December 24 Open Thread

Dec 24th, 2011 | Posted by

Apologies for the sparse postings this week – I’m in Southern California for the holidays, enjoying the warm sunshine (and feeling a bit of shock at the cool evening temperatures). A few items I’ve been following lately:

• Over at the California Majority Report Steven Maviglio raises good points about the San Jose Mercury News attack on the HSR jobs numbers, pointing out that “The project does indeed create tens of thousands of quality jobs and will spur the creation of tens of thousands more. Can any politician, even Republican Doug LaMalfa, suggest that our state doesn’t need that economic boost?” That’s really the key point here. We know – for a fact – that HSR will create a large number of jobs over its lifetime. We also know that California desperately needs those jobs. For either the Mercury News or a Republican legislator to suggest we don’t need those jobs is to do a disservice to the people of this state.

• KQED’s John Myers previews the HSR battles in 2012 and concludes HSR advocates’ “greatest weapon” is Governor Jerry Brown. I agree. I’ll have my own 2011 in review and 2012 preview up next week.

• Good post from John Rosenthal, an editor at National Geographic Traveler, about the economic boost of high speed rail, comparing it to the Erie Canal and even Rome’s Appian Way on its ability to promote development. This is a good reminder that HSR critics and opponents are people who oppose economic development and who either enjoy or directly benefit from the presently dire state of the economy.

• I really like this headline from Ben Goldman at Streetsblog: High Speed Rail in California is Worrying Itself to Death. It’s like FDR said nearly 80 years ago – the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. HSR advocates should not give in to worry and concern trolling and should instead plow ahead as before, working hard to maintain public support for this project.

  1. Matthew F.
    Dec 24th, 2011 at 09:39

    My comment on the Union Tribune article:

    “Far more important than the jobs created during the construction of the project is the jobs created after the project. Greater mobility always leads to greater economic efficiency – and the most detrimental impact of the coming rise in oil prices will be that travel will become much less affordable. More than anything else, we need this bullet train to ensure that our companies and universities retain their status at the forefront of the world.

    What is the value of transforming a visit from a research scientist at a San Diego biotech to a Stanford colloquium into an afternoon jaunt?

    What is the value of bringing the entire Central Valley within a moment’s reach of our state’s best educational opportunities? our best healthcare facilities? our best jobs?

    These boring spreadsheet-pushers can’t calculate it, because it depends on a human spark beyond the comprehension of Excel – but bringing people together in this way broadens the horizons of everyone in California, and enables more of us to reach our fullest potential.”

    (My apologies if you are a ‘spreadsheet-pusher’ – Excel is actually my favorite program; that bit is more of a rhetorical device…)

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Will HSR solve world hunger too?

    Nathanael Reply:

    If HSR made it easier for two people I know to get together face to face (one lives on the east coast, one on the west coast, both hate flying), it would probably double the speed at which they were able to commercialize their new solar panel technology.

    Of course, that won’t happen; transcontinental HSR is not going to happen in their lifetime, let alone before they finish their project. But the value of transportation must not be underestimated.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Obviously, as a side note, their collaboration is *only possible* because of the Internet, which has had truly massive repercussions.

  2. StevieB
    Dec 24th, 2011 at 11:03

    The current federal highway and transit bill expires at the end of March. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday he plans to prioritize aviation and highway legislation in 2012. Reid praised a two-year highway bill approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

    Very conservative Jim Inhofe, quite progressive Barbara Boxer have come up with an arrangement to extend this for two years, a very, very good bill. I would hope that my colleagues don’t play any games with this bill.

    There will probably be high speed rail money as this bill is from the Senate but I have to wonder if any funding for high speed rail will be provided in the final bill given the intransigence of the Republican House. Additional funds for high speed rail in Bakersfield could be used to ameliorate local objections.

    Howard Reply:

    Obama should promise to approve the Keystone Pipeline only if Republicans approve HSR funding as part of the new transportation bill. If the Republicans want to create Keystone Oil Pipeline construction jobs now then they should be required to help create High Speed Rail jobs now (California and North East Corridor even split) as part of the deal.

    VBobier Reply:

    My thought exactly, If Repugs can hold something Hostage, then so can Democrats, tit for tat, It’s jobs, jobs, jobs against a do nothing vote no on everything that would help Obama Repugnican record of obstruction and advocating for weaker government instead of good functioning Government.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “If Repugs can hold something Hostage, then so can Democrats”

    I have been screaming at Democrats to realize this for the last decade.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    There will probably be high speed rail money as this bill is from the Senate

    Hmmm, maybe you should think for a microsecond about why conservatives are praising Barbara Boxer to high heaven.

