California Goes After All of Florida’s HSR Money

Mar 30th, 2011 | Posted by

California wants Florida’s high speed rail stimulus money. Not some, not half, but ALL the money:

The California High-Speed Rail Authority on Wednesday voted unanimously to apply for all of the high-speed rail funding recently returned to the federal government by the state of Florida….

If California can capture Florida’s share, crews could link Merced and Bakersfield — the “backbone” of the system — and extend tracks either north or south by nearly 40 miles.

“California has proven that it can and will lead the nation with a vision of true high-speed rail,” Curt Pringle, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board, said in a news release. “Every mile of track laid in the Central Valley represents another step toward realizing a statewide system.”

And from the California High Speed Rail Authority’s press release:

The resulting funds could allow the completion of the entire backbone of the statewide system – linking Merced and Bakersfield, including stations in each respective city. In addition to completing the backbone, it could also allow the Authority to build either north or south – north 39 additional miles toward the Bay Area or south, past Bakersfield, up to the Tehachapi Mountains.

It’s unclear whether California will actually get all the money. Other states are going to be competing for this funding, and of course there’s the bigger question of whether Congress will find some way to take the money back. It would be great if Central Valley Republican members of Congress would fight for this money instead of against it and against the jobs it would bring, but they’ve shown no sign of doing that. So California will have to plow ahead without them.

Applications are due to the US Department of Transportation on April 4. I would expect Ray LaHood to give this a quick turnaround.

  1. AndyDuncan
    Mar 30th, 2011 at 20:08
    #1

    I haven’t been paying attention, is $60 million/mile in line with their other estimates? Seems high for line through farmland.

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    I believe this is due to 40% of the starter line being on ariels. I do wonder if it is cheaper to build overpasses for the roads or make the line on above grade structures. I would say utilize whatever is cheapest.

    VBobier Reply:

    It could be done and Yes I’d rather build that way too, Let the autos/trucks go over or under, I see no good reason why they can’t.

  2. Alai
    Mar 30th, 2011 at 20:48
    #2

    Why don’t they start the SF transbay terminal tunnel? That’s definitely something with an “alternate use” that could have tens of thousands of people using it via Caltrain.

    Caelestor Reply:

    Would be nice if we fixed the constraints there first.

    Clem Reply:

    Caltrain needs electrification far, far, far more than it needs the downtown tunnel. The former costs one third of the latter. Rather moot point since all the action is now in the central valley.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yep, Couldn’t agree more on all stated points.

    joe Reply:

    Electrifying Caltrain is great – sadly it would stop at SJ.

    The problem is improving Caltrain would stop the Peninsula’s use of EIRs to halt growth.

    Their strategy is to undermine Caltrain and claim new development would require more car-based commuting and hence the EIR is invalid and the development must downsize and/or extort more money to mitigate local traffic.

  3. Jerry
    Mar 30th, 2011 at 20:49
    #3

    And I hope CAHSR gets all of it.

    VBobier Reply:

    Me too!

    Nathanael Reply:

    I wish y’all luck but, being in upstate NY, I can’t help but hope that we get some of it for bottleneck removal projects. Not that we have submitted an application yet. :-P

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There’s lots of things they could do but they are already funded for double tracking between Albany and Schenectady the bottleneck that sucks up lots of padding in the schedule. Should be laying track soon.

  4. Dan
    Mar 30th, 2011 at 20:59
    #4

    I expect the route into Merced was directed at CV republicans; it’ll be hard for them to support Tea-Party demands to claw-back the money when it’s going to their district.

    I’m very glad they’re trying for all of it. I doubt they’ll get it, but they’ll probably get more than if they were only trying for the $1.2B they were said-to-be requesting previously. Once this thing links Merced & Bakersfield, there’s no turning back!

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    It’s a good ploy though. Other states are jumping in and California is basically saying…you better get ready ‘cuz we’ll take it all if you don’t stop us.

    VBobier Reply:

    Now this is a good idea, If they claw the money back, They’ll be roasted over the ol coals, Damn the Torpedoes, Full Steam Speed ahead!

    VBobier Reply:

    No strike out or underline, Drat. I was trying to say Full Speed ahead! with Steam struck for effect, sigh.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Full Steam Speed Ahead? Hey, for a steam train fan like me, that sounds good!

    Pennsylvania Railroad T-1 Duplex Drive passenger engine; reportedly these engines could hit 140 mph and more. This particular locomotive is one of two prototypes delivered prior to WW II:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:T1_color_photo.jpg

    One of the 50 “production” engines:

    http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=282399

    http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=282382&nseq=11

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    The S-1 of the same road was supposedly even faster, but had some serious flaws, including sheer size; only one was built, and it ran in a relatively limited territory. “The Big Engine” had high art-deco style, though:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRR_S1

    http://crestlineprr.com/S1_1.jpg

    http://crestlineprr.com/s1spec.jpg.html

    StevieB Reply:

    Republican Keven McCarthy says send it back even though the new money would build a station in Bakersfield in his district reports the Bakersfield Californian.

