Tulare County Still Wants High Speed Rail

Dec 18th, 2011 | Posted by

Kings County leaders may have decided they’re happy with a 14.6% unemployment rate, opposing high speed rail and the long-term economic benefits it will bring to their county. But next door in Tulare County, leaders understand the benefits that high speed rail will bring – and they want in:

Watching their neighbor’s increasingly warlike stance, Tulare County, which strongly supports the project, has been looking for a way to insure the fast growing population in the two county region — nearing 1 million by 2030 — has a station. So instead of partnering up with Kings County as had been planned, they have decided to go it alone.

The city of Visalia will take up the idea at its Dec. 21 council meeting, Olmos said. “Now that we know they will be building the first leg of the route right here, we understand that it has moved up our chances to get a station. We’ve been told that if we want a station we need to apply fairly quickly.”

With the clock ticking on funding, Visalia and TCAG will jointly apply to do a $800,000 planning study they note will serve a regional population that includes both Kings and Tulare counties, with Tulare’s population three times that of Kings.

Visalia understands that not being involved in the HSR project – and especially not having a station – means that job growth and new economic activity will quite literally pass them by:

Without a station, scores of daily 200 mph trains could barrel through Kings County, but none of them would stop — just what Visalia, and the bypassed towns of the earlier rail era — feared.

It’s good to see that Visalia and Tulare County get why HSR is such a good idea and are fighting to bring it to their community. As the gateway to Sequoia and Kings Canyon parks, Visalia is poised to get tourists from across the state more easily with high speed rail. And with a downtown that has affordable land available, located just over an hour via HSR from downtown LA, Visalia could attract businesses and skilled workers as other mid-line cities on European HSR lines have been able to do.

Hanford and Kings County may be willing to spend the rest of the 21st century watching Visalia and Tulare County take the jobs and business growth that they rejected. At least the rest of the San Joaquin Valley knows better.

  1. VBobier
    Dec 18th, 2011 at 23:19

    I think the CHSRA should move the tracks out of Kings County and into Tulare County, but do It for no more money then would have been spent in Kings County.

  2. morris brown
    Dec 19th, 2011 at 02:20

    Robert writes”

    Visalia understands that not being involved in the HSR project – and especially not having a station – means that job growth and new economic activity will quite literally pass them by:

    What Visalia doesn’t understand is that this HSR section, if built will be an orphaned set of track, which will never be electrified or extended, because all further Federal funding will never occur.

    The Feds now realize they have been swindled and now face having to provide not an additional 12 or 17 billion more in funding, but over $50 billion more, and they simply are pulling out of the project.

    Fresno will suffer all the problems of enduring construction, loss of businesses etc, but will never be rewarded with the expected rewards of a HSR train. Same is true of Visalia.

    The Authority will be forced, at the very least, to revise their proposed ICS, and propose, a much shorter segment of track, fully electrified with all the components to be classified as a “usable segment”. What is proposed now, simply will be thrown out by the courts; rumor has it the Authority is working with fever pitch to propose a backup plan.

    And BTW, some cities and agencies that now are outright opposed the project are:

    1. Belmont
    2. Atherton
    3. Bakersfield
    4. Burlingame
    5. Chowchilla
    6. City of Orange
    7. Gilroy
    8. Kings County Board of Supervisors
    9. Menlo Park
    10. OCTA
    11. Palo Alto

    Many others to follow.

    VBobier Reply:

    You mean with the current Repugnican led Congress, a Democratic Congress will change that.

    Bakersfield is only frustrated, Just like the CHSRA is frustrated with the funding/staffing levels allowed by the CA Legislature, This will not stop HSR, If Ya believe It will, then Yer delusional & You can take that to the Bank…

    The following Quote is from Here.

    “A slap in the face” is what a spokesman for the California High-Speed Rail Authority called the Bakersfield City Council’s Wednesday night decision to formally oppose its rail project.

    City Council members voted 6-1 to adopt a resolution opposing the project in its current form. Council members faulted the project’s financing plans and potential impact on Bakersfield properties and the authority’s responsiveness to local concerns.

    After the vote, Lance Simmens, deputy director of communications for the authority, issued a statement calling it “a slap in the face to the tens of thousands of Central Valley residents who would benefit from the jobs the project will provide over the next decade. It also represents a rejection of the economic and environmental benefits to the citizens of Bakersfield and California that will accompany the transformative statewide system…

    morris brown Reply:


    you wrote a Democratic Congress will change that

    No — even a Democratic Congress will not change and pour more money after what they have already committed to this failed project.

    It is not only the GOP but also the Democratics who now realize that this project is hopeless. Pelosi and Feinstein and Boxer can try with all their might, but further funding for any HSR is going to be directed to the NEC. It is time this be realized by Robert as well.

    StevieB Reply:

    The NEC will cost $200 billion. It would not be politic to spend all high speed rail funds in the NEC and ignore the most populous state in the country.

    synonymouse Reply:

    California doesn’t deserve the money. It is too stupid and corrupt – a collective compulsive gambler.

    Give the money to the likes of Pelosi, Moombeam, willie Brown,Kopp, Amalgamated, TWU, Bechtel dba’s? You might as well distribute it to the panhandlers in the street. It would do more good for the commonweal.

    VBobier Reply:

    Who says? I would like to know how Yer Qualified to say that, Do You have a Degree in the required fields? Hmm?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yes, sorry, but cupidity and stupidity are the hallmarks of the patronage machine. Even soviet central planning likely didn’t do much worse.

    How many degrees in the qualified fields were required to cook up BART Indian broad gauge. Face it they are crooks hiding under the mantel of Brutalism. Tony Soprano could do better. It will make everything explicable and make you feel better to accept that a dysfunctional welfare state is a phase we will just have to pass thru on our way to something else unknown.

    synonymouse Reply:

    should read mantle

    Alon Levy Reply:

    $200 billion? Try $117 billion (gold-plated Amtrak version) or $10 billion (rational version).

    StevieB Reply:

    $117 billion is not in year of expenditure dollars. Over 30 years it will be closer to $200 billion.

    jim Reply:

    $10B is very optimistic that they will change their ways :). But there’s clearly a high teens of billions option available. Perhaps Amtrak will propose it.

    Emma Reply:

    No, Alon Levy is right. You could increase the speed of Acela Express by 10% by building bridges and changing ROW. The tiny things accumulate helping to improve the whole system.

    The reason Acela is so slow is because of failing cooperation between the states to provide a consistent high speed track. North of NYC, the train tends to travel much faster than south of NYC. Why is that? Yet despite the much slower speed, ridership keeps rising.

    If that formula works for the NEC, how much more would it work for California? And as many of you already said, we will have to build it at some point and it’s only getting more expensive the longer we wait.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Amtrak owns the track between New Rochelle NY and Washington DC. They could do anything they want.

    StevieB Reply:

    $450 for upgrades on 24 miles of track between Trenton and New Brunswick, N.J. is the current Acela project. All it takes is billions for more and Bob’s your uncle.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not 24 miles of track, but 24 miles of constant tension catenary.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    well 96 miles track miles and it’s not all between New Brunswick and Trenton.Upgrading the substation in Metuchen for instance

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Emma, it’s the other way around. North of New York, average speed is much lower. NY-DC and NY-Boston are the same length, but the Acela takes about 2:47 to do NY-DC and the Regional 3:20 (one train takes 3:05), whereas on NY-Boston the Acela takes 3:37 and the Regional 4:20. The slowest segment, as you mention, comes from track ownership issues: between the NY-CT border and New Haven, the tracks are owned by Connecticut, which restricts trains to 75 mph in lieu of performing adequate maintenance, and also forbids tilting, restricting cant deficiency to just 3″ (the Acela does 7″ east of New Haven).

