Assembly Appropriations Committee Puts SB 517 On Ice

Aug 25th, 2011 | Posted by

Today the Assembly Appropriations Committee heard a number of bills sent to them by the State Senate, including Senator Alan Lowenthal’s SB 517. The bill is Lowenthal’s attack on the HSR project, and would fire the current California High Speed Rail Authority board while replacing it with a board that would likely be less supportive of the project. Earlier today I indicated that Governor Jerry Brown’s recent appointments to the CHSRA board meant it was very unlikely that he would sign SB 517 if it reached his desk.

SB 517 probably won’t even get that far. The bill was “held” by the Assembly Appropriations Committee today, a move that, as Sacramento observers note, essentially kills it.

The committee’s analysis hadn’t been favorable to the bill and warned “The abrupt elimination of the entire board, and replacement with all new appointees could disrupt the project and cause delays.” That, combined with Sen. Lowenthal’s prominent record of opposition to this project and Gov. Brown’s recent statements of support for HSR (and his recent appointments) combined to convince the Assembly that blowing up the board was not a wise move.

The Assembly had previously approved Assemblymember Cathleen Galgiani’s compromise bill, AB 145. Presumably that bill is the most likely one to move forward of the proposals to change the way the CHSRA operates.

  1. Nadia
    Aug 25th, 2011 at 18:21

    O/T: For those interested, we have posted a letter by the Independent Peer Review Group responding to the Simitian, Eshoo Gordon plan (now known in some parts as the SEGway plan).

    The letter is worth a read.

    Of note, Van Ark and the Peer Review Group apparently asked the US DOT if they could deflect money to the end points and ” While Mr. Kienitz re-stated DOT’s approval of the Central Valley plans, he indicated that the DOT might be willing to consider a request by the State to reprogram some of the investment into the two end segments if the Authority and the State provided adequate support for such a request.”

    Additionally, the Authority had a board meeting today and they agreed to extend the comment period from 45 days to 60 days based partly on requests, but also on the fact that they apparently sent out discs of the EIR which had corrupted files and thus wanted to give more time.

    Also of note was the KPMG presentation today that offered a preview of the business plan. Last I checked, it wasn’t on the website – but it is definitely worth a read once it is up.

    joe Reply:

    I read this letter over a few times and it’s major recommendations fall outside their expertise:

    The legal aspects of going ahead with a Caltrain EIR are well out of scope for the Peer Review Panel’s expertise and it’s openly admitted in the letter. The core difference between their technical suggestion and the CAHSRA proposal is the EIR, a legal issue.

    The major risk to HSR and to private investment is if we go ahead with a Caltrain EIR without any option for enhanced rail service. Blended means HSR is legally blocked from ever upgrading the service unless a new EIR is approved and of course PAMPA will sue – they are now. Investors will want an EIR that meets business projections.

    Another issue outside their expertise is the ARRA funding and Congress/Admin/Procurement.
    The immediate obstacle to building the blended option is the ARRA obligation and costing deadlines. CA and HSR will need to make a convincing case the State can meet the fiscal deadlines or the funding will be revoked.

    So the letter makes two bold suggestion that are outside the expertise of the panel. It’s a good suggestion but the reality is getting started with ARRA funding and attracting investment with a hard EIR cap and probably speed restrictions.

  2. joe
    Aug 25th, 2011 at 19:21

    What is (or was) the purpose of Senator Alan Lowenthal’s Bill? It has no support. Did he miscalculate or is he playing a long term game – IMHO he got the Gov and Leg to rally around the Job creating project.

    This fail seems like he took at shot at CAHSRA and missed his mark widely.

    The LAO, who seems to have coordinated with the Senator, FAIL.

    Peter Reply:

    Lowenthal can’t play a long-term game – he’s termed out next year.

    joe Reply:

    PAMPA’s Joe Simitian is termed out next year.

    StevieB Reply:

    Lowenthal is planning to run for a US House seat next year.

    joe Reply:

    On a platform opposing HSR! Let’s chip in.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah to someone else, preferably a Democrat who’ll push for Jobs like was done in FDR’s time.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Democrats today are totally emulating FDR, circa 1937.