    “At a time when we are borrowing 40 cents for every dollar we spend, California’s questionably viable high-speed rail project is not a good use of taxpayer dollars,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, said in a written statement.

    joe Reply:

    “It’s no longer a train to nowhere,” said Rob Ball, Kern Council of Governments’s planning director.

    Walter Reply:

    The Merced-Fresno-Bakersfield line spans more than 160 miles and connects three urban areas that, together, are home to more than 2 million Californians. More importantly, it is a big first step toward a system that will connect to within 20 miles of California’s 18 largest cities. That argument was never valid to begin with.

    VBobier Reply:

    Heck that’s nearly 1/3rd of the 520 or so mile system, Not bad, Get Amtrak on It and with Revenue Bonds We could buy the most advanced TGV trains on Earth from Alstom, They had one HSR Train that went about 574kph or 357mph(almost as fast as Maglev, 7kph slower, Take that Synonymouse), So their technology should be more than good enough, Even with FRA standards tacked on where needed and build the other 2/3rds of course. Also don’t make the mistakes that an Israeli line did, They built the utilities first, Then the Track and then the electrification, This was mentioned on the transport politic not too long ago Here. I would hope someone from the CHSRA or even the Governors office watches this blog.

    joe Reply:

    Consider that collective population of 2 M would rank as the 38th State in terms of total population.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    With what we can achieve with this money and are matching funds anything… Less than 1.2 Billion and the ability to finish the central spine to Merced and Bakersfield will be a big disappointment and letdown.. we then would have to hope that the 2011 funding of 1 billion stays in the budget…

  5. AlanF
    Mar 30th, 2011 at 21:14
    #5

    California is not going to get all of it. Probably 1/3 to half.

    It will be interesting to see how much all the applications will add up to. One factor is that $1.63 billion of the Florida funds is stimulus money which does not require a 20% state match. So there will be a number of states submitting applications hoping they can get a piece of the stimulus money. Based on what has been publicly announced so far, the total of the applications is likely to be in the $10 to $20 billion range.

    One thing to keep in perspective is that $2.43 billion for infrastructure is not that much money. A single major bridge project can cost that much.

    VBobier Reply:

    It doesn’t hurt to try, But yeah I’d think California will take whatever We can get for HSR.

    Matthew B Reply:

    How can anyone say “probably 1/3 to half”? There’s no knowing what’s going to happen and any estimates are a reflection of your outlook rather than any reality about what’s going to be decided by the DOT.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Is very reasonable for us to get half of this funding with our 20 to 30% match and a true high-speed rail project.. I think a lot of these projects are going after the non-matching 1.6 billion funding.. the 800 million will need a match.. a mix of either funding streams will help California as we plan to match money irregardless of ARRA or 2010… I’m very interested in seeing the other applications and of course the big issue next week’s 2011 budget showdown..

    VBobier Reply:

    Matthew, Much as I’d like to see California get It all and I would, I have to be realistic, We’re not the only fish in the pond who wants to get fed, So It’s a guesstimate, Nothing more, If I’m wrong on My guesstimate, So be It, I’m not worried.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    As long as Bakersfield to Fresno can be completed, it’s a big win. That allows Amtrak to lease trackage rights from using the San Joaquin. We can then issue revenue bonds against that money and with local contributions build the rest of the system.

    VBobier Reply:

    Very Good Point there, That will help a lot.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    Why would they do that.

    Sorry if this has been covered, but if there is already a line linking the two, the benefit to Amtrak is marginal. No?

    thatbruce Reply:

    It means that for the southern portion of its route, the Amtrak (California) San Joaquin will have a double-tracked high-speed run where it has priority, vs the current system of single tracked sections with freight having priority when the Amtrak train misses its slot. The marginal benefit would be that the on-time rate goes slightly up.

    Remember though, Amtrak using the line is only a possibility under the ‘independent utility’ clause attached to some of the federal funding; the FRA Amtrak is unlikely to be using it when HSR trains start running. If the non-FRA HSR trains never run, then the FRA Amtrak trains are essentially the only customer of that segment, and would be likely facing pressure from the host freight railroad to get off the existing parallel FRA line in order to free up capacity there.

    VBobier Reply:

    Exactly, Plus on the HSR line Amtrak could push the throttle to the max the trains can handle or close to It at least, Whatever that is.

    joe Reply:

    Hire Scottie to get the most out of those engines.

    VBobier Reply:

    An Amtrak-California F59PHI has a gear ratio of 56:21 which provides a top speed of 110 mph (176 km/h). So It should be able to move faster than the 79 mph speed limit that the Freight Railroads impose on Amtrak-California Trains.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The FRA imposes the 79 MPH speed limit. They could raise it if they wanted to but they don’t want to spend the money on a signal system more sophisticated than manual train orders and how hfar ahead the engineer can see.

