Gilroy Votes for Downtown HSR Station

Feb 28th, 2012 | Posted by

Some good news out of Gilroy this week:

Council members voted 5-2 for a rail station in downtown Gilroy and opposed any kind of aerial track during a special study session on Monday. The study session was designed to get the council’s take on where Gilroy’s future High Speed Rail station should be built: either downtown or on the east side Highway 101, north of Leavesly Road.

Well, I don’t see the sense in opposing aerial track – as we’ve repeatedly explained before, it hasn’t turned cities like Albany or neighborhoods like Rockridge into ghost towns. Many places around the world have designed aerial tracks well. That can happen in Gilroy too.

Still, the key is that Gilroy is making the right choice in backing a downtown station. Building east of 101, near the outlet mall, would be the kiss of death for downtown Gilroy, drawing new construction away toward greenfields and farmlands where residents have already spent years fighting off developers and Wal-Mart. Last summer Gilroy residents and councilmembers expressed these very concerns and have acted on them by rightly voting to channel development into the existing city center.

A downtown station enables great transit-oriented development, with downtown San José and San Francisco a short train ride away, with downtown LA about two hours away (the same amount of time it can take to drive to SF on a busy day). It builds on the economic base that’s already there, and downtown Gilroy certainly has room to grow upward. It also allows cross-platform transfers to connecting rail service, especially to the Monterey Bay region.

We’ve previously discussed how HSR will benefit Gilroy, including how it could develop like other mid-line cities such as Ciudad Real in Spain. Putting a station downtown enables Gilroy to gain the maximum benefits from an HSR station. Even if they insist on trenching the tracks.

  1. J. Wong
    Feb 28th, 2012 at 20:27
    #1

    I’d definitely take HSR to the Garlic Festival from SF.

  2. jimsf
    Feb 28th, 2012 at 20:39
    #2

    This is great news and leave open plenty of connection possibilities. a 15 minute trip between downtown sj and downtown gilroy is a dream compared the drive on the 101.

  3. Paulus Magnus
    Feb 28th, 2012 at 20:44
    #3

    I need an excuse for popcorn:

    This will be rendered irrelevant by CAHSRA reverting to Altamont.

    VBobier Reply:

    Considering the UPRR practically owns Altamont, I would think that unlikely.

    synonymouse Reply:

    With LA having easily vetoed Tejon they have established the veto precedent for San Jose to quash Altamont. San Jose is part of the same triumvirate, along with LA and Fresno, that drew the map of the CHSRA. I consider Altamont every bit as dead as Tejon, which stood to save very large amounts of money and travel time yet still spurned for corrupt political reasons. San Jose dictates planning in the north as LA in the south.

    Clem Reply:

    A green-field alignment through Altamont is the only practical way to make the trains go fast.

    jimsf Reply:

    aren’t the speeds roughly going to be 125 sf-gilroy (44 min) 220 gilroy to palmdale – (1:35 min) 125 palmdale to lax 27 min

    Clem Reply:

    No, they were planning to accelerate to 220 from just south of Tamien. There’s ample time and distance to reach 220 by Gilroy.

    jimsf Reply:

    hmm well it says the trip from sf to gilroy is 79 miles in 44 minutes. you can do that at 125 right

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    107. Go through the 60MPH curves at 107 the train might fall off the tracks. Passengers who want to board or alight at San Jose or SFO will be expecting the train to stop.

    jimsf Reply:

    oh i was just thinking in terms of the sf la express train which needs to make the 2:40 time. and Im going by the time and mileage posted on the ca hsr site.

    jimsf Reply:

    are the mountain passes being engineered for 220? ( pacheco and bfd pmd)

    Clem Reply:

    We’ve not seen anything specific, but usually not. On long grades, going up you lose speed and going down you need to check your speed because otherwise your brake heat capacity is insufficient to stop the train (i.e. the train’s kinetic energy plus the potential energy acquired over the stopping distance will burn up the brakes.) Bottom line: you can’t run downhill at 220 mph on a 3.5% grade.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    At these speeds, you will have regenerative brakes; maybe supported with Eddy current brakes, but you can be sure that mechanical brakes won’t be used.

