San Joaquin Valley Cannot Afford to Not Build HSR

Oct 27th, 2011 | Posted by

This blog has repeatedly argued that because of a failed status quo – with unemployment in Fresno County of 15.8% – we cannot simply abandon efforts that would create jobs and reduce our costly dependence on oil because those efforts aren’t easy. Almost to a person, HSR critics and opponents all believe that the status quo is working just fine, that the country is not in crisis, and that suffering is either overstated or tolerable.

High speed rail has the potential to transform the San Joaquin Valley from a region dependent on agriculture alone to a diverse and prosperous place with a wide range of jobs, tied into the global economy by having a fast and affordable connection to the all-important coastal economic engines.

Others are beginning to make the same point. As Fresno Bee columnist Bill McEwen explains, the Valley has to be willing to take some risks if it is to have any hope of escaping what is an economic depression:

“I see a huge future for high-speed rail. It’s great that the first link that’s going to get built in California is between Fresno and Bakersfield,” says [Mary] O’Hara-Devereaux, keynote speaker at today’s Fresno County Economic Development Corp. annual report luncheon.

Why then is high-speed rail so divisive that polite folks don’t discuss it around the dinner table?

“There is always a lot of controversy around transportation shifts,” O’Hara-Devereaux says.

O’Hara-Devereaux, founder and chief executive officer of San Francisco-based Global Foresight, says that she’s aware of the Valley’s steep economic challenges. But she is of the opinion that the region can prosper by diversifying its economy, continuing to be a world leader in agriculture and forming partnerships with top academic institutions.

“The San Joaquin Valley has struggled and lagged behind other areas in California,” O’Hara-Devereaux says. “But I’m not pessimistic about the future. A lot of it depends on not getting lost in familiar territory and stuck in mindsets.

And that’s exactly where HSR opponents and critics are – lost in familiar territory and stuck in a 20th century mindset where people will only ever want to drive.

We’ve seen around the world that HSR provides a boon to mid-line cities who are suddenly able to attract talent and capital from the major metros that become just an hour’s train ride away. Fresno and Bakersfield are poised to become the next Ciudad Real or Zaragoza. The freeway turned San José from an orchard town to the center of a global industry. HSR can turn Fresno into an important part of the 21st century economy.

After all, HSR allows the global economy to tap into the resources the Valley currently has:

O’Hara-Devereaux’s crystal ball also includes this possibility: a shift in overseas manufacturing jobs to the low-cost Valley.

“There’s a play in strategically thinking about how you bring more manufacturing,”she says. “It has to be done in a comprehensive manner, so you’re also making the investments in education and training. Almost all manufacturing is going to be more high-tech, so you’re going to need more skills.”

The Valley is low-cost, but it’s also geographically isolated. In the ’00s boom that isolation was temporarily overcome when the Bay Area began spilling over into San Joaquin County, but the end of cheap gas stopped that and turned Stockton into one of the most depressed housing markets in the country. But that boom did prove the concept – if the Valley can be linked to the coast with the right kind of transportation, capital, jobs, and people will flock to the Valley.

It’s hard to imagine how anyone in the Valley would want to turn down that opportunity. Because HSR spurs growth within existing urban areas due to the desire to have proximity to a station, it won’t threaten most farmers. And because it will create construction jobs as well as bring jobs to the Valley and put current residents in the market for coastal jobs, it will be as beneficial to the local economy as were the canals and aqueducts of the New Deal era.

The opportunity and the rewards are too great to let a few kinks in the project hold the Valley back from what may be its best chance at escaping long-term economic malaise.

  1. D. P. Lubic
    Oct 27th, 2011 at 22:57
    #1

    “And that’s exactly where HSR opponents and critics are – lost in familiar territory and stuck in a 20th century mindset where people will only ever want to drive.”

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is a variation of the argument between generations. . .

  2. D. P. Lubic
    Oct 27th, 2011 at 22:57
    #2

    “And that’s exactly where HSR opponents and critics are – lost in familiar territory and stuck in a 20th century mindset where people will only ever want to drive.”

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is a variation of the argument between generations. . .

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Dang, how did that double post come up?

    Donk Reply:

    It is because the record is broken.

  3. Joey
    Oct 27th, 2011 at 23:17
    #3

    Fresno and Bakersfield are poised to become the next Ciudad Real or Zaragoza.

    This would actually be a good comparison, except that these cities were connected to Madrid from the opening of the line.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Fresno and Bakersfield are poised to become the next Ciudad Real or Zaragoza.

    Hilarious. 20% unemployment is not something to strive for.

  4. Wad
    Oct 28th, 2011 at 00:35
    #4

    HSR would enable the Central Valley to be California’s next Orange County.

    And I mean that as a good thing.

    Orange County’s unemployment rate is 9%. Merced County’s is 17.5%. Fresno County’s is 15.8%. Tulare County’s is 15.7%. Kings County’s is 15.3%. Kern County’s is 14.4%.

    Orange County also has higher home values, higher incomes and more residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

    How was it able to do that? By being between two good neighbors.

    Orange County went from being an agricultural hinterland to a collection of bedroom communities to a home of major single-source employers (military bases, aerospace, Disneyland) to a bona fide urbanized area in its own right — and it did it in a faster time frame than L.A. or San Diego.

    By putting much of the Central Valley within commuting distance of both the Bay Area and Southern California, it at least gives the communities a chance to participate in a dynamic economy not yet available locally. Also, the speed-proximity to both the Bay Area and SoCal makes business location more attractive — especially considering that development deals offer more growth opportunity than in the built-out megalopoles.

    RisenMessiah Reply:

    The Central Valley has NO chance to become the next Orange County. Zero, none, nada, zip.

    Orange County became popular because the Irvine Company cleverly figured out a way to use real covenants to price out minorities and other undesirables from the neighborhood. Add to that the existing presence of defense contractors and you had a custom recipe for the type of place it has become.

    The Valley is never going to be as pretty or exclusive or as close to the ocean as the O.C. Secondly, the unemployment rate for the County is lower because (shocker, shocker) the unemployment rate for whites and Asians is much lower than for blacks and Hispanics. Note also the higher unemployment rates in Alameda and CoCo County than Marin and San Mateo….

    This is not to say that HSR poses no benefits to the CV…it’s just that there’s no point is getting one’s hopes up for something that is not going to happen.

    Wad Reply:

    @RisenMessiah,

    Here are Census data for Orange County.

    Demographics are 63.1% white (74.5% for U.S.), 1.7% black (12.4% for U.S.), 16.1% Asian (4.4% for U.S.); Hispanics of any race are 33.2% (15.1% for U.S.).

    Minorities make up a third of Orange County’s population, and their numbers will continue to grow. Orange County is also the home of the largest Vietnamese community outside Vietnam.

    Orange County is more than the douchebag reality show stars living somewhere in the hills. There are large pockets of poor areas in the county — Santa Ana, Stanton, a significant quarter of Anaheim, to name a few — but Orange County is also thorougly urbanized. Residents no longer have to commute to L.A. or San Diego counties for jobs; in fact, Orange County imports residents from the Inland Empire and L.A. County for jobs.

    I used the example of Orange County to show how a once-agricultural area can, over time, turn into a dynamic city region on its own. And Orange County became dynamic after racially restricted covenants were made illegal. Also, Orange County was able to wean itself off of a garrison town economy — two bases (Tustin and El Toro) were closed and the area remained prosperous.

    RisenMessiah Reply:

    I know what you are getting at, but again, your example is too flawed:

    a) It’s true that Orange County is diverse today. But major employers are not moving to that part of the County. What’s already there is sticking around. The Koreans are now a major force with the Vietnamese in terms of small businesses, but no mega-firms that I know of.

    b) Irvine was the epicenter of the mortgage crisis. New Century Financial’s offices overlook the freeway that passes through there. There isn’t that much growth there per se. It’s that as the service sector recovers in wealthy areas (along with school districts), people are going to go back to work.

    c) The success of the Irvine Company isn’t racial covenants. It’s figuring out how to achieve the same ends of the racial covenants without actually using them. The real economic drivers in Orange County are Pacific Life, PIMCO, and UC Irvine….

    Elizabeth Reply:

    I was looking at the demographics around different stations and I was surprised to see how different Anaheim and Irvine were. The Irvine downtown has a lot of features that go with high HSR demand. I am surprised that it is not being included in the project.