    VBobier Reply:

    Ok, Didn’t know that, Thanks.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    I don’t think so. The Authority should have the authority to lease out its right of way however it wants. The issue here is that the San Joaquin serves small towns that CAHSR does not contemplate. Ultimately, the other assumption is that Amtrak won’t be the operator of the HSR line when it is complete. I’m not saying I want this to happen. What I am saying is that once you have a “usable segment” you can start making revenue off it.

    VBobier Reply:

    That may be the assumption, But Amtrak could be the operator. As to revenue I agree.

    VBobier Reply:

    Lease the track to Amtrak on the portion of the 160 miles of HSR track built that Amtrak-California could use(about 1/3rd of the initial system), From that incoming revenue bonds can then be sold and as I said earlier, The CHSRA could buy the most advanced TGV HSR trains(Which hold the speed record for HSR which is about 574kph/357mph(See the links elsewhere in this thread), which is about 7.00kph/4.34mph slower than Maglev!), Build the other 2/3rds of the system and have Amtrak run the operation, Which could then be rubbed in the Republican Parties face.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    That’s pretty close, but here’s another scenario:

    Complete the track from Bakersfield to Fresno. Then, lease the track to Amtrak for the San Joaquins. Let Amtrak switch around its fancier, faster locomotives. Issue some bonds against the revenue. Then, before electrification, extend the line to Merced. Redirect the San Joaquin to have a local train that serves all communites and an “Acela West” that snakes through Altamont instead of around the Delta.

    Get more revenue. Electrify the route from Merced to Bakersfield. Couple the diesel locomotives with electrics. Issue more bonds, and get the track to switch from Gilroy to Palmdale. Run the San Joaquin into L.A. Have local authorities chip in either through federal grants or local tax dollars upgrading SF to Gilroy and Palmdale to L.A. Electrify.

    Launch HSR. Eliminate “the Acela West”, and return to local service only for the San Joaquins.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    there isn’t enough demand at the existing stations that will not have HSR to warrant using trains to serve it.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Um, it’s called a subsidy.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How many passengers a day? How many trains does it take to server them? Or does an airport style shuttle bus to the nearest HSR station give them better service?

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Non-sleeper service is already subsidized on Amtrak by the Feds. Commuter airlines are subsidized too. Who the hell wants to ride a shuttle bus when you can just board a local train with way more space? Hell, Fresno and Madera County could support the service with their local transportation tax.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How many trains a day? Does it make sense to send a train, capable of carrying hundreds of passengers to pick up a few dozen passengers twice a day or does it make sense to send a shuttle bus through every hour or two to pick up 5 people?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Who the hell wants to ride a shuttle bus when you can just board a local train with way more space? Hell, Fresno and Madera County could support the service with their local transportation tax.

    The issue there is whether they should do so ~ does the patronage to serve Wasco and
    Corcoran (Hanford is slated for an HSR station) justify the subsidy required to run a conventional rail service on the existing route between Fresno and Bakersfield, when compared with the cost of a shuttle from Wasco to Bakersfield and from Corcoran to Hanford.

    Indeed, a shuttle from Corcoran to Hanford could run through central Hanford to the station on the edge of town, and then continue to Vasalia and terminate the other side of the horseshoe route at Tulare. That’d likely offer better transport options to the thronging multitudes of Corcoran than just a Fresno / Downtown Hanford / Corcoran / Wasno / Bakersfield Amtrak-California service.

    VBobier Reply:

    Sounds like a plan, I like It.

    VBobier Reply:

    Except for Altamont.

    Joey Reply:

    That speed record has very little bearing on the actual operating speed, which is comparable to other trains. The TGV is probably out of the running anyway – it appears that distributed traction will (rightfully) be chosen. That of course doesn’t rule out the AGV.

    VBobier Reply:

    The AGV for those that would like to read the wiki on It is Here, Since It’s the successor to the TGV then It’s ok, As new is good, Besides It will do 360kph or 220mph according to the wiki.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The benefit to services operated by the Amtrak-California rolling stock would be substantial. Remember that the average speed for a line is not based on a weighted average of how many MILES spent at different speeds, but a weighted average of how much TIME spent at different speeds, so the slow sections drop the transit time way down. On an express HSR corridor, they’d never have to slow down for curves, they’d be able to eliminate the slack to ensure getting to single track slots.

    And of course they’d be running at 110mph max rather than 79mph.

    However, the benefit to that kind of rolling stock is less than half of the benefit available from running full speed on the corridor, and as thatbruce said, that is the fallback position in case the project does not proceed that federal funding requires when you ask them to fund a part of a project.

