Central Valley Republicans Want to Take HSR Money to Widen Freeways

Feb 20th, 2011 | Posted by

Of all the bad ideas I’ve heard, this is one of the worst:

A new threat to California’s bullet train plans surfaced Thursday as lawmakers including Congressman Kevin McCarthy introduced legislation that seeks to take away more than $2 billion in federal stimulus money set aside for the project and spend it making repairs to Highway 99….

A press release posted on the website of Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, announcing the legislation said that redirecting the stimulus money to establish a six-lane freeway from Bakersfield to Sacramento would improve the corridor’s safety and enhance the region’s air quality.

Guess what does a better job of enhancing the region’s air quality? Electric trains. Guess what does a better job of improving corridor safety? Getting more people onto ultra-safe trains and off of the roads. From the standpoint of managing traffic flow, it makes sense to have passenger trips use the bullet train to get from place to place on the Highway 99 corridor, and leave the freeway to the freight trucks. Obviously, that runs counter to McCarthy and Devin Nunes’ ideological demand that everyone use their cars.

This would be a huge backward step for California. Freeway widening is obsolete. The great shift away from driving and rising oil prices mean that in the coming years, passenger rail capacity is FAR more important to the state than freeway capacity. Ridership on the Amtrak California San Joaquin line keeps rising by leaps and bounds – up 5% in December 2010 over December 2009 – and there is clearly demand in the Valley for more passenger rail service.

Besides, the money would be a drop in the bucket toward actually doing anything meaningful on Highway 99. The article linked above pegged the cost of widening the 99 freeway at $16.5 billion. That’s far more expensive than the cost of the Central Valley portion of the HSR line (at least between the passes). And taking $2 billion from HSR and giving it to a freeway project would do little to actually achieve the overall goals on the 99 corridor.

Further, it would give barely any economic stimulus to parts of the Valley that need it – much less than HSR would – such as Kern County:

The only work that would have to be accomplished in Kern, [Ron Brummet of the Kern County Council of Governments] said, is an interchange at Hosking Avenue south of Bakersfield and widening the 99 between about Olive Drive and 7th Standard Road.

He said those two projects would benefit Kern by about $50 to $60 million.

“To Kern County, the benefit of converting that (stimulus) money from high-speed rail to 99 … doesn’t do much for us,” he said.

He also noted that the other infrastructure projects required to make the 99 an interstate do not appear to be far enough along to meet the 2012 deadline.

To her credit, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin said that she wants the HSR line to be built, that it is a key priority for her. So while Devin Nunes wants to build local support for this lunatic proposal, it is clear that local governments are not really interested in following him over the cliff. Nunes may believe that it’s OK to destroy jobs in his district to suit his ideological fantasies, but local government knows better.

This proposal does not make any financial sense. It does not make any practical sense. It ought to be laughed out of the room as a ridiculous waste of everyone’s time. But it has to be taken seriously since Central Valley Republicans believe that their extreme ideology, one that believes we should all be forced to drive and be denied any other alternative, trumps logic and common sense

  1. Elizabeth
    Feb 20th, 2011 at 08:29
    #1

    Robert,

    Upgrading the 99 is not an ideological commitment to roads. The current road is stunningly unsafe. It has crossings that are not grade separated – a death sentence for a 65 mph 4 lane highway in the heart of the Tule fog. It has really short merge lanes and overpasses not high enough for the trucks and farm equipment that are essential to the economic well being of the Valley.

    It will eventually be rebuilt. Maybe not the $25 billion rebuild, but at least the $6 billion rebuild.
    Why isn’t anyone talking about rebuilding it with room with for HSR down the median or the non- UP side?

    The way things are going the Valley will “enjoy” a huge carbon footprint this decade from hSR infrastructure being built to upgrade the 43 and then a huge carbon footprint from the 99 being rebuilt in the next decade.

    Isn’t there any way to combine these projects?

    http://www.greatvalley.org/99/news/2007/0009_ACP%20_06_05_07.html

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Look at the list of projects. The at-grade crossings are mostly north of Merced, so I don’t see how it makes any sense to say that we should be taking money from an HSR corridor that is further south and put it toward 99.

    It’s worth exploring the notion of combining the two projects for the Merced-Sacramento segment, sure. But it is very much an ideological commitment to roads for McCarthy and Nunes to propose taking money from HSR and giving it to tiny, piecemeal projects on a relatively safe section of 99. It flows from a refusal to accept that passenger rail can improve the quality and safety of roads, and from a refusal to accept that passenger rail is essential to the economic well being of the Valley.

    HSTSheldon Reply:

    This would be redundant expenditure Liz. The HSR line would go a long way to addressing some of those very issues like air quality and safety. The Highway might be unsafe but it would be unwise to pump too much into it, maybe grade separate a few of the worst areas but nothing more. It is time for the country to start investing in a non petroleum powered transportation system. Think about it, these roads are built using in most cases bitumen (asphalt), with vehicles running on rubber tires (some of which is synthetic, again made from petrochemical products) and burning petroleum fuel, using internal combustion engines dependent on petroleum sourced lubricating oil from proper functioning. All four aspects increase your exposure to petroleum supply disruption/ price increases unnecessarily.

    Compare that to the HSR or even for crying out loud regular conventional electrified FRA compliant rail (which by the way also desperately needs to be undertaken) that uses electricity. This electricity is generated in Cali by Nukes as much as I don’t like it, increasingly by solar in its various forms like central trough, dish or power tower plants, by rooftop PV, by wind and hydro sometimes imported from the Northwest, from coal (don’t like that one either) and by gas. Which energy source do you think is more resilient to petroleum disruption? Additionally, rail infrastructure invariably last much longer than highway infrastructure and generally takes less upkeep. Let’s get this HSR show on without delay!! The alternatives are worse!!!

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Elizabeth,
    Widening 99 won’t make it any safer. Read up on the Risk Compensation theory developed by John Adams. If merge lanes are lengthened, and grade separations installed, then drivers will just use that as opportunity to drive faster, not safer.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The key budget items in the 99 budget generally (I have not looked at what the newest proposal is) are one part widening but 2 parts about interchanges. In some places there are no interchanges – you just cross, like a country road. In some places there are interchanges with merges that are about 2 feet long. In others the overpasses and bridges don’t acccomodate the vehicles that are an essential part of

    This road is used very differently from other highways – it has incredibly high truck usage – and the degree to which the road is sub-standard has to be experienced on a Tule fog day to be appreciated.

    Anyway, the point is regardless of how you feel about this road – it will be rebuilt eventually. So why not incorporate HSR into the design ?

    Peter Reply:

    Why not incorporate HSR into the design? Because of the timing. HSR needs to be built essentially NOW, or we lose the ARRA funds. The only way that sounds like a great idea if the plan is to delay or kill HSR. Also, I can only how much it would cost to rebuild 99 while at the SAME time building HSR. Would rebuilding 99 and simultaneously integrating HSR into the rebuild be cheaper in the long run? Probably. But we just don’t have the funds to do both right now. Now, if Nunes, Denham, and Co. put forward a bill that WOULD finance all of the above, I think EVERYONE would win. But they’re not, and they just want to divert funds for their pet projects, which should and will be opposed.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Though at this time I do not remember where I saw it printed there was information that the Highway 99 ROW was not available for a shared high speed rail right-of-way

    James Fujita Reply:

    It’s complicated because UP has never wanted to share its ROW (whether for Amtrak or HSR or for anything else). The UP ROW is next to Highway 99, but it is certainly not in the middle of Hwy. 99, which seems to be what Elizabeth is proposing.

    The UP might oppose adding (high-speed or commuter) rail to the highway, but I don’t know if they would have a leg to stand on.

    Of course, the important thing here is the funding, which is not available.

    joe Reply:

    The more complicated the HSR project, the less likely it will be built. Let’s kill it with faux kindness.

    James Fujita Reply:

    Agreed. If they were to use county transportation funds or some other funding source to widen Highway 99, this wouldn’t even be an issue for the Cal HSR Blog.

    The fact that they are trying to DIVERT bullet train funds… that is what’s wrong with this proposal.

    I have to say, I don’t see making improvements to Highway 99 in quite the same light as I see widening the 405. It’s not the same sort of situation in Tulare, Fresno or Merced as it is in Los Angeles.

    Although I do like the idea of adding rail to Highway 99. IF the state had funds for it, you could build HSR as currently planned and leave the Hwy. 99 corridor open for future San Joaquin Valley commuter rail.

    Victor Reply:

    I agree on widening the 99 with State & Local Funds only, If they were available, Federal Funds allocated to HSR should be left alone & unmolested by the twerps in Congress, As the People of California have spoken, Now the Louskateers want to make a Real Boondoggle of old Hwy99, That’s just terrible. Hopefully this won’t come to pass, Heck I may be living in Fresno soon, maybe.

    Winston Reply:

    In terms of safety upgrades, there is only 10 miles of expressway left. The rest has already been upgraded to freeway (which, despite what Drunk Engineer says, is significantly safer than expressway because the expressway section already has all the features that make drivers go fast but not all the features to make collisions less likely).

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Bringing Hwy 99 up to proper Interstate standards (which is what I think Elizabeth is suggesting) has been studied before. Caltrans says that could cost as much as $26 billion. And reserving space for train tracks would cost even more than that.

    Winston Reply:

    I don’t see much of a point in bringing CA-99 up to interstate standards – most interstates in California don’t meet current interstate standards. However eliminating the grade crossings and replacing them with interchanges does make a lot of sense. Making room for HSR in the median doesn’t make any sense. In every urban area it goes through, the ROW for 99 is very tight and has generally been upgraded to more or less modern freeway. Adding HSR would be a Hurclean undertaking. All running HSR down the 99 median would do is to provide worse station access and longer viaducts. While 99 does need upgrades, it doesn’t seem like a good idea to combine these upgrades with HSR.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You need to look at death rates holistically. If one segment is less safe, drivers will drive more cautiously in general, especially but not only over that one segment. That’s why, if you look at what happened after the US started building the Interstates, traffic fatalities per VMT not only didn’t decline unusually, but actually temporarily broke the previous trend for decline and remained the same for a few years. It’s not that there weren’t any 60+ mph turnpikes before; it’s that suddenly there was much more driving, and many more opportunities for crashes.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    In the context presented by these three representatives its ideology.. stealing money set aside for high-speed rail system to upgrade a roadway system which already has funding for its upkeep.. or shall we say the lack of it. If these representatives want this highway upgrade to a six lane roadway they need to get working on a gas tax increase to cover the costs and stop trying to flimflam money set aside specifically for railway systems that this nation needs as much as it needs all the roads regardless of their political ideology.

    Victor Reply:

    Agreed, They have rocks for brains, For trying this. Besides the area already has the I5 Fwy, Why would It need the I99(US99->SR99 to I99?) built, It would be really expensive, It would probably be cheaper to realign the I5 Freeway to be closer to the SR99 than to rebuild the SR99 as cities and towns have largely gotten too close to the SR99 now. And to remove the old I5 corridor that wasn’t moved closer to SR99.

