Fresno’s 60-Foot HSR Viaduct Gets Noticed

Mar 22nd, 2010 | Posted by

If you’ve ever been to Oakland or Berkeley, or driven through the MacArthur Maze just east of the Bay Bridge toll plaza, you’ve probably seen the massive freeway viaduct shown below in one of the few images I could find of it:

View Larger Map

The viaduct above the roadway (viewed from the transition road from I-580 west to the Bay Bridge) is the transition road from I-880 north to I-80. Opened in 1998, it’s sometimes known in Caltrans publications as the “East Bay Viaduct.” At its highest point it soars at least 80 feet above the ground. The viaduct can be easily seen from many vantage points in the East Bay, especially the Berkeley/Oakland Hills. After 12 years, it has faded into the landscape, less noticeable by most travelers than the Golden Gate, Mt. Tam, or Yerba Buena Island.

I mention this as precedent for the discussion of Russell Clemings’ Fresno Bee article on the proposed 60-foot viaduct through downtown Fresno carrying high speed rail over streets and Union Pacific tracks, roughly adjacent to Highway 99:

A decade from now, one of Fresno’s loftier views might be from the platform of its high-speed train station….

Like the rest of the high-speed line downtown, it would be elevated 60 feet from ground level to the tracks….

It wouldn’t be limited to downtown. Plans call for it to begin rising from ground level at Malaga Avenue, where the high-speed line would lie just west of the existing Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks.

By the time it reached Central Avenue, the trackbed would be perched atop a row of pillars spaced about 120 feet apart.

Following the Union Pacific tracks north from Calwa, it would remain at 60 feet at least until Ashlan Avenue and possibly beyond, depending on which of two alternatives is chosen for the route in northwest Fresno.

An elevated structure has advantages. It costs about twice as much as a ground-level route but allows local streets to remain open. And it’s about half the cost of putting the line in a below-ground trench. But it is certainly big.

This is roughly the area we’re talking about here:

View Fresno HSR viaduct in a larger map

According to the article, the whole blue section would be a viaduct, at least 12 miles, though not all of it would be 60 feet. It would be quite a sight. Here’s what the CHSRA mockups look like (boards 21 and 22):

Here the viaduct is located next to the UPRR corridor, but encroaches on Roeding Park. CHSRA proposes another option, of essentially going directly over the UPRR tracks, in order to avoid the park:

However, this would place some houses in the path of the viaduct. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Clemings reports that this structure, although obviously not cheap, would be only about half the cost of trenching the line.

His article also explained that most Fresno residents were only now becoming aware of the proposal – partly because CHSRA and its consultants have only recently come up with it.

There are certainly operational questions, including how this would interact with Amtrak service (which presumably would remain on the other side of downtown on the BNSF tracks). But it’s an interesting design that would become a major Fresno landmark. It’s obviously much longer than the East Bay Viaduct I showed at the outset of this post. That one has faded into the landscape, whereas it might take just a wee bit longer for the Fresno HSR viaduct to do so. But if it is the design that’s chosen and built, eventually, it too would become part of the landscape.

And it should be noted that, love it or hate it, as far as I’m aware nothing like this is being proposed for the Peninsula.

  1. Mike Folf
    Mar 22nd, 2010 at 21:55

    Looks like Fresno is trying to stand out.

    Regardless, I still hate the town.

    Kiel Famellos-Schmidt Reply:

    We love you too Mike.

  2. Paul H.
    Mar 22nd, 2010 at 23:12

    Yeah this is going to be a huge structure in west Fresno. Most of the aerial will be by industrial businesses and rail yards, about 2 miles of the track will be next to residential areas (the photos shown above is that area).

    Of the alignments that CAHSRA have gone forward with, I prefer Alignment 1 (aka Fresno East) which is the second photo shown. It will displace some homes, but the station will be on the east side of the UP tracks and thats the side we (people that live in Fresno) want it to be on, facing the CBD, Chukchansi Park, and Fulton Mall. If they use one of the other two alignment options that they have proposed (Fresno Cross and Fresno West), the station will be facing Highway 99 and Chinatown, which won’t be very productive for traveling within downtown from the station.

    Also, the residential areas will absolutely need the 20 foot sound walls (hopefully made of a translucent material, so it doesn’t look like a concrete box on top of a 60 foot high aerial, that would be awful).

    Overall, not the alignment I wanted, but as a Fresnan, and supporter of the system, its worth it. The aerial will be in an area that isn’t seen by many people except for people traveling Highway 99 through Fresno and those businesses that are in the area. Not much commercial or retail activity where the aerial is going to be located except for in Downtown.

  3. Samsonian
    Mar 23rd, 2010 at 00:33

    This is the price of UP’s lack of cooperation it seems.

    A big viaduct for HSR, while UP stays at-grade, including at-grade crossings that UP has to maintain, with continued risk for at-grade crossing accidents. How stupid is UP?

    BNSF at least has the common sense to realize the CHSRA is willing to provide free upgrades in exchange for some ROW, that they were unlikely to ever fully utilize. BNSF only benefits in the exchange.

    It’s called a win-win, UP. Get a clue.

    They keep claiming the incompatibility of HSR (‘non-compliant’) and heavy freight, despite the separate tracks. Yet they’ve probably sold more ROW to be used for light rail (also ‘non-compliant’), than any other railroad.

    Are they obstructing, for the sake of obstructing at this point?

  4. jimsf
    Mar 23rd, 2010 at 00:46

    They are impossible to understand. HSR should stick with BNSF.

    Samsonian Reply:

    Except that we need their ROW (or land right next to it) for a number of important sections (Fresno, Merced, Modesto, Stockton, Sacramento, Altamont).

    This really frustrating. I know Robert likes to bring up the idea that we should eliminate the railroads protection from state eminent domain, but that sounds like a really bad policy idea (i.e. rail ROWs being condemned on behalf of NIMBYs).

    We definitely need to lobby our Congress critters on this. But it seems like such an arcane, obscure, wonky thing (witness Boxer and Feinstein imposing unfunded, unspecified PTC mandate on entire industry (~$10-15B?), and claiming Metrolink need 2 drivers).

    I really wish we had “nationalized” our railway infrastructure years ago, like most sane countries. We’re one of a very small group of countries with an almost exclusively private railway system (and certainly the only one that annihilated our railways). Publicly owned railways wouldn’t be much different than aviation or roads are today. The public finances, builds, owns, and maintains it, and charges access fees to multiple private operators who operate on top of the infrastructure. This is what Europe is moving to.

    jimsf Reply:

    Well until there is PTC, there absolutely does need to be two people in the cab. This goes back to what I said in an earlier post about america alway worrying about budget, over safety, quality and convenience.

