Jeff Denham’s Attack on Jobs

Mar 17th, 2011 | Posted by

Yesterday freshman Congressman Jeff Denham published an op-ed in the Modesto Bee calling for the high speed rail project to be defunded and its money given to pay for minor projects along the Highway 99 corridor. The op-ed is a marvel of dissembling and disinformation, so tread cautiously:

Over the years, many proposals have been offered to bring High Speed Rail (HSR) to California. As a state senator, I supported the concept of HSR in California, and still do now, as a congressman, but since its inception, the plan has been severely mismanaged and proven to be another example of runaway government spending with no results.

In other words, Denham backed it when he actually represented Californians, but now that he is in Congress and represents oil companies and the Koch Brothers, he has to attack the project in order to have any sort of political future and not get cut off by his paymasters. This is what we call a “flip flop” – if not worse.

And he justifies it by bringing the lies:

Unfortunately, the current plan has been developed behind closed doors, with costs doubling to $65 billion, according to independent experts; missed deadlines, confusion and no clear blueprint other than glossy maps with little specificity.

None of this is true. The project has been developed through a series of public meetings. Plans are discussed openly. Blueprints are posted for public debate. We have hashed out various aspects of the project for nearly three years now on this blog, all of it based on the information provided to us by the California High Speed Rail Authority.

What deadlines were missed? The 2008 Business Plan deadline, when the legislature – including Jeff Denham – missed their own deadline to fund the Authority’s work to get the plan done?

What “independent experts” are these that claim the costs will double to $65 billion? Might that be the oil company funded Reason Foundation? Hardly an independent group, and they are hardly experts. Their claims are wild guesses.

Denham keeps on shoveling the BS:

The California High Speed Rail Authority originally projected ridership of 96.5 million intercity riders by 2030. Independent groups now estimate 31.1 million intercity riders by 2030 – nearly 60 percent below what was presented to voters. Due to uncertainty over costs and ridership forecasts, private equity firms say they will not invest without a revenue guarantee. Without securing private investment, the HSR project in California is not feasible.

Again, what “independent groups” are these? I’m not familiar with that study he is vaguely referring to. But we know that HSR systems around the world and here in the US routinely meet their projected ridership levels. By 2030, with gas prices being sky-high and when a generation of Americans who prefer not to drive become the dominant force in society, it is entirely reasonable to assume that ridership will hit the projected numbers. Those who claim a lower level need to explain why, suddenly, long-term trends toward higher gas prices and less vehicle miles traveled will suddenly reverse.

In fact, we have no evidence at all that private investors are demanding a revenue guarantee, and we have plenty of evidence that they do not see ridership risks at all – instead they are worried about the political risks, of people like Jeff Denham suddenly attacking a project they used to support in order to make nice with national right-wing donors.

In the meantime, state leaders should have the option to use funds already allocated to California on a project that will put people to work immediately. At a time of record unemployment in the valley, we need options. This is why I signed on to the San Joaquin Valley Transportation Enhancement Act of 2011 (H.R. 761).

It allows California to redirect HSR funding to construct long overdue and urgently needed roadway improvements along Highway 99. This would provide sufficient funding to establish a six-lane freeway from Sacramento to Bakersfield while vastly improving the heavily congested corridor’s safety and improving air quality. Unlike HSR, which has at least two years before one shovel of dirt would be turned, the improvements to Highway 99 are shovel ready and would put people back to work immediately.

I’m all for funding the improvements to Highway 99 if Denham wants to. But there’s no reason that money has to come from high speed rail. The United States is an extremely wealthy country. Denham should propose a gas tax increase to fund projects like Highway 99 widening, or find some other source of money. He could also simply support borrowing the money, since going into debt during a severe recession to fund infrastructure projects is a sensible and fiscally responsible move.

But that’s not Denham’s move. Instead he is making excuses for defunding trains and funding roads, all to please his new constituents – the rich oil company donors who now rule his world.

  1. morris brown
    Mar 17th, 2011 at 17:17

    The Daily Posit local paper had a front page article with an interview with Kopp, wherein he blasts Oglivy, the PR firm, for in-competence and not getting the job done.

    Kopp is being replaced by a pro union man from Sacramento, Balgenorth, which indicates even more how this project has become, even more, only a project to satisfy the construction unions, regardless of what the final product will produce.

    The Post is not on the Internet; the article can be viewed at:

    joe Reply:

    Blame Unions. How original.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah, Sounds like NAZIsm, But then they scapecoated Jews, Pols, Disabled People, Gypsies, The Opposition(Social Democrats, etc), etc… And that’s not even a complete list I’d bet.

    VBobier Reply:

    Oh and they blamed Unions too(Trade Unions), Banned Boy Scouts, etc…

    synonymouse Reply:

    The CHSRA plan, for which Kopp can claim some notoriety, is so grotesquely bad that any excuse for spending the money elsewhere is ok with me. Spend it on welfare or lowering tuition. Anything would be preferable to trashing the Peninsula or dipping around the Loop with a line the UP cannot use when the CHSRA goes broke.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How is it going to trash the Peninsula?