    Victor Reply:

    Ok I just found something buried in the Wiki on the SR99 Hwy/Fwy and Here It is:

    Work to widen Route 99 between Selma and Kingsburg from four to six lanes began on December 21, 2005 and was completed in late 2007. In late 2007 a project began to upgrade an expressway stretch north of Madera to freeway status. From 2010, Route 99 will be widened from four to six lanes from Kingsburg to Goshen. In 2012, this will extend southward from Goshen to Tulare. The long-term goal is to upgrade Route 99 into a six-lane freeway (three in each direction) from Wheeler Ridge to Sacramento.

    So why does California need HSR funds to be diverted to make a Hwy into a Fwy, When It’s largely unneeded?

    James Fujita Reply:

    interstate highway naming convention suggests that it would probably be I-9, as it would be a north-south highway between I-5 and I-15.

    James Fujita Reply:

    assuming, of course, that federal interstate highway funds were involved. like when California highways 11 and 7 suddenly became the 110 and 710 freeways.

    Winston Reply:

    There is no longer a requirement to rename roads to get federal funding. State and locally owned freeways are funded under the same formulas as interstates.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes, there is a way. Combine the upgrade of 99 north of Merced with the second stage of HSR from Merced to Sacramento.

    mike Reply:

    The current road is stunningly unsafe. It has crossings that are not grade separated – a death sentence for a 65 mph 4 lane highway in the heart of the Tule fog.

    What is the comparison between the number of pedestrians and motorists killed at Hwy 99 crossings every year vs. the number of pedestrians and motorists killed on the Caltrain ROW every year? Is it 10 time as many? The same number? Half as many?

    I have no idea, but it seems like a critical number to know before one could even begin to debate the relative merits of upgrading Hwy 99 vs. spending HSR funds on the Peninsula.

    Victor Reply:

    Not quite as much as parts of Hwy58 are, It’s known as the Highway of Death, As good portions of that highway are two lanes and is heavily traveled by semi trucks wanting to avoid the Los Angeles area.

  2. Brandon from San Diego
    Feb 20th, 2011 at 08:39
    #2

    This proposal is DOA.

    HSR is mitigation for the need to expand roadways and airports. California will increase by an additional 20 million people; to almost 60 million by 2050. Expanding roadways and airports will cost 3 times as much as HSR.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    That’s just it. On the merits, looked at logically, this proposal should be DOA. But it’s not, because McCarthy and Nunes have an ideological agenda here – one that says roads are always good and must be expanded, that trains are always bad and must be fought. It is as ridiculous as denying Obama was born in the US, but they say it anyway, because it suits their ideological agenda.

    brandon from San Diego Reply:

    Without looking into the legislative logistics of this proposal, I would think this proposal to shift funds from HSR to roadways is not possible. Legislatively AND ideologically, it is challenged.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Part of the purpose of killing off HSR in states with Republican Senators is to reduce the bipartisan clout of HSR in the Senate.

    However, its a lot easier to kill things in the Senate than to get them through, and I find it implausible that they will be able to get a diversion of funds appropriated for HSR into highways pushed through the Senate.

    Which suggests its proposed as much for posturing purposes as in hopes of getting it through.

    joe Reply:

    The GOP proposal to spend money on roads and not on HSR is a GOP proposal to spend money. The GOP Reps undermine their austerity / deficit excuse. They are spenders who are against improving Fresno’s infrastructure.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    Kinda bi-polar, no?

    YesonHSR Reply:

    They’re fakes ,charlatans and hypocrites… nothing that they like has been cut as a matter fact it was increased.. cut was anything that they feel doesn’t benefit them or their billionaire backers. The old Rockefeller GOP has been fading for years

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That’s the point of trying to kill off HSR. The American economy is full of sectors that are private firms depending on government flows of funds ~ that is one principle leg of the Great Rip Off Economy. The Military Industrial Complex and the Prison Industrial Complex are just two of the more egregious examples.

    The expectation is that if the cheaper HSR capacity is not provided, that will “force” California to spend on the roadworks instead. And for the road building industry, its even better if the process of killing off the HSR system includes more roadworks now.

    The entrenched yellow bellied surplus suckers are not going to give up their position at the government trough without a fight.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    all those concepts are far too complex for them. Remember these are people who want to keep the Guvmint’s mitts outta Medicare.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You are confusing the TexasTea Party dupes and those doing the duping.

    The TexasTea Party followers do not originate these ideas, rather these are ideas that are focus group tested to resonate well with them.

    The oil industry funders of the propaganda from Heritage, Cato and Reason and the likely source of this particular repeated strategy (this has also been a feature in Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida) are perfectly capable of understanding why they are wealthier in the short and medium term if HSR is successfully killed off. They are the yellow bellied surplus suckers I am referring to, not the poor dupes in the TexasTea party who have been suckered into being shock troops for Big Oil.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Funniest things about the propaganda machines that two of them are based out here in the West .Reason in Southern California.. and Cato in Honolulu… brainwashing and duping people in Ohio and Wisconsin that they don’t need rail systems even the small first step that Obama proposed just because it might actually take a tiny bit of the profit from their oil backers..

    Ben Reply:

    Cato is actually located in DC. Ironically, however, Cato wants nothing to do with the free markets it espouses for parking, since it will likely lead to a decrease in driving.

    “Donald Shoup castigates the Cato Institute at 10th and Mass. NW for subsidizing parking for its employees. Shoup argues employer-provided parking is a transportation subsidy that contradicts the free market principles Cato advocates, while just to the east, NPR charges its employees market rate for on-site parking. (Streetsblog)” http://greatergreaterwashington.org/tag/Donald+Shoup/

    The exchange between Donald Shoup and Randal O’Toole is worth reading.

    http://shoup.bol.ucla.edu/ResponseToAntiplanner.pdf

    Emma Reply:

    Why are we even debating this? As far as I know politicians must not use money designated for high speed rail for highways or airports.

  3. Donk
    Feb 20th, 2011 at 08:46
    #3

    I sure am happy I live in CA and not OH, WI, NJ, or FL where these sorts of boneheaded maneuvers have no chance of passing.

    brandon from San Diego Reply:

    Me too. But still, I sometimes wonder if California would be better off as a separate nation apart from the rest of the US.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    If we could just get a little more percentage of our money we send to DC for supporting all the red states we would be fine. With the thinking from these three representatives we have our own red thinkers and most of them don’t live along the coast though there’s not many of them it is enough to elect these three to Congress!!

    synonymouse Reply:

    Just as Northern California would be better off separated from Socal.

    jimsf Reply:

    no it wouldn’t all that would do is reduce the state’s power and position in the country. We have to stick together.

    Victor Reply:

    Indeed, We would less powerful, There is power in numbers, Otherwise We’d hang divided.

    wu ming Reply:

    we’d have more senators and more house members, thus more electoral votes. how is that less clout?

    jimsf Reply:

    no we wouldn’t cuz it would be two separate states. no longer working together and doing the same thing.

    Victor Reply:

    It’s called “Divide and Conquer”, It’s as old as the Roman Empire, Since It’s not going to happen, I’d say drop It.

    Gianny Reply:

    What are the requirements for Secession? Is a majority 2/3 of California population? Does the federal governement have a say? Has the Supreme Court handle any case? They use California as their Piggy Bank!!! Even for fundraising and then they forget!!!

    jim Reply:

    My understanding is the requirement for secession is that the seceding state or group of states negotiate a treaty with the United States which is ratified by (the remainder of) the US Senate. Because of the anomalous position of treaties that would give secession a quasi-constitutional status.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That question was settled in 1865. You can’t do it unilaterally.

    jim Reply:

    So what would you have such a treaty say?

    Alex M. Reply:

    The federal government does not recognize secession. I believe the only way to secede, unfortunately, would be war.

    Spokker Reply:

    Talking about secession makes you look like a weirdo.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    A political secession is constitutionally impossible but some European socio-economists predict what I would call a “soft” secession. They observe that, geographically, California turns its back to the continent and looks towards the Pacific. And just across there is China, future #1 economy.
    California is too mature, culturally and economically, to be absorbed in the Chinese orbit, but a specific culture will emerge that will make it even more different from the rest of the US than it is now.
    Adopting Chinese HSR may be the first visible phase of this evolution.

    wu ming Reply:

    the real question is where to draw the line. nearly everyone i’ve asked, over the years, responds “just south of me.”

    jimsf Reply:

    staying as one and divorcing the us would be the real better option.

    Victor Reply:

    That’s not going to happen.

    Donk Reply:

    You NorCal people are a bunch of snobs. Sorry that we are so uncivilized in SoCal.

    Gianny Reply:

    Im in Socal!!! :)

    bixnix Reply:

    I’d say Norcal folks are more like Martians. Everytime we Socal’ers hear about the latest political news from SF or Berkeley, we just have to shake our heads.

    Peter Reply:

    I think everyone who’s not from Berkeley or SF shakes their heads whenever they hear what they just did…

    wu ming Reply:

    better to get the HSR built first.

    Winston Reply:

    As an independent nation we would no longer have to pay the ~$25 billion/year that we pay to subsidize the folks living in red states.

    Wad Reply:

    Brandon, the political dynamic of California as a sovereign nation would shift from the state vs. the U.S. to divisions within the state.

    If we continue with American-style government institutions, you would see the “red” inland areas of the state behave very much like red states. Then money from the coastal areas would get transferred to high-growth inland areas.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Money from the coastal areas already gets transferred to high-growth inland areas, which are net federal tax recipients.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They are probably suck up great big rivers of state revenue too.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Probably, but Census Quickfacts doesn’t make the numbers available.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    Yes, the comment is in jest. But, the population base of the reds would shift from tens of millions to just a couple million. Fewer mouths to feed, no?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yeah. “Fewer” especially since the anti-immigrant zealots would take over the state and start harassing Mexicans to move to the US. California’s a lot of things, but tolerant ain’t one of them.

    wu ming Reply:

    what? anti-immigrant groups have been losing political clout ever since their highwater mark with prop 187 in 1994. perhaps you were thinking of arizona?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not just… the California secessionists I looked up a couple years back were seriously anti-immigration.

    wu ming Reply:

    they’re also seriously marginal in california.

    Donk Reply:

    One major problem with seceding is that our water rights deals for the Colorado River may no longer be honored. So CO, UT, AZ, and NV might drink up all of the water before it gets to the NV/CA/AZ border area. But I guess they have to leave a little for Mexico, so they can then leave Mexico and CA to fight over the scraps. Then that will lead to a war between CA and Mexico. Then if CA wins the war, CO, UT, AZ, and NV will completely shut off the tap.

    So really we would need to invade AZ, NV, UT, and CO, and install puppet governments in each state. This new iron curtain would then serve as a buffer between CA and the rest of the country. The women in those states would then start taking steroids, turn into men, and win all of the Olympic swimming and diving competitions.

  4. cfhanes
    Feb 20th, 2011 at 10:22
    #4

    What about freight? Hwy. 99 carries a lot of it. Would the HSR system provide that service?

    Or do we need to maintain 99 for that purpose?