    It like an employer who wants to break labor laws so they can make a proift. My message to all business is that if you can’t find a way to make a profit doing things the right way, then you are a failure as a business.

    Offer quality, safety, comfort, and convenience, and people will pay. I want to people in my airline cockpit and I want two people in my locomotive cab, or I ain’t gettin’ on board. My bottom is more important than your bottom line.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Jim, I don’t have complete figures for American railroad safety, so I can’t tell whether US railroads have 10 or 100 times the per-passenger-km death rate of Japanese railroads. But sure, let’s keep two people in the cab. And let’s also build trains to weigh three times as much as Japanese equipment. Those are the epitome of safety. PTC, operators who don’t text while driving, grade separations, and the likes are just random wonky stuff that only foreigners care about. Real Americans overstaff and overbuild.

    Joey Reply:

    How about we just get PTC?

    Samsonian Reply:

    Jim, that makes no sense.

    I don’t have Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS)/USDoT statistics off the top of my head, but there’s about ~40,000 auto deaths a year, and probably 1-2 million injuries as well. Passenger rail is ~100 times safer, even without PTC.

    I don’t oppose PTC, I do oppose unspecified, unfunded mandates ($10+ billion) on one of the safest forms of transport. The freight rail industry can’t afford that, and the passenger rail operators sure as hell can’t afford that. And I certainly don’t want to see an expensive, incompatible plugfest that’s sure to follow if ERTMS/ETCS isn’t required to be the national standard.

    The comparisons to airlines isn’t apt. 2 drivers doesn’t increase safety, it just increases costs. Why not have 2 drivers in cars on the road? Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death and injuries.

    The only time 2 drivers should be required, is when the train’s scheduled route is travelling more time than 1 shift allows. I’m certain that’s already the case.

    jimsf Reply:

    Two in the cab until we get ptc. period.

    jimsf Reply:

    suppose one has a heart attack. or falls alseep, or comes to work impaired, some one needs to double step. if we really care about safety. This isn’t japan. This is america.

    dejv Reply:

    American locos don’t have dead man’s switch? Since when?

    Samsonian Reply:

    This isn’t japan. This is america.

    Like we need to be reminded…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Do you support air traffic control? This is an expensive mandate for the single safest mode of travel. (HSR is safer than air, but American low-speed rail isn’t.)

    Samsonian Reply:

    Is that a joke?

    Of course I support ATC. I support public investment in core infrastructure. Earlier in the comments, I mentioned I wished we had a nationalized railway system.

    In any case, ATC isn’t really a mandate like PTC is. ATC is built, owned, and maintained by the government. User fees, in the form of excises taxes aviation fuel and tickets, only partially recover the cost. The equipment in aircraft is probably the cheapest and easiest part of the system. The rest of the infrastructure is the difficult and expensive part, and the same true of PTC for trains.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sorry, I wasn’t thinking straight… You’re right, ATC is a government program. I was thinking of the security theater. Some of it is government-provided, but not all; airports have to provide part of the system themselves.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Nationalization has been attempted to some extent in the past with very limited success. The federal government seized the railroads during the First World War but only during the period that was considered an emergency. Standard USRA designs came out of it. But note that it was not repeated during World War II, during which the railroads played an even greater role in the eventual victory and under an admiinistration which did not shy away from “socialist” solutions.

    Conrail is a more recent instance of government involvement in the US railway network. Personally I think it was a mistake to re-privatize Conrail but it was done for two obvious reasons. Under government ownership unions tend to become too powerful and secondly the government can’t afford to own railroads because the federal budget has been strained by military spending and welfare.

  5. Thomas N
    Mar 23rd, 2010 at 07:02

    The problems of aerial structures like viaducts is that they can cause visual impact, and people may see one as a “wall.” Personally, I think the 60-foot viaduct looks like a wall and residents will more likely oppose it because they see it as dividing their neighborhood. Even though a trench is more expensive than a viaduct, at least it will not cause a visual impact to the community.

    Joey Reply:

    It’s difficult to say. There will definitely be visual impact, but whether it will be perceived as a barrier is an entirely different question. The structure itself is pretty open (columns spaced at 120′ intervals), but it may or may not impose a psychological barrier. Probably something that needs to be studied in the future…

  6. political_incorrectness
    Mar 23rd, 2010 at 07:09

    I agree with samsonian, publicly owned infrastructure can be great but many argue it goes against capitalism. In a sense it does but it opens up competition for other operators on the same trackage, makes improvements to infrastructure less of a hassle, and more.

    wu ming Reply:

    quite the opposite, capitalism is all about socializing unprofitable costs and then privatizing anything profitable. been that way for centuries.

    Anonymoose Reply:

    Quite the opposite (not to copy your terminology or anything, heh):

    If you read Adam Smith (e.g. the father of capitalism), he was all in favor of public ownership & investment in infrastructure like roads & canals
    I’ve never understood why the US seems to have some idea that public ownership of interstates is fantastic but public ownership of railroads is terrible. Public ownership of interstates did a lot of good economically (though less so enviromentally, and interstates basically killed railroads’ freight businesses), so why not public ownership in an area arguably more capital-intensive?

    But then again, I’m a dirty arugula-munching liberal.

    EJ Reply:

    Um, not sure if you’ve noticed, but US freight trains carry billions of tons of freight every year. A much greater percentage of freight is hauled by train in the US than in Europe. The economic problems experienced by US railroads in the 1960s and 70s had a number of causes, such as the decline of US manufacturing, a general economic downturn, and the slowness of the railroads to adapt to container shipping – the interstates had comparatively little to do with it.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Uh, the reason there’s little freight hauling in Europe compared to the US is that they never switched to knuckle couplers (they’re still using buffers and chains, which is ridiculous). This makes for incredibly inefficient operations.

    That’s really pretty much the only reason as far as I can tell. Russia and China have huge railroad freight hauling, under public ownership.

    dejv Reply:

    The same BS again? Have you heard about limited station length? Lack of interoperability and need to switch engines and staff every few hundred km? Need to stop every few tens of km to permit passenger train overtakes? Lack of capacity improvements for freight? Virtually no piggyback-able semitrailers?

    Trust me, buffers and chain are the least reason for freight railway modal share decline.