    City Educational Attainment Household Income Per Capita
    Anaheim 22% $57,870 $22,522
    Irvine 64% $92,195 $42,255

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if OCTA largely paid for Phase II extension to Irvine as part of the initial system. Provided that speculation that FRA will permit UIC and freight to coexist with PTC, it should be a simple matter of overlaying CAHSRA’s PTC system and stringing overhead wire down the way (which could be done straight down to the Mission Viejo/Laguna Niguel station without any issues if they truly wanted to for Metrolink reasons). That whole segment is getting upgraded to 110mph as it is.

    Wad Reply:

    The present Irvine train station is a beetfield without beets.

    Irvine’s edge city, the Spectrum, has the buildings each running their own shuttle buses to the stations. The station itself, though, is far removed from any activity center like John Wayne Airport or UC Irvine.

    People still seem to find the station, though. The parking lots get so full valets “stack” cars.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    To be fair, if they ever develop El Toro MCAS, Irvine station is ideally placed for that.

  5. JJJ
    Oct 28th, 2011 at 00:53
    #5

    So I did make the HSR forum tonight. I will try and have a full write up tomorrow, as I took lots of notes.

    However, I’m sure the author of this blogs and the readers are a wee bit curious about how fellow commentator Elizabeth did.

    Look, she made a lot of points. But you know when you say something so far gone that it sort of manages to void everything else you said because it makes you come off as a joke character?

    Well, she had such a moment. Indeed, even the moderator Bill McEwen, who was very quiet was taken aback by the comment.

    In response to a question about unemployment in the central valley, Elizabeth put forth the argument that rail will actually take jobs away.

    How so? She claimed that companies based in San Francisco with satellite offices in the valley would close their local branches because HSR would make traveling so convenient that they would no longer need to keep staff in Fresno.

    Bill McEwen’s response? Something along the line of “Uh, what companies are based in SF and have satellite offices in Fresno…?” Yeah Bill, I can’t think of any either.

    And no, nobody got the chance to go into the possibility that a company would be excited to set up shop in the much cheaper Fresno and thus serve SF just as well but with lower expenses.

    As for Hanford Assembly Member David Valadao? It sort of seemed like this debate was held in 2007, based on how little he appeared to know about the project. Bill McEwen did also catch him on a full on lie he tried to sell the audience.

    David Valadao actually claimed that he had talked to Southwest airlines and they were very interested in serving the valley. He said the future is not in 40 year old HSR technology, but the future is in the airline business. (I’m serious guys, although nobody had the heart to tell him lanes are indeed more than 40 year old technology)

    Bill McEwen was completely taken aback by the claim that Southwest airlines would be willing to fly people from Fresno to the Mojave desert, as claimed by the assemblyman. Bill said that Fresno has thrown everything they have at SW in an attempt to get them to serve Fresno, including a subsidy of $3 million a year, and that it would be amazing if Valadao could get service to Fresno when everyone else had failed.

    As you can imagine, David Valadao quickly backpedaled on his lie.

    The Bee has a very short write-up here, but this type of article tends to get expanded as the night goes on.
    http://www.fresnobee.com/2011/10/27/2593597/pros-and-cons-of-high-speed-rail.html

    synonymouse Reply:

    So they erect a lot of stilts in Fresno and then connect it to LA via the boonies and Palmdale. And then there is hardly any passenger traffic. Will you be happy then? Maybe the billions would have been better spent on welfare.

    I won’t be happy because I will have been forced to pay for a dumb idea that was bound to fail.

    Similarly the San Joaquin Valley will be really unhappy when they discover that their economy will decline even more under cap and trade. So direct your ire at Pelosi and retinue.

    Sometimes the only realistic way to cope with an economy tht sux is to relocate. Look at the Rust Belt.

    Peter Reply:

    “So they erect a lot of stilts in Fresno”

    What the hell are you talking about? The only part of Fresno that will be elevated now is going to be at the very south of Fresno where BNSF and UP meet. The rest is going to be at-grade, with a short below-grade section. Get with the program.

    “Similarly the San Joaquin Valley will be really unhappy when they discover that their economy will decline even more under cap and trade. So direct your ire at Pelosi and retinue.”

    WTF does this have to do with HSR? And do you have any basis for this claim?

    synonymouse Reply:

    PB suffers from a compulsive propensity for stilts – it is chronically infected with Brutalism. Once the scheme is approved the aerials will magically reappear – everywhere. Can’t do it any other way – just not feasible, yada yada. Look at BART, PB’s & Bechtel’s spawn.

    The passenger counts will be pathetically low as most of the underclass will still be driving to LA and the Ritchie Riches will have their own planes. This thing will require a significant subsidy just to run half-empty trains. The 3 million figure is chump change; BART can piss away $3 mil on union perks with a snap of the fingers.

    Of course you can fill the trains if the fare is virtually free – similar to bums riding Muni all night long just to sleep off the high.

    Peter Reply:

    Wow, that’s one of the looniest things you’ve come up with. There’s nothing really to add, your post speaks for itself.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Loony?

    “O’Hara-Devereaux’s crystal ball also includes this possibility: a shift in overseas manufacturing jobs to the low-cost Valley.” What with Pelosi’s cap and trade and support of anti-business litigation(Walmart, etc.) claiming that the once-Golden State under Moonbeam and the 3 crones will become a business magnet is beyond loony; it is preposterous.

    It is about as credible as a defense that Michael Jackson was his own Dr. Kervorkian.

    Peter Reply:

    Like I said, it speaks for itself. I rest my case.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    “Cocaine is a hell of a drug” — Rick James

    Walter Reply:

    You might think “loony” is unwarranted, but I think what frustrates people about your posts is that they don’t have facts in them. For instance, you suggest the section through Fresno will be mostly aerials, but when pressed for evidence, you devolve into a discussion of private jets, drugged-out bums on Muni, cap and trade and Michael Jackson.

    VBobier Reply:

    I don’t care if Yer happy Syno, why should I? I support HSR, Ya have no hope of stopping HSR, no matter what You say, even that lame-hare brained idea of splitting CA will never succeed. Don’t like that? Leave, I’d think there are 49 other states that might accept Ya.

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    “Look, she made a lot of points.”

    Such as? The article only picked up on one.

    “Alexis said the amount the state would need to borrow for the rail project would divert $700 million annually to pay the interest on the debt, costing CSU students $2,000 annually each.”

    StevieB Reply:

    Did Mrs. Alexis explain how that money would come directly from CSU students and not be instead taken from funds that would be used for widening roads?

    Elizabeth Reply:

    1. Unlike education, most transportation funding does not come from the General Fund. http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/tpp/offices/eab/fundchrt_files/Transportation_Funding_in_California_2011.pdf The exception is prop 1b bonds which are for roads and transit,which come from the general fund but are covered by truck weight fees.

    2. The general insanity of this state is that we have already done or will do over the next couple of years a large number of the road widenings that were on the list of projects that high speed rail was supposed to be in lieu of building roads.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    2. The general insanity of this state is that we have already done or will do over the next couple of years a large number of the road widenings that were on the list of projects that high speed rail was supposed to be in lieu of building roads.

    Yes Caltrans stared into their cyrstal ball in 2005, did the environmental studies etc. contracted out the projects and started construction last year in anticipation of building ( or not building ) HSR in 2020. Very clairvoyant of them. The one in the news in the past few months was the widening project for I-405. HSR isn’t going to run between neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

    joe Reply:

    Yes, the general insanity of CA is the state is already are spending any supposed savings generated by rail projects on road expansion.

    Okay. I get it.

    Santa Clara Co can’t afford to throw away more money at Caltrain subsidies let alone borrow money to upgrade the system. With the next crisis; Shut. It. Down. We’ve already spent the money on roads and you know, Palo Alto is way behind road repairs. We need to fix what we have.

    It’s damn shame since the expansions at Facebook and Stanford Hospital alone are going to congest the hell out of the Peninsula. Still, with proper planning and design, I think we can increase auto traffic and keep it flowing smoothing.

    Then there’s the infill that continues as people pay more to be near work.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If it gets too congested work has this nasty habit of moving someplace less congested.

    StevieB Reply:

    Approximately a billion dollars a year from Truck Weight Fee revenue goes into the general fund each year for payment on current general obligation bond debt service for specified voter-approved transportation bonds. If this revenue is used for new HSR bonds instead of new highway bonds they would replace that money would not cost CSU students education funds.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Most of the highway bonds are already issued.