    Victor Reply:

    HSR is for Passenger service and to relieve excess wear & tear on the nearby rural Freeways and Highways of California, It’s not for Freight, Light Freight like FedEx, UPS or the USPS could be done as the TGV also does this, But not for Heavy Freight.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Funny you should ask. Why, there’s plenty of freight capacity on the rail lines for Union Pacific and BNSF. Now it’s true, if HSR uses BNSF’s ROW, then some capacity would be eliminated. But it would also free up the 99….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    HSR will not eliminate any freight capacity. In fact the HSRA has gone out of its way not to eliminate even the marginal freight that runs up and down the Peninsula even though doing so would make the grade separations cheaper.

  5. joe
    Feb 20th, 2011 at 10:36
    #5

    I’m very, very disappointed and saddened CARRD isn’t advocating for responsible rail and instead is defending HSR fund be diverted to highways.

    It would make one suspect that CARRD is not dedicated to responsible rail – but opposing it rail and of course not at all flinching that the road project might go over budget, will require maintenance and hasn’t a hope of paying for itself.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    We are not supporting anything. I don’t even know what the details of the bill are (as I tried to say earlier).

    This thread seemed like the appropriate place to ask the question about why no serious attempt (that I have been able to find) has been made to see if these two major north south infrastructure projects can’t be combined in a way that would lower overall costs, carbon footprint and allow a grade level train.

    Peter Reply:

    The 99 corridor WAS the route of choice, just not in the median, until UPRR refused to cooperate AT ALL with the Authority. I think the cost of rebuilding a major freeway over hundreds of miles while integrating HSR into it was well outside the scope of anything that the Authority could manage, and they had no mandate to do so. It’s an issue of organizational structure.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    Plus, it would just be ridiculous! Honestly, HSR can be routed through open land at a fraction of the cost of being in the median of a freeway.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    You’re not paying attention to CHSRA’s contractor-wet-dreams alignments, structures, or costs, are you?

    Support HSR, sure, but not at any price.

    If something is supposed to be the more economical and less environmentally destructive and more efficient alternative, wouldn’t it be a nice step for it to be at least one the the three rather than the same bad crap rammed through by the same evil sleazebags but with a sugar coating of four thin steel choo choo rails laid on the top?

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is still possible to have incremental but significant passenger rail improvements in California. The TRAC-Tolmach proposal shows the way and is sound and affordable.

    Freeway improvements remain deeply popular amongst the populace at large. Especially in rural areas like the San Joaquin Valley. It is fruitless to oppose them unless the freeway crowd are up to some particularly atrocious urban removal or flattening scheme. Politicians favor road projects – that’s just day to day business in California and the USA.

    The arrival of electric cars will complicate matters and undermine the air pollution argument. Public transport will simply have to adjust. Forget about jousting with the automobile and focus on amenable problems like controlling consultant contractor boondoggling and political pandering and keeping mass transit payrolls within reasonable limits.

    Victor Reply:

    Making the 99 into a Freeway with HSR funds is not going to happen synny, As in “You and Whose Army is going to Make US do It?”

    Donk Reply:

    I still haven’t heard from CARRD why they are so obsessed with rail projects and don’t bother with highway or airport projects. Sure HSR is an expensive project, but if you add up all of the highway, bridge, and airport projects they far outcost HSR. The synomouse-esque PB waste in highway and airport projects is even more ridiculous than for rail projects, and neither are expected to (and never will) turn a profit. Why is it CARRD and not CARID (where I = Infrastructure)?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    CARRD was founded in reaction to the plans to build HSR in the Palo Alto area. They’ve spent years now trying to poke holes in the HSR project, make the Authority look bad, and question its basic assumptions. They’re not exactly NIMBYs, but they’re not disinterested observers either.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Robert,

    That is not fair. I would absolutely admit that if the train was not coming through my town, none of the series of events that led me to read the 1000 page (or whatever) environmental document or the business plan would have occured. It was the near riots at early meetings that hooked Nadia on what type of process is productive on planning projects.

    We have tried very hard to constructive feedback to improve the process and the plan.We researched, advocated and did our best to make Context Sensitive Solutions work.

    Any time we go public with something, it usually follow months of trying to work with the CHSRA.

    There are some real and substantial issues with the way this project is being planned. Don’t blame the messenger.

    Victor Reply:

    Oh You don’t like It when someone puts a light on You and exposes the Nimby 5th column…

    Elizabeth Reply:

    That is a very long story.

    We would describe ourselves as accidental activists. We stumbled onto this project and just started filling the vacuums we saw in the process. Between jobs and families, trying to keep up with this project takes up all available bandwidth. It takes an incredible amount of work to make any difference whatsoever.

    In many ways, we completely agree with you about the need for CARID. A lot of the issues we have come across offer insighs into dysfunction that is now widespread in public infrastructure (from schools to trains) in California. We have high costs, low returns on investments and the lack of prioritization and coordination is astounding.

    There are major reforms required and many people (those for and against this specific project) have pleaded with us to set up shop, start fundraising and hiring. This is not the path, however, that any of us want to actually take. For example, I want to work on retirement policy.

    We would strongly support any endeavors out there to do CARID – it is just more than we can bite off.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Highway projects usually involve local contractors. For instance a lot of Northbay highway jobs end up with Ghilotti Bros. in Marin. HSR is going to be big dogs and internationals.

    Wad Reply:

    Big bad evil internationalz! Oh noez!!!1!

    Highway construction is so standardized that small companies can essentially bid on a contract to provide a commodity service.

    Rail, albeit with standard gauge, doesn’t have as broad of a knowledge tree. The expertise base is more limited, and a project of this size and scope is too risky to leave it to “Jim’s Rail Contracting and Chicken Wire Installation” in Manteca.

    Donk Reply:

    Oh ok, that makes sense and thanks for the explanation. But then the only way of looking at this at the end of the day is that CARRD is a just a front for a few dedicated NIMBYs. You have just chosen a more constructive path to express your NIMBYism.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    “Retirement policy”?

    Ms. Alexis you are a financial planner. Don’t get ahead of yourself.

    People pay you for the precise reason that lobbyists pay politicians and politicians funnel money to contractors. Everyone wants the most favorable outcome to them, and they don’t think about the proximate risk to anyone else.

    You spend a lot of time, energy and money baiting breath over this train, this evil train but you can’t even for the life of you see that you and others should be far more worried about other infrastructure concerns in your area. After all, was there a near riot in your neighborhood after that explosion in San Bruno? Are you guys feverishly entreating the Public Utilites Commission to make sure Stone Pine Line doesn’t become a fireball?

    CARRD isn’t full of activists, it’s a handful of women who have become civic-minded. This isn’t about a train, this about the fact that if you want a good life you can’t leave it up to everyone else to make sure your neighborhood is well built, your food is safe, and the air is clean. The train isn’t that big a deal, the real test is whether you’ll get out of bed for anything else or just leave a bigger mess for your children behind.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The ad hominem needs to stop. now.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    It doesn’t surprise me in the least that you would claim what I said was an ad hominem attack. For the record, I want anyone who posts here to understand why I said what I did.

    CARRD is not a political party. It’s not a group of NIMBYs. It is a group of civic-minded women, or at least when you all were interviewed for Governing magazine a while back…that’s the type of photo spread they did. You could have called yourself Concerned Mothers Against Railroad Building. I have no problem with you, your group, your posts, or anything else about you.

    But let’s look at the hard facts. CARRD is never ever going to be completely satisfied with how the train is built. There is always going to be something that slips through the cracks, even if it happens far away from shady Palo Alto. If you subjected every public works project to the same level of scrutiny that HSR will get, I think we’d still have 50,000 people living in California, most of whom would be cattle ranchers.

    Now, if I lived on the Peninsula, I wouldn’t waste my breath hollering about the train. Oh sure, there’s going to be noise, and dirt, and construction, but in the end it will keep my home value high and ensure that my neighborhood stays desirable. I would be worried about things like subdivisions exploding from natural gas leaks, the San Andreas Fault, and the fact that there’s not enough water for everyone in the Golden State.

    I realize you have a day job, a life, a family, and you don’t want to become CARID. But do consider harnessing your activism to something other than train, because there’s plenty to be worried about that doesn’t ride on steel wheels.

    Eric M Reply:

    Very well said

    Spokker Reply:

    “I would be worried about things like subdivisions exploding from natural gas leaks”

    Something called the Utility Reform Network cares about San Bruno: http://www.turn.org/ (The front page says, “NO MORE SAN BRUNOS.” as of 2/20)

    “the San Andreas Fault”

    Are you saying we don’t care enough about earthquakes in this state? Really?

    “and the fact that there’s not enough water for everyone in the Golden State.”

    http://www.californiawater.org/

    http://www.wateraware.org/

    http://www.californiawateralliance.org/

    I would say these issues have their share of advocates. CARRD should continue their crusade against the train in good conscience.

    Spokker Reply:

    By the way, what are you doing advocating for a silly fucking piece of shit train when WE ARE ALL GOING TO RUN OUT OF WATER AHHHHH

    If you really cared about water you’d advocate mass migration away from unsustainable Southern California.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Hey now there, I actually think there should be a state planning law to encourage equal population size between Northern California and Southern California. My point about water was that the biggest threat to the value of a home on the Peninsula is problem the very real possible that it will become really hard to get water there because they are suburbs and don’t have the same claim to water as older cities do because of appropriative rights.

    To go one step further, I actually think HSR should not loop through Riverside but instead follow the coast more or less down to SD. And I a beginning to think UC Riverside should also be closed and have its resources spread among the other campuses.

    Spokker Reply:

    But you could really enact some change in whatever stupid thing you believe in by not spending so much time here.

    And why are you spending so much time on whatever stupid thing you believe in when there are people starving in Africa? You monster.

    No one should believe in anything other than the number 1 most pressing world priority at any given time. To care more about whatever stupid thing you believe in more than genocide in some third world shithole I’ve never heard of or global butt-rot is simply immoral.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    You can play dumb on this, but natural gas lines are infrastructure. And if there was a CARID, I would want to be a watchdog not just on fancy, shiny bullet trains, but all the other infrastructure out there, like gas lines, dams, cable TV pipes… if this is just about transportation then call it CARTD: Californians for Responsible Transport Design.

    Spokker Reply:

    It doesn’t matter how narrowly you define the issue, somebody will always think you should be spending your time on something more important.

    Their organization is not even about transportation, it’s rail. That’s why they are called Californians or Citizens or whatever for Responsible Rail Design.

    I mean, what are you doing spending your time thinking about what CARRD should be focusing on? Aren’t there more important things to worry about?

    Spokker Reply:

    “After all, was there a near riot in your neighborhood after that explosion in San Bruno?”

    That’s not their issue. It would be impractical for every organization that cares about anything to do everything that’s important.

    Our family and others are criticized for giving to animal organizations and not ones that help humans. That’s not our issue and there are plenty of others who give to those causes.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    That’s not the point. My point is, the threat the train poses to homeowners in PA is really neglibble , but it fired people up. The San Bruno explosion, which should have PG&E customers statewide very very nervous (for many reasons, I might add) didn’t seem to have the same reaction even though it’s a huge risk to the very same homeowners. I didn’t mean CARRD had to address it.