    Brian Reply:

    You know her committee only does the highway portion, and that two other committees do the railways and transit sections right? Oh you didn’t? Well yes, the Senate (world’s least democratic legislative body outside a communist county) has the modal silos enshrined the three different committees. Yes, the Senate’s disfunction runs very deep.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    It eliminates dedicated bike/ped funding. It permits highway projects to tap programs that used to be for transit. But yeah, other than that, her Committee has been great for HSR and transit (rolls eyes).

    VBobier Reply:

    I doubt Repugs will ever change on HSR, they think they’ll win, they don’t realize how many toes they’ve stepped on and angered, I could have swore I saw Speaker Boehner say

    If It means killing the economy to make President Obama a one term President, then so be it


    Even Yahoo News says this:

    Even Conservatives Think Republicans Are Sabotaging the Economy to Hurt Obama

    Asked, “Do you think the Republicans are intentionally stalling efforts to jumpstart the economy to insure that Barack Obama is not re-elected?” a poll found that 34 percent of Florida conservatives said yes. Conspiracy, political posturing, savvy strategy– call it what you want, but the Suffolk University poll gives evidence that the theory is not just a partisan position. As Peter Scorsch, from SaintPetersBlog points out, it’s the Republican answers that surprised:

    …49 percent said they believe that the Republicans are intentionally hindering efforts to boost the economy so that President Barack Obama will not be reelected. Thirty-nine percent disagreed. As expected, most registered Democrats (70 percent) agreed that Republicans are intentionally hindering the economy and hurting Obama, but independents (52 percent) and even some Republicans (24 percent) also agreed.

  3. D. P. Lubic
    Dec 25th, 2011 at 17:27

    Just noodling around on the internet, and found this item that might be of interest–commentary on a study in Washington on what DC would look like without the Metro:

    Commentary on Alon Levy’s recent favorite topic, the high cost of construction in America:

    And a historical perspective (but sadly plenty of negative comments):

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Continuing to look at The Atlantic; first, a bit on streetcars:

    Private rail systems in Japan:

    This is interesting–opponents to street railways have shifted their complaints that trolleys aren’t too noisy–no, they are too quiet! Could this also apply to HSR and its electric operation?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    The too-quiet argument (which sadly has apparently resulted in fatalities) as summarized by a railfan site:

    High speed rail financial options:

    That’s it for today. . .

    swing hanger Reply:

    Here in Sapporo, the trams are equipped with electronic chimes, softer in sound than a horn or brass bell, that are activated whenever a tram starts from a stop or traverses an area with high pedestrian activity. People are rarely struck by the trams (cars are another matter), but perhaps that is a function of people being used to the trams, which have been in continuous operation for at least 90 years.

  4. Jeff Carter
    Dec 26th, 2011 at 08:43

    Excerpt from the Palo Alto Daily Post, Published on Tuesday, December 20, 2011:

    “Palo Alto City Council members said last night that the bridges needed at rail crossings to accommodate the high-speed railroad could result in 100 homes being taken by the government, and result in major traffic delays.”

    “If the city decides to build bridges at the four road crossings in Palo Alto, along Alma Street, Churchill Avenue, Meadow Road and Charleston Road, Councilman Pat Burt said he believes at least 100 homes would have to be removed.”

    100 homes??? What the hell!!!

    Are they building a 101/92 interchange at each crossing?
    What is Pat Burt and the Palo Alto City Council smoking?

    Please tell us how many homes/businesses were removed for the San Carlo/Belmont grade separation?

    Please tell us how many homes/businesses were removed for the Laurie Meadows/41st Ave. (San Mateo) grade separation?

    Please tell us how many homes/businesses were removed for the Hillcrest (Millbrae) grade separation?

    Please tell us how many homes/businesses will be removed for the San Bruno grade separation?

    Major Traffic delays?

    Perhaps during construction of the grade separations, but aren’t they supposed to improve traffic flow once completed?

    OK Palo Alto, Morris, Elizabeth, Nadia, and company, we are looking for answers here!