    However, even on its own track, Amtrak underperforms. For example, most of the delays I’ve seen on the NEC (about every other trip since I started counting) have occurred between New Haven and Providence, where Amtrak owns the track. And although the NY-DC speed is better than the NY-Boston speed, it’s still pretty low relative to the quality of the track and the capacity required, as south of Newark the tracks have far more capacity than required by regional traffic.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    50 million people live within 25 miles of a NEC station.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Lance called it “a slap in the face”? Maybe they were just trying to wake him up.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Further federal funding will never occur? Look, I’ve soured somewhat on the project as of late, but if (or when) the Dems take the house back, this project may well rise again like a phoenix. Since the GOP is now on record of opposing middle/lower-class tax cuts, I think the chances are good for a Democratic revival come November.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Except that if you got your news form places other than MSNBC you’d know that they are not on record of being opposed to tax cuts, they are simply opposed to a lame 2 month extension.

    Derek Reply:

    “The Feds now realize they have been swindled and now face having to provide not an additional 12 or 17 billion more in funding, but over $50 billion more…”

    Spoken like someone who doesn’t understand inflation.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The previous estimate was also in YOE. According to the 2009 biz plan, another $15 billion YOE would be required. Now it is +/- $73 billion YOE. While the new plan is more backloaded, this is still a huge increase.

    Derek Reply:

    You can’t compare two YOE$ figures and determine that one is more, in real-world currency, than the other.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Well, as the 2010$ figures have gone from $35 to $65 and all the extra funding is supposed and then some is supposed to come from the Feds, I am very comfortable doing this.

    Derek Reply:

    If you are comfortable claiming that the new figure is $50 million more when the difference is only $30 million, then it sounds like you are pushing an agenda.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    These are in 2010$. Look at our testimony. we are just taking the numbers from the biz plan.

    The fact that costs are up is one of the reasons this drags out, which does increase funding ask.

    Derek Reply:

    Once again, you cannot take two YOE$ figures and claim that one is more than the other in real value. If you continue to do so even after having this pointed out to you, you will have crossed the line from ignorance to willful deception.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Dear grandmother, please do allow me to show you how to suck eggs.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Here’s the problem though:

    The 2010 business plan doesn’t list the $65 billion amount which is relative to the 2008 business plan. Costs have increased yes, but they haven’t doubled. And if there’s any more deflation… the 3% mark won’t be met.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    They have doubled, give or take a couple of billion.

    There is a detailed cost document for this biz plan and we have the detailed spreadsheet for 2009 on our website.

    joe Reply:

    Tom; Features & requirements change so the focus on the cost of HSR in absence of the changes to HSR to the design is fail.

    For example, if HSR agrees to trench the ROW in the Peninsula it would be very pleasing to the local residents but a large cost increase. I’m willing to co-pay with my tax dollar to help but I think the improvement to the ROW isn’t a cost over run. It’s a change to the system that makes it better.

    If you budget for a car and then decide to get a moon roof, that doesn’t mean Ford increased the cost of the car.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Joe: it depends. A small number of the cost increases are not just feature creep. Those include the extra cost of Tehachapi tunneling, and the extra grade separations everywhere. They pale in comparison to the Bay Area concrete fest, which can be completely avoided with some forethought and agency cooperation, but they’re there.

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    The 2012 business plan lists exactly $65 billion as a “required investment in 2010 $”. It wasn’t hard to find. Do a search for $65 within the document.

    “The 2012 Business Plan estimate ranges from … $65.4 to $74.5 billion for the Full Phase 1 system.”

    Although towards the end of the Business Plan the costs were slightly downward adjusted.

    “The cost for completing Phase 1 of the program now ranges between $65.2 billion and $74.2 billion in 2010 dollars.”

    Clem Reply:

    joe: blind, rote, dumb systems engineering is exactly what got us into this mess. A spec says “shall this” and “shall that” without regard to any validation that they’re actually building the right system, and pretty soon you’ve got something that costs double and can barely perform. Then there are a litany of implicit requirements having to do with not disturbing existing infrastructure or having to coordinate with other agencies– the kind of “requirements” that lead to $1.9 billion solutions to $0.1 billion problems such as the Millbrae tunnel. You want fail? THAT is fail on an epic scale. Even in our line of work, where huge cost increases occur on a fairly routine basis, this would never fly… and what we do is complex, and demands intense systems engineering. HSR is not complex.

    VBobier Reply:

    And like someone who doesn’t have the slightest idea about economics and is a Luddite.

    Emma Reply:

    Thank you for the list. Yet another reason why the LA-SD extension should be built first.
    -2/3 of the California population live in SoCal.
    -This section is shorter, not necessarily cheaper. But we would recoup the money earlier than with the whole thing.
    -SoCal cities are very ambitious about expanding their public transit systems and many are more than happy to align them with CHSR.

    I’m excluding Anaheim of course. I don’t see the point of this extension.

    Emma Reply:

    I think the biggest problem with a stand-alone SoCal HSR system is that you would never have gotten the votes to pass Prop 1A.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    I disagree. Both Orange County and San Diego voted down airports in the last couple of decades. In both instances, people argued for HSR as an alternative.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Uh no, Emma’s correct.

    The ballot measure had more support in Northern California than in the South. The airport votes failed because noise was going to affect wealthy, white homeowners. This is a major loss for Orange County because that effectively ends the area rebuilding its manufacturing. Now in SD is smart and hires some Asian engineers, it can build artificial island airport down south and steal a lot of cruise traffic and manufacturing from the remaining defense contractors.

    Donk Reply:

    Which LA-SD extension? You talkin bout the LOSSAN one or the IE one? I would support an incremental expansion of LOSSAN first, but not building a whole new route through the IE to Temecula through NIMBY-ville in Rose Canyon/University City.

    LOSSAN should be built out in parallel to LA-SF HSR. LA-IE-SD should be part of Phase II.

    Emma Reply:

    Well, if you want to create a system that ignore most of the SoCal population, that will never pay off, and that only provides a speed improvement by 10% go with LOSSAN.
    Of course I’m talking about LA-IE-SD.

  3. Peter Baldo
    Dec 19th, 2011 at 06:56

    Everybody has their price. Does UP have a price for working with CaHSR in Tulare County? Some of their concerns – like not being ‘boxed in’ by a highway on one side and high speed tracks on the other – are legitimate.

    For better or worse, transit people are going to have to work with UP. Altamont, Capitol Corridor, not to mention high speed rail, are going to be a lot easier with UP on board.

  4. Roger Christensen
    Dec 19th, 2011 at 07:51

    I seem to remember that historically, in the 1870s, Visalia didn’t have a price. By not playing ball with the railroad, the oldest city in the San Joaquin Valley was bypassed.

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    But Robert already alludes tI this.

    I wonder what the study options would be….

    Alan Kandel Reply:

    Someone needs to clarify what a high-speed train station for Tulare County means. Would this involve relocating the line through Tulare County? A station location east of Hanford is vague.

    Furthermore, an $800,000 study seems premature at this point. If the route selection can’t be changed, then what good would it be spending almost $1 million on a study by Tulare County and TCAG for a proposed station in Kings County, even if it is close to the Tulare County line but still in Kings County? If someone could elaborate, please.

    Officials in Kings County already agreed they don’t support the project. I would much rather see the line run through Tulare County if the project has those folks’ support. If that’s the case, a NEW alignment would need to be determined? Again, a little clarification would help.

    datacruncher Reply:

    It is not a station in Tulare County at this point. Visalia wants to take the lead for planning for a regional station even if the line is in Kings County. They want to try to ensure the area is not bypassed without a stop.

