Peninsula EIR To Be Delayed By A Year?

Jan 28th, 2011 | Posted by

According to former California High Speed Rail Authority board member Rod Diridon, speaking before the Belmont City Council yesterday afternoon, the San Francisco to San José draft EIR could be further delayed by as much as a year:

Staff members are expected to recommend to the high-speed rail board next week that the report be delayed for as much as a year, former board member Rod Diridon told Belmont city officials Thursday afternoon.

The EIR was initially due last December but was pushed back until the spring, he said….

The staff will likely recommend the EIR be delayed to allow more time to look into a number of matters that still concern Peninsula city leaders, residents and business owners, including looking into a two-track system through San Mateo County instead of a four-track system.

I’m not convinced this is the best move. Delay of a few months made sense – with stimulus money going to the Central Valley, there was some room to delay the draft EIR into early 2011 to enable more time to discuss implementation of the project. But any greater delay will actually hurt, not help, the Peninsula. While I have never believed that HSR would hurt property values along the route, it is entirely possible, perhaps even likely, that there would indeed be a hit to property values from the uncertainty surrounding the project’s design. Once something is decided, the market can price it in and values will stabilize and, before long, begin rising (depending of course on much broader factors in the national housing market). But if a year or two goes by with the situation being uncertain, then it could well cause problems.

And then there’s the ostensible reason for the delay – a desire to explore a two-track system instead of a four-track system:

“This could make all the difference between having the project and not having it,” said Bill Dawson, a member of Belmont’s high-speed rail ad hoc committee. The committee is comprised of local residents and business owners who investigate the potential impact of high-speed rail on Belmont.

“It’s a game-changer,” Dawson said. “People are worried about having four tracks. The right-of-way in Belmont is wide enough to accommodate four tracks, but many oppose four tracks, because it widens the right-of-way.”

Look at that last paragraph there and marvel at the circular logic being employed. The right of way is wide enough for four tracks, but four tracks would widen the right of way? Um, what? Either the ROW is wide enough right now or it’s not.

The other question is whether a two-track system would actually meet the needs of both Caltrain and HSR. I would assume that HSR opponents are proposing this precisely because it can’t, and the tracks would be used primarily by Caltrain. Or, if Caltrain has to scale back its operations, HSR could use more of the track capacity, but none of us wants to see that happen to Caltrain.

Another reason the two-track proposal doesn’t really make sense is that it doesn’t resolve the question of the vertical alignment. Is there that much difference between a two-track aerial structure and a four-track aerial structure? As for a tunnel, Diridon explained at the meeting in Belmont, their chances of getting one without the locals helping pay for it are slim at best:

“If we build a tunnel down the Peninsula, we’re going to have the build the tunnel for Sanger, and Cochrane, and the other Central Valley cities,” Diridon said. “That’s the law. If we don’t, the project will be stopped by legal action.”

Holding out for a tunnel would significantly delay the high-speed rail project, he said.

“If you hold out for a tunnel, I think what you’ll do is delay the project on the Peninsula maybe forever,” Diridon said. “Because I don’t think you can build a tunnel.”

And of course, the costs of giving everybody and their brother a tunnel would be astronomical, so it’s not something that can be done without local funding. As we know, the Peninsula so far has been reluctant to provide it.

So I’m not quite sure what this EIR delay is going to accomplish. It’s not going to resolve some of the basic inconsistencies in the anti-HSR viewpoint. If a delay can help everyone hammer out an agreement on how to build the tracks, then it would be valuable. So far though, the anti-HSR folks seem to be pretty deeply entrenched, and many political leaders on the Peninsula are either with them or aren’t yet willing to side with the clear majority that supports HSR and wants it built.

If a delay happens, then I do hope that everyone can come together to figure out a solution that, above all, provides for the best passenger rail service, because that’s what matters most. Oil prices keep rising, so there is some urgency to getting these details resolved.

