISTEA, the….. The Keystone Kops are in Congress. Amtrak has been doing what it could. Regional trains are as fast as the expresses where in 1941..

    Nice report from the FRA complete with footnotes:


    Rafael Reply:

    It would be possible to provide well-lit shallow underpasses for pedestrians and cyclists only, while retaining grade crossings for the motor vehicle lanes. However, only a single crossing in Anaheim (E Sycamore) might qualify for that strategy, the other roads all have at least two lanes in each direction to cope with traffic volume. There, the motor vehicle lanes need to be grade separated as well.

    Caltrain has performed (pp7 PDF) the requisite finite element analysis simulations to prove that rolling stock compliant with the European crash standards EN 12663 and EN15227, which implement UIC rules, performs as well or better than much heavier FRA-compliant gear in grade crossing accidents. Mo’ shteel is no better than the alternative of applying more engineering know-how.

    For train-on-train collisions at significant relative speeds, crumple zones are fairly useless anyhow (cp Chatsworth disaster). The best defense is to avoid such incidents altogether with modern centralized train control and signaling featuring automatic train control in the event a driver exceeds the local speed limit or runs a red light, but that costs money.

    dejv Reply:

    > It would be possible to provide well-lit shallow underpasses for pedestrians and cyclists only, while retaining grade crossings for the motor vehicle lanes.

    It’s even possible to provide limited-height car-only underpass or pedestrian- and cyclist-only underpass. Both do connect neighbourhoods make streets more people friendly, the latter also allows easy conversion to living street.

    To keep the grade separated crossing attractive, it’s essential to keep its level as close to connecting streets levels as possible. “Stairway to hell” makes people feel uneasy and people are generally lazy to climb “stairways to heaven”, not mentioning difficulty of designing and constructing wheelchair- and cyclist-accessible ramps.

    Regarding grade crossing crashworthiness: it’s no surprise, cars aren’t that different accross the Big Pond when compared to train dimensions and respective EN’s were only finalized recently, taking computer model analysis possibilities into account.

    Low odds of train-on-train collision is AFAIK reflected in low speed (10 m/s) in “same train” scenarion in EN15227.

    Rafael Reply:

    Height-restricted underpasses are all well and good but at least some of them do have to allow full-height vehicles to pass. There’s quite a bit of industry south of the Colony District. That said, you can combine shallow ped/bike underpasses with deep ones for the motor vehicles. Overpasses are less desirable because the overhead catenaries increase the required clearance, especially if it’s the outside tracks that are electrified. More clearance means longer ascent/descent ramps. Underpasses do have to be properly lit, though, especially those for pedestrians and cyclists. LEDs fit the bill, they’re bright, energy-efficient and long-lived.

    Caltrain simulations involved crashes of FRA-spec models of US on-road vehicles against Euro-spec trains.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Nobody builds anything less than 14’6″ and usually can’t get funding for anything under 15′ except under extraordinary circumstances. I don’t think any extraordinary circumstances exist in bucolic Anaheim.

    dejv Reply:

    > Height-restricted underpasses are all well and good but at least some of them do have to allow full-height vehicles to pass.

    If I look at the map correctly, there’s a load of non-continuous streets like e.g. Wilhelmina. Making them continuous for cars wouldn’t be a wise move as the through traffic in such streets would rise without significant lowering of present amounts of traffic at established crossings.

    Rafael Reply:

    Those grade crossings were closed because residents there didn’t want the traffic. The default objective for railroad planning purposes should be the preservation of active crossings, not the re-opening of old ones. Of course, if a given community wants to change things around, that’s negotiable as long as it doesn’t bust the budget.

    Rafael Reply:

    For some cross roads with four or more lanes, it might make sense to build a narrow under- or overpass for just the center motor vehicle lanes and, to connect the outside lanes to either side of the tracks in a one-way horseshoe. This delivers less capacity across the railroad right of way but at least partially preserves intersections between the cross road and any side streets close to the tracks. It’s also cheaper than a wider structure.

    Each grade crossing is unique, a little creativity can go a long way.