    TGVs reach 300 km/h (the line speed) at the end of 3.5% grades (however, this happens in rolling hill terrain, where after a 3.5% grade downhill, another 3.5% grade uphill follows). So, nothing unusual.

    Anyway, you can count on it that traditional mechanical brakes (in other words, disk brakes) are rarely used at speed above 200 km/h, and that modern rolling stock can brake down to standstill without mechanical brakes.

    Clem Reply:

    Flat out wrong, Max. The relevant scenario is emergency braking without use of regenerative braking. It’s all mechanical, and the brakes get quite literally red hot. That’s why a TGV has four massive steel brake disks on most axles.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Clem’s link didn’t work for me … but this one of four massive brake disks is likely the same image Clem was trying to link to.

    jimsf Reply:

    ina nay case, can the express train go 370 miles from gilroy to la in 1:57? Thats what the website says. That’s a nonstop train at about 180mph.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Yes, that 180mph average speed stands out. Color me skeptical.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    That’s pretty fast, but if my past “eyeballing” of average vs. peak speeds is any indication, that would put the top speed at around 210-220. That’s what the top end for your system is supposed to be, so it may well be doable.

    What would be and is skeptical for me about the very fast running being proposed for California would be track and wire maintenance. It’s critical for fast running even at speeds well below the proposed 220 mph top, and it’s expensive, too. Can this system make enough to cover this? More importantly, will the dedication to keeping track and rolling equipment in this condition remain high and not waver? Politicians have shown a bad habit of wanting to scrimp on maintenance over time. . .

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Finally got around to looking at Clem’s photo, and those brakes do look impressive, but I’m curious that the brakes do not seem to have cooling provisions.

    Most disc brakes I know of, including the ones used on rail cars (pioneered by Budd in 1938, by the way), use a disk that’s hollow, with cooling fins inside, to dissipate heat. These hollow discs and fins are visible in this photo of a Pioneer III motor truck; in this case, the discs are in an outboard position, while the truck frame is inboard. Also note that PCC-like right-angle drive, another item that was non-standard for the Pioneer III, or Silverliner:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Budd-Pioneer-III-truck.jpg

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pioneer_III_(railcar)

    http://www.mikesrails.com/2011/12/railroad-museum-rolling-stock-100-101.html

    Clem Reply:

    Vented disk brakes add drag at high speed. The original TGV Sud-Est had them (see photo). All TGVs since have used unvented designs to reduce drag, and also because an emergency braking event occurs more quickly than the venting is effective. The trade off is that the brakes take longer to cool, once stopped. Current-generation brake disks can absorb about 20 megajoules each.

    joe Reply:

    Yes, it is always darkest before the dawn.

    The HSR track can turn West from the CV cities and cross the Pacheco Pass and enter into Gilroy, and then pass North through unincorporated land and then Morgan Hill and then San Jose. Using math, I count three cities.

    HSR in Morgan Hill would probably bypass the town and run near highway 101.

    So it’s pretty easy to see how Gilroy’s endorsement of an alignment would greatly reduce NIMBY risk. This helps nail the alignment down.

  4. joe
    Feb 28th, 2012 at 20:51
    #4

    yay.

    Not a surprise but the City held public meetings and envisioning events where Gilroy solicited input from residents. I think they documented the choices and reasoning and gave us residents time to comment.

    The city realized HSR was coming and being proactive in recommending alignments and track would help us stay engaged. Very different thinking that PAMPA which I think assumes they grant HSR permission and can extort the project for local gain.

    FYI, The old 101 ran through the downtown, trucks and all. Loud and rumbling. Old timers tell me they came through pretty fast.