    Pragmatically, setting independent utility to one side, if there is some form of preliminary service, they’d consult with potential bidders on what general structure of service they’d be most interested in bidding for, since the richer the bids, the quicker that Stage 1 could expect to be finished.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That’s dependent upon the assumption that Amtrak will have any money to “lease trackage rights”. It is currently struggling to cut a deal it can afford to restore daily operation of the Sunset.

    I wonder if it has ever occurred to the UP to allow a round trip of the San Joaquin from Bakersfield to LA. Traffic is down and they could probably slip them in. The upside for the UP is that it would demonstrate basal traffic demand for this route. Some but not nearly as much as CHSRA estimates.

    Boondoggle is indeed the raison d’etre of PB-CHSRA. The governing principle is waste as much money as possible – that’s why Tehachapi over Tejon – considerably longer thus more expensive to construct, maintain, and operate. Any backtracking to “value engineering” is merely temporizing political strategy.

    Any

    VBobier Reply:

    Why don’t You take the CHSRA to court then? Cause You’d lose…

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Come now, Synonymouse, you know why the UP is strong arming the Sunset Limited project. It’s a very lucrative freight route for them, and they thought they had it to themselves after Hurricane Katrina wiped out service beyond New Orleans. They are close to fixing the Colton Crossing and when that domino falls, Alameda Corridor East won’t be far behind.

    Even Jefferson Davis knew that was the most important transcontinental rail corridor in the US 160 years ago. Secondly, why the heck would you subject passenger trains to the Tehachapi Corridor? I mean, that UP’s bag right there. If they want it upgraded it’s on them.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The most important trancontinental routes go to where the people are. The Midwest and Northeast.

    Eric M Reply:

    Again, “Tehachapi over Tejon – considerably longer” is WRONG. It is just 12 minutes longer, but servers a lot more potential riders, which means more revenue. Also, the possibility of connecting to Desert Xpress.

    Idiocy is the “raison d’etre” of your comments.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Litigating the CHSRA is fruitless – rubberstamping is a fait accompli. Just like wasting as much money as possible.

    The CHSRA scheme is like the Great Wall of China: sprawling, circuitous, ultimately ineffectual and too expensive to maintain in an economy and society in disarray.

    VBobier Reply:

    As Eric M said, Yer being shortsighted, revenue(money is important as bonds can be sold based on incoming revenue and You want to starve the system of money?). The courts are there, Use them & sue instead of spinning Yer wheels here, As You’ll gain no allies here.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Its not Amtrak its Amtrak California. It gets its funding from the state not the Federal gov’t, which isn’t to say it might not have funding problems of its own, but its separate from the national Amtrak’s funding problems.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Ultimately it comes down to the same tit – the taxpayers. And there aren’t enough of the latter.

    May I reiterate – the Quantm alignment connects Bakersfield to Palmdale, so no difference as far as your eastern territorial aspirations are concerned.

    And as to that – the Desert Xpress is fools’ gold. You won’t see Wynn or Adelson putting up any real at-risk capital. They know better.

    VBobier Reply:

    1. Diarrhea.
    2. I’m not concerned.
    3. If they get the go ahead and the loan, I wish them success.

    ;p

    VBobier Reply:

    That should be “and get the loan”.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Sin City can’t even get it together to support a conventional Amtrak line

    VBobier Reply:

    And You don’t know what Yer talking about.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “Las Vegas can’t even support a train service that is less attractive to travelers, which means that it clearly cannot support a train service that is more attractive to travelers.”

    Or, at last as synthomouse reasons it out.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    May I reiterate – the Quantm alignment connects Bakersfield to Palmdale,

    How? Palmdale is no where near it.

    synonymouse Reply:

    AFAIK Palmdale was a given and incorporated in all the Tejon alternatives studied by PB-CHSRA. I assume Quantm used their software following the same general parameters and requirements.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    AFAIK Palmdale ain’t anywhere near the Tejon pass and the half million people in Palmdale would need palms to hold on their derrières when it comes to taking a train because there wouldn’t be any in, near, someplace nearby, Palmdale.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Now you’re really revealing your ignorance, syn. Analyzed Tejon routes do not go via Palmdale, for geographically obvious reasons. Thatbruce gives the details.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Clem recently referenced the Quantm Report Summary, as generated by the CAHSRA on completion of task 2.2.b a decade ago.