  1. Eric M
    Jan 28th, 2011 at 21:28

    I’d be willing to bet they might be delaying the EIR because they want to be sure ALL i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed so it fully adheres to CEQA. If there is anything left out, even as small as a mouse fart, it will give a reason to file another lawsuit by NIMBY’s.

  2. Joe
    Jan 28th, 2011 at 21:48

    Measure twice, cut once.

    The EIR will be challenged and locals want more options considered. I suppose it’s best to make the EIR effort complete and exhaustive.

    HSR should focus development along HW99 cities which really want Rail now. A phase II can connect to gilroy, which wants the route in downtown and trenched according to the Dispatchs account of the Tuesday HSR open meeting with citizens.

    Meanwhile we are seeing both rising gas prices and turmoil in the largest Arab nation, and US ally. I can’t see 2012 being a good year for cheap gas. Greater meeting along 101 should backup traffic into side streets as well as reduced cal train service.

    Matthew Reply:

    I agree with most of what you wrote, including that 2012 might not be a good year for cheap gas, but not with the reasons for it. Egypt really isn’t a huge oil producer, and turmoil there won’t likely have an appreciable affect on world oil prices:

    Peter Reply:

    But Egypt controls the Suez Canal. A closure of the Canal would definitely mean an increase.

  3. Castle Expert
    Jan 28th, 2011 at 22:37

    The authority is going to get bogged down in the bay area. They should focus the line from Fresno to Sacramento. Much straighter route not as much complicated enginnering and the majority of these folks want the project.

    Matthew Reply:

    I think that the authority should first build the connection between the Bay Area and LA basin rail networks, and temporarily run trains on legacy track for the urban connection, like the French model. I ultimately think that those connections will then need to be upgraded, especially as our traditional rail network isn’t as high capacity as the French one was, but I think it’s more important to get service running as early as possible. In software development, there is a mantra: “release early, release often.” Otherwise, projects get bogged down in being perfect before anyone gets to use them, and they might never get built. Once a compelling product is out there, improvements can be made and a critical mass of users can be built. Think Skype, or LA Metro, or Heathrow Express.

    Joey Reply:

    Easier said than done. CalTrain is not electrified and Metrolink is single-track (and of course not electrified) for much of the distance between San Fernando and LAUS. Both currently rely on low platforms. Then you’ve got the FRA issue, since the Metrolink tracks are also an active freight corridor.

    J. Wong Reply:

    active freight corridor

    As are the Peninsula CalTrain tracks.

    Joey Reply:

    Not in the same way. Peninsula freight is limited to night operations, whereas I am pretty sure that is not the case for the San Fernando Valley tracks. Those form the most direct route between the Central Valley and the LA area/Port of LA/Port of Long Beach/UPRR’s and BNSF’s main yards. There is another route via the Cajón pass but I suspect that it is secondary as far as the Central Valley is concerned.

    Joey Reply:

    Actually BNSF uses the Cajón pass for all of their traffic , but I don’t think it’s the same for UPRR.

    J. Wong Reply:

    The CalTrain corridor is mostly night operations especially for the daily run down and back to San Jose, but I have seen switching during the day, for example, spotting cars on the Sierra Pacific siding at Bayshore.

  4. John Burrows
    Jan 28th, 2011 at 23:18

    There would be a big difference between a two track aerial structure and a four track aerial structure in San Mateo. With over 90,000 people, San Mateo is about as large as Atherton, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto combined. San Mateo as far as I know is waiting for the EIR before taking any action. A four track system may have a real impact upon their downtown and upon the older residential area immediately to the north–A two track system probably would not.

    I am guessing that San Mateo can live with the height—I hope they can live with the width.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    The “voie banalisée” (reversible track) system has been in use in France for 40 years and has never caused a collision. Faster trains are switched to either track when a slower one has to be overtaken.
    It’s commonly used in all zones where adding tracks would have been physically or politically impossible. If it can work near Paris or Lyon, where rail traffic is huge, I don’t see why it couldn’t work in California.
    Of course, it takes a central control center which monitors train speed and operates the switches.
    Building a control center is not environmentally disruptive and will mostly need gray matter, of which California has plenty.

