Bakersfield High Was Never At Risk – But That Didn’t Stop HSR Critics

Jun 10th, 2010 | Posted by

The big HSR news in California this week was the decision of the Bakersfield planning department to rescind its recommendation of the “Blue Line” option for HSR, even though it had a lesser impact on the community than the “Red Line,” due to overblown concerns about the impact on Bakersfield High School.

Hundreds of current and former Bakersfield High School students overflowed City Council chambers Wednesday night to voice their opposition to a proposed High-Speed Rail line that some believe would have meant the destruction of the historic downtown campus.

They got what what they came for — before the meeting even began.

Hours before the Bakersfield City Council was expected to consider a recommendation that could have routed a High-Speed Rail platform right through the north end of 117-year-old campus, the city planning department pulled its recommendation supporting the much-criticized “blue line.”

Bakersfield High alumni and students were up in arms over the proposed Blue Line, because it would have had some impacts on their campus. Students Community members started a Facebook group to “Save Bakersfield High School, and there was a lot of discussion and claims that the Blue Line option would “destroy” the campus.

In fact, as we found when we first discussed this last month, the Blue Line would have taken out one building on campus. That’s it. The building could have been moved to another location on the campus. Here’s a map indicating the situation, taken from this CHSRA rendering:

One building would have been impacted. Not the whole campus. But comments from school officials fanned the flames into something much bigger, according to the Facebook group:

Right now, Bakersfield High School is in danger as the routes for the California High Speed Rail system are being plotted. At the very least, one of the routes would require the removal of the IT building, and the route runs so near Harvey Auditorium that the Kern High School District board members have mentioned moving BHS to a new site to “mitigate damages.”

Really? Moving BHS entirely? That is unwarranted based on the route choices. KHSD board members seem to have been making irresponsible speculation here.

But what’s really behind this outpouring of concern is a sense that any change to BHS will undermine the school’s history and people’s memories of BHS. Seriously. They are willing to accept another option, the Red Line, that might require taking of houses simply to preserve memories. Here’s an example from the discussion forums on the Save BHS Facebook group:

I am a resident in Bakersfield, CA and though I believe the high-speed rail is a brilliant idea and look forward to the future with it, I am concerned about the routes in which your board is proposing. I am a graduate of Bakersfield High School (the school that will be effected if the blue line should be chosen). Do you know what will happen if you choose that course? Generations of families that have matriculated through that school will lose their precious memories and future generations of those families will no longer get the opportunity to walk the same halls as those before them. BHS is the OLDEST school in Kern County, yet your board has no qualms about tearing down the oldest building on campus for innovation?

This is ridiculous. People will “lose their precious memories” if a building is torn down or moved? Are you kidding me? That’s not a serious or defensible position. One’s memories exist as long as you have them. I have plenty of memories of things that no longer exist, yet the memories remain strong.

Further, schools undergo major changes all the time. My high school, Tustin High School in Orange County, was originally built in 1921. It was demolished in the 1960s because it wasn’t seismically sound and totally rebuilt in a completely different plan. Since I left in 1997 the school has undergone further significant renovation that makes the campus look different from when I was there.

As far as current students are concerned, some of their opposition to the Blue Line is driven by their own research into the school’s history, and their desire to preserve it for future generations.

As a historian myself, I can’t fault students for that stance. At the same time, I think they misunderstand how history works.

History – the study of history in particular – is the study of change. Historians do not look at things that have stayed the same, they look at things that have changed and WHY they have changed. That concept is hard for people to understand at first, because the equate “history” with “antiquarianism.” But history is in fact the study of change, because history is full of change.

Bakersfield in 2010 doesn’t look or act the way it did in 1960, or in 1930, or in 1880. Those changes happened, but they were not inevitable. Historians seek to understand why change happened.

And good historians therefore understand that change will continue to happen here in the present day. More importantly, historians also understand that it is futile, and often damaging, to try and prevent change from occurring.

When it comes to historical preservation, we need to strike a balance between preserving things that we find valuable and not letting the “dead hand of the past” stop us from doing things in the present day that are necessary to our quality of life and prosperity here and now. We are only able to live the lives we do because previous generations did NOT let historical preservation concerns stop them from building the power lines, aqueducts, freeways, and housing that we now have today. (Whether or not you think the way we did those things was sound, they are the key elements of the lives we live today.)

One Bakersfield resident understands this, writing in the Bakersfield Californian yesterday:

In this day and age, it’s very easy to criticize, and honestly, the majority of time the criticism is earned. But this approach fails to capture the scope of the project and its potential rewards. You can’t make an omelet unless you are willing to break some eggs, and it is without question that high-speed rail is a very fancy omelet….

It’s time America wakes up to our reliance on very old technology and face facts. Staying with the old and familiar will cost us our future. Our industrial leadership will continue to decline as naysayers and Chicken Littles, along with some popular politicians, increasingly see progress and progressive agendas as un-American.

Japan began the high-speed train revolution nearly 50 years ago and Europe 40 years ago. Paris and London were linked by high-speed rail in 1994. If America is going to remain competitive — and there is serious doubt we can — it will be with projects like California high-speed rail, which will put our industrial know-how and ability back in the running.

But from what I hear and read, the inclination is to not only do nothing, but move backward. It’s complaining about taxes and illegals while the real prize is lost. Doing nothing will result in the loss of industrial leadership, with even more high-tech jobs going to Asia and Europe.

Can we really afford to become a second- or even third-rate nation? Are we ready to sink to a lower standard of living because we just do not have the vision to invest in tomorrow? Education is no different!

Do we want a better reality tomorrow? Reading the comments printed in The Californian, it’s pretty clear we don’t. The generalization I reach is that the majority is more concerned about protecting its small piece of the pie. Period. No new taxes. Lower educational standards, larger classrooms and closed libraries and public parks is the agenda for Kern County.

I don’t get the impression all the concern about the HSR route in Bakersfield is about an unwillingness to spend money. But we are seeing a repeat of the same unwillingness to part with the status quo. It would be one thing if BHS were going to indeed be demolished. But it’s not. BHS and the Bakersfield community as a whole are going to have to adapt to the needs of the 21st century. There are ways they can do so that don’t require total abandonment of the past. But neither is the past, and “memories,” so important that we have to stop all innovation and preparation for the future.

UPDATE: I’m very glad to see some of the Bakersfield activists posting in the comments. They seem supportive of HSR as a concept, which is welcome. We may have to agree to disagree on the question of whether BHS will be negatively impacted if the IT building is moved or rebuilt elsewhere on the campus, but it is a good discussion. One BHS alum, Chris L, made what I thought was a truly excellent comment. He proposed the following, which I want to endorse:

Robert, if I were the CAHSR, I’d approach Kern Schools to find out what their criteria are for a “viable comprehensive campus” and make changes to guarantee that the whole of BHS, the IT building notwithstanding, is not lost to your blue line.

This would be a very good idea. I hope the CHSRA has already been doing this. If not, they need to get on it right away.

UPDATE 2: I should be clear here – I’m NOT saying the Blue line is the only option. If Bakersfield really doesn’t want it, I’m not going to say people there have to accept it. I just disagree with the reasons being given for opposing it.

  1. Spokker
    Jun 10th, 2010 at 16:43

    This comment by Matthew is too good not to post again.

    “I thought democracy worked by organizing official polls where people could vote for or against something. The city of Bakersfield seems to have made its decision based on an unofficial, unannounced “poll” where the only option was to vote against the development of infrastructure by joining a facebook group. A group of people equivalent to approximately one percent of the Bakersfield population joined the group, and there is no indication what percentage of those people actually live in the city. I know this is how government often works, but it’s depressing. Apparently it’s amateur hour at the Bakersfield planning department.”

    Yeah, what is this bullshit? The high speed rail vote in 2008 was about 50/50, a slight win in Kern County altogether, so there is obviously some debate. Where did they think the trains were going to go? Did the think California bonds would pay for invisible trains? The route map has always shown trains going through Bakersfield, not the middle of nowhere.

    Some people really care about a viaduct being built near the school. Some people don’t. It’s irresponsible to make any actual decisions based on the demands of the uninformed few.

    Peter Reply:

    Could this maybe have anything to do with the fact that it’s an election year? Are they just trying to avoid taking responsibility for endorsing something that could be controversial?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Matthew’s point is very good. I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days now, and I think it’s time to get these ideas down in blog post form.

    This goes back to the CEQA problem, where true public engagement isn’t emphasized. But it also doesn’t help that some city councils – like Palo Alto – apparently have failed to try and engage all their constituents, and prefer to just listen to the loudest voices.

    Kevin Frye Reply:

    So should “uninformed” citizens simply sit on the sidelines “Spokker”?
    If the taxpaying, voting citizens of a community do not want to be pushed around by a larger government authority it is their right and duty to speak up. It is easy to omit facts that are part of a discussion when they suit you argument. Some people might even think you are hip because you enjoy insulting the people of a community because they have a differing opinion. No less through a public blog where you hide your identity behind a silly pseudonym.

    The facts are that the blue line actually removes no less then eight buildings associated with the campus plus a parking lot critical to the campus. A campus and a school that stands as an important piece of history for literally a few hundred thousand people. One of the most prestigous public schools, certainly in the state, overflowing with a heritage so rich that those who know it are willing to defend it from those blinded by “progressive” ideas. The Bakersfield community, our state and the country for that matter are great because we have a great history that reminds us of what we are capable of, what we have accomplished, and drives us towards our future endeavors with a sense of continuity tat has value far beyond any train.

    It is critical that local communities stand up for their rights and fight for what they believe in regardless of what a bunch of bloggers think about Bakersfield High School and the people who still cherish it is a valuable asset to their community. Again and again communities are pushed aside in the name of progress. It has been happening for no less than 40 years in California and unfortunately it will be our ruin.

    Wake up Bakersfield, wake up Central Valley, wake up California. No matter what opinion you hold it is time to take action, pay attention, speak up and be heard. That is how things get done. Even with a small Facebook group has power to impact government decisions.

    Spokker Reply:

    Yes, you are a big bad guy for posting under what may or may not actually be your real Anglo-Saxon name. Congrats, you are a true American hero.

    It’s so very cute that you have a little town and a school and you all care about it very much and want to defend it from the HSR boogeyman, but there is more to life outside your 140 square mile city. Those of us who support a balanced transportation policy will stand up to selfish local interests that put old decrepit buildings ahead of the transportation needs of the state, whether it’s about high speed rail, light rail, BRT or bike infrastructure.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “The facts are that the blue line actually removes no less then eight buildings associated with the campus plus a parking lot critical to the campus”

    This does not appear to be factual; it appears that precisely one building would have to be removed or moved. Please enumerate these eight buildings you are referring to — remembering that the line is going to be elevated. Note that it will be possible to have parking lots underneath the line.

    It is critical that people work with facts rather than making stuff up.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Is Bakersfield not the armpit of Cali??

    wu ming Reply:

    no, that’s kettleman city.

  2. Bobierto
    Jun 10th, 2010 at 16:55

    My high school was torn down and rebuilt, and it did have a weird effect on my memories. The high school that I went to no longer exists. An institution with its name, and its location exists, but it’s not my high school. So, I kinda, get the complainers’ issues. BUT … 1) they weren’t going to tear down BHS, and 2) I’m glad they tore my high school down – I’m happy for the kids that get to go to a nicer school than I did. Their welfare is more important than my precious memories.

  3. wenchance
    Jun 10th, 2010 at 17:52

    The thing that worries me the most about this is that this may give leverage for school on the SF Peninsula to reject HSR because it will interfere with their “traditions”. I know 2 schools (San Mateo High and Burlingame High) that would probably use this motive to oppose HSR on the Peninsula and sadly my school is in the same district that these schools are…I just hope that we don’t band together and protest HSR. That would be horrible.
    Also, it really upsets me when a project that provides so many benefits and will help the overall welfare of California in the future is side tracked just to keep a small portion of the citizens in a local high schools’ memories intact. In weighing the overall benefits of the the project vs. the risks of losing a local school (which won’t even happen). I would believe most HSR supports and people that promote smart innovation would continue to pursue the idea not let the past get to them.
    If I went to this school I would probably be the only high-school that you would here in the news opposing the school rather than the “blue line”.

  4. Elizabeth
    Jun 10th, 2010 at 19:46

    You don’t think sending trains at 220 mph over a high school is a little weird?

    Peter Reply:

    You don’t think that having an active freight railyard next to a high school is a little weird?

    Dennis Lytton Reply:

    I consider routing a freeway next to schools, of which there must be hundreds of examples in California, as much more “weird”. A freeway has a much larger noise, spatial, and environmental footprint than does HSR yet HSR carries more people. Weird.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Strange values are associated with this project…freeways and railroad yards next to high schools and HSR is yet a monster? the red line is almost as bad with a medical center near it and of course next to that railyard. they might have to go right down the middle of that yard ..if BNSF will let them ..

    Peter Reply:

    Sound walls and triple-glazed windows would probably help mitigate the issue of the medical center. Vibrations will not be an issue in any way (continuous welded rail, light trains, well-maintained tracks (definitely much better than the freight tracks adjacent)). The school would be more affected due to the removal of the IT building (?), but sound walls would likely solve the noise problem.

    rafael Reply:

    On a techie tidbit note, there’s also structure-borne noise and vibration. If need be, that could be mitigated by using not regular but floating slab track in a short section near the school.

    What I find most annoying about this is the notion that an information technology building is considered historical at all. When did we start using computers and the internet, again? The nineties? Ok, the architecture actually is a 100 years old and in a state that’s not much older, that matters. Nevertheless, it’s not like anything in California, or the US as a whole, is a gothic cathedral or Stonehenge. This is a young state and country and it stays that way by permanently re-inventing itself. Omelets and eggs, ’nuff said.

    As long as the educational functionality provided by building is preserved in (a) new building(s) elsewhere on campus and, the old building is fully documented by qualified historians, there ought to be room for compromise. Or would you really rather have HSR impact a hospital on the red alignment alternative?

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    I would like to reply to Rafael, and preface this by saying I am not an alumni. That being said, Before you spout off you should get your facts straight. The “I” stands for industrial, as in industrial arts which is no longer being offered in any other school in our city. That means shop classes, cabinet making classes, drafting, automotive classes, agricultural green houses, etc. That just shows how old it is that people do not even remember IT stands for something other than technology. There are motor lifts, hoists, drill presses, huge table saws, specialized watering systems for ag classes, etc. You all talk about it being just a building and we shouldn’t be upset. . I am an elementary educator who truly believes we need to educate all our students to become viable productive adults. If the HSR commission tears out the IT building on this campus, it tears out those classes. They talk about moving this to another location on campus. The campus is smack dab in the middle of town, there is no place to move it. Also, with the budget of the California schools being totally disimated, do you really think there is money to move it?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    The CHSRA would be obligated to pay for moving the building. They wouldn’t be allowed to just demolish it and leave Bakersfield to pick up the tab of reconstituting the building and its programs.

    Spokker Reply:

    “Also, with the budget of the California schools being totally disimated”

    Half the state budget goes to education.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    apparently the decimation has been going on for a long time.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Just look at that picture from above. BHS and the BNSF yard have probably been next to each other for many decades without any problems. (At least that I know of.)

    Leandra Reply:

    Just a small comment here… longer post below. Yes, the rail yard and BHS have been next to each other for many years without “problems,” though teachers will say that the noise is disruptive to classes. As a student there, I think I became acclimated to it though, so I don’t really remember it as a problem. Also, high-speed trains are generally quieter than freight trains, so noise isn’t an issue. The removal of a historical building that houses unique programs– that could not simply be relocated to other buildings– IS a problem.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    You say this:

    “The removal of a historical building that houses unique programs– that could not simply be relocated to other buildings– IS a problem.”


    Why is that such a huge problem that another route that has more impact on homes and businesses has to be chosen?

    I saw on the Facebook group a list of BHS buildings that no longer stand. Surely there was a good reason why they’ve been torn down, just like there was a good reason the original building for the high school I attended was torn down.

    My point is that all of this activism does not seem justified by a concern to save a single building. If it were the entire campus, I might understand, though even then there have been campuses torn down and moved elsewhere and it works out fine.

    I don’t mean to be dismissive, it just seems to me that the concerns over this building are overstated.

    Leandra Rayford Reply:

    Yes… many buildings have come down. The school no longer needed dormitories in which students could live. Some buildings came down to create new buildings. The demolition of one building in 1938 created “Elm Grove,” the place where students can congregate during lunch because not everyone can fit into the cafeteria. Tents were put up in Elm Grove during 1936-1940 for the “Dust Bowl” students. Those definitely were no longer needed.

    But as far as why these buildings came down? For the most part they came down in the name of progress, yes, but because the campus may not have needed the building any longer, or because of damage caused by the earthquake in 1952. Not because another entity came in and said to do so.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    My point is that in each of those instances, a decision was made that another use was more important than those buildings. I’m sure there are people who had memories of the dorms and missed them, but understood why they were being proposed to be removed.

    I understand that this looks like some state agency coming in out of nowhere and saying “gotta take your building.” But the people of California, including Kern County, did vote for the high speed rail proposal. The CHSRA is therefore obligated to deliver an efficient system that is cost-effective. The Blue line was one option they offered for how to do that.

    I should be clear here – I’m NOT saying the Blue line is the only option. If Bakersfield really doesn’t want it, I’m not going to say you have to accept it. I just disagree with the reasons being given.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It’s worth pointing out that the plans involve giving Bakersfield a high-speed rail station — mere blocks from the school!

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    The person who commented on other buildings at BHS having already been torn down was incorrect. They were talking about other buildings in town, not BHS buildings. My comment is, that It is not just saving a single building, it is saving a curriculum that is not offered anywhere else in our community. That building houses hoists, lifts, a greenhouse, welders, huge table saws, etc. BHS tries to meet the needs of as many students as it can. BHS is not the “college mill” that other schools have become. They recognize that not every student in our community will end up in college and they offer them the chance to learn skills that may help them in the future. For those of you who say well put that building somewhere else. There is no somewhere else. It is the smallest campus in the district. I know many of you think it is a purely sentimental issue, for some it is, but for many, it is what is best for the students. I am not an alumni. I did not grow up in Bakersfield. I am an elementary educator who believes we should be meeting the needs of all students, not just the ones heading of to college.

    Nathanael Reply:

    OK, so here’s a question: how tall is that building? If it’s engaged in heavy industrial operations, there should be zero problem with locating it directly next to or under a high-speed rail line.

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    It won’t be next to or under, it will be gone.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Here’s thought, instead of having the vo-tech students off in a obscure corner of cramped campus build them an update to date building on one of the other campuses or even more radical put the automotive speciality on one campus where the students will have to integrate wtih the college prep kids and the graphics arts speciality on another campus and the ..on another campus… or if the vo-tech is important to have right there move some of the generic college prep kids into other schools… There are other solutions besides keeping it in an obscure building on the cramped campus.

    Driller Reply:

    Here’s a thought, why don’t the local residents decide how best to direct the HSR through their
    town? I am just shaking my head at some of these comments. It’s our town. It’s our school.
    What is wrong with listening to the wishes of the residents? Outsiders have no understanding
    of what is important to us. We don’t want it messing with our history!
    We will be happy to support the HSR, but keep it away from what we hold
    precious. Over 3500 people joined the facebook page within just a few days!
    Sorry that you can’t appreciate that how deep our feelings run regarding BHS, because
    you were not blessed with a similar experience. But believe me, we bleed blue! And we will
    not back down when it comes to our school. Just a little advise… If you want the support
    of the public, you’d better listen to the public. Bakersfield has spoken, leave our
    name-sake high school alone!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Okay… other people have looked at the route and determined that the campus could be avoided by tearing down the convention center. That’s going to be a bit expensive and since California HSR is going to financed with my tax dollars I think that saving the great historical importance of the campus should be financed locally. How’s a quarter of percent increase in the sales tax in Kern county sound to you? I’m sure all the people in Kern county who never stepped foot on the campus will gladly pay a quarter of a percent for the next 30 years to finance it….

    Sarah Purdy Reply:

    There is a difference from rail tracks being next to a school and being above a school. There is concern for the students overall safety.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    We who support high speed rail take safety very seriously. But I’m not clear exactly what the concern is.

    The chance of a train jumping the tracks and falling on a student is virtually zero. Such an event is unheard of when it comes to high speed trains. They are extremely safe and have a safety record around the world that is impeccable.

    My high school, in addition to being located next to a freeway, was also in the flight path for John Wayne Airport in Orange County. I was in more danger from a plane falling out of the sky than any BHS student would ever be from these tracks above the school.

    Joey Reply:

    Crossing an average street poses several orders of magnitude more danger than this.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    They wont die…your so Palo Alto

    William Rickman Reply:

    BUT – no part of the school has ever had to be demolished to accommodate them. And the school system has been hoping they would one day be REMOVED. Do you not see the already occurring problems and proposed ADDITIONAL problems with student safety? .

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    What was the school hoping would be removed? The train tracks? Given that there is a rail yard next to the school, that strikes me as a rather unlikely outcome.

    Part of my high school was demolished in the early 1990s to make way for a freeway widening project. It did not adversely impact my education. We got used to it very quickly.

    As I replied to Sarah above, I do not understand what the concern over student safety is. High speed trains simply do not jump the tracks and fall off of overhead structures. I do not believe there is a single instance of that ever happening in the nearly 50 years high speed trains have been operating around the world.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s extraordinarily rare on conventional trains on structures too. The few that I can think of most were caused by operator error – too fast through a curve or construction zone. With modern signals the trains wouldn’t have been speeding.

    Peter Reply:

    Unless they’re using buggy German LZB. “Why certainly, let’s take this train going 180 km/h on this turnout rated for 80 km/h.”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I think it’s very very weird that a train hundreds of feet away from the high school could be described as “over”

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    No, I don’t. Why would it be weird?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It come from standing under the Jerome Ave El waiting for the Bx63…. Over means when you look “up” there’s something there besides sky. Or being in the Loop under the L. Or huddling between the stanchions on Market Street waiting for the 25 Springfield Ave and hoping the IBOA bus comes because I only have a quarter and two dimes and the IBOA bus is 35 cents..

    Peter Reply:

    “Over” does not mean “north” of.

  5. Leandra
    Jun 10th, 2010 at 23:28

    The Facebook group was not created by students at Bakersfield High School. I created it, and I am not a student at BHS. I am a lawyer, who happens to be an alumnus of the school.

    Now, as for who has joined the group… Yes, there are Driller alumni, some who have had three to five generations in their family attend BHS. Many, too, are alumni of schools in Bakersfield other than BHS. All you have to do is read the comments posted to know that. There are alumni of schools that are traditionally rivals (and who would let you know that in a heartbeat), and they have stepped up to say they don’t want even one building lost on the campus when the Kern High School District says that the campus would no longer be a viable comprehensive campus. Translation: the campus would be forced to relocate or become a continuation school or a vocational school… which would mean that several other structures on the campus would fall into disuse– including Griffith Field, where countless football games have been played since 1923.

    Now, the specific building that would have to come down was constructed in 1923; the second portion of the building is from 1940. Both portions survived an earthquake in 1952, which destroyed most of the historic buildings in this town. Additionally, the architect on both portions was Charles Biggar, a renowned local architect. The IT building was actually a nation-wide example of a certain architectural structure. Not many buildings can claim that.

    As you may (or at least hopefully) know, any state-funded project must have an environmental impact report done, and is regulated by CEQA. Additionally, since federal funds are applied, the project is regulated by NEPA- the National Environmental Policy Act. This act was put in place specifically in part to prevent overzealous freeway construction from razing historic districts and buildings.

    The fact is, the school IS historical. It was the first school in Kern County, and by 1906 already had the reputation as a “top school,” when one alumnus reports that his family moved 270 miles just so he could attend BHS, then called Kern County High School. And who was in his graduating class? Future Governor of California and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Earl Warren.

    Most supporters of BHS weren’t asking that the high-speed rail go away; we were asking the City of Bakersfield to reconsider where they wanted the station to be if both routes would require the destruction of the IT building. Additionally, we were asking for clarification since the June 1st “Administrative Report” was the first time it was reported that both the blue and red routes would require the IT building to come down.

    I want the high-speed train to come to Bakersfield… but I also want to save a piece of history.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    My view, as a historian, is this: just because something is old does not mean it has to be kept. Read again my story above of my own high school. It was one of the first high schools in Orange County – one of the “original 5” apparently. It was torn down in 1954 and the campus moved a few blocks away because of earthquake concerns.

    The HSR planners have taken great care to avoid impacts. They didn’t propose running it through where the IT building is out of recklessness or disregard, but because it was the only option given their other constraints on the corridor. They are following the existing rail line because that is the least disruptive option.

    I’m glad you support high speed rail. And I understand and appreciate the desire to save a piece of history. But human civilization sometimes has to let go of a piece of history in order to make new history. We should be careful and cautious about how we do that. In this instance, the route strikes me as justified – especially when the alternative, the Red Line, is slated to take out many more homes, places others feel is historic and has value to them.

    As I said, history is about change. We cannot preserve everything, nor do we need to. That doesn’t mean we just willy-nilly tear everything down that is old, but neither should it mean we protect everything as well. A balance must be found. And as I understand the plan here, the balance was found. One building, not a whole school, in exchange for a modern transportation system that is essential to Bakersfield’s future prosperity.

    I don’t suggest it’s easy to say “OK, the building can go.” But from my view, that seems the most sensible solution, the option with the lowest impact on the community.

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    Robert, you can not be serious! BHS IS, has been, and will continue to be an historical site – there is no question about it and it has nothing to so with the buildings being “old”!!! If you actually knew anything about Kern County, and Bakersfield in particular, you would recognize the historical signifiance of Bakersfield High School not only to the students past, present and future, but to the community for the past hundred years. BHS is an institution not only of learning and significant education, but an institution within the entire county.

    Having a high speed rail going through or even near any school campus is a very poor idea; one can not compare a high speed rail to the freight yard that is now beside the campus – that would be comparing a watermellon to an apple; can’t be done!

    I totally agree with Leandra in all that she stated in her “reply” – I welcome a high speed rail to Bakersfield; wonderful idea! However it does not make any sense to have that rail go through town when it could easily continue north and have it’s “station” in the area of the airport [just one suggestion].

    Yes, I am a 3rd. generation BHS graduate and love my school dearly; I also love my city and the red / blue lines proposed do serious damage to the city as it is regadless of high school afiliation!

    Marilynn Stotts [Runyan] BHS class of 1965 and in loving memory of:
    Beryl Henley [Stotts] & Richard Stotts class of 1939
    Tom Henley class of 1933 & Joe Henley class of 1936
    Ruth Smith [Henley] class of 1908 [with Earl Warren who attended all class runions]
    Joseph Smith class of 1907, Rachel Smith [Campbell] class of 1010, Samuel Smith class of 1922

    Rafael Reply:

    Best school in the county … watermellon (sic)

    Leandra Rayford Reply:

    Really, you’ve never had a typo? :)

    Peter Reply:

    Hehe, it was funny, though…

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    Rafael: Don’t know where you got the “Best school in the county” – not from me…
    Watermellon was in refernce to the HSR in comparison to the current freight yard [apple]…

    Peter: My great Aunt Rachel graduated in 1910 – glad you found that amusing; I think you need to get a life…

    Leandra: Thank you for your continued support; Once a Driller, ALWAYS a Driller….