    Referenced in that document are alignments generated by the Quantm software covering several crossings. Of interest to the subject at hand are the ones that cross the mountains between the Central Valley and Los Angeles, specifically figures:

    S-3, ‘Quantm alignment to east of I-5 corridor, crossing fault lines at grade’ (Tejon, max 3.5%),
    S-6, ‘SR 58 North – Quantm Refined Alignment (Max 3.5% Grade)’ (between Bakersfield and Mojave) and
    S-5, ‘SR14 – Quantm Refined Alignment (Max 3.5% Grade)’ (between Palmdale and Sylmar).
    ( or S-4 instead of S-5 )

    The ‘Quantm Alignment’ that Tolmach, TRAC and yourself keeping bringing up is S-3. That routing, broadly speaking, follows I-5 over the Tejon Pass, at-grade or trenched across the Garlock Fault, at-grade across the San Andreas Fault, and ‘requires extensive construction in the floodplain area surrounding Castac Lake’. You’ve been educated enough on the possible risks that that alignment would entail, so we don’t need to cover it again here.

    Now, while the Quantm Report Summary does show a generalised alignment from Bakersfield to Palmdale, that alignment follows SR-58 through Tehachapi (S-6). That alignment, much to your disappointment, has moved forward through the process while S-3 has not.

    Since there is no alignment in the report that involves both the Tejon Pass and Palmdale, your claim of ‘the Quantm alignment connects Bakersfield to PalmdaleMUST be referring to alignment S-6. Congratulations on giving up that Tejon nonsense.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You are right; there is no mention of Palmdale in the S-3 description, which TRAC describes as Wheeler Ridge to Santa Clarita. There is no mention on how to proceed from there. I don’t see any edict against going to Palmdale, altho it could also be served adequately by Metrolink.

    “Extensive construction” is of course what PB-CHSRA is planning for virtually the entire route.

    PB could care less about what happens to the CHSRA after it picks up the check. So gold-plate everything and pad the routes. Is there ever a “mea culpa”? An apology for the failure of BART to SFO? Never, these consultants have better infallibility then the Pope.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It could be served inadequately by Metrolink and then only to points south. It would really really suck if you wanted to go to Bakersfield or points north.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Actually, state sponsored revenue accounts for only 200 million of Amtrak’s $2.5 billion operating revenue. Amtrak still gets most of its revenue from ticket sales. If they can offer faster service, they can charge more for tickets. Alternatively, Amtrak or USPS can use the route to ship mail and pay the Authority for that.

    Dan Reply:

    I’m interesting in a link to the other applications for funding (I’m not disputing you, just interested)…. I haven’t seen too much yet.

    agreed w/the messiah; if Bakersfield to Merced (better: Fresno) can be completed, the rest of the system will be downhill.

    AlanF Reply:

    Well, it will be uphill through the Tehachaphi mountains. And expensive and years of tunneling. Which is the sooner, they can complete the EIS for Bakersfield to Palmdale the better.

    As for other states, I have seen reports for some of the contenders so far.
    Amtrak and NJ Transit – not much info yet, North Portal Bridge replacement project and maybe constant tension catenary on the high speed segments in NJ. Portal Bridge replacement status is confusing, but I gather it is only partially funded. Might be asking for $700 or $800 million.
    Missouri – $973 million total
    Wisconsin – in the huh? category, Gov. Walker will be asking for $150 million
    Illinois is certain to be applying for Chicago to St. Louis, possibly for a lot. Michigan reportedly applying for Chicago to Detroit corridor, $100 to $200 million will go a long way here to buy 135 miles of NS track and upgrade it to 110 mph speeds.
    Maryland – $250 million for BWI airport station and 4th track which is near term project in the NEC Master Plan; $200 million for planning and engineering for replacing 3 major bridges on the NEC between Baltimore and Wilmington DE.
    CT – likely to ask for $100+ million to complete the double tracking from New Haven to Springfield MA and likely to get it.
    NY, VA, NC, WA, OR are likely to apply; not sure what is going on with PA.
    Hopefully no one will waste their time and submit a multimillion dollar Maglev proposal.

    VBobier Reply:

    I’d pick these states/areas for funding…

    Illinois $100+ million maybe?
    Michigan $200 million
    NEC Master Plan; $200 million
    CT – likely to ask for $100+ million

    The rest for California of course.

    joe Reply:

    Observers count only two serious competitors for the federal money: the Northeast and Illinois, both of which propose actual high-speed rail projects, which President Obama has called one of his top investment priorities

    VBobier Reply:

    What’s California, Chopped liver? Is California not serious?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    joe is saying serious competitors against California for the funds.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    I’d pick NEC, Wisconsin, maybe Michigan, maybe Nevada, Washington, and California.

    Alan F Reply:

    Among the smaller amount applications:
    Maine will applying for ~ $65 million for the Downeaster corridor.
    Vermont will be submitting something, probably for the Ethan Allan re-route/expansion in western side of Vermont.
    MA will be applying for $110 million for replacing the Merrimack river bridge in Haverhill. Probably a long shot at best, but the Inland route corridor from Springfield to Boston is in the very early stages of studies and likely not a viable candidate for funding.