    The downtown at grade station would allow the city to include the UP tracks along side. The trench option would only support HSR while the UP tracks would remain separate with separate crossings.

  5. joe
    Feb 28th, 2012 at 20:56
    #5

    A plug for the local paper

    http://www.gilroydispatch.com/news/city_local_government/city-talks-bullet-train-bracco-s-eligibility-for-council/article_ed09569c-623a-11e1-a44e-0019bb30f31a.html

    Monday’s recommendation marks culmination of a station area visioning study the city began almost a year ago in April 2011. The objective was two-fold, aimed at (1) engaging the community with an outreach program explaining the options for two possible station locations in Gilroy – through downtown or east of the Gilroy Outlets, and (2) drawing up a plan that outlines the major differences between the two options. The plan was created to help City Council make a recommendation for a preferred station location.

    Amid swirling questions and ongoing discussion on whether the bullet train – a $98.5 billion project – will ever come to fruition, City Transportation Engineer Don Dey reminded in Monday’s staff report that “California Governor Jerry Brown has declared his intention to make this project a reality…there is no evidence that CHSRA is slowing in its effort to prepare its environmental impact reports and proceed with the initial construction of the Central Valley section of the system this coming fall.”

    heh.

    Clem Reply:

    The latest program management reports out of PB show a very large spend rate (~$50M/year) is planned on SJ – Merced in FY12/13.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    So much for a useful IOS then…

  6. jimsf
    Feb 28th, 2012 at 21:04
    #6

    Im looking at my watch and waiting for all the comments about how the downtown station will be the ruin of the project….

  7. synonymouse
    Feb 28th, 2012 at 21:04
    #7

    May those who pimp aerials be forced to live right under one in their next reincarnation.

  8. jimsf
    Feb 28th, 2012 at 21:15
    #8

    any renderings of possible station designs?

    joe Reply:

    http://www.gilroyhighspeedtrain.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Vision_Report_PublicReviewDraft_0212_web.pdf

    I’ll look for more and post if i find them on-line

    jimsf Reply:

    i like the glass sound barriers.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Note that this report does not show where the 6,500 parking spaces are to be located.

    Tony d. Reply:

    There’s a huge plot of land at the SW corner of 10th Street and the UPRR tracks that was recently cleared of old warehouse structures. This plot would make for an excellent HSR parking structure, complete with pedestrian bridge to the north and easy access to 101 via 10th Street or Monterey Street.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    To put in perspective, this is 1500 parking spaces.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Is that for surface parking or garage structure?

    jimsf Reply:

    It doesnt have to look like that. It can look like this too

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You can engineer parking garages to look nice, but it costs a lot of money. They do it in Monaco, where land costs are so high that this becomes financially justified, but not in other cities. Even in Manhattan, many parking garages look like ugly parking garages.

    jimsf Reply:

    isnt it more liekly that they would start with regular parking lot on the ground. then add space as needed over the years. Sun Valley Mall in Concord did that. So did Concord Bart. There is room to put 500 spaces on the other side of the station.

    joe Reply:

    Envisioning study consider parking.

    For reference: There are 1,100+ parking spaces in just front of the Gilroy Target/Kohn’s shopping area just across HW 101 near the train station. Easily the city has allowed 6,600 to pop up just for the retail complex on the east side.

    Why build all 6,600 spots at once anyway? We’ll never need them given current trends.

    The parking estimate is driven by the ridership model assumptions – users will drive and ride HSR – that is a simplifying assumption in the ridership model to reduce the complexity of locating/modeling stations near or far from public transportation hubs.

    Okay that’s fine but it’s a start, not the final design on ridership or use.

    The Gilroy Station is the proposed Caltrain station which is also the local and regional transportation hub (insert cough here) which has local and regional and express VTA stops, Greyhound, Monterey MST bus stops and San Benito Co. shuttles for Caltrain.