  8. Spokker
    Dec 28th, 2009 at 08:13

    To add, if LA-Anaheim does get built I’ll enjoy it. But if there are funding issues, I think lopping off the Anaheim segment is an easy sacrifice to make to get the rest of Phase 1 built.

  9. Spokker
    Dec 28th, 2009 at 08:20

    Robert, you should really look into comments getting deleted at random. A lot of people are complaining about it. It happens to me sometimes too.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s not random. After you submit a comment, any other comment in the thread will have the same CAPTCHA, already filled; if you try to submit it, it won’t actually submit, and you won’t see it if you refresh. The only way around it is to refresh the thread after submitting each comment; then you get a new CAPTCHA and it’s fine.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    I observed the same and use the same work-around. After posting, I refresh… get a new code.

    Spokker… noticing the frequency of your posts… I hope you were not too affected. I do miss your funny comments.

    Rafael Reply:

    That sounds like a WordPress “feature” to me. For now, I recommend you get a login at the top of the page and use that once before you enter comments without any CAPTCHA stuff.

    I agree that isn’t intuitive or user-friendly. Robert and I will need to look into improving the ease of commenting as well as the rules applied by the spam filter. WordPress holds a lot more comments for administrator approval than Blogger ever did.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    in other words:

    If you are logged on your posts go through.
    To log on you have to register.
    The link to register is at the top of the page. ‘
    If you are using the same computer all of the time there is a “remember me” box you can check off.
    so you don’t even have to log on. All that magic means you can post things without trying to figure out the weird words….

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Odd. Thanks for letting me know about this. It sounds like a bug with the CAPTCHA system we use – it’s the second one we’ve employed here, after some folks complained that the first one was hard to read.

    If you’re a registered user and posting while logged in, you should not be seeing a CAPTCHA at all. Another reason why folks should register, although that’s not intended as a substitute for resolving the underlying issue.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I think this problem has been there since you migrated to WordPress. I’m not sure it’s an issue of the CAPTCHA – it could be the software you use for comment submission. On other blogs, even those that use the same CAPTCHA system as you guys, the page automatically reloads every time I submit a comment.

  10. Brandon from San Diego
    Dec 28th, 2009 at 12:32

    The year is almost over…. I suggest a post devoted to Transportation Predictions for 2010. Perhaps with sub-subject areas…. HSR Funding, HSR Legislation, HSR Political Support, New NIMBY HSR Arguments, etc. Or other transportation… like India announces a HSR network?

    Rafael Reply:

    Are you referring the 35km HSRL from Bangalore to its airport? They call it high speed but the top speed is about 36 km/h. Truth in advertising and all that. Nevertheless, it’ll be a useful regional transit service, given that the average speed on the alternative, i.e. roads, is just 13.5km/h. Five consortia have bid for the project, a winner will be announced very soon.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    No…. it was an example of a prediction…. but wa apparenlty a lucky guess if that is in fact true. I was wimsically trying to pick a 1st/2nd world country that has not announced an HSR network…. thought that could be India. Apparenlty, I was wrong?

    Rafael Reply:

    Nah, you weren’t wrong. They talk a lot about HSR in India but can’t get a national plan together. there are always too many cooks in the kitchen over there.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Yep, such a post is on my agenda for the week, along with a 2009 year-in-review. I’m in Seattle for the week and so my posting will be a bit spotty, but I hope to have something up tomorrow and again on either Wednesday or Thursday.

  11. Elizabeth
    Dec 28th, 2009 at 13:31

    Here is a writeup about the Brookfield project - My understanding is that at some point in the process it became about 30% affordable housing unit. Someone local may be able to give more color. My point is this: what is Anaheim the city doing building new housing in 2007 on this land? Why haven’t I seen this in the environmental review process docs?

    Rafael Reply:

    Whose review process docs, CHSRA’s? They’re not going to waste their time tracking every developer and private home owner who decides to erect or upgrade a building right next to the railroad tracks.

    A separate issue is why Anaheim granted a construction permit. Back in 2007, California HSR was a piper tiger that had already been bumped off the ballot twice by the governor. That year, he also put CHSRA on a starvation budget in an effort to force them to abandon all hope of a state sales tax hike and buy into his public-private partnership concept for funding the project.