    Peter Reply:

    Wow, Marilyn, I think you need to learn to take a joke. People are saying how BHS goes back so many years, and you wrote that someone graduated in 1010. That IS funny, even to people who have a life.

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    Peter: It’s Marilynn [2 n’s] – again it seemed strange that the typo was what you chose to focus on – I have taught Ancient Civilizations for years so the 1010 would have been very easy for me to overlook… And BHS does go back m a n y years, as you know.

    Peter Reply:

    Right, 2 n’s. The woman who works next to me is Marilyn with 1 n, so please forgive me.

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    Common error -not a problen…

    Peter Reply:

    Rachel Smith [Campbell] class of 1010. Impressive.

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    She was a very impressive lady and an exceptional educator as well…

    Peter Reply:

    I wasn’t mocking her. You need to not take blog comment humor personally.

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    Sorry, but when things / people are close to my heart I do tend to take things personally… And she loved history so the 1010 may be appropriate :)

    Peter Reply:

    Fair enough. We, well, maybe not Spokker ;) , are trying to simply come up with ways to have the project have the least impact while still being cost-effective.

    We understand the pride you have in your school. What we cannot understand is how you can argue that students will be negatively impacted by HSR when the school is already located adjacent to a major railyard and the BNSF line. Sound, vibration, all of those things can and will be mitigated.

    The IT building would have to be removed for the blue line, but as others have stated, that would not remove your history or your memory.

    HSR is about moving California into the future, not hanging on to the past. Maintaining the status quo is not sustainable for California or the U.S.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Why do you say that the noise of 220 elevated rail will be mitigated? Our understanding is that it is actually quite difficult, given the low frequency of the noise.

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    See my response to Robert below…

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    Peter, Removing the IT building would negatively impact future students at BHS for the simple reason: No IT building, No industrial arts classes. The school is the only school in Kern County’s high school district that offers anything resembling industrial arts. Maybe you are too young to remember this, but high schools used to offer automotive classes, shop classes, welding classes, woodworking classes. Classes that would prepare students who were not college bound for vocations in the trades. We still need theses trades in society today. We need plumbers, carpenters, mechanics,etc., but most high schools do not offer these classes any longer. BHS does. I just attended a conference for teachers and I learned some interesting facts. Do you know the drop out rate of high schools students? 1 in 3 students who enters high school drops out. And of those that drop out 80% end up in prison. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a high school give some of these students an opportunity to learn a trade rather than dropping out and having to support them in our prison system later? BHS is trying to do just that. You take away the IT building and you take away someones future. I know that’s a little dramatic, but as a teacher, I truly believe that.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I just attended a conference for teachers and I learned some interesting facts. Do you know the drop out rate of high schools students? 1 in 3 students who enters high school drops out. And of those that drop out 80% end up in prison.

    It could be that 26.67% of Americans end up in prison, as those two statistics are implying. Or it could be that you’re talking out of your ass.

    Personally, I think the second one is more likely. Your mileage may vary.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And tearing down the building doesn’t preclude the possibility of building a replacement.

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    Alon Levy, If you would like to disagree at least do it with some maturity instead of being insulting.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    What part of his arithmetic is incorrect? Seems perfectly reasonable to me but then I didn’t break out the calculator, 80 % of 33 % is going to be roughly 27% .

    ( ten percent of 33% is 3.3%. twenty percent of 33% is 6.6%, 33 – 6 is 27 so 26.67 is close enough without a calculator or pencil and paper. )

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Cheri, if you would like to disagree at least do it with some information instead of being ignorant.

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    I didn’t say his math was wrong, I just didn’t feel saying” talking out of my ass” was appropriate. The information was given at a conference lead by the top education experts in the country today. It has always been a well know fact the spending money on education and spending money on prisons has an inverse relationship. The more we spend on education, the less we spend on any form of punishments. I don’t mind anyone disagreeing with me, but please don’t be insulting, I haven’t done that to you.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Presenting something as a fact that is easily refuted by using 4th grade arithmetic isn’t insulting?

    Spokker Reply:

    Are all those dead people against high speed rail too?

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    I’m not against HSR [as I said before] and I’m sure “all those dead people” would find the prospect of the HSR, placed in an appropritate space, to be very exciting and very progressive…

    Peter Reply:

    Ok then, Marilyn, you tell us where you want HSR to go…

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    Still 2 n’s Peter…
    It just makes more sense and be more cost effective that since the HSP would be going north/south why take it east into town at all? The airport is north of town and having the HSR “station” in the same general location would be the ideal solution.

    Peter Reply:

    The idea is not to provide HSR service between airports. We’re not trying to build a feeder system for the airlines. If an airport is along a convenient route, then a station there may make sense. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to get from downtown to downtown. Not from airport to airport. We already have planes for that purpose.

    Also, if you look at the overall routing choices, you’ll see that the Authority plans to cut east and reach LA over the Tehachapis, not the Grapevine, for many technical reasons.

    You say that building it to the airport is the “ideal” solution. No solution is ideal from all perspectives. It depends on what your objectives are.

    That’s why the route is planned through the city, not around it.

    Laurie S Reply:

    If the purpose of the HSR is to take people from downtown to downtown, then it sounds like your purpose is to cater to a few specific business people. That’s a darn expensive transportation device for just a few people. Why don’t we make businesses pay for this train instead of the taxpayers?

    Peter Reply:

    The idea isn’t to cater to “a few specific business people.” The idea is to get anyone who wants to travel to Bakersfield to take HSR. That doesn’t work very well if they have to travel forever AFTER they arrive at the “Bakersfield” stop to get somewhere. It will relieve pressure off of freeways in addition to providing impetus to halt sprawl by causing downtowns to densify with transit oriented development. Ideally, in 30 years you won’t need a car to travel around within Bakersfield. I’m not saying you won’t need a car. I’m just saying you won’t need it to go to the grocery store or to drive your kids to school.

    HSR around the world is not meant for business people. People from all walks of life travel by rail. It will enable you to hop on a train and visit Aunt Sallie in Sacramento for the day. You can visit Disney Land with your kids without having to suffer the LA freeways. There are many more opportunities for using it than just for business.

    Laurie S Reply:

    For some reason, Peter, I can’t reply to your reply, so I’ll do it this way.

    Have you ever been to Bakersfield? If so, how much time have you spent here?

    You say you don’t want people to have to travel “forever” after arriving in town when using the HSR (bit of a stretch, don’t you think?). Unless they are coming to town to do city government-related business, business in the courts, take in a concert, or want to read a book at our library (the hours of operation for which become fewer and fewer with each year’s budget), then by design, riders will have to take additional modes of transportation once they arrive here. Virtually all our major business headquarters and “tourist” attractions are located outside of the downtown area. Needing to take an additional mode of transportation, I suspect, would also be the case were I to want to visit “Aunt Sally.” I cannot conceive taking a high speed rail or any form of public transportation when I go to places like the grocery store — it’s very difficult to carry 10 bags of groceries by myself — but I know that some people do have to rely on public transportation quite a bit for almost everything. And you or one of your partners said that these trains by nature make very limited stops. You’re almost building a case for not using them.

    Since a rider, by your own admission will in almost every instance need to take additional transportation after disembarking from HSR, put it outside the city. Use express electric shuttles buses that run to several different points in town (satisfies your desire that we become more transit oriented), instead of requiring travelers to have to take multiple individual modes of transportation which would increase pollution and traffic jams.

    Peter Reply:

    I’ve never been to Bakersfield. I’m not trying to beat your town down. I’m trying to point out how your town can change in good ways. Just because it has always developed with sprawl does nto mean it will continue to be able to grow that way. Sprawl is not sustainable for many reasons.

    “Transit oriented development” means more than having access to transit. It means densification of neighborhoods, so that you don’t have to drive to work (more people live near work), for example. Your grocery store will be within short walking distance. The HSR station will serve as an anchor for such development. Other anchors for such development can be created by other types of transportation. An excellent example of TOD is Vancouver. Their mass transit rail system created exactly such anchors for development.

    I live in San Jose (not exactly an ideal model of TOD), but nonetheless we have a grocery store within short walking distance. Unless we’re coming back from somewhere with the car, we walk to the grocery store. We just make daily trips (or every couple of days) instead of having to make weekly trips.

    Also, I believe you will have a number of trains an hour stopping in Bakersfield in both directions. Some limiteds and some express trains will bypass Bakersfield, but many other trains will stop there.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:


    The point is that it won’t always be that way in Bakersfield. In the coming years and decades we will see a revival of city centers across the country. Bakersfield is *extremely* well positioned for that. and could very well see business headquarters, tourist attractions, and other destinations move back into the city center where it’s more affordable to get to, given high oil prices. An HSR station downtown would be the key element in bringing all that together.

    Spokker Reply:

    Where’s the nearest black neighborhood in Bakersfield that we can jam this through, then?

    Hey, it worked for freeways ;)

    Rafael Reply:

    Whoa, that’s why there are now environmental justice laws on the books. Robert Moses is dead and that’s a Good Thing(tm).

    Matthew Scott Bergin Reply:

    Why dont we just demolish the Statue of Liberty… I am sure we could find something better we can put there…………. High Speed Rail anyone?

    Spokker Reply:

    My great-great-grandfather came to this country and the first thing he saw was Bakersfield High School, and he knew that a great land of opportunity awaited him and his family.

    dave Reply:

    When you compare your “historic” High School to the Statue of Liberty, your taking it too far. Real American History is different the the “History” that you have personally at a school long ago.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I never said BHS is not historic. It certainly is. But that doesn’t mean it cannot ever change. History does not mean “frozen in time.”

    But here’s the real issue. You write:

    “Having a high speed rail going through or even near any school campus is a very poor idea; one can not compare a high speed rail to the freight yard that is now beside the campus – that would be comparing a watermellon to an apple; can’t be done!”

    Why is it a very poor idea? Why is it any different or worse than a freeway or a freight yard next to a campus? You assert that it’s a bad idea – but you need to show us, explain to us, why it is a bad idea.

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    It is my understanding that the HSR is on an elevated “track” which in itself poses safety issues and putting such additional safety risk possibilities near any campus is a poor idea. In addition, the unavoidable noise, vibration, and natural distraction [from children’s curiousity and wanting to “look at the train”] would be factors to be considered; none of which are desirable next to any school setting.

    The freight yard currently next to the BHS campus, while a busy site, is not equal to nor comparable to the HSR in my opinion. The freight yard is not really visable from most of the camous, the noise is minimal, and the freight yard is not a distraction to the students. I am aware of this because I did attend BHS, and I lived just a couple of block away on Oleander Ave.

    I have been a member of, chairperson of, organizer of several school Crisis Response Teams and just the thought of a HSP system next to a school campus sends chills down my spine at the thought of what could happen in the event of an emergency. Of course no one antiipates that there will ever be such an emergency, however, it only takes once for a total disaster [and since we live in prime earthquake country….] Not to mention possible emergency problems with the rail line itself.

    I’ve been an educator for several decades and student, of all ages, safety is a primary concern for me and I vew the HSR as an unnecessary safety risk if it is placed near any school campus.

    Peter Reply:

    There have been a number of accidents involving HSR. The only one that involved loss of life (not counting people or cars crossing the tracks, which would not be an issue at BHS) was in Germany when a derailing train took down a bridge and the cars smacked into that.

    Earthquake safety is dealt with in a number of ways. The primary method is to immediately kill power to trains the moment an earthquake is detected that is strong enough to be a threat. This system works, as was demonstrated in Japan in a real-life earthquake.

    The best way to prevent loss of life in high speed rail derailments is by keeping the train cars aligned with the tracks. That can be done in a number of ways. Sound walls alone would help dramatically to keep the trains from departing the aerial structure.

    Rafael Reply:

    The following computer simulation suggests that Bakersfield could experience a VI-VII on the Mercalli scale of shake intensity if there were a 7.8 quake on the southern San Andreas. That might be enough to damage historic masonry buildings, but a long way from actually derailing a high speed train – let alone toppling support columns built to the latest seismic codes.

    The Industrial Arts building, which I believe is the one the fuss is all about, was extensively retrofitted after a 7.5 earthquake on the White Wolf fault in 1952. That’s a secondary fault running (roughly) between Wheeler Ridge and Caliente. The epicenter was near Tejon Pass.

    See also our earlier post Shake, Rattle and Roll. Only a single HSR train has ever derailed in an earthquake. There were no casualties at the time and JR engineers have since come up with modifications that increase the chances of keeping a train upright even if it did jump its tracks. That said, evacuating a train carrying hundreds of passengers that gets stranded on 60′ viaduct would in and of itself be a challenge.

    Note that floating slab track would behave differently in an earthquake than the much stiffer regular kind, in addition to mitigating structure-borne noise and vibrations during nominal operations.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’ve been an educator for several decades and student, of all ages, safety is a primary concern for me and I vew the HSR as an unnecessary safety risk if it is placed near any school campus.

    And what’s your position on letting them drive to school?

    Peter Reply:

    HSR is in fact statistically the SAFEST way to travel. End of story.

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    …however the students are not taking the train to school, and I don’t think HS students should be driving to school either – I walked to BHS, as did my friends, and my sons walked to their HS as well – as they should have…

    Peter Reply:

    The safest way to travel, as in, the train will not pose a safety risk to the neighborhood. That’s what I meant. I’m sorry that I didn’t quite make that clear.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    What are pedestrian death statistics like in Bakersfield? I’m sure you have this at your fingertips since you have carefully evaluated that compared to HSR.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The noise from the high-speed trains will approach zero, and elevated high-speed viaducts are about as safe as you can get these days. (Do you ever drive on freeway viaducts? These are much safer.) If you wanted to complain that the elevated high-speed viaduct was large and ugly and would cast shadows, you might have a valid complaint.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “The freight yard is not really visable from most of the camous, the noise is minimal, and the freight yard is not a distraction to the students. I am aware of this because I did attend BHS, and I lived just a couple of block away on Oleander Ave.”

    Then you should be reassured. The HSR will cast a shadow, if that’s your big issue. It will create a *lot* less noise than a freight yard does. (Seriously.) It will not create a distraction if the freight yard didn’t.

    Peter Reply:

    Especially not because there will likely be sound walls so you will likely never see the trains. Unless they put up transparent sound walls to make it look less imposing.

    Cynthia Keith Reply:

    You keep saying “only one building”. That’s one too many. Let’s remove your kitchen-it’s only one room. But it would have a big impact on the whole, wouldn’t it? If we give “one building” to you, what’s to say that will be enough. Who else will come along & decide they need “one building”? Just because they tore your school down & you’re OK with it, doesn’t mean it’s OK for you to tear ours down. Yes, we are sentimental, but without that a lot of history in our country would have been torn down.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    We have to make difficult choices. As I said elsewhere, if another route is chosen, someone’s farmland will be taken. Or someone’s kitchen may well be taken.

    In other parts of the state, I have argued this is sometimes necessary. It should be limited as much as possible, but it is not the end of the world if and when it occurs. Nobody is proposing tearing down BHS.

    Wanda Reply:

    Robert, you are a piece of work. You have gone all over this state and argued about this as you have said. You do not have this communities best interests at heart. The hsr being located downdown? What is downtown that someone from LA would want to visit? And when they got here they would have to take a taxi or the GET bus to get there. Why not put hsr somewhere else and have the same accomodations? And also more parking for the outgoing passengers?

    Peter Reply:

    Do you want Bakersfield to stay relevant in the 21st century? Businesses to move in? Jobs be created? That’s what placing the station in downtown is about. And yes, we are perfectly aware that they will have to get on a bus or a cab to get where they want to go, AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW. The HSR station is meant to serve as an anchor for downtown development, however. Transit-oriented housing, retail, businesses, etc. THAT’s why it should go to the downtown.

    Laurie S Reply:

    Peter, I think you ASSUME that Bakersfield is like other big cities in CA or even big cities in other countries. In 25 years of living here, I would have to conclude it is not. When we grow, we sprawl. When businesses move in (IF they move in), it is generally in areas of open land, not downtown, therefore it is not necessary to run a railway through town when the majority of riders would have to take subsequent ground transportation anyway to wherever their final destination was.

    Dennis Lytton Reply:

    The sprawl paradigm will end soon with cheap oil.

    In any case, placing the station in the center of the city makes it closer to the most people.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    shhh. musn’t mention people a.k.a. passengers when discussing passenger rail

    Nathanael Reply:

    Ugh. I suppose Kern County has *no* agricultural land preservation laws?

    Laurie S Reply:

    Good question, Nathanael, and one to which I don’t know the answer. I just see orchard after orchard of trees being ripped out for tract home developments and strip malls. City planners around here seem to love that sort of thing.

    Peter Reply:

    Laurie, I know Bakersfield is HUGE area-wise. That’s part of the problem that HSR is trying to address.

    Spokker Reply:

    Eminent domain can and will be exercised for public projects. It’s not about some poor bastard’s kitchen or some sentimental person’s IT building, but the transportation needs of the entire state.

    This can be a problem with smaller cities though, where anything and everything is a monument. The high school I went to is one of many, many schools in the area and it was 90 percent Hispanic so no one gave a shit about it or us.

    Leandra Reply:

    Bitter much?

    Spokker Reply:

    About racism? Hell yeah, and in all its forms, from overt to covert.

    Alexei Reply:

    You know, I’m pretty sure they’ll pay to rebuild it.

    marjorie bell Reply:

    Thanks, Leandra, for all your hard work on this issue. The people of Morro Bay on the coast woke up one morning to find PG&E building a huge power plant right in front of Morro Rock, and the public was furious because they had no imput nor recourse after the plant was started. I don’t want that to happen in this instance to lose a valuable community resource because decisions were made behind the backs of the public! Harvey Auditorium (the envy of most high schools and even colleges throughout the nation as an exemplary performing arts center) is definitely at risk. It’s not just another building. What Sacramento doesn’t seem to get is that there are living, breathing, intelligent people down here who care about their community and the quality of life here. Why wasn’t Golden State Highway down the Union corridor considered seriously? This route would disrupt no hospitals, residential areas or even major businesses. In my book, that route needs to be reconsidered. This is a route that most of us could live with. The station could be located at about Union and Truxtun, and the current Amtrack Station on Truxtun could be moved also (although it would be only about three blocks away). Yes, a high speed rail running within half a block from Harvey Auditorium would do serious damage to our school.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Why do you imagine that every single building on the campus is “at risk”? Only multi-story buildings directly underneath the track route are “at risk”.

    “Why wasn’t Golden State Highway down the Union corridor considered seriously? This route would disrupt no hospitals, residential areas or even major businesses”

    Three reasons:
    (1) Union Pacific is being really obnoxious. Write your Congressman.
    (2) The result would be a station which was near no hospitals, residential areas, businesses, schools, etc. Sound good? Well, it’s not.
    (3) The result would be a station separate from Bakersfield Amtrak, which is also bad.

    Laurie S Reply:

    Get a clue, Nathaneal: If HSR comes to Bakersfield, Amtrak is history; therefore, that argument is irrelevant.

    Dennis Lytton Reply:

    The Amtrak San Joaquin route will get even busier with all the demand the HSR will create. That’s the beauty of intermodal connections. More people will take the train from Southern California to Hanford or Madera via HSR to Bakersfield then transfer to the San Joaquin. One ticket bought online. I await the day.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How many people a day will be doing that? How many trains a day do you need to service that demand? Or does it work out to so few people that two three car trains a day in each direction could handle the demand? If it can be served easily with a hourly shuttle bus people will opt for the half hour bus ride because that will be faster than sitting on a slow conventional train for the whole trip.

    Dennis Lytton Reply:

    Also, San Joaquin will get extended to north to Redding.

    Spokker Reply:

    What makes Amtrak history? Train service to Sacramento and Oakland, and all the stations inbetween, would still be needed.

    High speed rail serves cities, but Amtrak is great for, you know, Martinez.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “Get a clue, Nathaneal: If HSR comes to Bakersfield, Amtrak is history; therefore, that argument is irrelevant.”

    Only if HSR also comes to Sacramento. And since that’s “phase II” of the HSR it could happen decades after HSR comes to Bakersfield.

    wu ming Reply:

    even then, there are cities up and down the valley that would be left out if amtrak cancelled its service. more oikely the san joaquins will be rerouted as a redding-bako feeder line, timed to coincide with HSR stations at points in the valley.

    Nathanael Reply:

    There is no danger to Harvey Auditorium. You are *exactly* the sort of person Robert is complaining about — someone who is afraid of something which actually isn’t going to hurt them at all. The Industrial Arts building? A real issue. The Auditorium? No issue at all — high-speed rail lines run closer than that to *major* auditoriums worldwide.

  6. Sarah Purdy
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 00:13

    I am one of the people this author quoted and in the full letter that I wrote to the Authority I also said that I disapprove of the Red Line as well. Yes, saving BHS is my first and foremost concern, but I also do not think that homes, churches, businesses and a hospital should be affected. Maybe he should have read the entirety of the letter before quoting me to just be concerned of a school.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I did see your whole letter and you make a good point. But I would ask this: given the other constraints and needs of the system, which indicate that both the Red and Blue lines are the options with the least impact to the city of Bakersfield as a whole, doesn’t it make sense to save some homes by using the Blue line option, even if that means sacrificing a building on campus?

    This project has been in the planning stages for 10 years, and that long process has indicated these two routes are the best option with the least impact. I don’t suggest it’s easy to agree to see an old building make way for a new piece of infrastructure. But neither does it seem to be all that negative an impact in the end, especially given the costs of the other option.

  7. Anna
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 01:43

    I think you wrote this just to be spiteful. The students and faculty at BHS know that they are talking about only removing one building, but we feel like the school should be left untouched. I am a graduate and I don’t think my memories have anything to do with the structure of the school, but the fact that so many generations have memories at that school make it unique. I don’t think you were trying to make the point that the school will not be destroyed, you are trying to mock us for our attempt to preserve it. You don’t actually care about our feelings behind it, you just want to take what we say and make fun of it. I am proud to stand up for my school and I will love it no matter where it is located, but it is people like you who just want to ridicule just to ridicule and the fact that you write this whole blog to “set us straight” is sad. We know what we are standing up for, and we will continue to do it. Just be nice!

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I apologize if it came off as spiteful, it wasn’t the intent. I did not mock your efforts, I just took issue with the assumptions behind it. As someone who attended a school impacted by a transportation project, I didn’t agree that the heritage or experience of BHS would be negatively impacted by this proposal, since the heritage and experience of my school survived the freeway widening just fine. Heck, it survived a total demolition of the entire campus in 1954 just fine.

    Under the Blue line proposal, BHS would still be there. The heritage would be preserved. One building would be gone, replaced by a newer building that would be the basis for new memories of new generations of BHS students.

    As I said in reply to others, I don’t expect that to be an easy thing to accept. But it does seem the best and most reasonable solution given the overall constraints on the project.

    Chris Reply:

    Robert, I am sorry if you do no feel the same for your alma mater, and I am not going to compare yours to BHS. Let us just sum that up as it is not as simple as ‘relocating’ a building, or campus. I am going to try an alternate approach. Would you move, destroy, or alter Wrigley Field (built 1914)? How about Fenway Park (opened 1912)? Both places younger than BHS, but they have history and tradition. They are the homes of many generations’ memories.

    Jennie Reply:

    Robert, I just feel you don’t see where we’re all coming from. This high school is part of Bakersfield’s history, it has withstand the tests of time. BHS is the heart of Bakersfield, when something happens to it- the city feels it.
    You know, I talked to my grandmother about this (she is a BHS alumni), I tell you, I have never really seen my grandmother get upset and angry at the same time until this subject was talked about. She said something that I totally agree with- all you guys see are dollar signs.
    The schools in the Kern High School District are basically a family- we’ll have our rivalries and such but you mess with one- well, you saw the group on facebook- not everyone in the group attended BHS, I for one, attended North High School.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I get that people see BHS as important. I respect that. But I do not see how one building equates to destruction of the campus. The building can be moved or rebuilt. That would not hurt the BHS community, at least as far as I can tell.

    Jennie Reply:

    Sir, I don’t think you’ve paid attention to what everyone has been saying. Bakersfield High School (that includes EVERY building) has been in our town for over 117 years in the same location. You can’t expect a building that’s been where it has been to up and be rebuilt or relocated somewhere else- that’s taking away from the school and its significance.
    Have you even seen the campus for yourself? Cause it just seems like you’re going off of google map.
    Everyone isn’t saying don’t build the track at all, they’re trying to say find a different way, there are other areas here in Bakersfield which can support the routes.

    Nathanael Reply:

    All right. If you’re willing to advocate for the Red Line route, with the demolition of the housing and businesses on the north side of the rail yards instead, *good for you*.

    Rebecca Reply:

    What is getting lost in the emotional language of “history” is the fact of the size of the campus. There is no place to build another IT building. The building holds Industrial Arts, which creates opportunities for many students to work directly after high school. Because of school funding being cut many of these programs have been cut in other Bakersfield schools. Because of BHS Alumni funding and companies investments, these educational tracts have continued. My son just finished a year in beginning drafting in this building funded by such programs. It is unlikely that the Kern Highschool District will be able to replace the resources held within this building. It is more than simply putting in a building for classrooms. In bigger cities, this might seem a small issue. For those of us who know how difficult our city planners can be to work with, it is a huge issue.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Since the only reasonable alternative to the ‘blue line’ route is the ‘red line’ route — demolishing various houses and businesses — how about demolishing some of the houses neighboring the campus to build a new Industrial Arts building?

    Or, say, the *parking lot* between G & H Sts, 13th and California Aves? (Really need the parking? How about a parking garage?)

    And yes, the HSR would have to pay for it.

    Or, if the historic industrial arts building is really vital, then I guess the buildings north of the tracks aren’t and the Red Line is the way to go.

    wenchance Reply:

    That depends….what will be put in its place. If it only benefits a certain few and helps no body then I would say no. But if it is something that can greatly benefit the people and the state and can help people in need then I would have to say “yes” tear it down, because overall the ability to help others and the need for it should always come before keeping a tight hold on the past that sadly can’t really do anything now.

  8. Bob Somers
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 02:02

    First of all, BHS isn’t just an old high school. It was established in 1893 and is the third oldest high school in the United States.

    Secondly, that “one building” which the blue line cuts the oldest building on campus, dating back to pre-1900.

    Thirdly, let’s examine your quote:

    “History – the study of history in particular – is the study of change. Historians do not look at things that have stayed the same, they look at things that have changed and WHY they have changed. That concept is hard for people to understand at first, because the equate “history” with “antiquarianism.” But history is in fact the study of change, because history is full of change.”

    I’m not a Historian (I’m a Computer Engineer) but I understand and agree. However, to study change requires two things, the current and the past. To put it in engineering parlance (sorry if I make your head explode) it is impossible to measure change using a single point in time as a reference. We express change as a function of differing values over a range of time, and a range of time requires two points to define it.