    If VA and NC were to be bold, they might submit an application for the entire $2.4 billion for the Richmond to Raleigh NC section of the SouthEast HSR corridor which is close to wrapping up the FEIS, but they will likely stick to more modest independent applications for the DC to Richmond VA and Raleigh to Charlotte NC sections for incremental improvements.

    Once all the applications have been announced, then we can all play the game of how to best divy up the $2.43 billion to further both HSR and improve existing services in the near term with the uncertain prospects of any additional HSIPR funding in the next 2-3 years.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    The Michigan grant seems to be the same as the 2010 money that they could not come up with a match for and appears they will try and win it through this new ARRA grant.. and their 2010 award that they could not come up with 20% will be able to be re-applied to other projects hopefully ours… the Maryland application will most likely be funded.

    Donk Reply:

    Lets just build a big wall around Michigan and let another country lease out the space for 50 years. That place is completely hopeless.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I hope Michigan gets allocated their money, assuming Snyder doesn’ t pull a Walker or pull a Scott or pull a Kasich (and frankly, Snyder might, he’s part of the same gang). But as noted, that would simply mean that MI would get a 100% funded segment and their previous 80% grant would go back in the pot, so it would not significantly reduce the amount of available money.

    Alan F Reply:

    That should have read “Hopefully no one will waste their time and submit a multiBillion dollar Maglev proposal.”

    Andy M. Reply:

    downhill is maybe an exaggeration, but this is still a bif step in the right direction. I think that as long as there aren’t any bullet trains running, most people are not going to be fully aware that HSR has arrived. During an initial phase Amtrak trains will use the new line, and if you aren’t looking out of the windown you can easily miss the high speed aspect of it. Maybe shorter journey times are good for the direct users, but they won’t capture the imagination in the way that an iconic buller train later will.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Its not settled either whether there will be a preliminary service nor how it would be structured. There has not even been a business model selected, which will be a big determinant in the range of preliminary services that would be practicable. If a high speed train coupled to sufficiently heavy diesels on both end meet FRA heavy freight rail regs, that could be used to provide the San Jaoquin service with substantially higher runtimes Merced/Bakersfield ~ the first construction segments to include electrification, but electrification in support of the first preliminary is an option in several business models.

    Andy M. Reply:

    Surely electrification has a significant pricetag. So initial electrification or not should already be accounted for in the present costings?.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Its reflected in the full CHSHRA Stage 1. Its not in the initial segments because they are not proposing to install the electrification in the initial segments for which they have obtained or are now seeking federal funding.

    Of course, where electrification projects get hefty price tags is from rebuilding all the overpasses. Since they will be building all the grade separations with the required clearance, the major cost in electrifying an already existing diesel rail corridor will not exist.

    Its also easy to get the suggested preliminary use of the line and the federal requirement for “independent utility” confused. The preliminary use of the line would be while the rest of Stage 1 is under construction. If the project proceeds, they will need test track, and that will have to be electrified, so they will have to electrify a section of the CV corridor anyway.

    Independent utility is a fallback in case the project does not go ahead, required for federal grants on parts of projects to try to defende against building white elephants.

    I was referring to the suggested preliminary service, not the independent utility.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Electrification is going to end up being relatively cheap (yes, still millions, but not billions) for the reasons Bruce said; if you’ve planned an electrified corridor, it’s just materials and labor, and neither are actually that big. I do assume that all the viaducts will be built with the foundation points for poles ready…

    synonymouse Reply:

    If the price of copper explodes – as has happened before – electrification becomes a more difficult sell.

    Politically the pendulum is swinging to the right from every indication I see. Jerry Brown is finding there is more support for belt tightening than he thought and there is a conservative trend in social issues. Barack asked for this as the public sees him clearly serving to the left, more than they are comfortable with. He may not think so but that is classic Beltway myopia.

    And as to that, Huckabee is neck and neck with Obama in one poll, with the relatively unknow Christie only 6 percentage points behind. There is every indication that tea party budget austerity will be in power in 2012. You should ask yourself the serious question if Borden to Corcoran is all you are going to get is that what you really want? In politix it is never too late to alter course.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Maybe we should ask the Republicans and the Tea Party people if they want to spend money on railroads (transit, local, regional, and HSR) and electrification, or if they want to spend even more money on oil wars, and on supporting oil tyrants, kings, and despots.

    Phrased that way, what do you think the answer would be?

    Also, why have the “liberals” and the Democrats failed to phrase the question that way?

    VBobier Reply:

    If smiff, Then Oil would go up, Not down, People then want HSR more and more. When Pigs fly. Christie is/was for HSR last I looked, You’ve failed Syno, Go back to Yer mastards.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There is not much difference dropping billions on the military industrial complex or the consultant-contractor-labor complex. Some would say the military budget provides more ordinary level jobs.

    I think I’d rather give the money to NASA – at least they are doing something new.