    Tony d. Reply:

    I second this question: why is PA so against grade separations along the railroad? Whether its HSR or revamped Caltrain, this needs to get done. Their apparent position on this is mind boggling (loud horns? Crossing gates? Stop and go traffic?). Please explain.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    A friend who goes to Stanford describes the attitude as “people who don’t want other people to be able to live here.”

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    And this is unique to H. Sapiens of Palo Alto in what fashion?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The people of Palo Alto have more money than others for making sure this desire is fulfilled. People in Bushwick hate it when outsiders move in (for the opposite reason – they want rents to stay low), but don’t have the power to dictate infrastructure decisions.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    I brought this up before. PA is getting more what they want (no elevated structures, etc.) and yet they still are against everything. I am losing all respect for these people because they really don’t want any change. I also wonder CARRD is in this camp. In previous conversations I have had with Nadia and Elizabeth, they seem to understand that at a minimum, the corridor needed to be grade separated as they acknowledged the safety and traffic issues that already exist. But since the blended system proposal has gained steam (something I thought they might be encouraged by), they have done nothing but step up their activities to cast doubt on the project and their rhetoric has become more hyperbolic (e.g. see Elizabeth’s testimony D.C. which is a bunch tea-partish sounding sound bites; sorry that is how it came off to me). Again, I think it has become an ideological thing at this point and constructivism between supporters and skeptics is dead in CA in terms of the HSR project.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Elizabeth’s testimony D.C. which is a bunch tea-partish sounding sound bites; sorry that is how it came off to me

    For my part, I thought Ms Alexis came off sounding a lot like … HITLER. Now maybe that’s just me, maybe that’s just the average little person without the Palo Alto intellectual liberal friends and the secret control of the levers of international finance and the , but the question is out there, and it does need to be answered.

    James M. in Irvine Reply:

    Heck, fewer homes on the market = higher home prices, right? Isn’t that how supply / demand works? The city should be all for removing the homes and get higher taxes from the remaining residences due to higher sale prices….

    (Now I am ducking out of the flamethrowers path…)


    synonymouse Reply:

    This part of the Peninsula has fared much better than the rest in the real estate bust.

    Clem Reply:

    Jeff, I think the numbers of homes / businesses removed for the respective grade separation projects was not zero. Probably dozens. Not a hundred.

  5. Nadia
    Dec 26th, 2011 at 10:06

    CARRD did an analysis in June of 2010 where we took the “at-grade” alternative and using the methodology described in the AA we calculated exactly what the impacts would be for Palo Alto if the road was depressed (which was slightly less impactful than if the road was elevated over the tracks. The methodology is in the presentation.

    The presentation is available here:

    These results were verified by the HNTB engineers for accuracy. The results were:

    83 Full Acquisitions and 42 Parcel Impacts

    At the time (June 2010) we used Zillow estimates and only included the cost of residential homes in our numbers and got a ballpark estimate $97,912,000. Clearly, market conditions change, Zillow isn’t necessarily accurate and we didn’t include the costs for commercial properties – so this is just a guesstimate.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    The blended system is not anticipating depressing roads right now (to my dismay as it is a bad thing for HSR; however I am willing to go along with it in the short-term). Rather there will likely be at-grade crossing in the short term and then I suspect the Bay Area region would find a way to help fund some trenches in the future. The blended system brings you 1/2 way to your goals. The mind-numbing focus on impacts at the complete exclusion of constructive solutions is getting tiring. And that is the reason people are so suspicious of CARRD’s intentions.

    Nadia Reply:

    I’m not focusing on impacts to the exclusion of constructive solutions, I’m answering the question of where the numbers came from that Jeff Carter specifically asked. You’ll note we did that presentation in 2010 -in an effort to have a real conversation of what it would look like and to help foster a conversation in our own community on how there could be creative solutions.

    What CARRD goals are you referring to? We have always advocated for process, not outcomes – although as we’ve said to you, we understand the need for grade seps for safety and traffic. However, as we’ve also said that solutions must be sensitive to the context in which they exist and balance community goals and transportation goals. Hence our call for CSS from very early on.

    The Authority has chosen to ignore our constructive solutions (use CSS!) and instead keep “unveiling” plans for communities that then send them into fits of anger. If you are unveiling solutions, you aren’t working with the communities – you are using the DAD method (Decide, Announce, Defend).

    Our general concept from CARRD actually came from a Ray LaHood quote: “The era of one-size-fits-all transportation projects must give way to one where preserving and enhancing unique community characteristics, be they rural or urban, is a primary mission of our work rather than an afterthought.” – It would be great if the Authority could take that motto and apply it to the project.