  12. frozen
    Dec 28th, 2009 at 23:04

    A valid question regarding the Anaheim segment. Where will they overnight the HSR trains? ARTIC, or somewhere else? I dont see any place to stow the trains without an steep turn into parcels bordering the river on the north or south side.

    Rafael Reply:

    We’ve previously addressed the issue of the HSR Phase One Yards, including overnight stabling in Anaheim. CHSRA still hasn’t clarified where they intend to put them.

  13. Cynthia Ward
    Dec 29th, 2009 at 14:31

    Has it occurred to you people that these structures that are inconveniently in the way of your giant social engineering program are not empty buildings? Every one of those arrows represents people’s homes where they raise their families, or a business trying to scrape by in a miserable economy. So when Spokker cavalierly says “Further South at Sycamore we have metal polishing and a landscaping company. They will be truly missed.“, I cringe. Perhaps Spokker has the luxury of looking down his nose at this small business, but to the people running it, and the people working there, and the suppliers that depend on the subcontracts, yes it WILL be missed. Under eminent domain, these property owners must be compensated for the fair value of the property itself, but what are the odds that after having their businesses taken by force by their own government these business owners will simply relocate nearby, maintaining that employment base? California being the flaming PITA it is for employers, I suspect most will take the money and run for Nevada while the getting is good. Have you factored in the loss of those jobs in your “job creation” numbers?

    Arrogant Spokker then goes on to say “Are historic places really that important that they can’t be moved? The Mother Colony House was moved from its original spot to its current spot next to that huge ass tree. “

    Uh, yeah Spokker, they are important, that is why they are supposed to be reviewed under CEQA, a step the Environmental engineers conveniently skipped in this study. As Kevin points out, removing historic structures from their context does affect their significance as historic resources. And again, we are not just talking about moving a house, we are talking about having to tell a family that the house they have put their blood, sweat, tears and time into restoring is no longer theirs, and they must now pack up and leave for the sake of “ridership.” Because Spokker, we do not relocate occupied houses.

    The newer development Elizabeth referred to by Brookfield homes is a beautiful community of townhomes, where young couples just starting out, or older residents downsizing from their larger homes into a retirement mode, can live with dignity for a reasonable price. Heck, the Anaheim City Council just approved an agenda item allowing Brookfield to continue filling that empty field on your aerial map with more homes. But oh well, let’s just knock that down as well, it is the price you pay for buying next to a railroad track right? How would you feel to move into your brand new home after years of scrounging together a down payment, and enduring months of paperwork for approvals, only to hear that you have to leave because the train is coming? For many of these residents these are the homes where they moved in as newlyweds, brought home their babies, began their lives as adults, and we are going to displace them.

    And where are those people going to find equivalent space for the money? Anaheim is built out; we are not in a position to build them another complex. But hey, sacrifices will have to be made right? Oddly enough, I suspect if this were going into YOUR backyard, there would be great weeping and gnashing of teeth.
    A recent Kennedy Commission study shows Anaheim has less open space than Manhattan, but by all means let’s give up Citrus Park, the one bit of open space in an area where kids desperately need a haven from the Kroeger Street gang that otherwise terrorizes kids playing outside of the park.

    Now add in what it will take to create underpasses and overpasses, and you have even more lives disrupted.

    It sickens me that all you see are arrows on a map, mere obstacles to your railroad version of Sim City, where you want to just pick up a “house” icon on a computer screen and drop it onto a “vacant lot” icon on the next screen, when what we are talking about are people’s LIVES. Some of these posts actually appear downright gleeful about the demolition, as if the people of Anaheim are a subspecies undeserving of basic human dignity.

  14. jimsf
    Dec 29th, 2009 at 15:27

    Im looking but I just don’t see anything in that area that looks sensitive to rail upgrades. I see a whole of of this





    I honestly don’t see what it is that needs protecting. can some one show me the street view of the rail corridor that is historic? I just see a bunch of junk.

