Is Florida’s Loss Merced’s Gain?

Mar 28th, 2011 | Posted by

According to the Merced Sun-Star it just might be:

High-speed rail may come to Merced sooner than expected, as the California High Speed Rail Authority will announce today it’s asking for $1.2 billion in funding that was rejected by Florida.

If the request is approved, it would mean the first phase of track will run from Merced to Bakersfield. Also, instead of building a station just in downtown Fresno, stations will be built in Merced and Bakersfield. The authority is also looking at building a station in Tulare County….

“If we get a portion of Florida’s money, we’ll able to complete the entire backbone of the project,” Jeff Barker, deputy director of the rail authority, told the Sun-Star Friday.

This comes just a few months after Merced officials, including Representative Dennis Cardoza, denounced the California High Speed Rail Authority’s choice of the Borden-Shafter set of tracks to build first. At the time, I argued that these criticisms were not helpful to Merced, as they needed to help find more money for the project instead of attacking a choice they disagreed with. Now that Florida teabaggers have rejected their HSR money, building to Merced as part of the “backbone” is now a strong possibility.

In fact, depending on how much money California gets from Florida, the tracks could be built beyond the Merced-Bakersfield spine toward San José or Los Angeles:

“With the extra money we think we can do one of two things,” Barker said: Extend the track to south of Bakersfield to at least Te-hachapi or build the track 39 miles beyond the triangle at Chowchilla toward Los Banos and San Jose.

This is fantastic news for California and the high speed rail project. Obviously the funding not only has to be won but kept, and Central Valley Republican members of Congress need to fight for that funding instead of appeasing out-of-state wingnuts by trying to take the money away.

California high speed rail is well on the way to getting built. And the Central Valley can finally come together in support of getting this done, filling in the gap between the Pacheco and Tehachapi passes. Once that happens, political support and momentum will grow significantly to connect the tracks to the Bay Area and Southern California.

  1. Caelestor
    Mar 28th, 2011 at 21:05
    #1

    Considering the passionate debate regarding the routing into the Bay Area, I highly suggest that the HSR be built south towards at least Sylmar before heading north. This allows a reasonably quick Sacramento/CV-LA route to be operated while lawsuits are dealt with.

    tony d. Reply:

    There’s no debate in the Bay Area regarding routing. Pacheco has already been chosen, with Altamont one day getting a commuter overlay.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    We are at war with Eastasia. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

    Clem Reply:

    If we all repeat this often enough and forcefully enough maybe it will become true.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The opposite side could equally well claim that the strategy of bitter-enders on Altamont is to advance the claim of a vigorous alignment debate in hopes that repeating it often enough and forcefully enough might make it come true.

    If there was a loud YIMBY clamor in the East Bay along the Altamont alignment to switch the aligment, gaining strong and cross spectrum support, there might be a prospect, but barring that, the presumption that a switch in alignment will just create a whole fresh NIMBY fight to fight is going to keep the project channeled on the Pacheco alignment.

    And if there was going to be such a clamor, it would have happened already.

    Nathanael Reply:

    What Bruce said. If there were actually a mass of people along the Altamont alignment offering up their land and volunteering money to build stations and lobbying the government to “Build Altamont Now”, then yeah, Altamont might still be a contender.

    As it is, it looks like Altamont has just as many NIMBY problems as Pacheco, or more, and it certainly has far more difficult environmental problems, and it’s more expensive, and it involves more conflict with Union Pacific.

    Therefore it is dead in the water; the people who claim to advocate for it are really just advocating against doing anything. If you were actually YIMBYs from the East Bay and had a club of a hundred people along the route with you, you might have a chance (and if you do, more power to you — but you don’t).

    Clem Reply:

    Is “a mass of people offering up their land and volunteering money to build stations and lobbying the government” how Pacheco got selected?

    NIMBYs will be abundant in either option. That’s hardly the point.

    Far from being a bitter-ender, I have read some of the legal briefs in the pending lawsuits. These lead me to the conclusion that this issue is nowhere near being settled. That’s all. After that, anybody’s entitled to their beliefs. It’s a free country.

    joe Reply:

    It’s settled enough to plan HSR via Pacheco and for the MTC to consistently, since 1999, advocate the the Pacheco route. Another plus is the system can be built to Gilroy and connect to SF and SJ via Caltrain until further funds are available.

    Clem Reply:

    MTC’s advocacy of Pacheco made room for the $6 billion (and counting) BART extension to San Jose. This extension would have been largely redundant with a shared HSR/commuter rail corridor in the Fremont to San Jose corridor, as would have resulted from any reasonable Altamont implementation. Pacheco is double the buck for MTC and the coterie of engineering/construction firms to which it is charged with directing taxpayer funds.

    Another plus of Altamont is the system can be built to Livermore and connect to SF and Oakland via BART until further funds are available.

    Joey Reply:

    You trust the MTC?

    Also:

    Another plus is the system can be built to Gilroy and connect to SF and SJ via Caltrain until further funds are available.

    Will definitely not work without major concessions from UP. CalTrain’s service to Gilroy currently amounts to three round trips per day, during commute hours only (less, actually – three northbound in the morning and two southbound in the evening). All of the track between Gilroy and the Lick area (just north of the Capitol Expressway) is single-track and … owned by UP. Good luck getting them to let you run more passenger trains.

    Livermore could serve as this type of transfer point, given BART’s plans to go there, though I guess that’s not much is happening while they’re still fixated on SJ.

    Clem Reply:

    Indeed, Livermore is far closer to the population center of the Bay Area than Gilroy. I could see a reorganization of BART priorities, given fiscal realities for both HSR and BART.

    joe Reply:

    Yes, Caltrain currently runs three trains to/from Gilroy.

    Obviously running HSR over Altamont and reworking HSR/BART as well as building a bridge over the bay is easier than adding more train service to Gilroy.

    Plus it undo’s years of planing and consensus.

    Joey Reply:

    You say that as if the bridge was never factored into the Authority’s own cost estimates.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Is “a mass of people offering up their land and volunteering money to build stations and lobbying the government” how Pacheco got selected?

    But regarding persuading those who don’t have a strong preference either way, that’s a red herring. You need to be able to offer some reason to think that Altamont is the path of least resistence, in the face of the fact that all the institutional momentum for the project is lined up behind following up on the progress already made with the process of getting Pacheco approved, and pushing it through the rest of the way to final approval.

    NIMBYs will be abundant in either option. That’s hardly the point.” And that’s why that’s the point. Why abandon the current fight partway through, when all it means is going back to square one and having the same fight to fight all over again, from the beginning.

    If there was a visible impression that there would not be the same fight in the Altamont corridor, that would be a foundation for an advocacy campaign.

    Joey Reply:

    Why abandon the current fight partway through, when all it means is going back to square one and having the same fight to fight all over again, from the beginning.

    Because you get a lot more bang for your buck – fast service Bay Area-Sacramento, Altamont commuter service with no additional infrastructure, less track to build in Phase 2 when you start heading north from the wye.

    joe Reply:

    Sorry but adding new requirements isn’t adding bang for the buck – it’s undermining the project.

    Altamont proponents want to CHANGE the Priorities of HSR to justify their wants.

    Primary Objective of HSR is not improving service from SF to Sac – That’s not a level 1 requirement for HSR.

    This design SF and SJ service and forces two trains be deployed, not one. A bad design for the purposes of connecting the state.

    Splitting SF and SJ service and building a magic beans bay bridge to speed the SF to Sac time is optimizing the HSR architecture for a non-prioritized objective.

    Joey Reply:

    These aren’t requirements. These are additional benefits which you can get at NO ADDITIONAL COST. You would in fact be saving money in the long term.