    I understand you are frustrated by CARRD’s approach because it takes a while to do what we are advocating for… – the mantra of “there is no time” is the main justification for why these things can’t be done. Well, that has consequences – and we’re seeing the ramifications in places like Bakersfield where they have now taken an anti-rail position. From my perspective, that doesn’t seem to be working.

    StevieB Reply:

    The Peninsula has 15 years before construction to decide if it wants trains tracks to overpass crossroads or if roads should bridge over or be depressed under tracks. Plans are certain to be fluid whatever methodology is used. Politicians will come and go but the Peninsula will eventually see high speed tracks. Those with wherewithal will see high speed rail insuring future prosperity to generations of Californians.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “We have always advocated for process, not outcomes”

    Process is killing us.

    Specifically, bad processes which *never ever achieve outcomes*. The problems with CEQA are well-documented. The processes of the US Senate are infamous, but that’s getting a bit off track.

    The processes used to design and build the Second Avenue Subway are the reason why it’s taking twice as long and costing over 10 times as much as it should, with the NY MTA paying for all manner of things which are not its responsibility, and being delayed by manifestly spurious lawsuits by demented NIMBYs who very much do *not* represent the majority of the locals.

    Good process is a good idea, but honestly, no consultation, building the HSR tracks 19th century style, would give a better result than consulting with *self-selected NIMBYs*, which seems to be what CAARD is advocating.

    If you don’t have a group of people intent on sabotaging a project, you can get and respond to community desires easily; if you do, it’s quite hard to filter them out, and they have to simply be ignored. Examples from Washington State from the Point Defiance Bypass: Tacoma residents wanted an overpass over Pacific Avenue and wanted a nice design for it. They got one. In contrast, minority of Lakewood residents are train-phobes and are fearmongering any way they can to try to stop the Point Defiance Bypass entirely, even after the DOT bent over backwards to demonstrate that they will make it safer and quieter than the previous situation. These Lakewood NIMBYs are being ignored and the DOT will simply comply with all the laws (NEPA, etc.) by telling them they are idiots.

    If you can’t give constructive advice, you will end up being ignored. Who created the adversarial situation in the Peninsula? It wasn’t the CHSRA, and it wasn’t PB — it was the NIMBYs. We know this by contrasting the situations in LA, Gilroy, Fresno, etc….

    Rick Rong Reply:

    What exactly are you trying to say? “The mind-numbing focus on impacts at the complete exclusion of constructive solutions is getting tiring. And that is the reason people are so suspicious of CARRD’s intentions.” Do you want to focus only on the solutions and not on the impacts?

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    No a focus on impacts is absolutely appropriate and it was because of this focus that the blended approach has gained momentum. However, see NO focus on what might work in PAMPA because it is clear that they just want to put their heads in the sand and oppose everything, even though rail improvements are necessary to solve their EXISTING problems along the Caltrai ROW. CARRD may not be happy with the process and I will be the first one to admit it has been flawed. However, given that they are making some progess, albeit in an imperfect fashion (what is perfect in this flawed world?), I would have expected some openess of mind to accomodate HSR on the Peninsula. This has not been case, and it is really disappointed but unfortunately not suprising given the ideological discourse in the country right now.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    If anything, C4HSR needs to answer for their own ideological dysfunction. They are still stuck on Pacheco — even though that plan means SF has to wait a good 30-40 years for any kind of HSR service.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    We were never ideologically for or against Pacheco v. Altmont. Quite the opposite. We saw the political realities and decided that it was the best interest of moving the project forward to remain agnostic on the controversy, especially since we see both corridors needing high quality rail and the decision was already made before we relaunched in late 2009.

    Also, SF gets HSR from either corridor.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    To Daniel Krause: Your comparison of CARRD’s position with “the ideological discourse in the country right now” is absurd. Even if, as some people suggest, CARRD is at its heart opposed to any high speed rail on the peninsula, it has nothing to do with that “ideological discourse.” However, I personally have long tired of these attacks on people’s motivation except where that motivation might show a bias in how facts are presented. If CARRD presents facts that underscore problems with the project or with how it is being planned, then what difference does it make what motivates them to dig up those facts and present them? Why not just respond to those facts or to those analyses on their merits instead of — and I’m sorry to put it so bluntly — whining. You expect some “openness of mind,” which in the abstract can be a good thing, especially for people who haven’t seen or reviewed all the facts or all the arguments, but it comes close to the demands some people have made that people like those associated with CARRD “say something good about the project.”