    YesonHSR Reply:

    The current CalTrain right-of-way is lined with trash how hilarious!! Old rundown buildings … car dealerships and overgrown brush that collect the junk and paper that blows around.. outside a few tiny sections with a large amount of vegetation behind houses it’s nothing to look at!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    nah, it’s lined with stately Eucalyptus trees. Or lined with invasive weed species…

    VBobier Reply:

    Kill the Mustard… that’s very invasive.

    joe Reply:

    I think this “trash the peninsula” is a lizard brain reference to the ridership.

    In the 60’s-70’s in Chicago, the white-flight suburbs did NOT want rail or bus service extended beyond Chicago’s borders. It would trash their neighborhoods.

    HSR connecting public transit riders from LA and etc. would trash the Peninsula.

    joe Reply:

    Also note our trolls’ comment “Spend it on welfare or lowering tuition”

    The concern about “trashing the Peninsula” really seems to refer to the ridership.

  2. morris brown
    Mar 17th, 2011 at 17:22

    Robert above wrote — commenting on:

    Unfortunately, the current plan has been developed behind closed doors, with costs doubling to $65 billion, according to independent experts; missed deadlines, confusion and no clear blueprint other than glossy maps with little specificity.

    “None of this is true”

    Sorry Robert:

    I don’t take issue with your blasting the “behind closed doors”, although it certainly has been pretty obscure at times. But

    “with costs doubling to $65 billion”, which Robert conveniently avoids commenting on, that is certainly true — and they will goes even higher.

    thatbruce Reply:

    When comparing figures, do remember to adjust for current year vs (expected) year of expenditure.

    joe Reply:

    And be aware if those making the 65B figure want to stop HSR because the construction will produce dust, noise and other local (NIMBY) inconveniences. Their own words.

    The current plan for High Speed Rail on the Peninsula calls for a 20-foot high wall, with another 20 feet of wires stretched overhead, bearing 200 trains a day, on steel wheels, running at speeds of up to 120 miles per hour through the heart of our neighborhoods. Thousands of trees would be eliminated. Years of construction, dirt, dust, and noise would be required. If the current plan goes forward, local businesses and residents stand to lose – financially, aesthetically, and in quality of life. There are better ways to build a train! We need to make sure it gets done right, which means we need to increase our local community power.

    thatbruce Reply:

    (reply 1 of 2)
    That would be taken from the Community Coalition on High Speed Rail‘s ‘about’ page.

    Their (and CARRD’s) argument can be better stated as ‘there are better designs to use‘, and certainly for certain aspects of the CAHSR project, they are correct. However, using a disagreement over one aspect of a large project to attack the project as a whole is not particularly useful.

    Back to the statement by CC-HSR, focusing on the ‘build‘ aspect. Let’s face it, the act of building an infrastructure project, whether it be rail, road, aqueduct, airports, ports etc always involve:

    *) A seemingly long construction period. Perception of time is a funny thing.
    *) Dust.
    *) Noise.
    *) Restricted access to and across the building site.
    *) Elimination of whatever is currently there.

    Now, I doubt that many people are going to complain about all of these points on long, empty, mostly-unpopulated stretches, with the exception of the last point. It is when these large construction projects are near people’s homes that the complaints start.

    The nature of the complaints fall into two general categories:

    *) You are keeping me awake/affecting my health and/or property values.
    *) I have an ideological bias against the project.

    The first point can be handled. Extra attention can be paid towards modifying the operating hours of the construction site, implementing more stringent dust control measures, erecting (movable) sound walls and possibly paying for hotels (and security patrols around briefly-empty houses) for all residents immediately around the current construction site. In other words, ring the number listed on the ‘if you see dust coming from this worksite’ sign and your local city hall, and don’t get any property appraisals done while the construction is ongoing.

    The second point is much harder to handle, and can be harder to detect. People with an ideological bias will cloak their objections in seemingly well-intended objections to the project, will ignore any evidence against or addressing of their previous complaints, and generally will seek to stop the project by ‘death of a thousand cuts’.

    thatbruce Reply:

    (reply 2 of 2)
    Having addressed the ‘build‘ aspect of the CC-HSR stance, let’s look at the Done Right aspect of their stance, in particular the perception of the completed system.

    As near as I can tell, ‘Done Right’ in their area means ‘underground or nothing’. Even though there are plenty of sources of vehicular sound (CA-101, El Camino Real, Central Expressway, Caltrain), air pollution (same, light industrial, Caltrain), visual pollution (those power lines strung up everywhere), vibration (did I mention the major roads?), grade separations (CA-101, portions of Central Expressway), periodic restricted access (the current, to-be-eliminated at-grade crossings of the existing 100+yr old railway) and air turbulence (SQL, SFO, major roads again), the message that some of these organisations are trying to put out is that the CAHSR project will be introducing those along the Peninsula to a much greater extent than is current.

    These are the facts as relevant to some of CC-HSR’s stated objections:

    *) The current periodic access restrictions will be eliminated by the removal of at-grade crossings along the existing rail corridor.
    *) The noise introduced by train operations along the existing rail corridor will be less than current Caltrain operations, assuming no noise mitigation, due to the use of electric, not diesel trains.
    *) Any air turbulence introduced at a given location by 1 125MPH movement every 2 minutes will be less than the air movement currently triggered by 4 80MPH movements every 2 seconds.
    *) Any air pollution currently introduced by current Caltrain operations will be eliminated, again due to the use of electric, not diesel trains.
    *) No new divisions of communities will be introduced, unless of course communities are currently relying on being able to trespass across the existing railway corridor.
    *) Some existing divisions of communities will be eliminated, depending on how the grade separations are implemented.