    Spokker Reply:

    The San Bruno explosion is being investigated. There are lawsuits and reports coming out of it. It’s being handled.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Well of course it’s being handled. But you don’t have homeowners or other interest groups pounding down doors in fright demanding “action” either. Just reinforces the fact that the human brain is very good reacting decisively to imminent, visible threats no matter how likely they are and poor at ever doing the same for latent, inchoate dangers.

    Spokker Reply:

    I don’t get why all of these people care so much about San Bruno WHEN THERE IS GENOCIDE IN DARFUR. They would be so lucky to have natural gas and not genocide.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    That’s because we don’t have snappy tunes like this anymore to raise awareness:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azVqekQBK8g

    synonymouse Reply:

    The PG&E issue is so big that it would be hopelessly presumptive and futile for any small organization to take it on. PG&E is incredibly powerful; it pretty much writes its own ticket. For a hundred years it has had San Francisco mayors in its pocket. Every attempt at public utility takeover has been quickly and effectively squashed.

    It is scandalous that PG&E gets away with scandalous lies, like it didn’t know the pipe in questionin San Bruno was welded. How stupid do you think we are? It was put in ca. 1956 and there are plenty of people still alive who would have worked on the job. Plus it is known that AO Smith only manufactured welded pipe of that size in 1956. They just ignored the fact that it was wleded and hoped to stay lucky. What do they have to lose – they will just pass on all the costs of compensation, ligitation, remedial construction to the ratepayers. Hopelessly corrupt just like the Palmdale deviation.

    Spokker Reply:

    At-grade is what we want if at-grade is achievable. It lowers the cost of the project and aerials only provide a benefit when they are absolutely needed. High speed rail advocates shouldn’t cheerlead or defend unjustified aerials. The project would be easier for anti-HSR people to swallow if an effort is made to contain costs.

    Spokker Reply:

    Or we could just logroll our asses to trains. Okay, the 99/HSR project it is.

  6. James
    Feb 20th, 2011 at 11:15
    #6

    Nunes is probably not serious about his proposal. He wants to tweak HSR supporters and will probably use this to negotiate for something he really wants, like more water for Valley farmers.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    It’s all just a publicity stunt for the Republican party in California.. he represents a very small amount of people with his district yet he wants to ruin high-speed rail for the vast amount of people in California.. Why is this meeting with the House appropriations Chairman being heard in this area?.. Because of these three that’s why… otherwise it should have been in the Bay Area and Los Angeles were a vast amount of people live. If Oberstar was still chairman it would be

  7. datacruncher
    Feb 20th, 2011 at 13:28
    #7

    Diverting HSR funds would be a mistake.

    But there is no doubt in my mind that widening and repairing 99 should be a priority of all government levels including State and Federal. Although little of 99 is left with traffic crossings, much of it is 4 lanes with high traffic volumes.

    The number of vehicles that use 99 is already much higher than the vehicles on I-5, even along the 4 lane sections of both highways.
    2009 average daily traffic counts per CalTrans:
    I-5 at the highway 198 interchange (Coalinga area) = 33,000
    99 at the highway 198 interchange = 52,000 (that is about 10-15 miles east of the Hanford/Visalia station site)

    Semi-trucks are 20% to 30% of the traffic on 99, compared to about a 10% average on all California freeways. That is intra- and inter-state freight that will continue to mix with passenger vehicles. In Tulare County Highway 99 is 4 lanes with over 27% of the traffic being semi-trucks.

    In 2005’s SAFETEA-LU, Congress designated 99 as a High Priority Corridor on the National Highway System. Highway 99 is also designated as the only future Interstate west of the Rockies.
    http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/nhs/hipricorridors/hbcfilg.htm

    We should fight the diversion of HSR funds, but we should also encourage all levels of government agencies to invest in the Central Valley’s total transportation infrastructure including rail, transit, roads, and yes freeways. Let the opponents be the ones trying to make it either/or choices.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    The Central Valley is out of compliance with Federal clean air law, with the majority of pollution coming from ‘mobile sources’ (i.e. trucks and cars). Building more highway capacity will just compound the problem.

    Winston Reply:

    Much of the Central Valley’s smog problem comes from ag equipment which is essentially unregulated.

    Peter Reply:

    It’s heavily regulated, but regulating it any more than is done right now would put the farmers out of business.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Yes, some is due to ag equipment, but the main culprit is cars and long-haul trucks. The Air District believes cutting VMT is the best option for cutting smog, and even considered a VLF surcharge imposed on drivers to pay for Federal penalties.

    Winston Reply:

    About 1/3 of VOC emissions and 20% of the NOX comes from agriculture. Diesel trucks account for nearly half of the NOX. Perhaps it would be a good idea to impose tolls on I5 and CA 99 to reduce smog.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    52,000 on a 4-laner is not a capacity problem – sorry. The 4-lane Holland Tunnel averages 92,000, and has a dominant peak direction, since one side is clearly the CBD and one is clearly the bedroom community.

    And if it is a capacity problem, the solution that’s more conducive to humans than to cars is to put congestion fees on the highway, at least until electric cars become widespread, circa 2100.

  8. AndyDuncan
    Feb 20th, 2011 at 21:55
    #8

    I think it’s great that someone is trying to siphon off HSR funds, they’ll never be able to do it, and it might help start a real conversation with people who aren’t Rail Foamers about why we should be building rail instead of roads.

    Let’s compare them on their merits. I’d love to take a look at the business plan for the grade separations along 99. And a report on expected farebox recovery for those extra lanes is certain to be a fascinating read. I’d also love to see Clem put together a noise impact spreadsheet so we can figure out just how much noise the new lanes of traffic will add to the existing din. Of course expanding ROWs is fraught with problems, perhaps we can look to the peninsula to see how valuable a few feet of real estate truly is – as with the people in Atherton who purchased homes near a railroad, I’m sure the people who purchased homes next to the 99 will be similarly flabbergasted by the notion that the corridor might be improved.

    By all means, promote this jackass, let’s have this discussion, it will *help* the project.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The day road projects have to justify themselves on cost-benefit metrics will be the last day anyone ever builds or widens a road in America. That’s why engineers invent overdesigned standards and lie to themselves that cars will be safe if only they build more freeways and equip cars with gadgets like airbags and ABS brakes. It’s not like they live in communities that have unbreathable air, or could be completely inundated within 30 years; why should they care about people who do?

  9. Winston
    Feb 20th, 2011 at 22:04
    #9

    I’ve noticed that the anti-hsr folks are putting out messages that there is a conspiracy to prevent them from attending this meeting:

    House Transportation and Infrastructure Bill Listening Session
    Featuring House of Representative Members:
    John Mica, R-Florida (Transportation Committee Chairman)
    Jeff Denham, R-California
    Bill Shuster, R-Pennsylvania
    9AM Tuesday February 22, 2011
    UC Merced Fresno Center, 550 E. Shaw Ave., Fresno
    Call (559) 449-2490 to attend.

    So expect a large tea bagger turnout since they always respond well to the “They don’t want us to be here” kind of appeal.

    Nadia Reply:

    From the SAC BEE article:

    E-mails, some written by Van Ark, last week outlined plans to pack a congressional hearing in Fresno this week with supporters, including contractors. The hearing — unrelated to high-speed rail — is being conducted by House Transportation Committee chairman John Mica, R-Fla.

    One Van Ark e-mail stated that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Vice President Joe Biden had urged him to “ensure that the John Mica hearings in California are well-attended,” while another told a public relations operative, “trust you are also helping to ensure that the industry and labor are out in full force to flood any negative contributors.”

    An underling told Van Ark that “our goal is to turnout 300-400 people.”

    Read more: http://www.fresnobee.com/2011/02/20/2280239/lack-of-a-plan-has-state-on-verge.html#ixzz1Ebn6Ahli

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If you are concerned about things like context sensitive solutions isn’t it a good thing to have people show up at hearings?

    YesonHSR Reply:

    GOOD I wish I could go…this was a stunt set up to bash the HSR plan…not talk about improving it.outside of Mica these 3 Republican Reps from the Valley showed what there up to with the title of this very thread…I hope a thousand HSR backers show up !

    Nadia Reply:

    Public participation is great. But labeling anyone who voices concerns, whether they are legitimate or not, as nay-sayers, NIMBYs or “negative contributors” is not OK.

    And using public dollars to pay consultants to then show up and “drown” them out isn’t appropriate either.

    Instead, bring them into the fold, address their concerns and work on a solution – don’t ignore them to the detriment of the overall project. That is the pattern that is emerging. It is like the “rotten apples” comment that Diridon made a while back – it does not help…..

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The meeting hasn’t happened yet so no one knows who will show up or what will go on at it.
    I’m sure you are doing inadvertently but I’m going to suggest again that you look up “concern troll” on Wikipedia and avoid their techniques.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Perhaps you (adirondacker) should read the definition more carefully.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I have, she and Elizabeth fairly frequently set their hair on fire and then disappear.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Public participation goes both ways.. notice when the union supporters showed up at Palo Alto meeting there were certainly labels to go around… union thugs ,paid political supporters.. etc. etc. I could give a damn if the union working guys show and state they want high-speed rail project in the Valley. And they have a right just as I would if I could go there and neither of us are being paid by the high-speed rail Authority and I bet the news media types like Walters will have same kind of labels plastered on people again and more of his attack writing when reporting on this project.. how balance is that?

  10. JJJ
    Feb 20th, 2011 at 22:19
    #10

    What’s really troubling is that Nunes ran unopposed in the 2010 election. I wrote in “ANYBODY ELSE” but according to the election result website, he got 100% of the vote. The tragedy about this is that the stuff he says makes it sound like he believe he has 100% support from his district.

    The guy is a joke, and at this point I feel like throwing my name on the ballot so that people have a clear way to vote “someone else”.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Noon from the Democrate party ran against him?? it not THAT “red” even in the valley

    JJJ Reply:

    Nobody. Not a soul. And yes, his district leans right, and he probably would have won, but he needs t see that 45% of the voters stand against him.

    PeakVT Reply:

    The DCCC sucks. It spent $1M on defending Bobby Bright, who had a Progressive Punch score of 19. Nineteen! That said, the 21st has a PVI of +13, which is solid red. Any D who runs there has to be willing to do it for the greater good, because the only chance of a switch is if the R gets caught in a scandal.

    wu ming Reply:

    his new district will likely be a lot more narrowly divided.

  11. political_incorrectness
    Feb 20th, 2011 at 23:32
    #11

    Just seeing the headline made me want to puke. This is a bunch of crap and if it is not DOA, we better make sure it is stuck in with the nuclear waste before it rears its ugly head.

  12. Ben
    Feb 21st, 2011 at 06:45
    #12

    Dan Walters has another very critical editorial in today’s Sac Bee about HSR.