    And maybe it is time for maglev. You wouldn’t have to build a water-level Roman aqueduct such as what PB has in mind for the hsr with stilts as far as the eye can see in every direction. Apparently maglev can climb grades and is capable of a much higher operating speed. When I see stories about how BART blaming their guys for leaving a groove on the wheels they had run thru their underfoor wheel lathe, I am reminded of the shortcomings of steel on steel. Sure looks like retro tech to me, especially since the higher the speed the worse the wear.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The military industrial complex is a glamorous way to dig holes and fill them in. At least if we build overpriced highways or railroads we get something useful out of it.

    Clem Reply:

    From TM-3.2.1, per track:

    1 messenger wire, bronze, 116 mm2 cross section
    1 contact wire, copper alloy, 150 mm2
    1 aerial ground wire, 93 mm2 aluminum conductor steel-reinforced wire
    1 negative feeder wire, 288 mm2 aluminum clad steel wire

    So let’s say conservatively, 266 mm2 of copper.

    From TM-1.1.8A, total system length is about 2700 track-km (including San Diego and Sacramento).

    2.7e6 m * 266e-6 m2 = 718 cubic meters of copper = 6400 metric tons of copper * $9000/ton = about 60 million dollars.

    CHUMP CHANGE.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It’s reassuring to hear that the inflation of copper won’t kill electrification. When Muni dropped
    electrifying diesel bus lines to trolley bus I was assuming the increased cost of the copper was a factor. I know there was a time, in the ’70’s, when contractors started using aluminum instead of copper because of increased cost, with all kinds of problems ensuing.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    I was reading a Missourian online newspaper The state of Missouri only wants to spend 4.7 million on this… so they’re totally after the ARRA funding… which they definitely will not get 800 million

    Alan F Reply:

    Missouri is likely not to get more than another $10 to $30 million for the existing Kansas City to St. Louis corridor, maybe some money for improvements in St. Louis for the Chi-StL corridor. The $600 million application for true HSR from Kansas City to St. Louis is really just to start a public and political dialog on the idea. If Illinois starts semi-serious planning on a Chi-StL 220 mph HSR line, why shouldn’t Missouri start thinking about extending HSR to Kansas City in a Phase 2 or 3 of a mid-West HSR system. Ask for a lot to get people talking about it, get a small long term feasibility study and planning grant.

    joe Reply:

    Let’s see if IL backs up WI’s request for rail improvements to/from Milwaukee-Chicago or if the Governor keeps quiet and let’s Walker do all the talking.

    IMHO, IL would prefer the original HSR extension connecting Chi-Mil to Mad and then maybe south from Mad along I-90 to the 2nd largest city in IL, Rockford and loop back via ORD to Chicago.

  6. JJJ
    Mar 30th, 2011 at 23:55
    #6

    Good, theres no reason to ask for less.

  7. orulz
    Mar 31st, 2011 at 06:45
    #7

    Who gets the money will hinge largely on which projects are perceived as a risk.

    The applications that are deemed most likely to turn into shovels turning dirt are going to get funded, period.

    CA might still be perceived as a risk – not politically, necessarily, but due to the fact that the EIS process is not complete yet – so there is still opportunity for some to dig their heels in and sue, possibly winning impossibly complex mitigations and increasing costs dramatically.

    Other states have projects that could be built under the much less stringent EA/FONSI process, or even under categorical exclusions, or at least require much less brand new right-of-way and thus fewer impacts and fewer hurdles in the NEPA process.

  8. Donk
    Mar 31st, 2011 at 07:19
    #8

    “of course there’s the bigger question of whether Congress will find some way to take the money back”

    If this really is an issue, then it would be best if these funds were spread around the country as much as possible, so that there would be a team of congresspeople fighting to keep the funds allocated to HSR. It might even be a good idea to allocate some of the funds to WI and other areas where there might be some Republican support. If they allocated some funds to Scott Walker, I wonder if he would put up a fight to keep the funds if Congress goes after the money.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    I don’t think they will get it taken out.. this is one of Obama’s big goals and the vice presidents.. Thou Reid,Boxer and Feinstein need do the heavy hitting in the Senate and make sure this is not taken out under any circumstances

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    That means we also need to do our parts and tell their offices that this is essential to the future of the country.

    Here are a few things to point out with federal HSR funding
    1) It is not even worth 1% of the total federal budget, that will barely put a dent in spending
    2) This is an investment for future generations in a time of uncertain gas prices. We cannot afford to hope for cheap oil, we need to prepare to use less.
    3) High-speed rail will save money on airport expansions from freeing up timeslots from regional air traffic by small planes that are currently being phased out due to their cost to run them. Therefore, HSR will keep service to some communities that are facing air service cuts.

    There are many other great points that have been featured over the years such as it covering 100% of the maintenance, not needing widening like roadways, very cheap to add capacity, just add some trains.