    These facts can be used to argue against the objections of CC-HSR and other NIMBY-like organisations. However, since some of the objections of these organisations (or members thereof) are ideological in origin, using logic unfortunately won’t serve to change their minds, and ‘Done Right’ will forever be an unattainable goal.

    Other objections, such as lowering of property values, can only be argued against by pointing to examples along other rail corridors after the completion of similar upgrade projects; until the CAHSR project is complete and in operation, no-one will truly know what effect it will have on property values.

    But when all is said and done, if you aren’t lodging your objections or criticisms to the relevant people (the CAHSRA and/or your local city hall) in the first place, standing up and saying ‘it must be done my way!’ isn’t going to achieve anything.

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    True according to whom? CATO? Reason?

    And comments toward that, discrediting the opinion for not citing the “independent source”

    YesonHSR Reply:


    morris brown Reply:

    Just look at the number..

    John Burrows Reply:

    So this video was uploaded by an outfit called “derailhsr” Who are they?

    Peter Reply:

    IIRC, derailhsr is/was a Morris Brown, Martin Engel, and (possibly) Mike Brady (?) production. I could be wrong, though.

    Walter Reply:

    Can you please comment on my post here to confirm that you are aware of the mandate change to year of expenditure estimates? I’ve never seen you acknowledge that when you claim that the price “doubled.”

    Spokker Reply:

    The year of expenditure change partially explained the jump to $43 billion. The $65 is a new figure inferred from CHSRA source documents.

    joe Reply:

    Rob wrote in 9/2010
    “The estimate in 2006 was in 2006 dollars. That estimate is still $45 billion for the whole system. In December 2009, however, as a result of federal mandates, a new estimate for SF-LA-Anaheim of $42.6 billion was reached because the dollars were changed to “year of expenditure” dollars. The estimate takes into account expected inflation, although given that we are currently experiencing price stagnation, or even weak deflation, it is possible that the final costs will come in well below $42.6 billion.

    The key point is that the cost did NOT suddenly soar. Instead the costs were adjusted to reflect different accounting assumptions. And it’s still a far sight cheaper than expanding freeways or airports, estimated to cost at least $80 billion, to handle the passengers that HSR will carry.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    80 billion in 2006 dollars, though it may be 80 billion in 2000-2001 dollars. Project creep and cost overruns affect highway and airport construction too. So 80 billion plus 50% overrun is 120 billion…..

    joe Reply:

    Bingo. The nasty heuristic applies to all major construction, not just rail projects as well as computing expenditures in the year they happen.

    We do have more experience with costing highway projects than rail – a real reason FUD about rail costs is being used so heavily against HSR.

    Finally, the cost for Pennisula NIMBYs is going be paid for incars choking the streets.

    Stanford’s 3 phase, 5 Billion development to expand the Stanford hospital in PA, CA. A potential HSR and stop.

    HSR gadfly Mike Rosenberg writes:
    “Indeed, Bay Area planning officials on Friday released new growth projections that forecast San Mateo County adding 93,800 households through 2035, an increase of 35 percent, with the most housing to come in San Mateo, followed by Daly City, Redwood City and South San Francisco.”

  3. Brian
    Mar 17th, 2011 at 17:51

    And I thought Rick Scott here in FL was an oddity! It seems the right wing tea-baggers are fighting HSR to the death. CA it would appear is just as infected as here. It hasn’t been reported much, but FL HSR is still not 100 percent dead. The way LaHood wrote the redistribution of FL funds would allow the cities here in FL to apply for the same funds. Latest news is that the cities are researching it and want to apply. Why would this politician even suggest redirecting it to highway projects when he knows that will never happen? My best guess is that the local and state pols on the republican side are hoping Obama caves and agrees to rescind funding during the upcoming budget battle. How else to explain WI OH FL decisions? And CA republicans are following along it would seem.

    joe Reply:

    The HW 99 funding diversion is a political fig leaf so he can claim he wanted to spend Fed money and create jobs.

    StevieB Reply:

    Highway 99 is 6 lanes through Bakersfield so the construction would be to the north of Denham’s district and so would the construction jobs. Denham recieves large funding from agriculture in Kern county and he decided more campaign funds would come from a highway than passenger rail. With the money he can buy the votes he needs for reelection. Californians are sometimes not persuaded by advertisment spending as demonstrated by Meg Whitman so he may be a one term congressman.

    wu ming Reply:

    denham’s fate really depends on the new district lines + whatever dynamic emerges from the top 2 primary system.

    VBobier Reply:

    Parts of Orange County are definitely infected, But are slowly being cured of said infection.

    Peter Reply:

    Just spray antibiotics from helicopters.