    This design SF and SJ service and forces two trains be deployed, not one. A bad design for the purposes of connecting the state.

    Bad how? SF and SJ get the same service frequencies, and everyone traveling between cities beyond Fremont has double the service frequencies they would normally.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    SJ gets much lower frequency assuming they get service at all. San Francisco gets lower frequencies too.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    A mass of people did lobby for a Dumbarton rail crossing and got it included in RM2 toll crossing measure. Money which then got stolen — twice!

    And when ACTIA staff proposed only modest increase in transbay bus service, a mass of people did successfully lobby for Dumbarton rail as part of Alameda County Measure B transportation sales tax.

    And when the MTC plans for new Bay Bridge did not include a rail crossing, a mass of people rose up and put an advisory measure on the ballot, which won an overwhelming number of “yes’ votes.

    And when Union City got funding for its intermodal transit center, new transbay service was part of the plan.

    Yeah, just a bunch of bitter dead enders….

    joe Reply:

    Bitter and desperate.

    There’s no reason HSR’s route puts the east bay at a disadvantage for rail service. None. It’s a false choice used to try to divide the bay area and delay HSR.

    Clem Reply:

    It ought to be a clue that not a single transit advocacy group (the citizen kind, not the politico-corporate kind) supported Pacheco. In fact several of them are plaintiffs in the ongoing Altamont/Pacheco litigation. Weird huh? Are ALL of these people bitter and desperate?

    Tony D. Reply:

    Clem,
    Your “Altamont foaming” is starting to get a little old. Aside from the one day ACE overlay, it aint happening! Get over it! And again, no judge can force CHSRA to change its primary route into the Bay Area. The worst thing that these frivolous lawsuits will accomplish is delaying construction of the HSR line from SJ to SF, and that’s it. No, I don’t have to tell the judge that because he/she already knows it. Even the judge hearing these BS lawsuits would tell you they don’t have that kind of devine power to change HSR routings. Oh, now you’re trying to put groups like Bay Rail Alliance into some devine light? Boy the BS is getting deep around here!

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The ones backing Altamont as the primary corridor just to get the HSR out of the southern part of the Caltrain corridor give that impression.

    As far as the ones who hope for regional transit corridor improvements as a spin-off of HSR corridor development, I think they’d be better advised to turn to aggressive YIMBY’ism on trying to get complementary rail improvements for the existing alignment.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    I think they’d be better advised to turn to aggressive YIMBY’ism on trying to get complementary rail improvements for the existing alignment.

    Been there, done that. Lot of good it did.

    Dumbarton project funds “loaned” to other projects.
    Altamont overlay “study” sandbagged to maximize cost, minimize usefulness.
    Caltrain/HSR “shared” ROW concept will most likely bankrupt Caltrain

    The only complimentary rail improvements being allowed are B.A.R.T.

    Clem Reply:

    We’ve seen what “complimentary rail improvements” have done for Caltrain. All the local funding that was lined up for electrification was gutted in the hope that the HSR tooth fairy would come by. That didn’t happen, and now Caltrain is in a financial bind with community support severely crippled. Getting HSR off the southern portion of the Caltrain corridor would considerably simplify (read: improve) future operations and lessen opposition from the only NIMBYs that actually have the money and clout for a fair chance of stopping the project.

    joe Reply:

    The Clue is I’m not so arrogant to assume that transit advocacy groups make optimal or even well weighted decisions.

    Joey Reply:

    The Clue is I’m not so arrogant to assume that transit advocacy groups make optimal or even well weighted decisions.

    And the CHSRA and MTA do?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Lobbying for Dumbarton rail doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Voting for it doesn’t make it a good idea either. Even taxing yourself for it doesn’t make it a good idea.

    Clem Reply:

    Pray tell, oracle of the East, what would make it a good idea?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Passengers?

    Clem Reply:

    Are you familiar with the ridership estimates (as flawed as they are known to be), freely available on the CHSRA website, that show Altamont alternatives producing more passengers than Pacheco alternatives? To the point that they had to sand-bag Altamont to make Pacheco come out on top? Please direct your gaze to alternatives A5 and A6 and compare to the official selection of P1. Then you can make snarky comments about ridership, if still so inclined.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    yes I am. They are HSR ridership projection. Pray tell what do they have to do with commuter rail ridership? Silly me I thought we were discussing the thundering herds of dozens and dozens of people who want to go from Union City to Atherton places that HSR trains won’t be stopping at .

    joe Reply:

    And I say Pacheco optimizes total train ridership by letting SF-SJ connect directly S, service the central coast and allow Oakland /Sac ridership continue along existing track.

    It’s inefficient to funnel everyone to the east bay and over the hill. It also disrupts existing transit destinations, making them secondary destination to the east bay.

    Joey Reply:

    and allow Oakland /Sac ridership continue along existing track.

    Yes, because the best thing for ridership is not to pursue faster service at no additional cost.

    It’s inefficient to funnel everyone to the east bay and over the hill.

    How so? It’s not like there’s going to be a bottleneck.

    It also disrupts existing transit destinations, making them secondary destination to the east bay.

    Again, wtf? Ridership to a given destination depends on end-to-end trip time, not what route the train takes along the way.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Ridership to a given destination depends on end-to-end trip time
    Which is why people without origins or destinations between Stockton and Fremont don’t give a lying fluck about Altamont.

    Caelestor Reply:

    The major benefit of Altamont would essentially be a Dumbarton East/ACE upgrade, as well as reasonable East Bay/Sacramento service.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The only part of the East Bay served by it would the part between the western portal of the tunnel and the eastern end of the new bridge.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Guys, you realize that the uncertainty in the models is much larger than the difference they project between Pacheco and Altamont, right?

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    They are HSR ridership projection. Pray tell what do they have to do with commuter rail ridership?

    Because one correlates with the other. Otherwise, just build the HSR tracks out in North Dakota. No nimys there.

    Silly me I thought we were discussing the thundering herds of dozens and dozens of people who want to go from Union City to Atherton

    Jesus Christ on a pogo stick. Do you have idea of how many transbay trips are made everyday? The bridges and the BART transbay tube are completely maxed-out, let alone what they will be like in 2 decades.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How many of them would be served by Dumbarton Rail? People in Walnut Creek who want to go to San Francisco aren’t going to drive to Fremont and get off the train in Redwood City.

    Caelestor Reply:

    “Considering the passionate debate…” I rest my case. Do you think Desert Xpress is interested in a Mojave link?

    Andy M. Reply:

    Mentioning Desert Xpress, I won’t express my opinion on that until they have the financing in place and more detailed planning and projections. At the moment its still to difficult to distinguish wishful optimism from good business practice.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Caelestor,
    The “passionate debate” is only happening on this blog and among the NIMBY contingent on the Peninsula. In the real world, the route into the Bay Area is set and it’s Pacheco (Clem be damned). And for all of those passengers on the Altamont, you’ll one day have an HSR overlay (do I sound like a broken recored or what…oh well). By the way Clem, the entire Bay Area, California HSR world does not revolve around a few elite crybabies on the Peninsula. That is all.

  2. AndyDuncan
    Mar 28th, 2011 at 21:10
    #2

    ALTAMONT LIVES!

    Just kidding, feeling a bit Spokker-ish.

    Merced though? Man, I understand they want it there politically but unless you’re doing Altamont that makes no sense. With Pacheco Merced doesn’t make sense until there’s a line to Sacramento, or Stockton at least. Get the line to Los Banos, or out the other side of Bakersfield. Way more useful.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Merced wants a heavy maintenance facility, so that may be a factor in the reasoning.

    joe Reply:

    Yes, Merced’s inclusion gives the appearance that the city has an even chance of landing the maintenance facility.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Doesn’t it allow for a very direct “independent utility junction” without having to reserve a lot of the budget for the pure independent utility component?