    Either way, the Republicans need to be convinced that the funding is essential and the return on investment to the country will span at least 50 years if not more.

    Donk Reply:

    But it is hard to convince someone of these points when they put their fingers in their ears, close their eyes, and repeat the word “boondogggle” over and over again.

    VBobier Reply:

    That’s cause they want no change, The phrase Doubting Thomas works here.

    VBobier Reply:

    The Repubs in Congress who don’t want any HSR won’t listen as their just Corporat Shills. We need to just worry about the Senate & the Executive Branch.

  9. Bret
    Mar 31st, 2011 at 14:33
    #9

    Has anyone heard anything from the Authority that addresses whether getting the tracks “into Bakersfield” would mean having the aerial just dead end at the station, or does “into Bakersfield” mean getting it back outside of town and return to grade where possible?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why do they need to leave the ground in Bakersfield?

    Bret Reply:

    The plan all along has been elevated tracks through Bakersfield, and I believe the latest application still refers to an elevated station in Bakersfield, so I assume that is still the plan. The preliminary EIR says that there’s a chance that the tracks may be partially at-grade/partially elevated even once it leaves town headed toward the Tehachapi Mtns. I was just curious if the plan was to just dead-end the tracks at the station for now, or continue east of town to try to get at-grade, until they get the money to continue on toward Palmdale.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Grade separating existing road, rail although they may modify this based on the new “value-engineering”.

    synonymouse Reply:

    ‘mo money.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I believe that, among other things, the HSR route has to cross over the BNSF line in Bakersfield, and there isn’t a logical place for a four-track ground-level station to either side of the line.

    JJJ Reply:

    The current amtrak station has 4 tracks

    Travis D Reply:

    Even if they could somehow get those 4 tracks the approach would have to substantially alter the BNSF yard if it stays at grade and that would probably mean more property takes and I doubt BNSF would agree to it.

  10. tony d.
    Mar 31st, 2011 at 16:36
    #10

    Simply put: if in theory FLA was going to get all this money, with no other states getting it, why can’t we get it all?

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Well because every other state would be screaming at Lahood…and future funding may be harded to get if everyone thinks its just going to all end up at CAHSR

    BruceMcF Reply:

    For the same reason that when Florida got this money, it was in two chunks, and each time it was a portion of the money being allocated announced as part of an announcement of a range of projects being funded.

  11. MGimbel
    Mar 31st, 2011 at 17:27
    #11

    OT: Here’s a great video on the construction of Spain’s AVE Levante line:
    http://video.adif.es/video/iLyROoafzGuE.html

    VBobier Reply:

    My TGV video above set the World Record for HSR, the TGV rules.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Looked at a part of it, and like the photos I saw years ago of a then very new French TGV line under construction, what impresses me most is that the expensive part of this railroad (the roadbed), looks like a modern highway!

    On top of that, this “highway” will not run on oil, will be three to four times as fast as you can legally drive, and be safer by a factor of at least 20. The basic technology (electric railroading) has been around since the 1880s, has had heavy-duty form since at least the 1890s (Baltimore & Ohio’s tunnel operation in its namesake city), has had long-distance, high-voltage AC operation since the early 1900s (New Haven), and has been applied to regular high-speed operation since the 1960s (Japan, with a lot of American design ancestry to boot).

    Gee whiz, what’s so “high risk” about that, except to demand that it make a profit, which even the highway system doesn’t do?

    I’m afraid I will never understand the current Republicans nor the Tea Party types on this issue.

    VBobier Reply:

    I believe the Phrase, “If air travel is good enough for Me, Then air travel is good enough for You” applies to Republicans in Power, But then their locked into the past and they like It there.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    For many of them it’s “I see no reason to leave my hometown, why should I worry about your trips?”

    MGimbel Reply:

    What I found quite impressive was the fact that they were able to build a 940 km system (584 miles) for about 12,5 billion euros (that’s about $17.6 billion US dollars). That’s about $30 million/mile for a line that runs through mountainous terrain and across wide valleys (you’ll even see its fare share of aerial structures through farmland). Even adding in inflation and the high cost of urban construction through LA and up the SF Peninsula, the CAHSR line could probably be built for about $27-28 billion using these cost estimates (about $30 million/mile for Sylmar-San Jose, $4 billion for Sylmar-Los Angeles, $5.5 billion for LA-Anaheim, and $6 billion for San Jose-SF). But then again, the European systems tend to use greenfield stations for intermediate cities; which leads to a lower cost, but also looses the advantage of serving the center of a city and probably leads to far more opposition from farmers.

    VBobier Reply:

    Well considering how old some European buildings are and how their constructed, Greenfield Stations preserves the buildings there, As some are really old over there, Unlike here of course.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes, the saying is the difference between Europe and America is that Europeans think 100 miles is a long way away, while Americans think that 100 years is a long time ago.

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