    VBobier Reply:

    Nah, Costs too much and It might make the infection into a Super Bug…

    VBobier Reply:

    Republicans see President Obama as a Weak, Ineffective, Black Man(in the White House no less), Foreigner(Guilt by association), Illegitimate President, So since they can’t impeach Him(Too Bad, So Sad, as My Brother used to say), If the President gets reelected in 2012 and If the Democratic Party can retake Congress, Then My advise to the President and Congress is: Screw Bipartisanship, As It’s like one hand clapping(It produced nothing & with the Congress before the Mid Term was nearly worthless), Be bold and move fast, But if the other side wants to cooperate, Fine bring them in, If not then go on without them. Find out what the people want, Beside Jobs and then do an FDR(Franklin Delano Roosevelt) if needed. Mom said He was the Best, He put people back to work, He had the Works Progress Administration(WPA) that existed from 1939 to 1943 which was shut down by Congress in 1943 as It wasn’t seen as needed anymore due to the improving economy.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “Then My advise to the President and Congress is: Screw Bipartisanship, As It’s like one hand clapping(It produced nothing & with the Congress before the Mid Term was nearly worthless)”

    I’ve been telling them this since before 2008. Anyone who paid attention to the Republicans under King Bush could have told them this….

    ….Some Democrats in DC seem to get it, but most don’t seem to get it. We do need another FDR. The Business Plot tried to kill him, but he did whatever it took to revive the economy.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    California’s high-speed rail program is backed by the Governor and both US state senators so a lot more behind it then the Florida program with the teabag governor and a tea bag Senator.. we have a few House of Representatives that are Republicans and against it but nothing like Florida.. of course the Republicans here that are making the noise about high-speed rail are just repeating the party line. Especially the one mentioned in this article knowing full well that high-speed rail is a huge benefit to the Valley and yes absolutely no chance that money will go to a state Highway of all things.

    VBobier Reply:

    Agreed, Not a chance in HELL of that money going to the 99, The money is staying. The Republicans would need an army to take It back with and they currently don’t have one and by the time 2012 comes around, The money will have been spent on Contracts.

    I have no objections to fix up money for the 99, As the money for HSR is for HSR and nothing else.

    joe Reply:

    If gasoline were dropping to 2.50 I’d worry somewhat but at 4.00+ a gallon March 2011, there is little hope a highway centric diversion will de-rail valley interest in HSR. Economics are pushing back at car centric policy.

    Gasoline isn’t the only problem. Cars cost too much. Consumer Reports identified 5+ cars they liked and scored high in tests but where the 2011 redesign is WORSE and the car lower scoring than the predecessor. One explanation they offer is cars are being built less expensively – made more affordable.

    VBobier Reply:

    Well I don’t think $2.50 is going to happen anytime soon, As to Cars being expensive, I know that, Do I ever, Years ago cars didn’t cost so much, Even used, Now used cars can at used car dealerships can cost a bit of a premium, For Me I can’t afford a replacement, Used or New, So I keep My car in as good a shape as I can. Brakes are next on My list, I just need some replacement Discs for the front and I have My eyes on some.

  4. orulz
    Mar 17th, 2011 at 18:15

    I really appreciate your efforts Robert, but I’ll be frank, I don’t know if anyone has been or will be convinced of the benefits of HSR by your rebutting every anti-HSR article that’s published in any newspaper in the state. A lot of things that are said in these newspaper editorials are being said into an echo chamber, and frankly your responses are as well.

    On the other hand, the majority of CA citizens are out there actually willing to weigh the project on its merits rather than some prejudiced ideology. Your blog is yours to do with as you wish, but these people who are genuinely interested and concerned about the details of the project, I think, should be your target audience.

    Therefore I wonder if your efforts might not be better directed towards analyzing the project itself: status updates, deep dives into the alternatives analysis, an objective (non-sensationalized) overview of the impacts and tradeoffs involved in each alternative. People want to know what the impact and benefits will be for them. I know you’ve written on this quite a lot in the past and I’d like to see you return to more of that moving forward.

    joe Reply:

    I used Robert’s posts, and links to craft a summary of HSR economic benefits for a Gilroy City Council member.

    CA-HSR-BLOG refuting the attacks and FUD helps we citizens learn how to refute attacks with data and counterpoints when we talk with our local representatives.

    VBobier Reply:

    Sound good to Me, We need less FUD and maybe more Elmers. :D

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Well here’s some good news… just found it on Google .. the Bakersfield Californian is reporting that the high-speed rail Authority received over 1100 expressions of interest for the project!! Ranging from small individuals to large multinational corporations and construction firms… also digging around Google News today.. it’s reported the Japanese still plan to bid on the project. The authority will be compiling expressions and releasing information in a couple weeks.. THEN I want see all the naysayers silly replies and fears and doom stories!!!

    VBobier Reply:

    This will be both interesting and amusing, I like seeing the naysayers squirm and try to do more than their tired old mantra…

    Jack Reply:

    If you go into the archives we use to do a lot of discussion about the project when there were things to discuss. There’s only so much discussion we can have about stations size and location, track alignments, Pacheco vs. Altamont, PTC….

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    If you read through the HSRA’s technical documents which CARRD acquired and posted on their website, there’s plenty to discuss. Avoiding project details could be a case of the earlier speculative conversations being more fun and requiring less thought.

    I sense a fear of ‘going there’. It’s become a pom-poms only project.

  5. dave
    Mar 17th, 2011 at 19:57

    “costs doubling to $65 billion, according to independent experts”

    I think they’re talking about CARRDs numbers.

    morris brown Reply:

    Look at the numbers.

    MGimbel Reply:

    Oh yeah, a video uploaded by “derailhsr.” We should definitely believe their so-called “numbers.”