    Cynthia Ward Reply:

    It is hard to reply to this since your photos are not labeled, but I will try. The line at Sycamore would lose the little clapboard cottage on the south side of the street, which houses the headquarters for the landscape company. Not much to look at, although it could be cute with work. I have not done the research on that one, I suspect it is turn of the century, but we have no land to relocate it, and the Environmental report does not even acknowledge its age. The industrial building to the north is ugly, I grant you. What you don’t see on Google, but I see every morning at 6:30 when I pass by there, is the huge crowd of workers gathering at both properties, with a roach coach feeding them before they start their shifts. This change is real for those people, it is real for their employers, and you have dismissed them. You have dismissed the people in the ratty little apartments to the east of the tracks from Sycamore to Lincoln, but they are people, and they cannot afford to move when you train is under construction at night for years on end. In the end, this does not affect where I live, and I will likely not even hear the construction sound, but I hurt for these people that you have dismissed, simply because they have the misfortune to be in your way.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And other people hurt for the millions of Californians who will be stuck on I-5 without the train. I’m sure people hurt when the almond groves and orange groves were hacked down to make way for the houses and the railroad. And people hurt when the grazing land was planted with almond trees and orange trees. And people hurt when the grazing land was fenced in…

    jimsf Reply:

    yeah and the surfers hurt whenever la dumps raw sewage into the bay too. and those folks in those houses, where does their garbage go…. to puente hills perhaps. I wonder what lived in puente hills before the worlds largest landfill got dumped on top of it.

    speaking of, the new solution for socals waste disposal is to start putting on trains ( yay we love trains) and hauling it out to the desert to dump it.
    those trains are going to go through peoples back yards!
    people should have to bury their own garbage in their own back yard. Then they’d be more careful.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    same thing is going to happen to San Francisco and the rest of the Peninsula when the landfill they are using closes in a few years. They are looking at something 120 or so miles away. When that closes they are probably looking at Utah. It’d be nice to ship 200 cars of garbage out everyday by rail. Even all the recycling they are planning on, the recyclables, either freshly collected or processed have to be shipped somewhere.

    jimsf Reply:

    city hall has a goal of being garbage neutral or whatever the hell they are calling it. I don’t think its possible but they want like 100 percent of compostable material to be used in sf, for one thing. They have to make it easy for me though cuz im not diggin through my garbage and I have a studio and an im not taking up any of my valuable living space for multi colored bins. no where to put em.

    Joey Reply:

    Oh C’mon is it really that hard to keep your waste sorted?

    jimsf Reply:

    my kitchen, if you can call it that, is in my bedroom and my bedroom is in my living room. there is no place to put bins unless I put them somewhere between my bed and the tv. I guess I could put them in the bathroom but id have to move the laundry to the top of the dresser.

    Joey Reply:

    Tell me you at least recycle

    jimsf Reply:

    actually i throw all my garbage out the window for the bums to sort through I guess thats recycling. (yes im kidding)

    jimsf Reply:

    joey how much is your PGE bill every month?

    Joey Reply:

    I wish I could tell you, but I’m not the one paying it (maybe I should pay attention though). Anyway, I live with two other people half the time and with six other people the rest of the time, so it’s difficult to compare. Don’t think that I’m ignorant about things like leaving lights/heat on though.

    jimsf Reply:

    oh, well you probably dont use much then. I use 12 dollars worth. and all five of my lightbulbs are flourescent. So while im not perfect with recycling , i do it when its convenient. Im not going to sort my one bag of garbage a week, into three separate bags though. I don’t have room for 3 bags.
    but. to make up for it I don’t own a car and Ive devoted my lifes work to public transit. so i give myself a pass on mixing the banana peels with the paper plates soup cans and throwing it all down the garbage shoot. it goes down a tube. I dont know where it goes after that. I guess it keeps the garbage men employed though. so its not all bad.

    jimsf Reply:

    you live in the city, what do you think of the citywide switch to paper instead of plastic. I like it. I hated those plastic bags.