    Matthew Reply:

    The “reversible track” idea sounds interesting as a temporary solution, but I’m not entirely convinced that communities can’t live with the width longer term. The peninsula doesn’t seem to be complaining about the 280, the 101, the 4-lane El Camino Real, or countless surface parking lots that are all taking up space. Someone has to make the case that improved rail transit (HSR but mostly Caltrain) will reduce the need for those other things to take up so much valuable space, or to take up more in the future.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    What you are describing is essentially CTC with bidirectional signalling–been around for decades. . .

    Jim SF has commented upon this before: this is a railroad. It is an advanced railroad, a high-performance railroad, but it is a railroad. Virtually all of its technology–the track and track maintenance, electrification, signals and automatic train stop provisions, track gauge, most of the operating practices, the rolling stock, the stations, and the services (including food service if offered, and the package services, too)–all have been around, around the world and also here, in one form or another for over a century–and for some of this, almost two centuries.

    There really should be no unpleasant surprises, unless you have something done in a slipshod manner. That’s the human element there, and I’m afraid fools can ultimately triumph over anything that is “foolproof” if they try hard enough.

    Our main difficulties are that we have a perception problems that are partially generational, and false perceptions (i.e., Fox News reports) fed by commercial interests that want to keep us driving cars and buying gasoline. These are aggravated by technologically incompetent politicians, technologically incompetent money men, and in your case, an allegedly corrupt engineering firm that takes advantage of–cons– the money men and the politicians.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Politicians are mostly technologically incompetent as individuals, but then they have been so down through the ages. Their technological incompetent in practice is a function of firing the technologically competent who once worked as public servants and replacing them with others (or in some cases the same people) working at for-profit firms under the control of the bean counters looking to maximize returns to owners.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Clem proposed a 3-track solution for downtown San Mateo.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Oops, forgot the link: Threading the San Mateo Narrows.

  5. Donk
    Jan 28th, 2011 at 23:54

    Of course today’s post was again on the Peninsula. This blog is seriously turning into a Peninsula HSR blog. I thought the news on the John Mica/NEC meeting was much more significant in the overall picture of HSR funding, and am disappointed that that topic wasn’t covered. The Peninsula is a complete disaster and will be the last leg of the HSR to be completed, so lets just table all this bs for the next 10 years. Screw the Peninsula, for now at least…

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    Not only that, but look at the source of the information. An ex-board member with no authority who’s been known to say the darndest things. Did anyone follow up with the HSRA to confirm his remarks?

    jim Reply:

    Which makes Diridon an ideal messenger for a trial balloon. If there’s a lot of pushback, Van Ark can deny this is the plan: Diridon misunderstood some discussions which took place right before he left.

    But from the Authority’s point of view, this makes sense. The initial strategy was to prioritize LA-Anaheim and the Peninsula. Alignments were fixed, the local communities would immediately benefit: in the case of the Peninsula, Caltrain would get electrification. That strategy has been abandoned. It may be because of Peninsula opposition, it may be because FRA didn’t want to spend $2B upgrading commuter routes, it may be just the change in CEO. Probably some of all three. But the new strategy is to start in the Central Valley and work out. LA-Anaheim and the Peninsula beome the last segments to be built, not the first. So finishing an EIS for the Peninsula is no longer on the critical path.

    Delaying the EIS brings gains. It is much harder to maintain an organized opposition against a threat in the indefinite future. And some of the opposition on the Peninsula has always had the hope that they could stop the entire project. Morris Brown’s lawsuits have sought that result. If there is to be California HSR, it will run up the Peninsula along the Caltrain RoW. Stopping HSR is the best way of stopping it running along the Caltrain RoW. Once construction starts and HSR becomes inevitable, then some important segments of the current Peninsula opposition will turn to negotiation. A negotiated EIS is always preferable.