    In other words, if Historians study change, you can’t just snap some photos, bulldoze everything, and look back fondly 20 years from now. You need historical artifacts, real things from the past to see the effect of change and study it.

    Lastly, you’re going to have a hell of a time getting past the alumni of Bakersfield High School. The city has tried countless times to build a new east-west freeway and every plan that has suggested moving, or significantly altering BHS has been rejected. Every one. If you’re interested in the historical relevance of the school, you can get more information here:

    I graduated from Bakersfield High School several years ago, but am 100% for the HSR. We absolutely need to improve our state’s horribly broken transportation infrastructure, and the HSR is a great step in that direction. I used to ride Amtrak from Bakersfield to Martinez on a weekly basis, and I can’t even imagine how much time I would have saved if I had been able to ride a 220mph train instead.

    However, writing a silly blog post whining about people not liking the blue line because it goes through their school is just as petty and ridiculous as the people you claim are silly for “treasuring their memories”. There are about a bazillion (technical engineering term) ways that the HSR could go through Bakersfield and the blue line just happens to be a bad choice. Do you really need to trash talk people for not wanting one of the most culturally and historically significant icons in their city destroyed? If so, you either have a superiority complex or are a very poor Historian. In this article, you come off as pompous and silly, and it’s difficult to take your post seriously, which is unfortunate, because you’re actually hurting the HSR cause by acting like a buffoon.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Again, I apologize if this came off as trash-talking, that wasn’t the intent. I’m not familiar with the history of the east-west freeway either.

    But I stand by my other points. History is about change, and often, that change means demolishing something from the past to create something for the future. Certainly we must be careful and cautious as to how we go about doing it, but neither should we rule it out entirely.

    If this proposal were considering demolishing the entire high school, then that would be one thing. But it isn’t. I stand by my point that if the best route means that one building on campus has to be torn down and replaced, that it’s worth doing. I don’t say it’s easy to see that building go. But neither do I think it’s such a disaster that it means the Blue line option is not worth supporting, given the impacts of the Red line route.

    You say “There are about a bazillion (technical engineering term) ways that the HSR could go through Bakersfield and the blue line just happens to be a bad choice.”

    I don’t think that’s true. This project has been in the planning phases for 10 years, and these two options were the ones that were arrived at after careful consideration of all the alternatives. The key is the existing BNSF rail corridor – using that means the least amount of intrusion to the city of Bakersfield. As we see, it doesn’t mean there is no intrusion, but given the logistical and engineering constraints, these two options were the best that could be offered.

    I appreciate your other points in support of the HSR project. I see this as a disagreement among supporters, which is both normal and productive.

    Brenda Harris Reply:

    I am a sixteen-year veteran teacher. Twelve of those years were spent at BHS. One of the major reasons that I love BHS even though I am not there anymore is the tradition and history involved there. “Once a Driller, Always a Driller” is not just a platitude, it is thread that runs through everyone who was (or is) ever connected with BHS. What amazed me the most about the school was how many times I would get stopped in the grocery store, (or any other store), when I was wearing my BHS staff shirt and people would tell me that they went there or someone in their family went there. People show up to the football games who don’t even have children there or are not even alumni. Whether that matters to you or not, that will change with the removal of the school. It is in human nature to connect with a place. Attitudes toward BHS will change. You cannot help that.
    One consistent argument that you continue to make through all of these blogs is that “it’s only one building.” Yes, it’s only one building. You claim that the campus will not be affected, yet the KHSD has said that it will move the school to another location. The district does not make the decision to move a 3,000 student populated school lightly. They have been considering the options of this move for a very long time. Will you petition the district that the campus not be relocated? From your tone and attitude, it sounds like will not bother. You can claim that it is only one building being torn down, but I do not believe your claim can be valid. And, moving the building is out of the question. Have you seen the size of that building? Tearing it down and moving it to “another location” is ludicrous, besides losing its historical value.
    You also claim that other schools have been torn down for various reasons. The ones you’ve posted were only 60 years old or less. How many have existed in the city before cars were on the road? Value does not come to a school because people go there. It comes to a school because people go there for generations. In one yearbook edition, we featured several pictures of three generations of BHS alumni. I was a yearbook teacher there for four years and there are yearbooks in the archives dating back to 1912. How many schools can actually claim this?
    You also imply that change is natural. It happens all the time. Yes, but not all change is good. Change should not automatically be embraced just because change happens.
    And I’m not sure I believe your claim that “these two options were the ones that were arrived at after careful consideration of all the alternatives.” Corporate planning includes many variables, but historical significance and value to the community often seem to be at the bottom of the priority list. Money and then expediency are usually at the top.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I think the KHSD has to explain its comment about this requiring the school to move. I cannot imagine that actually being necessary. That comment they made strikes me as irresponsible and fanning the flames of unnecessary controversy. We need to be clear here – the HSR planners were not considering tearing down the entire school. That idea came from a few school officials.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m not convinced that one building, even an old and historic building, is so important that it has to be preserved at the expense of other homes and buildings. I’m open to ideas about how we make this work.

    Finally, the point I made about these two options is true. I’ve been following this project and its planning for several years now. They have taken every effort to minimize the impact of this project on communities and neighborhoods. They would much rather prefer not having to go through a single building or house. I can assure you the HSR project did not propose the Blue line without serious and careful consideration of all their needs and constraints. Historical significance is part of that consideration. They have a mandate to plan this project within certain restrictions, including financial restrictions and the unwillingness of one of the major railroads, Union Pacific, to share their ROW.

    There is no way to build this that impacts nobody. For example, there’s discussion to your north, in Chowchilla, about whether the route should go through town (potentially impacting people living near the route) or whether it should go around town (potentially impacting farmers). Both would prefer it be moved away from them. But it has to go somewhere.

    I’m not saying it has to be the Blue line. But I don’t think it is good planning, or necessary to the community’s needs, to say that one building, even a historic one, is more important than the HSR system as a whole.

    I’m sure there’s a way to reconcile these needs, and I hope it is found.

    Erika Reply:

    I decided to post because you keep comparing your high school in Orange County to BHS. I think we are all trying to tell you that this comparison is not really the same.

    Brenda and Bob, thank you so much for trying to explain the Driller pride. Our city expands and grows everyday, yet this is still Bakersfield not Orange County. If your not a Driller, you just don’t get it. (I graduated BHS in 1992, and I don’t go to every game or drive around with a “once a Driller always a Driller” sticker on my car.) Driller pride really is an interesting phenomenon, yet as an alumni I get it. My family has lived two blocks from BHS since 1960. So far, we have had three generations of drillers. My point is that BHS has been a big part of many peoples lives. I support the railway and hopefully job opportunities that will help our economy. I feel there has to be a better way to make this work. I do agree with others that you are somewhat condescending and rude to those who want to keep all of the buildings on the BHS campus. I know it is seen as just one building ,but the school needs every building on campus if not more. If the building is not saved for the historical value, It should be saved for the the schools ever growing attendance.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I don’t mean to be condescending, I just don’t agree that this one building is so important that we have to bend the rail project around it. That’s all.

    I’m very familiar with schools that have long traditions. BHS is not unique. It is meaningful to you, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not like there’s never ever been a community with this level of attachment to a school or a place.

    I agree we should all seek ways to make this work. If there’s a solution that avoids taking the building without causing more, unnecessary losses of structures elsewhere, I’m all ears. I’m just saying I don’t agree with the notion that we cannot allow this one building to be impacted.

    Spokker Reply:

    They’re so nostalgic about high school because none of them went to college.

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    Oh please, I will wager that the vast majority of BHS vs. HSR supporters are university graduates [and I’m not talking CSBU]… Going to a university has absolutely nothing to do with supporting BHS nor just being “nostalgic” about high school!

    Nathanael Reply:

    No, Spokker, BHS is to some extent the “upper-class” high school in Bakersfield. The majority of students who aren’t going to make it to college are going to the half-dozen other high schools.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Or, geez, 15 other, I guess.

    Nick Reply:

    Or perhaps we are so nostalgic about our high school because it is the reason we went to college…

    marjorie bell Reply:

    Thanks, Brenda. Your comments make a lot of sense. Again, I’d like to suggest that a third route be considered, down next to the Golden State Hwy. to Union with a station at Union and Truxtun. My husband and I (longtime high school teachers in Bakersfield) believe that the Golden State/Union Avenue route is far preferable and less damaging to our community.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “Thanks, Brenda. Your comments make a lot of sense. Again, I’d like to suggest that a third route be considered, down next to the Golden State Hwy. to Union with a station at Union and Truxtun. My husband and I (longtime high school teachers in Bakersfield) believe that the Golden State/Union Avenue route is far preferable and less damaging to our community.”

    (1) Difficult to fit with the entire route west of Bakersfield. I guess you could chew up farmland in the neighborhood of 7th Standard Rd.
    (2) How do you get out of Bakersfield going east? I guess some massive demolitions south of the Bakersfield-Barstow highway might handle that.
    (3) Probably would require a bunch of demolitions adjacent to Union Av. and Golden State Av. for support columns.
    (4) Union Pacific is being really obnoxious about construction near SR99 and Golden State Av.

    Still I guess there’s a lot of potential there for a route. A *lot* of demolitions and eminent domain involved, but maybe of less important buildings?

    Rafael Reply:

    Fwiw, I do understand that Bakersfield has been quite far (in terms of travel time and options) from Fresno, LA and the Bay Area for over a century. Being out in the boonies, as it were, forces a community to pull together and become self-reliant. Schools are a focal point for any community and BHS even predates the incorporation of the city by a few years. To the alumni, being a Driller = being from Bakersfield. It defines their personal identity to a much greater extent than Robert’s or Spokker’s High Schools define theirs, so it’s a highly emotional issue.

    Let’s try and rationalize the discussion. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this is the building in question. This is actually located a block east of the one shown in the picture in Robert’s post.

    Tastes vary, but the exterior at least doesn’t even strike me as particularly aesthetic. The point is that it’s been there for donkey’s years, that it’s a psychological anchor point for BHS and hence, for the community at large. More importantly, tearing it down would give KHSD an excuse for doing shutting down BHS altogether and blaming it all on big, bad CHSRA. Considering past battles regarding a freeway, I suspect there’s a long-running feud between BHS alumni and Kern county bureaucrats. Again, correct me if I’m wrong.

    Now, look at the satellite map from above: just one block south of the Industrial Arts building is a small park. If the building and the park were to trade places, as it were, the utility afforded by both would be maintained. I know it wouldn’t be the same, because history is not something you can buy. However, history is something you can make. Wouldn’t it be a fitting tribute to the local importance of this one building if CHSRA were to fund the construction of a successor to it, located just across the street, before tearing it down and restoring the park?

    By all means, hold a competition for local architects to at least see if any of them can come up with a design for both components that would respect the heritage while also providing the utility required for a 21st century High School. HSR is an investment in the future, the single best chance Bakersfield has ever had to drastically reduce travel times and costs to the rest of the state. Change is your friend.

    Peter Reply:

    Or remove 14th Street, relocate the building to the park, turn the area of the now-former 14th Street into a park up to the aerial’s ROW, and locate student parking beneath the aerial?

    Rebecca Reply:

    That is not a park. That is the center of campus where some of the 3,000 students eat lunch because they cannot all fit in the caffeteria. Yes, my son sat out there in the rain a few times this year eating. If they moved the IT building there, the students would have no place to enjoy a break during their lunch period.

    To remove 14th street would be removing the access that school busses have. The other streets are main streets with rush hour traffic and cannot handle the stopping of 10 busses for students to be dropped off.

    Peter Reply:

    So it’s not called a park. Whatever. Look, you can call it whatever you want. It looks like a park from above. Are you telling me that it can’t be replaced with a functional equivalent? About the buses, how about using the area beneath the aerial for bus drop-off in addition to converting it to parking. All of these problems can be dealt with.

    This is not some giant Death Star out to destroy Bakersfield or Bakersfield High School.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I dunno if they are going quite as far Death Star but after 112 years of having the railroad right next to the campus suddenly a clean quiet electric train going through is going to stop the hens from laying, make the cows go dry, blight the potatoes, make the low fat creamer at Starbucks curdle and cause an eclipse of the Sun…..

    Nathanael Reply:

    ““Once a Driller, Always a Driller” is not just a platitude, it is….”
    …a sad sign of the degree to which Bakersfield is beholden to the oil industry.

    You know, the vast majority of students in Bakersfield go to other high schools now. I’m not sure it makes any sense for Bakersfield High to remain a high school, if it’s not large enough to handle its student body.

    Leandra Reply:

    So what if the oil industry is here? Who cares? We are an oil and ag town– get over it.

    Yes, a vast majority of students in Bakersfield go to other schools now. Should Bakersfield High School have to handle all of the 33,000 high school students in Bakersfield? That’s ridiculous thought. If that were the case, it would be about four times larger than the California State University that’s here.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Nathaniel’s comment about the oil industry and its influence in Bakersfield is a reference to what some have called “The Great American Streetcar Scandal.” This is a sometimes controversial allegation that the oil, tire, auto, and road industries conspired to destroy electric transit and rail service in general to sell more cars and the things that go with them. Extreme views can be had on both sides of the issue, but it can be said that the background for this was a real court case, “United States vs. National City Lines,” and it has become the basis of a certain amount of folklore, including the subplot of the destruction of the LA “Red Cars” in the combined live action-animated film, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”

    I’m only on a lunch break, so I don’t have time to give a long list of links, but what I do have may be a starting point for you.

    Hope you have fun looking at these! I’ll let you come to your own opinions on the involvement of the oil and auto industries. I will comment that the price of gasoline is way too low; current fuel taxes and tolls only pay for 51% of current cash expenditures on highways nationwide, and that doesn’t include costs of deferred maintenance and other shortcomings. It also doesn’t cover external costs of oil dependence, such as air pollution, terrorist financing, unrecovered accident costs, and an oil war or two. This is especially important in the transportation field, as 65% of our oil consumption is for transportation, and gasoline, most of it for cars, is about 48%, with the trucking industry consuming another 6%, which means 54% of total oil use is for motor fuel. Our highway transport system is our Achilles heel!

    I have lately taken to making the case that a rail revival is a national security issue.

    There is a precedent for this, in the gas rationing that took place in WW II. This, and a national 35 mph speed limit, were instituted to conserve the nation’s stockpiles of rubber, which in the prewar era, was natural rubber from Indonesia, synthetic rubber up to that time being too expensive. The Japanese capture of Indonesia made things dicey for a couple of years before the synthetic plants could be built, hence the effort to limit driving in that time.

    This points up what I believe to be an important difference in fighting the Axis and fighting terrorists. Currently, we are fighting terrorists with the military; in WW II, we fought the Axis with the nation.

    Again, enjoy this bit of research, and perhaps some new insights into your land’s history.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “In one yearbook edition, we featured several pictures of three generations of BHS alumni. I was a yearbook teacher there for four years and there are yearbooks in the archives dating back to 1912. How many schools can actually claim this?”

    My high school, Ithaca High School, has *school newspaper archives* dating back to the 1890s. The yearbook archives date back to the first yearbooks as well.

    Ithaca High School has relocated multiple times.

    I realize we have more history out east than you do in California, of course.

    dave Reply:

    My High school was established in 1891, does that make it historical. NO, only the people who had that much pride over their school thinks so. I honestly would not care if a building or two where to be removed their. If in the name of progress to a better world, transportation in this case.

    Bob Somers Reply:

    I don’t think anybody else would mind either since your high school did a poor job of teaching you the difference between their and there.

    wenchance Reply:

    I completely agree, I like my high school a lot too, but if a part of it needs to be taken away to better the country…then by all means do it!

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    I feel very sorry for both Dave & wenchance…. Such a pitty that they can not feel the pride of a Driller or understand our strong bond to BHS! BHS is NOT “just” a high school…

    wenchance Reply:

    Well for one thing I don’t go to that high school. I’m actually a freshman and I have a lot of pride for my school. But other than form pride alone, I also consider my future very important, more important than the traditions of my school. If I were to have gone to BHS, I would have a lot of pride. I have nothing against pride. But when it comes to considering how my future will be like and what I want for me and the people in the future I will prioritize that over what the school interested in. “Once a Driller, always a Driller” is NOT as important as keeping an economically viable and sustainable future which is what high speed rail will bring and if means tearing down a building or even an entire school than by all means do it. Even if it was my school. We can always go to another school.

    Leandra Reply:

    Dave, with BHS, it is NOT “only the people who had that much pride over their school” who think that it is historical. If you look at the comments made by supporters, you’ll find many alumni from other schools who would tell you that they literally hate BHS as a rival institution.

    Sir James Fitzjames Stephen (a lawyer) wrote, “Progress has its drawbacks and they are great and serious.” In this case, that is very true. Please remember while you’re bashing the school and the community that treasures it that we’re not asking that the high-speed rail go away; we just want a different route so that the high-speed rail and the school could co-exist.

    Peter Reply:

    Please note that just because someone is a lawyer doesn’t mean they know anything. I will be a lawyer soon, and can tell you that lawyers, like politicians spout a lot of crap.

    The point that we are trying to make isn’t that your pride is misplaced or such, but that there may not be much of a choice when it comes to the routing decision. The decision may indeed end up being between the red route, which would displace more residences, or the blue route, which would require removal of the Industrial Arts building. And please keep in mind that the choice between those two routes will not be made by Bakersfield, but by the CHSRA. As Cheri Smith stated below, they have a lot of other factors to consider when making their choice. The school and the opposition to the “blue” line will be just one factor. They are not trying to “stick it” to anyone, but must work within the constraints that they have.

    Leandra Reply:

    I wasn’t trying to say that because he’s a lawyer he knows everything in the world. I’m a lawyer and I would hardly claim to know anything unless I took the time to research it well. I only put that he was a lawyer so people wouldn’t think he was a knight or something random like that.

    Yes, there are a lot of factors… which is why I was encouraged when someone proposed a hybrid blue and red route to me last week (I believe the same as Cheri discusses) which would save BHS *and* many of the homes in East Bakersfield.

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    I completely agree with Leandra & Cheri – thank you!

    Peter Reply:

    My apologies. I just couldn’t figure out why you said he was a lawyer.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Hybrid blue & red?
    Seems reasonable but watch out. In order to make the curves work, you have to:
    (1) Take all the north-side-of-the-tracks buildings (red route)
    (2) Take all the residential buildings near Truxtun Av. on the east side (blue route)
    (3) knock down the Arena/Convention Center in order to make the track straight enough.

    I guess the Arena/Convention Center is not as important as BHS’s Industrial Arts building? In that case great idea.

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    Where are you getting this information? Are you qualified to make these assumptions?

    Nathanael Reply:

    This is just basic rail curve geometry stuff. You don’t need to know very much to be able to work out how tight curves are.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Basic high school geometry to get the radius of a curve or the reverse.

  9. sarah purdy
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 02:15

    I don’t know if my first response was posted or not, but I am one of the people he quotes in this blog. In the rest of my letter to the Authority, I pleaded the case for not doing the red line as well. I feel that it is not fair to businesses, homes, churches or the hospital to be torn down either. I think Cruickshank should have read the whole letter instead of singling out one section to help his attack against the people who have strong ties to the school as it is.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    It is posted – the system here on the blog requires me to approve new comments from first-time posters as a way to cut down on spam. I did not intend this post to be an attack – I disagreed with some of the assumptions I’d read.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Unfortunately, this makes you a NIMBY. :-/
    The rail line has got to go *somewhere* if people in Bakersfield are ever to get fast trains to LA (and boy do they need them). It ought to have a station near downtown if it’s going to be a good rail route. It’s constrained by curvature requirements.

    That means *something* is getting knocked down, and the CHSRA has been trying really hard to knock down as little as possible and preserve as much as possible under those constraints. Rejecting both of their proposed options — that’s NIMBY behavior.

  10. Class of ’10
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 02:33

    Suppose you’re a BHS student and you’re attending one of the in/famous rallies held every so often. Suppose you’re surrounded by other students whose name you don’t know. When the time comes to chant the “Yay blue, yay white” are you just going to sit there? No! You’re going to grab the waist of the person sitting next to you, whatever their name or social status may be, and you’re going to scream your little head off with them, because, when it comes down to it, they’re your family. You see, Driller pride is unexplainable; it knows no boundaries and has no shame. Driller pride is the heart of BHS; it lives in the students, the teachers, the lockers, hallways, Elm Grove, the ghosts in Harvey, and, yes, even the IT building. The recent meeting only saw a small taste of how strong it is, how connected it makes us. One can only feel it and know it by being a Driller, whether its for all four years, or for only two weeks; “Once a Driller, always a Driller” has never rang so true. We’re not just whining about our fear of lost memories, we’re standing up for our home, and, sure, it’s already next to a rail yard…a very distractingly loud rail yard! So what do you think a 200+ mph train is going to do to our learning environment– our living environment!? We are not being the unreasonable ones; it’s people like you asking us to give up part of out heart, part of our life, part of our family, so excuse us for requesting another route, because you can’t take just a piece; it’s all or nothing. But I guess it doesn’t matter that much anyway, because, complain all you want, that high speed rail isn’t touching anywhere near BHS; our fabulous Driller Pride is making damn sure of that.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Here’s what I don’t understand:

    “So what do you think a 200+ mph train is going to do to our learning environment– our living environment!?”

    How is it going to impact your learning environment? The trains will be very quiet, much quieter than the trains you currently deal with, and that have not adversely impacted your school’s community.

    I too know what it’s like to see a high school impacted by an infrastructure project. My high school lost part of its campus to a freeway widening project in the early 1990s. But our Tiller Pride, which isn’t quite as old as Driller Pride but does go back to 1921, survived it just fine.

    I understand why students and alumni feel attached to that building. But I also disagree with that attachment, and believe that the campus community would survive just fine if the building were gone. I don’t agree that for Driller Pride to be preserved, the building has to be preserved.

    But I do hope there is some sort of mutually acceptable solution to this that we can come up with.

    Rafael Reply:

    @ Robert –

    HSR trains are indeed much quieter than lumbering freight trains at the same speed. However, at 200mph, they are not quiet in an absolute sense. An aerial structure doesn’t dampen structure-borne noise and vibration as well as e.g. a retained fill embankment (which isn’t being considered for Bakersfield). In addition, a wider than usual area would be affected by airborne noise, on account of the great height (60′ above grade). Then again, distance also mitigates noise very effectively.

    It’s fair to ask CHSRA to at least roughly quantify these noise/vibration impacts of their concept at ground level and within nearby classrooms using computer simulations. In addition, they should seek to quantify the relative improvements possible with floating slab track and sound deflector plates mounted at rail level. Solid sound walls, even if made of thick glass, would expose a structure that tall to high wind loads. They’d also present a hazard during an earthquake.

    None of this is easy to do right, but we need to get away from the emotional truthiness on both sides of this dispute and toward a rational, science-based decision.

    Peter Reply:

    Those impacts can be quantified once the updated noise study is released.

    M Keathley Reply:

    I believe the proximity of the Blue line would render Harvey Auditorium useless. Harvey is located on the BHS campus and has been serving the community since the 1940’s. It is by far the best auditorium in the city. My daughter’s dance recital has been held there 12 of the 14 recitals that we have participated. The 2 years programs held at other local facilities were limited in size and scope due to the difference in facilities. In today’s dollars, Harvey Auditorium would not be rebuilt comparably and it would be a definite loss to the community. I think historic BHS and Harvey Auditorium should be spared the destruction of the HSR. Thank you

    Peter Reply:

    I’m guessing that if you push hard enough the Authority will fund retrofitting Harvey Auditorium to mitigate/eliminate any noise and/or vibration impacts. If the building is ok next to an active freight rail line then I’m guessing that the foundation is good enough that you’re not going to have any vibration issues with HSR.

    Let’s wait for the noise study, however, before we pass judgment on whether a building will be rendered useless. It should come out in the next couple of months.

    wu ming Reply:

    i suspect you have not heard a high speed electric train go by.

    wenchance Reply:

    Not to ruin your pride or anything but the final decision lies with CAHSRA. They decide what they do and sorry to say, you can’t do a damn thing about it. You can keep shouting your “Driller” mantra all you want, but the fact of the matter is eminent domain will take place and if it does, it will pass by your school. I apologize for bursting your bubble.

    M Keathley Reply:

    Why are you so rude about this? This is our community and our facilites and at least you can be polite and respectful of our concerns even if you don’t share or accept them. We will have to live with the results.

  11. William Rickman
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 02:34

    There are several facts you got wrong in this blog Mr. Cruickshank – either accidently or by design. I would like to point out a few to your blog readers, if I may.

    First off; The Facebook page you mentioned was NOT started by students. The person who began this site is a 26 year old woman who did not even attend BHS. Or did you miss reading her profile on the site? And there are MORE than one opposing this project in California. I know due to the fact I have found them. Ever hear of ‘Google’?

    Second, you’re attempting to make it sound as though the ENTIRE issue in Bakersfield, Calif. is centered on saving a school when it isn’t. Your own proposed route maps show a mass amount of community destruction along its path including two schools (not just one) viable communities and residential neighborhoods, old and new homes, business districts, and part of a hospital. This issue is much bigger than saving BHS. So why are you lying on your blob? Are you trying to distract people from the real issues or are you simply ignorant due to your lack of research on this issue (Again – it’s called ‘Google.”) If you’re going to lie to the public so badly, then perhaps you should run for office.

    I myself grew up in Bakersfield and I know the areas in question very well and know how the communities will be effected by a 5 story elevated structure running through them. There are no tall buildings or large structures along most of the proposed routes. This project would be incredibly intrusive both visually and structurally over all and destroying the integrity of those areas of the city. Why don’t you plan a route close to the airport (Meadows Field) or a more unincorporated area which NEEDS rebuilding and revitalization? You’re already doing that in other areas along your California route. Why not do it in Bakersfield as well? I’m sure travelers would appreciate being close to the airport, especially those needing rental cars, taxis, restaurants, and hotels for overnight stays. All the necessities found in the proximity of an airport.

    You claim it will help the economy and the city. Really? Then why has SO MANY properties ALREADY dropped in value due to the simple announcement of the “proposed” lines. You know the way it works. If not let me educate your blog readers. As soon as a large public project is even announced, it immediately has an impact on property values and commerce. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise either doesn’t know or is lying to you. And developers count on this so property can, eventually, be bought up cheap from desperate people trying to get out before they lose everything. How will people sell their houses or businesses for a decent price if the value drops any more? How will people who have put so much into their homes for so many years be able to survive now that their biggest life investment is now almost worthless.

    ARE YOU GOIN TO PAY THEM FOR THEIR LAND FOR A DECENT PRICE FROMWHEN THEIR HOMES WERE WORTH MORE? I didn’t think so. That’s not the way “developers” work. I know – I know! But before you hit me with the “fair market value” speech, let me remind you of who would also be the one causing the “market value” to drop before and offer of purchase.

    Also, you had mentioned an article in the Bakersfield Californian showing one writer’s support for the HSR. But you FAILED to mention the many articles and ‘Letters to the Editor’ public opinions which have been printed OPPOSING it. ( – see for yourselves if you don’t believe me folks). One ‘For’ out of so many ‘Against’ does not make a strong argument.