    Nathanael Reply:

    – the interoperability problems are fairly low now that the EU has been established
    – switching engines imposes minimal delays IF YOU HAVE KNUCKLE COUPLERS
    – the need to stop for passenger overtakes exists in the US too
    – station length is irrelevant for freight, unless you’re referring to freight yards as “stations”, and we had the same problem in the US too
    – containerization means piggybacking is not necessary, plus which there are plenty of piggybacking semitrailers.

    Trust me, buffers and chain are one of the main reasons why the other changes in the industry, which happened *everyhere else*, didn’t happen in Europe! It’s a pain in the neck to operate long, variable length consists with buffers and chain; switching and engine changes become a tedious and dangerous process rather than a trivial one; intermodal container transfer yards therefore become a much more labor-intensive operation. ET CETERA.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Some of what Wikipedia says about buffers and chain:
    “Inefficient and slow, the European system is relatively unsafe because it requires manual coupling between vehicles, exposing workers to the risk of being crushed.”
    (Inefficient and slow is the important point here: car classification is *much* faster with knuckle couplers.)
    “The buffers and chain coupling system has a maximum load much less that of the Janney coupling.”
    (and you think this doesn’t prevent running of efficient freight trains??)

    Admittedly the *former* lack of European integration was another issue hurting freight trains. The success of passenger rail did hurt freight development, but it wouldn’t have done so if it weren’t for the other two major problems.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    the interoperability problems are fairly low now that the EU has been established.

    You have no idea what you’re talking about. Border crossing is still a disaster, nearly everywhere, with only a few exceptions.

    About the only thing Europe has now that it didn’t once are universal-voltage locomotives, but even with them there are so many incompatible pairs of national signalling systems and unique national work rules than the idea of a go-anywhere train and crew remains a distant fantasy.

    I don’t know what comic book you’re getting your “facts” about EU rail freight from but it has nothing to do with the “Europe” that exists on “Planet Earth”.

    switching engines imposes minimal delays IF YOU HAVE KNUCKLE COUPLERS.

    Bad old European flower-wire couplers can be attached in a couple minutes also, as anybody who rode a train to any of the big city terminals in the bad old days before push-pull (and even today) knows. That’s not the problem. Paying for the place to stopping the train. Stopping the train. Getting the old loco off. Paying many people to detach the old loco, drive the old loco, switch the tracks for the new loco, drive the new loco, attach the new loco. Doing the paperwork and the technical tests. Starting the train. In comic books of “EU” rail freight perhaps this takes 3 minutes also. But Planet Earth Reality is that freight border crossings take multiple hours, still. Average transit speeds can end up slower than walking.

    the need to stop for passenger overtakes exists in the US too.

    Right. One Amtrak a day is just the same as six passenger trains per direction per hour on the same line. Fer shure.

    station length is irrelevant for freight, unless you’re referring to freight yards as “stations”, and we had the same problem in the US too.

    Are you serious? Does anybody really believe this?

    containerization means piggybacking is not necessary, plus which there are plenty of piggybacking semitrailers.

    Are you serious? Does anybody really believe this?
    Can you even find this place called “Europe” on a map?

    PS A couple dozen exotic Modalohr shuttles a day doesn’t even register as a rounding error in the tally of continent-wide freight shipments.

    Reality is that European rail freight is in a dire situation, with few exceptions.
    Reality is also that US rail freight equipment and operation can’t offer practical solutions (beyond the GE/GM diesels repackaged for export, and heavy-haul mine to port.)
    The real problems are political, disastrous union rules (also politics), an operating culture of failure (border crossing has been slow for a century? why change?), neanderthal foot-dragging and obstruction by entrenched national monopoly operators and/or/with national infrastructure authorities, refusal and obstruction (often illegal, but so what?) of technical harmonisation.
    The fact that 30 years ago the plan to standardize continent-wide on a knuckle coupling system (sabotaged by France) didn’t go through doesn’t help either, but that’s way down on the list.
    There are some glimmers of hope, but they’re faint, and few. Thank God for navigable coastal and inland waterways.

    dejv Reply:

    Even the best locos in terms of interoperability can’t do Netherlands to Italy run, the corridor with biggest demand for such machines. There has been big push push recently to move engine switches of ECs from border stations in the middle of nowhere to nearest cities.

    dejv Reply:

    It’s probably worth mentioning that most of total coupling time takes brake test. The biggest problem of handover from one company to the other in the middle of nowhere is logistics. Both companies must arrive on time to minimize time penalty.

    The single biggest advantage of knuckle couplers is their strength. There’s just one real world means to exploit it: bump train length. So you think you only need full lengt tracks only at train termini? Look at this pic. It’s real-world example of european-style timetable on mostly single track line (between Koz and Lip, the thin lines at far left tell it). The horizontal axis is time and every train is represented by line. Thick lines are expresses, other black locals, all of them are subsidized and therefore have priority over blue freights. On single track sections, trains can meet only at stations. So, you stop the local train at some station ahead of theoretical collision point and let your oversize freight pass – and then you get fined big way by regional government for delaying their train. You’d probably like to run (even longer) empties train in opposite direction but it has to wait in nearest double track section for your train to clear. And if you’re gonna reply to me that you’d run your train at night only, it’s not an option, you’re wasting 3/4 of day then and even then the traffic doesn’t calm really much.
    Conclusion: the train length is effectively limited by station length when traffic density isn’t negligible

    It sounds nice that containers made purpose built semi-trailers redundant but the reality on european roads is that container share is negligible. Maybe a time to think about putting Muhammad and the Mountain to the practice. ;)

    Buffers and chain have the same inherent level of safety. The main risks for coupling staff is being hit by air hose under pressure or getting run over by sudden movement of consist – AAR and SA3 couplers happen to have these risks as well. Only fully automatic Scharffenberg couplers are completely safe for staff but they’re unsuitable for heavy duty operations. Buffers and chain also allow nice operations like uncoupled pushers that stop and reverse direction as soon as the train crests the hill instead of going to the nearest station, uncoupling and climbing back to summit.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    A much greater percentage of freight is hauled by train in the US than in Europe.

    True. And a much greater percentage of freight is hauled by coastal and river shipping in Europe than in the US.

    The idea that US freight railroads have what limited success they do is entirely due to the Magic of the Free Market and the Far Seeing Strategies of the Captains of Industry ignores, well, the dire financial situation of most of the RRs most of the last several decades, the incredibly poor return on investment the RRs have delivered most of the time, and the roles of “luck” and “geography” in their success.