    Victor Reply:

    I’d rather not negotiate, I’d just rather give the Nimbys Surrender Terms: The Peninsula pays for all extra costs involved in Construction, As in Put up(the money) or Shut up.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Shall they be made to pay War Reparations too?

    Victor Reply:

    Huh? What war?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If they’ve been given surrender terms, then there obviously was a war.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    That’s very French. People known as “électrons libres” (free electrons) are often used to sound public reaction. If the reaction is negative, the government can always say they have nothing to do with it.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:


  6. MGimbel
    Jan 29th, 2011 at 00:16

    Although I’m for a 4-track alignment stretching from San Jose to San Francisco, it really doesn’t seem necessary for the first few years of operation. I think Rafael made some good points of how such service could be carried out in his “Caltrain Firebird” proposal. Also, with the threat of limited funds coming from Washington, it’s time to start thinking about what’s truly necessary and what can be added later. For now, build a two-track alignment through San Mateo County and add the extra two tracks when demand calls for it.

    Paul H. Reply:

    That’s just gonna delay this fight on the peninsula… Like George H. Bush needing to take out saddam hussein in desert storm. Let’s build the appropriate system, rail demand will absolutely be going up as long there hundreds of millions automobiles that run only on gasoline, and thats going to be a long time still folks. 4 tracks will be necessary. Trust me. But it’ll be more expense, and more obstrusive later when we can just be in there one time and build it.

    There’s no way that they will get a tunnel. Diridon does have that right. It’ll never ever happen. But if the one year does happen and its four tracks… it should be resolved on the back of some capital investment into the system. That’ll shut everybody up, and it’ll be 4 tracks.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    agreeed ..there will be limited funding unless a big amount is in the Transpo bill and a 2 track upgraded system may be the only option for a 2020 opening..but with a hit on the timetable and maby some trains ending in SJ instead of SanFrancisco

    Tony D. Reply:

    Agree with you MGimbel,
    This is definetely where Rafael’s “Caltrain Firebird” concept should come into play; two-track in narrow, contentious area’s and 3-4 track (i.e. long sidings) in others. The money saved by not going full 4-track could be used for (gulp) trenching in narrow, densely populated area’s of the ROW.

    Not siding with the NIMBY’s with my suggestion, just trying to find a compromise solution that will work for everyone. If Rafael is reading this, I solute you!

    Howard Reply:

    How about a three track design for areas of limited ROW. The outside tracks for locals and the center track for express trains. Four tracks are only needed where high speed trains are passing in opposite directions. The schedule can be made so that high speed trains only pass in the four track sections.

    Joey Reply:

    It’s definitely a possibility, though of course as you allude to it requires competent schedule planning, which currently does not exist at the CHSRA. Also, for various reasons it makes sense to have the express trains on the outside and locals in the middle. This doesn’t mean that locals are restricted to one track – it simply means that the schedule has to be designed such that only 3 trains pass through this section at one time (for instance, two expresses and a local or two locals and an express).

  7. James
    Jan 29th, 2011 at 00:44

    Would two tracks in effect require Caltrain to use the same platform height as the HSR?

    Joey Reply:

    No. They simply have four tracks (or two platforms serving each track) at the HSR stations. Of course, if they can’t manage to sort out the platform height issue in a year, I will loose the last shred of faith I have in the Authority.

    Brsk Reply:

    Well, Bob Doty is out of the way, so maybe Caltrain will finally break down and stop pretending it still 1999. The big problem with platform heights over the last four years is that HSR need an around 36 inch height (also the North East Corridor standard, commuter and Acela) and Caltrain has insisted on their pre-HSR plans for several inches lower. Caltrain has been in denial that the passage of Prop 1A in 2008 means their 1999 electrification plans and precious FRA waiver need to go in the trash bin and they need to completely reinvent themselves along with HSR coming to the peninsula.