    StevieB Reply:

    With the population of California natural increase of half a million a year increasing the need for transportation is it unlikely that more highway bonds will be issued over the lifetime of CA HSR if the line is not built?

    joe Reply:

    Her statement is an attempt to imply facts and causation.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    I looked to see if there were old highway bonds and I didn’t see any. The money for highways has come locally from sales taxes, from gas taxes and from the feds. I think Prrop 1b was kind of an aberration (it paid for a lot more than highways – transit, bridges, ports)

    StevieB Reply:

    The California Transportation Commission met this week in Sacramento and allocated <a href="http://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/news/2011/10/28/california-transportation-road-projects.html"$784 million in funding for 61 projects". Most of the money is from Prop 1b bonds.

    The California Transportation Commission funding includes $695 million from Proposition 1B, the 2006 voter-approved transportation bond. To date, the state has allocated more than $9 billion in Proposition 1B funds.

    StevieB Reply:

    The California Transportation Commission met this week in Sacramento and allocated $784 million in funding for 61 projects . Most of the money is from Prop 1b bonds.

    he California Transportation Commission funding includes $695 million from Proposition 1B, the 2006 voter-approved transportation bond. To date, the state has allocated more than $9 billion in Proposition 1B funds.

    Jon Reply:

    In response to a question about unemployment in the central valley, Elizabeth put forth the argument that rail will actually take jobs away.

    I think we can at least dispense with the idea that CARRD are just people who want to see HSR ‘done right’.

    I work for an engineering company in downtown SF. We have no reason to have an office here except for the fact that the sort of people who have the skills to work in this industry are also the sort of people who want to live in places like the Bay Area.

    We also need another office in a location where rent is cheap enough for large equipment storage/maintenance facilities. If HSR were in existence, Fresno would be a prime location for such an office, being just 90 mins from downtown SF. The journey to our current satellite office requires a flight to San Diego and then a 90 min drive. Add in BART to SFO + waiting time at the airport + picking up the rental car and you have a 4+ hour journey.

    We also have several staff who live outside of the Bay Area in places like Stockton and Sacramento, who mostly work from home but drive or take Capital Corridor into the office once every so often for face to face meetings. That sort of work style would become far more viable with HSR for people living in Fresno.

    The idea that HSR would result in the loss of jobs in Fresno is just pure FUD.

    joe Reply:

    Karl Rove 101. Your strength is your weakness.

    HSR would connect CV cities to jobs in LA and SF. Bakersfield to LA in 54 minutes. Fresno to Palo Alto faster than Caltrain service form Gilroy.

    These strengths are inverted into propaganda as weaknesses. HSR will take jobs away from from the CV.

    It’s fuck’en GOP 101 propagada bullshit – same shit used over and over.

    I recall the Three Stooges Short where Curly drilled holes in the bottom of a boat to let the water out.

    HSR taking away jobs is like Curly drilling holes to let out the water. Laughable.

    joe Reply:

    Here’s an illustration of Elizabeth’s economic analysis. About 4:50 into the clip.

    Peter Reply:

    Does David Valadao realize that the Boeing 737, composing the ENTIRE fleet of Southwest Airlines, is also over 40 years old? In the same way that HSR is 40 years old? That is, if you don’t take any improvements in technology into account.

    James Reply:

    Quite correct. Some parts on a new 737 would be interchangeable with one produced in 1968. And there have been many tech improvements that have about doubled the aircraft performance. However, some aspects of the original design were right the first time and remain essentially unchanged.

    OEM
    http://www.boeing.com/commercial/737family/background.html

    Major sub-contractor
    http://www.spiritaero.com/content.aspx?id=2557

    Tech site
    http://www.b737.org.uk/

    Entire forums that have discussed the topic more than this blog
    http://www.airliners.net/aircraft-data/

    Extra credit
    http://trn.trains.com/en/Trackside/2009/03/Trackside%20with%20Trainscom%20Vol%20110%20recap.aspx

    RisenMessiah Reply:

    It’s older than that:

    Boeing passenger planes have their origin in KC 135 fuel tankers which date from the 1950s…

    Peter Reply:

    Well, yes, but I was willing to give him some credit.

    RisenMessiah Reply:

    Thanks for your notes and I look forward to reading your summary JJJ!

    So Elizabeth actually is right…kind of. There aren’t lots of companies based in the Bay Area that have satellite offices in the 559 but there is a big IRS facility there. The Federal Government could definitely shift much of their work based in San Francisco out to giant hives in Fresno and save money that way. Wells Fargo, PG & E, and other quasi-government firms could make the move as well. But Facebook, Adobe, Intel…hell no. Those guys already get great deals and even cheaper land in Arizona, Oregon, and Idaho….

    The problem though is that because Fresno is relatively arid you can’t add all these people without using more water which would still come from….agriculture.

    Beta Magellan Reply:

    The whole HSR-jobs relationship’s fairly mixed—from Brian Sands’s report on HSR’s economic effects (pdf) :

    “Nakamura and Ueda’s work (1989) provides evidence that the Shinkansen, like similar trans- portation systems, does not cause growth, but allows it to disperse from existing centers, even as it
    concentrates growth around locations with access to the transportation system. The fact that growth
    is stronger when both the Shinkansen and an expressway are present is especially convincing. Free- ways (expressways) have long been known for allowing population and employment to disperse from existing centers (witness the suburbanization of the United States) and converge around locations with good freeway access (highway interchanges and urban ring roads). The Shinkansen line allowed the growth of population, employment, and economic activities to shift out of existing centers to sub-centers. At the same time, it concentrated this growth and growth indigenous to the sub-center around locations with access to the Shinkansen.”

    So, this would imply an HSR line to Fresno to lead to employment growth, albeit with the caveat that I’m not sure what role the Japanese government played in ensuring spatial distribution of growth along the line—I know Tokyo/the rest of Japan is a political issue, but I don’t know how it’s played out in terms of Japanese economic policy and to what degree it was coordinated with transportation infrastructure.

    Sands also notes that Lyon had concerns similar to those Elizabeth voiced about before the opening of the LGV Sud-Est; as of 1991 there was actually more penetration in the reverse direction but it was too soon to rule out the future relocation of Lyonnais firms’ head offices to Paris (more recent data would be appreciated). My memory of spatial economics in college also would tend towards increased centralization of higher-level services in SF.

    Beta Magellan Reply:

    Also worth noting: this is all about HSR directing growth, not conjuring it from thin air. Growth in Japan and France (and decline in Spain) would have happened anyway, but its spatial distribution would have been somewhat different. HSR is not as important as everyone thinks it is.

    joe Reply:

    Bullshit.

    We know the only statistical study done on the economic effects of HSR was done in Germany and they found a sustained positive GDP growth. It didn’t take that growth from surrounding cities.

    You want to claim that growth was transferred from elsewhere – prove it.

    Your backing into a claim that against infrastructure – it proves modest or little stimulant for growth. Why bother when grow is going to happen by the invisible hand?

    Congestion has a cost. High cost of living is a added cost. Extending the size of the labor market and housing market for LA produces new growth in LA and the CV.

    Beta Magellan Reply:

    It’s not a question of necessarily taking growth from surrounding cities—it’s that new growth either happened near an HSR station rather than someplace else, and that someplace else could either be more sprawl-y (growth happening in exurban/quasi-rural locations) or less (growth happening in one central city, rather than distributed along the line). I’m not denying that the construction of infrastructure has a stimulative effect, but constantly building infrastructure’s not any way to build an economy in the long run (and you’d hope that infrastructure would have low maintenance costs). I provided a link—peruse it over and check its sources on your own (you could also have had the courtesy to provide a link to that German study—I did ask for more recent information).

    You’re also straw-manning me when you claim that everything’s going to happen via the invisible hand. It’s not that I think growth happens on its own, it’s just that it happens for reasons other than transportation infrastructure. After all, no wants to consume transportation—they only use it to consume other things. I’d also refer you to Robert Vogel’s Railroads and American Economic Growth (unfortunately only available on snippet view via Google docs), which estimated (IIRC) that the US’s GDP in 1890 would have been around 7% lower if everything was done via water and road—smaller, but not too much smaller.

    And for the record, I’m pro-HSR but I’m also an HSR hedgehog. I support it because I think it’s a superior way of transporting people from city-to-city than roads or short-hop flights. It has fewer negative externalities than its competitors (and offers a nicer service to boot), but all its other benefits are peripheral and are, IMO, pretty weak ground for advocacy.

    (Although the situation you seem to be hinting at—that HSR should be used to make it easier for Bay Area workers to buy houses in places with cheap land, does make me less pro-HSR—if it’s being used primarily as a commuter service, HSR just becomes the newest thing to subsidize sprawl. As a climate hawk, I’d prefer to shorten trip lengths and have more affordable housing in the Bay Area.)

    Jon Reply:

    if it’s being used primarily as a commuter service, HSR just becomes the newest thing to subsidize sprawl.