    Indeed, given the likely uneven demand for various preliminary service options, which points to a mix of full and partial routes to best match transport demand, Merced is one natural service origin for preliminary service options including Pacheco completed, Palmdale / LA conventional rail, Baksersfield / LA completed, the Bay via the San Jaoquin alignment to Oakland, and CV through to Palmdale completed, conventional rail on both sides.

  3. AndyDuncan
    Mar 28th, 2011 at 21:12
    #3

    Clem, this morning:

    Politically it is impossible for them to build north of Chowchilla without first building west to Los Banos. Doing so would open an opportunity for service to begin via Altamont rather than Pacheco, something we know they are dead-set against.

    I think Clem’s right, but here we are.

    Clem Reply:

    As noted in their packet, spending any money beyond the wye is subject to EIR approval and survival in the courts. They even gave the relevant court case numbers for the program EIR. The project EIRs will collect lawsuits as well. That’s why I think all these cocksure comments about Pacheco/Altamont are a tad bit premature.

    Jack Reply:

    39 Miles from Chowchilla kinda kills the Altamont option…?

    Peter Reply:

    Altamont ain’t never happenin’. Again, lawsuits can’t force a change in the alignments, just a redo of the analysis, which, unless some new, absolutely AMAZINGLY convincing, environmental arguments for Altamont over Pacheco are introduced.

    Lawsuits can’t stop a project, just delay it.

    VBobier Reply:

    I’m with Peter.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    I agree… the judge never said the alignment was faulty .. certain items in the EIR had issue that needed clarification.

    Peter Reply:

    Also, the fact that the project EIRs will be subjected to lawsuits has no bearing on whether Altamont or Pacheco will be selected.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Can I get an Amen for Peter!

  4. Elizabeth
    Mar 28th, 2011 at 21:21
    #4

    Staff memo for Wed’s meeting is posted.

    http://cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/assets/0/152/232/7d5e21b5-2dbe-44be-8657-340bfee9bdeb.pdf

    So basically go towards Merced and Bakersfield. I would say that Altamont is not actually dead. One somewhat troubling aspect of the analysis is that they explicitly only look at the best case scenarios.

    “For purposes of developing these grant options, the lowest cost estimates for the potential extensions have been used in order to show the maximum potential length of those extensions (as was done with the cost estimates prepared for prior grant applications).”

    If you are a board member picking between A and B, don’t you know want to know the best case and worst case for each? If the best cases are similar, wouldn’t the worst case matter?

    South of Bakersfield, the best case now includes a lot of at-grade track, that was not in recent analysis.

    Jack Reply:

    I thought CAARD would be jumping for joy at all teh value engineering going on right now. It’s would seem that the project is almost becoming logical. Honestly I feel like an adult is behind the wheel right now guiding the project to completion.

    joe Reply:

    Value engineering is freaking CARRD out.

    CARRD had the drivers seat when the plan was to improve the Caltrain corridor.

    Now it looks like the State will build a significant fraction of the system with Fed money in the central valley so the only hope to shut down peninsula rail is resurrect Altamont.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Bingo. There will always be something to criticize, as not every project or decision will be perfect. But so far the decisions are all sound and sensible. So I can see CARRD turning to Altamont as one last option, although it is not going to happen – at least not as an alternative to Pacheco. That ship sailed nearly 3 years ago.

    tony d. Reply:

    Can always count on Robert to add some sanity back into the discussion.
    “that ship sailed nearly 3-years ago,” DAMN STRAIGHT!

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    Concur.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If you are a board member picking between A and B, don’t you know want to know the best case and worst case for each?

    No, not beyond a reasonable level of detail. The time to settle those questions was back when they were selecting a route. Years ago. Suggesting reopening the debate between Altamont and Pacheco is just spreading FUD. You wouldn’t want to do that would you? After all spreading FUD isn’t “doing it right” is it?

    VBobier Reply:

    After all the Wye doesn’t have to point or be near Altamont, But then I know that as I’ve laid track before, Sure It was only model railroad track in HO scale(1/87) and I contributed to XtrkCad in designing some turnouts(switches), As railroad track is except for sheer size still track, as is scale model railroad track. And since the location of the heavy maintenance facility hasn’t been revealed yet, Building the complete backbone can’t hurt, Since building a heavy maintenance facility would do no good if there was no track leading to It.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Actually the memo says that 2 is in addition to 1, not separate. In other words, the choice for the Board is to select applying for 1, 1 and 2a, 1 and 2b, or 1 and 2a and 2b. Even though its unlikely that they would get it all, the largest option basically puts the track on the doorstep of the Bay Area and L.A.

    joe Reply:

    Since San Jose is now the nation’s 10th largest city and connected to SF by train service, I expect they’ll build to Pacheco Pass and connect to Caltrain in Gilroy.

    Then run lots of diesels to/from San Francisco/San Jose to connect to the HSR service.

    Enjoy.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Since Caltrain is slowly dying under the current setting, a two track electric alignment shared with Caltrain as a stepping stone to a four track alignment seems more sustainable than planning on connecting to a bunch of diesels which might no longer be there by the time the CA-HSR hits San Jose. The transit time benefits of electric Caltrain services would offer the best way to revive Caltrain if it has died in the interim, and under that design and at the low frequency that a preliminary service would operate under, it ought to be straightforward to work out interim capacity sharing.

    joe Reply:

    Peninsula NIMBYs want to kill Caltrain to stop further growth/development.

    EIRs for neighboring Stanford Hospital’s 3.5 Billion expansion assume workers will use Caltrain/buses/bikes and not cars.

    Menlo Park’s mayor says Caltrain might go away so the EIR is flawed. Mr. Mayor says there WILL be more cars than the EIR so the project’s impact is larger, therefore MP should get more traffic mitigation $$ and Stanford has to accommodate the city.

    Stalling development is based on EIRs and automobile traffic projections. Caltrain and HSR undermine the NIMBY arguments and also undermine MP’s attempt to increase $$ for traffic mitigation.

    Lather rise and repeat.

    Dan Reply:

    The memo (your link) also says that:

    “Staff has concluded that there is a “Base Case” Option for which funds should be requested as a minimum request”

    i.e. the Best-Case is only used to determine what the MINIMUM required funding should be. Seems like a prudent course of action to me.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I am absolutely certain that the CAHSR staff has indeed been shown the “reasonable-worst-case” scenarios. Note that the phrasing was “For purposes of developing these grant options”.

    The fact is that everything has been coming in under budget lately due to the bad economy, so I don’t think this is going to be a serious issue for money which has to be spent in the next year or two.

    It also seems clear that if Merced to Bakersfield runs over budget the 2a and/or 2b extensions get dropped, so that’s basically the worst case for this funding.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    I have absolutely no certainty that the CAHSR board has been shown reasonable worst or even worse case scenarios. What makes you think that they would see them if they are not part of the staff memo?

    joe Reply:

    Considering the additional money and strong support from the Central Valley, it’s very hard to define for CARRD what a worse case scenario is… possibly winning additional support from the Feds is worse case.

  5. Daniel Krause
    Mar 28th, 2011 at 22:52
    #5

    I was under the impression that just getting into downtown Bakersfield and building the station there would take a good chunk of money. Seems unrealistic that an extra $1.8-$2B (including matching funds) gets the line built from Merced all the way to Bakersfield.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    OK, so now half a billion give or take is no longer a good chunk of money.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Seems like they are going to spend that much to rework Millbrae.

    Matthew B Reply:

    Flat and fast sections are cheaper. Land is cheaper, construction is more straightforward, etc.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And that’s a good chunk of money they propose to be spending on it.