    That means:
    1. CBOSS signalling gets cancelled, use CAHSR’s signalling for free
    2. FRA waiver gets discarded, use the new CAHSR waiver instead
    3. Get equipment compatible with HSR rolling stock.
    4. Double decked trains may not be necessary as the newly rebuilt stations can simply be lengthened 20-30% to accommodate the extra capacity in a single level train.

    Joey Reply:

    Minor point – HSR and the NEC are closer to 48 inches.

    Brsk Reply:

    Good catch, I meant 48″ I hadn’t finished my late morning coffee yet. :(

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Good luck.

    Joey Reply:

    We’re going to need it.

  8. J. Wong
    Jan 29th, 2011 at 12:33

    A 2 track option doesn’t mean 2 track all the way. Where feasible, it would be a 3 or 4 track as well. For example, San Bruno to SF would be 4 track (at grade except for San Bruno). Mostly I think it would be 2 track for now shared with CalTrain (and the UP freight) but if demand is high enough, upgrade to 4 track in the future.

    So what segments would be able to be 4 tracked without significant EIR issues?

    synonymouse Reply:

    There is a two track plan for the Peninsula – it is called BART.

    Joey Reply:

    What we’d end up with would be HSR+BART, not just BART.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Nope, just BART. HSR is redundant.

    tony d. Reply:

    Mouse just proved that he’s an extreme NIMBY: no HSR, no Caltrain on the Peninsula.
    Just build a BART subway from Millbrae to SJ (out of site, out of mind) and mouse will be happy.
    The hell with everyone else!

    Peter Reply:

    It took you that long to figure that out?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Actually an electrified Caltrain would be superior to BART ring the bay but the ill-considered shotgun marriage to the CHSRA and Bechtel has made that impossible. BART in tunnel where the municipalities want to pony up the extra funds is the only alternative to aerial blight. Trenching might be a possibility if they can get Bechtel out of there and find some other engineers.

    Peter Reply:

    Ok, I’ll bite. Where and how is Bechtel involved with the CHSRA? Bechtel ≠ PB, if that’s what you’re claiming.

  9. Ken
    Jan 31st, 2011 at 09:30

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; it’s useless to talk and make sense with NIMBYs. Just build HSR over what we already have: the interstate and state highways. Just get rid of a lane on each side and run a track through them. What’s so darn hard about this? Just upgrade our existing infrastructure to handle rail and no one will oppose it. No bulldozing, less money involved, you can get to work right away, etc. Is this so hard to do?

    The highways already go to where people want to go, it hits the major places like downtown, civic centers, and airports, they already have bridges, overpasses and underpasses, all it takes is removing one lane and running an electrified track through it.

    Ok, I get the point that many have stated that high speed rail can’t handle turns as much. But many portions of our Interstate and state are straight lines. I mean look at the stretch between San Jose to Fresno to Bakersfield. Or the 405 freeway stretch from San Fernando Valley to the South Bay which goes right by LAX? If that ain’t straight enough I don’t know what is.

    Victor Reply:

    Lets see, You want to have HSR go down existing freeways and highways? HSR like most wheeled trains has trouble with that as It’s a 3D world and not all freeway and highway alignments are suitable, Cause of what’s called a Grade going up or down through canyons or in the mountains, Autos/Trucks can climb at a steeper grade angle than all but Maglev type HSR, But since HSR in CA is going to use Wheels, That means certain routes, While Obvious, Are OUT, As their just way too steep to climb or descend. Freeways and highways might look good on Paper, But then Paper is 2D and not everything on Paper actually works.

    Ken Reply:

    What percentage of the entire track nees to go through mountains and canyons? It sounds ridiculous to spend so much money on creating stuff a new and continuously waiting and waiting to deal with NIMBYs to end up sticker shock due to rises in material prices when only a few portions go through mountains and canyons. In the end, it might just be cheaper to bore a tunnel through the mountains and passes than waiting forever to get this built.