    That’s a good point, but I suspect the tickets will be priced in such a manner that discourages daily commuting by HSR. For people who only need to be in the office occasionally it may well become more viable to work from home and take HSR in on occasions, but commuting 100+ miles on a daily basis will probably remain as unattractive as it is now.

    Wad Reply:

    @Jon, if HSR tickets were priced comparable to plane tickets, they would be. Very few people will shuttle between the Bay Area and L.A. by flying Southwest, even though flight availability and low fares make it attractive.

    On the other hand, if HSR tickets were priced closer to Amtrak tickets, there might very well be the possibility of L.A. and the Bay Area seeing many more workers who are Bakersfielders, Stocktonians or Freswegians.

    Jon Reply:

    All the analysis from CAHSR indicates that HSR fares will be 50%-80% of the equivalent airfare, depending on the business model used. In other words, cheaper than flying, more expensive than Amtrak or driving.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    More expensive than Amtrak and only cheaper than driving if the only cost you consider is fuel. amtral fares in California are heavily subsidized.

    Wad Reply:

    That would really suck for the Central Valley, then. They have to pay at least twice as much as an L.A. Bay Area flier to go half the distance at schedules worse than the San Joaquins.

    (I know, I know. An L.A. Bay Area trip will be more than a halfway trip. I do wonder whether there will be frequent-rider discounts or account-based corporate travel, in which a company will front thousands of dollars a quarter or year to get bulk travel discounts.)

    StevieB Reply:

    Land use patterns increasing housing density around rail station would more effectively reduce sprawl. It can be argued that land use patterns on the peninsula produce greater sprawl by limiting density thereby increasing the acreage of land needed to house California’s growing population. The 1950’s ideal of an automobile centered separate single family home in the suburbs is limited by the land required.

    joe Reply:

    First HSR isn’t subsidized. It must be operated by fare recovery. Note our monthly rail pass subsidized 100% by the employer. It reduces congestion and allows the employer to grow without impacting the locality with more cars and parking.

    Second, civilization is not sprawl. Being able to extend the “home range” of workers and the resource pool for employers without adding cars on the road isn’t creating sprawl.

    Third, I’m a climate hawk. Not everyone can afford a tiny townhouse in PAMPA. Yes, HSR will be used to allow commuting and it will also allow families to dump a needless expense, a car. You’ll get far less environmental damage in CA when 1 car per adult is no longer necessary. People can use local and regional transit.

    Study
    http://www2.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/news/archives/2010/09/highspeedrail.aspx
    http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/29430/

    Fifth
    “It’s not that I think growth happens on its own, it’s just that it happens for reasons other than transportation infrastructure.”

    At some point the congestion gets bad enough that companies relocate, people leave. The cost of living is too much a burden. We just lost a senior staff to IL. Three kids crammed in a townhome vs a large home in a livable city in the midwest. Our economy is vulnerable.

    Beta Magellan Reply:

    You’re right, subsidize is probably the wrong word—“facilitate” is better.

    Still, I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at—are you assuming that HSR commuters from the central valley will be living in dense, walkable neighborhoods? I think they’re more likely to buy new homes beyond walking distance, which still adds cars to local roads and drives up demand for parking near stations.

    Furthermore, there’s no conflict between being a good neighborhood to raise a family in and increased density. I currently live in a desirable, family-filled Chicago neighborhood with a density of ~19,000 people per square mile, and before that I lived in even more child-friendly Hyde Park, which has ~18,000/square mile. If you want to improve housing for Bay Area workers, the first thing you should look at is increasing the housing supply near existing transit assets and making it pleasant for people to walk to the nearest station.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Price single tickets to discourage daily commuting, but offer monthly or tri-monthly season passes priced (on an average per journey basis) slightly cheaper than said regular single journey ticket.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    “I suspect the tickets will be priced in such a manner that discourages daily commuting by HSR”

    TGV commuters are the upscale type. They often have seats booked by their firms on a yearly basis negotiated with SNCF. Some firms book 4-seat modules with seats facing each other so that their employees have something resembling a cubicle isolated from other passengers.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Vogel’s study argues that GDP in the absence of railroads would’ve been lower by 1%, not 7%.

    Beta Magellan Reply:

    Thanks for the correction.

    Wad Reply:

    @Beta, thanks for the Sands link. I’ve seen a report showing similar effects in Germany — HSR helped direct certain economic value chains to cities along rail corridors. There’s a software corridor, an auto corridor, and so on. Of course, Germany also has the autobahn, so HSR and highways can’t be taken in isolation.

    joe Reply:

    ‘It is quite clear that the line itself brought significant and lasting benefits in access to markets, growth, employment and individual prosperity. One of our key findings is a positive market access elasticity, which means that improvements in accessibility to other towns, cities and regions, will be reflected in economic growth. We believe this research develops a new framework for predicting the economic effects of large-scale infrastructure projects and will help governments to define future spending priorities.’

    http://www2.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/news/archives/2010/09/highspeedrail.aspx

    Beta Magellan Reply:

    And you can read the full pdf here.

    A couple of things to point out when reading the whole version—the authors note that, relative to West Germany’s economy as a whole, their study area underperformed. In their words (on page 18 of the paper, 19 of the pdf), “This finding holds for population, GDP, GDP per capita and employment and indicates that the transport innovations, if at all, had a rather localized economic impact and did not shift the level of economic wealth for the study area as a whole.” The 2.7% increase was around Limburg and Montbaur was relative to the rest of the study area, which sounds a lot like findings Sands cites from the Shinkansen research (and 2.7% isn’t that big). Again, this doesn’t mean Germany was wrong to bring the ICE to those towns, but it means that economic benefits are highly localized and pretty small at that. I’m sure that Limburgers notice quick and pleasant rides to Cologne or Frankfurt more than than they notice the small peripheral benefits that came with the ICE.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    “it was too soon to rule out the future relocation of Lyonnais firms’ head offices to Paris”.
    Regarding Lyon, the impact of the TGV has been very positive. The development of La-Part-Dieu business center wouldn’t have been possible without the TGV. More than 40% of the riders between Paris and Lyon are business people. Many Paris businesses have opened branches in Lyon.
    Still, all studies point out the TGV is never the determining cause of development. It enhances a dynamics that’s already there. Lyon has good business and engineering schools, medical research, etc… Thus, enterprises found in Lyon everything they could find in Paris at lesser costs.
    For a city like Dijon, where no such resources exist, the reverse effect was noted. The TGV enabled firms to do without a local branch and treat local business from their Paris head office.

    ericmarseille Reply:

    I’ve lived for one year in Lyon in 2001, you could already smell the money ; since then, Lyon has been one of the two cities of choice for settling small or medium Hi-Tech businesses, with Nice.
    Plenty of my engineer friends have departed from Marseille to work in Lyon since then.
    (note : I’m not an engineer, I’m just an ordinary schmuck myself, but nearly all my friends here are engineers)
    I wouldn’t say everything came with the TGV (Lyon has always been wealthy, I mean, compared to other provincial cities), but it has helped tremendously to modernize the city and to withstand the crisis.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What has the TGV’s impact on Marseille been? Has it caused any shift in PACA’s center of gravity back toward Marseille and away from Alpes-Maritimes?

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    A 20% rise of the Marseille real estate index is the only verifiable data.
    It is difficult to derive any general rule from the Marseille case because the city is very special. More Sicilian than French, according to some. The name “Marseille” invariably suggests criminality, political corruption and intractable, business-killing labor unions. Any firm planning to open a branch in Marseille will be warned they are looking for trouble.
    Nice-PACA’s case is just the opposite. It’s the region where everyone wants to live and work. Its handicap is difficulty of access. It is 590 miles from Paris, which is too long for driving. The airport is saturated and Nice-Paris by train is too slow with no dedicated HSR tracks.
    That’s why Nice wanted its LGV spur so badly. A 3-hour travel time would have made day trips possible. Airport slots vacated by local airlines would have allowed more international flights. That meant more rich tourists and more investment in “brainy” activities like electronics and medical research.
    Marseille saw the danger. Who would choose Marseille if going to Nice was as quick? The project had to be killed, and it was.

  6. swing hanger
    Oct 28th, 2011 at 02:38
    #6

    “And then there is hardly any passenger traffic.”

    Hardly?? Ahem, there seems to be quite a good amount now:
    http://www.progressiverailroading.com/passenger_rail/article/Amtrak-San-Joaquin-corridor-sets-annual-ridership-record-at-1-million–28230

    “Sometimes the only realistic way to cope with an economy tht sux is to relocate.”
    Why don’t you follow your own advice and do so yourself. Those Californians who support HSR won’t miss you.