    Visalia previously offered to donate land for a station if the line had followed the UP instead of the BNSF. The city has had a strong interest in service.

    I agree that I’d rather see the project run in Tulare County than Kings County. Not only due to support but also putting it closer to the larger population in those 2 counties which is in Tulare County not Kings. But the UP stance led to the current route analysis.

    Interestingly, there appears to be a relationship between HSR opposition and transportation taxes in the SJV. Only 19 California counties (most in the Bay Area and Southern California) have passed transportation sales taxes. Tulare and Fresno counties both have voted for local transportation sales taxes, but Kings and Kern counties have opposed them.

    Alan Kandel Reply:

    Datacruncher: Thank you for providing perspective. From what I have learned over the years, it seems Tulare County officials are progressive in their thinking and have tremendous foresight.

  5. Tom McNamara
    Dec 19th, 2011 at 08:27

    At the risk of getting shoes thrown at me, the state should not be encouraging population growth in the southern San Joaquin Valley. Simply put, there is not enough rainfall to sustain communities south of Fresno without irrigated water. And despite what you might here, irrigated water is expensive and has limited availability.

    As a first step, the state should set a goal to have 50% of its population north of the San Joaquin River and no more than 50% to to the south. Visalia needs what limited water it has for agriculture.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    And this is also why future HSR routes should not dog-leg into the Inland Empire and down the 15 to San Diego but instead stay much closer to the coast.

    Emma Reply:

    Why we don’t need the coast:
    1. It’s a curvy and thus difficult area to do construction. As a result, the ride would take much longer.
    2. The price of land near the coast is ridiculously high. A coastal route would jack up prices even more.
    3. A lot of people live close to the coast = a lot of NIMBYs. The NIMBY resistance you have seen until now would be nothing compared to the resistance you have to face if HSR had a coastal route.
    4. The coastal route is not economic for HSR. Too few cities.

    Let Amtrak take care of the electrification of LOSSAN providing a HSR-light service at 90-110mph. That’s good enough. Metrolink and Pacific Surfliner seem to be thriving there and should be able to get separate HSR funding from Obama.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    3. A lot of people live close to the coast = a lot of NIMBYs. The NIMBY resistance you have seen until now would be nothing compared to the resistance you have to face if HSR had a coastal route.

    4. The coastal route is not economic for HSR. Too few cities.

    I don’t get it. The coastal route would be infinitely more profitable. And it’s far more populous than the Inland Empire, even today.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:


    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    I think Emma mixed up the coastal route to SF with the coastal route to SD.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Fun fact to know: High Speed Rail Visionary and World Class Transportation Planning Expert Rod “Father of VTA Light Rail” Diridon declared in 1997 that “high speed rail in California is dead because they chose a Central Valley route instead of going down the coast through San Jose”.

    joe Reply:

    Get over it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There’s not enough rainfall to support Los Angeles or for that matter the Bay Area either.

    Tom McNamara Reply:


    15 inches per year is doable. You just might need to institute a “grass tax”. The map doesn’t lie, though the vast majority of the state’s snow pack isn’t found even as far south as Tulare. Los Angeles (and San Diego) at least have access to the Colorado River.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It does not seem reasonable that there is enough water in the Southwest to sustain the unlimited population that the growth mongers demand. Tapping the aquifers would be only a temporary solution. Going into an historical drought pattern would only speed up the conflict.

    An attempt will be made to grab water from other parts of the country, which will certainly exacerbate the heartland vs. coasts split we already are experiencing.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Per that map, if all we thought about was water, all Californians should be relocated north of Sacramento.

    But besides the Colorado River, Southern California is already sucking water from the Owens Valley and using the California Aqueduct to get Northern California water. SoCal is already importing water from a long distance thru the CV and other areas to meet their needs.

    And the San Diego area is currently looking at using a desalination plant in Mexico to help meet its water needs.

    That isn’t even talking about Hetch Hetchy water moving thru the CV to serve the Bay Area.

    Californians have already created a massive water movement system to sustain the coastal cities.

    At least San Joaquin Valley cities are at the base of the Sierras, close to the runoff.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They have the Colorado River until the Arizonans decide to keep their share instead of letting Los Angeles use it.

    joe Reply:

    Grass tax and maybe we should reconsider growing cotton and rice in the CV.

    joe Reply:

    Turf grasses are ubiquitous in the urban
    landscape of the United States and are often associated
    with various types of environmental impacts, especially on
    water resources, yet there have been limited efforts to
    quantify their total surface and ecosystem functioning,
    such as their total impact on the continental water budget
    and potential net ecosystem exchange (NEE). In this
    study, relating turf grass area to an estimate of fractional
    impervious surface area, it was calculated that potentially
    163,800 km^2 (€ 35,850 km^2) of land are cultivated with turf
    grasses in the continental United States, an area three
    times larger than that of any irrigated crop

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    Perhaps Hanford West bypass should be adopted with no station.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Remember, give stations to the towns which want ’em.

    Bypass Bakersfield with no station, since they don’t want one. Soon enough it will be a ghost town as refugees abandon the dewatered swamp for points north… there’s your program for moving CV population north.

    Derek Reply:

    “Simply put, there is not enough rainfall to sustain communities south of Fresno without irrigated water.”

    Sure there is. A demand curve proves it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demand_curve

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:QCD_phase_diagram.png is equally relevant.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @Tom: So whats the next step? Genocide?

    You realize of course the danger in your way of thinking when you talk about how people should be divided up right? Just so we all know, are you a communist? Do you want a dictator? Helps to understand certain arguments.

    Peter Reply:

    California already has a similar concept, namely the Regional Housing Needs Allocation. It doesn’t say people have to/cannot live in a certain location, but it does say that cities have to plan for a certain number of housing units.

    VBobier Reply:

    Never heard of It, I could use a manufactured house on its own land that I could live in that would be affordable to Me, meaning paid off, But I lack about $20,000.00 and yes I know of one that with all costs included would cost about that much, It’s really $15,500+291(utility deposits)+1000(moving costs for My Cat and Me to move 55 miles)+closing costs, but so far this disabled person has gotten no where trying to save for just the moving and deposits, too much stuff to fix and replace(swamp cooler grills, 3pr jeans, the last taxes on this place that I sold, stick on tire weights for the cat box rake, etc, etc, all on $854.40($698.00 FBR(the page needs updating, probably after XMAS I’d guess)+$156.40 SSP from CA) a month is what I get to try and live/survive on as I’m permanently disabled and as a result I get SSI(really, really tough to get) as I can’t work as My body is nearly worn out through no fault of My own as I’m expected to die and so some Repug in Congress wants to thoughtlessly and carelessly cut SSI to 2007 levels to hurt Seniors, the Blind the Disabled, I’d have to choose between eating and paying for clothes and My DMV and My cars upkeep and gas and insurance for My car which I use to get My food(no food stamps If one gets SSI in CA) or paying for rent(No vouchers either). Any CA Lottery winners here? I could post My snail Mail address, as I could use the help.

    VBobier Reply:

    Oh and I’m broke most of the time, food and the like are expensive here, some would say that I’m a druggie or that I’m an alcoholic, well I’m not and no I didn’t get much for the mobile home I’m in and yes the SSA knows about It.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Just so we all know, are you a communist? Do you want a dictator? Helps to understand certain arguments.

    Um, why no. I believe that markets are impefect and government must do what markets fail to. I believe that whatever government chooses to do must be done well.