    I say, let people say whatever they want, but have them present the pros and cons, and the facts on which they rely, rather than expect them to satisfy some sort of litmus test. CARRD seems to have done a pretty good job of presenting facts, facts which sometimes might not have been brought to light. They’ve presented detailed analyses. You obviously are a project proponent. If you disagree with their analyses, or if you think the facts are untrue, then say so and explain why.

    And Drunk Engineer makes a good point. Under the present political and fiscal circumstances, and especially taking into account the new cost estimates and timelines as presented in the draft Business Plan, it might be a good idea for you to keep an open mind as to matters which may have seemed settled but perhaps are not so settled as they seemed.

    By the way, I am not saying Altamont is better than Pacheco, or that the first construction should or should not be in the Central Valley. What I object to is the fairly constant complaining about the way certain people present their positions. What I am saying is that there are some people who, on an unpaid basis, have put a lot of time and energy into presenting their case. Deal with them on the merits of what they say.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    I think it is fair to discuss an organization’s motivations given their influence in state and to federal politics. If there is one group making real progress in killing HSR for all of us and future generations, it is CARRD. I have told them this much. I also think it is fair to point out observations of what they DO NOT do as well as what they do, especially since they claim to be neither for or against the project, as it provides clues to what angles they are taking in damaging this project (I think it fair they are not active in helping the project at this point). I think my observations are fair game and very pertinent and not just whining. Finally, I agree with you that its also good to resond to their claims, etc. For example, they still claim the rideship model is STILL hopelessly flawed even AFTER the peer review and courts concluding otherwise. I think they are wrong and are pursuing a political strategy to cast doubt on the project in terms of what I believe to be a bogus and manufactured ridership controversy. So yes, any organization’s motivations are important to understand when engaging in a struggle with them.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    If there is one group making real progress in killing HSR for all of us and future generations, it is CARRD

    I think you are blaming the messenger. If there is one group killing HSR, it is the CHSRA itself.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    So, is that Ms Alexis the same as Hitler, or merely a reincarnation of Stalin? And exactly how much is she being paid by the Trilateral Commission?

    Those issues are all “fair to discuss”.

    Moreover, it is “fair to point out” that she has never once definitely rejected euthanization of panda cubs.

    It is quite clear that CARRD is not helping the cause of leishmaniasis eradication in any way.

    I think my observations are fair game and very pertinent and not just whining.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    “And exactly how much is she being paid by the Trilateral Commission?” I don’t sure don’t know, but she ought to get at least as much as Ogilvy was getting.

    Joey Reply:

    The CHSRA seems to have done everything in its power to maximize costs and impacts, minimize benefits, and erode support for the project, often times turning would-be supporters against HSR. CAARD had very little to do with any of this.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Seems you have it backwards.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or you could elevate the tracks over the road.

    Clem Reply:

    Yup, PB style, with 10-foot structure depth + 16 feet of clearance underneath. Then argue that ‘constraint points’ force the vertical alignment into a continuous viaduct to avoid the dreaded roller-coaster profile. Toss in a few outrigger bents for style, and presto, I give you the Pampa Freeway!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    PB style, with 10-foot structure depth + …

    Gotta design for the all important freight trains and 130t Amtrak locomotives.

    You also forgot the made-in-America PB-decreed design “requirements” for inter-track spacing and catenary and side clearances. As astonishing as it may seem, they do turn out to be more constraining than the PB/Bechtel-decreeed design standards for BART in the same corridor. See, BART = cheap!

    Clem Reply:

    See, BART = cheap!

    This may have been the most brilliant move on PB’s part. They simply can’t lose; one way or another they will pour concrete through PAMPA.

    Clem Reply:

    Correction: they will engineer something through PAMPA that somebody else will pour.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There is no question that PB cannot lose. But that does not mean PB won’t have preferences.

    Unfortunately for the transit riding public and taxpayers it is an inverse order. The best alternative for them – an electrified solo Caltrain to the TBT utilizing a combo of underpasses, at grade and, yes, probably a few select aerials is the least preferred by PB, as it would pour the least concrete. Top speed maybe 80-100mph.