    There’s nothing I’d like better than to see more freight on the rails and less on the roads where that is cost effective, but that doesn’t amount to writing blank checks to private (and self-serving, per legitimate capitalist imperative) RR managers and saying that screwing over the public interest is just fine and dandy, and by the way here’s a few hundred million dollars as well which we wouldn’t dream of telling you what do do with. Freight yes, but not at any cost.

    Regardless of all of which, Fresno is going to get completely screwed.

    Ridiculously high speed non-stop trains through the city, insanely oversized structures, and freight trains at ground level clogging everything up. Win, win, win!!!

    It’s something only the stupidest possible engineering minds in the world — or, alternately, the finest financial engineering minds, determined to deliver the very least public benefit at the greatest possible cost — could have come up with.

    (Of course the exact same cast of PBQD-Bechtel public squalor/private opulence Legitimate Businessmen “transportation planners” did the exact same thing but at 10% of the scale in SF Bay Area on the Fremont line when they grade separated their BART wonder-train but left immediately adjacent freight at grade, both clogging streets, zeroing out station area development opportunities, and, most importantly, leaving open the possibility of doing everything over again at huge cost in the future rather than doing it right the first time.)

    Joey Reply:

    Actually, now that I look at it, there are not that many crossings that would be difficult to separate by dipping the road under the tracks. Unlike the peninsula, there aren’t driveways mere feet from the tracks in most places. Not sure how the cost of something like this compares to the aerial or the trench, though honestly I would prefer to spend a little more money on a better solution (at-grade or trench). But since people are all whining about cost inflation, I suppose the cheapest (we have no evidence to suggest otherwise) solution prevails, even if it is sub-optomal.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    EJ, the reasons you’re giving for train decline are now cited as reasons for the renaissance of freight rail. Containerization makes it cheaper and faster to ship intermodal freight on rail; it improves truck-rail connections, solving the last mile problem. High fuel costs and a general economic downturn are good for rail freight, which is cheaper than trucking. And the decline of US manufacturing has created a new market based on shipping imported goods through California ports, which is now one of the strongest captive markets for UP and BNSF.

    In the US, Japan, and Europe alike, rail used to carry the vast majority of ground-borne freight. Then came freeways, and rail started bleeding market share. In the US, rail stabilized its ground-borne market share around 1980; since then, both rail and trucking have gained market share at the expense of sea freight. In Japan and most European countries, it didn’t: containerization helped sea freight instead of rail freight, and rail infrastructure investments went to passenger rather than freight rail (Switzerland is an exception, but it still has a lower rail freight modal share than the US).

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    Freight rail is losing market share in Europe for several reasons. Conflicting regulations may block a train at a border for days, making delivery dates very unreliable. By contrast, the European highway system is totally seamless. With two drivers, a truck may go practically non-stop from Seville to Berlin. 24-hour deliveries are common. Unthinkable by train if SNCF and DB are involved.

    Another reason, unknown in the US, for the development of trucking is disparity of salaries. For instance, potatoes grown in the North of France are trucked to Morocco to be peeled and cut, and then trucked back to France to the prducer. Big trucking companies have found a loophole to evade the French law obliging employers to give equal pay to foreign workers. They have created front companies in Poland where a driver is happy to be paid for a week what a French driver gets in one day. The SNCF clearly can’t compete.
    Trains no longer transport heavy low-value products like coal. This part of the market entirely belongs to waterways (sea, rivers, canals).

    dejv Reply:

    All the truckers I met used to drive single. Even then they routinely cover 2000km distances.

    Salary difference slowly decreases as new member currencies strenghten with respect to Euro.

    Trains no longer transport heavy low-value products like coal. This part of the market entirely belongs to waterways (sea, rivers, canals).

    Only at coasts, parts of European Plain and parts of big rivers of Alpes.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “Conflicting regulations may block a train at a border for days, making delivery dates very unreliable. ”

    Hasn’t the EU abolishment of customs borders eliminated this?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No. The EU abolition of customs means that if you’re a private driver, you can drive from Lisbon to Warsaw without being harassed every time you cross a border. It doesn’t mean that the union rules allow international shipping, and it doesn’t mean that the national regulations for how a train ought to be run are harmonized.

    Samsonian Reply:

    Anonymoose, I absolutely agree with that there’s a double standard with regard to railways in this country.

    We apparently have no problems spending untold trillions on publicly aviation and roads over many decades now, yet expect rail to pay its own way by private companies and compete against massively government subsidized competition. Rail is setup for failure, and all the built in, inherent advantages for rail can’t overcome that.

    On Adam Smith, his thoughts are often misinterpreted. He was a philosopher, but created a number of ideas that are considered the core of modern economics (e.g. division of labor). He also believed in universal education, public works (i.e. infrastructure, of the type we’re talking about), public institutions, banking regulation, etc. Things people might not think of when they think of Adam Smith.

  7. Nadia
    Mar 23rd, 2010 at 08:07

    For anyone interested in writing a comment to the HSRA- CARRD has put together a guide for citizens on how to write effective comments:

    Joey Reply:

    There’s some good advice, but an obvious skew toward local opposition toward local issues. I suppose there is nothing wrong with this in theory, since locals probably know about local conditions better than anyone else, but people are not encouraged to view issues in a larger context. No consideration of cost, technical issues, or viewing things in a regional or statewide context (things that would encourage people to make valuable, informed suggestions). Plus, I think a lot of people might interpret it as a blank check for NIMBYism…

    Nadia Reply:

    We appreciate your feedback Joey.

    Actually, the purpose of comments are to point out all the issues up front so they can be adequately accounted and mitigated. Clearly there are lots of positives – but the point of the EIR is to act as a “full disclosure” document that planners can use. The best thing commenters can do is point out anything the Authority may have missed or not have considered and make sure we point it out so they can do the best job possible. That way we all win.

    Citizens generally don’t know the “regional or statewide” issues as well as their own backyards – that’s just human nature. And besides, we should not ignore things just because there are other positives that may outweigh the negatives….

    Just FYI – we have been asked by an Outreach Team member for the project if they can distribute the document to interested citizens who want to learn how to write a good comment. I take that to mean it is a fair and useful document, but if you take issue with any part in particular, I’d welcome your feedback.

    Peter Reply:

    I’m pretty certain that the Authority would rather read well-thought-out comments than have to sort through comments like ” Trains are bad!” even if those comments raise legitimate concerns.