    And, for crying out loud, quite trying to make it sound like the city of Bakersfield is trying to ruin your plans. You mentioned other cities which might now stand up “against” you and defend their selves and schools. Well, if they want to protect their community as well, I hope they do. And I would encourage them to do so. What makes a community? The PEOPLE make it, that’s what.

    “Community:” noun: people with common background: a group of people with a common background or with shared interests within society.” If people want to protect their communities, then they have a right to do so and I encourage them all the way. And, if someone in one of those communities happens to start their own website, I shall be happy to show THEM my support as well. Just as the people of Bakersfield are.

    These are just a few of the FACTS I chose to point out for your readers to think about. Any other proud California communities wish to speak out as well? I would love to read your comments and concerns. Just check your facts first ;)

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    There are a lot of points to respond to here; I’ll do so as best I can. First, on the founding of the Facebook group, that was an error of mine.

    As to your second point, the Blue line’s impact to the community was lesser than the Red line, which indicated to me the Blue line was a superior option. While I understand why people are reluctant to see a BHS building be demolished for this, I also feel it’s the most reasonable solution to the situation.

    As to the overall route choice, an airport station is less desirable than a downtown station. You get more riders and serve more people – you bring more benefit to the community – if the station, and therefore the tracks, are in the center of the city. The HSR tracks follow the existing BNSF rail line in order to minimize the overall impact.

    I simply disagree about elevated structures – as people in the Palo Alto area know well, I believe they do not present the negative impact you ascribe to them. That’s a point where we’ll probably just have to disagree, but at least know I’m not singling Bakersfield out on that.

    As to property values, almost *all* properties have dropped in value in Bakersfield. Not because of HSR, but because of the worst recession in 60 years and the bursting of the housing bubble. Can you demonstrate or prove that there has been an additional decline because of the HSR proposal?

    I don’t agree with the notion that one is “protecting their community” by opposing the Blue line plan. It’s protecting a building, which isn’t the same thing. The community survives and adapts and embraces the replacement building, just as countless other communities have done, including my hometown.

    I know this isn’t an easy situation, and I’m totally open to compromises and mutually agreeable solutions. But I did disagree with the notion that taking out a single building in the high school was unacceptable because of the possible impact on a community. That’s all.

    William Rickman Reply:

    It appears you are counting on the idea people haven’t seen the proposed route maps. But I have sir. They are on this site for all to see after all.

    I know how much will be destroyed from one end of the city to the other. I wish you would stop belittling the problem. Taking out “one building” is NOT THE ISSUE. STOP trying to make people believe that! Running a 5 story elevated structure through the campus, the neighborhoods, the businesses, the churches, and both schools affected and that ENTIRE section of the city IS THE ISSUE. Quick trying to trivialize this, it’s offensive and insults the intelligence of the people.

    Just a note: Palo Alto is a completely different type of community and situation, but you already know that. Right?

    In regard to your property value comment: I was referring to the dropping in property values IN ADDITION to the present economy situation. We both know new proposals and public information greatly affect property values. You know this as all too well, but are trying to (once again) divert the meaning to sway public opinion. Do not confuse the issue with that tired line about the “economy.” We already know about the economy – we read the papers.

    I should say I am very sorry your Alma matter suffered a devastating fate. But the Industrial Technologies Building on the BHS campus is structurally sound and has a full complement of classes every year. There is nothing wrong with it. The entire campus is in great shape and you’re making BHS, as well as that entire area of the city and you are trying to create an argument it needs revitalization when it doesn’t. Outside of the usual year to year maintenance every institution of learning needs to keep running.

    How dare you sir? How dare you try to spread such a gross image of deception? This blog is not full of “oversights” it is full of lies in my opinion. And if they are not lies, then there is something seriously wrong with the way your organization goes about fact finding. I make this observation based on what I already know, many hours I have spent on research and fact checking, and carefully looking over as much as I can the available information the High Speed Rail Authority has released to the public. I’m not a student, I am an ADULT. And have been one for a LONG time.

    And I have another question if I may: why is it I have seen several responses to your blogs with opposing opinions deleted from this page? One day they are there, the next they’re gone. Would this be another “oversight?” I’m just curious.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    So is the IT building the issue or is the elevated structure the issue? You keep switching back and forth.

    What is going to be “destroyed” by the route? I’ve seen the maps, I even linked to them in this post. I’m happy to have an open discussion about it.

    Do you have any evidence proving your theory about property value declines and HSR?

    I don’t know what you’re talking about with “opposing opinions.” I don’t delete comments unless they have spam or personal attacks. Are you thinking of the “recent comments” feature on the front page which merely contain the 5 most recent comments?

    dave Reply:

    Robert can’t lie on his blog, his readers are well informed and at times more informed than he is about HSR.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    You should also check facts ..after reading that letter to the Editor that you wrote…

  12. Joey
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 03:22

    The Bakersfield BNSF alignment is very difficult because it involves many sharp turns, meaning that regardless of the exact alignment, properties will have to be taken either way to straighten out the curves. The blue alignment overall stays closer to the rail corridor, meaning that the overall impacts might be less (keep in mind that I’m talking about more than BHS here). Interestingly enough, the UPRR route through Bakersfield has curves wide enough that if the HSR line were to hypothetically follow this route, it could probably stay right along the rail line for the entire route. This would preclude any intermodal with Amtrak, but it’s questionable whether that service will exist once HSR is in operation anyway. Also, it more or less hinges on using the UPRR route all the way from Fresno to Bakersfield, which has already been rejected. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if the cost of building an entirely new right-of-way (which doesn’t have to happen with BNSF) outweighs the costs of the property takes and impact mitigation associated with BNSF.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Union Pacific strikes again. So much of this problem would be avoided if UP supported HSR. That’s where people in Bakersfield should direct their concerns.

    William Rickman Reply:

    Now you’re attacking the rail lines? Aren’t you supposed to be working WITH them? Do you even know what the term “team effort” means? Urban Planning and Community Development is about working WITH people – NOT attacking everyone who has a different opinion than you. Joey makes some good points. Can’t you at least acknowledge before disagreeing?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I’m not sure you understand the full story here. The Union Pacific railroad has been fighting the HSR project because they don’t want to share right-of-way, which is causing a lot of problems up and down the route. BNSF is being more accommodating.

    Joey Reply:

    I think you missed my point. I was saying that the UP alignment has a few advantages through Bakersfield, but the fact that UP is not cooperating might make the alignment more expensive overall. And like Rafael said, you still have to worry about Tulare and Delano.

    Leandra Reply:

    Thank you, I recently read about that opposition. If Union Pacific changed its mind, is it still possible that the route could go there?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    It’s possible, certainly.

    Rafael Reply:

    CHSRA has long favored the BNSF alignment for the southern Central Valley because of access to Truxton Ave in the downtown area of Bakersfield. In terms of distance and curvature, the CA-99/UPRR corridor would present similar challenges, over-and-above those posed by UPRR’s recalcitrance. A fully grade separated solution for Tulare, Delano etc. would be just as hard as in downtown Bakersfield.

    However, the UPRR/CA-99 would mean a Bakersfield station that wouldn’t have the utility CHSRA (and city officials) think it needs to have. Then again, as elsewhere in the state, many residents didn’t pay much attention to the project before Nov of 2008. Now, mismatches are emerging between what they really want and the fundamental route and station siting choices their elected officials endorsed years ago. Catching that sort of thing before ground is broken is precisely why the CEQA process has a program and a project level phase.

    In Italy, they’ve long had a philosophy of building direttissima rail lines through open farmland, with detours into downtown areas of cities along the route. Where possible, they leverage legacy rails that in most cases were (almost) fully grade separated decades ago after the railway was nationalized. In the US, most tracks are privately owned and used mostly for freight, so grade separation hasn’t happened, modern signaling hasn’t been installed and rights of way have been encroached on by development. In addition, farmland is sacred in California and voters simply don’t want to spend the kind of silly money the Italian approach ends up costing.

    Result: plans to build just a single line through downtown areas on 60′ viaducts and use that for express trains at 200-220mph as well as those that actually do stop in Bakersfield.

  13. Gigi
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 03:30

    Opposing the “blue line” and “red line” is not just about protecting a building on the BHS campus, it really is about preserving the past. Sure, schools and other buildings that had historical or sentimental value have been torn down in the past. And people don’t always seem to mind, we do. It is one thing to have a memory of a place and something completely different to be able to walk in the same footsteps as those before us. I didn’t go to BHS, I went to Liberty. However my grandmother attended BHS and every time I was on its campus for a tennis match, football game, choir concert or play in the Harvey, I couldn’t help but feel a connection to my grandmother.

    History is the study of change. However, the change isn’t the school itself but the people whom walk its campus. BHS allows the residents of Bakersfield to hold on to what is left of the past rather than losing everything to change for innovation.

    So the argument is that you can’t hold on to something forever and need to let go? But we’re going to be told what to let go of and when. What about national parks? The White House? Arlington Cemetery? Ancient civilizations? If we need to let go and just stick with the memories we’ve got, why bother preserving these and studying them? Because they’re part of our nation’s past, present and future. The IT building and the BHS campus as a whole, serve the same purpose in Bakersfield. The point of preservation is to allow future generations the chance share the experiences of those who came before us.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    If we were talking about demolishing the entire campus, I might agree here. But I don’t see how losing one building would cause these impacts. I disagree that it would result in losing all connection to the past, or that we would fail to preserve the past.

    When I say history is about change, I don’t say that to be flippant. Change is not easy and it often requires very difficult choices. In this instance, given all the alternatives, it seemed to me that if you could save some homes by using the Blue line option, it was the right move.

    Brandi Reply:

    I think having a relationship with your grandmother is very important. And I understand how a place can bring a connection. Yet every place in the world serves a connection for someone. It would seem then that by destroying any building you are destroying someone’s connection to the past. I think one needs to weigh how many connections a place serves to determine its historical value. I really think that comparing a building that has some local significance to historical objects that have nationwide and worldwide significance is kind of ridiculous. The White House for example or the Golden Gate bridge serve as objects of importance to our national conscious. On the other end of the spectrum is my house which only serves a historically important for my family and whoever lived here before. I bet you could find someone that would argue anything is important. I would even argue that you probably destroyed someone’s connections to the San Fransisco Bay by building the Golden Gate. In other words, even things that are historical (if they are manmade) resulted in destroying someone else’s connection to a place.

  14. D. P. Lubic
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 04:07

    Well, we have people who want to preserve what they consider the most important building on the campus of Bakersfield High School–and at least some are also supportive of HSR. I haven’t looked at the Facebook page, but have the HSR/Driller fans and others suggested an alternate routing that might be acceptable (and doesn’t impinge upon King Union Pacific)?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I think such alternatives would be a very good idea to propose.

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    From the pictures of the red and blue routes that have been published, it appears to me that the blue route coming into town from the east does not affect as many public properties, but as it continues it intersects the red route and then from there the blue route affects BHS. Can these 2 routes be combined. Follow the blue route coming east into town, and then where they intersect, just before BHS, take the red route heading west out of town. Is that an all too simple of a solution?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    It’s definitely something to explore. If it’s practical, it could well be the solution that makes everyone happy.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It would work fine, except that at the intersection, in order to run straight, you would have to demolish the Arena/Convention Center. Is that acceptable?

    It seems clear that the two routes were designed to avoid demolishing that building.

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    I admit I’m not an engineer, so what are your qualifications that leads you to “know” this?

    Peter Reply:

    Simple geometry and arithmetic skills. The curve radii for 220 mph/350 km/h are well known in the industry and to enthusiasts. Check this: This document shows the standards for curve radii for those speeds in a number of countries.

    Using basic skills learned in school (how to figure out the radius of a circle defined by three points), I worked out that a curve that transitions from the station on the blue line to the red line without taking out the Convention Center and the IT building has a radius of about 2700 meters, about half the minimum radius required for 350 km/h. You would have to shift the blue line somewhat south in the station area in order to make the required turn while maintaining 220 mph. I do not have the skills to work out what additional buildings would be taken out with such a shift.

    For this discussion, basic geometry skills are all you need.

  15. Chris L
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 05:00

    I’m a class of 2000 alumni of BHS and am very concerned about the blue line’s impact on BHS. However, like almost everyone else here, I strongly support the idea of HSR for California. For now, I only have two points to contribute to this important discussion:

    1) Noise from a high speed train – I am skeptical that noise from the train will not disrupt classes at BHS. I am not an expert, but just youtube “high speed train noise” for evidence from other countries: The freight trains make an occasional loud crack as trains bang together, but never create a continuing vibration and noise that come from HSR trains. How many trains will rush by during one school day? The noise could be a serious disturbance to classrooms. Sound barriers could be a solution, and using the red line may be just as bad with regard to noise – I am just questioning the assumption the noise will be a non-issue.

    2) How big of an impact will there really be on BHS? Some here are saying we will only lose the IT building – if that were the only detriment to BHS then I’d say we are overreacting – others say Kern Schools could decide BHS is no longer a viable comprehensive campus and thus close / move it entirely. I think this would be an abject travesty for the city, and I’m sure this risk is what really scares all of us who are organizing to protect our city’s heritage. Robert, if I were the CAHSR, I’d approach Kern Schools to find out what their criteria are for a “viable comprehensive campus” and make changes to guarantee that the whole of BHS, the IT building notwithstanding, is not lost to your blue line.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    These are both very sensible points.

    1. That’s one possibility of how it could sound – an occasional “woosh.” I went to a high school next to Interstate 5 and we heard trucks fairly often, and got used to it. I think studying this and figuring out good ways to mitigate any issues is entirely appropriate. However, I don’t see anything to suggest as of this time that the noise would be a “serious disturbance” – still, it needs to be studied.

    2. Totally agree with your proposal for CHSRA and their discussions with Kern Schools. I should hope such discussions have already been under way. If not, they need to get started immediately.

    Peter Reply:

    Don’t forget we’re still waiting for a new study on sound and vibration based on current generation HSR equipment which should be released soon. We’ll have a lot more objective data then.

    thatbruce Reply:

    1. Soundwall. The train videos that are commonly referenced seem to be mainly of trains running at speed in the countryside without any noise mitigation measures. Most vehicles (train high speed or not, trucks, cars, planes etc) are audible for a distance under such circumstances.

    With a station nearby, the high speed trains won’t be running at full power (less sound), and being in an aerial structure, the remaining sound won’t be directed to the sides. Since it is in an urban environment, extended soundwalls would also be a desired mitigation option.

    2. No-one has mentioned moving the building yet?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    In regard to sound:

    The video clips shown are a worst-case scenario (normal train noise combined with braking noise, some of it from cooling blowers). Depending on conditions, what you hear may not be like this.

    I can personally tell you that electric trains are amazingly quiet compared with steam and diesel counterparts. I remember watching Amtrak AEM-7s (nicknamed “toasters” for their shape, “Swedish Meatballs” for their design origins, and “Mighty Mouse” for their great power despite their small size and light weight as locomotives–only 99 tons, which in the railroad world is small!), racing at over 100 mph through Elkton, Md. If you were on the track (which you won’t have easy access in Bakersfield), these things really could sneak up on you!

    And another thought–the building involved is a technical school. I happen to think railroads will be an employment center in the future. Might some sort of rail technology class be something to offer at Bakersfield? Was something like this once offered at Bakersfield?

    Oh, I don’t have the time to look for it, but McKinnley Technical School in Wheeling, W.Va. (where I’m originally from), was located on 17th Street in that city–and trains of the Baltimore & Ohio ran down that street like a trolley car for almost 100 years to the passenger station there; sadly, school, railroad, and a lot more are gone today.

    I’ll try to get some Wheeling photos and Amtrak video clips up later for reference.

  16. Andrew
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 06:39

    Jesus Christ, somebody call a WAHMULANCE. Stop the histrionics and start suggesting viable alternatives, people! And don’t say “tunnel.”

    Jared Reply:

    Why not tunnel? seems to work in DC for the Metro. The Bay Area for BART. NY for the subways. Europe seem to be doing fine.

    And what does Jesus have to do with it?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If Bakersfield chooses to build a metro, I’ll support it if it chooses to build it underground.

    Peter Reply:

    Tunneling is a last resort. It’s EXPENSIVE and takes forever to be built. Bakersfield-Merced will hopefully be one of the first stretches built, so it would help if it had an actual station when the segment opens…

    wu ming Reply:

    tax yourself to pay for it, and there’s no problem.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They can make the quarter of a percent tax increase they are going to levy on themselves so they can tear down the Convention Center to save the Industrial Technology building to a half a percent to fund it.

  17. Brandi
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 07:10

    The school district I lived in growing up demolished the old high school and opened up a new one on the same property just in time for my freshmen year. Many alumni were not happy with the decision. On the other hand, everyone that was going to school at the time was ecstatic to have a new school and not the old school which had a leaky roof. I understand that loss is one of the most difficult emotions to deal with. For me losing people though is much more important than losing any material object. Now I understand that buildings that are important to our collective history are worth preserving. I think this is the picture of the IT building that would be lost.
    Now in my opinion as an outsider without emotional connections it doesn’t look like something I would look twice at walking by other than that large mural on the side. Now i’m not sure if some significant event occurred there in the high school’s history or what not. Once again I understand that people are emotionally connected to their school as it is an important part of most people’s lives. Yet I bet many of the students that have yet to go there would love a new building just like majority of people would prefer a new car instead of their parent’s old car with a bunch of memories. I think maybe the school should ask for compensation to build a new building instead. They could use the compensation to make an even more unique place to make new memories in.

    Leandra Rayford Reply:

    Just to clarify first, that’s Warren Hall in the picture… but that’s the fault of the news for putting a picture of another building. I think they just wanted the artwork donated by the class of 2000 to be there.

    Also, if you look at the campus map here:, you will see that with the size of the IT building, it’s just not possible to relocate the building elsewhere on campus; BHS is already the smallest campus of all the comprehensive high schools in Bakersfield, which is part of the reason the Kern High School District says the campus wouldn’t be viable as such any longer.

    Something that many people have talked about is the age of the buildings– but the campus was beginning a ton of renovations as I was graduating in 2001.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Let’s take HSR out of the picture for a second.

    Is BHS still viable where it is? Are enrollments causing the campus to outgrow itself?

    And what impact on historical buildings did these renovations have?

    Bringing HSR back into the picture, is it really impossible to move the building, or merely difficult? Keep in mind the CHSRA will pay for any relocation or replacement.

    Laurie S Reply:

    I think it is probably impossible to move it. About the only other places physically able to contain it would be Elm Grove and the football field.

    Peter Reply:

    Is Elm Grove the park to the east of the school?

    I would normally not suggest taking over a park, so please don’t bite my head off, but could the building potentially be moved to the park, and the parking lot could be moved beneath the aerial?

    Other than removing some green space, how does that sound as a compromise?

    Leandra Rayford Reply:

    Hi Peter,

    Elm Grove is a green space in the middle of the campus. At least when I was a student there, this is where students can buy a la carte lunches… aka- food other than what is served in the cafeteria. There is no way that all the students could eat in the cafeteria, so generally this is the space students congregate (unless it’s raining or too cold, when instead they take over random spaces on campus… but let’s face it, it rarely rains in Bakersfield).

    To get a better view of where Elm Grove is, you can view a campus map here: Hope that helps a bit.

    Peter Reply:

    Well, it was worth a try.

    How about closing 14th St, shifting the building south, and placing the parking lot beneath the aerial. Would that work better, if Cheri’s idea above doesn’t work out (I haven’t been able to study it in detail yet)?

    Peter Reply:

    Thank you for that link. I was under the impression that the building in question was the one directly to the west of the Industrial Arts building. My apologies.

    And no, moving the REAL building onto the park would not be possible without completely getting rid of the park.

    Laurie S Reply:

    Elm Grove is not a park. It’s part of the campus. It is my understanding, that there are underground service tunnels that run under Elm Grove. Due to a limitation of space, parking on the BHS campus is at real premium already, so anything that removes parking, I’m going to guess, would be met with extreme opposition. If you Google Earth the high school address (1241 G Street, Bakersfield, CA) and take the little guy out to the street, you will get a good idea of the area we have been talking about, including a better look at the IT building instead of just a drawn overhead map.

    Peter Reply:

    I’m suggesting placing parking underneath the aerial.

    orulz Reply:

    Complete outsider here.

    What about the parking lot at the corner of G and California? Clearly big enough. Can’t spare the parking spaces? Why not have CHSRA pay to build a parking deck to replace all the spaces that will be lost, plus some extra for good measure?

    Leandra Rayford Reply:

    While I can answer some of those questions, I’m not sure of the answers to all of them so I’m not going to pretend that I have them.

    Yes, BHS is still viable where it is. No, enrollments are not causing the campus to outgrow itself. Every so often the city may do some re-zoning of schools, but as the city grows outward (if you picture downtown as the middle), then new high schools are put up in those growing areas. It’s kind of an interesting phenomenon, as I live closer to two other high schools, but went to BHS.

    What I do not know is the impact of renovations on historical buildings– as far as I know, what was being done was work on pipes and things of that nature. After all, the school didn’t have air conditioning until just before I started there in the late 1990s! :)

    As far as moving the building goes, there is just not that amount of space available on the campus without the removal of Elm Grove. I’m not sure if that would be merely difficult, or impossible.

    Nathanael Reply:

    How about the empty parking lots east of the campus?

    Leandra Reply:

    When school is in session, there are no empty parking lots.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There’s multiple solutions to full parking lots. “move the train 20 miles outside of town” isn’t the first one that comes to mind.

    Leandra Reply:

    The issue isn’t full parking lots. I was just responding to his question because he said “empty parking lots.” Thus, sarcastic comments, such as you made below about the “cultural and historical significance of parking lots” are unwarranted.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Are the parking lots valuable or aren’t they? My general impression of schools is that parking lots are very low on the list of valuable instructional spaces, except maybe for the driver’s education courses. On a tightly constrained campus, parking lots are probably not the best use of scarce land.

    Solutions other than vast fields of pavement open to the sky exist.

    Peter Reply:

    Well, in the picture it was an empty parking lot. That happens when they take satellite pictures on weekends…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    or when they take the picture at 4 in the afternoon.

    Jared Reply:

    Just to clarify, the renovations started after I graduated in 1986. Started with the addition of A/C to Warren Hall, removal of asbestos, etc. Seems what people often forget is the need for “Historical Preservation”. BHS is more than a high school, it is what sets the high school district apart from others in the state. As BHS grew, more schools were added to the district. East Bakersfield High, South Bakersfield High, North Bakersfield High, West Bakersfield High.
    Buildings the size of those on the BHS campus cannot be picked up and moved to another location. Zoning would not allow for a building the size of the Industrial Arts building to be built on the campus.
    Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the high-speed rail, just not at the cost of historical landmarks nor the debt that will be incurred with this project.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Can the zoning be changed?

    Alexei Reply:

    Both Harvey Auditorium and Warren Hall have about the same footprint, and are taller. It seems unlikely that the city would strongly object to building another, modern, similarly-sized building which they don’t have to pay for. The parking lot seems like a fine place, and parking spaces are not too hard to move. Put them under the tennis courts (pretty common arrangement), under/next to the train tracks as suggested earlier, or simply under the new building. It’s fine that BHS wants to be made “whole” and not lose any space, but with a little creative thinking it can end up being a win-win.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Oh yes the cultural and historical significance of parking lots would pay a major role in any redesign.

  18. A.R
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 07:11

    ok so first of all you guys are making it seem like we bashed the fact that the HSR was coming to Bakersfield. That is not the case at all. But we are trying to preserve a land mark that is older then Bakersfield itself. The IT building is not just another building. And i actually oppose both the red and the blue line for the fact that no matter what something is getting torn down. And as for it interrupting our education, its not the matter of how quit its is as for its just NOT safe to be around a school. I don’t even like the one thats there now.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Why is it unsafe? It’s not enough to claim it, explain it.

    As to the red and blue lines, given the needs of the system and the constraints of what already exists, there’s no way to build this without impacting some current use – whether a farm, a school, a house. The goal is to minimize those as much as possible, and the Blue line proposal appeared to do that.

    Rafael Reply:

    The objectives of grade separation are safety and high throughput capacity at high speed. Sure, some structures are going to have to be impacted in order to get this thing built. You say you want the omelet but you’re squeamish about breaking the eggs.

    As for your assertion that operating vehicles at high speed near a school being a safety hazard, please explain. Do BHS students hover 60′ above grade level?

    AR Reply:

    Its unsafe because students will be around it, it will be part of they’re daily routine. just think of all the safety proceeders that you will have to put on us at BHS and the staff constantly being stressed that something will happen to one of the students. Kids are supposed to enjoy their school years and so should the staff, but how can they with this. I go to BHS and im stressed with the train thats there now, and I know the staff is too. But there is nothing we can do about that one. This one at least we can try and prevent it.

    Joey Reply:

    It has been said and I will say it again: high speed trains on an elevated structure pose almost ZERO danger to people on the ground. High maintenance standard make sure that derailments are not going to happen in anything but a large earthquake. Even in that event, the train is unlikely to leave the viaduct (and the Japanese are working on methods of making this even less likely).

    Rafael Reply:

    There are many, many threats to High School students that ought to loom a whole lot larger in parents’ faculty minds than a catastrophic train accident. Let’s start with the deep-fried garbage they’re serving in the cafeteria and move on to drugs, venereal disease, teen pregnancy, bullying, suicide, sports injuries, road traffic accidents, kitchen fires at home, slipping in the frickin’ bathtub etc. Seriously, teens face a lot of threats and yet, somehow, the vast majority manage not to get themselves killed or maimed before graduation because they actually do have a brain, albeit an immature one.

    The notion that HSR is super-duper-dangerous and, especially so near a school, is a complete strawman without any basis in real-world experience. In fact, it’s even safer than flying. Construction nuisance is a fact of life. The population health effects of noise from train operations are a legitimate issue, especially at 220mph. However, mitigation strategies are available, up to and including installing triple glazing in demonstrably affected buildings located near the tracks, at least on the facades facing them. It’s perfectly reasonable to demand that CHSRA prove a priori that its express trains won’t cause noise blight in downtown Bakersfield and, to commit to mitigation if those predictions turn out to be incorrect after all. The noise aspect really does matter even more for schools and hospitals than it does for most other buildings.

    Note that grade separation means HSR trains won’t be blaring their horns the way freight trains and Amtrak San Joaquin have to. Also, HSR trains don’t run in the middle of the night and, CHSRA has no plans for light freight operations on its network. It’s the rail-wheel and aerodynamic noise during the day we’re talking about in this context. Noise events are frequent and sharp but last just a few seconds. Most people living or working near a busy rail line get habituated to them and suffer no apparent ill effects, but a small minority do report concentration problems, irritability, loss of productivity etc. even though the absolute noise level is considered tolerable. That’s because noise is perceived differently by different people. The scientific study of this is called psychoacoustics and, it has come up with non-objective metrics called loudness and harshness to try and quantify these differences. However, the laws on noise are currently based exclusively on objective measures such as noise event frequency and sound pressure.