    In regards to the argument above though, I’m quite serious. You have heard of the “Tragedy of the Commons” no? In this case, though we aren’t talking about one more cow… we are talking about one more house. And the reality is that laws like SB 375 are pushing cities to be more cognizant of the infrastructure demands that new housing creates. Laws that were not decreed by will of a dictator.

    Water availability is a serious issue in California. Our biggest export (crops) relies on irrigation. And unless we forcibly move 10 million people out of state, we have to conserve existing resources aggressively or start using pit toilets.

    Nathanael Reply:

    More likely, 10 million people will emigrate from the state voluntarily. But if you aren’t careful about where the houses are built before that happens — then you’ll end up like Michigan.

  6. morris brown
    Dec 19th, 2011 at 09:06

    SF Chronicle.

    Derailed: The embattled California High Speed Rail Authority has put the brakes on some of its millions of dollars in PR spending.


    As we recently reported, in the past two years alone the rail authority has spent $12.5 million on 20 public relations firms – many of them with local political connections – to help pump up support for the $100 billion line from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

    Last week, however, the commission voted to put that hiring on hold. That avoided the prospect of yet another PR fuss as Gov. Jerry Brown prepares to unveil his new state budget next month – a budget that train fans hope will include some of the $2.6 billion critically needed to keep the high-speed rail program chugging along.

    As rail authority board member Dan Richard summed it up: “We are trying to reduce the number of opportunities to shoot ourselves in the foot.”

    Nathanael Reply:

    Well, indeed, if you’re spending money on PR firms *who are doing a crappy job*, you should sack them. So the authority is being wise. Glad you recognize their intelligence and wisdom, Morris. :-)

  7. Elizabeth
    Dec 19th, 2011 at 13:02


    The CHSRA just released the data set they used to reassess California travel patterns. We are hopeful they will post it and we are trying to get it up on our site but it is big (10mb). If anyone wants a copy to play around now, pls email me (elizabeth@calhsr.com) and I can send. The caveat is that it is not a random sample – the documentation in the ridership memo with the biz plan gives some help in trying to make it more representative but the data comes from an online survey.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Who does one have to talk to at the CAHSRA to be notified of these information releases, or was this in response to a request that CARRD had put in?

    Elizabeth Reply:

    This was in response to a request we made. In this particular instance, we were not the only ones to ask for it so they spent some time cleaning it up and making it more user friendly.

    When we ask for anything (and in california, that is very easy – http://www.calhsr.com/resources/open-government/ ) , we usually do so in the form ” please put this on your website. If you won’t do that, please send it to us so we can put it on ours.

    The Authority has gotten noticeably more responsive since our hissy fit this summer http://www.calhsr.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/CARRD-Ridership-Public-Records-Letter-2011-07-26.pdf .

  8. paul dyson
    Dec 19th, 2011 at 15:05

    You’ve got to hand it to the CHSRA and their consultant buddies. They’ve managed to shake down TCAG and Visalia for $800,000 for an almost certainly worthless and duplicative study, money they can ill afford and that should be spent on say local ‘bus service.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    I think the funds they are applying for only require a 20% local match.

    paul dyson Reply:

    So what’s the other 80%, monopoly money?

    datacruncher Reply:

    The other funds are a CAHSRA grant to local agencies for planning.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    I agree – this project is X-mas 24/7 for the consulting industry in California. I am just pointing out that the TCAG and Visalia’s share of the “shake down” is only $160k.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    These grants will be used to ensure good planning in the vicinity of stations. The rhetoric is getting tiring. Do we not want plans that will work to ensure better ridership and land uses that complement HSR stations? Give it a rest. Cities will use the money for staff time and yes some urban planning consultants, who usually do pretty good work with these types of thing (and yes my day job is an urban planning consultant, the type of people type you and Paul et al are demonizing).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    On one hand they whine that there isn’t enough outreach, planning, holistic evaluation etc. Then they complain that there’s too much money being spent on outreach, planning, holistic evaluations etc.

    Walter Reply:

    I complained about exactly this a week or two ago. Yet another reason not to believe CARRD when they say they’re interested in “doing it right.”

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    CAHSRA ensuring good planning? Oh, that’s a good one. How about they spend the money on good planning for their system first?

    joe Reply:

    Planning the station location directly impacts ridership.

    Even if Visalia is funded, the big issue remains where the station would be located — east of Hanford, as Visalia would prefer (closer to Tulare County population centers), or west of Hanford, where the rail authority may face less opposition from Kings County farmers who have been leading the charge against the big project.

    “We will push for an east-of-Hanford station,” Olmos said, adding that “a less convenient location for most of the area’s population west of Highway 99 could affect ridership.”

    Even with Visalia moving forward now, Olmos held out hope Kings County could join the planning effort later.

    joe Reply:

    We value transparency, accountability and oversight and believe local communities should be partners in designing transportation projects. We work to ensure that the public’s interests are upheld and that all facets of the California High Speed Rail project follow both the spirit and letter of the law.
    We do this by encouraging civic engagement, providing indepth and relevant information, and advocating for changes in how projects are planned.

    One of CARRD’s founding members criticizes civic engagement that encourages HSR planning. It’s a shake down.

    An organization that demands accountability and then members criticize the response because responding to civic participation costs money.

    Walter Reply:

    It’s possible to have lots of engagement at low costs. We just need the Authority and everyone they contract with to work for free and agree with the loudest voices they hear.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Ummm… The only remotely competent rail planning in California is being done for free.

    Compare with the $700+ million tax dollars that have been consumed by PBQD and allied consultants and disappeared without trace for “design” and outreach of square wheels.

    It couldn’t be worse, and it certainly couldn’t be more expensive, if you hired the first person you met on the street.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Trust me, it could. What if the first person you met on the street was George W. Bush? I rest my case.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Other than substituting Haliburton for PB, Bush would be no different than what we have now.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Verily the Authority did agree with the loudest voices to be heard: those of Kopp, Diridon and Palmdale real estate developers.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Funny, Walter. Took me a minute to realize that was sarcasm. Good one.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Details of this grant seem to be even smaller than what has been stated. Per the staff report to the Visalia council last night (pg 228):

    “If approved, the grant would primarily be funded by the High Speed Rail Authority ($500,000).
    The planning grant application is proposed to also include a local match comprised of $60,000
    in financial participation and $40,000 in in-kind staff services (total $100,000). On December 5,
    2011, the TCAG Board took action to approve TCAG’s participation in the planning grant an
    allocated funding for the local financial match. There are no City of Visalia funds proposed to
    be allocated for this funding match. ”

    The purpose includes planning for “transit interconnectivity study, downtown transit oriented development studies (for outlying cities with downtown transit centers that will provide transit
    connections to the station)”

    Seems like transit interconnectivity and TOD planning near transit centers in Visalia and other Tulare County cities needs to be done even if they end up connecting to a HSR station in Fresno.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Okay people. Stop the yelling. The devil is always in the details. Well done, well integrated joint planning efforts – three cheers. These efforts make sense if done early so that they can drive the project requirements. They also make sense if the outcome actually becomes part of the project, not just wishful, unfunded thinking.

    I say this having just seen the results of two visioning projects – San Jose and Gilroy. If you hate this project, you will be a big fan of what visioning has resulted in.

    San Jose’s was about picking the color of the concrete. The end result was that San Jose realized it doesn’t want concrete and the city is on the verge of pulling a Bakersfield.