  8. Joseph E
    Mar 23rd, 2010 at 08:52

    So if UP was willing to let their right-of-way be used, we could have a 20-foot high berm or viaduct instead. That would be much less obtrusive, and have the huge benefit of grade-separating the freight traffic thru town as well, freeing the neighborhoods from noisy horns and bells, and greatly improving cross-traffic for pedestrians, bikes and cars trying to cross the tracks.

    The 60-foot viaduct would work, but it is needlessly expensive and gets none of the benefits of grade-separating the freight trains. A trench would be no better, if freight is still at grade.

    Congress needs to change the laws that give freight railroads absolute power over their right-of-way.

    Joey Reply:

    The point of the 60 foot viaduct is to get over the existing overpasses that rise above the railroad. Otherwise less, presumably 20 feet would be fine.

  9. jimsf
    Mar 23rd, 2010 at 09:30

    @political incorrectness-“I agree with samsonian, publicly owned infrastructure can be great but many argue it goes against capitalism”

    I know I love that argument. God forbid we “go against capitalism” The horror of it all. I mean if it weren’t for our ever-exalted, unbridled, capitalism, we wouldn’t be where we are today….. oh… wait….

  10. Clem
    Mar 23rd, 2010 at 10:58

    Maybe Fresno residents would prefer that HSR skirt around the western edge of the town? In my opinion that is a more balanced compromise between accessibility, cost, noise, vibration and visual impacts, and mirrors how successful European HSR networks solve this particular problem.

    Eric M Reply:

    I agree. I think is is silly to build this tall of a viaduct

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    I know we’ve gone back and forth over this, and I’m not trying to be snarky when I ask: could you provide a map of where you think the line should go? It looks to me like you’re going to have to go pretty far outside of fresno to “skirt” all the sprawl.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    I get about a 2 mile penalty for a fresno bypass and about a 7 mile penalty for the bako bypass, or about 2-3 minute travel penalty at full speed, with unknown impact on ridership due to the stations being in BFE. (crappy map here)

    Spokker Reply:

    Look at how wide the right of way is on the current route.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    I am in favor of the downtown alignments (though still curious as to why they’ve decided to elevate fresno), I’m just trying to get a better idea of Clem (and RM’s) insistence that a bypass is the way to go.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The fast trains use a cheap ROW outside of town. The slower trains, the ones that will be stopping in downtown, will only need two tracks through the expensive downtown.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    This idea costs more than you think. Italian HSR construction has insane costs precisely due to this arrangement.

    Clem Reply:

    Insane on a different scale than California HSR? Because if Italian construction costs are insane, what would you call California costs?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The current CAHSR budget is actually semi-reasonable, for having so many mountain passes to deal with. That’s part of the reason so few people believe it, I think.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The published “program level” budget is reasonable. Wait until all the real numbers start coming out with the alternatives analyses. SF – SJ still assumes only 2 train tracks and pretends Caltrain has vaporized and left its infrastructure for HSR. SJ – Gilroy still has grade level alignment. etc etc.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    On the other hand… Italy’s building the bypasses through more expensive land, I think.

    Clem Reply:

    About like you drew it, but skirting around the west side of Easton. That makes the route no longer or slower than the downtown alignment.

    In fact, it might be significantly faster. Just like the CHSRA, you forgot in your travel time calculations to discount the significant speed restriction that is more likely than not going to be imposed for non-stop trains through downtown Fresno. You just don’t do 100 decibels through downtown. Not in California, and certainly not in any other country with HSR.

    Zaragoza, Spain is an excellent example that Fresno might emulate.

    Joey Reply:

    Doesn’t Zaragoza have a link into the city center as well?

    Elizabeth Reply:

    No. The station is on the corner of the town, about 1 1/2 mile from the center. Google streetview rocks.

    Anyone know the configuration of the tracks there? There is a lot of stuff under construction (google does lag) and it is hard to see.

    Joey Reply:

    Well, it’s not downtown, per se, but the rail line DOES split, the mainline avoiding the city altogether and the branch heading into the city itself. The east side connection back to the mainline is only one track though. Actually, it seems strange that the station is at the corner of the city when the tracks go straight through (albeit in a tunnel). In any case, not a lot of this applies to Fresno unless you want to have a downtown alignment AND a bypass alignment.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    They built a massive station, with a ring road and all sorts of other infrastructure. My guess is that it would not have fit well. Any Spanish rail experts out there?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    No expert here, but I do a lot of homework. (A good: if you don’t have the facts, shut up.)

    Anybody who likes trains (can’t … help … myself) needs to spend a lot of time drooling over Spanish infrastructure porn. (Not just HSR metros, trams, airports, highways, urban parks, office towers, residential construction, etc, ec, etc, etc.)

    Anyway, the massive and very impressive Zaragoza Delicias station is sited about as centrally as anything with that footprint can be on the existing rail rights of way in the city. It’s built, like most of the new Spanish stations, on existing urban rail yards (freight yards, workshops, storage yards, etc), and like most of the new Spanish urban stations, comes with an urbanity and vitality improvement package that includes fantastic transit and taxi connections, undergrounding of tracks, highway improvements, extensive creation of new parklands, etc.

    The same sort of thing is happening all around the country: throw a dart at a map and you’ll hit an example. Barcelona La Sagrera, a href=””>Valladolid, Valencia, …

    Big differences from Palo Alto, South San Francisco, Sunnyvale, etc: these are urban, urbane cities, with existing large-footprint rail yards, and nobody is proposing something as something as bat shit insane (an EU-approved technical term) as running trains at 200kmh through these cities. Burying the tracks works because train speeds are circa 100kmh, and because Spanish project design and management cost are something like a hundredth of what our corrupt local consultant mafia ream us for. (This is no joke! They’re building a third, brand new tunnel 7.3km between the the two main stations in Madrid, under and over incredibly complex urban infrastructure including multiple metro lines, for under EUR 300 million … and it will be open two years from now. And work. Unlike PBQD’s project outputs.)

    Another big difference: sharing tracks between the HS and regional trains is impossible to very difficult because of two different track gauges. (Fairly easy where there’s lots of yard space like Zaragoza or Madrid, incredibly complex in Valencia.)

    The construction phase is a big mess, as I’ve illustrated here in the past, but starting condition (decrepit rail yards) is usually not that great, the Spanish construction contractors work quickly and don’t blow out budgets, and the resulting benefits to the local population are immense. Contrast that with CSHRA, which is all fiscal black hole, all local downside, and nothing but the noise of flight level zero airlines that don’t stop and don’t serve anybody local in the end.