    An estimate and re-evaluation should be made that the more we wait trying to deal with NIMBYs, the more it’s gonna cost us in the long run. Frankly, it’s much more cheaper to build on existing infrastructure. Less people are gonna be driving on the freeways when gas hits $5/gallon anyway, make use of what we have.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Ken

    There are two problems with your suggestions, which, tho as asinine and trivial as they appear, are well-nigh insurmountable.

    1. Bechtel-PB-Balfour Beatty(and whatever other dba’s} don’t do tunnels, only aerials. Incompetence? – I dunno. The come up with cover stories about seismic in Tejon and then deploy aerials in equally seismic Tehachapi.

    2. The overriding purpose of the entire CHSRA is to provide Palmdale developers with an essentially free BART to LA. Sound crazy and over the top? – think about it. LA is the second biggest and the most corrupt city in the US. Since when has anybody ever been able to get a handle on LA corruption? This is the place that let OJ walk.

    “You think you know what you are dealing with here, Mr. Geddes. But you don’t.”

    Peter Reply:

    Oh wow.

    “Bechtel-PB-Balfour Beatty(and whatever other dba’s} don’t do tunnels, only aerials.”

    Do you ever bother to look stuff up before you post?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Curiously PB rules out tunnels on the Peninsula(other than SF, home to the Pelosi patronage machine).

    Curiously PB rules out tunnels thru Tejon but maybe a few in the Tehachapis but lords knows yet how many aerials in and around the Loop. And how many stilts in the other most remote corners of the San Joaquin Valley.

    But of course we know where there will be some really tasty, pricey tunnels – along the route from LA to Palmdale. Fancy that. As the union demonstration guys are wont to say: “Power, power – who’s got the power?”

    Victor Reply:

    In Railroads You tunnel where It’s cheaper or more practical to do so, SF is last I looked a hilly area here and there, A Tejon tunnel wouldn’t be a place anyone but You would want to be in an earthquake, So a tunnel isn’t going to happen, As to the Peninsula, If the area is willing to pay for Tunnels, Then the CHSRA would be totally willing to build them, Otherwise HSR is coming through no matter what, Nimbys like You are doomed, You have No way to stop HSR, But keep trying, Cause we’ll keep ROFLOAO at Your wasted efforts.

    Peter Reply:

    Not only is SF hilly, but the tunnel into the Transbay Terminal will go beneath a dense city, which would otherwise have to be razed.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The attitude of Bechtel-PB-Balfour-Beatty, et al, etc., etc. towards SF, bailiwick of Pelosi-Feinstein & Co., is one of abject submission and towards the Peninsula one of visceral enmity. It is all politics; had Meg Whitman won, the CHSRA would be much more tractable towards the Peninsula.

    For those of you who are timid about travelling in holes in the ground, think about what’s going to obtain with those hsr trainsets atop 60′ aerials doing a “Cypress” in a 9.0. Hell maybe even in a 7.0.

    Oh, I know – nothing can possibly go wrong. Bechtel ripped the 1952 page out of all the California history books.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Where exactly would 60′ aerials be used? And what percentage of the track will even be aerials. And what makes you think they would behave the same as the Cypress structure, which was a double-decker freeway that had the 2nd deck collapse on top of the 1st during the Loma Prieta earthquake? The structure as a whole did not collapse.

    How much of the planned Peninsula track is actually going to be aerial as opposed to retained-fill berms? For example, Broadway to Burlingame Ave can be berm’ed with only one overpass at Oak Grove Ave. I know Burlingame wants to object to a berm, but what would it really matter? You can’t see through the eucalyptus trees anyway. And yes, I know the trees would be cut down for the HSR work, but they can be replanted with landscaping that would eventually hide the berm the same way the current eucalyptus prevents anyone from seeing through them.