    Gilroy was the cheap alternative through the agricultural preserve vs downtown, assuming and presuming certain speeds and curves and 7000+ parking spaces!!! EVERY participant preferred a downtown station. Just imagine now what will happen when the Authority chooses the one in the agricultural preserve…

    $800k for consultants to help Visalia plan a station area that Hanford doesn’t want and won’t zone for and is not actually included in the plans for the ICS….

    We are HUGE proponents of CSS and the like- but we have also learned the hard way that if it is not done in the right way it will be worse than having not done it at all.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Krause, typical of his ilk, would believe “urban design” is some panacea around stations which themselves are as shittily conceived, mis-designed and as unfit for human transportation purpose as can be imagined.

    Slap some lipstick on that pig!

    Slap a park on top of the white elephantine porker!

    TOD will fix everything, so just pour the concrete and erect the bents, and have us do some Urban Visioning Community Workshops, hooray!

    Jon Reply:

    San Jose realized it doesn’t want concrete and the city is on the verge of pulling a Bakersfield

    Anything to back that up? I would be very happy if San Jose abandoned the ‘iconic bridge’ and went back to the three track at grade option.

    EVERY participant preferred a downtown [Gilroy] station.

    What is your reason for stating that? From everything I’ve read I got the impression that there were voices for and against a downtown station.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Gilroy page 22 http://www.gilroyhighspeedtrain.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Gilroy_HST_CC_StudySession2_handout.pdf , as well as first hand reports

    San Jose last council meeting on this plus personal attendance at San Jose community meeting last week (this was well attended and even so I suspect there were still more consultants than constituents on hand).

    Jon Reply:

    Fair enough. I’m glad that a downtown station is supported for Gilroy. I’m still skeptical that San Jose is going to come out against the project they so forcefully demanded they be included on the mainline of.

    Eric M Reply:

    You were the one complaining and saying it was illegal to build east of 101. So do you support the hugely expensive downtown alignment through Gilroy? You were also complaining about trains running full speed though downtown Fresno, but it is okay in Gilroy?

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Hmmm. Let’s say, 15 years into the process, you finally figure out both station options suck. And oh yes, you have to redo the draft EIR for the second time. Whatever should you do?

    Jon Reply:

    That doesn’t really answer Eric’s question. If both station options suck, where on earth would you put the station?

    It’s statements like this which give the impression that you are opposed to every option, rather than being interested in finding the best option, as you claim you are.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:


    Jon Reply:

    I knew you’d say that. You can have the same debate for a Livermore station if it makes you happy (and I’m sure there would be plenty of opposition to a downtown station in Livermore.) But, for the sake of looking at something which is actually likely to be built, where would you put a Gilroy station if both of the options considered by CAHSR suck?

    StevieB Reply:

    Elizabeth Alexis is on record as saying that HSR is unnecessary at this time and the money would be better spent on education and water needs. Her agenda has been to raise questions about plans and not to provide solutions. Solutions are the purview of the authority.

    Jon Reply:

    That’s kinda my point. Which is fine, so long as no-one is under any illusion that Elizabeth Alexis is actually concerned about good planning.

    It’s more like, “What can I use to beat the authority with this week? Doesn’t matter if it contradicts what I said last week…”

    Jon Reply:

    Incidentally, this (terribly formatted) document sheds some light on the San Jose issue that Ms Alexis was referring to. Basically, San Jose want an underground station, and CAHSR are telling them no.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Jon, if you think someone is contradicting himself or herself, then cite the conflicting statements and provide links to them.

    As for who is responsible for providing solutions, the answer is, “the CHSRA.” It is the CHSRA that is spending public funds to plan the HSR project, and therefore it is the CHSRA that is responsible for coming up with plans that advance the public interest. If the solutions or plans are not good ones, then a public benefit is provided by those people who challenge them, particularly when they use facts to do so. That is true even if the critics have personal reasons for not wanting the project.

    It seems like some people on this blog spend an inordinate amount of time attacking other people’s motivations, or demanding that they satisfy some sort of litmus test, or insisting that certain critics say “something good” about the project.

    Jon Reply:

    It’s hard to know what she is in favor of. That’s why Eric (And now myself) are requesting clarification. The only consistent position she seems to adopt is to be against everything suggested by the authority whatever it may be.

    Specifically, on this thread she repeated implies that she is against going through Bakersfield at full speed, saying that it “forces you to straighten out some curves at a VERY high cost” and describing the impacts of said curves on Bakersfield.

    Yet, above she appears to oppose a Gilroy bypass, saying “both station options suck”. So, if you don’t go through a downtown, and you don’t bypass it, what do you do? I guess there’s the slower speed downtown loop, but that would be the most expensive of all, and cost control is another pet peeve of Ms. Alexis.

    My point is, this is not the approach of someone who wants to see the project done right. (Even Richard M, for all his vitriol, is capable of constructive suggestions for how to build HSR in California.) This is the approach of someone who wants to see the project not done at all.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Incidentally, this (terribly formatted) document sheds some light on the San Jose issue that Ms Alexis was referring to. Basically, San Jose want an underground station, and CAHSR are telling them no.

    Even by the dismal customary PBQD standards of sandbagging, misrepresentation, cherry picking of facts, dissembling, erection of straw men, and outright lying, that document is a doozy.

    125mph design speed past the underground station!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You can have cheap, you can fast or you can have good. You can have fast and cheap but it probably won’t be good. You can have good and cheap but it won’t be fast. You can have fast and good but it won’t be cheap. Can’t on one hand complain that there has been expensive scope creep and then on the other complain that they are going for the cheap option.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:


    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    What a delightful – 404 not found – page.

    That’s what you get for doing it too fast. Might I suggest
    and a second browser, I like Opera for checking links.

    I think you were aiming for

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    No, you may not suggest anything.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Oh go ahead all ya have to do is click the middle mouse button…

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    There’s an icon for that..

    Nathanael Reply:

    Adirondacker is right as usual. The scope creep in Switzerland is well beyond anything we can imagine here. Faced with a choice of whether to build an eastern base tunnel or a western base tunnel, they decided… to build both. Then when they started running out of money they built one and a HALF.

    Admittedly, those decisions came direct from politicians. But then, the ones in California come fro politicians via their paid consultants — I think we know what the common element is here. (And I think politicians are an unavoidable thing.)

    jim Reply:

    It is, of course, as CHSRA is demonstrating, perfectly possible to come up with a plan that’s bad, slow and expensive.

  9. Reality Check
    Dec 19th, 2011 at 15:22

    Siemens press release: Russian Railways orders more high-speed trains from Siemens
    Eight Velaro RUS trains plus long-term maintenance contract — total value around EUR600 ($781) million

    From -40 C to +40 C, Russia’s high-speed trains keep rolling

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Good for the Russians. Now if they could just build a reliable aircraft they’d really be moving ahead…

    Nathanael Reply:

    They can. I’ve flown in Soviet aircraft; they beat the pants of American aircraft as reliable workhorses.

    They were fuel hogs and they were not designed to dump fuel (so bad luck if you’re crashing)… but they’re *reliable*.

  10. morris brown
    Dec 20th, 2011 at 01:12

    Palo Alto adopts language formally opposing high-speed rail project


    The position drafted by Burt and Shepherd reads in part: “The city of Palo Alto believes that the high-speed rail project should be terminated for the following reasons: 1. The current project fundamentally contradicts the measure presented to voters under Prop. 1A in 2008. 2. The business plan is fatally flawed and not credible.”

    This resolution closes the circle that started with the PA council unanimously voting in 2008 to support Prop 1A. PA was offered a station, but when they did some due diligence they soon discovered a station was not in their best interests. Then the local impacts became more and more obvious. At the same time, discussions with the Authority proved that the Authority was not interested in listening, but only in dictating how the project would be built.