    VBobier Reply:

    And that means Democrats care about real living breathing people, Republicans in power backed by some big Corporations don’t care for anything other than raw naked Corporate power and of course getting reelected, as Repugs have shown their contempt by not wanting to answer their constituents concerns about Jobs as the Repugs loyalty is to Grover Norquist and not the American People…

    Confiscating cameras, corrupt elected officials only wanting to see constituents only if they can pay a bribe, all the while people protest outside which in some interviews can be plainly heard, Repugs could care less, It’s survival of the fittest as far as Repugs are concerned and if that means some unemployed people and their children starve to death or go homeless, Repugs say “So be It”…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Absolute nonsense. Where is the British Empire? Where are Mussolini, Hitler, Franco, Tojo, Chian Kai-Shek?

    The US is facing profoundly different conditions now. We produce very little of the big ticket items we consume and yet it falls on us to try to perform the thankless task of suppressing religious fanatics in the Middle East. Yet we all but ignore the time-bomb on our border, one that has the gall to blame us for its societal malaise. And still is home to the richest man in the world.

    The EC is a basket case because it took the bait of adding countries it knew would be trouble and yet failed to attract those it needed – namely Switzerland and Scandinavia.

    More great changes are looming You can sense it when stockbrokers complain that computers are ruining the stock market. The handicapping geniuses like Lefty Rosenthal of Casino fame will be abetted and untimately replaced by cyber-geniuses. Speculation, like the high risk-high yield “investments” necessary for dumb 401k schemes, will be profoundly affected.

    The global policeman thing is going to evolve too. All it will take is a wink from the great powers and troublemakers can be taken out. Remotely more or less. Technology is going to go after guerilla warfare and rogue regimes big time. You know times are changing when the Ayatollahs critique Syria.

    trentbridge Reply:

    The Europeans are not a basket case. They are hard-working, prosperous people with universal healthcare, high-speed rail,and no death penalty. Yes, the Greek Government was cooking the books (bad Greeks!) and Ireland and Spain had banks etc. caught in a real estate bubble but saying Europe is a basket case is like saying the United States is a basket case because Mississippi or Arkansas are poor states.

    Switzerland never joins anything. However they are building the St. Goddard Base tunnel – over 35 miles long. 94miles of actual tunnel. Shame on us for lacking the political will to do anything so spectacular with our infrastructure. Oh, that’s right – we’re playing global policeman.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The issue isn’t will, it’s construction costs. Switzerland builds base tunnels for about $180 million per kilometer and commuter tunnels (underground commuter stations included) for about $130 million.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    Goldman Sachs helped the Greeks cook the books while at the same time betting against them.
    Regarding Switzerland, something puzzles me: it has difficult weather and geographical conditions. Most constructions have to be anti-seismic. Environmental and noise regulations are the most stringent in the world. Salaries are equal or higher than in the U.S. And yet, highways and railways are built at a fraction of what they would cost in the U.S.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    One of the reasons why Switzerland builds tunnels at relatively low costs is experience. In the last 50 years or so, there were always one or two (if not more) long tunnels under construction, and the people actually working in the tunnels have been doing so for all their working career. So, despite the difficult geology (in the Alps), one knows what one is doing. And even if new techniques have to be developed (such as freezimg the soil under the river, because the top of a 4-track tunnel is 5 or so meter below the ground of the river bed… ok, that cost about $300 millions per kilometer…).

    Another reason, somwhat related to the experience issues, is that the show is not run by consultants. There is enough technical and organizational expertise at the agencies (Swiss Government, Swiss Federal Reailways, Federal Higway Office etc. that consultants are hired for their expertise, but not for running the projects.

    In addition, the political system ensures stability, which itself makes sure that contractors do trust their customers, and therefore, they can quote with smaller reserves. Also, the Swiss Government is not (well, maybe with the exception of one party which is nowadays behaving like the teabaggers), considered to be the adversary, or a self-service pot. There is a common understanding that “government” provides services, and that it needs the according funding for these servcies. And there is an understanding that for certain services, an independent, not profit-driven organization provides them better and at a lower price.