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Really what BS propaganda from NIMBY minds

    VBobier Reply:

    I think the $65 billion must include the Merced to Sacramento and/or Anaheim to San Diego branches maybe. Or their getting the figures from either Cato or Reason, Both of which sound like they are straight out of Joesph Goebbels handbook on Propaganda for the 3rd Reich(NAZI Germany).

    Hitler put these ideas into practice with the reestablishment of the Völkischer Beobachter, a daily newspaper published by the Nazi Party (NSDAP) from February 1925 on, whose circulation reached 26,175 in 1929. It was joined in 1926 by Joseph Goebbels’s Der Angriff, another unabashedly and crudely propagandistic paper.

    During most of the Nazis’ time in opposition, their means of propaganda remained limited. With little access to mass media, the party continued to rely heavily on Hitler and a few others speaking at public meetings until 1929.[6] In April 1930, Hitler appointed Goebbels head of party propaganda. Goebbels, a former journalist and Nazi party officer in Berlin, soon proved his skills. Among his first successes was the organization of riotous demonstrations that succeeded in having the American anti-war film All Quiet on the Western Front banned in Germany.[7]

    Today people have the media, Back then It was posters, rallies and such.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    I don’t know whether the figures cited in the video are correct or not. But in response to VBobier’s suggestion that the figures are from Cato or Reason, and YesonHSR’s predictable rejection, see the video at about 50 seconds: the speaker claims that “All of the source documents were obtained from the Authority.” This should make it really easy for VBobier, and YesonHSR, and MGimbel to debunk the video. All you have to do is point out that the figures are not from the Authority, or that they have been misinterpreted or distorted. We will all gain from your scrutiny, and by claiming that the source is the Authority the speaker on the video has made himself vulnerable to the devastating and fact-based analysis which no doubt each of you will launch to our benefit. I for one look forward to your getting past the convenient references to the Nazis, and to Cato and Reason, and providing us with the substantive critique which I trust you have already begun to prepare.

    Spokker Reply:

    The figures are inferred from CHSRA source documents. There might be something there, but we won’t know until later.

    Spokker Reply:

    It went something like this. I’m using made up numbers just to illustrate what they did.

    Unit cost * # of units = cost

    So let’s say that in some earlier year the unit cost was, say, $10,000, and that they needed 50 units of, let’s see, straight track.

    The CHSRA has recently updated the # of units, but did not update or release new unit costs. # of units is higher in some cases, so they take the old unit cost and multiply by the new # of units.

    So they dug through everything and came up with the $65 million figure as the inferred cost of the project.

    joe Reply:

    Oh I disagree that they did a bottom up analysis.

    I can obtain a “source document” look it at it over lunch and make up an estimate based on my analysis of the “source document”.

    Where is the HSR off by 50%?

    Well I could buy this book which is the basis for some of the criticisms of HSR (CARRD this means you).

    and multiple by the author’s heuristic (say a 45% cost over run) and viola: 43 * 1.45 = 62.35

    Ladies and gentlemen, I just used the source documents’ cost estimate and my analysis and came up with a cost over run pretty close to 65B. If I chose a more rounded 150% then the cost is 64.5 or 65B rounded.

    Time for a smoke.

    Spokker Reply:

    “Ladies and gentlemen, I just used the source documents’ cost estimate and my analysis and came up with a cost over run pretty close to 65B. ”

    Another estimate at $65 billion. This project is just looking worse and worse every day.

    joe Reply:

    Look at the MEGA PROJECT book. Part of the basis for prejudicially jacking up the price of the HSR estimate. “Megaprojects and Risk: An Anatomy of Ambition [Paperback]”

    MEGA projects are: The Chunnel, Scandinavian Bridges spanning seas, China’s three gorges dam and etc Now ask yourself, what is so MEGA about building a standard railway in one state?


    Building a railway and building a massive, physically unique project are very different, very different risks and risk for cost overrun.

    CA HSR has analogous segments in Europe and uses technology deployed 50 years ago! HSR is mature technology deployed over similar landscapes, in countries with similar density as CA.

    Doing something big, digging the Chunnel to connect France and England, and doing a lot of something standard, HSR, do NOT carry the same risks for over spending.

    Add that CA HSR is one country, one state government, very little chance of political discord which one might find withMEGA Projects connecting different countries.

    Spokker Reply:

    But why are you mad though?

    egk Reply:

    > MEGA projects are: The Chunnel, Scandinavian Bridges spanning seas, China’s three gorges dam and >etc Now ask yourself, what is so MEGA about building a standard railway in one state?
    >Building a railway and building a massive, physically unique project are very different, very different >risks and risk for cost overrun.

    This is a very important point, and one which HSR advocates need to emphasize. The NY Times article on the Florida project, for example, missed this entirely. It was written as if monorail (!) or “conventional rail” would be vastly cheaper than HSR (and therefore better for that project).

    Fundamentally, what makes HSR expensive is that it is new rail and it is long-distance – not that it is any special or fancy about it.

    There is so little new conventional passenger rail built in the west that it is hard to find a good comparison, but the Perth “conventional rail” project came in at just about $1 billion for 43 miles recently – that’s right about the same cost per mile as the Florida project.

    Maybe we should just call them “new main lines” instead of high speed rail?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    There is so little new conventional passenger rail built in the west

    Only if you confine yourself to the retarded Anglophone monophone part of the planet.