  19. Julie Grimes
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 08:44

    I don’t think that the High Speed Rail going anywhere near any high school is a good idea. Just think of the noise and pollution alone. There is soooooo much pressure on students today and the academic standards are so high. How in the world do you expect students to concentrate and do well if all of that noise is going on?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    How do they succeed and learn with a freight yard next door?

    How did I succeed in school next to a 12-lane interstate freeway?

    How do Peninsula students learn and succeed next to the Caltrain corridor?

    I understand the concerns about a historic building. I disagree with using that to block one of the proposed HSR routes, but I at least understand where it comes from. This notion that HSR anywhere near a school is bad, however, makes no sense to me.

    Andrew Reply:

    What pollution?

    I know it must seem crazy to a west-coast American, but the proposed trains are actually all electric.

    wu ming Reply:

    um, the pollution in bakersfield is already legendary. by shifting traffic to non-polluting electric HSR trains, along with densification of the area around the station, it ought to reduce the amount of pollution in the air somewhat.

  20. Spokker
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 08:46

    WELLL I go to BHS school and i think it’s very unsafe for students to be around trains. for one i think someone’s backpack could get caught on the train and be pulled asunder. also i think the electric waves from the trains will inject radiation into the students brains making it hard to learn. we worked fvery hard to preserve this building and don’t want the rail because of derailments that happen every day.

    i support the high speed train but please put the rail on another planet.

    thank you and god bless.

    Rafael Reply:

    Gotta get me one of them jetpack backpacks so it can be pulled asunder by a bullet train way up high. That would be totally rad, dude. Well, one time, anyways. If it’s someone else.

  21. Laurie S
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 09:32

    I am a relative latecomer to the HSR discussion, so I have questions as well as comments and a suggestion.

    I have lived in Bakersfield for a little over 25 years. I never attended Bakersfield High School, but one of my sons graduated from and another one currently attends the school. In the twenty-five years I’ve lived here, the population has “exploded” and city development has spread with little apparent foresight for planning transportation routes to keep up with the sprawl. Do some research on the Westside Parkway Project and, in addition, see how many of our intersections have D or F ratings. Also, as noted by a previous writer, Bakersfield has very, very few tall buildings. Visually speaking, a five-story high speed rail passing through the downtown would look very out of place (well, except for passing by the convention center with its “space port” looking roof … an image of Disneyland circa 1970 comes to mind, a la the monorail and Tomorrowland).

    Regarding the concerns the blue route would have on the BHS campus (set aside, for the moment, the need to remove the IT building), imagine, if you can, a train running slightly higher and ONLY 100 FEET FROM the classroom windows of one of the tallest buildings on campus; that would be Harvey Hall. Even with some kind of sound or protective buffers built on the railway system, that comes way too close, in my opinion. No matter which of the two proposed routes you look at, there are going to be buildings and homes within this kind of proximity (or maybe even closer) to the railway. Robert, you say that the chances of an accident on the HSR are very small. That may be true. We probably take more risk everyday driving in our cars or walking along a street — a risk that I might point out is a voluntary action on each individual’s part as opposed to having a train hurtling by that we have no control over. And, yes, you have made a valid point that there are ground level train tracks that already run near the campus and through town, posing their own kind of risk to students and residents. BUT, as long as ANY chance of derailment exists, whether at ground level or five stories up, it is not a question of “Could it happen?” but one of “When will it happen?” That is a certainty that is impossible to predict, so why would we want to increase the chances of that certainty by building another rail system through town?

    Question: Are these two proposed routes the only ones that have been researched by the CHSRA? If so, why? If not, what other routes were looked into and why were they dismissed as not being viable alternatives?

    Suggestion: (which may become moot depending on your answers to my questions) Why not run the HSR around the western and southern outskirts of Bakersfield, establish transfer stations, and use dedicated shuttle buses to bring people into various high use parts of town? For example, if the HSR ran along the I-5 corridor, there could be a transfer station near the Stockdale Highway exit, with a bus that ran in to CSUB, then along our California Ave corridor and on to downtown. Presumably Bakersfield’s city planners could suggest two or three other transfer station locations. I do not have any experience or expertise in trying to calculate the dollar cost of running the HSR route in that direction, but common sense tells me that (1) it would cause far less of a disruption than running a ginormous rail system smack dab through a city, and (2) it might, for a change, allow Bakersfield to integrate with a major transportation system as the city grows instead of continuing the always-behind transportation planning that seems to be our trademark.

    Laurie S Reply:

    Um…Harvey Hall is our mayor. Harvey Auditorium is what I meant to write.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Some responses:

    Safety: The only HSR derailment that has happened in the 46 years they have been in operation was when some sheep got onto a track in Germany. That would not be a possibility in Bakersfield (and not just because there aren’t any sheep near BHS!). HSR is probably the safest form of transportation in the entire world. There is simply no chance that students will be in any danger from it. They are in FAR greater danger when they walk or drive to school.

    Outside town: For a variety of reasons, it is not preferable to move stations to the edge of cities. You want the stations to go where the people are – and that is in the center of the city. The studies the CHSRA has done over these last 10 years indicate that putting a station on the edge of town would significantly reduce ridership and make the HSR system much less beneficial to Bakersfield residents.

    If the goal is to “allow Bakersfield to integrate with a major transportation system” then the best way to do it is to put the station in the center of town, along an existing rail corridor. That’s the least disruptive place to put it.

    Spokker Reply:

    “We probably take more risk everyday driving in our cars or walking along a street — a risk that I might point out is a voluntary action on each individual’s part as opposed to having a train hurtling by that we have no control over.”

    So you don’t fly, either? Can’t have planes, they might suddenly fall from the sky and we can’t control that!

    Laurie S Reply:

    I do fly, when I choose to. Your comment missed my point, and I didn’t put it out as troll bait.

    FWIW, I like the idea of the HSR. I vaguely think I might have voted in favor of it at the referendum step. What I’m not in favor of are either of the current routes through downtown that are being considered.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You don’t have any control over planes falling out of the sky and into your living room. They can. Probably a much higher risk of that happening than HSR derailing. Probably much more probability of a car landing in your living room too. You could stay in bed all the time but then you run the risk of a severe allergic reaction to the dust mites that will thrive in the bed. Or having a car land in your bedroom. Or a freight derailing at the high school rupturing a tank car full of toxic chemicals.

    As I said earlier the FUD is much better than usual in this thread, thanks for the valiant effort.

    Laurie S Reply:

    Fine. Look down your nose at me and others in this community. Your arrogance and smugness are typical of people who haven’t a clue and don’t care about a community. You just want your precious choo-choo project to be rammed through us.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    What’s arrogant or smug about listing some facts?

    Nathanael Reply:

    So you’re in favor of the HSR but not of any possible, feasible routes for it.

    I think you know the five-letter acronym for that.

    Laurie S Reply:

    Nathanal – It has not been proven to me that the there are no other feasible routes — only routes that you and certain other CHSRA people are insistent upon shoving down our throats.

    I have been a proponent for HSR. I am quickly becoming an opponent of it, however, due to the arrogant, condescending, and sarcastic comments I’ve been reading from you, adirondacker, Mr. Cruickshank, Spokker and a few others. Bakersfield and its residents get little respect from people outside our community who have elitist attitudes and seem to think we’re all just a bunch of hicks here who haven’t a brain amongst us. You all think you know what’s best for us, because obviously you’re smarter than us just by the mere fact that you don’t live here. Well, I’ve got news for all of you: We’ll do just fine in this century and in the next one. We don’t NEED your stinkin’ high speed choo-choo, and we don’t want it running five stories above our city looking like a blasted eyesore, taking out homes and business just for the sake of creating said eyesore.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Have you actually gone through this stuff? The CHSRA has. Please do go through their materials in detail. There are other feasible routes — they just involve even MORE demolition. If you can tell us CHSRA what sort of buildings people would be happiest to demolish in Bakersfield, I am *100% sure* they will devise the route which preserves the most important ones.

    If you don’t give a damn about a high-speed train, maybe it should avoid Bakersfield. Although the Central Valley farmers sure won’t be happy about it chopping up the farmland.

    The city badly needs a fast rail connection to LA for economic development reasons, but I guess someone who’s still living there might have different views from someone who knows a bunch of families who *left* the Unemployment Capital of California.

    Laurie S Reply:

    How can a route around town cause more demolition in Bakersfield? Just answer that specific question. It’s not a question about ridership.

    As far as chopping up farmland, like I said on a different thread, around Bakersfield this practice seems to be a ritual. At the right price, anyone will sell their land.

    Please explain to me the economic development reasons Bakersfield *needs* a super fast connection to Los Angeles? If you’re thinking in terms of Bakersfield becoming a bedroom community for people who work in the LA area, the cost to commute on a daily basis will have to really come down from what I was told it’s projected to be if this is going to be even remotely practical.

    It’s not that I don’t give a damn about the HSR. If that were the case, would I be posting here? I think, if I recall correctly, I voted in favor of the concept when it was a referendum. What I care about is WHERE the line is placed. I’m married to a man from Missouri, and he frequently reminds me that Missouri is the “Show Me” state. Well, Nathanael, someone needs to “show me” in a convincing fashion that:

    (1) running a 5-story railway through a city that in its entirety might have a total of a dozen buildings that are 5 stories high is aesthetically pleasing,
    (2) demolishing many homes and businesses and disrupting a high school campus in a significant way in order to create this high speed rail is necessary to improve our way of life in Bakersfield, and
    (3) hordes of riders will flock to and leave from downtown Bakersfield but they won’t do it from any other location.

    Other than that, I’m all for the HSR . . . . . for now anyway.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    The economic development reasons are significant. Without HSR, Bakersfield is going to wither on the vine. Too far from the major employment centers of the state, and with gas prices prohibitively expensive, Bakersfield will begin to experience the kind of brain drain and out-migration that characterizes life in the cities of the Plains. Jobs will be harder to get and property values will continue to slide. In the worst-case scenario, there is widespread poverty; more likely is a long stagnation as economic growth is further concentrated in the existing coastal urban cores.

    HSR provides a complete change. Because it makes travel to LA cheap and fast, Bakersfield can essentially be a suburb of LA. Businesses that might currently think of locating in Orange County or Riverside would see Bakersfield as an attractive alternative. Bakersfield could well be a bedroom community – it depends on the HSR fares, but I could see it as a desirable option for families and others.

    As to your other points, let me share your perspective: It’s not that I don’t give a damn about Bakersfield, its community, its values, or its history. I do. But neither am I convinced that the best way to protect those things is to resist a downtown HSR station and alignment. Both can be achieved if there is a desire to make it work.

    The status quo is not viable. All of us – every single one of us – has to accept some form of change if we are to have prosperity in the 21st century. We want that change to be as minimally impactful as possible. But we also want it to be the best change we can have. A station on the edge of town won’t attract as many riders as a station in the center of town, equidistant for everyone, will attract.

    Obviously takings of houses, businesses, and school buildings is never easy. But if that is the least intrusive, most cost-effective way to build this, then I think it needs to be done. Bakersfield’s future is riding on this. Literally and figuratively.

    Laurie S Reply:

    Thanks for the answers, Robert. Where can I go to read the studies or surveys that support your argument for wanting to put the rail station downtown supposedly where all of its riders would want to go? What is the profile of who these supposed riders would be? When I, or say someone on business, need to go to another town for a particular purpose, I don’t not consider flying if the distance is great enough or it will save me time just because the plane won’t land in the parking lot of the company or store I want to visit. And after my plane lands, I’ll take a shuttle bus either to the downtown location or to a car rental agency. Why wouldn’t such logic apply with the HSR?

    And I respectfully disagree that building and running an elevated railway system through an already existing metropolitan area would be less disruptive than building and running it, on the ground no less, where little has already been developed.

    Peter Reply:

    Well, that depends on who you’re disrupting. In some ways it’s a tradeoff between running it through the cities where it’s actually meant to serve passengers, or through farmland, where there are no passengers and you’re literally destroying the ability to farm the impacted parcels.

    The farmers in the Central Valley would and do disagree with you.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “Where can I go to read the studies or surveys that support your argument for wanting to put the rail station downtown supposedly where all of its riders would want to go? What is the profile of who these supposed riders would be?”
    You could start with the CHSRA website. Or you could read *any transportation research for the last 30 years*.

    Sorry to sound so irritable about this, but you are really coming across as not having done any research at all.

    One of the points of HSR LA-Bakersfield is that taking HSR would be faster than the alternative (car-airport-airport-taxi or car-long-distance or bus-long-distance). If you make it slower and more obnoxious by putting the HSR station in the middle of the fields and requiring extra long drives and shuttle buses you lose a lot of the advantages.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If the goal is to preserve Bakersfield circa 1969 putting anything new 20 miles away is an advantage. This thread has been attracting high quality concern trolls and lots of FUD. Maybe she has done her research, in how to give the appearance of genuine concern….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Robert, there have been many HSR derailments other than the one with the sheep. However, in no case did the train stray very far from the tracks. In most, it stayed very close to the tracks and remained upright, so nobody died. In one case, the train strayed just enough off the tracks to hit a bridge and crumple.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It didn’t crumple much until the bridge fell on it, did it?

    wenchance Reply:

    Actually, the incident you are talking about is the Eschede correct? that was the only incident where an High speed train crashed due to faults in the train itself.
    1.The ICE (Intercity Express) back then didn’t use mono-block tires on their wheels sets. The ones they did use was very vulnerable to metal fractures in the tire.
    2. That particular ICE generation used individual bogies for each rail car. HSR consists now a days are articulated at the joints restricting movement. The problem with individual bogies is that during a derailment the consist is vulnerable to jack-knifing. It is this particular phenomena that caused the consist to slam in to the support columns of the overpass causing them to collapse.

    Rafael Reply:

    Alstom and Talgo trains are indeed articulated and hence, better equipped to withstand jackknifing. All other vendors, including the Japanese, use a conventional layout with two full bogies slung under each long car.

    A separate accident involving a freak sinkhole suddenly opening up under the tracks occurred in France in the 1990s. A TGV derailed at 185mph yet remained upright and no-one was killed or seriously hurt. Many credited Alstom’s articulated frame design for this minor miracle.

    Your point on the monoblock wheels is correct. Messing with those for the sake of passenger comfort was a very poor decision by DB and the vendors involved. An articulated train equipped with the flawed retrofit wheels would probably also have jackknifed after hitting that bridge.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Japanese trains don’t use articulated bogies, either, and the one time the Shinkansen derailed, it stayed upright. The most popular export model, the Velaro, isn’t articulated, either. It’s just plain wrong that “HSR consists nowadays are articulated.” In fact, there are very good reasons not to articulate: for one, articulation increases axle loads too much.

    wenchance Reply:

    Sorry, I stand correct, I assumed the Velaro and Shinkansen were also articulated. I need to keep up with my train trivia….but I know the new AGV is articulated correct?

    Clem Reply:

    In fact, there are very good reasons not to articulate: for one, articulation increases axle loads too much

    It’s a tradeoff with no single correct answer.

    The flip side of your argument is that articulation significantly reduces the mass fraction attributable to bogies. Non-articulated trains may achieve lower axle loads, but at the cost of hauling around more dead weight. The French came up with their seventeen-tonne compromise for this exact reason, and you’ll notice that every axle of every TGV ever built, including AGV, carries 17 tonnes. This is no accident: it is the result of a carefully considered engineering tradeoff.

    Clem Reply:

    Sorry, italics failure…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Depends on how you want to read the accounts of the accident. Nasty things are going to happen when shards of poorly designed wheel foul a switch and the train lifts off the track. Having a bridge fall on a train is going to be a bad thing no matter the speed or design of the train.

    Peter Reply:

    The switch didn’t just lift the train off the track, it literally threw it sideways. Please don’t try and tell me that that wouldn’t have happened with an articulated train…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Wenchance is the one positing that conventional bogies caused the problem. I’m saying that articulated bogies don’t help much when a bridge falls on a train. And that wedging a chunk of wheel into a switch at 125MPH/200KPH all sorts of peculiar things are going to happen.

    If the passenger whose wife was almost impaled when a piece of wheel came up through the floor had pulled the emergency brake we never would have heard about the problem. Or if the wife had. If the conductor he went to find had pulled the emergency brake or called the engineer to have the train stopped we never would have heard about the problem.

    The passenger and the conductor never would have faced these decisions if DB had heeded warnings that the design had flaws. If the bridge had been designed without supports we probably would have never heard of the problem or if the switch hadn’t been placed so close to the poorly designed bridge. The was a whole chain of events that led up to the disaster, where the cars are connected to each other is low on the list of things that could have been done to prevent the deaths and injuries.

    wenchance Reply:

    I’m just listing some of the major problems. You can’t really cover everything, of course the human factor is a part of the accident as well. Plus, it always bad when a bridge falls on a train, I think there’s no argument there…

    Peter Reply:

    Laurie, I think the answers to many of your questions can be found at the Authority’s website at In the library you can find the analysis of why certain alignments were discarded versus why certain ones were advanced. It may take a little reading, but all the information is there. In addition to looking at the Fresno-Bakersfield and Bakersfield-Palmdale sections, also check out the 2005 (?) Programmatic EIR documents for the general route decisions analysis (I-5 vs. US-99, Tehachapis vs. Grapevine, etc).

    Laurie S Reply:

    Thank you, Peter.

    Nathanael Reply:

    In Japan, they run high speed trains THROUGH THE MIDDLE OF OFFICE BUILDINGS.

    For real.

    There will be no problems putting a competently designed high-speed rail line on a 60 foot aerial across the street from a school, except the visual issues.

    James Fujita Reply:

    um, I’m not as familiar with the newer Shinkansen lines as I am with the Tokaido Shinkansen, but I’m fairly certain that no Shinkansen line goes through an office building.

    Part of the confusion lies in the fact that Shinkansen stations tend to be fairly large buildings, both for connecting commuter rail, regional trains and subway lines and for the fact that Japan has turned its major train stations into downtown shopping malls with shops, restaurants and even attached hotels. I would love to see the same thing happen here, even in Bakersfield.

    Part of the confusion may also stem from the fact that Japanese subway lines and commuter train lines do occasionally run through office buildings where space is an issue. Stores are sometimes built underneath tracks, even high-speed tracks – and even a Japanese commuter train is “high speed” by American standards, another thing I would love to see change here.

    In any case, the Japanese – high school girls and old ladies alike – have gotten used to their electrified, high-speed, relatively quiet and amazingly safe trains.

    I wish I had taken a picture of the ancient temple I saw sitting on top of a shopping center in Japan, it illustrates perfectly how “history” does not have to be preserved in ember to be kept alive. Well, I do have this:
    That’s a shrine wedged in between two modern buildings.

    swing hanger Reply:

    The Shinkansen station at Shinagawa has an office complex above it, otherwise, as you say, there are no other such stations with offices above. You want to avoid having trains passing through such enclosed station structures at high speed (Shinagawa has most trains stopping, or at least slowing down). Also, newer shinkansen track is usually built on viaduct, so any development usually takes place below the tracks.

  22. clongcrier
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 09:37

    I feel this is more about not realizing what we have and will let go, because someone has informed we need high speed rail..Bakersfield has torn down too many buildings, not recognizing that the history carried with those walls, that will support a town……we have let big development dictate their ideas for our town. Lets plan our town for the future, keeping in mind safe housing, walkable shopping. Our air is bad, but this town is spread out, and there is no transit, yet, that provides capable transportation quickly. Get does not have quick transportation, and if we are going to solve problems for the future, lets perpare out town.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    My view is all of that can be achieved even if one building were demolished. And perhaps there are ways to avoid that demolition. I just disagree with the notion that to protect history, we have to protect every single building.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If the building is that precious they can always raise the funds locally to tunnel in that section. Or if this all going to ruin the ambiance of Bakersfield, bypass Bakersfield. I’m sure there’s someplace 20 miles outside of town the tracks can run.

    Rafael Reply:

    The building isn’t that precious. They’ll just tweak the alignment to avoid it while hewing close to the BNSF tracks.

  23. Sean
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 10:46

    I support tge construction of a high speed rail bit as a BHS alumnus, I do not want it to negatively effect the campus at all. While it is true the blue line would only require thr destruction of one building, the Kern High School District said the presence of the line that close to campus would force them to move the campus’s location. Secondly, I’ve seen some comments from people saying that their high schools were torn down and rebuilt and they didn’t care. That is good for you but BHS has a very strong sense of tradition both as a student body but also the campus itself. This makes us extremely loyal to the school even after graduating. Finally, the BHS campus is over 100 years old and represents a great deal of Bakersfield’s history. Even the IT building has historical signifigance. Bakersfield cannot afford to destroy its history.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    KHSD has to explain their thinking that this would require them to move the campus. I do not see why that is necessary.

    I understand the point about the school’s history. Since we’re not talking about demolishing the school, I do not see why the school’s history is harmed if one building is moved, even if the original is demolished and a copy rebuilt nearby.

    Nathanael Reply:

    OK, so you support the Red Line then?

  24. dave
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 11:09

    This whole opposition is basically a few things, people who are emotionally attached to the memories of their childhood, people who are cheerleader types who see their school campus as a place of religion, people who like the school because they attended at some point in their life and are Un-informed about HSR and finally, people who basically “live” in schools, who are supporters of all schools in general in our state and across the country and only advocate to build more schools. You can also add, just regular un-informed people who are scared of something they don’t understand. If all else fails, Nimbyism is often the result.

    Jennifer Smith Reply:

    This is the kind of sneering comment that we can do without in this discussion.

    Perhaps _you_ are the uninformed person in this debate? You don’t seem to know of the significance to the local community of the building, let alone the school that it is a part of. In a town that tears down any building over 50 years old in order to make way for a strip mall or a Chili’s – Bakersfield High School is an anomaly.

    Spokker Reply:

    It’s okay, you can make fun of us too.

    Seriously though, the significance to the local community of a building is just one of many, many factors determining the alignment of any rail line. Yes, it matters, but is only a small part of the whole. They may very well choose to put the high speed rail line somewhere else and it may have nothing to do with your concerns. But the bottom line is that just because there is a building in the way, does not mean that high speed rail is canceled.

    Local concerns are important but tend to be way overvalued by opposition groups.

    Jennifer Smith Reply:

    No, ta. I prefer to address the issue at hand, rather than piss all over people’s genuine concerns and try to stereotype everyone in a particular group.

    You seem to think that the people fighting to protect BHS and the IT building are opposed to HSR as a whole. You’d be wrong. There’s no need to assume that anyone would be so stupid as to believe that because some people in one town want to save a building, would mean that the entire project is cancelled. I realise that Bakersfield is a haven for teabagging conservitards who are afraid of a black man asking for change but, I also know that I’m not the only progressive in this town.

    Sometimes, local concerns need to be overvalued in order to preserve the history of a place that’s seen most of its history torn down.

    Clem Reply:


    Thanks, I learned a new word today! I love it.

  25. Caelestor
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 11:46

    Whoa, what happened here? 100 comments in 12 hours! Impressive!

    Peter Reply:

    The locals caught on to the blog. Which makes for much more interesting discussion, since they know the land better.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Agreed. I was hoping they would come and offer their commentary. I’m glad they did.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    great improvement in the quality of the FUD.

  26. Cheri Smith
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 11:46

    I’m going to ask this question again seeing as the more people write, the more things get lost. I am sitting here looking at the map of the 2 proposed routes through Bakersfield that was published in our local newspaper. I think I read somewhere in someone else’s comments that this planning has been going on for 10 years and these were the only two viable routes. It appears that as the the two routes enter Bakersfield from the east, the blue route is the least disruptive to a point where the 2 routes intersect at Mill Creek, east of BHS. The red route then continues just to the north of the blue route, and the 2 routes parallel each other continuing west. (where the blue route then goes through the BHS campus) My question is again, why not combine the 2 routes, blue route into town until the intersection point, and the red route out of town?

    Peter Reply:

    A link to the map you’re looking at?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    She may be referring to this one.

    I don’t know the answer to her question but it does seem like a proposal worth exploring. CA4HSR has proposed similar hybrids in the past.

    Leandra Rayford Reply:

    Actually, I’m REALLY glad that Cheri brought that up, because it was actually proposed by a student from Los Angels who had been communicating with me for about a week, and then came up to Bakersfield to make that proposal to the City Council… but I didn’t know how to explain the hybrid as he did. :)

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Here’s our post on a potential hybrid solution in the Merced area. It would seem that a similar solution should be workable in Bakersfield.

    Peter Reply:

    Hmmm. It looks to me that the main problem would be the insistence on arrow-straight platforms and the short distance available to do the reverse curve from the blue line station to the red line before you reach BHS while maintaining curve radii conducive to 220 mph operations…
    Ideas, anyone?

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    I’m not an engineer, but it just looked like it could work or some version of it. The map I was looking at wasn’t in such detail as the one Robert put a link to. I have sent this question to the contact email on the HSR website, but I am just one person so I have no idea if it will be looked at much less given any time for consideration.

    Peter Reply:

    If the requirement for completely straight platforms was waived, you could push the platforms to the east and potentially turn northwards earlier. But that’s still threading the needle around the Arena.

    I think it’s definitely a suggestion that would be worth turning the engineers loose on.

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    Thanks. Who are these engineers and where do we contact them?

    Peter Reply:

    I think you want to talk with Carrie Bowen. I think she’s the Regional Director for that section. She can either take your suggestion or pass you on to the design team.

    I don’t have her contact info, but you should be able to get it from either the Authority directly at (916) 324-1541 or from the PR department at (916) 710-1368. They’ll be closed today as a furlough Friday.

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    Thank you for the information.

    HSRforCali Reply:

    You can also call the CAHSR Authority and they’ll put you through to the project manager of the Fresno-Bakersfield section if you ask.

    Peter Reply:

    So, I did some rough geometrical work to determine whether a hybrid solution would work. I made the following assumptions: the Arena/Convention Center would be staying where it is. I began my curve to go around the IT building right at the southeast corner of the Convention Center. I assumed that the quad-tracked section could be curved, with double-curved turnouts (I know those are a no-no in AREMA-land, but this was just a proof-of-concept. Finally, I assumed that I could get as close to the IT Building as possible, so I used its northwest corner as the edge of my curve.

    Unfortunately, that gave me a turn radius of 9058 feet or 2761 meters. This is about half the absolute bare minimum radius required for operations at 220 mph. So this hybrid solution would not work.

    To make it work, the blue line would have to be straightened somewhat and shifted slightly south. Then the northward turn to avoid the IT building would not have to be as tight. That would mean many more impacts to the residential area to the east of the current Amtrak station.

    Sorry, I tried…

    Peter Reply:

    The possible radius might be a little bit longer, mind you, if you’re able to use a computer, but I don’t think you’d be able to double it, especially given that doubling it only gets you to the lowest permissible value.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Because if you combine them that way, you get a horrible kink in the middle — unless you demolish the Arena/Convention Center in order to straighten it out.

    If it’s OK to demolish that, then yeah, your combination route is excellent.