    There were cost overruns in the past; serious cost overruns. One famous alpine tunnel ended up 3 times the originally budgeted price, and that was caused by allowing local interests to impose on national interests, and at the long run that tunnel did prevent the complete depopulation of the valley concerned.

    Peter Reply:

    Just in case you haven’t noticed, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark are part of the EU. The only Scandinavian country that hasn’t joined yet is Norway.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The New Deal spending at the time was entirely domestic. The military buildup only started in 1939.

  3. Nadia
    Aug 25th, 2011 at 20:12

    Business plan presentation from today’s board meeting and video are now up (kudos to the Authority for getting it up so quickly!)

    Note slide 14 in the preso discussing Funding and Financing Sources

    First Section ” Initial Construction Section (ICS)” – fully funded from federal and state government sources with $3.3 Billion from Federal ARRA and FY 10 and $2.77 Billion from Prop 1A

    Next section “Initial Operating Section (IOS)” (which is equivalent to “usable segment” from Prop 1A) requires additional funding.

    State requiring matching funds at greater than or equal to 50% for each construction section

    HSR success in CA and US dependent on additional federal support

    the next slide goes on to say that they will need approx $3-$4 billion/year for 15+ years

    peninsula Reply:

    The funding plan requires many things, like to show source of all funds for the “IOS”, that the IOS can be completed per the funding plan, that they have full environmental clearance of the IOS. Ridership study for the IOS, that they have reserves for contingencies, etc. (from AB3034, using IOS as authority has done, as another way of describing “usable segment”.

    They say they’ll bring the funding plan for BOTH the IOS North and the IOS South in October – and they seem to be saying it will satisfy the requirement that they bring this funding plan to the legislature, per AB3034. Yet, they don’t have, won’t have, all these elements for EITHER of these IOS’s in this timeframe.

    Nadia, did you notice in the memo regarding financing (8/22 item#4 attachment), they defined IOS North as North end of the ICS to SJ and IOS South as South end of the ICS to San Fernando. Which then means that the body of the ICS is not included in either of their IOS definitions. How then can they ask for bond funding if they fail to include the ICS itself in their IOS?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    You’ve misread that peninsula. The extending from refers to the extension of track in order to create the IOS, it doesn’t mean that the IOS will only extend to the near terminus and not the full body of the ICS.

    peninsula Reply:

    Ok. Well here’s how they wrote it in the document:

     IOS-North: Extending from the northern end of the ICS to Merced and San Jose
     IOS-South: Extending from the southern end of the ICS to the San Fernando Valley

    Since they are submitting a funding plan for IOS North and IOS South, and that funding plan is required prior to any bond appropriations and will have to cover whatever they are are requesting, and the bond appropriations they are going to ask for is for the ICS itself, then they’ll most definitely have to cover the ICS within their definition of their IOS.

    peninsula Reply:

    Additionally, I thought these were the most sobering statements (finally) admitted in the slide presentation on funding (parenthesis are commentary, not in the slide set):

    “Funding needed to build the project until achieving revenue generating operations”…

    “Funds for core infrastructure will be governmental – state, local and federal” (In other words, no private funding on the table for the infrastructure build – as originally promised in Prop1A)

    “Upon reaching revenue-generating operations, current projections show positive cash flow” (In other words, tax payers put out, and wait and see if the private investment comes, depending on when and how much ridership shows up – some many many number of years down the road. Trust us.)

    “Private sector investment will require ridership from Central Valley connection to Northern and/or Southern California.” (In other words – BINGO. Thanks CHSRA for finally admitting that they have no private equity skin in the game – its 100% tax payer funded risk. Period. And this goes well beyond any of the funding currently identified to reach this IOS operating segment state.)

    Sources of funds table says:

    Local: “Locally approved sales tax for matching funds could be explored for later phase” (This is ILLEGAL under Prop 1A.