    High speed trains eiher bypass (eg the Zaragoza example) or serve new peripheral parkway stations (too many examples to list.)

    Nobody is proposing anything as bat shit insane as 200kmh through 80km of developed suburbs, at grade or below. Anybody who did so would be laughed out of the room, would never be invited to design or bid on any project anywhere ever again, and if they tried to go ahead they’d be crucified by the local population and governments, and quite rightly so.

    Joey Reply:

    Yeah, our planning and construction processes are crap (this is not unique to HSR).

    But show me one non-American city that actually has 80km of suburbs to run through in order to reach its destination.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Richard, we’ve been here before. 200 KPH trains run through some of the richest suburbs in the world right now, every day all day. The gravlaks at Wegman’s and Trader Joe’s doesn’t curdle. The baristas at Starbucks don’t flee in terror. Neiman’s and Nordstroms still sell overpriced goods. And there’s a 20 percent premium on houses that can be listed in the real estate ads with the phrade “walk to station”. Some of those places some of the trains go as fast as 220 KPH and for some short stretches some of the trains get up to 240.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    But show me one non-American city that actually has 80km of suburbs to run through in order to reach its destination.

    The Tohoku Shinkansen runs through the urban area for about 100 kilometers.

    dejv Reply:

    The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that a tall bridge is for them a means to achieve 220 mph downtown operations. Bridge height and dynamic effects of HSTs imply heavy structure that will dampen vibration efficiently so the structure itself will be quiet. Combine that with noise screens that deflect all noise upwards and noise impact on the town itself will be negligible but nearby hills overlooking the bridge will get full impact.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    nearby hills aren’t close to the tracks, they probably won’t even be able to hear it.

    dejv Reply:

    You’d be surprised how far can such deflected noise go. Southwest slopes of these hills are gonna get more train-radiated noise than any place in the city proper.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Those hills are miles away from the track. Noisy things miles away are difficult to hear.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Oh, interesting thought. I’d love to see the noise analyses for this. That could be absolutely right….

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    Updated Map.

    That eliminates the line length penalty for Fresno, but the stations would still be in the middle of nowhere, even by beet-field station standards. I tried to align the route along the section lines which puts the grade separations mainly at road corners, reducing either the number of grade separations needed or the number of roads closed, or both. But you’re still going to have to take a lot of farm structures and divide a lot of land.

    “Zaragoza, Spain is an excellent example that Fresno might emulate.”

    But Zaragoza has a bypass as well as a downtown station. Are you now looking for a bypass + downtown station like Richard was promoting? I thought you were calling for a beet-field station in fresno. Certainly 23 extra miles of track is going to be more expensive than sound walls and 6000ft of quad tracking at the station.

    Clem Reply:

    Taking a lot of farm and dividing a lot of land is not nearly as high-impact as running a 100 decibel railroad through urban Fresno.

    As for your map, that’s the general idea, although I think it could skirt a bit closer to downtown. Also, the curve radius is WAY too sharp. For 250 mph design speed you need a minimum radius of 8.5 km (see TM 2.1.2)

    A downtown station is unlikely to happen if a bypass is built, since there would be the same issue of grade separations and FRA segregation. No solution is perfect.

    Clem Reply:

    visualize 8.5 km radius in Fresno

    Clem Reply:

    Sorry, URL FAIL. Try this

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Semi-off-topic: how do you draw circles of exact radius in Google Maps?

    Clem Reply:

    First, pick off two points on each tangent segment that you want to connect with a curve. Next, perform a non-trivial calculation of the latitude and longitude of the center of the circle tangent to both segments, which depends on radius. Finally, use the KML circle generator and import into Google Maps.

    Alon Levy Reply:


    jimsf Reply:

    I spoke with a customer from France the other day who was very knowledgeable about sncf, and he said that in France, they wound up doing just that a lot, skirting the edge, just because of the same downtown and nimby issues. They didn’t want to do it, but, they had to make the compromise.

    Clem Reply:

    That’s what I’ve been saying all along. A compromise is exactly what it is, and the deal-making in Fresno has barely even begun. I fully expect the viaduct “preferred alternative” to go nowhere once somebody litigates the environmental impacts. The trench will go nowhere because of cost. End result: skirting the edge of Fresno. When this is finally settled in 2021, you’ll remember you heard it here first ;-)

    Peter Reply:

    But success on litigating the environmental impacts simply means that the planning agency has to go back and redo their analysis. It doesn’t mean anything actually changes.

    jimsf Reply:

    Id rather see it downtown though. Especially in fresno. IT has too much potential to waste

    jimsf Reply:

    I think they should go over to the bnsf side and work with bnsf on a grade level route, and partner on eleminating grade crossings. bnsf would be happy to do that ill bet.

    Joey Reply:

    The BNSF alignment is quite curvy. Not appropriate for HSR.

    Samsonian Reply:

    BNSF ROW also has a lot residential development around it, and doesn’t serve Fresno’s downtown like the UP ROW does.

  11. Kevin
    Mar 23rd, 2010 at 12:26

    Why 60 feet? Has UPRR started showing an interest in running quadruple-stacked containers?

    Nathanael Reply:

    That was my question too. 60 feet seems remarkably high. I believe UP could run doublestacks without well cars in a mere 30 feet. Are they trying to go over five-story buildings?

    Peter Reply:

    I think the 60 feet was so that they could cross the overpasses in Fresno with sufficient clearances.

    Nathanael Reply:

    A-ha. So, rail line on surface, road overpass over that, passenger rail line on level +3.

    This seems a relatively nutty way to design things, but I guess that’s the problem with UP acting stupid. Really the federal government should just use eminent domain on Union Pacific and seize the land.

    Joey Reply:

    I don’t think eminent domain would solve the problem. You’ve still got a very large number of grade crossings to separate, and you can’t do it with a low aerial since there are already overpasses.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Do them like the existing grade separations?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Unless there’s something sacred about the existing overpasses, you could build a single berm, viaduct, or trench for both freight tracks and HSR tracks, avoiding the doublestack design and putting the road and pedestrian crossings back onto the surface. Except that UP is very uncooperative, and doesn’t even like having its tracks on the other side of a fence from HSR.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    ..they want to build up at 60 feet so the existing overpasses don’t have to be disturbed. The overpasses are there to go to grade separate SR99 and or UP. Adding a few more overpasses and closing a few grade crossings would be cheaper than 12 miles of viaduct…

    Peter Reply:

    The only way to (currently) exercise eminent domain against an existing railroad is if Amtrak already operates along the route, and the freight railroad owner does not maintain the line in a manner conducive to passenger rail operations.