  7. Peter Baldo
    Oct 28th, 2011 at 05:40
    #7

    It’s also true that the Central Valley can’t afford to build HSR wrong. The dogleg through the valley, and the extra dogleg to Palmdale, together add 100 miles to a SF-LA journey. That’s a very costly sacrifice. In return one would like the route to efficiently serve population centers along the way.

    The price of serving the Central Valley is very high. If the length of the SF-LA route is increased by 25%, speeds must increase accordingly to keep trip times the same. I can imagine that costs to serve SF-LA travelers are 50% higher for this reason, and that will be a big driver for an eventual bypass route along I5.

    I hope the people of the Central Valley will stop whining and stop squabbling, and get on with planning an optimal route through their area. California’s HSR project is sacrificing a lot to serve them, and in return they have brought the project to a grinding halt.

    Peter Reply:

    “The dogleg through the valley, and the extra dogleg to Palmdale, together add 100 miles to a SF-LA journey.”

    That’s not true. I get an increase of approximately 70 miles by using Pacheco, Fresno, Bakersfield, Palmdale instead of Pacheco, I-5, and Tejon.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    I was just comparing the Google maps distance, with the sum of the CaHSR Authority route segment mileages. I’ll accept your number – I probably messed up.

    thatbruce Reply:

    You need to measure along the proposed rail ROWs, not the existing roads which Google Maps (and most if not all free online mapping/routing services) use.

    Peter Reply:

    Yes, but there is no “proposed rail ROW” for I-5 – Tejon. Hence why I used the word “approximately.” I used Google Earth with a route I had previously mapped out using the San Jose-Merced Supp AA, the Merced-Fresno Supp AA, and the Fresno-Bakersfield AA. I compared this to an approximation of what an I-5 – Tejon alignment would look like.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    The Google Maps driving distance, SF Ferry Bldg to LA Union Sta. is 381 miles (6:20). The driving route pretty much follows I5. Adding up each segment of the routes on the official website gives 491 miles. So that’s where the 100 miles came from. Distances from San Jose Diridon are 342 and 441 miles respectively. That driving route takes Pacheco Pass and I5.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No need to add. Set the interactive map to San Francisco-Los Angeles, it comes up with 432.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    One does wonder why the number would be any different of course.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    HSR takes a straighter path than the highways through mountain passes.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    No, I meant the numbers between segment by segment and simply LA-SF.

    Peter Reply:

    Because the interactive map contains numbers from the 2005 Programmatic EIR, and it hasn’t been updated since then to account for project level changes.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    The interactive map, however, should be internally consistent. Adding numbers by segment or simply selecting the full length shouldn’t change the mileage.

    Peter Reply:

    Honestly, I haven’t used the interactive map in forever. It doesn’t give me any of the information I’m interested in. The AA and EIR documents are much more useful in that regard. Therefore, I view the interactive map (and the information it contains) as irrelevant.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    Oh. When you go to Merced from San Jose, you have to backtrack a bit up the valley. Now I feel better.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    From the ridership model, the mileage is 480 SF – LA. I don’t know where the numbers on website came from (things really have not changed from 2005 in terms of distance).

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Exercise: compare the driving distance from LA to SF via I-5 and the driving distance via SR 99 (but not Pacheco or the Tehachapis).

    Then practice the claim “serving the Central Valley increases the length by 100 miles” in front of a mirror until you can say it with a straight face.

  8. vicki strickland
    Oct 28th, 2011 at 06:52
    #8

    You speak of San Jose being an orchard town and now it is the great city it is. Well this is the problem…..now the orchards are gone! Do you think taking away ag land is a plus? The central valley is the bread basket of the USA and the world. It most certainly does already take part in the global economy! Stay out of ag land so we all can continue to eat what comes from the USA. Do you want us to be reliant on other countries for our food like we are for oil? Build your stupid HSR (that we as a country and a state cannot afford) but stay along the transportation corridors that are already in place. San Jose loosing it’s orchards is not necessarily a good thing. Nor will it be a good thing when we loose the ag land in the central valley. And we WILL be going down that slippery slope, as farms, dairies and ranches are either wiped out or rendered inefficient. Then will come more urban encroachment and loss of more and more ag land. Sounds like San Jose….covered in cement not growing anymore food. Think about it!

    ericmarseille Reply:

    “The central valley is the bread basket of the USA and the WORLD”

    You mean that my vegetables come from California’s Central Valley? My bread? Wow, next time I make a trip to the bakery, I’ll have to think about this!
    “You baguette came all the way from humble plant, growing in CA’s central valley, to flour, then to bread, here in La Cadière d’Azur, to feed me, as well as you feed the world!”

    It reminds me of Vialatte’s humoristic comment on the fact that the source of the Loire river was a fawcett in a barn : “can you imagine the consequences if someone shuts inadvertently this fawcett? ”

    An HSR line is more or less 60 yards wide servicing roads included, do you mean that the valley that is the breadbasket of the WORLD is 60 yards wide?

    No need to panic indeed

  9. trentbridge
    Oct 28th, 2011 at 09:18
    #9

    “Alexis said the amount the state would need to borrow for the rail project would divert $700 million annually to pay the interest on the debt, costing CSU students $2,000 annually each.”

    No-one challenges this? How much rubbish can you spout at a meeting before people realize you’re doing the “right-wing” scary numbers thing? Will Cal State students get a bill every semester? Doesn’t the state constitution allocate funding for education as a percentage of the budget? Why not say the interest on the HSR project will cost the prison service $700 million so violent felons will be unleashed on the streets to spark a crime wave on the good citizens of California? How about claiming that State Parks will have to charge $100 per person entrance fee to cover the interest payments on HSR?

    thatbruce Reply:

    That sort of comparison, while technically accurate, gives the entirely the wrong impression about cost recovery. Its simple to do. Take the cost of a project that you’re not thrilled with, say a mere $577 million to modify I-5 at San Ysidro Port of Entry. Divide that by the population of a place or demographic thought to be against the project or worse, crucial to our future. I figure that Palo Alto (64,000) would probably be against any streamlining of USMexico border crossings, and we’ll expect that to be repaid in one year. That makes the FUD:

    ‘OH NOES, TO BRING MEXICANS IN FASTER WILL COST EVERY CITIZEN $9010 EVERY YEAR! WE CAN’T AFFORD THAT!’

    The actual cost recovery for this example project would be spread over all California taxpayers, and over a longer timeframe. If 15 years is used, that averages out to be $1/per-person/per-year.

    Saying that the cost recovery for a project, interest payments or indeed any state expenditure will be recovered solely from one demographic is just scare-mongering. If Elizabeth wishes to have her assertion of ‘interest payments of $X per year will be diverted from funding solely for CSU students, increasing their fees by $Y per year’, she had better be prepared to back that statement up with a note from the Comptroller.

    Peter Reply:

    Did she somehow think that making that claim was going to score her points in a debate in front of CSU students?

    Peter Reply:

    Did she somehow think that making that claim was going to score her points in a debate in front of CSU students?

  10. Jarrett
    Oct 28th, 2011 at 17:33
    #10

    Semi OT: New animation showing the downtown san jose aerials and station:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=267F-75lOik&feature=channel_video_title

    Joey Reply:

    Ugg. Apparently the best way to get accross an elevated freeway is to go over it :/. And I knew the station was going to be big, but even by tracks-mezzanine-tracks standards, that thing is massive.

    Jarrett Reply:

    Yeah, it seems like they could’ve elevated all of the current platform tracks 20 or so feet and built a mezzanine underneath the new platform elevation. HSR trains would have their own dedicated partition and the remaining curvilinear tracks would be reserved for FRA beasts + Caltrain. Compared to other train stations around the world, it seems like 13 total tracks is complete overkill for a place like San Jose. Also, the sandstone tinted concrete is awful; stop designing railway bridges like caltrans freeway structures. They do not look good.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Intergalactic indeed. Shrink it in half- does HSR need two dedicated platforms for a through station where all trains presumably stop?- Make it one platform or 1.5 if a turnback service is planned. No overarching roof- use simple butterfly roofing for the platforms. Reduce height of aerials at least by 1/3. And as Jarret says, lose the Caltrans circa 1973 freeway aesthetic.

    Clem Reply:

    What an outrageous orgy of concrete. There are far more thrifty ways to achieve the same functional result of excellent high-speed rail service, that do not involve 60-foot aerials looming for miles and miles. I cannot believe that we are contemplating such an abject waste of taxpayer funds. I am simply at a loss for words.