    High-speed train money still cloudy
    http://www.sacbee.com/2011/02/21/3417828/high-speed-train-money-still-cloudy.html#mi_rss=State%20Politics

  13. Brian
    Feb 21st, 2011 at 07:14
    #13

    O/T But the latest on the circus that is Florida! It appears Rick Scott will now consider alternative plans to remove the state from all responsibility. This is good news in that he is not totally rejecting it. Either he is a genius or a complete jackass and incompetent – maybe this was his plan from the beginning to force the issue of who is responsible for any cost overruns. But there is too much bi-partisan support here in FL for the powers that be to allow Scott to do what he did last week. Developers pretty much run FL and they want HSR. I think Scott has pissed off enough of the wrong people (the ones with $$$). This will make for an interesting week here in Florida without a doubt!

    http://www.tampabay.com/news/localgovernment/article1152838.ece

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Or else he did not realize that Disney was serious when they said they wanted it. Being covered as a bad and incompetent governor on one of the three free to air networks, carried on every basic cable system, is not the inside track to re-election.

    Victor Reply:

    If anyone can make Scott Dread His decision, Disney can, Disney is far richer than Scott or His backers I’d think, As Disney could make Scott a One Term Governor.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Well he is back at not wanting it again… just read it in the Orlando Sentinel that after meeting with Sen. Nelson and talking to his “advisers”which one of them is none other than the Reason Foundation..you can guess what the outcome would be… his chain has been pulled and he has instructions.. I mean really it’s almost 100% paid risk-free and he still does not accept going along with the project how ideologically blinded is that??.. Once again no matter what the contract guarantees are he will rejected say if its federal taxpayers money then it needs to be returned no matter .. guess we will all know Friday.

    Spokker Reply:

    But why should the state be absolved of any risk anyway? I mean, it’s going to benefit the state. The state should contribute too.

    I mean, that’s great if they can find someone to cover their share, but Christ, they want to go deep into debt to widen highways but, sorry, HSR has no external benefits to society so no state tax dollars may be used for it!

    YesonHSR Reply:

    They do have to pay some of the share of the 2010 funding they received.. that’s what that 280 million is and that’s what he is saying they won’t pay. Nevermind that they are writing into the proposals that the state will not have to pick that up after all, private funding will .He still will not sign for HSR.. its pure ideology… though he’s more than willing to take that taxpayers money for free ways so it will be interesting to see how he puts his spin on that.. and why for some reason only high-speed rail funds should be returned to the federal goverment

  14. morris brown
    Feb 21st, 2011 at 07:43
    #14

    Reading from the Dan Walter’s article,

    http://www.sacbee.com/2011/02/21/3417828/high-speed-train-money-still-cloudy.html#mi_rss=State%20Politics

    which indeed is rightly critical he writes:

    —————-

    E-mails, some written by van Ark, last week outlined plans to pack a congressional hearing in Fresno this week with supporters, including contractors. The hearing – unrelated to high-speed rail – is being conducted by House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Florida.

    One van Ark e-mail said that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Vice President Joe Biden had urged him to “ensure that the John Mica hearings in California are well-attended,” while another told a public relations operative, “trust you are also helping to ensure that the industry and labor are out in full force to flood any negative contributors.”

    An underling told van Ark that “our goal is to turnout 300-400 people.”

    Jeffrey Barker, van Ark’s deputy, says it’s “absolutely appropriate” to organize to show California support for high-speed rail.

    Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/02/21/3417828/high-speed-train-money-still-cloudy.html#ixzz1Ebk7Vlva

    ———–

    What you have here is a truly deceitful performance on the part of vanArK and the Authority. vanArk not only wanted a big turn out of supporters, he wanted the opposition to not show up. To this end, the Authority when contacted about the meeting kept putting out, “this is not a meeting about HSR”, but “rather a meeting on other transportation issues”. Basically a bold faced lies, which are now documented in various emails.

    Even in dealing with his board, vanArk is less than candid about what is going on at the legislative meetings. Take a look at:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B89sCG6g0uQ (1 min: 21 sec)

    Tony D. Reply:

    Would someone please tell Morris that Prop. 1A passed in 08 and a vast majority of California citizens STILL support HSR. Why does it matter if the “opposition” shows up or not to this event!? This thing is going to be built no matter how much you and the “opposition” scream and cry. Besides, it’s not up to van Ark to send out invitations to the “opposition,” just like I don’t expect to get emails from the Tea Party for their functions and rallies. By the way Morris, it’s obvious YOU KNOW about the hearings in Fresno this week…WHY DON’T YOU GO!?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Can you not say “Vast majority” when 1A passed 52-48? Please?

    Tony D. Reply:

    Alon, read my post again: “..VAST MAJORITY of California citizens STILL support HSR,” not vast majority voted yes for Prop. 1A (I believe latest polling put support over 60%), but whatever! The GOP always talk about “the American people have spoken” when referring to elections of Nov. 2010; we could do the same here every now and then ;o)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s stupid and obnoxious when they do it, too.

    Wad Reply:

    I’m not too comfortable with only a 2% margin from an even half.

    The antis are more motivated to take 2% and more than the pros are willing to keep the 2%.

    The antis want to repeal HSR, want to put it up for a vote, and feel they have a confident chance of winning. Do you want it put up to vote every election until California can get something running?

    Polls don’t matter. Election results do.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    During the suumer of 08 it was polling at least 59-60 for…the Wall Street meltdown knocked a good 5 to 7 points off the pasage rate..not that people did not want HSR they were too worried about the money crisis

    Tony D. Reply:

    “Jeffrey Barker, van Ark’s deputy, says it’s ‘absolutely appropriate” to organize to show California support for high-speed rail.” Pure Gospel!

    Victor Reply:

    Mostly put up by You? I nominate You to go and show Your pathetic opposition, If You have any guts to put Your face in view of maybe some cameras, Unless Yer Chicken of course? Buc, buc, ba… I’d go, But I’m short of cash to drive around 500 miles to go to Fresno and back, Plus I’ve never driven more than 300 miles in a day and I’m a disabled person.

    Clem Reply:

    Big whoop. Packing a hearing is politics 101. What’s more interesting is that van Ark has a direct line to Biden and LaHood. He clearly knows the game he’s playing, and blaming him for that is ridiculous.

    morris brown Reply:

    I have few problems with the Authority trying to get out support.

    What are huge problems and deceit is the Authority telling when queried that the meeting was not about HSR; no indeed don’t come because you will wasting your time, yet here they are knowing otherwise and beating the drums to bring out the crows.

    What about vanArk reporting to his board, that he has met with the legislature and everything is “just fine”, but he just got a thorough “going over” by these committees. These committees certainly don’t think everything is “just fine”.

    As for his having a pipeline to Mica and Biden and probably Obama, that is pretty obvious; Boxer and Feinstein both writing to gather up more funds.

    Anyway right now these funds have been voted down by the House appropriation committee. The final result won’t be know until the Senate and Obama agree or not.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The meeting is about transportation. HSR is transportation. If they didn’t announce that the meeting was about transportation you would be moaning that it was about transportation and they didn’t announce it that way. And by the way, high speed rail is transportation.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Yes.. is it not convenient somehow certain types forget high-speed rail transportation… i.e. Walters and his constant negative spin on high-speed rail.. surely he will be more happy if 100 showed up stated they don’t want high-speed rail and then he will give some great write up about what heroes they are followed by labeling all the high-speed rail supporters as paid thugs…. watch what this SOB will write up after their year

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Scratch “after their year “!!!

    Victor Reply:

    Yer full of BS mb.

  15. adirondacker12800
    Feb 21st, 2011 at 07:59
    #15

    HSR is transportation.

    synonymouse Reply:

    If there is such a solid mandate for the CHSRA scheme why are youse guys so opposed to a re-vote on Prop 1A? If it were reaffirmed you would home free – stilts as far as the eye can see.

    Packing congressional hearings with consultant-contractor-supplier-labor operatives seems quite similar to public unions stampeding and intimidating the Wisconsin state government. Quasi-effective but with a serious downside in that the public resents obvious power plays. Master puppeteers, like PB, Kopp, LA influence peddlers, prefer to operate in smokey backrooms.

    Eric M Reply:

    Because there is no need for a re-vote. The people already voted and the proposition was approved. Just because the vote didn’t turn out to your liking, doesn’t mean there has to be another vote. It passed, so get over it!!

    synonymouse Reply:

    No way – we were conned. As the economy worsens, with profitable companies continuing to layoff, the State is in no position to come up with operating subsidies for Stilt-A-Rail. An ever poorer populace will be hard pressed to come up with the money for a bus ticket to LA, let alone gold-plated hsr.

    Victor Reply:

    No one objected to the Elevated Busways over the I110 Harbor Freeway, So the Elevated HSR won’t be any worse, Except for the SNOBS, Like You and a few others who couldn’t stop If You tried, But then You just don’t have what It takes to do that.

    Peter Reply:

    You’re saying we’ll still be in economic doldrums in 10 years?

    synonymouse Reply:

    I believe we may very well entering into a depression as we speak.

    This morning my daughter was called in for a meeting and found out she was being laid off. A few weeks ago one of the extended family was in the miiddle mangagement Lowe’s 1900 to go. Point is that profitable companies are laying off not hiring. Seasonal minimal hours on call stuff like Home Depot give very little boost to the employment picture.

    What the teabaggers have on their side is the public’s gnawing feeling that neo-Keynesianism is not just ineffectual but is running unknown, unpredictable risks. Something along the lines of the so-called “nihilist” economic theory. The economy is too complex to permit the luxury of realiable prognostication. Spending is way outpacing revenue, without even looking at entitlements. As the worth of the average American declines the issue of debt service at all levels of government, will become clearer and clearer, as it is in third world nations that owe a lot of money to foreigners. Couple that to a suddenly menacing geopolitical landscape, with the potential of exploding military commitments and expenditure, you are talking about fiscal liabilities that approach WWII levels, but with the difference of no victory or end in sight.

    Talking about taxing the rich is just that. Hypocrites like Bill Gates or George Soros can blow “tax me more” out their tuckus because they know it is simply not going to happen. They are protected by 99% of their billionaire homies who consider government expenditures wasteful and avoid taxation better than Leona Helmsly.

    In order to extract income from the super-rich and the multinationals you will need a ruthless enforcement apparatus. In other words dictatorial, with all the inevitable issues of draconian excess and corruption.

    Against that prospect the majority will opt for budget cutting as the most prudent course of acton against the unforseeable future. So the tea party has the momentum in the interim. But obvious, incremental projects like closing the Bakersfield-Sylmar gap are still possible, even in a climate of strict austerity.

    Spokker Reply:

    Life as we know it today may be the new normal.

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    Just like with any other vote syn, someone is going to freakin say it is rigged as per usual. Gold-plated? How can rails be on stilts yet be gold-plated? If the demand decreases and the supply increases for the number of seats on an intercity bus, then the price will adjust appropriately for what market value is. They will still go up if gas prices go up anyways!

    synonymouse Reply:

    Not true. In poor 3rd world countries the price of everything is way higher for the average resident. In other words a chicken in Laos, for instance, is much more expensive for the typical person in the street than it would be for the average American in the supermarket.