    “Limited appetite for “greenfield” ridership risk transfer” (No Shit?)
    “Revenue‐backed financing” (Illegal under Prop 1A, this is tax payer’s taking on ridership guarantees)
    “Other project‐generated revenues (e.g., advertising etc.)” oh brother. Really?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Local: “Locally approved sales tax for matching funds could be explored for later phase” (This is ILLEGAL under Prop 1A.

    No it is not.

    joe Reply:

    Cities can chip in a improve the HSR ROW or station. In fact PAMPA has the option to tax and build a trench for HSR.

    VBobier Reply:

    Not that the current crop of delusional idiots and lunatics in PAMPAland will…

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Yup. Fresno, as an example can do a lot to improve the ROW by relocating utilities and streets so that the Authority need only buy the land and lay the track. The issue, I would bet, is that other jurisdictions don’t want Fresno to set a precedent of using local transportation dollars for HSR construction and are leaning on Mayor Swearagin to not do this. I would bet, however, that Fresno is really inclined to look innovative here as a way to burnish their image…..

    peninsula Reply:

    Really? Way to be seriously confused about the direction this train goes. The cash flow is a one way street: Fresno with about 20% unemployment and a budget situation summed up by the city as follows:
    Financial Overview of the City
    • Lack of General Fund operating or emergency reserves
    • Existing negative fund balances
    • No cushion for operating deficits
    • Heavy debt service loads
    • Increasing “Compensated Absence” liability
    • Increasing “Other Post- Employment Benefit (OPEB)” liability
    • A potentially underfunded risk/liability fund
    • Uncertainty of future Redevelopment Agency funding
    • Overall credit rating risk

    Will be bringing precisely TWO things to the table: 1) An agreement to look the other way while CHSRA seizes their public and private real estate assets – and 2) a nice long line of unemployed workers looking for a paycheck.

    Meanwhile CHSRA will be bringing ungodly gobs of cash, bulldozers and concrete.

    Anything “improved” relocated, or remodeled in Fresno will be paid for by CHSRA.

    joe Reply:

    Darwin Award to the Penisula.

    CAHSR is ARRA and BOND funding that will improve Fresno as indended by the President’s program and Prop1A.

    Fresno wasn’t so stupid as to sue HSR to extort a a free trenched ROW and or stop rail ROW improvments.

    This epic-win for Fresno and PAMPA fail proves wealth and IQ are lossely coupled.

    peninsula Reply:

    Uhhh Joe – did you read Risenmessiah’s comments about Fresno directly above? My comments were a response to their ridiculous statement that Fresno was going to come up with cash of their own for some of this. I said CHSRA ARRA and BOND funding WILL come IN to Fresno – not the other way around. Fresno is not paying for their own remodel.

    Will that help Fresno? Sure (given their current state of affairs) they get a free ‘remodel’. Goody for them. It was Risenmessiah above who appears to think that FRESNO is going to show up with some cash for some of this out of their own pockets.

    Fresno wasn’t so stupid? No they weren’t stupid. the key here is comparison to their current sorry state of affairs, which they well recognize. And not all places are welcoming 220 mph HSR into their communities like Fresno because not all communities are as miserable as Fresno. Misery loves company.

    Because Pampa “fails” to bend over like Fresno – that’s a fail? Really?

    But way to go Joe – talk about loosely coupled…

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Really? Way to be seriously confused about the direction this train goes. The cash flow is a one way street: Fresno with about 20% unemployment and a budget situation summed up by the city as follows:
    Financial Overview of the City
    • Lack of General Fund operating or emergency reserves
    • Existing negative fund balances
    • No cushion for operating deficits
    • Heavy debt service loads
    • Increasing “Compensated Absence” liability
    • Increasing “Other Post- Employment Benefit (OPEB)” liability
    • A potentially underfunded risk/liability fund
    • Uncertainty of future Redevelopment Agency funding
    • Overall credit rating risk

    Fresno or (except for the unemployment figure) San José?

    datacruncher Reply:

    Fresno County currently has a transportation sales tax they extended in 2006 (its what they are tapping to offer the $25 million for the HMF).