    So now, a resolution of outright opposition to the project.

    Hopefully our legislature will come to its senses and cut off any further funding to this hopeless project. I’m not holding my breath on that, however. Gov Brown, if for no other reason, to appease the construction unions to which he owes so much, will try to keep his sheep in line and approve funding the project. All the talk of a re-vote, will soon disappear.

    The current ICS plan and funding will not pass legal challenges and will be drastically changed, more on the path back to the”train to nowhere” track.

    VBobier Reply:

    Drop Dead Morris, go eat Yer kitty food…

    synonymouse Reply:

    On the contrary Morris is on to something quite substantial. Even if the tame machine judiciary rules the CHSRA can do effectively whatever it wants the long term upshot is negative and destabilizing.

    I mean here you have reams, piles, stacks of legalese, and we all know the general purpose of which was to ensure that an hsr comparable to those of Europe and Japan would be built in California, not a marginally upgraded Amtrak. So if it turns out that those volumes of enabling legislation simply enable the day to day, month to month whims of those running the CHSRA there will be serious unhappiness. It is not wise over the long term for the Pelosi patronage machine to wallow in its byzantine pervasive power and arrogance and corrosive manipulation of legal principle. Regimes do peter out. in time.

    After all the current plan is the whimsical amalgam of the fantasies and plots of the likes of Kopp, Diridon, and Palmdale real estate developers. They just took out a map and scabbed together their personal preferences and commercial ambitions.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    Funny, the elevated structures are eliminated and still Palo Alto has to be a bunch of haters who can’t even see they are making progress toward their goals. How about staying involved since you are getting more of what you want? Maybe if Palo Alto leaders were intellegent, they could figure out a way to find additional funding for the trenches they want over time. Nope, City of Palo Alto, CARRD et al have to now become ideologically opposed to HSR regardless of the progess they are making. The public discourse is so sad as so many peole in our society seem to take extremist positions regardless of logic. Polarization is more important than progess. Palo Alto should be happy how things are going with the project. With a bit more effort, they could get a wonderful station that ties downtown to University Ave. corridor (an urban design mess currently) and the track configurations they want. Rather they just want to be obstrutionist. Sad and pathetic.

    Mike Reply:

    Well said, Daniel. Though, Palo Alto being Palo Alto (i.e., self-important, argumentative, narcissistic, vindictive), I guess we shouldn’t expect constructive rationality.

    joe Reply:

    Not everyone in PA hates HSR.

    I think the City just jumped the Shark Tank with the most recent vote to oppose HSR.


    The position drafted by Burt and Shepherd reads in part: “The city of Palo Alto believes that the high-speed rail project should be terminated for the following reasons: 1. The current project fundamentally contradicts the measure presented to voters under Prop. 1A in 2008. 2. The business plan is fatally flawed and not credible.”

    Mayor Sidney Espinosa said the lack of depth was problematic. “It seemed so short it would leave people with questions.”

    Palo Alto resident Bill Nugteren, however, criticized both statements as elitist. Instead, he urged the council to adopt a position that establishes its objections but also recognizes the value of high-speed rail.
    “We are, in my assessment, 50 years late in building high-speed rail,” Nugteren told the council.

    The Mayor is right. People will easily recognize Palo Alto NIMBYs do not want HSR because it upsets their ideals.

    Reality Check Reply:

    The head of Palo Alto’s Downtown Business Association is none other than Russ Cohen, the former Burlingame councilman and co-founder of HSR Boondoggle.

    Today’s Palo Alto Daily Post ran an interesting HSR story entitled “PA rail bridges may claim 100 homes” with the subhead “Council also warns about traffic gridlock”. I’ll try to OCR and post it.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Published Tuesday, December 20, 2011, by the Palo Alto Daily Post

    PA rail bridges may claim 100 homes
    Council also warns about traffic gridlock

    By Jen Nowell
    Daily Post Correspondent

    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.

    Little impact?

    Council members’ comments were in reaction to a consultant’s report that said the rail project would have little impact on the community.

    Although council members expressed their gratitude for the work put into the report by Economic & Planning Systems Inc. (EPS), Burt and Vice Mayor Yiaway Yeh said the report was incorrect in stating that homes near the tracks would see only a 10% reduction in value.

    A wide margin

    Burt pointed out that it is possible that tracks elevated 60 feet into the air will sit only 50 feet from the homes that the report said would see just a 10% reduction in value.

    “That’s not off a little bit, but off a lot,” Burt said.

    He and other council members pointed out that the homes would be affected by noise, vibration and the visual impacts of the train. Whether the train is below-ground, at ground level or above-ground hasn’t been decided.

    Councilman Greg Schmid and Burt faulted the consultant for using the county tax collector’s assessed values of homes, which are often much smaller amounts than the actual value of homes. Darin Smith of EPS said that his firm used a community in New Jersey with railroads in making its projections for the impacts the high-speed railroad would have here.

    We’re not Jersey

    Councilwoman Gail Price commended EPS for using a real-world example in its study, but Schmid said to compare Palo Alto with a community in New Jersey was impossible.

    He said New Jersey was built in the 19th century and its transportation system was built to feed into the thriving city of New York. Palo Alto is not a suburb, he said.

    Schmid also said he was worried about the effect high-speed rail would have on Charleston Road, between the tracks and El Camino Real, where there is already a five- to 10-minute delay during peak hours. He said to add more trains at the Charleston crossing would cause an even greater delay, and that the consultant’s report needed to take that into account.

    Schmid said the traffic problems caused by the new train system would have an impact in other parts of the city, too. “At some point, the businesses (in the Stanford Research Park [entirely west of El Camino Real!]) will throw in the towel and say this is not working. I cannot get the full value of my property” because of the traffic.

    StevieB Reply:

    I look forward to Caltrain funded Caltrain/California HSR Blended Operations Analysis report completion in Summer 1012 when we will have more information on the Palo Alto impacts. I am convinced that the HSR Initial Operating Segment will be to Southern California so there are 15 years to work out the problems in the Peninsula.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Schmid said to compare Palo Alto with a community in New Jersey was impossible.
    He said New Jersey was built in the 19th century and its transportation system was built to feed into the thriving city of New York. Palo Alto is not a suburb, he said.

    The Councilman has to get out more. The only difference between Palo Alto and railroad suburbs all over the world is the species of trees making in it a green leafy suburb and the way the stucco has been slapped on to reproduce whatever Colonial Revival architecture they are aiming for.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Don’t tell Schmid, but most of the Jersey sprawl along the NEC is not suburbs, either. Middlesex County and Mercer County are once-independent urban centers that have experienced extensive job sprawl, but have more jobs than employed residents. In sheer size as well as history, Middlesex County is probably the most similar region in the East to Silicon Valley, complete with the reliance on technology for growth. The only differences: Stanford is a more prestigious school than Rutgers, and Silicon Valley is built around software and computing whereas Middlesex County is built around pharmaceutics.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Mercer County has Princeton…..

    Alon Levy Reply:

    True, but Princeton is an edgeless city, without the employment density of either Silicon Valley or Edison-Woodbridge-New Brunswick.