    Costs of everything will march in tandem with fuel prices, except incomes. Most everyone
    becomes poorer and won’t be spending non-existent discretional income on jaunts on Stilt-A-Rail, which will look, smell and sound like BART by that time due to barebones maintenance occasioned by dwindling subsidies.

    wu ming Reply:

    says the guy who loves to flog maglev.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Well there’s something that would actually work better were it gold-plated.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I didn’t start the movement to gold-plating – that’s PB-Bechtel-Balfour-Beatty and dba’s baby.

    I advocate the TRAC proposal, but if you insist on building a support infrastructure worthy of a monorail go for maglev. You will find support on the right for something truly revolutionary, especially if the corporate interests involved are willing to put up the funds for a demo. Disneyland would appear to be the place for it.

    Emma Reply:

    But the state has billions to widen highways? Oh, please…

    Dan S. Reply:

    We were conned when GW Bush ran as a compassionate conservative. Americans in fact have to vote on things that they can’t completely understand at the time a lot. It’s kindof a basic part of our democracy. No one has a crystal ball and can see all the future effects of what they’re voting on. But it’s not productive to call for a re-vote where none is warranted legally. At the time of the Prop 1A vote, Californians were in the midst of the highest gas prices in history, and no end was in sight. Perhaps they were duped into not imagining the great recession that was just around the corner and would instantly cut transportation and fuel prices.

    So yes, circumstances have changed, and I’m sure that support for the project has shifted as well. This project is going to naturally evoke strong resistance from the communities through which it passes, and it will also gain and lose support as gas prices fluctuate. But that vote is over and we’re living with it. Don’t worry though syn, there are plenty other vectors for you to attack the project from.

    BTW Keynesian economics has not been disproved in this economic cycle — it has not been attempted. True, massive government spending did get us out of the Great Depression, but our current political climate is not interested in trying it now. Even when the stimulus program created 2 million jobs it is attacked as a failure. So it goes.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I want a revote on Christie, Scott, and Walker.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Sounds good to me. Looks like they would win easily again.

    Some one like them will be on the GOP ticket next year so you’ll get kinda your revote.

    Peter Reply:

    Scott won by less than 100k votes. I doubt he’d win again, especially not now that anyone who’s not a teabagger knows that he’s not interested in generating jobs after all.

    JJJ Reply:

    According to polls this weekend, 70% of Wisconsinites are against his union plans.

    Lets have that revote.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Because they haven’t thought it through as yet, but they will as the union-patronage machine agenda will continue to militate against deficit reduction. So the same imbalance will be back next year and that 70% will once again have to figure out how to cope with it in an ongoing way. It will finally dawn that they have a structural problem: the politicians award big bennies to labor, which in turn thru dues makes big campaign contributions to these same politicos. Everybody’s happy, except the beleaguered taxpayers. If the downturn indeed persists it will be transparent to most all in a few years.

    FDR in 1937 ruled out collective bargaining for government employees because of the danger of imbalance with private employer compensaton.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The danger has materialized. Apples to apples, the private sector pays way better than the public sector. Prosecutors, professors, and tax collectors are comfortable; corporate lawyers, financial analysts, and corporate tax accountants are wealthy.

    Wad Reply:

    Patronage? Really? Wisconsin doesn’t have civil service?

    Spokker Reply:

    How much do those employees make anyway?

    jimsf Reply:

    Stable union jobs,, both public and private, actually bring some stability to local economies. Those employees who have pre negotiated contracts/wages/benefits can weather a recession and continue to pay mortgages, shop, not become an unemployment burden, and generally continue to help stoke the local economy when the non union private free agent types are out of work. its important to remember that one, the money isnt just handed to these people, they are actually working for it. The need for local and state services and the people to do that work, increases in a recession. Infrastructure projects which can be used to create jobs employ people making good wages, plumbers, carpenters, equipment operators etc, pump their wages directly back into the local economy. Further, I find it very sad that, when times are good and booming like there were during the clinton and housing bubble years and there were zillions of folks running around making obscene amounts of money for doingeht most ridiculous crap ( website content? really? you mean quality of crap I could have written in the first grade?) while those folks were benefiting immensely, those of us with contracts were falling WAY behind because our shit wasn’t going up like that but the costs of housing etc were catering directly to the boom beneficiaries. So then, when the shit hits the fan, we find out that they were very irresponsible, didn’t set aside any money, invested foolishly, bought homes they didn’t need and couldn’t afford, and failed to take any responsibility for their employment future by getting a contract etc, they all get pissy, cuz we still have our 90s wages which suddenly look a lot nicer then they did when the fancy pants were looking down their cash stuffed noses at the likes of us. SO I have little sympathy for them, now that they played the game on their own terms and lost, just like wall street and the banks lost, and then they get mad and wanna take from us because if they cant have it, then they wanna make sure no one else can have it. (insert choice expletive here [ ]

    jimsf Reply:

    of course there are abuses , but they are the exception not the rule, and generally, the abuses are more egregious in the higher middle and upper management pay scales, not the rank an file. The rank and file gets, a living wage, a pension, which they pay into ( there are exceptions and I think everyone should pay) and they pay quite a chunk of the weekly check, and usually decent health insurance, which contributes to a more stable society and workforce. All americans should have those things, instead, there is a push to take those things away from the americans who have them. Resulting in what? A nation of working poor, with no health care, unhealthy families, homeownership out of reach, consumers who can’t afford to consume? It makes no sense.

    It makes even less sense when people talk about what we can and can’t afford to do as a nation, and then you take a look at our priorities and find out there is quite a bit we can afford, if we wanted too. If we weren’t too busy doing things we shouldn’t be doing.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But but if we raise taxes even just a little bit on rich people they would cash in their stocks and bonds and stuff the money into their mattresses.

    jimsf Reply:

    yes and they will stop buying yachts and the US yacht industry will collapse and lord knows that employs scores of people. Rich people don’t even buy stuff in america, they can shop the world for the best price, and pick up a little something while they are making their offshore deposits. Why the average working stiff in america puts up with this decade after decade is beyond me. It seems like a nation of low self esteem or something.

    Dan S. Reply:

    Hah, yes, whenever we even think about raising taxes on the rich they whine like we’re leading them to the torture chamber. Yeah, I get it, the fix is in and they don’t want to give it up. But why do working folks put up with it? Where do the red-state middle-class-and-falling masses supporting the ultra-rich and their political machinery come from? I think the rich are good at exploiting America’s traditional independent nature and using it to camouflage their collection of our national wealth. Good for them.

    Dan S. Reply:

    That’s a good perspective, one I haven’t heard articulated before. I think it’s a very good point.

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    Amen to that, it is interesting how they say they will save money, yet they are just throwing it into their interests. It is the professional rhetoric circle over in the craplands of politics.

  16. Hank
    Feb 21st, 2011 at 09:57
    #16

    There is a lot of push back in Metro Bakersfield against HSR because the proposed routes goes through either a hospital or a high school. To a certain extent McCarthy is playing to the save our our school crowd. The current proposal are way too sensitive to local politics. There is way too much appeasing going on to make this this workable.

    Hank Reply:

    I want to add also that many of Nunes and McCarthy’s contributors are upset about the proposed routes dividing and devaluing their cropland in the rural areas of Kern & Tulare County.

  17. Caelestor
    Feb 21st, 2011 at 15:44
    #17

    Off-topic, but I was wondering what are your opinions on the current protests in the Arab world? Oil prices are going up…

    Victor Reply:

    While I like seeing the likes of Qaddafi being kicked out of power, I don’t like the price of gas going up on My fixed income, And in this political Climate, the possibility of a COLA is still possible, If the COLA isn’t messed with any and I could sure use It to offset an increase in My rent.

    Dan S. Reply:

    Yeah, not so off-topic with the effect it could have on gas prices! I’ve said so before, but I always get some level of happiness from events that result in gas prices increasing in America. In our country, we lack the strength to put a fair price on this commodity, so instead we leave it artificially low. (In other words, we subsidize it.) As a result, we get a country totally addicted to oil and unable to kick the habit without help. The help will be rising oil prices, which will happen, one way or another. Even though it’s obvious, America will not do anything about it. However, when oil prices do rise on their own, and America doesn’t have anyone at home to point an angry finger at, then we can actually adapt way better than any of us realizes. So during the bubble, oil prices jump, and presto, you get a Caltrain system totally maxed out and Priuses flying off the showroom floors and BART to San Jose and a damn HSR system gets 10 billion bucks. So I see only good things happening to America as the price of oil rises. I hope it rises a lot, frankly.

    (Yes, I know it results in pain to many folks, especially those living at the margins. Usually my left-wing tears get jerked towards ameliorating government services. But in this case, I think it’s best for this country that we take our medicine now and actually change our lifestyles as necessary to support more expensive fuel costs.)

    Spokker Reply:

    But rising fuel prices affect those agencies that use diesel fuel right? Caltrain could be totally maxed out, but you’ll still have to find the subsidy to pay for the increased cost of fuel. In 2007 gas prices sent people to transit. In 2011, people may show up to find that the transit isn’t there anymore due to falling tax revenue and higher fuel prices.

    Andy M. Reply:

    Sure, but everything is relative. Caltrain uses less fuel per passenger mile than an automobile. So even if Caltrain will have to raise its prices at some point to cover that, it will not be by as much as the hike in gas prices that will be happening at the same time so in relation to driving Caltrain will be getting cheaper.

    Meanwhile the economics in favour of electrification will be getting more and more attractive.

    Dan S. Reply:

    Gas prices are up in California by 10 cents per gallon this week.

  18. morris brown
    Feb 21st, 2011 at 17:32
    #18

    Well now we indeed know. The following from Fiona MA — it is now nothing but a big rally for HSR.

    ————
    Dear xxxxx,

    Last week, Florida’s new Republican governor, Rick Scott, joined Ohio Governor John Kasich and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in rejecting federal high-speed rail (HSR) funds — an additional $2.4 billion to add to the $1.2 billion already rejected by Kasich and Walker. Immediately, Governor Jerry Brown, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and a bipartisan group of government officials from across California launched an effort to bring the additional funds here to drive our well-developed project even further down the track. But we’re facing stiff competition. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer of New York also launched their own campaign to bring that money to the northeastern corridor. And House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair John Mica has expressed skepticism for high-speed rail outside of the northeast, so we need a groundswell of support here in California to show them that our plan, and our system, is a worthy investment of federal funding. Thankfully, we have a perfect opportunity to get Chairman Mica’s attention: He’ll be holding a listening session in Fresno tomorrow morning to discuss our high-speed rail system, and Fresno Works — a coalition of officials and groups from Fresno — is holding a rally before the meeting to show support for HSR in the Central Valley. With the challenges we face in the current Congress, we need HSR supporters to attend and make clear why California deserves federal funding for our system. Here are the details on tomorrow’s rally and hearing — I hope you can attend: Pro-HSR Rally hosted by Fresno Works
    Tuesday, February 22, 8:00 a.m. — followed by 9:00 a.m. listening session Outside Inyo/Kern Conference Room of the California State University Fresno
    550 East Shaw Ave., Fresno, CA 93710 If you have any questions, contact Fresno Works at (559) 600-3000. Thanks for supporting high-speed rail for California. Sincerely, Fiona Ma
    California Assembly Speaker pro Tempore

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Ms. Ma is writing about something other than the hearing. Americans have the right to peaceably assemble. They also have the right to go to a hearing about transportation and talk about HSR which is transportation.