  6. Alex M.
    Mar 28th, 2011 at 23:06
    #6

    I understand the arguments for building towards Merced, especially with the Castle Airport maintenance hub option, but I think the priority should be to get the tracks to Lancaster. Not only does this immediately open up options for a Metrolink to HSR connection, but it also sweetens the deal for DesertXpress to connect to Lancaster/Palmdale as soon as possible. It would be great if there would be an express Metrolink train to Lancaster daily connecting to both DesertXpress going towards LV and the CAHSR train to Fresno beginning in the next 5-7 years. Merced opens up access to another well populated city, but Lancaster will open up an enormous user link to LA that can’t be overlooked.

    Donk Reply:

    The only good reasons to go to Merced first are to appease the whiners in Merced who apparently have some political clout, and so that people can stop saying it is a train to nowhere. But according to the CAHSR, there is no debate between Merced and Lancaster, only between Merced and Los Banos.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Debate between Merced and Los Banos according to CAHSR when?

    Merced is option 1, Los Banos is an additional option on top of Option 1. South of Bakersfield is the other additional option on top of Option 1. So Merced/Bakersfield including the Wye is the foundation, the debate if extra money is available is between east of the Wye and south of Bakersfield … unless there is so much money available that its “all of the above”.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It seems clear that CAHSR doesn’t see the money for the major mountain crossing tunnels yet. Accordingly they’re prioritizing building as functional a route in the Valley as they can.

    If Prop 1A hadn’t explicitly prioritized San Francisco to LA, I would kind of expect HSR to reach Sacramento first, due to the lack of mountain crossings.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Also, Merced has YIMBYs.

    My bet is the extension will head south first simply because Palmdale has more YIMBY activity than Gilroy. Path of least resistance, politically.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    YIMBY activity makes all the difference. YIMBYs not only get what they want, they tend to get it in exactly the way they want it. More flies with honey and all that.

    It’s instructive that Peninsula NIMBYism – for example – is predicated on a belief that trans are stupid and pointless and not useful. Lots of people live next to or near the tracks, understand the benefits of improving the corridor and providing HSR service, and as a result support the project. They’re currently getting shouted down by the “cars forever! trains never!” crowd, but is already fading.

    Matthew B Reply:

    Once the system is built between Gilroy and Lancaster, conventional tracks at least make some kind of connecting service theoretically possible. Once that’s in place, the rest will be easier to work out than it is now. I think that the Bakersfield-Lancaster gap is one of the most important to solve, especially for DesertXpress etc.

    joe Reply:

    From Gilroy via Caltrain infrastructure connections to SJ, SF etc and Altamont Express riders via their SJ ACE terminus.

    Monterey County studied the idea of running rail from the south starting at Salinas to Gilroy and Sj
    http://www.bayrailalliance.org/salinas_monterey_rail
    http://tamcmonterey.org/programs/rail/commuter_rail.html

    Joey Reply:

    Between Gilroy and SJ there is a single track owned by UP which allows seven passenger trains every day (5 CalTrain +2 Amtrak). You’re not going to turn Gilroy into a transfer point without massive infrastructure upgrades and massive concessions from UP.

    joe Reply:

    San Mateo County NIMBYs oppose alternative transportation (Like Caltrain and HSR) so they can stop local development with challenges to the EIRs. NIMBY’s claim EIRs cannot relay on awful, soon to be killed alternative transportation methods that will accommodate the increased population density of the project.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Not…enough…money. I don’t think the 2 billion, even if there was no extension to the north would get them to Lancaster.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Our best case is to get the 1.2 billion and build towards Merced to complete the Valley spine.. as you stated there is not enough money to go into the mountains either direction. Now that the Northeast corridor is open for HSR money we now have an ally and a competitor so no way are we getting more than that .

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    I think we need to get Fresno – Bakersfield done. Amtrak can pay us for the right to operate on the segment. I think it’s fine to extend it afterwards to Merced, but even at that point, the San Joaquins still has a three hour journey to Oakland or a two hour one to Sacramento.

    One scary possibility is extending HSR to Sacramento first and then forcing SF and LA to figure out a way to get it to the rest of the way….

    YESonHSR Reply:

    They memo say the can reach downtown Bakersfield and Merced with 1.2 Billion..and a state match..now if we get far less I would think it might go all towards getting at least to the Amtrak station in Bakersfield

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    I don’t think we will get 1.2 billion. Obama needs to spread out the money to various states because of its impact on 2012. I predict some money will go to the NEC, some to WA, some to CA, a little to NV and WI.

    The reason for this is that Obama wants to use John Mica against the Republicans by funding the NEC and then tour Florida with Charlie Crist and saying “John Mica agrees with us”.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Didn’t Florida send back 2.4 billion? Meaning there’s 1.2 billion to spread around the rest of the country?

    YESonHSR Reply:

    I think we have a good shot at 1.2 billion..they have 800 million that needs a 20%match the rest is ARRA , so if they split it half ARRA /2010HSR that would work.and there is still 1billion ,at least at this time in 2011 HSR funding

    AlanF Reply:

    The competition for the $2.43 billion is going to be rather intense.

    Missouri will be applying for $973 million: $373 million for the current Kansas City to St. Louis corridor and a bridge replacement in St. Louis; $600 million for planning, engineering, and land acquisition for a Kansas City to St. Louis HSR line.

    Maryland will be applying for $250 million for replacing the BWI Airport station and adding a 4th track for a section of the NEC between Baltimore and DC; $200 million for planning and engineering for replacing the Bush, Gunpowder, and Susquehanna bridges on the NEC.

    Amtrak and NJTransit will reportedly be applying for the North Portal bridge replacement project which is way up on the Amtrak NEC priority list.

    On a wacky twist, Wisconsin will be applying for $150 for the Chicago to Milwaukee corridor which includes a project that was killed by Walker when he rejected the $800+ million Madison project.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Amtrak and NJTransit will reportedly be applying for the North Portal bridge replacement project which is way up on the Amtrak NEC priority list.

    So far up on the list that they started preliminary construction on it last year. Which makes me suspect they have financing lined up.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    What YESonHSR said ~ California has a big crack at the annual appropriation portion of Florida funding, which needs matching funds, leaving ARRA funding that can be handed out quickly to states to expand on projects already funded without requiring them to go back to the state legislature for more matching funds.

    It seems likely that California knows that and is trimming its sail to fit its cloth.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    The mix CAHSR gets wont really matter as they plan to match it 30% nomatter which funding is used.. Dont know if anyone will match at more than 30%..20 will probally be the best..Now if that 2011 1Billion is also throw in the mix it could work out fine for all….California getting most of that and the ARRA going to the rest…The Maryland apps looks strong ..Missouri way to big for ARRA timelines and do they have any money match for that much..And Walker is playing his little game

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The ARRA funding does not require a money match, though the annual appropriations do. So the fight for the ARRA funding turned back by Florida will be more intense than the fight for the annual appropriation funding turned back by Florida.

    The fact that California is offering a bigger match than required even for the annual appropriations means that the US DoT can give California that money and divvy up the no match funds among other states.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    I think California gets enough money to build Fresno to Bakersfield. Perhaps, if the applications are weak, we get enough money to build from Merced to Fresno. Obama’s priority here is to show that there are places where his ideas work. And to show that even critics of his, like Christie, Walker, still like his money when it suits them politically.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    I think we can get that 1.2 Billion to go all the way Merced-Bakersfield..the options thou are too much, We are putting up a 30% match..thats is going to be hard to beat as most apps are probally going for the ARRA and no match to which even that we will match…so if we get all 2010 funding and 400 ARRA that still leaves 1.2 Billion for others that needs no match..and lets hope that 2011 funding comes thru and can be thrown in

  7. Donk
    Mar 28th, 2011 at 23:25
    #7

    Is it me, or has common sense started to prevail ever since Rod Diridon left the CAHSRA board? This goes for the new value engineering approach and many of the other decisions being made.