    Joey Reply:

    What I really like is not having styrofoam food containers.

    jimsf Reply:

    in the 80s, those things were everywhere. it was really bad.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They are going to run out of Golden Gate Park to spread the compost onto someday. The glass metal, paper and plastic isn’t going to be reused without going someplace to get recycled – I don’t see them setting up an aluminum smelter in town anytime soon. Stuff is going to be shipped in and stuff is going to be shipped out. If it’s going to a landfill in Utah it would be nice to be able to do it by rail.

    jimsf Reply:

    it doesnt need to go all the way to utah when we have nevada right next door. didn’t we annex nevada yet? I thought we did.

    jimsf Reply:

    and neveda could use some compost. have you seen that place, geez plant a tree or something !

    jimsf Reply:

    plant tree here

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Jim, the warm wet air from the Pacific hits the Sierras and gets cold. All the wet condenses out, falls in the mountains around Hetch Hetchy, melts in the spring and comes out of your faucet. It gets to the other side of the Sierra and warms up. But it’s not wet anymore. It’s hard to grow trees without water. Look at the satellite view of your link. There’s a golf course nearby. They can’t grow grass without irrigation. If they want to grow trees …. how much Hetch Hetchy water are you willing to send to Reno?

    jimsf Reply:

    Thank you for explaining the west coast water cycle to me. We can trade them water for garbage and nuclear waste. ( but not my hetch, they can have delta water)

    jimsf Reply:

    now If I only knew the fog comes from..

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The ocean, in more ways than one. . .

    jimsf Reply:

    happy 2010 in nyc. how its look? better than09?

  15. jimsf
    Dec 29th, 2009 at 15:29

    holy cow check out the clear day in la on that last shot from the 57.

  16. jimsf
    Dec 29th, 2009 at 15:47

    ok ive gone over the whole stretch from ana to ful and looked at street views of each intersection and what found is

    a four track row throughout.
    a row that should remain mainly at grade with one exception.

    going north from ana

    at grade
    lower college
    lower cerritos
    lower ball
    lower vermnot.


    leave streets at grade e.South, SSantaAna E Broadway

    then at grade to ful.
    lower slymar
    lower e. laplama
    lower oranthorpe

    I don’t see any problems.

    Joey Reply:

    I know there is a portion of the right-of-way between Fullerton and Anaheim that is 50′ wide. CHSRA estimates that about 35 feet of additional room is necessary (I think they plan to have more space between the FRA and non-FRA tracks.

  17. jimsf
    Dec 29th, 2009 at 15:50

    and they’re trying to call this a historic district how much crack does one smoke before having that idea?

    Cynthia Ward Reply:

    No, we are calling THIS a Historic District

    Joey Reply:

    Would you care to provide some specific street views/photos? Most of the area directly west of the tracks there looks industrial (adding two more tracks doesn’t require that much room). Unless you are talking about the takes required for under/overpasses, which is not the same issue. And in truth, I doubt that the approaches have to be as long as the ones on Lincoln (which have a very mild slope).

    jimsf Reply:

    LOL youve got to be kidding.

    first of all, theres nothing there that doesn’t look like “anywhere california”

    second, the hsr row isn’t going to take any homes out of there. There is an extsiting row behind that ark where the trains would run. no affect on the neighborhood other then lowering the street to get under the tracks

    jimsf Reply:

    the tracks already run through here. they are at least a block or more from the historic homes. the homes to the east of the track look like new homes that are cheap looking knock offs of old styles mixed into a 70 neighborhood of stucco and stuck next to an industrial area. and 99 percent the of stretch from ful to ana is industrail Im sure a minor tweak can mitigate your concerns.

    Cynthia Ward Reply:

    The track runs here, but the At Grade alternative needs to take the park and pre-school on the shot I just posted, and the homes along that street will endure nighttime construction and vibration for God knows how long, and live with additonional at grade trains wizzing through. There are plenty of other decent homes along the track that will also endure that permanent Hell, all in the name of “ridership”.