    Tony d. Reply:

    I say major thoroughfares go below grade and minor streets become dead ends with no access across rails whatsoever (can’t have it all PA). build pedestrian bridges where/if necessary in affected neighborhoods.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I say major thoroughfares go below grade and minor streets become dead ends

    Just charming.

    Want to know why normal human beings hate railfans and highway engineers?

    Tony d. Reply:

    Like I said, you can’t have it all (gee, have my street become a cul de sac or loose some of my property or property value?).

    Nathanael Reply:

    Honestly, most minor streets already dead-end at the railroad. It’s not like this is anything new.

    If the Peninsula NIMBYs want to eliminate the railroad, they should be upfront about it — that way, more people would realize how wrongheaded they are.

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    Thanks for the reply and analysis/data. It seems the assumptions are way over blown by the HSRA/PB/HNTB…

    Check out the Hillcrest grade separation in Millbrae; this grade sep. was built to accommodate FOUR tracks (according to Caltrain).

    600 Hemlock Avenue, Millbrae, CA – Google Maps

    This did not take 100’s or even dozens of properties. The Road impact of approx. 431 feet is less than one half the impacts claimed in the HSRA/CARRD analysis of 951 feet. Based on the assumptions for Palo Alto, this Hillcrest grade sep. should have taken up to 34 properties. Up to 4 properties on Hillcrest, up to 8 on Hemlock, up to 14 on Aviador, and up to 8 on Beverly. Using the Palo Alto assumptions, Hillcrest would have plowed through homes on Aviador to Beverly.

    Why are they going 22 feet under the rail bed?

    The road at Hillcrest is 17.5 feet under the rail bed/structure.

    What is this deal about 2 foot change in driveway elevation assumes full parcel acquisition is required?

    Road impacts can be reduced if the RR bed were raised a few (say 5) feet.

    Clem Reply:

    Road impacts can be reduced if the RR bed were raised a few (say 5) feet.

    As sensible as this seems, two words will become the center of the conversation: Berlin Wall!

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    Yeah that’s true, even though it would hardly be noticeable! But then the facts are that the RR is off limits to the public and fenced in many places, with more fencing on the way. Additionally, vegetation also blocks the ROW from public view in numerous locations. Why is this not construed as a “Berlin Wall”?

    Nathanael Reply:

    It is standard in EIS documents to count the number of properties for which eminent domain proceedings might be required, even if in most cases this means taking 5 inches off a back lawn.

    Unfortunately this is then used by NIMBYs for scaremongering.

  6. synonymouse
    Dec 26th, 2011 at 10:32

    All this fussing about PAMPA nimbys is ridiculous.

    The deal is already done and Heminger and MTC are positioned to carry it out. A BART subway in the wealthy areas will cope with concerns about blight and the more blue-collar towns will get the same general aerials, albeit with a smaller footprint, that they would have received with Caltrain-CHSRA.

    The friends in high places that Caltrain would have needed to fund its modernization are joined at the hip with MTC and BART. Caltrain’s future was nixed in 1991 by these same functionaries.

    The nimbys will be forced to accept BART, with all the options they can afford to add. They are simply no match for the BART juggernaut, which always has had a large number of supporters on the Peninsula. Even Meg Whitman could not stop the Evil Empire, simply because she will in short order come to agree with it.

    Fussing about rich people not being happy with the hoi polloi hanging about the trendy areas is just gas-bagging. Like everything in America it is all about the money. If you’ve got a lot you can move on up to Beverly Hills right nest to Hef; if you don’t, it is the sidewalk at Sixth and Howard.

    So the foamers have 2 choices: either a collector station at SFO via Altamont and Dumbarton or a collector station at Iconic-Galactic Diridon.

    Clem Reply:

    I think that is a fine reading of the tea leaves. Note to self: must have tea with synonymouse

    synonymouse Reply:

    Thanx, Clem, for grasping the upshot of my admittedly adlibbed, shotgun postings.

    If the CHSRA-Caltrain marriage had worked the “blend” concept would have been a given from the get-go. Both of these entities suffer from confused missions and severe funding issues. BART has neither of these handicaps. BART’s political capital is enormous, its will to prevail monolithic, and when it comes to pillaging funds BART’s track record is unequalled.

    What I am trying to get thru to the cheerleaders is that Ring the Bay solo is by far the path of least resistance and one that already enjoys a considerable head start. The prevailing winds propelling Ring the Bay will only become stronger as BART closes in on San Jose.