    Lay another track from CP Coast to Diridon (yes BART, move over 15 feet please). Move the main tracks to the west of CEMOF and eliminate the double reverse curve. Make Caltrain (at gunpoint if necessary!) use the same platform interface as HSR. Build Diridon at grade with shared HSR/Caltrain platforms. Use the existing at-grade alignment to Tamien. The UPRR and Gardner neighborhood won’t like it, they’ll scream bloody murder, they’ll sue, but in the end we can pay them to shut up for less than a tenth of the $2 billion cost of what was shown in this video.

    The video shows what you get when the transportation industrial complex co-opts the planning process.

    Peter Reply:

    You had better be able to take an escalator directly between HSR and the Caltrain platform via the mezzanine.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or when the people in charge want an iconic station that doesn’t go near the NIMBY’s. I doubt it, but that might be the ulterior motive, so over the top that reasonable options … nah… nevermind…

    Clem Reply:

    In certain cases, NIMBYs serve as foils to justify and buttress the back room deals already made by politicians and civil engineering interests. The uproar from Gardiner is a case in point. So is Pleasanton’s aversion to elevated tracks.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The people who will be under the shiny new viaducts weren’t concerned a year ago because no one was talking about viaducts or two years ago,,, whenever.. because the train wasn’t going through their neighborhood. They can now ask “So you are going to spend three times as much money and instead of putting railroad where there’s been railroad for the past century or so, you are going to put a viaduct over my neighborhood? See ya in court” The politicians can then go back to the neighborhood with the century old railroad and say “Sorry but putting it where a railroad has been for the past century is a minor inconvenience to a neighborhood where a railroad has been for a century. And it saves us a lot of money. Where do you want the church rebuilt?”

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    1. Why should the rest of the state pay billions of dollars jut to stroke San Jose’s ego? How about we buy them all a weekend with a decent escort and a regular train station, it would cost less.
    2. I’m having a hard time thinking of a single “iconic” station that was built as the original station. Justify why San Jose or any other city needs an iconic station.
    3. Given the absolute drek of modern architectural design and schools of thought, an “iconic” design is guaranteed to be an ugly design unless the contract specifies following only decent schools and influences.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Move the main tracks to the west of CEMOF and eliminate the double reverse curve.

    Clem,

    Unnecessary.

    The cuves, at larger radius and traversable at higher speeds, can stay, at the very slight cost of some adjacent light industrial land. (Well the southern reverse curve goes, everything curving left heading N out of Cahill Street Station, but a 800m radius NB left-hander around the CEMOF site into a 1000m right-hander around Taylor Street is fine and causes no operational problems.)

    In fact things work out as well or better with that sort of alignment swinging about to the east, much as I’d like to detonate CEMOF and everybody in any way associated with “designing”, approving or funding it. (Those parties would include revolving door consultant former Caltrain “Rail Transportation Chief” Bob Doty and current $400+k/year Caltrain CEO Mike Scanlon.)

    Donk Reply:

    This is sickening. Is there one yard of at-grade track in this entire segment? I thought they were trying to cut cost.

    Beta Magellan Reply:

    Agreed—weren’t we just talking last week about how CHSRA was starting to get its act together?

  11. JJJ
    Oct 28th, 2011 at 19:28
    #11

    I’ve typed up over 2,000 words of notes. Shall eat dinner, watch some of that baseball stuff, and should be publishing the full set of notes before 10pm tonight (just click my name after 10pm)

    Anybody is more than welcome to take such notes and comment on them here. I assume Robert will want to address some of the more false claims made and post about them.

    Peter Reply:

    I read your summary, and Elizabeth Alexis is now in my mind confirmed as nothing more than a Peninsula NIMBY. Thank you for your write-up.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Thanks triple J for the summary. LOL at Ms. Alexis complaint that opponents of HSR are called names and criticized- as if they are the paragons of civility- but witness the wingnut screaming about “communist trains”- shades of what DP Lubic experienced in W. VA.- real facepalm stuff. And speaking of facepalm, was this a Republican debate audience?- what’s with the booing of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce member’s comments about spending to create jobs and leaving a legacy for future generations?
    =lily white teaparty audience

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    And Swing Hanger, did you note where old people and students expressed approval at opposite points and speakers? The generational break shows again!

    And I bet the guy with the anti-Communist train talk was an old guy, too.

    Besides, the last I noticed, the equipment vendor hasn’t been picked yet.

    More important question, why wasn’t this last point about the equipment choices still being open not brought up by the pro-rail crowd?

    Beta Magellan Reply:

    As someone under 25, I’d have to say communism isn’t much of a bugbear to my peer group—the most likely response a college-age train supporter would have to the older anti-train protestor would be a snarky “in Communist Fresno, TRAIN rides YOU!”

    JJJ, thanks for putting up that summary, even if it was a painful skim (I can understand and respect some HSR denialism, but HSR denialism backed up with Tea Party economics is absolutely unbearable).

    Elizabeth Reply:

    I really appreciate you coming to the meeting and spending the time to write up notes, which always takes longer than it seems like it should. I would say that the speakers across the board were more nuanced and balanced than presented in this writeup. On other other hand, the audience on both sides was more polarized than presented.

    We all hear what we want to hear. Two people can listen to the same words and hear totally different things and when we summarize things it will look two different meetings.

    The event was videoed so I would encourage people who are interested to listen to the actual footage.

    neville snark Reply:

    Do you have a link?

    Peter Reply:

    Where is this footage?

    Elizabeth Reply:

    will try and find it.

    JJJ Reply:

    I tried to be as plain as possible and write simply what the speakers said. I couldnt resist making a few comments, but most of my feedback will come in a separate post (for example, I agree with the critique that the pro-HSR speakers lacked numbers). I do not believe anything I wrote misrepresented points any speaker made, or their tone, or their intent. If I did hear something wrong and write it down wrong, then I do apologize and will fix it if you can point out a mistake. I won’t ever pretend my notes are perfect, as speakers speak much quicker than I can legibly jot down but I tried to be as correct as possible.

    Perhaps I should note that some public questions began to veer off into crazy land, as is common in public forums. At which point, I would stop taking notes and try and summarize, so yes, it might appear that the questions were more focused than they really were (communist train guy spoke very quickly, and for quite some time, before he was cut off). On the opposite side, if a speaker made a point three different ways, I may have only jotted it down once in an attempt to be brief. But I don’t think either detracts from giving someone who wasn’t there an accurate summary of what was said.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    http://www.livescribe.com/en-us/ for when there isn’t going to be a video of the event.

  12. Tony d.
    Oct 28th, 2011 at 21:42
    #12

    The San Jose HSR video is merely conceptual…RELAX PEOPLE!

    Clem Reply:

    Conceptual in what way? The SJ – Merced team is well past the 15% engineering stage, and the dormant SF-SJ work has been refocused to the SJ end of things. There are many decisions already cast in concrete, such as building a two-level station with a SIX MILE viaduct approach starting all the way up in Santa Clara. Stilt-a-rail is the only option on the table.

    Howard Reply:

    Well that leaves room for “Value Engineering” that will “SAVE” money with a more reasonable and cost effective design later/next.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They should do it right from the beginning instead of proposing a boondoggle and then value-engineering it away later.

    Peter Reply:

    Maybe they think it’s easier to get people to compromise if they go with the worst-case scenario first, and then “improve” it. This is a game, after all.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Why is this a game? Why does this have to be a game?

    Peter Reply:

    Are you really that naive to think that there is no give-and-take in this kind of planning? It’s Negotiation 101, for god’s sake. You never start from the position that both parties think you’re going to end up agreeing on. Otherwise you end up doing stuff you never wanted to do to begin with. It’s not a “game” played for fun. It’s a game in the same way Cold War negotiations were “games.” Dead serious, and with very high stakes (although the stakes here are a little lower, obviously).

    Elizabeth Reply:

    There is a big difference between sitting down at a table and collaborating on a project and one where you coerce people into accepting something by making sure they know it could be worse. This is old school DAD style highway planning.

    Projects done in open and honest fashion where you work hard to meet transportation and community goals are better projects. Contrary to some peoples beliefs, these do happen in real life. http://contextsensitivesolutions.org/ It is a sickness that there remains a belief that games are the only way to get things done.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    It is interesting you use the cold war as analogy. In that case, there were literally enemies who were trying to beat the other.

    It is this attitude that the communities (and those who have any criticism of a project) are the enemy that is resulting in bad project after bad project.

    Stop the madness.