    In looking at the new CAHSRA document: http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/assets/0/152/232/7d5e21b5-2dbe-44be-8657-340bfee9bdeb.pdf
    it is now clear exactly why they selected the Bakersfield-Merced first, followed by the San Jose stub and the Tehachapi stub. There isn’t the funding to do any of the mountain passes, and furthermore they haven’t yet gotten the environmental clearance to go south from Bakersfield anyway:

    “The environmental clearance schedule for Option 2A is further advanced than the Option 2B schedule.  Due to the ARRA funding limitations, it is apparent that Option 2B would be limited to FY 2010 funds.”

    So people here should stop bothering to debate why they aren’t building it south into Palmdale yet – they can’t yet.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s probably the other way around, i.e. the administration of van Ark has no place for someone like Diridon.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “So people here should stop bothering to debate why they aren’t building it south into Palmdale yet – they can’t yet.”

    That’s exactly what I expected — environmental clearances are running slow on that section.

  8. Loren Petrich
    Mar 29th, 2011 at 00:43
    #8

    Merced – Bakersfield would be useful for San Joaquin service — trains could travel at 110 mph.

    If they get enough money, they will consider these additional options:

    Chowchilla Wye to the mountains near San Luis Reservoir, halfway to Gilroy. Building the tunnels there would require additional money.

    Bakersfield – Tehachapi Mts.

    For partial service, the San Luis option one would be the better one, since it could reduce the amount of bus travel from the ends by a greater amount, though not by much.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    With hybdrid diesel-electric / overhead-electric that Talgo has, trains could travel 125mph on the HSR section ~ it will, after all, be superelevated for substantially higher.

    Or with HSR rolling stock and coupled locomotives for the diesel section north of Merced, the San Jaoquin trains could travel 220mph Merced to Bakersfield.

    VBobier Reply:

    HSR and San Joaquin Trains don’t both go 220Mph, HSR can, San Joaquin can not, At least not with Amtrak-California equipment, No Diesel Locomotive is capable of 220Mph… Diesels are too heavy.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Even if you made diesels light they don’t produce enough power.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Surely it is obvious that the reference to 220mph Merced to Bakersfield is talking about running under the wire? Everyone knows that diesels can’t go that fast.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The San Jaoquin is a service. Its presently provided by a specific collection of Amtrak-California rolling stock, but it would still be the San Jaoquin with different rolling stock.

    And yes, providing the service with different equipment is exactly what I specified. The hybrid diesel-electric / overhead-electric that Talgo has could travel 125mph on the HSR section.

    And running an Express HSR train on the HSR corridor, with diesels coupled to it to run into the conventional rail sections would allow the San Jaoquin to run 220mph in the Express HSR section, coupling and uncoupling the diesel locomotives at Merced.

    Clem Reply:

    Bombardier already makes a hybrid diesel electric FRA compliant 125 mph locomotive for NJ Transit.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The closest it’s come to actually running is being hauled by CSX as freight. The prototype is on it’s way to Pueblo, if it hasn’t already arrived.

    Matthew B Reply:

    There won’t be any electrification of the HSR line at this point anyway.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes, there won’t be any electrification of the HSR line at this point, since there’s no line there to electrify at the moment.

    However, once constructed, and then at a point where there is an option to start making use of the corridor, electrification of the corridor to allow full speed use of that segment is one available alternative.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, and said locomotive is even heavier than the Genesis.

    ks Reply:

    I find this reader comment on the Merced Sun-Star interesting:

    “Currently, Amtrak uses the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe (BNSF) rails. BNSF maintains those tracks, as well as dispatches all trains on them. Should Amtrak move trains to the high speed right of way, the question of track maintenance and dispatching immediately come to mind. Who would pay for those services? Plus, there would be the issue of continued construction, as the line would still need to be electrified for high speed trains and high speed equipment would be going through testing procedures on the already completed sections. It would also cost several $Millions to connect the newly built right of way to the existing BNSF right of way so that Amtrak trains could transfer from one right of way to the other. It’s not as easy as many think.”

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The “several $Millions” to connect the newly built right of way to the existing BSNF right of way is budgeted ~ otherwise the funds would not be available, since that back-up contingency is what provides the “independent utility” required by the terms of the Federal money.

    As far as “who would pay for those services” ~ Amtrak pays BNSF to run on their track. And the dispatching in the event that the San Jaoquin are the only trains running on the Express HSR track does not seem to be an extraordinarily difficult task.

  9. morris brown
    Mar 29th, 2011 at 05:33
    #9

    From the article, but not mentioned by Robert is this:

    “The money for the first phase is only for construction. There will be no electrification or trains until later. Until the entire system is complete, Amtrak will be able to run at 120 mph between Bakersfield and Merced, Galgiani said. “That’s an immediate benefit,” she added. ”

    None of the currently proposed plans for the central valley meet the requirements of Prop 1A. Read the document. Full funding for a usable segment,must be in place before any funds from Prop 1A bonds can be released for construction.

    No electrification, no trainsets, and other missing parts preclude these proposals from meeting Prop 1A requirements.

    So as Assemblywoman Galgiani points out and as vanArk and the Authority have ignored, funding from Prop 1A will not be afforded, unless or until all the necessary elements to actually run High Speed Rail on a usable segment are included. This is not trivial, and amount to 28 – 30% of costs.

    I refer you to a board meeting last year, when Diridon asked of the AG, whether such plans met the legal requirements of Prop 1A. The AG refused to answer.

    So while it is well known, that FRA people were in Sacramento last week at the Authority’s office helping to write a grant proposal for additional ARRA funds from the Florida abandonment, the goals of the Authority is to get beyond the stigma of “a train to nowhere” and satisfying political interests of Galgiani and Merced interests, they are simply not getting any further along with producing a plan that can be funded from Prop 1A bonds.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Sez you. Running the existing service on the track would make it usable. The whole point of the “usable segment” clauses are so that if the project is abandoned mid way the parts that are completed could be used. Not used but could be used.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    I think you are confusing “independent utility” with “usable segment.”

    VBobier Reply:

    With Amtrak-Californias San Joaquin running on the completed tracks and at a faster speed, Both “independent utility” with “usable segment” are possible, Especially If the system were not completed cause of unwarranted political interference…

    By 1976, the once expansive rail network throughout California (as in the rest of the United States) had declined to a point where rail travel in California was basic and infrequent. In order to relieve traffic congestion on state highways and to expand rail service above a basic level, California began to provide financial assistance to Amtrak.[1] At the same time, Caltrans Division of Rail was formed to oversee state-financed rail operations and the brand Amtrak California started appearing on state-supported routes.

    In 1990, California passed Propositions 108 and 116, providing $3 billion for transportation projects, with a large portion going to rail service.[2] As a result, new locomotives and passenger cars were purchased by the state, existing inter-city routes expanded, and one new inter-city route, the Capitol Corridor, began operation.

    Joey Reply:

    The Prop 1A requirement is no operating subsidy, not independent utility.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The usable segment would be whether an HSR service could run without government subsidy. If they bid out an operating franchise for Merced / Bakersfield, with the first ten years of full Stage 1 operation when Stage 1 is completed, they’d have a usable segment with no government subsidy.

    Jack Reply:

    Your definition of “usable segment” is thankfully not what was intended by prop 1A.

    It’s happening Morris, once the track is laid, it’s all over. Don’t be sad, I’ll still buy you a beer your first trip.

    Rant Reply:

    Will there be ever be a day when no one replies to a Morris Brown post?