    Nathanael Reply:

    *Congress* can exercise eminent domain against *anyone* in the US.

    Peter Reply:

    Well yes, but I was assuming that Congress is unlikely to get involved in this issue directly.

  12. Spokker
    Mar 23rd, 2010 at 13:03

    A 60 foot viaduct would improve Fresno visually, if anything. I hate Fresno.

  13. EJ
    Mar 23rd, 2010 at 15:30

    Not sure where you got the impression that residents of Oakland don’t notice the Macarthur maze – most people consider it ugly as hell, and it’s not like anyone who can afford to live elsewhere wants to live next to it.

    They just don’t complain about it because it’s not like it’s going anywhere.

  14. tomh
    Mar 23rd, 2010 at 17:07

    Wow. That…uh…stands out. Yes, it would be twice as expensive, but trenching is probably the best option if possible. Or maybe another route? Though it might look cool to see those sleek high speed trains overhead.

    BTW, in an emergency, what’s the solution if a train gets stuck up so high?

    Peter Reply:

    Ummm, either the train gets towed to the next station and the passengers get on a new train (if the train breaks down), or the passengers get out and walk (if operations have to cease due to an earthquake, for example).

    tomh Reply:

    Yeah, I suppose there will have to be a lot of stairs.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or they put another train on an adjacent track and everybody uses a nice bridge that newer trains carry around for just that problem and every walks across to the other train. There’s new rules for transferring passengers from one train to another where there isn’t a bridge available but that can be done also.

    Nathanael Reply:

    There are emergency escape walkways on either side (or rarely, in the middle). They used to build bridges without these — they simply do not do that any more, and the laws require it for new construction. This is one reason all monorail promoters are full of crap — they still show pictures of elevated lines without escape walkways.

    So you walk along the bridge until you get to the station.

    This is if they can’t rescue you by transferring you to another train.

    tomh Reply:

    Yes, assuming the station is nearby (the viaduct is supposed to be 12 miles long). So I think passengers would walk along an emergency walkway/bridge to the nearest stairs and walk down to the ground, from there the rail company or emergency services can provide road transportation to the station.

  15. Nadia
    Mar 23rd, 2010 at 21:37

    The Fresno situation is a great example of how CSS could be used to come up with something that fits the “context” a bit more.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Like what another 3 billion dollar tunnel? I think they are a little less ultra touchy as PA and other towns along Caltrain. Just because its above ground does not mean it has to be ugly..there can be some very beautiful structures..

    Nadia Reply:

    Sorry, I should have been more clear – my point was if we could bring ALL the stakeholders to the table – including hopefully UP, we might be able to come up with a better solution.

    CSS is not a way to get tunnels – it is a way to flesh out all the community opportunities to hopefully solve for multiple problems (transportation issues and community issues) with something that fits. I don’t know if there is a better solution, but I bet if CSS had been used, we’d have more confidence about how that huge viaduct ended up as the alternative (which isn’t exactly going to blend into the skyline anytime soon.)

    For the record, the Federal Highway Administration and CalTrans both have policies to follow CSS and they don’t only build tunnels…. Perhaps the the FHWY and CalTrans have a “touchy” reputation I’m not familiar with?

    tomh Reply:

    Agreed. The viaduct could look nice (there are beautiful bridges all over the world) and still cost less than trenching or tunneling. That said, the viaduct in the CHSRA mockups above are TERRIBLE. Ugh.

    Peter Reply:

    If they build the UP-East alignment and build some signature spans, maybe it would fit in better? Maybe they would rather not have it be any more visually intrusive than it already is at 60 feet…

    YesonHSR Reply:

    They do tend to show some of the early desgins as real boring…for once I would agree with some ofthe people in PA of the elevated options at that location was just bare ugly ..not very smart when you are trying to show people how nice it can be .

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The mockup that archop posted on their site is probably a better representation. I spoke to the HSR consultants and they said it was fairly representative of what they are talking about, except that the platform would have to be thicker to support the 4 tracks and platforms.

    Also check out

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    From all I can tell, the Viaduct proposal fits the context just fine. The concerns on the ground appear to be more about location. Most Fresno residents aren’t fazed by a 60-foot viaduct, especially since they have bigger things on their mind, like jobs…

    Nadia Reply:

    Just because they are focused on jobs doesn’t mean we (as Californians) should ignore the giant 12 mile white elephant in the room that will remain once the economy picks up again. If the economy was booming – I bet we’d see a lot more vocal people in Fresno.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Choo choo on ground good. Choo choo in air good!
    Choo choo in tunnel good (but only Pacheco tunnel — everything else is NIMBY.)
    Anybody who doesn’t love shiny concrete PBQD choo choo is a DENIALIST OBSTRUCTIONIST NIMBY BANANA.

    Honk honk growl growl UP choo choo on ground with zoom zoom whoosh whoosh PB choo choo up above it on super skyway double plus good!!

    Peter Reply:

    Oh dear, Richard forgit his meds again! ;)

    EJ Reply:

    See I like this style of Richard M posts – he’s like a surreal Spokker. It’s the 10 paragraph frothing rants about some trivial design decision that’s going to cause total catastrophe because it’s not exactly the way they do things in Germany that wear me out.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    “The trivial design decisions’ which have been gratuitously screwed up so far are going to cost YOU on the order of $20 billion extra, while delivering far worse service. But hey, look over there, shiny zoomy choo choo! Shiny!

    “Facts are stupid things,” as that towering Californian intellectual Ronald Reagan observed.

    Joey Reply:

    What does Pacheco have to do with ANYTHING anymore? Mountain crossings are the one place where you can’t escape tunnels, and Altamont wouldn’t be any better in this respect.

  16. synonymouse
    Mar 23rd, 2010 at 23:48

    The solution is to not build the hsr in Fresno but down the middle of I-5. Upgrade Amtrak along the 99 corridor with diesels for now.