    Also, Columbia has a T-shirt that says, “Princeton University – they may win… but they’re going back to Jersey.” (Columbia’s football team can go years without winning a single game, but at least it’s in New York.)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Neither of them have Ithaca envy. Or Hanover envy. The meme is Harvard, Princeton, Yale not Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth.
    Princeton Junction, is out in the middle of the edge. And Princeton Junction isn’t in Princeton, it’s in West Windsor. Princeton Borough on the other hand is dense walkable vibrant etc. Until they canceled the Clockers they were a short Dinky ride from the NEC”s equivalent of Kodama. At the rate California is going Stanford might get electric trains by 2035 only a century after Princeton got them.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Had to have a confab with the older cousins. Duh, there would be no Silicon Valley if it wasn’t for Bell Labs. Sarnoff Research Center contributed a few things. All the companies that spun off from AT&T are still mostly in New Jersey. Then there’s the Edison labs. Used to be a big center for electronics when electronics used tubes, that went away when transistors and later integrated circuits were invented. Duh, the destination on the bus used to be “Western Electric”, the Kearney works were huge. Even had it’s own train station to whisk management types to the suburbs. Was and is still big in chemicals. Exxon? Prudential is in Newark… If Rutgers is UC Berkley and Princeton is Stanford, do they have a Seton Hall? How ’bout Fairleigh-Dickinson? Get on the train in Palo Alto you can go to San Francisco or San Jose. Get on the train in New Brunswick ( Or Princeton or Convent Station or Newark ) and you can go to Philadelphia or New York. Ya know I’m beginning to think you can’t compare Silicon Valley to New Jersey…

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    1. “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 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?

    synonymouse Reply:

    No way PAMPA has stopped any and all aerials in its territory. Ring the Bay will in due course prove unstoppable – BART’s power and momentum are that great tho often underestimated by the naive – and PAMPA will simply have to come up with the money for a subway. The poorer burgs will probably cave and be stuck in perpetuity with cheesy, squealing stilts.

    Nathanael Reply:

    You’re making up crap, Morris. PA was offered a serious discussion, but then NIMBYs took over the council and refused to have a serious discussion.

    If they don’t want to have a serious discussion, the trains will go over them on their way to San Francisco. Bad decision, but there you go; you make your bed and you sleep in it.

  11. morris brown
    Dec 20th, 2011 at 01:21

    For the rail buffs, here from Dan Walters some really interesting history.


    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    One question: Where were these farmers–and you–when the freeway system was built, with all its negative impacts?

    The first commentor had an interesting point–maybe we deserve to go back to dirt roads and lanes.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Cal State Hayward Professor Richard Orsi debunked the Mussel Slough “Tragedy” in a his recent book, “Sunset Limited: The Southern Pacific Railroad and the Development of the American West” .

    (The book is not as interesting as it sounds…)

    Southern Pacific owned the land legally and was willing to purchase it at a fair price but the settlers wouldn’t budge, so the railroad evicted them.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Wikipedia also has a Mussel Slough Tragedy entry.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    Comparing CHSRA to the gangster-like land grabbers pictured in “The Octopus” seems a bit far-fetched. Van Ark, a robber baron?

    synonymouse Reply:

    As they used to say in the movies: “Why don’t you take on someone your own size?”

    Let’s see if Van Ark et al has the stones to take on the Chandlers and Disney.

  12. morris brown
    Dec 20th, 2011 at 01:29

    Visalia council delays decision to seek grant for Hanford rail station

    The Visalia City Council tabled a staff request Monday night to join the Tulare County Council of Governments in seeking a $600,000 grant from the California High Speed Rail Authority to plan for a potential high speed rail station near Hanford.

    The Council delayed the vote until Jan. 17 and directed city staff to meet in the meantime with

    The Council delayed the vote until Jan. 17 and directed city staff to meet in the meantime with Hanford and Kings County officials, who have opposed the state’s high-speed rail project.

    A contingent of more than a dozen Kings County residents that included county supervisors Doug Verboon and Richard Valle clearly voiced their opposition to the Tulare County agencies seeking the grant at the meeting.


    datacruncher Reply:

    Kings County originally applied for this same grant, then turned it down, and is now concerned someone else might get the money and wants it available in case Kings County changes its mind.

    From the original article Robert posted: “But the news that Visalia would apply with TCAG for the money KCAG has turned down was still a surprise. ”If Visalia takes the funding, there will be no money left if we change our minds” after some key decisions on the project are made, King added. “

    VBobier Reply:

    Oh too bad Kings County Losers, Go Tulare!

  13. D. P. Lubic
    Dec 20th, 2011 at 04:08

    Off topic, but another tie-in with the generational discussion. . .

    Along with other rail enthusiasts, I think the movie people rarely get railroads right on film. It seems most movie people don’t know a thing about railroad and train operation, can’t get the look right, and as recently commented upon in another thread, can’t even get the sound right (a recent episode of “Boardwalk Empire” featured Pennsylvania Railroad steam trains and diesel sound effects, and that doesn’t include all the examples of poor sound synchronization I’ve seen over the years, with whistle sounds with no steam from the whistle, exhausts at wrong speed, etc.)

    Fritz Plous of Chicago has seen a film he thinks has gotten railroads right (alas, the location is France); his review, which is also from a perspective of someone desiring modern rail service, has what I believe may be parallels to those who promoters of heritage railroading.

    A Tale Of Rediscovery

    Reprinted With Permission
    Published In The Newsletter Of The Midwest High-Speed Rail Association
    By F. K. Plous
    DECEMBER 6 — I confess I was a little suspicious when my wife suggested we go check out Martin Scorsese’s new film “Hugo.” She knows I’m working on a book about the great downtown railroad stations of North America, so when she said, “You should like it — it’s set in a railroad station,” I could feel her pitching one straight to my strike zone.

    So why did I bristle? Because I’ve been burned so many times by entertainment that bungles rail history or technology. Whenever somebody suggests a movie, book or television program with a railroad theme or setting, I just know that at some point the work is going to get the railroading wrong. Either there will be an anachronism — a 1920s scene with a steam locomotive that wasn’t designed until the ‘30s, for example, or a sleeping-car porter dressed in a conductor’s uniform, or passengers traveling on a European train will board a coach that any rail fan would easily recognize as American.

    But in “Hugo” Scorsese doesn’t commit any of those blunders. He takes one modest piece of artistic license by telescoping the now demolished Gare Montparnasse into the still extant Gare du Nord, but in all other respects his 1930-era story is respectful toward railroading, including the hardware, the rituals and the costumes. Although the story isn’t “about” trains, the trains and the vast station are used with care to further a story about a plucky and resourceful orphan boy who lives alone in the steam-punk world of the station’s gigantic clockworks while trying to decode the operation of a mechanical man that his clock-maker father left unfinished when he died.

    As you’ve probably learned from the rave reviews that already have appeared — if not from the film itself — the boy’s research entangles him with the elderly and grumpy proprietor of the station’s toy store, played to perfection by Ben Kingsley. “Papa Georges,” as Kingsley’s character is called, turns out to be none other than the great pioneer French film-maker Georges Méliès, reduced to selling toys in a railroad station because his studio went bust, tastes have changed and the public has forgotten his huge contributions to the foundations of cinema.

    Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert loved “Hugo,” which he called Scorsese’s valentine to the art of film-making and a belated tribute to one of its once-forgotten pioneers. When the movie opens, Kingsley’s character insists he is nothing more than what he appears — an old man running a little shop in a railroad station. But as young Hugo becomes friends with the old man’s niece, and as he spends more time at their apartment, he discovers that “Papa Georges” actually is concealing a great secret — his titanic achievements as a producer-director-actor-stunt man, proprietor of the first film studio ever built and even an early cartoonist and animator.

    (Spoiler Alert: Thanks to little Hugo’s discovery, Méliès receives the public recognition that had eluded him and in a grand ceremony re-introducing him to the Paris art world he addresses the camera with the tongue-in-cheek observation that “Happy endings happen only in the movies.” The power of this scene was retroactively enhanced by my later discovery that in his lifetime Méliès was indeed rediscovered and awarded the tributes and recognition he deserved — though without the help of any orphans hiding in clocks.)