    As far as the east side of the tracks, the development was part of Project Alpha, and it IS cheap knock off condos, which took the place of turn of the century bungalows that RDA demolished in the name of progress. Across the street are bungalows in an assortment of conditions, some challenged, some in mid-restoration, but the point is, ALL of those homes, ALL of those businesses, they represent POEPLE. These are the hopes and dreams of people who have put everything they have into their properties, the businesses employ our residents, and to you they are nothing but push pins on a map, and I find that rather callous.

    jimsf Reply:

    As a san franciscan I totally understand wanting to save neighborhoods. Its done here everyday and I fully support it. I have even argued once or twice for the PaloAlto Nimbys.

    But I can only support nimbyism if its reasonable.
    Here in sf, no one expects a life without “vibrations” and “construction noise” for all eternity.

    Im sorry, but they are going to have to put up with some change, and some construction. and its relatively short period of time. in any given location.

    the two areas in question as historic districts are tiny portions of the fullerton to anaheim leg.

    the ability to mitigated effects in these portions is abundant and fairly simple.

    The trains are not running though anyones back yard.
    There is ample ROW. no property taking that I can see – not even the park.
    The row behind the park is wide enough for 4 tracks already.
    No significant historic building are being bulldozed. that I can find.

    yes there will be inconvenience. welcome to life in the real world. geez you guys live in la for gods sake. Its not Montana.
    (yes up here we do not differentiate between la and anahiem.. its all just la.)

    What I see there is a very pleasant hood, and i love those crafstman homes but they can be found in every single california city and town on any california map.
    if those homes a block or more away from the tracks, are a hold up to progress, then the whole state might as well shut down because those homes exist next to all the tracks in the towns in california.

    Noise can be mitigated simple as that. construction inconvenience. please. take a number.

    the use of sound walls is already in place so one can’t argue “sound wall blight”

    Cynthia Ward Reply:

    That’s Ok Jim, down here we figure San Francisco and Oakland are the same place, right? (grin)

    The trains are not running through anyone’s back yard: How about the residence properties to both sides of the tracks between Lincoln and Broadway? I would say that is right in their back yards. We have an entire row of garages along the tracks at south (the Brookfield homes project) that will be taken, putting the train into the back and side yards of the remaining homes there, along with the homes being built now on what appears as an empty field on a google map (and why DID Anaheim City Coucil approve that development, AFTER the alternatives analysis was released?)

    You say there is ample ROW with no takes, not even the park, but the At Grade alternative report calls the park a total take along with the YMCA preschool. If, as you say the ROW is wide enough, why does the report say otherwise?

    The train station is listed as a total take, with no mitigation listed, as it is not recognized as historic, something the City was pretty surprised to hear (no the brain trust consultants did not even talk to the City departments before a few weeks ago, this is THAT MUCH of a shock to us all)

    Just because the Craftsman bungalows can be found everywhere does not justify the need to eliminate the few that Anaheim has left.

    Can you explain how to mitigate the noise of at grade construction at night? because the report acknowledges impacts to residential uses, but provides no answers I see. Essentially these folks are just going to be told to suck it up because they have the misfortune to be poor enough to not live elsewhere? We have a mix of immigrant packed apartments along many stretches of the rails, such as the VIne street apartments to the east of the track at Sycamore, and we have historic mansions along VIntage Lane, just to the east of the tracks, who will be subjected to construction noise at night., and we have a little of everything else in between along that stretch of track. This is a legit question, I do not know, how do we keep the construction noise from driving these poor people bonkers for what appears to me to be a long term (multi-year?!) project? You all know more abot the technical side of this than I do (by a bunch) but you do need a greater understanding of our neighborhoods, both architecturally and demographically, before passing judgement on whether to bulldoze an area you know nothing about.

    Nobody knows how much impact the crossings will have, since that has not been determined yet. The Authority actually wants us to decide on an alternative with the promise that they will tell us later what the crossings will do to the neighborhoods? Yeah right, sell me a bridge while you are at it…

    jimsf Reply:

    I havent paid much attention to that part down there cuz its not much of a concern to me. but isnt that why hsr is taking input? as for construction noise. yes, they have to suck it up. we all do. all the time. I cant afford to live in quiet part of san francisco, so I live where there are sirens every twenty minutes 24 hours a day, streetcar noie, subway noise, two years of construction noise from the building in the parking lot, the one next to that, both 20 story highrises.

    yes suck it up.

    sometimes the sirens hurt my ears when im outside so much that I know im getting hearing loss from it. but im not down in front the local firehouse asking them to turn down the noise.