  10. Rick Rong
    Mar 29th, 2011 at 05:52
    #10

    Morris, Prop 1A says that there has to be a funding plan approved by the legislature and Department of Finance, not that funding “must be in place.”

    morris brown Reply:

    Really! Why do I bother ! Please read: especially section D

    (PROP 1a)

    2704.08

    (c) (1) No later than 90 days prior to the submittal to the Legislature and the
    Governor of the initial request for appropriation of proceeds of bonds
    authorized by this chapter for any eligible capital costs on each corridor, or
    usable segment thereof, identified in subdivision (b) of Section 2704.04, other
    than costs described in subdivision (g), the authority shall have approved and
    submitted to the Director of Finance, the peer review group established
    pursuant to Section 185035 of the Public Utilities Code, and the policy
    committees with jurisdiction over transportation matters and the fiscal
    committees in both houses of the Legislature, a detailed funding plan for that
    corridor or a usable segment thereof.
    (2) The plan shall include, identify, or certify to all of the following:
    (A) The corridor, or usable segment thereof, in which the authority is
    proposing to invest bond proceeds.
    (B) A description of the expected terms and conditions associated with any
    lease agreement or franchise agreement proposed to be entered into by the
    authority and any other party for the construction or operation of passenger
    train service along the corridor or usable segment thereof.
    (C) The estimated full cost of constructing the corridor or usable segment
    thereof, including an estimate of cost escalation during construction and
    appropriate reserves for contingencies.
    (D) The sources of all funds to be invested in the corridor, or usable segment
    thereof, and the anticipated time of receipt of those funds based on expected
    commitments, authorizations, agreements, allocations, or other means
    .

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Morris, notice the words that are emphasized:

    (B) A description of the EXPECTED terms and conditions associated with any
    lease agreement or franchise agreement PROPOSED to be entered into by the
    authority and any other party for the construction or operation of passenger
    train service along the corridor or usable segment thereof.
    (C) The estimated full cost of constructing the corridor or usable segment
    thereof, including an estimate of cost escalation during construction and
    appropriate reserves for contingencies.
    (D) The sources of all funds to be invested in the corridor, or usable segment
    thereof, and the ANTICIPATED time of receipt of those funds based on EXPECTED
    commitments, authorizations, agreements, allocations, or other means

    An “expected” commitment is not the same as a commitment. When you say full funding must be in place, do you include “expected” commitments, or do you mean solid commitments?

    VBobier Reply:

    I have to say Rick, You make some good points, As such, Carry on.

    morris brown Reply:

    Nonsense: Get yourself an attorney and learn.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Litigation is a waste of time – a tame machine judge will simply re-write the law on the spot to conform to whatever are the needs of PB-CHSRA. Remember it’s the three crones and a drone who appoint the judges.

    The real tool of the dissidents is money. Some decades ago Reaganites coined the phrase “Starve the beast”. It exploits the inherent nature of the boondoggle, which is to waste as much money as possible. Spending demands overwhelm funding sources – there simply aren’t enough taxpayers to squeeze. In time the juggernaut trips over itself.

    The TEE on steroids will crap out with some trains running mostly empty over the Detour. The apparatchioks will reacquire the obvious: many potential users will ask themselves the question – “Why in the **** do I have to go to Fresno to get to LA?” and conclude “forget it”. Shortly thereafter the TWU or a reasonable facsimile thereof will prevail upon the machine and its judges to get installed at the hsr. Exit any private operator and soon a strike – enabled by said machine and judges – which will featherbed the work rules and juice the compensation packages. Welcome to BART, bloated payroll and crappy maintenance forever. Or until the money runs out.

    In due course, a struggling public will react by telling all the transport unions to go out on strike forever. Starving the beast will be by default as a 3rd world Golden State will simply no longer have the resources to support or maintain a bloated, wasteful infrastructure. Look to the south for an example: electrification ripped out.

    TRAC-Tolmach-Quantm is value engineering in your face – the fact that PB spurns it reveals that the boondoggle lives. Vote early and often and always no on taxes and projects.

    J. Wong Reply:

    You’re failing to note that the quickest way to get California or the U.S.A. to become 3rd world countries is to “starve the beast”.

    Anyway, as I noted in response to your other posts, no one who chooses the train will care about whether it goes through Fresno or Palmdale. Anyone who does care will fly. And even with a “direct” route through Tejon, the train won’t be faster, so any one who cares will still fly. I believe the majority of passengers don’t care.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    For most people the door-to-door travel times are lower on the train even going through the dastardly Palmdale, funky Fresno etc.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Most poor people will continue to travel to LA by car and rich people by plane. The PB TEE version of hsr is simply inadequately revolutionary to turn a profit.

    I have no problem with a subsidized TEE for the time being – just cut out the stilts and go incremental and Quantm. Tejon. Idiotic to make it intentionally longer and slower than it can be.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Poor people don’t have cars, they use the bus. Lower middle class people with cars will look at teh cost and use the train because it’s cheaper and faster. Upper middle class people and rich people will do the same. Happens all over the world including in the US.

    Nathanael Reply:

    What Adirondacker said. Poor people don’t have cars and can’t afford gas. Lower middle class people are getting to the same point. Upper middle class people prefer the comfort of trains. Rich people will probably continue taking their private jets, of course.

    Syn should have all comments claiming that the Tejon route is viable deleted — he’s clearly gone mad, and the ravings of a madman are distracting. The facts have been pointed out to him time and time again (I pointed out the truth about the Quantm software below) and he simply refuses to listen.

    orulz Reply:

    Ever seen a map of the Tokaido Shinkansen? It is quite obviously much longer and slower than it had to be, in order to serve the cities in between the three major cities of Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. That hasn’t stopped it from carrying 400,000 passengers PER DAY.

    The thing about very fast trains is, even if you add 40 miles to the route, at 220mph that’s just 10 minutes. Even at an average speed of 160mph, that’s just 15 minutes. When compared to flying or driving, 15 minutes is a rounding error – utterly insignificant. However, the benefits of serving additional people in Palmdale PLUS the ability to connect the Las Vegas line to the California line without yet another expensive mountain crossing makes the Palmdale route the superior choice.

    VBobier Reply:

    @ adirondacker12800 I have a car and yes I’m very poor and I’m Physically & Mentally Disabled I need It(My disabilities I won’t go into, One can be seen in My messages from time to time), Will I stop using It? Nope, As there will be no HSR station near where I live, So when I go 45 miles away towards Victorville, I’ll be driving My car, Oh and Yes I’m still pro HSR, I just can’t board in Barstow CA. Oh and would I take a bus locally? Around here? A person in My condition would be crazy to do so and I’m not crazy, I live in the Desert and It gets blazing HOT outside and there’s no shelter from the hot SUN, So waiting for dial a ride which wanders all over creation is not an option for Me, Especially If I need to go to the Doctor or to go shopping for Food… Dial a ride requires only CASH, No Plastic…

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Dial a ride requires only CASH, No Plastic…” … which is itself bizarre ~ which would be a more secure “dial a ride” far, a credit card entered on a website booking a ride or cash when the van rolls up?

    Indeed, no shelter at the bus stop is another standard American example of public penury in the midst of private gluttony.

    VBobier Reply:

    @ BruceMcF: They don’t do online at all, Beyond what amounts to an FAQ of course, Just when the bus arrives, One needs coins, No cash or debit/credit cards will be accepted at all. Yeah It is bizarre, But It’s a City/County run Bus line as It were. I’ll pass, As It’s not worth It for Me as I shop for food once a month.

