Would Grapevine Alignment Save $4 Billion?
So claims a report in the Bakersfield Californian:
Building a high-speed train route over the Grapevine instead of through the Antelope Valley could save up to $4 billion, according to a July progress report released Wednesday.
A conceptual study identified more than one feasible alignment over the mountain pass, prompting engineers on the project to propose a more in-depth study of the Grapevine proposal, originally rejected in 2005.
But missing from the conceptual study, as of July anyway, was a close look at what effect a Grapevine route would have on the project’s overall economics.
“More detailed analysis of ridership and revenue figures is required to complete the analysis between the Grapevine and Antelope Valley Alternatives,” engineers with Parsons Brinckerhoff wrote in the July update released Wednesday by Bay Area critics of the project.
Unfortunately I can’t find the report on the sites of either CARRD or CC-HSR, so I can’t provide the details. Still, the PB quote is entirely sensible. If you save $4 billion in construction costs but give up even a dollar more in lost ridership revenue from cutting out Palmdale and the Antelope Valley, then it’s a bad deal.
As we know, HSR critics never acknowledge the benefits and revenues of the project. In order to even be HSR critics, they must consistently deny those realities for their ideas to hold together. If they acknowledged HSR had benefits, then they would not be able to sustain their “omg it’s too expensive and nobody will ever ride it” attack.
A Grapevine alignment faces political and legal challenges in addition to the financial questions. Palmdale has sued to block further study of a Grapevine alignment and Metro has come out against a Grapevine alignment, preferring to preserve the Palmdale route that voters approved in 2008. DesertXpress was counting on a Palmdale alignment to plug their project into the SF-LA route, which could lead to Nevada Senator and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to get involved.
The CHSRA board will decide later this fall whether to proceed with further study. We will see what comes next for the Grapevine alignment.