  17. Paul H.
    Mar 24th, 2010 at 01:56

    There will have to be sound walls I would say from Shields Ave to just south of downtown. That’s gonna cost, but I think people will be fine with a 4 story transit center downtown. You see those stations in the bay area and nobody mines taking escalators either down to tunnels or up to aerials. The sound will be the problem, and a few miles of translucent sound walls will be the answer.

    oh, and synonymouse: I-5 for HSR will never happen. Get over it.

    tomh Reply:

    Translucent sound walls would be great. I’ve never seen them in use. Where are they in use right now?

    Agreed. The I-5 route will never happen because the stops in the towns along 99 are needed to make the service commercially viable.

    Peter Reply:

    Not to mention it would not be politically viable. Cutting off the entire population of the Central Valley from the state’s future economic engine is just stupid.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I’ve seen them around light rail stations on the LA Green Line….

    I’ve no idea whether anyone could build 12 MILES of translucent sound walls at a reasonable price though!

    Peter Reply:

    Here’s an example of a translucent sound wall.

    There’s no reason to build 12 miles worth, either, as most of that (10 miles or so) is industrial area, anyway. Only 2 miles worth is residential.

    Peter Reply:

    Nice. It has a sound reduction of between 32 and 36 db, based on thickness.

  18. jimsf
    Mar 24th, 2010 at 09:59

    Fresno has far too much potential to just sit there watching tv and eating chips. It needs to DO something to attract some attention. So I say build the viaduct, light it up, or have it light up whenever a train passes… you know something flashy and vegas-y they have nothing to lose. They need to step up their game.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    To attract attention, the viaduct should be PRETTY … or at least, visually stunning.

    Joey Reply:

    Though you risk encountering cost inflation a la Bay Bride East Span…

    BruceMcF Reply:

    There’s no intrinsic reason why a visually attractive solution is MORE LIKELY to have cost inflation than an ugly one … there might be a premium, but a well-specified design competition would put a cap on the premium reflecting the value placed on the visual amenity.

  19. Travis D
    Mar 24th, 2010 at 10:09

    A 12 mile long viaduct!

    AWESOME! I can’t wait to watch this thing get built. I just love large concrete aerials.

    Though it’s only 60 feet high in a few spots. It looks like most of it will be 17-25 feet through most if it which would make it about as intrusive as an elevated freeway which Fresno already has plenty of.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The plans are actually 60 feet the whole way (from what I’ve heard from the Authority)

    Joey Reply:

    Yeah, actually it looks like there are overpasses spaced throughout the whole route.

    Joey Reply:

    Though nothing North of Ashlan AVE…

  20. Daniel Krause
    Mar 24th, 2010 at 13:21

    If the Authority is going to do a viaduct, why on earth can’t they do it over the UP ROW? It is completely unreasonable for UP to demand that there air rights are left completely open to the blue sky. Furthermore, they have a tremendous amount of excess land within their ROW, so an at-grade option should be considered. The Authority seems to be following the path of least resistence by avoiding UP. Rather they need to get the Central Valley political power structure onboard to force UP to at least sell excess land, or at a minimum, allow for an aerial structure immediately above their ROW. It is crazy to considered creating an entirely new ROW for HSR that will require taking of land (which of course will sour some of the great support the Central Valley has for the project).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    At grade options are cheap. You need a backhoe, maybe a bulldozer and lots of trucks filled with gravel. no digging deep holes for support structures. no support structures.

    Joey Reply:

    You need to grade-separate all the streets, but most of them can be dipped under the tracks without too much trouble.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If UP is objecting to track sharing the alignment due to liability concerns … exactly how does having the threat of one of their freights plowing into a support structure for a viaduct avoid the same concern?

    Travis D Reply:

    Construction would still get in UP’s way and I can imagine them screaming bloody murder every time any construction delay slows down any of their freight trains by any minuscule amount. You would still have to have it be a high viaduct to go over the existing overpasses.

    UP won’t sell the excess land because they claim they need it for “future expansion.”

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If there is electrification of the corridor and the FRA establishes a Rapid Freight 100mph freight class, they certainly would want the excess land to be in the running against BNSF for having the steel interstate in their CV corridor rather than BNSF’s.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    MMMM yes. Dangle some nice grade separation at UP, allowing them and BNSF to run 90 MPH diesel freight up and down the Central Valley. MMMMM. Maybe let the state take over the ROW and therefore be exempt from property taxes just like roads are. MMMMM. Profits! More freight moving at less cost…..MMMM Profits! Electric locomotives that cheaper to service, maintain and get cover more miles in an hour. Profits!!!

    … just my opinion, UP is being intransigent so they can squeeze the most infrastructure upgrade out of the taxpayers as is possible…..Profits!!!!

    jimsf Reply:

    ^thats what they do. I say use bnsf instead

    Joey Reply:

    Have you even looked at the zigzagging BNSF alignment?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    From his beloved San Joaquins. The ones he thinks will still be running in 2025.

    Castle Expert Reply:

    My question to Robert and the other Bloggers is from what we are hearing in the valley is that who from the authority besides Medhi has actually talked to U.P. I would think U.P. is like any business they are run for profit and they have the potential to recieve large amounts of mitigation money. Grade seperations alone run anywhere from 13-16 mil. By allowing High Speed Rail to share their right of way they can make a ton of money. I think the authority needs to come out and say who they have spoken with at U.P. Because I can see why U.P. does not want to give up their right of way for free or on the cheap but in the valley especially along route 2 from Fresno to Merced alot of U.P. right of way was lost because of highway 99. So my question still remains who from the authority is the go to person who has spoken to U.P. ? And who at U.P. has the authority spoken with?

  21. synonymouse
    Mar 24th, 2010 at 19:34

    UP is probably thinking now it would have been wise in retrospect to have put some serious cash in the no on Prop 1A camp.

    mrcawfee Reply:

    Why is that? They said no to anything affecting them and they got their way? why would they care after that? nothing is located on their property.

    Joey Reply:

    It’s all the same to them. They’ve still got the upper hand in any negotiations.

    Travis D Reply:

    You think there wouldn’t be ROW issues with your elitist westside route that bypasses all those “worthless” people in the valleys?

  22. Bateman
    Mar 25th, 2010 at 13:13

    What do you think they’ll do with the large storage, all those motels, the park, and the “Super Mall,” along Golden State Blvd? When are they going to start already!?!!?

  23. synonymouse
    Mar 25th, 2010 at 15:25

    No, not if Caltrans were made whole with enough money to nicely redo I-5 replete with hsr ROW.

    Screw the Valley – PG&E is planning to tax the coast to subsidize extravagant power use inland.

    Peter Reply:


Comments are closed.