    Dial a ride takes one to their destination directly, Almost to the door as a matter of fact, It just wanders all around the area picking up and dropping people off near their homes or near to where ever one wants to go to. Lots of restrictions I see, Buying an extra seat, 4 bags for shopping per trip, Which would mean 3 trips at least for food, The cost is almost what I already spend on gas now, They want $30.25 a month vs about $35.32 for gas for the car. As to the Bus Stops, In Barstow they have benches all over the place, Out in the county area, Lots of stops I gather, But no benches or shelters, I’m just glad It doesn’t much out here, We did get 6″ of snow in 2008 of course, All the way to the California border with Nevada.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Altamont-I-5-Tejon express direct to LA – no Palmdale- would be significantly faster than the current scheme.

    There is no investor confidence in neo-Keynesian pump-priming stimulus boondoggling, yada-yada. That is why we are seeing the phenomenon of gold gradually replacing the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. The central banks’ currency manipulations aren’t inspiring trust any more.

    Overspending is cannibalistic. You’ll be taxing welfare to pay for welfare.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Significantly faster? Faster than flying? Numbers would be nice here because I don’t believe you.

    Actually, there is a currently operating counter-example in the United Kingdom. The gov’t there goes to an austerity budget removing all pump-priming and investor confidence tanks. And gold is not replacing dollar, it’s undergoing a bubble.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Figure saving a half hour – significant.

    I can see the case for 99 but there ain’t no real case for the Detour. It is just an NIH dilemma for PB.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That is because they are stupidly talking lowering taxes on the rich in hard times. They need to ditch the parasitic aristocracy and monarchy.

    Gold and silver are not bubbling – they have have been on a steady increase for some time Now real estate did bubble and we are paying the price now.

    Printing money to payola stimulus is a risky business. The US national debt is way larger than in the 30’s. Times have changed dramatically.

    Eric M Reply:

    synonymouse said:

    “Figure saving a half hour – significant.”

    WRONG. If you go to the CAHSRA website, you can find the documents that say going the way of Palmdale is 12 minutes longer. Stop making stuff up!! You talk just to talk.

    thatbruce Reply:

    In an effort to help you keep your own objections consistent with each other, half an hour at a conservative 200mph is 100 miles, not the 50 miles you recently alluded to. You probably meant a savings of 15 minutes for express trains going through your/Tolmach’s Tejon tunnel vs the planned route via Palmdale/Tehachapi.

    You’d need to drop the average speed from Sylmar to Bakersfield via Palmdale to 100mph to get the time savings you allude to, and claiming that the average speed over that route would be that low hasn’t been on your list.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The TRAC-Tolmach-Quantm alignment would still serve Palmdale and Bakersfield-99. It would be faster and shorter than Tehachapi. In order to quantify with precision you would need the finalized routes for each alternative.

    I suspect Amtrak diesels could grind out the 3.5% sections – a few miles and only on one side of the Tejon. But you would want for sure to electrify if possible. They have to stop at Palmdale and Bakersfield so switching to pantograph would not be on the fly, assuming the other sections are still diesel..

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Palmdale isn’t anywhere near the Tejon and running trains over it doesn’t serve Palmdale.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @adirondacker12800:

    Guess we’ve missed the bit about Tejon being the best route for Sacramento to Las Vegas.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Syn’s an idiot.

    The Quantm software was used to analyze all possible routes over Tejon *AND* all possible routes via Palmdale. It came up with a collection of hundreds of viable alternatives via Palmdale — allowing for alteration of plans if there is a problem — and exactly one route over Tejon. With, if I remember rightly, less than a meter variation possible in any direction. Crossing near a fault tripoint. Underground. If anything unexpected goes wrong with it, oops, you just wasted a billion dollars and got nothing.

    Clem Reply:

    @Nathaniel: you seem to know a lot more detail about the Quantm study than I’ve seen before. Do you have documents that you could share? I’ve posted one document here, but that doesn’t include as much detail as you seem to imply.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Morris, two things:

    1. Don’t be rude. I don’t like it when people are rude to you or to others.

    2. I asked you a question that might help clarify your position: “When you say full funding must be in place, do you include “expected” commitments, or do you mean solid commitments?” In other words, are you saying that all funding must be contractually committed, without there being any further contingencies or negotiations?

    Peter Reply:

    Right, because we all know that all attorneys know what they’re talking about. Case in point: Morris’ own REJECTED lawsuit against the Authority.

    RubberToe Reply:

    The usable segment referred to in C would be whatever the CHSRA deems constructable given the federal and state funds. This would not have to include electrification, since the corridor is usable without it by current Amtrak trains. Concerning D, the sources of funds would be the ARRA monet pledged by the Feds plus the state 1A matching funds. Time of receipt would be the 2012 deadline that construction needs to start by to receive the ARRA funds.

    Nowhere do I see anything in your quoted text that says that ALL funds required to construct a COMPLETE corridor or segment, including full electrification and rolling stock, need be identified before work can commence on a usable section of a corridor.

    The authority is proceeding exactly as you would expect given the available ARRA funds, applying 1A funds as appropriate, and getting the most track laid for funds spent, all the while trying to reduce costs by all means possible, and also looking ahead to how the constructed usable segments could not only be used by Amtrak when they are completed, but also what the next steps would be to get service into either San Jose or Palmdale, where existing links to SF and LA could make the segments even more USABLE.

    RT

    J. Wong Reply:

    As others have noted, don’t confuse “usable segment” with “independent utility”. That said, as you also note more importantly, nowhere is “usable” segment defined as a “COMPLETE” (or 100% functional) segment.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Interesting information, Morris, I’d have to say. But I don’t see anything in that quote that says it must be a 100% functional segment before disbursement of funds only that it would be a usable segment (at some point). Ultimately, it’ll be up to the Attorney General’s office to determine whether the Authority’s request meets the requirements of the law. You are assuming that it doesn’t, but that’s not your call. And the Authority must have their own lawyers doing the same before they submit the request so I’m kind of not worried about this.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I’m fairly sure getting to Tehachapi would be “usable”. Worst case, they could pour a platform and have train service to the community of Tehachapi.

    morris brown Reply:

    Those who have never bothered to view this video on this topic should look at:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBW5NMyWjHY

    J. Wong Reply:

    So Morris you must be really mad at those Republican governors for refusing the ARRA funds, which will now allow California to actually build a “usable segment” using the extra funds. Note “usable” does not mean “functional”.

  11. Brandi
    Mar 29th, 2011 at 13:47
    #11

    I had to share this because it is just to funny. Walker has flip-flopped and is now applying for HSR money.

    http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2011/03/29/business-us-wisconsin-governor-transportation_8380692.html

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    That is beyond priceless. He now sees rail is a good investment. I think if I were LaHood, I’d say, either take the original deal or screw you!

    Eric M Reply:

    How about, screw you, you had your chance!! I wouldn’t give him a dime.

    jim Reply:

    No. He’ll quietly not fund it. If asked why, he’ll say that there were so many meritorious applications, it was impossible to fund them all. I do think that Walker’s application makes it more likely that Michigan (if it applies) and Missouri get funded.

    joe Reply:

    It’s a trap.

    — Admiral Akbar

    Does buying train sets and building a maintenance facility qualify for funding ?

    “Walker said Tuesday the federal funds would be used to buy two train sets and eight locomotives as well as build a maintenance facility in Milwaukee.”

    That’s not a proposal to improve train speed/performance.

    Jack Reply:

    These are HSR funds not infrastructure upgrade funds. Right??

    joe Reply:

    Yep, I thought so.

    Walker’s offer to misuse the funds for buying trains and maintenance facility doesn’t meet the objectives for HSR. He’ll be refused and use it as a political football.

    What a walking clown show.