  27. Jennifer Smith
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 13:05

    As a BHS alumni, class of 2001, I support Leandra in her efforts to save the IT building and, quite possibly, the school itself. As a former resident of London, UK and frequent rail traveller, I would love to see California and the US transportation system join the 21st century and build a high speed rail system. As a democrat, a member of the Kern County Democratic Central Committee and president of the Bakersfield Democratic Club, I want to see HSR come to Bakersfield.

    I don’t, however, see the need to demolish one of the most historic buildings (if not _the_ most historic) on the most historic campus in this town. Whilst I don’t think history should stand in the way of progress, I don’t think that progress should demolish our history. Look at the great cities of this world – there is plenty of space, currently occupied by old buildings, that we could make better use of with modern technology. But we don’t, for good reason. One of my first memories of my time in London was touching a fragment of the original Roman wall built to protect Londinium. Yes, that fragment of wall could be torn down and replaced with something vital to the community but, it won’t be – because the wall itself is a vital piece in the history of London.

    Your Tustin High argument is a strawman; the IT building is structurally sound and the CHSRA isn’t proposing renovation – it’s proposing demolition.

    I also think that the tone of your blog post is patronising and snide and the sneering comments that take the piss out of people wanting to preserve a large piece of the history of this town are unwarranted. That doesn’t endear you to opponents of HSR and it won’t make you any friends amongst supporters.

    Yes, ‘memories’ are a part of why Leandra, myself and many others are fighting to protect the campus – but, a larger part of our fight is so that future generations will be able to touch and see for themselves a piece of Bakersfield history, as opposed to just reading about it on Wikipedia. Bakersfield already has a bad habit of forgetting its history – let’s not make it worse.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Again, I didn’t intend to be condescending. As I’ve said, I do not believe that every historic building has to be preserved. The campus can be preserved and HSR built in that area through some sensible solutions, such as moving or building a copy of the IT building itself. I do not believe that demolition and reconstruction would have the negative impact many believe it will, but perhaps the hybrid solution discussed above can meet everyone’s needs.

  28. Bob Somers
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 13:08

    Just figured it out guys, problem solved. The blue line can continue with one minor change.

    If the state accepts this option I’ll only charge $5 for the 30 seconds I spent in Photoshop fixing it.

    Peter Reply:

    I hope that was meant in jest.

    Trains will be going 220 mph through there. That curve would be more appropriate for maybe 50 mph?

    nobody important Reply:

    Are they really going to go 220 mph near a station, in an urban area?

    Peter Reply:

    Yes, that is the plan. They pretty much have to in order to meet the 2:40 LA-SFTBT time mandate in Prop 1A.

    Laurie S Reply:

    Wait . . . seriously, they just scream through a designated station stop? How quickly can you stop a multi-ton train traveling over 200mph? And how many nanoseconds do people have to embark and disembark?

    Peter Reply:

    Well, not all trains will be stopping at all stations. Only the locals and certain limiteds will likely be stopping in Bakersfield. The express trains will likely only stop at San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles. They may also stop at Fresno.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Use smaller words. Typical Californians aren’t familiar with things like express trains or even trains.

    Something like: Some trains stop at all the stations. Not all trains stop at all stations. That means at some stations some trains won’t stop. Some of the trains that don’t stop won’t be stopping at the platform even though it’s there waiting for a train to stop at it. When the train that doesn’t stop doesn’t stop that is usually called an express train. In some places there are so many express trains or the express trains go so fast ( they are able to do that because they don’t stop ) the designers put extra tracks between the platforms that don’t have platforms!!… Imagine that a station that has places where traind don’t stop!…..

    Bob Somers Reply:

    You’re the kind of downer who doesn’t ride the roller coasters at theme parks, aren’t you Peter?

    Peter Reply:


    Well, actually, I fly airplanes.

    I do also ride roller coasters, though.

    I just wasn’t sure whether you were serious. Sarcasm doesn’t always transfer over blog comments…

    Rafael Reply:

    I, for one, welcome our new Photochop overlord. We should have a looping, also.

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    Bob, I hope in your sarcasm that you weren’t trying to put me down for asking the question about merging the 2 routes. Sometimes the simplest solutions to a problem are often overlooked by the people involved. Have you heard the story about the boy and the hole in the dyke? On another note, we love rollercoasters and especially airplanes at our house. I think you know my son Miles, who is now a pilot.

    Bob Somers Reply:

    Definitely not, Cheri! Just trying to inject a little humor into the situation.

    I do know Miles, super cool guy. I’ve seen the pictures and videos he posted on Facebook of himself flying planes. Very cool stuff!

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    Thanks for clarifying. I think you are right about needing some humor. That’s the trouble with communicating by writing. Sometimes the intentions are misunderstood.

    Rafael Reply:

    Regarding the hybrid idea, keep in mind that there are hard constraints on track curvature at 220mph. Also, the curve radius at stations should be very large (10km = 6mi or more) to avoid a large gap between the edge of the platforms and doors located at the ends of cars. It’s not an issue if those doors are located in the middle, but that would be a highly unusual configuration for intercity trains.

    Ergo, it may be technically feasible to combine the red and blue alignments, it may not. That’s what the engineers get paid big bucks to figure out. It’s reasonable to demand that CHSRA look into the possibility.

  29. Seven Bates
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 13:11

    Bakersfield has a long *history* of abandoning its history, Mr. Cruickshank. That’s why people are being so vocal about their opposition now.

    Your history lesson on history, is condescending in tone and illustrates how little you understand of our local community. Bakersfield is full of rich and interesting historical elements that are completely invisible to residents. It’s taken me 10 years (after moving here) to learn all about the amazing history of this town, because there are virtually NO landmarks or tangible aspects of them left.

    Residents today are painfully aware of the fact that urban sprawl, poor city planning, and zoning issues have permanently destroyed valuable landmarks that Bakersfield should have protected. This is due, largely, to the fact that the local government has leaned to the hard right, politically, for decades. Subsequently their “pro business” approaches to city planning, have been influenced by the consumer-driven economy – well beyond the norms of other cities.

    As a result, many important landmarks have been removed for strip malls and cookie cutter neighborhood developments. There is no identifiable Bakersfield architecture. Rather, we’re surrounded by chain restaurants and retail outlets.

    Give us a little credit; we’re not being obtuse.

    In this situation, the city of Bakersfield NEEDS to preserve BHS. It’s an important building, and removing portions of it for the genuine benefits of high-speed-rail wouldn’t typically be an issue, if not for the overwhelming circumstances that plague this city.

    A handful of home owners should be presented with the option for buyouts (in this economy, they’ll probably jump at the chance) before we consider demolishing an important historical landmark.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    If this was about total demolition of BHS I would probably agree. But if we can find a way to relocate or, failing that, tear down and rebuild a copy of the IT building elsewhere on the campus, that seems a reasonable solution, doesn’t it?

    I’m not against preserving history. But neither do I believe everything that is old, however valuable, has to be preserved for the sake of history. Happily this conversation appears to have suggested some ways we can work out a solution that fits everyone’s needs.

    Lauri Reply:

    I would like for someone to look at a map of the BHS campus and tell me where a new IT building would be built. The only places big enough as far as I can see are Elm Grove and the practice field. I think that rebuilding on campus would cause something else to be lost: what little space the students have for eating their lunches, practicing for cheer, color guard, football, etc., and even just hanging out. May not seem like much to some, but those kids need some room to move around, or yes, even just hang out.

    Rafael Reply:

    There’s a small park across the street from the IT building. Construct a suitable replacement there, tear down the old one and restore the park under the HSR tracks.

    Lauri Reply:

    Seriously? Under the tracks? That sounds so very relaxing. Sorry for the sarcasm, but I’m having a hard time picturing the students having lunch below trains whizzing by at 200 mph.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    It’s not as if trains are going to be passing by every 5 minutes. I’ve had school lunches next to a busy freeway and under a flight path for a major Southern California airport. You stop noticing it after a very short while.

    Peter Reply:

    Much better to convert 14th St into a linear park and put the parking under the aerial.

    Seven Bates Reply:

    You would assume asking for just a portion of the campus to be taken down to be reasonable but the problem is, that portion is important. The IT building is one of the larger buildings on the north side of the campus, just west of H street. Over the past 100 years, it’s housed a lot of different departments and initiatives. Rebuilding it elsewhere would take away from the campus grounds, which have already had 100+ years of expansion on them. (It’s kind of tight)

    Age does not make the BHS campus valuable by default. I agree. However, you’ve really got to understand the rich stories and citable history that even this building brings to our city. Nobody would consider asking anyone to knock down a maintenance shack on an historic campus on the east coast, or in a city that values its historical buildings like San Francisco, but Bakersfield can be asked and told they’re being overly sentimental when they oppose it? That’s not right.

    As a student of history, you should know there’s usually uproar from people who don’t like change in situations like this. This is not the case here. The reason so many people came to the meeting and protested this, is because its a big deal. And not just to BHS alumni. It means a lot to the people of this city.

    Is it fair that the High Speed Rail line to be crucified on the cross reserved for our previous city planners? No. I admit that. However unusual as it may seem, this plays a major role in our opposition. We’re missing a lot of landmarks in out city, removed for the sake of progress, and we don’t have a lot to show for it. A HSR line is awesome, but options other than taking out any of the campus should be fully vetted first.

    Nathanael Reply:

    OK, then you support the Red Line route?

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Very true..CAHSR should show these people some REAl money ..something that they can buy thats 10 times nicer than where they are now..and they will move..dont try and low ball them..About the school..most of my family went to a very famous high school in Ohio(Massillion) and about 18-19 years ago went thru something like this..thou it was the board and state itself that said the school needed torn down it was very old(1909) lots of noise thou down it came and a brand new school was built years later the town still has as much pride and love of the school as always and the new high school is now very much a part of that history..and really the students think the old school is old history and very much like the big new school..20 years from now it would be the same for those future students..its todays people that are upset…tho I think after this it will be the other option or a hybrid of each..GO TIGERS..since were doing high school here

  30. M Keathley
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 13:18

    Why can’t the rail follow Union Ave or better yet Highway 58?

    Peter Reply:

    Highway 58 has a really tight turn that would not be conducive to 220 mph operation. Union Ave would require HSR to either cut through neighborhoods to get reach or cut through valuable farmland. We’re trying to avoid both.

    The advantage of the blue and red lines is that they offer an intermodal station with Amtrak’s San Joaquins. As this is the furthest south station on the San Joaquins, it’s important that people be able to transfer easily.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There won’t be any south of Fresno once HSR opens and there won’t be any south of Sacramento once HSR reaches Sacramento.

    Peter Reply:

    Maybe not in its current form, but possibly with DMU service. There are a number of towns that won’t get HSR service, plus they are planning on extending the San Joaquins to Redding. I know you don’t think they will operate, but I personally predict they will. So there. ;)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Quadruple the current ridership at stations that won’t have HSR and you are talking about less trains than run now. Eliminate Hanford, the people in Hanford/Tulare/Visalia aren’t stupid, they’ll be taking shuttle buses to the HSR station throughout the day at times that make sense to them instead of waiting for the slow train to wander through, and you might on Thanksgiving weekend fill two trains.

    I’m sure Wells Fargo and it’s competitors were wildly successful when they ran stagecoaches up and down the Central Valley. It’s going to be the same thing with conventional railroad service, there won’t be enough demand.

    James Fujita Reply:

    Apples to Oranges. Albuquerque, a city about the same size as Fresno, had only one train, Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, prior to 2006.

    I doubt very highly that the Chief’s robust ridership was what inspired ABQ to start the New Mexico Rail Runner commuter train. It was a combination of population growth and traffic on I-25 that did it.

    Bakersfield Station may very well be a commuter train station by the time Cal HSR pushes aside the San Joaquin.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If you wanna call the four car train that shuttles in and out of Bakersfield for 15 miles on either side of the main station “The San Joaquin” go ahead. Does that mean that NJTransit gets to call the local to South Amboy the 20th Century Limited?

    James Fujita Reply:

    Um, please clarify your comments.

    Amtrak’s train in and out of Bakersfield is the San Joaquin. Says so on the timetables and the schedules. Which train are you taking about?

    And what does any of that have to do with the fact that commuter train ridership has little or nothing to do with Amtrak ridership?

    to clarify my comments:
    Albuquerque = city about the same size as Fresno
    Southwest Chief= Amtrak’s version of the Super Chief, roughly equivalent to the San Joaquin in Fresno or Bakersfield
    Rail Runner= a commuter train which New Mexico operates in spite of Amtrak service, or a population roughly equivalent to Fresno

    James Fujita Reply:

    Or are you predicting that a four-car shuttle train will operate to replace the San Joaquin?

    If that’s the case, then Bakersfield Station will continue to be important, just in a different capacity than now, and beyond what Cal HSR will add to the community.

    So, no, I wouldn’t try and call a commuter train the San Joaquin, that would be silly. Because the name would be as irrelevant as the comparison.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Says so on the timetables and the schedules.

    I’ve glanced at the schedules. My first reaction is that the frequency and speed would be an embarrassment in most third world countries. I also notice that the trains run alllllllll the way from Sacramento to Bakersfield with an odd train or two to Oakland. Those trains. Just like you can’t ride the stage to Sacramento anymore or send a telegram ahead to have the ice man deliver an extra ten pounds of ice…

    James Fujita Reply:

    Oh, I do agree. Amtrak service is embarrassing. Which makes it all the more incredible that it does as well as it does. I’ve been on San Joaquin trains that were quite full, and that’s despite the fact that the train is slow and Third-World all the way. AND that the schedule is infrequent and inconvenient.

    That still doesn’t explain why you seem to think why there won’t be ANY rail service in the San Joaquin Valley other than Cal HSR, or why you think people living in Visalia or Tulare would be content to ride a shuttle bus.

    You’re assuming that Amtrak ridership is a valid indicator of commuter rail ridership, when the two services are completely different. You’re assuming that San Joaquin Valley officials won’t push to have some sort of rail implemented, or that if they do, people won’t use it.

    Good gawd man, you’re even playing the NIMBY “19th Century Technology” card.

    Light rail is not a streetcar. The Sprinter is not a “doodlebug.” And commuter rail is not Amtrak.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They are getting all frothy with foamer fantasies of being able to take California Car IVs from Redding to Wasco hauled by a whiz bang diesel that can do 135 south of Sacramento. It ain’t gonna happen.

    Nathanael Reply:

    There’s going to be no connection between HSR and existing Amtrak service in Fresno, for various annoying historical reasons. I don’t see the San Joaquin service going away until HSR gets to Sacramento.

    Bob Somers Reply:

    Yeah, I don’t really see why easy transfers between the HSR and Amtrak are necessary. Once the HSR is place nobody will be riding Amtrak, if it even continues to exist.

    Rafael Reply:

    That’s only partially correct. First, the San Joaquins also serve small CV towns like Wasco that will be getting HSR tracks but no HSR station. Second, the Stockton-Oakland section won’t be served by HSR.

    Even if Amtrak California decides to cancel the San Joaquins after HSR runs up to Sacramento, there may still be a need for some type of passenger rail service between Oakland (perhaps Emeryville or even Richmond) and the Stockton HSR station via Martinez and Antioch. Unfortunately, the city of Concord isn’t jumping at the chance to create an intermodal transfer station with BART in North Concord now that the Navy has turned over the inland portion of the old Naval Weapons Center for redevelopment.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How many people a day use Wasco? Quadruple that. How many ten passenger buses a day do they fill? There isn’t going to be demand at the stations that won’t have HSR to justify running a train.

  31. Cheri Smith
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 15:22

    Two things come to mind as I read all of these blogs. First, I am glad I am not the one to make this decision, because if other towns are as complicated and vested as we are, I can’t imagine what an undertaking this has got to be. I also realize they have to remain as detached as possible, and I know to those of us affected by this, they come across as cold and heartless, and I’m sure that isn’t the case. The other, As I am reading some of the earlier blogs, I realize that some people are misunderstanding what the IT building is. In this era we think of IT standing for information technologies, as in computers. I think some people invision a building with rows of computers. That isn’t the case. IT stand for Industrial technology. Meaning large, high ceiling rooms, filled with hoists, lifts, drill presses, huge table saws, a greenhouse, etc. This is not just about saving a building, it is about saving curriculum that is not offered any where else in our county. Please keep that in mind when you here so many stories about traditions and history. Yes, they play a part, but it is not the only part. The reason the school officials talk about it not being a viable campus once this building is gone, is because they believe a viable high school tries to meet the needs of ALL of its students. Not just the college bound kids. You take away this building, and you take away that curriculum.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    If that building were to be demolished, the CHSRA would have to pay for its replacement. I would absolutely not support demolition without replacement. That would be deeply unfair.

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    Thank you.

    Rafael Reply:

    Agreed, and I’m sorry I initially misunderstood the purpose of the building. I absolutely second Robert’s position that its demolition would have to be compensated by the construction of a suitable replacement nearby – perhaps as close as across the street, with the old one torn down and the park restored under the HSR tracks once the replacement goes live. And yes, the HSR project would have to pay a reasonable sum toward making all that possible.

    My understanding is that KHSD is threatening to close down BHS altogether if the educational services offered at the IT building were discontinued or, if the line is constructed “too close” to the campus. Perhaps they’ve long wanted to close BHS because it’s more expensive to maintain than other schools in the county and, they’re hoping big bad CHSRA will get blamed for it.

    Btw, even with all the ruckus about impacts on BHS, Bakersfield still looks like of the easier puzzles to solve. Sad but true.

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    No, the KHSD has done everything in its power to save BHS. That is why everytime a new school is built in the outlying areas they do not even consider changing BHS in any way. It is their flagship school.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Un huh. Do they still teach the girls in the secretarial courses how to use a dictaphone? How about stenography is that popular? There were two classrooms in my high school that didn’t have desks, all the space was filled with keypunch machines. I’m sure for historical accuracy they would want to teach the girls how to use keypunch machines. And two and four position switchboards, there’s always going to be demand for switchboard operators. The bookkeeping classes do they discuss how to use columnar pads and ledger books and if you are in a large accounting department how to use the card sorters and tabulators to generate reports from all those keypunched cards? I’m sure the boys in the automotive classes spend a lot of time learning how to rebuild carburetors. And when they all go off to their general studies classes look forward to the film strip presentations that have 33 1/3 RPM records to go along with them. . . .

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    You don’t have to be rude to make a point.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    What’s rude about it? I’m trying to understand just what is and isn’t deeply traditional, historical etc about a run of the mill high school campus.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Based on the descriptions I’ve seen, there is a lot of machinery in the building for things like woodworking and metalworking, i.e., saws, drill presses, lathes, etc. This machinery is still in use, often with a digital overlay, but the machine tool itself is essentially still the same, and you still need the knowledge of things like tolerances, angle calculations, gear tooth pitch (if you have to machine a set of gears), and so on to make even such simple things as replacement bearings and brackets. Believe it or not, there is still an amazing amount of such work being done, sometimes on ancient machinery; I have had some custom machine work for old locks in my house done in a machine shop in Hagerstown, Md., that had at least one lathe, a very large one, with an 1863 construction date on it, which was still in service, and the modern equipment works on the same principles. Machine shop work is a craft that is not entirely learned from a book, it takes a certain amount of practice to learn it properly; welding is a similar craft, as is woodworking. I know, I’ve had a little bit of engineering in my education, but ran into a problem with a subject called calculus; otherwise I might have been in the engineering profession.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    My great grandfather’s hand tools work just as well now as they did in the 1890s when they were made. I don’t need to use them in a building built before 1900. I can but they work just the same way when I use them in a building built in 1990. They work the same way when I use them outdoors. I learned how to use most of them in a house built in 1914. That the house was built in 1914 doesn’t have much to do with the learning process I went through or how I use them now.
    All the original equipment Ford tools that my father scavenged out of Model Ts work just fine on my 2005 Taurus…well the open end wrenches and the box wrenches aren’t metric so they aren’t very helpful on a car…. They can move the machines and tools..

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    Thank you for helping me explain.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I was explaining that my great grandfather’s tools don’t need a particular building to be useful. Any sentimental value doesn’t depend on a building either. They can move the machines and tools.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Absolutely, any demolition would have to involve an appropriate replacement building paid for by CHSRA. Not only am I pretty sure that’s the law, I think we’d all be very upset if anything else were done.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    And that is just the type of skills that are needed to build this system..some of these “Drillers” are going to be working on getting this thing built

  32. James Fujita
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 19:14

    If I’m not mistaken, this is one of the buildings in question:

    Now, call me crazy, but it seems to me, that if a building is to be preserved, there are certain factors that need to be considered:

    1) HISTORY: Did something important or of historic significance happen there? Was Robert Kennedy shot there? Did Elvis perform his first concert there? What?

    2) ARCHITECTURE: Is the building of a specific, nationally-recognized architectural style or by a nationally-acclaimed architect? Or even of statewide significance? I hadn’t heard of Charles Biggar prior to this discussion. What was his style? His credentials? Why is this building or style of architecture significant? What does it represent? Modernism? Classicism? Is this structure unique or are there others similar to it elsewhere?

    Being able to prove one or the other of those claims would strengthen BHS’ argument significantly.

    Finally, I would add:
    3) What has the community done to preserve the building? Has it been restored or has it been allowed to rust and fall apart? Has it been taken care of? Has local money been spent on the upkeep of the building? If repairs need to be made, are the new components historically accurate? Do new elements fit in with the architecture?

    Old is not the same thing as historic.

    Leandra Reply:

    I’ll tackle your questions to the best of my ability:

    (1) HISTORY: No, a specific event cannot be pointed to in history as far as I know… other than it was the first school in Kern County, at a time when the next closest school was 75 miles away in and that school had only been open for a year. It is the culmination of events that the school has survived and notable alumni that add to the historic significance… aside from the age.

    (2) ARCHITECTURE: I suppose most people of the modern era hadn’t heard of Charles Biggar until now. However, he designed many of the oldest buildings in town, including the Fox Theatre, the Bakersfield Californian building, the First Baptist church, and other structures on the BHS campus. Now, I know those are very specific examples, but the reason I list them is that at least two that I know of (the Bakersfield Californian building and First Baptist Church) are already listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The IT building was constructed as a national example of building earthquake-safe structures through the use of reinforced concrete. (An earthquake in 1933 prompted this design, and this specific design is probably the reason that the building survived the earthquakes in 1952 that caused destruction throughout Bakersfield.)

    (3) UPKEEP: The north portion of the building has had updated wiring, acoustical ceilings, and florescent lighting added to it. The south portion of the building was retrofitted in 1961 for earthquake safety. As far as I know, the only primary difference to the south part of the building is that the pillars that stood in front were removed due to damage in the 1952 earthquake, and the removal was permanent for safety.

    I can’t get more specific than that… I’m not a historian, though I do love history!

    James Fujita Reply:

    Thank you for your honest answers. Obviously, you have taken the time to research the history of this building.

    It seems to me that a solution is hidden in your answer: If the building is that important, then get it on the National Register of Historic Places. The NRHP would serve as an unbiased third party that would settle once and for all if the building is worthy of preservation or not.

    Leandra Reply:

    You’re correct– the NRHP would settle the point. I believe the Kern County Historical Society is currently working on the information required for nomination to the National Register. I thought that they were going to nominate individual buildings (like the IT building), but the last I heard from the soon-to-be president of the organization, they are working on a nomination of the campus as a historic district.

    It will be months though before we know the result after it is submitted. (I think it’s 6 months review for the NRHP, and 45 days after that for the state.)

    Rafael Reply:

    Just for reference from left field: the Ise Grand Shrine in Japan is rebuilt every 20 years, to exacting historical specifications. There’s a theological rationale for this, but there’s also the reality that earthquakes are so frequent in Japan no-one expects any given structure to survive forever. Instead, in the case of the Ise shrine at least, they meticulously preserve the architectural design and construction methods.

    Now, Bakersfield isn’t in Japan and I’m not suggesting that the IT building is a shrine, let alone that it should be rebuilt every 20 years. I’m just trying to point out that there’s more than one way to celebrate history. In Dresden, the baroque Frauenkirche was destroyed by allied fire-bombing in 1945 and restored to its original state after the wall fell in 1989. More prosaically, one of the options discussed in the context of Sacramento’s Richards-to-railyards redevelopment involved moving the historic rail depot a few hundred feet south.

    In Bakersfield, it might make more sense to build a replica of the IT building (or at least its facade) across the street to honor its historical significance. The interior is anyhow no longer original and the students and faculty using it deserve seismic safety plus protection against noise and vibration from the BNSF yard plus HSR.

    Some lateral thinking on the part of Drillers would go a long way toward avoiding severe impacts on Mercy Hospital on the north side of the tracks.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Thats IT!!!GESSSS cant get much closer to the tracks..somewhere I read someone was worried that HSR would derail and hit the school???? what about this??

    Rafael Reply:

    Just for reference, freight trains can derail, too. The HSR project isn’t going to change that reality.

  33. Cheri Smith
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 19:43

    Yes the link above is to the back part of the IT building, along the railroad tracks, why not look at the front part. Also, have you ever heard the saying to not judge a book by it’s cover. Inside is what counts.

    Spokker Reply:

    Life is not a museum, Cheri. And just because something is old doesn’t make it historical. If the things that happen inside are important, they can be moved somewhere else. If your officials were smart, they’d get the CHSRA to pay for a new state of the art building instead of kowtowing to Facebook pressure.

    But, honestly, we just don’t care that much about Bakersfield High School, just as you guys don’t care about Robert’s high school which was established in 1921. Do you win because your school is slightly older or something?

    Leandra Reply:

    I doubt the city officials were “kowtowing to Facebook pressure.” I think the City Council was quite possibly relieved people spoke up in protest. At the last City Council meeting, it was almost a competition to tell those in attendance how the officials were connected to BHS.

    Both the Mayor and Vice Mayor of Bakersfield are alumnl. City Manager John Tandy said that he thinks BHS is “the finest school in the valley;” he had two children graduate from BHS. Councilmember Irma Carson attended school on the campus– she was at the junior college when it was still housed at BHS, and her daughter attended school with another councilmember, David Couch. All four children of Councilmember Sue Benham graduated from BHS. The daughter of Councilmember Jackie Sullivan is currently a teacher at BHS. Sometimes it seems like everyone in Bakersfield either attended BHS or had a family member who did so.

    To answer your question honestly, I would probably care more about Robert’s school if HE seemed to care more about the history other than to say ‘my school survived, yours will, too.’ I think the key difference is that Tustin High School was demolished in the 1960s and rebuilt. That has not been the case with BHS– its buildings from the 1920s are still standing.

    Nathanael Reply:

    There’s some really weird bias and, dare I say it, bigotry relating to BHS versus the other schools in the district in Bakersfield. (My fiancee graduated from one of the others.)

    Leandra Reply:

    There is a bias toward history. BHS has alumni who can stand up and say that there have been three, four, and FIVE generations in the family attend the school. That is why not only BHS alumni are supporting the school right now, but also alumni who are East Blades, West Vikings, North Stars, South Rebels, Highland Scots, Liberty Patriots, etc. I’m sorry that you see a town coming together as bigotry, which by its very definition implies intolerance for others. I see it as pride over where this town has come from, and how so many in Bakersfield have some connection to it.