    The tax set aside $100 million for rail consolidation in the city of Fresno (per the expenditure plan) since the city has 2 mainlines with many grade crossings.
    If the consolidation cannot happen (likely since UP obviously does not want to share ROW with anyone) it appears the funds can be reallocated to grade separations.

    So it may be possible that Fresno is able to kick in money for HSR for underpasses, etc.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    In the words of Simon Phoenix, “Exactamundo!”

    The City and COG are eager to reallocate the funds because it ensures that they can control the bidding for these projects with local contractors. Everyone wants the Authority to spread the money around, but failing that, the City would tap their trans sales tax to invest some of that money locally. The peer pressure here is from other regions and cities that have transportation sales taxes that don’t want to end up using that money for HSR projects in their neck of the woods….

    peninsula Reply:

    ok, let me be more specific. It would be illegal if they were to attempt to include ‘local sales tax to be explored’ in their IOS North or IOS South “Funding Plan” submission, and attempt to count it as an identified source of funds. Because these are not identified sources of funds. These are hypothetical pipe dreams of never never land sources of funds – and that would not qualify as an identified source of funds for their current funding plan submission. (you’re right though – they do say later phases, so presumably they won’t try to include this.) If they think someday when monkeys fly out of their butts that they’ll go to local voters and get local taxes approved to build future portions of HSRn (when locals can barely keep their schools and firestations and policestations open) – it certainly is not illegal for them to have those dreams when they lay their heads on their pillows each night.

    Tony d. Reply:

    It must suck to be old and miserable.

    joe Reply:

    “peninsula” just derailed.

    It’s interesting to see the phobias that drive skeptics.

    (when locals can barely keep their schools and firestations and policestations open)

    “locals” is a reference to the mooching Central Valley and it is not too subtle a reference.

    joe Reply:

    “Upon reaching revenue-generating operations, current projections show positive cash flow” (In other words, tax payers put out, and wait and see if the private investment comes, depending on when and how much ridership shows up – some many many number of years down the road. Trust us.)

    NIMBY Palo Alto which ranks in as the 5th most expensive city in the United States, with an average home sales price of $1,677,000 as of 2007 has 38M in backlogged road repairs. PA’s annual budget is 11-12M and they continue to fall behind.

    HSR offers cost recovery on maintenance by the users/riders. You doubt it but it’s sure a better bet than a PA’s roads generating revenue.

    VBobier Reply:

    It’s too bad the CHSRA can’t sweeten the pot by offering to pay for all of Palo Altos 38M in backlogged road repairs in exchange for Palo Alto dropping their opposition to HSR and to drop out of any lawsuit against the CHSRA. The CHSRA could actually use this offer against the Palo alto City Hall if they said NO by putting in the offer and the response in the local Newspapers as a full two page spread near the front page, and on TV as a TV Commercial too…

  4. Donk
    Aug 25th, 2011 at 23:07

    I like this slide. This is the point that really justifies HSR:

    Providing the same capacity as HSR through other means* would
    require an estimated >$100 billion of investment in:
    – Thousands of lane-miles of highway
    – Dozens of additional gates at airports in California
    – New airport runways
    – Far more land than needed for HSR

    * Assumes that such alternatives are feasible

    peninsula Reply:

    Yes, and isn’t it clever of them to use CAPACITY as the measure of ‘other means’ forgone.
    When, in fact, the correct measure of cars and air trips taken off the ‘other means’ is HSR RIDERSHIP. And by CHSRA’s own current ridership models we know that ridership is a fraction of those grand ridership numbers put forth in the original conception of the system. 117M versus 36M? or some such BS bait and switch… So maybe one of the experts on this blog can tell us exactly what the CAPACITY of this proposed HSR system is. Suffice it to say – CAPACITY = ALOT bigger than the most favorable ridership projections the CHSRA has been able to manufacture. So bottom line, the ‘other means’ that they claim are saved, are for the fantom ‘capacity’ level ridership that never actually shows up for HSR rides. So either they don’t exist, or they stay on the “other means”.