    And even then, even in English, without even trying much more than teh googles, it’s possible to locate scores of “new main line” projects, just in Europe.

    Good grief.

    egk Reply:

    WTF? What “new main line” project in Europe is not built for speeds > 200 kmh. Do you mean maybe Cottbus–Peitz? Come on. ‘Neubaustrecke’ – as you know – is almost synonymous with high speed these days. The point is that if you are going to build a new intercity line, there is no sense building one with design speeds in the conventional (79-99 mph) range. (Unless you are in New Mexico ) Yeah yeah yeah – the ground-level airline model is not the right model for intercity travel etc. etc. yeah yeah yeah we could well do with much more regional commuter rail etc. etc. But that is something else.

    thatbruce Reply:

    A case study of the Perth rail project shows that the 87km/54 miles of track cost AUD 783m in 2002 dollars, or USD 407m in (March 18th) 2002 dollars, not including rolling stock and depots (300m), project management (158m) or another ~50m for the northern suburbs extension.

    As for a ‘slow’ new main line, try the Betuweroute Route on for size, running from Rotterdam to Germany for 100 miles, carrying a grand total of 10tph at an average of 100km/hr / 60mph. Freight only.

    James Fujita Reply:

    new = shin 新

    main (or trunk) = kan 幹

    line = sen 線

    egk Reply:

    thanks, James, for getting the joke

    thatbuce: Freight? Really? Is this a blog about freight trains?

    The point was that if you build a new high capacity passenger modern rail project (double track, electrified, grade separated) you are going to be spending tens of billions of dollars a mile whether it is HSR or not. HSR isn’t maglev. It isn’t the HSR trains and track and stuff that makes it expensive. (It is the going through mountains and over valleys and over freeways, etc.) And that was what the NY Times guy didn’t appear to know.

    As for Perth, come on, let’s be honest about the length of the new construction part (70km), not the other 17 km of cheap refurbished line, and about the real total project costs ($1.6 Australian), not the 2002 estimates, and also maybe use accurate exchange rates (about 1 USD:1.3 AUD over the period of construction).

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    MEGA projects are …

    Well, that clears things up.

    We know we’re dealing with somebody who can’t even read, (At least not Flyvbjerg’s book, or any of the other books, papers, or articles has written, or any of the data he has collected and collated.)

    CA HSR is one country, one state government, very little chance of political discord

    We shall grind our enemies into dust beneath our heels! Great shall be the lamentations of their women! One HSR shall rule them all!

    VBobier Reply:

    CA HSR has analogous segments in Europe and uses technology deployed 50 years ago! HSR is mature technology deployed over similar landscapes, in countries with similar density as CA.

    Doing something big, digging the Chunnel to connect France and England, and doing a lot of something standard, HSR, do NOT carry the same risks for over spending.

    He is right, It does the job, Problem is It’s a New and some don’t want It as It’s aForeign idea to them, Although in Reality It’s not as It’s just an idea that started here and just got sped up.

    Joe Reply:

    One government that uniformly wants to build HSR. Every major state office holder to the senators and majority of us reps to the majority of citizens.


    Joey Reply:

    Building a railway and building a massive, physically unique project are very different, very different risks and risk for cost overrun.

    CA HSR has analogous segments in Europe and uses technology deployed 50 years ago! HSR is mature technology deployed over similar landscapes, in countries with similar density as CA.

    Which is why even our low cost estimates come in at 2-3 times what Europeans pay for HSR?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Europeans != Spaniards. CAHSR cost estimates may be very high by Spanish standards, but they’re fine by German standards.

    Joe Reply:

    The risk, the uncertainty is not there. This is not a Mega project. It is trains.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    “Which is why even our low cost estimates come in at 2-3 times what Europeans pay for HSR?”
    Marseille-Nice (if ever built) will be more expensive, mile for mile, than CHSR. Lots of tunnelling and bridging, all anti-seismic.
    The original SNCF project, a direct spur by-passing Marseille, would have been less costly. It was killed by a coalition of wine growers and hardcore environmentalists, many of whom had come from all over Europe to insult SNCF engineers at public meetings. CHSRA has it easy, in comparison.

    Joey Reply:

    Yes, but like you said, that’s mostly mountainous. Our costs through open farmland and desert are far above what they should be.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    L9 in Barcelona is trains. The North-South Line in Amsterdam is trains. The second S-Bahn tunnel in Munich is trains. All three are at least 2-3 times over the original budget.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Why dont you nimby…like that

    VBobier Reply:

    I mean what’s next?

    Calling HSR & Trains UnAmerican?

    That’s about as far from the truth as one could get, America almost invented modern trains by itself, Both Passenger and yep Freight…

    Or even calling HSR a Foreign Idea that’s a huge threat to Big Oil, Insurance, Car Rental Cos and Auto Makers here in the USA?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    How could costs double from around $42b to $65b? It sounds like they are double dipping, first with the change from constant dollars to year of expenditure dollars, and then projecting project creep on top of that, since $23/$42 ~= 55% increase, not ~=100% increase.