    Eric M Reply:

    Talk about Morris being such a hypocrite. It’s okay to have a protest against HSR, such as on the peninsula, but heaven forbid you do anything pro HSR. But we already knew that about Morris and company, didn’t we?!

    Elizabeth Reply:

    I don’t have any issue with Fiona ma trying to rally the troops. She is a politician. This is an issue she supports. It is bizarre though this notion that is embedded in her note that the soundness of the CHSRA plan can be judged based on whether there are more supporters or opponents in one particular place on one particular morning in Fresno.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I reread it three times and don’t come to that conclusion.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    “so we need a groundswell of support here in California to show them that our plan, and our system, is a worthy investment of federal funding.”

    “we need HSR supporters to attend and make clear why California deserves federal funding for our system.”

    My point is that in some ways these demonstrations may actually have that effect – which is a sad tale with respect to the state of public policy.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    This particular meeting is structured so that no one who is not already on a list will be speaking – so the whole show will be a demonstration of numbers.

    Donk Reply:

    Are you kidding me? What about all of the meetings that are packed full of the angry “vocal minority” protestors? Those demonstrations have the same effect, which is a much more sad tale with respect to the state of public policy. Only it is much more sad when this effect is realized with a small minority of NIMBYs than with a majority of people that represent the will of the people.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    My point is exactly that.

    More supporters than opponents at the meeting = project well thought out
    More opponents than supporters at the meeting = flaky project

    Where is the indepth analysis part?

    Clem Reply:

    You should know, from frequenting such meetings as well as these blogs, that in-depth analysis often interferes with people’s preconceived notions. That goes for both ends of the ideological spectrum.

    Donk Reply:

    Well you seem to be much more concerned about #1 than #2.

    But yeah, if NIMBYs stopped trying to sabotage projects by filling rooms and screaming as their main tactic, then I might agree with your point. But until then you gotta fight fire with fire. The more supporters the better – otherwise the room will be full of NIMBYs. Given that almost everyone here but you supports the project, most of us would rather have the project succeed on shaky ground than go down in flames based on false claims. Maybe you should also go on the NIMBY blogs and tell them not to show up, since you are “impartial”.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    I am not telling anyone not to show up – free speech etc etc. What I am saying is that the idea you could learn anything about the merits of the project by who screams the loudest is bizarre.

    StevieB Reply:

    300 to 400 supporters at a meeting is more likely to get television coverage. Politicians like to be on television. Rallies like to be on television. It is a win for everyone involved.

    Jerry Reply:

    Elizabeth, that’s known as argument by octaves.

    Jerry Reply:

    The one who scream the loudest, wins the argument.

    Dan S. Reply:

    Good for Fiona Ma. I totally support it. This is an opportunity for California to show the big national bosses that we’re clamoring for federal dollars and ready to hit the ground running. To me, this is about jobs in California. Traditionally that’s a clear position for a politician to take. Send the money here cause we can make jobs and use it wisely and we have the support to make it happen. (On the down-low, I do think this Floridian tea-party idiocy will have a short shelf-life.) Why can’t our state politicians construct a self-serving promo-tour to get the feds to show us the money?

    Sure, folks against the project see it as a meaningless demonstration, and certainly the project will be judged by the numbers and reports and actual progress made so far, but a strong public show of support can still make a good impression. Why the hell wouldn’t a local politician attempting to win federal dollars want to show off some local support to the national big-whigs? Duh! ;-) Still, I don’t expect the anti-HSR crowd to pull any punches here! Go ahead!

    Spokker Reply:

    The van Ark emails are damning. The appearance of wrongdoing is, at this point, nearly as bad as actual wrongdoing. These idiots are walking on thin ice as it is and they are advocating and organizing instead of pretending to be more neutral than the Swiss? Assholes.

    I liken it to Metro’s refusal or inability to advocate for or against Measure R. Sure, Metro promotes its products and services, but when there is such a high-profile decision for voters and/or lawmakers to make regarding a major project, they shut up. You don’t see Jody Litvak creaming in her panties for the Westside Subway Connection. No, she’s out there doing real public outreach and pretending to care what the anti-subway crowd thinks.

    The CHSRA should not be organizing or trying to drum up fake crowds for gay pep rallies. You have enough sycophantic rail nerds who smell like onions ready to pounce on any rail project’s dick to do that for you. You have enough corrupt union leaders to voice support for jobs. You have enough liberal hippie environmental assholes ready to lick up all the santorum off this project’s taint.

    But the CHSRA should SHUT THE FUCK UP.

    This is infuriating.

    Steven Reply:

    This is a truly innappropriate post. Between synonymous and morris brown’s Aspie-esque rants against foaming brutalists on stilts and Spokker’s gay rail nerds licking assholes, I’ve gone from being vaguely annoyed, to flat-out offended by the quality of the posts on this blog. You’re not making points, you’re just mindlessly attacking your enemies, and annoying everyone else. This will be the last time I read this blog.

    Donk Reply:

    You need to get out more. If you don’t like his posts then just ignore them.

    synonymouse Reply:

    My take on what Spokker has to say is that there is a difference between residents(all over, not just in PAMPA0worrying about the place where they live being gratuitously trashed and some very comfortable and politically connected interests looking for more money.

    Literal Reply:

    My take on Spokker’s post is that many environmental activists are hippies and assholes and that they are available to lick the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that results from gay anal intercourse (humorously termed “santorum” by Dan Savage) off of the area between the asshole and the scrotum of this project’s body. My take on the administrators’ silence is that this kind of language is acceptable on this blog. Oh yah, and CHSRA should shut the fuck up. And Spokker is upset.

    Spokker Reply:

    van Ark has put up the railfan signal. Quick, go and shout down the opposition! That’ll surely get high speed rail built in California!

  19. jimsf
    Feb 21st, 2011 at 18:38
    #19
  20. jimsf
    Feb 21st, 2011 at 18:42
    #20

    On the side of this page is a link to “alliance for sustainable transit and jobs” where much to my amazement I find out that both business and labor are on the same page, not just business, but the chambers of commerce, who are never on the side of labor. So if workers, chambers, and private business are all in support of ca hsr, then I trust them to know more about our economic future than I do a bunch of housewives and crotchety retired folks with too much time and money on their hands.

  21. jimsf
    Feb 21st, 2011 at 19:03
    #21

    boy I hope this happens coachella valley– but the comments after… ugh. my favorite : 7:06 AM on February 21, 2011
    “Joe Biden announced a plan to spend $53 billion”….When will these idiots begin to realize that we’re BROKE, and stop this silliness? Drill here, drill now”

    Spokker Reply:

    Some of the more insightful comments from the LA Times readers.

    “Hear Ye – Hear Ye, all aboard the first nationalized transport service for illegal aliens! All aboard in San Diego and head north to the gold fields of the affluent Cenral Valley!”

    “This project is a joke. The projections of cost, ridership, etc are all of the same quality as those used to project global warming.”

    Donk Reply:

    Sweet, daily service at 5:30am. Just what we need. These worthless long distance trains are exactly the reason why people think passenger rail is a joke in this country.

    Spokker Reply:

    There’s already daily service at 5:30AM. The point is that upgrades might make it feasible and practical and maybe even desirable to have Metrolink and state-supported Amtrak service between LA and Indio.

    If Palm Springs is serious about rail coming to the region in a bigger way, they need to make sure they have reliable shuttle service to area attractions.

    jimsf Reply:

    The bus system their is very reliable. I use it often when Im on vacation.

    Donk Reply:

    Yeah but Amtrak is the completely wrong solution to this. The only viable solution is to have Metrolink run multiple (maybe 2 rt/day?) trains from Palm Springs to Riverside or San Berdoo, and to link up directly with Metrolink trains serving LA and OC (or run directly to LA or OC).

    A 5:30am Amtrak train that is 4 hours late coming in from Antarctica will not help. Those trains are only for old people and train foamers.

  22. morris brown
    Feb 21st, 2011 at 19:31
    #22

    An article in the LA Times just released about the Fresno “rally” and related.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-rail-lobby-20110222,0,693182.story

  23. J. Wong
    Feb 21st, 2011 at 19:44
    #23

    SF Gate v(ideo)blog in favor of HSR: Bad Laditude: No High-Speed Rail? Pathetic!

  24. John Burrows
    Feb 21st, 2011 at 20:11
    #24

    In case this hasn’t been mentioned before—Capital Corridor ridership for January 2011 is up 11% over January 2010— revenue is up 13%.

    Looks like the Capital Corridor is on a roll. Combine this with what is going on in the Middle East. (particularly Libya), and we have the beginnings of what could be a very interesting year for The Capital Corridor and for Amtrak in general.

    And then when we add in the fact that some of the less visionary members of Congress want to scale back or even eliminate Amtrak—–it gets really interesting.

    Joey Reply:

    Who knows? Its daily ridership might surpass that of Millbrae BART one of these days ;)

    Winston Reply:

    In the capitol corridor’s defense, it was cheaper to build than Millbrae BART.

    Joey Reply:

    Haha, true.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The Capitol Corridor is a $700 million (and counting) or so black hole of FRA/Amtrak fiscal catastrophe. Choof choof choof choof choo choo highball!

    Millbrae BART is a circa $400 million (beyond advertised “BART to the Airport”; they never allowed a broken out price to be made public) black hole of PB/Bechtel/BART fiscal catastrophe.

    Talk about a race to the bottom.

    Alex M. Reply:

    That’s funny, it’s like you make the Capitol Corridor sound like a bad thing.

    Caelestor Reply:

    The guy is always depressed and critical of current events. Not one thing he’s ever posted is ever positive.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    That’s funny, it’s like you make the Capitol Corridor sound like a bad thing.

    It’s a pure welfare program for UP, UP’s contractors, and Amtrak.

    Anywhere else in the world, the amount of money that has disappeared into doing decades-deferred maintenance for UP and into outrageous Amtrak inefficiency and overstaffing could have paid to build a brand-new, 100% dedicated, completely reliable, modern (post 19th century!), efficient inter-regional rail corridor and to purchase and operate reliable, post-19th-century, efficient equipment with reasonably sustainable levels of ongoing cost.

    It’s pathetic that railfans hold up this unreliable, glacially slow, monstrously expensive, operationally inefficient dinosaur as something to be celebrated or emulated, rather than a prime example of how FRA and Amtrak business as usual will only lead to the usual failure.

    Three quarters of a billion dollars is a LOT of public money to have evaporated between Oakland and Sacramento!

    So what’s your objection to trying to at least be average>? It’s not as if anybody’s even suggesting world class or innovative, just “fails to scrape the bottom of the barrel” would be a nice start.

    Donk Reply:

    I would honestly love to hear your ideas for how to do everything right. You seem to have a lot of knowledge for what is wrong. You should start your own blog or something.