    When BHS was built as Kern County High School, the number of saloons and prostitute houses outnumbered churches… crimes frequently went unsolved, and murderers walked freely. Then a school was established where the youth could learn to become educated citizens, rather than roam the streets and get into trouble. A couple years after the school was in place, Bakersfield was incorporated for a second time. So, in a way, BHS has existed longer than the town itself. No other school existed in Bakersfield for 40 more years, until East Bakersfield High School was built in 1938.

    Bigotry? No. Pride? Yes.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Glad to hear everyone’s coming together. It’s a change.

    So, I hope you will consider the idea that fast train service should *serve* the historic core of Bakersfield. Some of the others who showed up here want it to be 30 minutes or more away in the middle of fields, the better to make sure that nobody ever visits the historic core.

    If the Industrial Arts building at Bakersfield High is really important, great! I’m sure there’s something else which isn’t absolutely essential in downtown Bakersfield, right?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s all absolutely essential if your goal is to preserve downtown Bakersfield circa 1969…. nah… that might attract tourists in 2253 who will have to take shuttle buses from the new downtown core out where the fields were in 2014.

    James Fujita Reply:

    If the bookowner claims it to be a historic and rare first-edition copy, then yes, you do judge a book by its cover :)

  34. James Fujita
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 21:39

    slightly off-topic, but I just wanted to point out something.

    People on both sides of this debate have acted like this Industrial Arts Building will turn out the next generation of working-class grease monkeys and mechanical laborers, singing “The Anvil Chorus” as they go about riveting battleships together or something.

    The fact of the matter is that there’s as much robotics and computer technology in automotive engineering and mechanical repair as there is in Web design. Just ask Toyota about the sort of headaches that a computer glitch in a transmission can cause.

    So, the building may or may not be worthy of historic preservation (and if it should be on the list, why hasn’t it been added already?), but the equipment inside had better include 21st Century technical equipment, or else BHS will be turning out unemployed “rude mechanicals”.

  35. YesonHSR
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 22:00

    Really this is all about “pride” and that were being “attacked” ..That building does Im sure provided a much needed skill set..that said its very old…A brand new state of the art building would really be a big plus for the school..even if its now going to be on the other side of the campus..The CAHSR needs to get on the ball and calm this down and show what they can do for BHS..and not just say we are ripping this down like it or not

    Jennifer Smith Reply:

    People keep going on about moving the building to ‘the other side of the campus’.

    There is no ‘other side of the campus.’

    The school is bordered by two very busy streets, railroad tracks and a rail yard. I’m sure students and teachers alike would love a brand new state-of-the-art building but, there’s nowhere to put it. What little green space the campus does have, couldn’t accommodate a building large enough to replace all of the classes held in the IT building.

    BHS is a tiny (area-wise) school that has been built up, not out.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    looking at google the school is spread out with roads running thru it..that parking lot could be used for a new site and the block across taken for a new lot and a sky bridge would be needed for students to cross to the campus..This is a billion dollar project and they would have the money to do it right .

    Jennifer Smith Reply:

    Looking at Google maps doesn’t tell you much.

    One carpark would either be lost or stuck under the elevated railway. Yes, there are streets running through the campus, however, F Street and C Street (between 14th and California) are both permanently closed. G Street, between 13th and 14th is closed during school hours.

    Please, tell me – which block of homes and/or businesses are you proposing to pave over?

    Rafael Reply:

    The park across 14th street from the IT building could trade places with its current location.

    Yes, that would put the park right next to the BNSF tracks and there would be an HSR support smack in the middle. If traffic volume is really so high a plain old traffic light will not do (I seriously doubt that), there’s always the option of building pedestrian bridges to provide safe access to buildings and the park, which is presumably popular with BHS students.

    Yes, the existing park may be city property and the school county property. So what, CHSRA is the agency that would have to pay for this. It would still be cheaper and less disruptive than the red line alternative alignment, which would impact Mercy hospital.

    Lateral thinking, please.

    Rafael Reply:

    Alternatively, a suitable building at C and California could have a green roof with extra-tall wire mesh fences so it can be used for football practice.

    That would be more expensive and possibly disrupt training for the all-important Driller football team, but I’m just putting it out there to show that there is in fact plenty of room for moving the IT functionality elsewhere on or next to the campus. I realize that any concept involving the demolition of the historic IT building would inevitably entail a loss, but it could be minimized.

    Jennifer Smith Reply:

    See, this is why it’s important to talk to people who actually know the area and don’t just make wild guesses.

    That isn’t a ‘park’ it’s school property, Elm Grove. It’s one of the few places that students can eat lunch as the cafeteria isn’t large enough to hold all of them. So, now you’re not only proposing tearing down an historic building but, taking away the only green space and sunshine most of the students have access to during school day?

    Sure, there’s enough room to move the IT building to the practise fields. It would mean that the marching band would lose its practise space (just try carrying pit equipment upstairs or packing it into an elevator) when the football team is using the main field.

    Then again, the arts is something else this town doesn’t seem to care about so, who would even notice, right?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Then how about the parking lot east of the school (between G & H Sts.)?

    Leandra Reply:

    Again, that parking lot is FULL when school is in session. Faculty, staff, and students, use that parking lot, and many park along the streets as well since when they cannot find parking spaces.

    Peter Reply:

    Leandra, like Rafael mentioned below, there are ALWAYS ways to deal with those kinds of details. I’ve suggested a number of times that the parking lot be moved beneath the aerial structure. There will be more than enough room for parking underneath there.

    Nathanael Reply:

    There are such things as parking garages, which could indeed be built underneath the 60foot-high aerial structure (among other places). I am assuming that you aren’t going to claim that the parking lot is a historic building and can’t be replaced?

    rafael Reply:

    See, this is why us HSR proponents get annoyed. I said specifically that this park (regardless of who owns it, it’s a park), would be restored after construction was complete. So yes, there would be a period of perhaps a year or two during which students would not have that particular place available to hang out in.

    There are ways to solve all kinds of niggling details like where the marching band would practice. They hardly amount to justification for the alternative, which would impact Mercy hospital and many other structures. Priorities!

    YesonHSR Reply:

    The ones straight across from the parking lot….all these business would get money from the project for the move…HSR aside how is BHS to grow or keep up if its land locked and nothing can ever be touched or torn down to help the school ? I ask because your reply seems as if HSR is the only reason BHS will ever need to buy land near them? My high school looks nothing like it did 20 years ago they bought out homes and a store to build a new wing and gym.

    Leandra Reply:

    The BHS campus has not had to grow as the city has grown. The school pulls students from all over town, increasing its diversity. In outlying areas, new high schools have been built as the town has spread outward– starting obviously with East, West, South, and North. There are now 14 high schools in Bakersfield that I know of, excluding continuation and vocational schools. Thus, the school hasn’t needed to grow beyond its current land size as other schools have been built.

    As I’ve said before: campus buildings have gone through renovations and retrofitting, AND some buildings have already been torn down to be replaced by others… but those buildings came down long ago. I believe the last building to be demolished was in 1960.

    I sincerely doubt that the City–or Kern High School District– would ever allow the school to expand where students would have to cross H street or California Avenue, as both roads are extremely busy at all times of the day.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    OK thats why I said a skybridge would be needed up the post..anyway whats really needs to happen is CAHSR and the school distric/city to sit down and come up with ideas and get desginers to show what can be done..everyone on this thread just talking back and forth..I think a good outcome would prevail .

    Nathanael Reply:

    A pedestrian bridge costs a pittance compared to a high speed rail line, or indeed a replacement building. CHSRA would probably be happy to fund a pedestrian bridge over H St. or California Avenue as mitigation for the rail line.

    wenchance Reply:

    Not to sound blunt or mean or anything but China does that and they seem to be getting things done, plus with positive results.

    Rafael Reply:

    It may seem that way to outsiders because the social implications of Chinese mega-projects are not widely reported in the West. Some 250,000 people lost their homes to the Three Gorges Dam project. Although there was supposed to be compensation, many never received any because local officials pocketed the funds themselves.

    During the construction of the Wuhan-Guangzhou HSR line, some villagers were given just 24 hours to pack their belongings before the bulldozers came. They had the temerity to protest publicly, but this being a totalitarian regime, they ended up having to move regardless.

    So yes, the results are there but they are being achieved using methods not seen in the US since the days of Robert Moses. It’s because of him and others like him that there are now environmental justice laws on the books. Democracy and the rule of law do complicate infrastructure planning and add a lot of cost, but I’d caution against throwing environmental review out of the window on the HSR project. That’s exactly why an earlier effort to bring shinkansen service to the LA-SD coast corridor went nowhere.

  36. wenchance
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 22:48

    Not to be offensive, but if this were in China, we wouldn’t even be arguing about this. That IT building would have been gone in a blink of an eye and the HSR line would be in its place by now.

  37. Alexei
    Jun 12th, 2010 at 01:32

    First, I don’t doubt that this can be resolved to everyone’s advantage with a little creative thinking. BHS will get a modern building and HSR will get its track.

    But, people from Bakersfield: remember the benefits. I looked at the flights on– flights to either LAX or SFO are in the $400-500 range. Need to go to Sacramento? Looks like a 5 hour trip–book a hotel.

    And then, HSR: you’ll get a travel option that’s probably a third of the price, has more departures, has more destinations which are closer to where people want to go, and is faster to boot. That’s freakin’ amazing. You want to talk about property values? Imagine what happens when people start realizing that. When companies realize that they can locate their offices in a town with rapid access to all the major cities of the state– leave at 8, arrive in any city by 10 at low cost and in comfort, and be home for dinner– at a fraction of the cost of locating in the Bay Area or LA. Frankly, the project is good for the whole state, but it’s fantastic for the Central Valley cities, and if I were there I’d be fighting for it to get built ASAP.

    How many of the BHS graduates leave for the big city? And how many would stay if they could decide at lunchtime to catch a show at the Orpheum in SF after work and be back before bedtime?

    And you want to derail it over arguments about one building and soundproof windows?

    douglas Reply:

    Let’s not mistake the concept that historical venues are emotional, for they are not, they are venues that lends itself to History and what that means to a community as a whole.

    Absolutely we will argue over one building. With the advent of modern technology and ingenuious thinkers one can find alternate routes with out taking out “One building.” It is not just the building my friend, it is what many regards as a historical location where many students past and present have been and that has had a wonderful impact on their lives. If a building is just a building and has no meaning why don’t they just bring the rail through your residential community and tear your home down, for it is just a cave above ground..It has no meaning to you, and the historical perspective is meaninless to you.

    So what if it takes a short time to get to L.A. once you are there, then what??? How many people do you really believe are going to stop in: Bakersfield, Fresno, Merced, Stockton? Good luck on your ideal of being in Bakersfield and then back from S.F before bedtime., you are living in a dream world..I live in a country of “high speed rails”, it just does not work that way, it is not as you think

    If one wants a high speed rail make it happen on the west side of the SanJoaquin Valley, or bring it by the airport for there is enough rural areas to keep it out of the city and provide transportation to the hub of the city for those that wish to have a lunch in Bakersfield.

    So, creative thinking….ummm think outside the box..BHS does not need a modern building, just as Paris does not need a new Tour Eiffel..or London, a new bridge,…just put a rail system outside of the city, and provide transportation into the city and leave things as they are, my progressive thinking furturist friend.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    country of “high speed rail” well you must not live in the United States!!

    Nathanael Reply:

    “If one wants a high speed rail make it happen on the west side of the SanJoaquin Valley, or bring it by the airport for there is enough rural areas to keep it out of the city”

    Classic NIMBY.

    Leandra Reply:

    Perhaps it is NIMBY… or perhaps it is acknowledging that the city planners have a goal to double the population of Bakersfield in the next 40 years (to have 750,000 people by the year 2050), and realizing that if the city is going to grow that much, that area will definitely see development. It will not be rural much longer.

    rafael Reply:

    Where is Bakersfield going to get enough water to support a population of 750,000?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Come now you can confect triple level railroads through suburbia but can’t imagine not using potable water to flush with? or processing the flushed water to irrigate? Or humongous desalination plants? Those solar thermal plants are going to have a lot of waste heat laying around….

    datacruncher Reply:

    Water to support a growing population (estimates of up to 60 million by 2050 in the state) is a statewide issue, it shouldn’t be considered Bakersfield-specific and interjected into this discussion.

    Riverside County will add 2 million people by 2050, San Bernardino County will add over 1 million, LA County will add over 3 million, etc, etc. Where are they going to get their water?

    Maybe the question should be where is Southern California going to get enough water. ;) But that is a topic for a different discussion.

    Rafael Reply:

    Precisely, but I didn’t want to bring all of SoCal into this discussion. I suspect that the growth ambitions/forecasts you mention may yet run into a brick wall called permanent drought.

    wu ming Reply:

    from a goddamned peripheral canal sucking the delta dry, that’s where.

    hey, we all have our parochial resentments. ;-)

    Nathanael Reply:

    Seriously, where are you going to find a suitable greenfield route? If you push too far east, you hit the mountains. If you push only somewhat to the west, for instance for a route which passes by the airport, you run through *even more houses*. If you push way out to the south and west, say to I-5 and CA 223, you get to areas which are not going to be occupied by the natural Bakersfield sprawl for a *very* long time, and you increase the travel time on the HSR significantly.

    So not reasonable.

    Peter Reply:

    For a greenfield alignment you’d add about 20 miles or so to the route… That’s a lot given the time constraints.

    Laurie S Reply:

    NO, it’s not NIMBY. In fact, it’s IMBY. And it makes the most sense. By the admission of one of the other HSR proponents, many HSR riders would have to take additional ground transportation after disembarking at a downtown station anyway. By building a HSR on the outskirts of town, that fact does not change. Do farmers want their land to be taken and used for HSR? Some won’t, but in the Bakersfield area, our constantly sprawling development (a mentality you CHSRA jockeys ought to use to your advantage instead of pissing everybody here off with your elitist attitudes) is evidence that at the right price, landowners will sell. And you cannot, CANNOT refute the fact that fewer lives will be disrupted by building the rail system around town.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Please look up the definition of “NIMBY”.

    West side of the valley? Seriously?

    Laurie S Reply:

    I am well aware of what NIMBY means. And what I was trying to say by using IMBY is, yes, put it In My Back Yard, not through my living room.

    Yes, around the western and southern parts of Bakersfield. Seriously. I don’t know why that is so difficult to grasp.

    Laurie S Reply:

    I noticed you chose not to respond to the fact that going around Bakersfield would be less disruptive.

    Peter Reply:

    It’s less disruptive. But it’s as idiotic as running HSR along I-5. The idea of PASSENGER rail is to get PEOPLE from where they are to where they want to go. And they do not live in fields or want to go to fields. They want to travel from a city to a city. A lot less people in Bakersfield will want to travel elsewhere and a lot less people will want to travel to Bakersfield if they have to take a shuttle to get to and from their destinations. A single-seat (one vehicle) ride will sell better than a two-seat (two vehicles) ride.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’ve never seen those numbers anywhere. Since they are irrefutable just how many people in Bakersfield will have their lives disrupted versus a greenfield alignment?

    Peter Reply:

    “People with elitist attitudes”

    I’m sorry, but this is not a class struggle. We’re just looking at more than just the absolute immediate impact on Bakersfield.

    Laurie S Reply:

    AMEN, Douglas, AMEN!!!

  38. D. P. Lubic
    Jun 13th, 2010 at 00:38

    Railroads are often an unfamiliar thing in American life today, so in the interest of an introduction to this very updated form of railroading, I’ve included some video clips. Some of these are of crash footage, and others of high speed operations. I’ve deliberately tried to pick worst-case scenarios, which to my mind are not bad, when one also considers things like the continued dependence on oil and its problems (including oil wars), and auto wrecks (even conventional trains are safer than autos by a statistical factor of 20 to 1).

    Some video clips of railroad crash tests (and an actual crash), some of which are rather old now. The most interesting thing I see in the context of a potential wreck in Bakersfield (or anywhere else) is that the equipment does not really go very far from the tracks.

    Staged freight train collisions of several types; test object was development of locomotive cabs with a better survival rate for the crew:

    Crash test involving steel coils; accidents of this nature (trains hitting trucks loaded with coiled steel) have occured more than once, hence testing for just this scenario:

    Other test footage:

    Other footage on studying effects of crash for passengers in train; this suggests the argument made by a number of earlier posters here that additional crash worthiness may not be as effective as proper cash avoidance:

    In a collision or derailment, jack-knifing has potentially serious consequences. Here we see some footage involving tests to prevent this:

    Raw Russian test footage, notable for suggesting that their equipment buckles rather easily, at least in this test (this is the argument for buff strength):

    Extreme test for a nuclear cask, involving a crash test at or close to 100 m.p.h.:

    Real train wreck–derailment by a tornado, caught by an event camera in a trailing locomotive:

    Amtrak footage from New England; this is in electrified territory, and is the closest available footage to what you may see in Bakersfield. Maybe a field trip is in order?

    German footage:

    Shinkansen retrospective (Japanese HSR development):

    Japanese cab footage in a Bullet, notable for illustrating operational safety proceedures, including “calling signals” (US terminology), i.e., a verbal call of signal or speed indications. This practice goes back to the 19th century, and the Japanese include the physical gesture of pointing to help reinforce the signal indication to the operator.

    French speed record footage:

    This is the worst you may face–and it doesn’t look awful to me (but then, I’m used to being around steam locomotives and diesels).

    This brings up an important consideration in sound, and that is what is called “timbre;” it’s a musical term, and is used to describe the identifying characteristics of a sound, i.e., it’s what makes a piano sound like a piano, a trumpet like a trumpet, or a train sound like a train. It is perhaps the most misunderstood measurement in sound, at least to my knowledge, and can be unrelated to loudness.

    As an example, I know of a fellow who told me his 5-year old son didn’t like going to a drag race. He asked his father, “Daddy, why do the cars sound so angry?” The same boy was not frightened at all by a fairly large steam locomotive at close range; despite its size, loudness, and heat, it was “friendly.”

    For those who are not familiar with a steam locomitive and its sounds (and steam has been gone for 50 to 60 years in places), two clips of steamers that ran in California in the old days, preserved for excursion service:

  39. Travis D
    Jun 13th, 2010 at 04:24

    I find it funny that Caltrans has been planning to route a freeway straight through the BHS campus, requiring the demolition of the entire school, and no one has raised that here. Odd how only the train is under attack.

    Next, a combo red-blue route would require demolishing a minimum of 25 businesses downtown, including the arena and convention center. The blue route only would take out about 20. So is that IT building really worth that much?

    You know, in Germany they constructed some long span viaducts to take their trains over some buildings instead of demolishing them. Could something similar be done here? It’s possible it would be cheaper than demolishing the convention center and numerous other businesses.

    rafael Reply:

    Flying over existing buildings exactly why CHSRA is proposing to run the tracks 60′ above grade level. It’s just that California, including Bakersfield, is earthquake country so they need to plan for more and beefier supports. Some of those need to go right where there’s are important buildings, because seismic safety and available space – not to mention BNSF – preclude construction directly above the freight tracks.

    Nathanael Reply:

    ” I find it funny that Caltrans has been planning to route a freeway straight through the BHS campus, requiring the demolition of the entire school, and no one has raised that here.”

    Oh, disgusting. Could you provide links?

    thatbruce Reply:

    Sounds like alternative D of the Centennial Project to extend CA58 to I5. Seems to impinge on both red and blue alignments as well.

    Rafael Reply:

    Both that freeway and HSR are being planned by competing state agencies in a state that’s struggling mightily to fund either. Left hand, meet right hand. I don’t believe either of you knows what the other is doing.

    Political leadership at its finest.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Considering that the HSR line was essentially invisible to at least some people in Bakersfield, I wonder if the highway was also invisible, or was considered (or might actually be) “vaporware?”

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Here is a map link; looks like Bakersfield High School will be left alone, but a lot of other property wouldn’t be. Even then, one route has the freeway on the opposite side of the railroad yard, and you will have constant traffic noise (rail noise in intermittent, it’s only there when there is a train, otherwise a railroad is quiet). Again, has this been invisible until now?

    Repeat of general link for reference:

  40. Leandra
    Jun 13th, 2010 at 09:27

    I just want to say thank you to those who have been conducive to having active discussion about possibilities of routes that may save the IT building, without attacking BHS supporters or making rude comments… such as saying that BHS supporters are nostalgic over the school because “none of them went to college,” or insinuating that it is bigotry to support BHS.

    In any event, I’m tired of the mudslinging and name-calling, so I just wanted to thank those of you who refrained from such behavior.

    Please remember that the HSR itself was not under attack, but rather we’d like to see the campus (in its entirety) and HSR exist together.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:


    Thank you for your own consideration.

    It’s not really excusable, but some of us, myself included, have had some rude insults thrown our way in the past, and some are little sensitive about it. We’ve been told we were hopeless romantics, nostagics, train nuts or train nerds, Communists (I’ve had that honor), and I assume Socialists. We’ve been accused of wanting to take people’s cars away and bring back the horse and buggy. If you’ve had the opportunity to look at some of the earlier posts with references NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard), WOOFers (Well Off Older Folks, a/k/a people in “that difficult, in-between age”), you can see where some of this anguish comes from–even if I do have to admit to being a rail enthusiast and general nostalgia hound!

    I know something of what you may be going through. I’ve also been posting on a model railroad forum sponsored by a relatively major manufacturer in that field (although compared to other firms, such as the oil and car business, it is quite small), and I have some comments and photos from my home city of Wheeling, W.Va., that were part of a series of posts on locations that could make good themes for miniature railroads. Because of the similarities in what I saw in Wheeling and what some other posters seem to have observed in Bakersfield, I’m going to post a link here; from what the other posters said, you’ve had the same problems.,13247.0.html

    P.S. I’m curious, have you read the comments about generational differences in earlier posts here, and have you seen a similar pattern in some things in Bakersfield, particularly in the realm of redevelopment, energy and transportion challenges, including HSR and possibly light rail in Bakersfield itself, and historic preservation?

    Leandra Reply:

    I’m sorry that you, too, have had rude insults thrown your way. Thank you for sharing the link so I can see what others are going through as well.

    Can I ask what you mean by generational differences? Sorry… I’m just not sure. Perhaps that is because while I have been trying to go back and read earlier blog posts by Californians for High Speed Rail (since I do, after all support HSR in the state), I have only gone back to about the beginning of this month so far. Do you mean to ask whether certain generations are the ones fighting redevelopment and seeking historic preservation?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Sort of along those lines.

    In my case, in the section of West Virginia I currently live in is the state’s eastern panhandle, which includes the towns of Martinsburg in Berkeley County and Harpers Ferry in Jefferson County, the latter the site of John Brown’s raid; the nearby town of Charles Town (named for Charles Washington, a brother of George Washington) was the site of John Brown’s trial for treason and his subsequent execution by hanging; the stage play and film, “The Anvil,” is based on this trial. The same courthouse would later be used in another treason trial in about 1920, in a case against mine union organizers in the mine wars (the events that lead to this trial are portayed in the John Sayles film, “Matewan”); the city of Winchester, Va., is south of this area, and Hagerstown, Md., is to the north, along with the Antietam Battlefield at Sharpsburg, Md., which is across the Potomac River from Shepherdstown, W.Va., which had some fame in relatively recent times as the site of a peace conference to attempt to resolve some problems in the Middle East during the Clinton administration.

    This area is between 50 miles (Harpers Ferry) and 75 miles (Martinsburg) from Union Station in Washington, DC, and is served by commuter trains running to West Virginia from Maryland, and is also served by Amtrak’s Capitol Limited, Trains 29 and 30. It was, as you might imagine, an area with a lot of real estate development activity until recently. This of course has put pressure upon the local road system, and resulted in a push to complete a long-proposed 4-lane road that was to replace a 2-lane road from Berkeley Springs to the Virginia state line.

    There were a number of people who disagreed with this proposal, mostly on environmental grounds. I also disagreed, with the argument that I-270 (main road leading into Washington itself) was a 12-lane parking lot (I’ve had occasion and time to count those 12 lanes). My argument was that we should at least be original enough to make our own mistakes and not copy everyone else’s, and suggested a modern, high-speed trolley line or interurban, along the lines of a classic like the Indiana Railroad or Cincinnati & Lake Erie, the latter of which, in a publicity stunt, raced one its high speed trolleys against an airplane and won the race.

    My efforts at this included a cost estimate to build and operate the line that suggested initial cost would be up to $60 million dollars less than the highway option, and this would actually pay to run the line for free for up to 10 years; remember that this proposal was for a relatively light-duty rail line with self-propelled cars (as opposed to locomotive-hauled trains).

    For my trouble I got the rude comments alluded to. What was interesting was that the people who liked the idea at that time (almost 20 years ago now) were either under 40 or over 70, and the ones who didn’t like it were mostly between 40 and 70. Over time, I noted that everyone got older, and I currently estimate my generational breaks to be at just under 60 and just under 90.

    I think this has to do with when people come of age and when their views of themselves, the world, and the future crystalize. The old people remember what we had and are sorry we let it go, the younger crowd takes cars for granted, maybe doesn’t appreciate them, and is environmentally aware, and the middle group, who came of age between about 1950 and the first oil crunch of 1973, thinks the future should look something like the Jetsons, with either self-driving or flying cars and no railroads. Others, including Yes On HSR, claim to have noticed the same pattern in California, and it seems to have shown up in anti-HSR groups in Great Britain as well.

    This also seems to coincide with much of the tea-party crowd.

    It would be interesting to know if you’ve een a similar pattern. And of course, remember this is only a pattern, not everybody will fit it. After all, four out of five dentists approved of XXXXXXX toothpaste s being superior, but that fifth dentist disagreed!

    Leandra Reply:

    The only way I would know ages is based upon the ages of people who attended the City Council meeting, and the graduation years that people have posted on Facebook. From those two sources, it doesn’t appear that there is a generation gap in the supporters of BHS.

    That IS interesting though that the pattern has been seen in other instances!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Thank you for your comments, Leandra,

    As you noted for yourself, the pattern was established by first-hand observation at meetings in regard to the highway project, and also in conversations I had with people trying to promote the trolley line (there was no Facebook back then). I was also talking with many people, including coworkers (and probably making a pest of myself), and noticed the same pattern. After doing this long enough, I got to where I thought I could identify the age groups by their letters in the local editorial pages (writing style, if you study it, can really help you imagine the person behind it). I was also a member of the Main Street organization in Martinsburg at the time, as was an Amtrak marketing man; I discussed this with him, and he mentioned his marketing department had measured the same thing.

    I also observed this on the commuter trains. I’m an auditor with the state of West Virginia, and I audit business records; about once or twice a year, I’ll get an assignment where the business is here, but the accountant or headquarters office will be somewhere like Washington, Gaithersburg, Md., or Manassas, Va. When possible, I’ll take the train down to avoid that traffic (and get in a train ride), and I’ve noticed the crowd on the train is getting younger all the time; if I have to take a connecting Metro (subway) train in Washington, I feel like an old geezer (and have been feeling that way since I turned 50). This isn’t a bunch of baggy-pants delinquents, either, but the professionals with computers in cases and college students.