    “‘Hugo’ is unlike any other film Martin Scorsese has ever made, and yet possibly the closest to his heart: a big-budget, family epic in 3-D, and in some ways, a mirror of his own life,” Ebert writes. “We feel a great artist has been given command of the tools and resources he needs to make a movie about — movies.”

    Ebert is entirely correct: “Hugo” is about the movies, and it is a long-overdue homage to one of the great practical visionaries who developed them as a technology, an art and a business.

    But it’s also about something else — the loss and recovery of reputation — and that in itself ought to give American rail advocates some grounds for reassurance and excitement. For passenger trains in America suffered something very much akin to what happened to Georges Méliès in France: For a variety of reasons the public shunned them and then forgot about them, only to rediscover them and eventually re-embrace them — a process which in this country is only now beginning.

    Cultural forgetting-followed-by-rediscovery is not limited to trains and movie directors. Does anyone now remember that the same thing happened to Johann Sebastian Bach? When my aunt took me to symphony concerts during my high-school years in the mid-1950s, I never heard a note of Bach — or Vivaldi, or Couperin, or Pachelbel or Buxtehude or any of the other Baroque masters — because their music had been in a sort of cultural eclipse for 150 years. By the middle of the 20th century the standard concert repertoire was limited almost entirely to the 19th-century Romantics — Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Schuman, Mendelsohn — certainly nothing earlier than the 18th-century geniuses Hayden and Mozart plus a few early-20th-century composers such as Rachmaninoff and Ravel. Although our music-appreciation teacher told us the giants of music were the famous “Three Bs” — Bach, Beethoven and Brahms — she never actually played us any samples of the first “B:” too weird, too obscure for contemporary audiences.

    But even as the contemporary culture mavens were airbrushing Bach out of the musical picture, the Polish harpsichordist Wanda Landowska and the Catalan cellist Pablo Casals were painting him back in. Their recordings sold slowly at first, then gathered momentum, so that by the time I entered the University of Illinois in the fall of 1958, some of the edgier guys in the dormitory were waving record albums at me and beckoning me to listen to the latest recording on the Angel label, which specialized in the burgeoning Baroque revival. “You ever hear this guy?” they would say, sitting me down to a little Vivaldi. “He does some amazing stuff.” By the time I entered grad school, Baroque music was all the rage. By 1970, Pachelbel’s Canon in d major had become a cult hit, and after Robert Redford used it as the theme for his 1980 directorial debut film “Ordinary People,” it escaped from cultdom to become a nationwide pop sensation and was widely adopted for use in weddings. Obscure no more, Baroque music is common enough today to be used in car commercials and occasionally even woven into rock music.

    Tastes change — in both directions. Entire pavilions of cultural achievement — in art, technology and commerce — are neglected, disdained, ransacked, shuttered, the heat turned off — only to be rediscovered, rehabilitated and re-opened again by a later generation flushed with the fever of rediscovery. Reputations are restored to their rightful owners, and appreciation resumes at a higher level, except among politicians, of course.

    How many of that species can you name who listen to Bach or recognize the name of Méliès? Probably about as many as have ridden a train. That’s unfortunate, because the second life of passenger trains in America cannot go forward without political support.

    But even if the politicians are always the last to know, they still get there eventually, which means America eventually will get its trains. There’s no need to worry about the petroleum lobby or the highway barons. The trains are coming back simply because their time has come again and the historical spotlight has found them.

    Time is like that: It causes things to go into hibernation and then it causes them to wake to renewed strength. A fresh generation of Americans has arrived bringing a fresh point of view and doing things differently. The kids don’t want to drive the way their parents did. They want to keep using their electronics while they travel, and cars won’t let them, so month by month Amtrak’s ridership keeps climbing — and so does transit and Megabus ridership. Americans are awakening from the spell of the car the way concert audiences awoke from the spell of the Romantics. The trains are coming back just as surely as Bach and Méliès came back. Depend upon it.

    Be of good cheer, everybody. Merry Christmas. Be sure to see “Hugo,” and be sure to bring your kids — and the kid in you.

    Fritz K. Plous is a former Chicago & North Western Railway. brakeman and former Chicago Sun-Times reporter who currently serves as director of communications at Corridor Capital LLC, Chicago.

    My source of the above:

    http://www.nationalcorridors.org/df3/df … html#ATale

    Sounds like it might be a movie to see. I also wonder if the “conservative” types will call it “socialist rail propaganda,” in the spirit of accusing the Muppets of being anti-capitalist. . .

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    Very intelligent and insightful. A pity none of his qualities are ever found in political deciders.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Wow. That’s one hell of an essay. As a baroque music fan (Monteverdi please!) it used two things I know about as examples, meaning I know personally how accurate it is. Thanks.

  14. Roger Christensen
    Dec 20th, 2011 at 16:44

    The anti-capitalist Muppets, in their recent film, ride Angel’s Flight.

  15. morris brown
    Dec 20th, 2011 at 18:13

    House Republicans want inquiry into California high-speed rail


    Led by House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the GOP lawmakers formally requested a review by the Government Accountability Office. In particular, the congressional skeptics want a closer look at California’s ridership and cost projections.

    Now if the GAO comes out with a highly critical report, Robert will be saying the GAO is uniformed and partisan.

    Our State legislature has chosen to pretty much ignore what the LAO has to say abut this disaster in the making, so let us see what a Federal Audit will reveal.

    Jack Reply:

    That’s because the LAO has an agenda and still refuses to answer questions. I have more faith in the GAO even if the audit is at the request of the opposition. I am sure they will conduct a fair and reasonable audit and come to a sane conclusion. Unlike the LAO who’s methods are questionable at best and dubious at least, I mean how do you conduct a report and not ask the FRA?? Ya rly??

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Ignoring the FRA would have to be the single smartest thing that anybody undertaking any activity in any way related to passenger rail could possibly do.

    So hooray for the California LAO.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Deciding the FRA is wrong is one thing. Not asking them questions is another, much stupider thing.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    The LAO is mainly interested in budgeting, and ensuring programs get funding. Since the FRA has no control over future HSR appropriations, why waste time asking FRA questions they don’t have the answer to?

  16. Rick Rong
    Dec 20th, 2011 at 18:20

    Morris, can you provide some facts, and corresponding links, to back up your statement, “Our State legislature has chosen to pretty much ignore what the LAO has to say . . .”?

  17. Rick Rong
    Dec 22nd, 2011 at 17:28

    Morris, on December 20, at 18:20, I asked if you could provide some facts, and corresponding links, to back up your statement, “Our State legislature has chosen to pretty much ignore what the LAO has to say . . .”? I assume it was an oversight on your part, but you have not yet responded. Could you cast some light on this for me and for whomever else it may interest?

    morris brown Reply:

    @Rick Rong

    Quite frankly, being very blunt, your request doesn’t deserve a reply. If you have been following the project or if you had done your own research, you would know that none of the LAO’s requests have been adopted; essentially the Legislature’s own non-partisan group, the LAO, has been ignored, by the Democratic majority in both houses.

    Ask other bloggers here to relate to you, what actions the LAO recommended have been presently implemented.

    This is certainly the state of affairs at the present time. There is a possibility, I suppose, that the legislature might in the future, during next year’s budget hearings, take some actions, recommended by the LAO. I doubt that will happen; the Governor controls, and he is hell bent on going to a ground breaking event next fall and touting this project as his legacy.

    He and I and Diridon will not be around long enough to see the outcome.

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