  6. dave
    Mar 17th, 2011 at 20:54

    “More than 1,100 expressions of interest flooded into the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s offices in Sacramento prior to a Wednesday deadline”

    VBobier Reply:

    So much for No Interest from Private Industry, Seems like a good deal of interest to Me, I wonder what MB and SM will say about this? Nice linkage Dave.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I get about 1, sometimes 2, telephone solicitations(aka offers) a day. So let’s say maybe 300 a year. I suspect they are about as substantial and useful as most of the “offers” the CHSRA has received. Be very surprised if Richard Branson is amongst the suitors.

    But no “expression of interest” can match that of Palmdale & friends, who made the CHSRA an offer it couldn’t refuse.

    Actually I could see wiseguys bankrolling the hsr. Remember the favorite restaurant in “Goodfellas” – the owner has to pay up and pay up, ends up signing over everything and then they burn it down for the insurance. We taxpayers are the “shnooks” as Henry Hill would put it.

    VBobier Reply:

    You’ll find that Richard Branson owns the Virgin Rail Group, As It is mentioned here on YouTube.

    “This prospect is tremendously exciting in that it links the major cities of California in a visionary and market changing way. This is an opportunity to which VRG is prepared to commit substantial resources to, in order to assist the Authority in achieving its objectives. We believe that California is a market very well suited to High Speed Rail.”

    -Virgin Rail Group

    As to Your other comments, They aren’t worth taking to the Trash Bin…

    synonymouse Reply:

    I guess we’ll find out in due time if Richard Branson threw his corporate hat in the CHSRA ring. And if so whether he can stomach the stupidity of the Detour.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    He doesn’t care what the route is. He cares about carrying passengers. So to him it makes sense to have the train stop where the passengers are, whatever the route is.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Oh, really, he’s going to throw his money on a scheme that has been slowed down and rendered more expensive to maintain and operate due to local political corruption?

    thatbruce Reply:

    I’d say that he’s already made money by successfully operating companies in such environments.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I’d be really surprised if Branson were to throw his hat in to such a compromised and corrupt arena as California. It would be prudent to consider Bell the tip of the iceberg. He would have to deal with the 3 crones and a geezer of the patronage machine. At least the UK has only one Queen and Margaret Thatcher is out of the picture.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    What in the hell does the Queen have to do with operating airlines or a passenger railway in Britain?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Byzantine policics, amigo. In your own country you know who and how much to baksheesh.

    My conjecture is that his likely sizeable ego would come into quick conflict with those down at the hubris-laden PB fuhrerbunker.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes, this is why he avoided starting Virgin Blue in Australia, because he can only cope with big ventures in his own country and is incapable of crossing an Ocean to get to a market.

    My conjecture is you are pulling all of this out of your backside.

    Peter Reply:

    Or Virgin America.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Airlines don’t have any ROW or MOW. In my humble estimation there is more villainy and machination in Palmdale than all of Oz put together.

    VBobier Reply:

    @ synonymouse… Airlines just have Subsidized Airports and are as noisy as one can get, Depending on the airplane of course, Airports don’t pay for themselves, They never have, New Runways get Federal money to be built, Hey there’s something to be cut, Er Defund, LOL. You need to see someone for Your Paranoia Syno, Our Government is one of the best on Earth and is regarded as such by people overseas who want to emigrate here, But then It’s better than Libya, Zimbabwe, Iran and at least a few other Governments.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Isn’t OzAustralia the place born out of a set of penal colonies and later where they dismissed the entire Government for being unable to get their act together, and recently changed their leader without an election by the people ? Tsk, Manly boy would be displeased at the comparison.

    Unless you’re talking about flying monkeys Oz, which had wicked witches and all that, again an unfair comparison ;)

    BruceMcF Reply:

    In my humble estimation there is more villainy and machination in Palmdale than all of Oz put together.

    It is clearly an estimation with much to be humble about. Palmdale can’t hold a candle to the villainy and machination in a single Oz mainland capital city, let alone all five put together, plus the rest of the country that they all live off of.

    You seem to be trying to amplify the villainy and machination capacity of Palmdale inside your own head to sustain an emotional attachment to the logical fallacy “people pushed for alignment X for their own selfish ends, therefore alignment X is not the superior alignment.”

    synonymouse Reply:

    LaLaland has come to represent the quintessence of noir and deservedly so. Where else could one picture waking up in bed with a horse’s head?

    But Johnny Fontane got the part just as Palmdale got its fix.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Syn is so nuts he’s trolling without realizing it. I wish he would just go away.

    VBobier Reply:

    Look in da mirror, You might find a surprise, As I think the zoo needs a date…

    Aaron Reply:

    Just curious how many of the 1,100 mean they want work out of it, or they want to pony up money. That is what this project needs is MONEY. Also remember there are over 300,000 contractors in the State of California alone. So 1,100 may not seem like a large number when you put things in perspective. I hope they post the list of potential interested parties soon, so we can all get a look at who’s in and who’s out….most important part of the list is the who’s out part.

  7. Donk
    Mar 17th, 2011 at 22:41

    What is the deal with this guy thinking the funds can be re-allocated for the 99 in the CV? These funds are for the CALIFORNIA HSR project, not just for the CV. So if by some miracle they were going to be allowed to divvy up the funds for highways, it should be spread across the entire state.

    Jack Reply:

    It won’t be, the major difference between us and Florida/Wisonsin/ETC is that we have a Governor and Legislature that support HSR. California’s Minority republican representations is about as effective as a puppy barking to stop the wind.