    Peter Reply:

    Oh, for pete’s sake, you know I’m not saying the parties are “enemies.” If so, then any high stakes negotiation between parties means that they are “enemies.” Give me a break.

    Communities are not the “enemy.” They aren’t an ally, either, though, from a planner’s perspective. They are simply yet another party with interest in the project.

    You can’t use the CSS approach when the communities’ demands are completely unacceptable to the scope and requirements of the project. Demanding tunnels-or-nothing is simply unreasonable and an unacceptable solution.

    For an example of how the Authority is essentially designing HSR through a community with active participation by the community, you don’t have to look any further than Gilroy.

    The difference between Gilroy and the Peninsula? Gilroy wants HSR, and is willing to work with the Authority. The Peninsula does NOT want HSR, and therefore has no qualms about taking an unreasonable hard line.

    No matter how much you point fingers at the Authority for not engaging in good-faith CSS on the Peninsula, the fact remains that the Peninsula cities are the ones who drew the line in the sand and demanded features that there is no money for, namely tunnel-or-nothing. CSS cannot work when one party demands and insists (never expresses ANY willingness to compromise) something that can never happen.

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    Can Elizabeth, Nadia, Peninsula, or Morris tell us: “How has Belmont and San Carlos been destroyed by the Caltrain grade separation?” and/or “How many homes and businesses were destroyed by it?”

    Beta Magellan Reply:

    In the event San José accepts this: “Yay! We get to pour lots of concrete and charge those suckers for every cubic foot of it!”

    San José wants a redesign: “Yay! We get to redesign the project, and we get another commission out of it!”

    San José scuttles the project: “Yay! At least we got a nice commission to tie us over until the next one comes along.”

    It’s much like real estate—even if the project ultimately fails, lots of people still get paid.

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    It all counts towards Job Creation.

    Peter Reply:

    I think the best value engineering we’re going to get out of this is maybe a 2 track station. However, if San Jose is going to serve as an intermediate terminal while they sort out SF-SJ, the argument will be that 2 tracks are not enough.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Works well enough for San Diego if memory serves.

    swing hanger Reply:

    JR Tokai manages up to three departures/hour per track at the Tokyo Station terminus (it’s a six track three platform arrangement). I don’t envision those levels of efficiency, but two departures/hour per track would give a quarter hour service frequency for a two track terminal.

    swing hanger Reply:

    To add: this is for HSR trains only, not blended operations.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Two tracks for both Caltrain and HSR is doable, but with more constraints than is desirable. Diridon has enough space for four mainline UIC tracks, and should use this space, for maximum operating flexibility. Part of it is if it’s intended to be used for overtakes, or more plausibly for timed Caltrain-HSR transfers. Another part is that some of the reasonable blended plan schedules have such turnaround times at Diridon that two tracks would be too few.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They don’t have to turn them around in the station. There’s plenty of space nearby. They don’t have to run every local SF-SJ either.

    Tony d. Reply:

    They could always put the mezzanine over the HSR tracks, thus bringing down the HSR aerial by about 20+ feet.

    Joey Reply:

    That makes it quite difficult to transfer between HSR and CalTrain, and requires HSR passengers to go up and down even more. But thing thing I noticed is that the viaduct is about 15 feet higher than it needs to be in order to accommodate a mezzanine between the two track levels to begin with. Of course, that’s ignoring the fact that having only one track level would be infinitely preferable to begin with.

    Beta Magellan Reply:

    Clem, how absolutely final do you think this is? Wasn’t the authority saying it was going to look into a Livermore option a week or so ago?

    Clem Reply:

    I can very well imagine that project engineers must resent having their work shredded to bits here (if they even care, that is). There’s always the argument that laypeople don’t understand the many constraints that engineers are working under, and that the criticism is unfounded because it is uninformed. I get that, up to a point.

    But the whole plan for the San Jose station area is becoming more and more inept, and is in danger of passing the level of ineptitude seen at San Francisco Transbay. The profligate design approach on display here, with utter disdain for solving problems jointly across several agencies (CHSRA, Caltrain, BART, UPRR, Amtrak, VTA, Caltrans, SCCo, etc.) is shameful and ought to be stopped. They can’t see the forest for the trees. The whole attitude reeks of “I’m building mine, over, under and next to yours, and if you stay out of my way I’ll stay out of your way.” The result: sixty-foot columns, outrigger bents, underpasses, mezzanines, spaghetti viaducts, forests of columns, etc. all paid for with blank checks written by taxpayers getting reamed raw.

    It does not have to be this way.

    And now they’re talking on and on about “visual design guidelines”, the proverbial lipstick on a pig.

    It’s DISGUSTING.

    Peter Reply:

    At least they won’t have built-in capacity problems at Diridon. ;)

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Wrong.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The San Jose HSR video is merely conceptual…RELAX PEOPLE!

    Tony d.,

    I do have to ask: just what does it feel like to be wrong on every single issue every single time? Or don’t you even notice after a few years?

    Tony d. Reply:

    I don’t know how it feels because, putting it bluntly, your making false rants out of the wrong end of your body. Starting to smell like methane again around here.

  13. Risenmessiah
    Oct 29th, 2011 at 02:59
    #13

    LA Times Circulates Union Pacific Press Release Opposing CAHSR

    I guess Phil Anschutz threatened to lock the Times’ sports reporters out of the Staples Center and Farmers Field unless they printed propaganda like this.

    Peter Reply:

    UP is acting exactly like I would expect a hard negotiator to act. Publicly put on a hard face, draw lines in the sand, etc. This improves its bargaining position.

    At the same time, it continues to have fruitful negotiations with the Authority, and has suggested that the two use UP’s agreement with Illinois as a basis for the agreement between the Authority and UP.

    Why people think this means “OMG WE HAVE TO PULL THE PLUG NOW!!!” is a mystery to me. Oh, wait, these are the same people calling to kill the project anyway.

    Eric M Reply:

    Exactly. Page 8 of the August executive summary states:

    Merced to Fresno and Fresno to Bakersfield: Conclusion of agreement with UPPR for
    construction from San Joaquin River southward through Fresno is needed to facilitate the start of
    early construction. UPRR has proposed that the Design and Construction agreement used between
    the UPRR and the State of Illinois be used as a template for the agreement. However, the UPRR
    has indicated that it prefers to finalize the reimbursement agreement before drafting of the Design
    and Construction agreement commences.

    Beta Magellan Reply:

    I wouldn’t hold up the Illinois/UP deal as a good example. Here’s what it entails:

    1. No increase in frequency until a second track is built (currently planned but unfunded).

    2. Second track also benefits UP freight

    3. FRA-compliant behemoths for passenger rail vehicles

    4. UP gets to do many of the improvements on contract

    Items 1 and 4 have caused some worries among passenger rail advocates in Illinois, mainly relating to concerns that there won’t be any improvement in on-time performance and Union Pacific’s competence at modernizing infrastructure. It’s not really an example for California HSR and is arguably not even a good deal for the state of Illinois.

    Peter Reply:

    It’s a basis for negotiation, not a blueprint to make a carbon copy of. Given that HSR trains won’t be sharing tracks with any UP freight trains, there’s no reason to expect any of those items to be included in a UP-Authority agreement.

    Beta Magellan Reply:

    I don’t even see where there’s any similarity, though. The whole Illinois agreement was based on the state paying UP to improve and let passenger trains on the line—California’s a completely different situation. I agree with you that it’s not completely intractable—I just wouldn’t hold up Illinois as an example.

    I definitely agree that this is just a ploy for money from UP, though—I’m pretty sure most of their safety concerns involve their own trains derailing (Metra’s has to increase track centers at the behest of UP on the North line, evidently because UP likes their wide because it’s cheaper for them to deal with a derailment than to maintain their tracks properly—even though UP barely, if ever, uses the tracks in question and I’m pretty sure Metra pays for their upkeep).

    Eric M Reply:

    Two words from the horses mouth:

    reimbursement agreement

    synonymouse Reply:

    The only way the plug is going to be pulled on the CHSRA is if Prop 1A goes back on the ballot, but it seems that the conservatives have no substantive interest in this.

    But to suggest that the UP’s opposition is merely a bargaining ploy doesn’t hold up very well in the light of the CHSRA’s funding problems. PB does not intend to spend the real money on eminent domain, from which it receives no benefit. It has other plans.

    To wit: at its inception BART was profoundly ashamed that it was building a railroad, not some Buck Rogers pneumatic tube fantasy that it promoted to get the scheme past the voters. It came up with the term “duorail”, meaning that it was a monorail on two rails. Patently laughable but it provides a model for PB’s current mindset. Essentially it conceives hsr as a monorail – everything up in the air. This is how you throw serious billions away(not to the UP) and of course why real railroads avoid the conceit unless it is mandatory.