    Peter Reply:

    @ synonymouse

    Is it even possible for you to post without hyperbole?

    @ J. Wong

    60 foot aerials are being planned for Fresno, I believe, as well as Bakersfield.

    Hell, from what I was reading yesterday, THSR was built to a very large extent on 100 foot aerials. 60 feet seems low in comparison…

    J. Wong Reply:

    @ Peter

    Thanks, Peter, I kind of knew that. So a more interesting question is what is the likelyhood of a 7.0 or greater earthquake in the Central Valley? I seriously doubt is it as great as that in the Bay Area or the LA Basin.

    And yes, I agree that @synonymouse’s posts are hyperbole. He makes statements as if they universally apply, i.e., 60′ aerials will be used where greater than 7.0 earthquakes are likely to occur. I’m much more “timid” about traveling in a tunnel where the likelyhood of a 7.0 and greater in the next 30 years is very high versus traveling on a 60′ aerial in a location where 7.0 and greaters don’t happen so often. And the Peninsula aerials will not be anywhere near 60′.

    Peter Reply:

    If 100 foot aerials are safe enough for Taiwan in an earthquake, they’re safe enough for me.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Did you seriously ask why SF is getting a tunnel and NIMBY Peninsula isn’t? Wow!

    J. Wong Reply:

    SF would get a tunnel because there is no other place to put separate HSR tracks without tearing down a lot of buildings, which isn’t true of the Peninsula where the existing ROW is mostly wide enough to support separate HSR. (Grade separation is another matter.)

    That said, I suspect that SF will not get a tunnel either but the delayed EIR will instead suggest that CalTrain and HSR share track from Bayshore up past 16th Street and the start of the 4th and King yards. Which will completely falsify @synonymouse’s arguments.

    Donk Reply:

    Ken, you think the NIMBYs are pissed now, they will get even more pissed if you start taking away traffic lanes from them (see Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit project in LA). You plan will never work. They don’t even want to give up car lanes to pedestrians or bikes. Unfortunately once a traffic lane is put down it is there to stay. Your plan would be the best way to turn the public against HSR and completely shut it down.

    Eric Fredericks Reply:

    Hi Ken,

    I would recommend driving down I-5 or SR-99 and ask yourself… if I was driving this car 220mph would I be able to handle this curve? Or would a train be able to rise up or down at 220mph without serious implications? I have been down those routes many times and you’ll be surprised just how many little curves and grade changes there are. It won’t take you long to see it too.

    The sections of roads that are really straight will be used in some cases–mostly where they parallel the railroads. You’re right in that many of the roads near Los Banos are very straight, and will likely be used, but unfortunately SR 156 is not straight.

    In some urban areas, even though you could probably run HSR at slower speeds over freeways, the ROW is very constrained.

    Donk Reply:

    Ken if you do decide to drive 220 mph on SR-99, take Wendell Cox with you for a tour.

  10. Mark
    Jan 31st, 2011 at 10:26

    The concern I have is that the first segment in the valley is going to end up costing much more than everyone expects and this will end up putting the rest of the project at risk. These potential significant overruns, if they start to show up in the first leg, will give the opponets of HSR that much more ammo. Considering the fiscal nightmare that is is just starting at the local, state and federal levels of government, I fear this could kill the whole project. Let’s hope this isn’t the case….

    BruceMcF Reply:

    It will if feature creep is allowed and if the project is not tightly managed.

    Indeed, many of the studies cited included increase project costs because of changes to plans that added elements not originally in the planning. Attributing those increased costs to overoptimism seems to be lazy thinking ~ an accurate costing ought to be over-run if you then add new elements to the design. However, the piece had a story to tell, and noting that its story had nothing to do with a large number of the “cost overruns” it was referring to would have undermined its effectiveness as a story.

    Donk Reply:

    Well this is exactly why it is great that they are starting in the CV.

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