    And secondly, if you take a rider off the road one or two times a year for their 1-2 visits per year to Disneyland – did you take their ongoing daily car trips off the road? No. the roads still need to be built. Cars aren’t eliminated from the system – HSR doesn’t eliminate the need for those roads.

    And thirdly – what Capacity definition did they use? How many riders? On what build out of HSR? Was that the 4 tracks everywhere HSR 12tph, 12 hours per day?? I’d love to see how they tally up and define ‘capacity’ ridership.

    Lastly, they’re a bunch a liars. I dare say – lets see their math. Im sure it will be fabulously entertaining.

    Donk Reply:

    Way to latch on to one word from a powerpoint slide and rant about a completely meaningless point.

    peninsula Reply:

    I’d hardly call it a completely meaningless point. Their “cost of doing nothing” argument is their KEY go to argument to defend this system. And their COST (Roberts favorite #… $100B) is predicated on a total lie – presuming that HSR “capacity” prevents $100B in costs, that it actually does not prevent.

    So I’d say it would be pretty meaningful, if they were required to account for their $100B calculation to find instead that the cost of saving on “other means” was say $50B, $25B, $10B. Because then they’d be standing around with their pants down: “Look – we can build $100B HSR system and that will save us like $10B in other means”.

    joe Reply:

    Their “cost of doing nothing” argument is their KEY go to argument to defend this system

    No. The cost of doing nothing answers the hysteria over the HSR budget.

    Other pro factors are:
    – The CV has 20% unemployment.
    – The system will connect the CV to the coast. Fresno to San Jose in less than an hour. No a big deal to you but amazingly ….
    – Fresno, Bakersfield and etc are part of the state, the fastest growing part, and they vote.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Hey, kids, it’s time to play “spot the fallacy”!

    1. “Something must be done!”

    2, “This is not nothing.”

    3, “Therefore this must be done!”

    HSTSheldon Reply:

    Peninsula, Let me chime in here. How much has Crude + Condensate production (IOW Regular conventional oil from wells that you can drill easily which = cheap oil) grown since 2005? Answer, practically nil. Production in 2005, about 75 mbpd, production today, about 75 mbpd. This is the oil that is cheap. The marginal cost of the oil currently being explored for is about estimated at about $70 – $80 per barrel with costs on a rapid upward trajectory.

    Now you may ask, why bring this up. Well, three words. Jet, Fuel and gasoline. A statewide HSR system can reduce the proportion of these fuels used for intrastate intercity trips. If for no other reason, this system is somewhat of an insurance policy, of course along with regional electric rail against rapidly escalating liquid fuel prices. We know that HSR will use electricity. We know that electricity can be produced from a far more versatile set of inputs than can gasoline or jet fuel, many renewable and in abundance in California. Case Closed!!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Secretary La Hood has been quoted as saying “25 million per lane mile” for Interstate grade highways. Utah is busy adding a lane to I-15. The Deseret News did the arithmetic and came up with 27 million per lane mile for everything – from the time someone suggests “Lets add a lane to I-15” to the time the paint is dry on the lane markings.
    Lets keep the math simple. It’s 500 miles from Sacramento to San Diego. Add a lane in each direction that’s 1,000 lane miles. At 25 million a lane mile that’s 25 billion right there. It’s 500 miles from San Francisco to San Diego. Add a lane to I-5 and the routes into San Francisco there’s another 25 billion.
    Assuming you could add a lane to those routes and there would be a place to park the car when you got to where you were going.

    Andrew Reply:

    Just adding to a’dacker’s point, I don’t care how many lanes there are between place A and place B. The point is I don’t want to drive there; I want to put my laptop on my HSR tray table and do my work, so that by the time I arrive I will have earned several times the cost of my ticket. Or I want to take a nap.

    Derek Reply:

    “the roads still need to be built.”

    Prove it. Is the benefit-cost ratio greater than building HSR, or converting all existing lanes to express toll lanes?