    Cynthia Ward Reply:

    Yes, HSR is just now taking input, with the first meeting being held January 20th. And yet, despite the fact that these people whose homes and businesses we are discussing have yet to be notified they may lose it all, you all have already decided that they are supposed to take it lying down. You, in your lofty “its for the good of the people” have passed judgement on an area that has no idea it is being discussed by perfect strangers. Wouldn’t that bug the Hell out of you? My own Mother lives in a mobile home park that is split by the Anaheim-Fullerton border, and she cannot get information from either city about what is going to happen to them. It appears to me that perhaps that stretch is wide enough to get through without takings, and I do not see them listed on the alternatives report, but God knows I will have to move her out of there before construction begins or I will never hear the end of her fussing about the noise. And even if we get a tunnel it will not help her there. But while you folks have already decided we will lose homes and businesses, the last anyone here heard about it, the consultants swore they were remaining in the existing ROW, and nobody up until now has been notified otherwise. This from the people who also botched the boundaries of our historic districts, and missed entire developments. So no, I do not trust the HSRA, and I resent you guys for passing judgement on an area that you do not know, inhabited by people you have not met, who have no idea that they have already essentially had their properties condemned in the court of public opinion. I am not going to change your minds here, that is clear, and I am wasting my breath, but I had to say it. The arrogance of writing off people you have never met is pretty nasty. I hope to Hell I never get that hardened and callous about my fellow human beings. Even if they are from Oakland or San Francisco, same thing right?

    Joey Reply:

    Sound walls are a lot cheaper than that ridiculous bored tunnel option.

    Cynthia Ward Reply:

    Here is one more area where they ARE running right in someone’s back yard. No, you cannot call these homes blighted. http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/birds-eye-view-map/25127206_zpid/#birds-eye-view

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    If you can’t call them blighted now, with a noisy, horn-blowing, at-grade diesel passenger and freight line going behind them, then you can’t claim that they will be blighted by quieter electric trains.

    My friends live next to (not “near”, but next to, as in “on”) the tracks in orange and anaheim. They are adamant about one thing and one thing only: “get rid of the f*cking horns”.

    Grade separating this stretch is of far more importance than worrying about electric trains going by at 50mph.

    The Authority is offering to grade separate your crossings for you, my advice, as someone who’s had to try to sleep next to those tracks: take them up on it.

    A tunnel is going to make that grade separation difficult and more intrusive, if not completely impossible.

    A tunnel is worse for people of Anaheim.

    Spokker Reply:

    Yes, living in a city sucks. Deal with it. Most of us have dealt with construction before.

    Think of it this way. Those freeways we use? Someone had to endure it being constructed too.

  18. jimsf
    Dec 29th, 2009 at 16:53


  19. jimsf
    Dec 29th, 2009 at 17:00

    more nearby

    yea, the trains don’t really run through the neighborhood in these cases. the trains are more of an existing dividing line between adjacent neighborhoods and the row itself is undustrial.

  20. jimsf
    Dec 29th, 2009 at 17:00
  21. jimsf
    Dec 29th, 2009 at 18:40

    show me where the plan is going to bulldoze historic buildings and ill take your side.

  22. jimsf
    Dec 29th, 2009 at 18:41

    show me the little old ladies that will be tossed into the street with no where to go and ill take your side. gladly

  23. Nathanael
    Jan 3rd, 2010 at 12:16

    It’s unfortunate that UP and Caltrans are fundamentally uncooperative. The UP line from LA Union to Anaheim would be more direct and probably allow for faster running, although it would skip Fullerton…. the I-5 route would be similar.

    Also, why isn’t elevated considered an option? It’s three miles, folks!

    Joey Reply:

    Elevated as in all tracks elevated, or elevated as in HSR elevated over SCRRA?

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    Aerial would take as much width as the at-grade option, so the ED problem is still there, plus you have an aerial.

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