    YESonHSR Reply:

    Well the ones they are buying do go 110mph..!! he is just trying to cover his dumm ass and keep Talgo from bolting WI and moving to maby Ill. I have see that this app will be submit with the other Midwest apps ..dont know if that will make a No money answer harder.

    joe Reply:

    Yeah, the new trains might run faster but sadly Walker’s not connecting to Madison, he wants to run to Chicago and that means he has to ask Gov. Quinn to help him out at the border.

    You know Gov Quinn, he’s the guy Walker mocked when IL decided to raise taxes to pay for services.

    Quinn could decide to throw Walker a bone or he could decline to match and meet WI at the border.

    IL probably wants HSR connectivity to WI and Quinn thinks Walker’s going to be recalled in his second year.

    Nathanael Reply:

    LaHood is no fool. He will do exactly what jim says, except that he might comment that Walker’s application did not qualify as it was not a proposal for higher speed rail.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Walker is actually being kind of consistent; he early on (cough) said he supported the existing Hiawatha service, but not the new line. He’s still horribly shortsighted, though, as gas prices are reminding us; heck, after what we went through a few years ago, it looks like he is not only short sighted about the future, but has a problem with short-term memory as well.

    Brandi Reply:

    Yet the argument is a sham because the whole reason the Madison-Milwaukee service isn’t in demand is because it doesn’t exist so the demand is not known. Saying he supports something because it is already in demand seems like a joke to me.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    What it means is that when he was running for Governor, he was told in no uncertain terms by Milwaukee businessmen not to mess with the Hiawatha, when he started making noises in that direction, so he fine tuned his message to Madison no, and Hiawatha yes.

    The public rationale is all cover story anyway, so expecting it to provide a coherent and convincing public transport benefit rationale is expecting too much. The reason to oppose the Madison route was to “controversialize” what would otherwise be a clear win by the outgoing administration, clearly supported by the Democratic candidate for governor.

    joe Reply:

    What about Walker mocking the IL Gov?

    “Years ago Wisconsin had a tourism advertising campaign targeted to Illinois with the motto, `Escape to Wisconsin,'” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said in a statement. “Today we renew that call to Illinois businesses, `Escape to Wisconsin.’ You are welcome here.”

    Train-maker Talgo Inc. is threatening to leave Milwaukee because Wisconsin rejected federal funds for high-speed rail. Talgo still considers Illinois a strong possibility for its new the company’s new home, despite the tax increase, said spokeswoman Nora Friend.

    The tax increase “would not weigh in as a positive, but it’s difficult to say whether it’s the deciding factor,” Friend said. “It would be one more factor that gets weighed in.”

    Illinois Democrats note that even after the increase takes effect, the 5 percent personal income tax rate will still be lower than many nearby states’.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The argument is a sham for another reason. If Walker had been serious about moving money from a worse train line to a better one, he’d have hired lawyers and planners, during the campaign, to come up with a viable alternative – just like the Green Party did in Baden-Württemberg in its campaign to cancel Stuttgart 21. He’d have asked LaHood to redirect money from the train to another train, instead of asking to send an HSR grant to highways. He’d have in other words tried to govern rather than grandstand, a quality the Teabaggers sorely lack.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    What a moron. LaHood should tell him to go to hell.

    VBobier Reply:

    Most definitely.

    Brandi Reply:

    I almost wondered if it was some kind of ploy to get the money then reject it again. I mean the guy seems crazy enough to do that.

    YESonHSR Reply:

    He’s got to be doing it to keep the Talgo people from moving..he already is hated and them moving is yet another slap in his face…now if WIS does not get this funding he will blame it on Lahood and Obama… he is a sneekey little POS

    joe Reply:

    It’s a ploy but not one that will fool Talgo.

    Train-maker Talgo Inc. is threatening to leave Milwaukee because Wisconsin rejected federal funds for high-speed rail. Walker isn’t proposing HSR.

    YESonHSR Reply:

    This ploy looks like a win/win for this weasle..one he dodges the bullet of Talgo leaving and can say he saved/created jobs..NO money and look at what the Democrates have done to Wis.

    dave Reply:

    The way I see it the previous money was for upgrading a Freight Railroad line using High Speed Rail money to boost speeds to 110. In the long run it’s only upgrading freight movements and benefiting Amtrak in the short. Maybe it was a good thing for them to reject that money and send it to true HSR projects like California’s. At least until WI can come up with something that goes 150mph at least and is funding worthy.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Why would it be only upgrading freight movements in the long run? Madison to Milwaukee is 72 miles line of sight ~ and Milwaukee to Chicago is 83 miles line of sight. That puts Madison / Milwaukee / Chicago solidly in the 100mile to 300mile frame for Rapid Rail HSR.

    So a 110mph corridor with an option to upgrade to 125mph electric would be a permanent fixture in Wisconsin intercity transport. Not doing anything “until you can get to at least 150mph” just reflects an infatuation with top speed.

    The reason that California’s system needs to be Express HSR is the size of the LA Basin / Bay Area transport market and the distance between, which is in the 200mile to 500mile frame for Express HSR to play a big role and outside the 100mile to 300mile Rapid Rail frame.

    joe Reply:

    Walker’s the Gov of WI, not the King of the Midwest. Why would IL agree to forgo HSR and let this ass clown dictate IL rail?

    Accepting Walker’s proposal is unilateral capitulation on HSR for Chicago. That’s not in IL interest to agree and by-the-way give WI a chance to retain Talgo.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That’s why the Illinois line to Dubuque is now billed as the first stage of the Chicago / Twin Cities line. Unlike Indiana to the east, its possible to go around Wisconsin.

  12. synonymouse
    Mar 29th, 2011 at 22:24
    #12

    The budget impasse continues, with no guarantee the voters will approve any tax increase now or in Nvember..

    After all why should they – when they contemplate the passing scene – Bell, BART’s GM walking away with a mil, PB throwing money away triple tracking the Santa Fe in the boondocks. I might be tempted to vote to slap a customized tax on the rich to pay for lower tuitions but then I think of fatcat UC chancellors and sundry toadies and top off the loathing with PB’s berms and bogus value engineering – no blinking way. I suspect there are plenty of others who feel likewise.

    I am from Norcal but I recognize LA has the greatest need for rail and that is where the bulk of the funding should go. Spend the money where the riders are. The only part of the current hsr scheme that is essential is bridging the gap between Bakersfield and Sylmar.

    VBobier Reply:

    Unlike last time when the tax extension was tied to a hated spending cap(As a cap isn’t flexible enough), Which the voters do not want, The voting in November will be just on renewing expired taxes, the ballot measure will not be tied to a cap. Actually the SantaFe Railway doesn’t exist anymore as a separate entity, It’s a part of the BNSF now, As to triple tracking, The BNSF did that in the Cajon pass all on It’s own to increase capacity, Where as the UPRR still only has a single track all to Itself there. So I’d think the BNSF can do that, If It needs to.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Santa Fe is dominant – thus the warbonnet livery on the locomotives.

    BTW, the UP has indeed been detouring the Coast Starlight over the Loop. So I gues you can say the gap is bridged, once every 10 years.

    There was a recent photo of Norfolk Southern locomotives on UP track in LA. Now wouldn’t that be an interesting merger. The UP more formidable than ever. Lawyer up, PB-CHSRA.

    VBobier Reply:

    NS on the UP, That’s merely a run through, Normal practice really. Nothing to see there, moving on…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yep. YouTube is filled with videos of NS locomotives on UP lines and UP locomotives on CSX lines and CSX locomotives on BNSF lines ad nauseum. Lots of UP, BNSF, NS or CSX locomotives on shortline. Lots shortline locomotives on Class 1s too.

    Jack Reply:

    You spend entirely too much time spouting the same thing over and over again.

    Peter Reply:

    He just leaves it in print.

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