    My advice to the cheerleaders, unwelcome as it is, urges them to reconsider Altamont as the best by far alignment in the Ring the Bay context. The TBT plan was always questionable anyway, as Kopp had consistently tried to torpedo it. And it certainly seems PB is hardly gung-ho to commit so many hsr billions to a basically redundant extension. What’s so bad about SFO?

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Synonymouse, taking what you say at face value suggests that the “blended approach” described in the draft business plan may reflect a shift in CHSRA’s view of reality, and may also be just the first step towards more fundamental changes in plans.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Ive always wondered, where do you get all this BART crap from anyway? HSR, revamped Caltrain or BART on the peninsula; at this point I could care less. I just want to see improved rail transit from SJ to SF period.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It has significant impact both in San Francisco and San Jose and on the preferred entree into the Bay Area.

    In San Francisco the SP ROW SFO to 4th and Townsend would become redundant as BART would supplant Caltrain south of SFO and access the City via Daly City and the Market Street subway. The TBT basement would be empty. No doubt some plan to make use of the ROW would come up but the City will find it hard to fund the abysmal Central Subway as it is.

    In San Jose there will be the perquisite nod to regional unity – a half-hearted bitch about the loss of direct hsr to SF. But privately San Jose will be relishing stealing the terminus and its bragging rights from the hated and envied City.

    As to Pacheco, big mistake, which by now should be clear to even its most diehard partisans. But won’t be, of course.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If BART is such as wonderful alternative why do they have to drag HSR from Fremont to San Jose, they can just get on BART like people going to San Francisco will have to do.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The primary argument for some quasi-hsr to SJ is that there is a solid market for SJ to Sac as well as to Socal.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The market to San Francisco is much bigger. But BART is good enough for that one.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Category error alert!

    The “market” is not in passengers carried. Who cares about them anyway?

    It is in dollars spent, and who receives them.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But that market doesn’t care where the dollars are spent. If it was truly concerned about spending logts of money pouring lots of concrete HSR to Oakland and Transbay tunnel would have been much more lucrative.

    Jon Reply:

    The idea of a collector station at SFO makes zero sense. If Caltrain has been replaced by BART and BART are gonna access SF via Daly City, and HSR can make it as far as SFO, there is no reason why HSR won’t be able to use the old Caltrain tracks to get to 4th & King. That’s the easy part.

    The hard part about ring-the-bay is, how do you fit four tracks between Millbrae and Redwood City (Altamont) or Millbrae and San Jose (Pacheco)? Granted Altamont reduces the distance over which you need four tracks, but it just shifts the problem from PAMPA to Fremont, through which you’d need to carve an entirely new high speed alignment.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yes, the Fremont issue is complicated, same with Livermore, made much worse by damn BART. This is going to require some serious money but in light of the decline of Oakland and the East Bay the effort is justified.

    Extending hsr routed via Altamont and Dumbarton to SFO on thru to 4th and Townsend is an interesting possibility as monies become available. But personally I’d like to squash Ring the Bay for good and electrify Caltrain all the way to the TBT sans hsr as originally planned in 1990.

    Jon Reply:

    It’s not an interesting possiblity, it’s an easy and obvious step one you get HSR to Millbrae. All you need to do is string up some overhead wire, rebuild some platforms at 4th and King to take HSR trains, and you’re done. You’re just trying to scare people by saying that BART will destroy all hopes of getting HSR to SF. That’s not to say that ring-the-bay is a good idea, but if it happens it will be as a way to make HSR appear cheaper by ‘saving’ money on the approach to SF (no more tracks needed), Millbrae (no $1.9bn tunnel), and San Jose (no iconic bridge, elevated station or approach track.) The idea that they would swipe 45 miles of Caltrain ROW for BART + HSR and then not use the last 15 miles is extremely unlikely.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yeah, if it is indeed Ring the Bay and hsr via Altamont and Dumbarton to SFO continuing on to 4th and Townsend would sweeten the pot, as it were.

    But Caltrain is vastly preferable to BART tho up against all odds. Heminger and MTC are inimical to Caltrain. Be helpful if Mega Meg and other Peninsula & PAMPA notables came out strongly in favor of Caltrain over Ring the Bay and flushed out BART’s scheming.

  7. Drunk Engineer
    Dec 26th, 2011 at 17:36

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Did you intend to just link to Google Maps, or was there a specific map you were trying to link to?

Comments are closed.