  5. Reality Check
    Aug 26th, 2011 at 01:01

    Chowchilla Residents Not Happy Over The High Speed Rail

    The mayor of Chowchilla says they don’t want the 43-billion dollar project in their town. In fact, just last month an ordnance was passed to not allow the project to move forward in Chowchilla without a permit.

    “You want to put as many roadblocks in place for the high speed rail to prevent it from taking place,” said Mayor David Alexander.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Added the Mayor, “In Chowchilla, we’d like a solidly Jesus-based transportation system, and of course that means large black SUVs for every trip. If a large black SUV was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for the residents of Chowchilla!”

    Andy M. Reply:

    Jesus did not drive an SUV. He drove a Honda Accord, but was extremely modest about it and rarely mentioned it.

    Does not the Bible say “for I spoke not of my own Accord”?

    James M. in Irvine Reply:

    Yeah, and god drove Adam and Eve out of Eden in his Fury, must like MOPAR!


    David Reply:

    Chowchilla isn’t even a charter city, I don’t see how they’re going to be able to tell the State to get lost.

    SantaTeresaHills Reply:

    Are they serious? We stayed in Chowchilla a couple of months ago. Most of town is southeast of the tracks. The part of the town that borders the tracks is about 4/10 of a mile on one side. They currently have a grand total of 2 streets that cross the railroad tracks. What lies on the other side of the tracks is mostly businesses like gas stations, food places, hotels, and then highway 99.

    The impact to Chowchilla will be to have one street go under or over the train tracks and to close off the other road because it is 100 yards from the other road that covers the tracks.

    Assuming the High Speed Rail follows the current train tracks in San Martin, the impact to San Martin will be much more than Chowchilla. The tracks in San Martin cut right down the middle of the town while it cuts off a small corner in Chowchilla.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    They’re just trying to get a piece of the action.
    Kind of like CHSRA’s consultants, only they’ve set their sights on less than 0.1% as much. (Suckers!)

    So, got a problem with that? Don’t love capitalism? Don’t love America? Communist? Usbeki?

    Beta Magellan Reply:

    As someone with a passing familiarity with the Turkic languages, I have to pedantically state that Uzbek is the most-commonly used demonym, though you should technically only use it when talking about people of Uzbek ethnicity. Otherwise, Uzbekistani is preferred.

    Also, is Chowchilla’s opposition more evidence that Altamont is politically impossible?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, why? Chowchilla can be bypassed on either alignment, just like the intermediate towns between Fresno and Bakersfield.

    Beta Magellan Reply:

    Only evidence that I need to let people know when I’m being facetious.

  6. morris brown
    Aug 26th, 2011 at 19:39


    Why don’t you tell the whole story!

    The Senate Appropriations “held under submission” Galgiani’s AB-145 also. That is the one you want and so does the Authority.

  7. jimsf
    Aug 26th, 2011 at 19:58

    I just watched this very good doc. sprawling from grace

  8. D. P. Lubic
    Aug 27th, 2011 at 15:55

    Off topic, but perhaps interesting.

    The first is just a blip from the website Nine Shift; is the stat quoted true, and is it true because the train is better in the NEC?

    Commentary from Yonah Freemark at the Transport Politic on the subject of public-private partnerships, specifically for HSR:

    Finally, some comments by Matthew Yglesias on the prospects of gas tax increases, despite them being something of a third-rail; comments by others on density are interesting, too:

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    I don’t understand Freemark’s criticism of the Paris-Bordeaux concession. The public participation is fixed once and for all and any cost overruns or failure to meet the predicted ridership are the private consortium’s responsibility.
    Yet Freemark says the deal is not as good as it seems because it will result in higher fares as the consortium will want its investment to be profitable. He forgets that HSR has to compete with low-cost airlines and can’t price itself out of the market. And the system also cuts short the “why should I pay for a train I won’t ride” argument.

  9. D. P. Lubic
    Aug 27th, 2011 at 16:04

    Some other material by the (temporarily?) infamous (at least on this site) Kevin Drum from Mother Jones:

Comments are closed.