    Donk Reply:

    …or at least a guest post or two here…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I dunno about it being a welfare program, it probably has a lot of that larded into it but….
    San Francisco is roughly 90 miles from Sacramento. New York City is roughly 90 miles from Phildelphia. NJTransit and SEPTA can get you from NY to Philadelphia as fast as Amtrak can get you from San Francisco to Sacramento. … NJTransit… SEPTA…

  25. Gianny
    Feb 22nd, 2011 at 04:33
    #25

    Here is a Report about CHSR from Orange County
    http://voiceofoc.org/article_e12b015c-3e70-11e0-95b4-001cc4c03286.html

    Victor Reply:

    It seems Van Ark emailed some lobbyist and then the Lobbyist emailed 100 other people, Now I don’t see any problem with that, I do see a problem with a Republican Bill(Poison Pill) to abolish HSR in California for a 2nd time in History…

    As to this:

    Republican Assemblywoman Diane Harkey of Dana Point offers a different approach. She introduced a bill last month that would abolish the high-speed rail project.

    “The lack of oversight, accountability and inconsistency in route and planning, should sound a strong signal that this estimated $40-80 billion dollar train deserves to be derailed,” she said in a statement when the bill was introduced. “The people of California are tired of out-of-control state spending and expect us to do what we can to put California’s finances back on track.”

    The Insane Nimbys in PA have finally gotten someone to do their bidding, Her campaign war chest must be bigger now… It will go nowhere, faster than HSR and as It is just so much pigeon poop, But then then they won’t put up the money for what they want(Tunnels, Trenches or a Revote, Cowards). ;p

    Behind the Scene Maneuvering

    Following the receipt of van Ark’s email Feb. 15, Thompson, the lobbyist, forwarded it to about 100 others, many of them existing contractors or potential high-speed rail contractors, like Parsons Corp. or Siemens.

    “Can everyone let me know if you are sending a team next Tuesday?,” Thompson asked. “See the email trail below, we need some positive energy here!”

    Bryn Forhan, a Fresno consultant, sent van Ark an email saying in part “just so you know, I met with the Fresno Works coalition this afternoon about the upcoming hearing. I gave them direction to turn out as many people as possible for the Fresno hearing.

    We are mobilizing business people, Chambers of Commerce, community leaders, laborers, students and general supporters of the project. Our goal is to turnout 300-400 people.”

    Spokker Reply:

    It really is behind the scenes maneuvering. van Ark and the entire CHSRA should be neutral. All they need to do is say, “This is what the ridership might be and this is what it’ll cost and here’s what the benefits might be.” and then the people and the politicians who represent them will decide whether it’s worth it or not.

    But when van Ark is telling some lobbyist to get out the vote at some hearing, it pretty much lessens the impact of any supporter showing up of their own volition.

    I can handle cost overruns and a less than ideal project. If the trip time is 4 hours, that’s fine. But over and over again the CHSRA has showed itself to be completely oblivious to the delicateness of the situation. You can only explain away conflicts of interest and behind the scenes maneuvering so many times before it becomes a complete joke.

    Spokker Reply:

    I don’t know who said it. I might have even said it, but the biggest obstacle to getting high speed rail built in California is the CHSRA itself.

    James Fujita Reply:

    TRAC, Californians for NIMBY Rail, Union Pacific and the Reason Foundation deserve some credit, too.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It really is behind the scenes maneuvering. van Ark and the entire CHSRA should be neutral.

    It’s his job to promote High Speed Rail.

    peninsula Reply:

    no, its his job to build high speed rail for California – its not his job to manufacturer pep rallies, to stage hundreds to drowned out opposition, to pay PR firms to send fake supporters. He’s a liar. Its exactly like Kadafi attempting to publish photo’s of him surrounded by ‘supporters’ – manufactured, manipulative, and faked. Its unamerican, and he should be losing his job.

    Spokker Reply:

    “Its exactly like Kadafi ”

    Well, I wouldn’t go that far.

    peninsula Reply:

    Why not – did I spell it wrong or something?
    Van Ark’s a government official, and its an assault on democracy.

    And I suppose we’re PAYING for the lobbyists to show up looking like fake community support besides? Wonder if that Prop 1A State funds, or Federal funds footing the bill for the propaganda? Was there even ONE legitimate supporter at that rally? How would anyone know that?

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Dude / dudette,

    I think having your environmental outreach person go and be in charge of the pep rally is not only inappropriate but may have just tainted the CEQA process and increased the odds for a successful lawsuit BUT there are no bullets flying, the mercenaries are figurative mercenaries, not literal o. (robert – you must have comments editing – I cannot see what I wrote so I am hoping it makes sense). Nobody is actually dead. Let’s all keep the rhetoric in line.

    Spokker Reply:

    Well said.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    its his job to build high speed rail for California

    Which includes making sure supporters of that goal are kept informed.

    Spokker Reply:

    It’s his job to plan high speed rail, not be a cheerleader for it.

  26. neville
    Feb 22nd, 2011 at 04:37
    #26

    ‘Bring Back the Rails!’, an article that articulates the inevitability of the advance of modern rail, including HSR lines, in economic, historical and social terms – a little embarrassing for the US, but there you go; the argument applies to the US in any case:

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/jan/13/bring-back-rails/

    Victor Reply:

    People that don’t like HSR or Passenger Train travel seem to not like being seated next to others, It’s like they want to be alone when they travel, Doesn’t seem too friendly. In any case that was a good read, Thanks.

  27. Ben
    Feb 22nd, 2011 at 08:38
    #27

    DesertXpress rail project going after tax dollars, after all

    Las Vegas Sun
    2/21/2011

    http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2011/feb/21/desert-xpress-going-after-tax-dollars-after-all/

    Victor Reply:

    Ok so their looking for a loan, That’s not a deal breaker, Hopefully they’ll get It, But they need to start in Palmdale CA and in or near the CHSRA Palmdale station, Then go to Victorville CA, Barstow CA, Primm NV and then Las Vegas NV.

  28. Ben
    Feb 22nd, 2011 at 09:03
    #28

    Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) has introduced legislation, H.R. 613, that would amend the Buy America requirements for high speed rail and allow the Secretary of Transportation to waive the requirements “if the Secretary finds that including domestic material will increase the cost of the overall project by more than 25 percent.”

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/t2GPO/http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr613ih/pdf/BILLS-112hr613ih.pdf

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    25% of $42 billion is still more than $10 billion.

    Much better to exploit savings from the global marketplace, and use that $10 billion to develop another line.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Including 100% USA Number One domestic “engineering” “expertise” has already driven costs well over 100% above comparable projects specified and designed by ethical or competent professionals.

    Lining up and shooting PB’s “expert” consultants is the way to save serious money, not nickel and diming (a few hundred million — nothing compared to catastrophic rent-seeking corporate bottom line enriching “decisions” about alignments, ROW, and structures) about in which country the parts of the foreign trains are screwed together in final assembly.

  29. Victor
    Feb 22nd, 2011 at 09:09
    #29

    Ok some have suggested and I’ve come to the conclusion that the CHSRA should be made a Division of yep, CALTRANS, As Caltrans and Amtrak run some trains in California already and Caltrans does lots of Mega Projects already. So It seems like a Natural fit to Me.

    Amtrak California San Joaquin and Connecting Thruways
    Amtrak California’s San Joaquin® route provides daily round trips between Sacramento/Stockton/Oakland and Bakersfield with thruway connections to Los Angeles and the Pacific Surfliner® which travels between San Luis Obispo and San Diego. The San Joaquin serves Oakland, Emeryville (with thruway connections to San Francisco), Richmond, Martinez, Antioch/Pittsburg, Davis, Sacramento, Elk Grove, Lodi, Stockton, Modesto, Turlock/Denair, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Hanford, Corcoran, Wasco, and Bakersfield. Connecting Amtrak Thruway buses provide additional service from Bakersfield to Los Angeles and more than 175 other destinations in California and Nevada. Amtrak California is a Caltrans and Amtrak partnership.
    http://www.amtrakcalifornia.com

    synonymouse Reply:

    Not possible as the CHSRA is already a division of PB.

    Victor Reply:

    Parsons Brinkerhoff is a private company, The CHSRA is a State Authority, So You are a LIAR too now??? Go away TROLL.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That is precisely what I am saying: a private company has achieved effective control over a public agency. That is why Caltrans won’t be assuming jurisdiction over the CHSRA – it is powerful enough to pose a threat to PB.

    Victor Reply:

    You’d have to provide iron clad proof of this, Like a valid News story perhaps? Otherwise I don’t think anyone here believes You.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You must be living in a bubble.

    This is a daily political actuality. For instance in matters pertaining to gas and electricity PG&E effectively runs a great part of California. It is a question of effective control. Caltrans would pose too much of a challenge to PB’s authority, so Kopp and sundry shills are not going to let that happen.

  30. James M.
    Feb 22nd, 2011 at 10:04
    #30

    Is anyone attending the “Joint House Field Hearing” in Fresno? I was hoping to see some news or video on what was being discussed. I am trying to attend the one in Los Angeles, but haven’t been able to get the ducks lined up, yet. Any info would be helpful!

    jim M.

    Ben Reply:

    James–

    This is a field session/hearing. With rare exception, only the DC hearings are televised on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee website.

    —————————————————————————————————–

    Hearing
    Transportation Bill Listening Session (Fresno, CA)
    Inyo/Kern Conference Room, University of California – Fresno; 550 East Shaw Ave., Fresno, CA
    February 22, 2011

    NOTE: This is a listening session of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and not an official hearing of the Committee.

    •Who: Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL), Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) and other Members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
    •What: Public forum and listening session on long-term transportation legislation
    •When: February 22, 2011; 9:00 a.m.
    •Where: Inyo/Kern Conference Room, University of California – Fresno; 550 East Shaw Ave., Fresno, CA (NOTE: this is a change from previous announcements)
    This listening session and other meetings to be held around the country will inform the Committee’s drafting of a long-term reauthorization of the nation’s surface transportation programs. The Committee is seeking input on how to consolidate and improve the performance of programs, cut government red tape and streamline the project delivery process, increase private sector investment in our infrastructure, identify creative financing alternatives, and other ideas for writing the legislation. The previous multi-year law (SAFETEA-LU) expired in September 2009.

    http://transportation.house.gov/hearings/hearingdetail.aspx?NewsID=1100

  31. Richard Mlynarik
    Feb 22nd, 2011 at 10:25
    #31

    Were you born yesterday?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    WordPress bug. Supposed to be a reply to “Victor”. Please delete

  32. D. P. Lubic
    Feb 22nd, 2011 at 11:30
    #32

    In other news: Construction about to start on the rebuilding of the Lackawanna Cutoff between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This was an early “super railroad” from the 1910 era.

    http://www.njherald.com/story/news/17Rail

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lackawanna_Cut-Off

    For me, it’s wonderful to see the clock run backward.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    As it used to be on the Lackawanna in the 1950s. . .

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DiN_qFW … re=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrOHCwodHu4

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or the clock run forward. The Cutoff has very very gentle curves and is nearly flat.

    tjon Reply:

    Does this mean rail service to Scranton perhaps? That would be nice.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    That’s the plan down the road. Might be interesting to see how it gets blended with the existing steam heritage operation that’s there now at Steamtown National Historic Site.

Comments are closed.