    The hsr is BART writ large.

    Eric M Reply:

    Do you even read the crap you write before you post it? Maybe you should look at the latest technical documents before spewing your BART theories

    synonymouse Reply:

    When PB promises hsr pie in the sky it means literally right up there. Their hsr is an amusement park ride that is pure Disney meets the Jetsons but not 5 minutes long but rather goes on and on and on. Next to zero connection with the real world of subsidies, union perks, litigation, demonstrations, yada yada. Wonder if they will have BART’s upholstered seats and carpets.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Long distance trains usually have carpeting and cushioned seats.

    Peter Reply:

    It’s nice to sit in some measure of comfort when sitting for two and a half hours.

    Seems to me like synonymouse has no real experience with real long distance or high speed trains.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Oh shut up. You know that the reason for the fabulous interior decorations on BART is that there was a fire in the 1970s in the tube that caused them to revise the materials that they can use. Because of that now that the cars are older, it looks really grungy. Stop trying these Jedi mind tricks already…

  14. D. P. Lubic
    Oct 29th, 2011 at 08:27
    #14

    Off topic, but of parallel interest: gas consumption remains down:

    http://bonddad.blogspot.com/2011/10/weekly-indicators-gasoline-usage.html

    StevieB Reply:

    Even though gasoline consumption remains low the price is expected to go up. From The Price-Induced Energy Trap:

    The most recent projections by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA 2011a) suggest that – absent major disruptions – the growing demand for energy worldwide will continue to push oil prices up in a slow but steady movement.

    Global demand for petroleum mainly in China and India are increasing world prices which is expected to be a drain on economic expansion in the United States.

    Despite an anticipated 1.8 percent decline this year in gasoline consumption, for example, the overall expenditures for gasoline will increase 25 percent, rising from $391 billion dollars in 2010 to $489 billion dollars in 2011.

  15. peninsula
    Oct 29th, 2011 at 15:44
    #15

    http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2011/10/13/downtown-sj-chief-calls-for-new-approach.html

    “Keep transportation projects from “destroying” downtown, as Knies said California High-Speed Rail Authority plans for building viaducts and aeriel structures would do to the west side of the central business district. “Luckily, the city staff and city council are getting sharper elbows with the (High-Speed Rail Authority) about demanding a tunnel alternative in the project’s upcoming EIR.”

    Joey Reply:

    I’m not sure if a tunnel would be better or worse. Either way, it’s still ridiculously overbuilt.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    The way San Jose is getting on, I think Altamont might be selected just to spite them in exchange.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Uhh, no! SJ will be just fine.

    jim Reply:

    Originally, Altamont and Pacheco were roughly the same cost. With the new estimate for a blended system along the Peninsula and the massive overbuilding in San Jose, Pacheco is looking more expensive. Watch to see if there’s a new study out of CHSRA staff which suggests that Altamont might be cheaper. That’s what’s happening with Tejon vs. Tehachapi. With each new progress report there are dark suggestions that Tehachapi will be more expensive yet. The Van Ark regime is methodically revisiting each of the decisions the Mehdi regime made.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Massive overbuilding in San Jose?!! Oh boy! The crap continues to get pretty deep in here. Yeah yeah, Tejon vs Tehachapi means Altamont will get another look at blah blah blah….

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    San Jose is a very important place, if it wasn’t they wouldn’t be getting a BART station would they?

    Tony D. Reply:

    And what the @#$% would Altamont actually mean? A MA$$IVE new bridge over Dumbarton, built through and destroying South Bay wetlands, massive tunnelling/trestles through the Diablo Range and NIMBY uproar in Tri-City, Livermoore. Oh yah, sure is sounding a lot cheaper! (sarcasm)

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    A MA$$IVE new bridge over Dumbarton built through and destroying South Bay wetlands

    A project so massively unpopular that voters approved funding in RM2, and may do so again in 2012 with the Alameda County transportation sales tax renewal.

    Joey Reply:

    To be fair, what would be required for HSR is somewhat different than what would be required for the planned Dumbarton CalTrain service. What was on the table for CalTrain was just a rehabilitation of the existing single-track bridge (replacing some sections), no electrification, no ROW fencing, and a bit of new track at the East end to access the Union City BART station. HSR would probably require a new high bridge (not that we seem to have any aversion to building those), with the land sections either on a viaduct or at-grade in a fenced ROW (thus impeding wildlife access). Or you could just take the now simplified and reduced-cost tunnel option (thanks to the water tunnels), which, the more I think about it, seems to be the best option.

    Peter Reply:

    Not “somewhat different” – “VASTLY different”.

    The two options would be nothing similar to one another.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    what would be required for HSR is somewhat different than what would be required for the planned Dumbarton CalTrain service

    Yeah, one would be built to FRA tank-on-wheels standards, the other build to modern light-weight EMU standards. Guess which one is less expensive (esp. for bridges).

    Tony D. Reply:

    Reduced-cost tunnel option? Like saying I’m going to buy a reduced-cost Bentley! Water = full-bore rail service? Why do I even debate this stuff with you people? (probably due to boredom)

    Joey Reply:

    You know, the Authority predicted that the full tunnel option would be only $300 million more than the high bridge option, which in itself would be only $400m more than baseline Pacheco (including the SJ branch).

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Why do I even debate this stuff with you people? (probably due to boredom)

    Certainly not due to your mastery of civil engineering costing, that’s for sure.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That’s projected to carry as many passengers as mediocre bus line or poorly performing trolley line….

    Tony D. Reply:

    Who said it was unpopular? The new eastern $pan of the Bay Bridge is probably pretty popular as well, but I digress…

    Jarrett Reply:

    I love how they conveniently ignore the massive 87-280 interchange that chops downtown into several quadrants. Maybe they should focus on demolishing the ugly aerial highway 87 before they set a double standard for rail projects.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Jarrett,
    Much of the San Jose “controversy” is being stirred up by Scott Knies and his SJ Downtown Association. They have no pull (ie can’t make decisions for SJ) and will have some sense slapped into them by Diridon and Mayor Reed in due time.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    sense slapped into them by Diridon

    Will he be temporarily borrowing this “sense” from a vacuum fluctuation? If so, be aware that the lifetime of this flicker of intelligence multiplied by its magnitude (which may be negative) must be less than Planck’s constant.

  16. Mac
    Nov 1st, 2011 at 17:55
    #16

    Posters on this blog site must not have had the opportunity to review the EIR on the Fresno-Bakersfield segment. If you had, you would be up in arms as well with regard to how many problems and omissions are within it. Focus seems to be primarily on Fresno when referring to this segment….however the Bakersfield end is much more problematic. HSR Authority basically boondoggled both City and County officials with incorrect facts and “promises”. Now we have an alignment proposed (and being pushed down our throats) that goes through the center of town, and is elevated 50′ plus for many miles. The elevated track goes straight through suburban neighborhoods and takes out hundreds of homes and businesses. Fresno’s alignment does not run through the center of town. The HSR EIR on this segment skimps on studies and does not outline mitigations in any detail whatsoever. In fact, many mitigation concerns are listed as “optional”…meaning, that if there is a way to get away from them, they will do so. After all, the fewer mitigations they follow through on, the more money to build actual track. They do not consider sound walls necessary unless sound is deafening, landscaping is minimalistic and vibration is basically something that one would just need to live with. If they don’t mitigate they can offer to purchase a “sound/vibration” easement from homeowners and businesses. Tell me, how much money would it take to keep you living in your home next to noise greater than 65 decibles coupled with train vibration, given the large number of train trips that are planned to occur as time goes on?
    The HSR bisects the city. It bisects fertile farmland. Much of the time it bisects it at angles that render all irrigation etc. useless. WE NEED OUR FARM AND ORCHARD LANDS. Bakersfield is being taken advantage of …..and the politicians here are FINALLY awakening to it. Read their response to the proposed EIR. I will include the link. Kern County has LOTS of open land that should have been considered. The reason for building along the tracks through town has gone by the wayside as well, considering that the railroad is no longer being cooperative with “sharing” the land space there. OH…and did I forget to tell you that the HSR only gave the city ONE hard copy of the EIR document to place at the public library for the ENTIRE COUNTY to review in 45 days or less? And we are supposed to trust these people?
    Anyway…here is the link: http://www.bakersfieldcity.us/high_speed_rail/DEIR-EIS%20Packet%20to%20HSR%2010-13-11.pdf

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