    Donk Reply:

    You’re missing my point. The point is that the bill should have been written to transfer some funding to the 99, some to the 405 in LA, some to the 91 in Riverside, some to the 101 on the Peninsula, and some to the 5 in San Diego (screw Orange County). This guy is out of his mind if he thinks that these funds should only be spent on the northern 99 corridor.

    (not that I agree at all that it should be reallocated to highways..)

    VBobier Reply:

    Thank You Donk, You get a cookie.

  8. Spokker
    Mar 17th, 2011 at 22:48

    Some photos of the Shinkansen damage.

    Some poles got knocked over here, but looks surprisingly good considering this was a 9.0.

    The lower speed lines look much worse than this. Here is a map of the damage.

    StevieB Reply:

    PBS Newshour reports that Japanese are flocking south on the shinkasen to get away from the nuclear reactors in the north.

    Peter Reply:

    So, in other words, the big bad scary aerials seem to have held up better than pretty much everything else? Any comment, synonomouse?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yeah, sure. That would mean that the Japanese can easily and safely build the Tejon alignment. Fire PB and bring in Japan, Inc.

    Peter Reply:

    That’s what I thought.

    Bret Reply:

    you gotta give it to him, he’s nothing if not consistent.

    Wad Reply:

    That would be the fiber in his diet.

    VBobier Reply:

    You to see how close the HSR aerial is to a building, It may be a house, That must be really noisy, I wonder how can they stand the noise?

    VBobier Reply:

    See how close the HSR aerial is to a building?

    I’m still waking up, As My mind was racing last night.

    Jack Reply:

    looks to be about 300K in solar panels on that place too.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah I noticed, But then again It’s Japan… Their short of a lot of stuff.

    thatbruce Reply:

    The news article cited has a photo of classic quake damage done to a pole bearing a static load. Looks like one of the horizontal surrounding reinforcing rings burst when the pole had to support sudden multiples of the normal static load, resulting in the bowing out of the vertical reinforcing bars and fragmentation of the enclosed/surrounding concrete.

    wu ming Reply:

    we’re going to get all kinds of useful seismic engineering data from the postmortem on that quake. the japanese bid still looks like the best choice to me, because of that expertise.

  9. Emma
    Mar 18th, 2011 at 14:27

    In case you missed it. A great 3 minute clip by two Mad Men on High-Speed Rail:

    thatbruce Reply:

    Oh, Cool.

  10. morris brown
    Mar 18th, 2011 at 16:02

    If you think opposition is only located on the Peninsula, and that the Central Vally welcomes the project, then you need your eyes and ears opened.

    Look at the meeting in Madera yesterday:

    It is about 5 hours.

    Huge opposition to the proposed project route and many other issues, including eminent domain takings.

    Joe Reply:

    HSR is doomed! It got tea bagged!

    There is opposition everywhere. Everywhere. It is a minority opinion, but you can find opponents everywhere including pen idyls where the MAJORITY of voters support HSR.

    BTW pending developments in the peninsula
    Saltworks Redwood City 8,000 to 12,000 units
    Baylands Brisbane 4,300 units
    Bay meadows San Mateo 1,700 units

    93,800 new households in San Mateo co by 2035.

    Keep on fighting HSR & Caltrain.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Huge opposition???? God your lame.. the same stupid 80 farmers against show up AGAIN.. including that spokesman for Madera… that has been whining about high-speed rail..and are NIMBY friend Aaron so you call that huge?? It’s now like all the old lame birds in Menlo Park and Palo Alto showing up at every high-speed rail meeting to whine about how it’s going to ruin their life.. so stop your drama act.

  11. morris brown
    Mar 18th, 2011 at 16:09

    Looking on broader funding issues, the Congressional Budget office ( none partisan ) has just released a report The AP titles this:

    CBO: Obama budget underestimates deficits by $2.3 trillion over upcoming decade


    C:\EUDORA6\ATTACH\CBO_ Obama understates deficits by $2.3 trillion – Yahoo! Finance.pdf

    From the report we read:

    “But the agency also rejects the administration’s claims of more than $300 billion of that savings — to pay for preventing a cut in Medicare
    payments to doctors — because it doesn’t specifying where it would come from. Likewise, CBO fails to credit the White House with an
    additional $328 billion that would come from unspeci ed “bipartisan nancing” to pay for transportation infrastructure projects such as

    high speed rail lines and road and bridge construction. “

    thatbruce Reply:

    Try this link instead.

    morris brown Reply:

    Sorry : I posted wrong link:

    Sue ths:

    Joe Reply:

    93,000 new households in your county, san mateo, by 2035 and apparently they will all drive.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Brown will hate it…so 1956 high school grad

    YesonHSR Reply:

    The sooner we bulldoze in front of your house the better…dont die of a heart attack!!!

    Nathanael Reply:

    Indeed, cutting taxes on the rich (the extended Bush/Obama tax cuts for the rich) does rather blow a hole in the budget.

    This has nothing to do with the funding for any project. It’s become quite clear that spending in DC is totally divorced from taxes — Republicans simply cut taxes on the rich regardless of what they want to spend money on (war in Iraq, anything) — and the stupider Democrats cave in and go along with it.

  12. D. P. Lubic
    Mar 18th, 2011 at 18:53

    Off topic, but possibly of interest–the US Navy apparently has some worries about global warming:

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