    An aquaintance, Fritz Plous of Chicago, has also noted this in the area of the Windy City. Fritz is in his 60s or so, a former railroader and rail enthusiast, and he noted that when he first started riding trains in the 1960s, when he was in his 20s, he noted that he was the youngest person on the train, that everyone else was over 50, and the trains were almost empty. Today, riding Amtrak regional trains in the Midwest, he notes he is often the oldest person on the train, very often it seems there is no one under 30 or 35 (and everyone is working on their personal computers while riding the train, getting some extra work in), and the trains are packed.

    This seems to be a big generational shift going on; here are some links (some from this site, some from outside) for your perusal:

    This is Nine Shift’s weblog; cycle back to see some more comments about the age shift:

    Shameless plug: I’m in some of these pages, but my comments also include links to newspaper stories that back up what I’ve been saying.

    Have fun!

    Travis D Reply:

    You really need to come to grips with the fact HSR and keeping the BHS intact may not be reasonable and if forced to choose I, and all rational people, will choose the HSR over a single school building.

  41. Bay Area Resident
    Jun 13th, 2010 at 20:50

    LOL you gotta love this blog. Yes lets move every school that this cockamamey train abutts shall we? That includes Paly, Burlingame high, Bellarmine and now Bakersfield high.
    Of course, according to the wingnuts that read this blog, having a train roaring by that is 50′ from a high school field or classroom is a-ok- but in the event the train “accidentally” ends up taking some of the land, well lets just tear all these schools down shall we?

    Comical, really comical.

    nobody important Reply:

    Who actually uses the word “cockamamey” and expects themselves to be treated seriously?

    Peter Reply:

    He actually frequently uses that word.

    Travis D Reply:

    …and is subsequently frequently not treated seriously.

  42. Doold avid Reese
    Jun 13th, 2010 at 22:04

    Wake up……..rules are very apparant that schools cannot be built near RR lines… should be also apparnat that RR lines should not be built next to schools…… Not logical?

    Rafael Reply:

    Then why are there any schools at all right next to rail lines (e.g. BHS, Palo Alto High)? In each case, one or the other must have been built first. Since there’s no evidence this has had any negative impact on academic performance, why mess with history?

    Regarding accident safety of rail lines near BHS: the HSR tracks will be fully grade separated, 60′ above grade. So no, not logical at all.

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    In the case of BHS, the school was there first, and the tracks that are next to it now were built before these codes were in place. Doold was saying that the codes we have in place now do not allow for a new school to be built within so many feet so why can it go the opposite.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Those codes should probably be re-examined. As we see, there are many examples of high schools next to passenger rail corridors that work just fine. Since California will need to expand its passenger rail network in the coming years, it would seem a good idea to ask whether these rules need to be reformed in light of that future need.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They were? I can’t find anything easily on railroad history in Bakerfield other than generic things about UP and Santa Fe. The Tehachapi Loop was completed in 1876 to connect Bakersfield to Mojave. There’s been railroad in town for a very long time. The High School was opened in 1893 and apparently moved to the current site in 1895. I have a feeling the railroad was already there. Maybe some local railfan can provide more information.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Interesting question so I took a little time to do some digging too. I see references to a book by John Bergman on southern SJ Valley rail history but I do not have access to a copy.

    If the school moved to the current site in 1895, it looks like it was there before the rails based on other sources I do see though.

    What I find is that the SP entered the area in 1874. The town of Bakersfield refused to give the railroad 4 city blocks of land so the company simply went 2 miles east and founded the new town of Sumner (now called Kern City or East Bakersfield).

    Later the San Francisco and San Joaquin Valley Railroad was started to compete with the SP rail monopoly in the Valley. The SF&SJVR reached Bakersfield in May 1898. It was purchased by the Santa Fe in December of 1898.

    It appears that the Santa Fe then built rails across the city to reach the SP line for their agreement to let Santa Fe use Tehachapi and started operating trains on the east/west section in 1899.

    Whether the railyard was built by the SF&SJVR or Santa Fe, it appears it was built after the school.

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    Thankyou. I knew my facts were correct, but I couldn’t remember where I had read it. I have been doing so much of that lately.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So the railroad has been there for 112 of the schools 115 years of operation. Quiet, clean electric trains are suddenly going to destroy the experience. Hmmm.

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    How quiet are these “quiet, clean electric trains” when they operate at 220 mph? And what about the frequency? Do you suppose the trains of 100 years ago passed through as often as the CHSRA projects they will 20 years from now?


    Peter Reply:

    Quiet enough that my in-laws living less than a block from the NEC south of Philadelphia were not even aware of the fact that passenger trains operated at 150 mph less than 100 yards from their house. They only knew about the freight trains at night. There are no sound walls or other mitigation.

    Like I stated elsewhere in this thread, if 150 mph is not noticeable to someone not paying attention for it, then i have complete confidence that they can mitigate 220 mph to below a significant level.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I dunno how quiet they are. Do you? I do know that electric trains are quieter than diesels and diesels are quieter than steam. I’m almost sure they weren’t running diesels or electrics through Bakersfield until the 30s or 40s.

    Peter Reply:

    The Acela produces around 87 db at 150 mph at 100 ft. That’s a much older design than will be used in CA.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I too can add to the confirmation that electric railroad operation can be ghostly quiet, having observed electric Amtrak trains racing through Elkton, Md., at over 100 mph, and this was with some older cars in the trains that dated back to the 1950s and even the 1940s. Seeing the effect for the first time was rather eerie, it was as if those things really could sneak up on you–and in fact, they can. This makes the job of flagman on a track repair job doubly important in electric territory as he protects the men working beyond him.

    I’ve suggested this before, might a field trip to the east or even Japan be worthwhile for a Bakersfield High School group to consider and finance? In my book nothing beats first-hand observation, and in that respect it could be very useful. I would even make it a scientific trip of some sort, maybe taking along a recording device and a sound level meter of some kind. Might be an interesting trip, especially if you take the same sound gear and ears to a local freeway for comparison.

    wenchance Reply:

    Actually, there are at least 2 high schools (Burlingame High, San Mateo High) I know that are basically right next to rail lines they exist on the SF Peninsula. When HSR comes through the peninsula, all the grade crossings will be separated most likely resulting in less deaths.

  43. D. P. Lubic
    Jun 13th, 2010 at 22:27

    An additional observation: This project has been in the works for something like a decade, and likely was talked about longer than that. Now it appears to “blow up” all at once in Bakersfield. Now, I know the local media aren’t always good about covering such things; they would rather cover fires, crime, and high school sports (and I have to admit to being a little weird on this one, I’m not a sports fan, and I often think the school (sports) spirit thing is badly overemphasized), but how did this project seemingly stay a state secret all this time? I know Mr. Cruikshank has commented that various cities have thought the HSR project was “vaporware” until recently, but I would like to hear a Bakersfield perspective on this.

    Laurie S Reply:

    I will step up and be the first pinata since I’ve expressed several opinions so far.

    I am college-educated, and probably more informed of current events on the local, state, and national level than many people in Bakersfield. Yet I had not heard anything of substance about the HSR after the referendum until the recent creation of the Facebook page. I don’t think our media or city leaders have kept us informed of the progress on this, though I haven’t had the time (nor do I intend) to go back and research how much information has been conveyed publicly.

    It would not surprise me if certain city leaders, one in particular, deliberately kept these developments hush-hush. There have been other major projects of his that residents have objected to, but which were pushed through anyway. Some, which I supported even when they were not popular, have turned out to serve our community well, I believe. Others have served primarily to feed his ego.

    When all of this came to light recently, I signed up at the CHSRA website to get email updates. I don’t know how often they have them, but I haven’t received a single one yet.

    Leandra Reply:

    The media in Bakersfield did a poor job of conveying any information. I heard about the proposed high-speed rail routes (something like one of them would go through BHS and that was it) sometime when I was studying for the bar exam, or maybe when I was awaiting results. (That whole portion of the year is somewhat a blur.) There apparently have been meetings in Bakersfield about the high-speed rail, but only on the east side, and they were poorly advertised.

    When I heard the news on May 28th about the route that was to be proposed requiring BHS to lose the IT building, I looked up old news articles in the paper to see what I had missed before– which basically included two news articles. So, I started the Facebook group with links to the news articles, and information on how to contact the city officials. I also posted the map of the proposed red and blue route so that people could view it for themselves, because I suspect very few had done so.

    I learned a week ago by reading the “Administrative Report” to the City Council that in April the City Planning Commission and a consultant working with the California High Speed Rail had a public workshop where they presented the proposed routes and answered questions. Evidently, this was advertised through a press release with the local news media. However, I never heard of it, and I’m guessing neither did most of the town. Only 30-40 people attended the workshop.

    On the other hand, within ten days, over 3,500 people joined the Facebook group. There were about 350 people at the City Council meeting (where about 150 could have a seat and all others had to stay in the lobby or outside) asking the City to reconsider, and I bet most of these people would have gone to the April meeting had they known. What is interesting is that the California High Speed Rail Authority reportedly told the City Council they had talked with the BHS community, but at the meeting, Councilmember Sue Benham stated she learned this was not done.

    Basically, a lot of people failed when it came to informing the public about the route proposals. It may not have been a state secret, but it was a local secret.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I looked up old news articles in the paper to see what I had missed before– which basically included two news articles.

    Just for fun I googled “Bakersfield newspaper”. That led me out to, apparently the website for the Bakersfield Californian. Which apparently is the newspaper of record in Bakersfield. They have a handy dandy search box on the site so I searched for “high speed rail”. Almost instantaneously it returned 158 results.

    Planning for this has been going on for years. Complete with announcements and articles in the newspaper and stories on TV and radio. It’s unfortunate that you weren’t paying attention.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    I will note that I had a discussion last September with the local reporter covering HSR for Bakersfield. It became obvious to me that what was obvious to people like us who obsessively read the documentation for the project and who look at engineering documents was not obvious to the residents of Bakersfield. This was NINE months ago.

    We tried (but obviously failed) to raise some awareness because we were concerned that what just happened would happen.

    Within the HSRA, no noise from the local community was interpreted as local buy-in. Millions and millions of dollars of planning work continued. Promises to the Federal govt about schedules were made.

    Now all of a sudden the community does understand the impact on the community and it will be back to the drawing board.

    In the long run, the cheapest and fastest way to get something like this done is go way beyond the legal minimums for notification to true community involvement.

    Joey Reply:

    Somehow (for better or worse), I doubt it will be “back to the drawing board”…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    We were down this road in the 60s and 70s. There’s a set of rules for notification etc. If people don’t pay attention that’s too bad. It’s been talked about for years. To sudden waken from a stupor and claim no one said anything is …unfortunate….

    Leandra Reply:

    Since you’ve decided to mock my researching skills, perhaps what you should know is that I specifically searched “Bakersfield High School” and high speed rail” (with only “Bakersfield High School” in quotes) in that “handy dandy search box” to which you refer.

    If you do that search today, “just for fun” of course, you’d get 16 results. Excluding the ones about politics and voting (which basically say that Fran Flores is involved with the high speed rail)… and the the news articles and editorials written AFTER I started the Facebook group early in the morning on May 29… YOU GET TWO ARTICLES.

    Never attack a lawyer’s research skills.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You said “I looked up old news articles in the paper to see what I had missed before– which basically included two news articles. ”

    Silly me, I assumed “old articles” included things that were, ya know, old.

    Laurie S Reply:

    Okay, I just did something I said I wasn’t going to do. I went back and read the “stories” that had been published in our local newspaper. I thought the 158 that ironhacker had claimed popped up in his search seemed a bit high. After reading a third of them, I know why: Many are repeats, though I have no explanation for this phenomenon. The majority of them are opinions, expressed by either the editorial staff, letter writers, or blog commenters, and don’t contain any meaning facts — just opinions.

    In the first third of the listing of “stories,” there were two short ones in April 2010 that listed dates and times for public meetings, but didn’t make mention of the routes, which might have prompted better meeting attendance. There were also a couple of very recent stories mentioning the routes after all this came to more people’s attentions. And there were two articles on meetings requesting public input in March of 2009; one of those being only a four sentence blurb that I’m sure could have been easily overlooked in the newspaper by readers. The other was a fairly substantial and informative article that included a lot of information, including this interesting gem: “Several years ago, local leaders selected downtown Bakersfield as the location for the Bakersfield station.”

    Elizabeth, I don’t know what role you may have or did play in trying to disseminate information to the Bakersfield public [“We tried (but obviously failed) to raise some awareness because we were concerned that what just happened would happen.”], but I think you have a very good point about making extreme efforts in informing communities when projects are going to have both positive and negative impacts on its residents, especially the latter. Out of curiosity, does anyone know if any of the residents or businesses who will be directly affected have been personally contacted? I’m going to guess they have not.

    Peter Reply:

    Yeah, there’s been a lack of interest by the media in the actual nuts and bolts of the project. No analysis, no discussion of the merits or disadvantages. Normally just blurbs from the most vocal and radical opponents, or uninformed letters to the editor of how trains are going to fly off the tracks and hit hazmat freight cars (seriously!). This blog is pretty much the only opportunity for meaningful public discourse on the issue. Wish it wasn’t so.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Oh, how I wish the news media was a little more old-school tech savy (sp?)! I’ve seen a local news story about a train derailment on a local shortline railroad that said this 25 mph operation of a “cargo” (freight) train was the derailment of an “express” that fortunately did not involve hazardous material nor the “engine cars” (locomotives). Barrack Obama rode to his inauguration in Washington on a railroad “caboose;” the actual railroad office car he used, Georgia 400, would have to qualify as an unusually long and heavy “caboose” at 85 feet and 80 plus tons, as well as one of the most luxurious cabooses around. Electric and diesel locomotives still “chug” like long-gone steam engines, or “choo-choos.”

    You see this sort of garbage in one little area you know something about, and you wonder what else is reported wrong in areas you don’t know anything about!

    Peter Reply:

    More than you ever want to know.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    … well if it was a non stop it could be called an express… it’s not the speed that counts it’s the not stopping part that makes it an express….

    Rafael Reply:

    Under CEQA, planning agencies are required to organize meetings for scoping, alignment alternatives etc. to gather input from the general public in person. They are required to advertise the times and dates of those in local newspapers.

    They must also accept written comments, which is how other government agencies tend to comment. CHSRA also accepted comments submitted via email. All of this needs to happen in well-defined comment periods. All comments received must be included in the public record and each must be responded to.

    After the initial comment period, agencies must publish a draft EIR document and invite a second round of comments on that.

    CEQA requries that planning agencies self-certify that they have complied with the law. By design, the only challenge to that is a lawsuit, which must be filed within a certain number of days. The city of Atherton filed one against the Bay Area to Central Valley portion of the program level EIR, which spells out route and station preferences. In that case, the judge dismissed most complaints but upheld a few, such that the self-certification had to be withdrawn. CHSRA is currently in the process of amending the document and will then go through the whole comments process yet again.

    CHSRA has also published a ton of documents on its web site. Yes, many are voluminous tomes but anyone with an internet connection is free to download them and get educated. Whether the local media most people rely on for their information do or do not do that research is not something CHSRA can control. They do give interviews on request, anyone – especially any member of the media – can pick up the phone and call them at any time.

    There are also monthly board meetings, usually in Sacramento, which are open to the general public. CHSRA publishes video recordings and minutes on its web site. They’re also on twitter.

    Plus, there’s this blog, which has published 787 posts on HSR topics statewide and around the world since March of 2008, purely as a service by unpaid volunteer authors to the general public. Others blogs, such as Clem Tillier’s Caltrain-HSR Compatibility Blog provide valuable information on technical aspects. Plus, there’s facebook groups etc.

    It’s possible CHSRA isn’t sending out a lot of messages on its mailing list. Most of the people that care about the project use the web site instead, which also contains computer animations of various sections of the system.

    Bottom line: there’s really no good excuse for claiming to be surprised by this project. Planning agencies don’t have full-blown marketing departments and they’re not supposed to. People just have to take an interest, which they usually don’t until something someone they know doesn’t like pops up. By then, it’s often late in the planning game and they find themselves woefully underinformed, with little alternative but to react emotionally. They then invariably blame the planners for failing to inform them in the first place.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    It is not about excuses or lack thereof. It is not about whether a community SHOULD have known.

    If you are doing a project and there is some aspect which will inevitably and eventually cause people to freak out and you don’t get a freak out, you can make one of two assumptions.

    1) Everyone is actually fine with it.
    2) For whatever reason, people don’t actually understand the project.

    If you try and pretend it is #1 but the reality is #2, everything will move along smoothly – to a point. Then it will absolutely explode, everyone will be angry, there will be a lot of trust, time and money lost.

    The above and beyond outreach costs you more upfront but results in doable projects.

    Our understanding is that in Europe, all these indepth conversations with the stakeholders take place long before detailed engineering work commences.

    We have been encouraging the adoption of CSS, which if implemented correctly, avoids just these types of situations.

    Peter Reply:

    “in Europe, all these indepth conversations with the stakeholders take place long before detailed engineering work commences.”

    One of the reasons is that the citizenry is actually informed about these kinds of things because the media actually gives a shit about actually informing people with real information. Hence they actually know what’s going on, or think they do and get involved. Over here you have Media News with a virtual monopoly on newspapers, so there has been a true race to the bottom in terms of the quality of news.

    The planners cannot assume 2) because it is not their responsibility to get people to inform themselves. They did everything reasonable to tell people where to inform themselves. People have to take responsibility for their own fate. If you don’t care, you lose. You can’t blame the planners for a lack of involvement. There is only so much they can do.

    Rafael Reply:

    Hooray for state-owned media outlets.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Who died and nationalized Le Monde and Le Figaro?

    Rafael Reply:

    Part of the problem is that Gov. Schwarzenegger cut CHSRA’s budget for 2007 to just $1m, barely enough to keep the lights on. He did this to force them to take on responsibility for getting the project funded using some private investment, because the 2/3 majority rule in the California constitution makes strictly public funding via a hike on taxes, e.g. those on gasoline, virtually impossible.

    By 2008, when that fight was over and the HSR project was finally allowed to go onto the ballot aftet 4 years of delay, CHSRA wasn’t in a position to do much in the way of public outreach ahead of the election, beyond the CEQA process plus its web site. The second iteration of the program level EIR for the Bay Area to Central Valley section yielded virtually no new information, there were two closely matched option and CHSRA controversially went with Pacheco Pass. Had it gone with Altamont instead, a different set of people would have felt duped.

    There was probably also a fear that aggressive outreach program would merely prompt hard-core opponents to organize early, possibly even a media campaign to kill prop 1A. Instead, voters went to the poll with neither side spending significant amounts of money on swaying their minds. After the bond measure passed, more people got interested in the project and the hardest part, i.e. project-level planning, began in earnest. Grade separation and capacity upgrade projects are never easy or painless, there is always bitter opposition because there are significant local impacts – both real and imagined – on properties, schools, road traffic etc. The longer you wait, the harder it gets, because cities usually develop around existing constraints. Only very rarely is right of way preserved for decades to retain the option of future expansion. This is doubly true of US railroads, which must pay property taxes on the land they own.

    CSS can help calm down frayed nerves and speed the transition to rational discussion of viable options, but it cannot overcome the fundamental issue that a big bang project will have some large impacts on a relatively small number of individuals. That number does get bigger if community institutions like schools are affected, but even 3,500 people is small compared to a population of 250,000.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    The problem is indeed #2. As Rafael explained, however, this is because the CHSRA did not have the staff for more outreach.

  44. Laurie S
    Jun 13th, 2010 at 22:37

    Robert – Which of the people who have posted on this blog are employed by the CHSRA or are authorized to speak on their behalf?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Not a single one. We are all independent and have no affiliation whatsoever with the California High Speed Rail Authority. We do not speak on their behalf, on anything. None of us are employed by or paid by the CHSRA.

    Laurie S Reply:

    I should have read the “About” link from your blog before I ever started reading, not to mention posting. I’ve wasted an extraordinary amount of time here only to find out that I’ve been exchanging comments with people impotent to affect any change. I won’t say it was a total loss, though. My interest in the subject has certainly been aroused, and I’ll be paying more attention to it, that’s for sure.

    Just not here.

    Peter Reply:

    I don’t think anyone affiliated with the Authority would be allowed to post on here, so that their personal opinions are not interpreted as official policy.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Took longer than usual for the inevitable leave taking. Definitely a sign of a high quality concern troll.

    Leandra Reply:

    Just because there are professionals without time to waste following every comment made on here and responding to sarcastic statements and insults does not mean that they are “trolls.”

    “I must not hear thee; fare thee well…”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, not their own facts. It’s not insulting or sarcastic to discuss facts. It’s unfortunate you find discussion of facts insulting.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Good leave..nimby

    Spokker Reply:

    I mow Diridon’s lawn, actually.

    Rafael Reply:

    Please tell me that’s not a euphemism.

  45. Bay Area Resident
    Jun 14th, 2010 at 10:24

    Of course all the schools were there before the trains, the train line was built deliberately to be near the schools but that isn’t really relevant, because the issue is that a slow moving diesel, while mildly annoying, is hardly the impact that HSR going by every 3 minutes. Will this blog PLEASE acknowledge the simple fact that high speed rail is more like a freeway than a slow moving conventional train?

    The entire issue here is that HSR wanted to skirt the actual cost of building this system by using a completely inappropriate corridor which, for them, was cheap. By using this corridor they will destroy quality of life in many cities this train goes through. The voting information was deliberately obfuscated to hide this.

    Joey Reply:

    Funny thing – I currently go to school literally right next to a busy freeway (Interstante 280). Honestly I barely notice it – better than dealing with the low frequency vibrations of heavy diesel trains…

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Where OO where are those 5 STAR resturants in Bakersfield???? Red Lobster? ..dont worry we are not going to run thru willow springs…

    Reality Check Reply:

    A freeway is a constant noise source, punctuated by even more noise when louder-than-average vehicles pass by (4×4’s with macho knobby tires, snow tires, loud Harleys/trucks, sirens, etc.). Ironically, some freeway sections are quietest during heavy peaks when traffic is crawling along, stop and go, bumper to bumper. Having periodically lived/stayed in homes/apartments near fast trains, it’s preferable to a freeway any day. Unlike freeways, the rail lines are perfectly silent most of the time, with period onsets of rushing sounds that slowly peak and then fade back to silence. The effect varies depending on many factors, however. For example, distance from the tracks affects the rate of onset and fade, as well as maximum volume. The character and maximum level of the sound depends on the train construction, trackbed construction and a bunch of other factors. Anyway, ask anyone who’s lived within a few blocks of a freeway and a modern, well-maintained rail line carrying fast electric trains and I expect they’ll all tell you they’d take the rail line over the freeway any day of the week.

    Peter Reply:

    I can confirm that. My in-laws live in suburbia less than a block from the NEC south of Philadelphia. I have asked them about whether the trains are loud. My sister-in-law said “Yes, the trains are really loud at night.” She had no idea that passenger trains went by all day long at up to 150 mph!!! She had only ever heard the freight trains rumbling past.

    So yes, Elizabeth (in earlier post), if a year 2000 HSR train design going 150 mph needs no mitigation for sound (there are no sound walls at my sister-in-law’s location), to the extent that people AREN’T EVEN AWARE of the fact that passenger trains go by ALL DAY LONG, then I have all the confidence that a 2018 HSR train design can be mitigated, even at 220 mph.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I too can add to the confirmation that electric railroad operation can be ghostly quiet, having observed electric Amtrak trains racing through Elkton, Md., at over 100 mph, and this was with some older cars in the trains that dated back to the 1950s and even the 1940s.

    I’ve suggested this before, might a field trip to the east or even Japan be worthwhile for a Bakersfield High School group to consider and finance? In my book nothing beats first-hand observation, and in that respect it could be very useful. I would even make it a scientific trip of some sort, maybe taking along a recording device and a sound level meter of some kind. Might be an interesting trip, especially if you take the same sound gear and ears to a local freeway for comparison.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    A lot depends on the equipment and the tracks. When they reelectrified the M&E the diesels were noisy and smelly. Was getting out of the car one fine summer afternoon and heard the train coming from a few blocks away. I was wrong, it was already there – the new cars were so quiet…

  46. datacruncher
    Jun 15th, 2010 at 13:01

    There may be big concerns because the high school may have TWO new transportation projects as “neighbors”. They have to consider added noise and vibration (and pollution) from more new sources than just HSR.

    The other potential project is CalTrans’ alternative D for a new freeway running along the north side of the campus. Reading the docs it appears that draft EIR is due in the next few months.

    If CalTrans selects that as the preferred route it appears it will also impact HSR’s design and planning. As near as I can find, Alternative D was the preferred route in a preliminary study 10 years ago. How CalTrans will view it now in the EIR is the unknown.

    This aerial photo map appears to show Alternative D taking exclusively commercial buildings, first along Union then turning west and crossing near the northeast corner of the high school then running north of the railyard taking additional commercial/industrial.
    It also is the only freeway alternative being studied that passes close to downtown, a possible consideration in its selection.

    The other alternatives seem to require purchasing residential areas instead of commercial.
    I don’t know the type of opposition freeway construction in residential neighborhoods would get in Bakersfield but in other areas it is substantial.

    So I can see where having 2 different studies/EIRs currently in process examining impacts on the campus will raise concerns about the future experience at the high school. That is a lot of change being talked about that might occur.

    HSR might just be “the straw” not the only concern.

    BUT, I’d like some info from the Bakersfield residents since I’m not from the area.

    Can any of you confirm what I see in articles online saying Bakersfield planners have been talking with BNSF about moving that switching yard?

    Someone else who knows more might be able to reason this next question out. I don’t know the costs involved (e.g. vs removing buildings) or any other constraints.

    But could HSR, CalTrans, Bakersfield, and BNSF work together to relocate the yard? For example, could the Wasco or Shafter HMF proposed sites be used instead as a replacement location for the BNSF yard.

    A joint HSR/new freeway corridor thru the existing yard footprint might then be possible with joint mitigation for the high school and other nearby uses. For example, would it be a feasible place for possibly below grade trench routing given other HSR and new freeway constraints? It would reduce the number of buildings taken by CalTrans and also HSR in that area.

    Just a thought.

  47. Elizabeth
    Jun 15th, 2010 at 13:28

    The official term is called “cumulative impacts”. Speaking of which, is there any GOOD reason the HSR project and this east west highway project are not being conceived of as a joint project?

    Clearly there are curve issues but maybe 220 mph through a city center is maybe not the right idea anyway.

    Peter Reply:

    I don’t think there IS a GOOD reason. It’s how planning is done in California. The right arm doesn’t talk to the left foot, much less the right arm.

    Just look at the TBT fiasco.

    Peter Reply:

    “much less the left arm.” Whoops.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …I can’t find plans for it but apparently there were plans to replace the bus station across the street from the current one and at the same time place a train station under it. The trains would have still had to make two turns to get there from the current terminal on 4th but the two turns would have been 45 degree turns. There would have been much more space for the buses and the trains. A possibility of integrating service to Oakland, the East Bay and places other than San Jose into either. But put a referendum on the ballot and keeping it at the current terminal won.

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