    So HSR can do trades, e.g. move 2,000 car based trips to bus trips if the station doubles as a bus terminal with X capacity. One could ride a bus to/from the Monterey Transit center to Gilroy HSR.

    There are 4 M tourists that visit the Monterey area and Gilroy is the Historic gateway city.

  9. flowmotion
    Feb 28th, 2012 at 21:41
    #9

    And five years later, all the Gilroy NIMBYs will come out and demand that the route be tunneled through downtown.

    joe Reply:

    Uhh. NIMBY’s are there now fighting and speaking at the council meetings with clockwork regularity.

    The city wisely took the time to engage the community with the envisioning project; selected the downtown alignment to revitalize downtown and is pushing a trench to minimize visual impact in a city center that tops off at 3 stories.

    Clem Reply:

    Revitalization using OPM is heady stuff.

    joe Reply:

    OPM being ?

    Clem Reply:

    Sorry. Other People’s Money

    joe Reply:

    Last time I checked, Gilroy was a tax paying community in the State of California.

    Doesn’t OPM pay for the subsidized Cal-train and VTA service we both use?

    We have a civic obligation to engage the State which asks us to give up city property and accept massive changes to our local environment for accommodating a CA wide infrastructure.

    The recommendation for the Downtown alignment will produce more tax revenue for CA, reduce land use impacts on prime farm land and revitalize a historic community – all primary concerns of the State and Governor but NOT metrics for the CAHSRA.

  10. Clem
    Feb 28th, 2012 at 22:19
    #10

    This decision was made without regard to cost… blank check engineering of the worst kind. There is no way in hell they’ll get a trench. A below-grade downtown station would require a 6000 foot long trench with four tracks, at least 120 feet wide (not including vertical circulation) in the area of the 1370′ long platforms, and approximately 90 feet wide over the remaining length of the facility (which requires long acceleration/deceleration tracks, akin to a freeway merge lane). That’s several times larger than the gargantuan hole now being dug at Transbay in SF, for $400 million unfurnished.

    joe Reply:

    What decision? Same old broken record about cost and blank check engineering. Ready, fire aim.

    There’s no design beyond envisioning the cost benefits of the alignments and stations.

    The City council and mayor recognize and state they are make non-binding recommendations.

    No one is getting anything. No one’s made a demand either for free stuff like PAMPA.

    I fully expect to lobby and advocate for Gilroy to go ahead and do cost-sharing for a trench IF IT EVENTUALLY comes down to that’s the final decision on alignment.

    I also think by being an early cooperative partner, the city might get help trenching as it does save CA money to proactively engage the CAHSRA and not sue to block a project and put funding at risk like PAMPA and their lawsuit.

    Clem Reply:

    OK. So this non-binding recommendation (not decision) is roughly zero percent likely to be followed by the CHSRA. That’s all I’m pointing out, nothing more. I note that all the documentation ignores the need for the 90-foot wide, mile-long four-track section– although it includes lots of pictures of people at community meetings presumably getting really really informed.

    joe Reply:

    Zero percent of what quantity? Apparently you assert the station will be Above grade and in a pepper field.

    We’ve tried to quantify the trades for the CAHSR station – it is our “finding of fact” and using it the city made a recommendation.

    I’m confident Gilroy has asked city engineers to estimate (or get an estimate) on a trench alignment and the specifics of the trench design need to be refined. I doubt obvious features of a trench were ignored.

    In meetings, the City discussed the projected impact of land acquisition and elimination of Railroad St if the city recommends a trench. I’ve seen impacted residents land owners at meetings and the council and residents are familiar with each other and asking “How big is the trench” ? “Can it be covered”. The city has directed the planning dept to assist in the envisioning study to ground the outreach activity.

    This is also a multi-step process – the envisioning process looked at cost benefit from GILROY’s perspective. Not cost-benefit for CAHSRA engineers. The City can expect to gain X with the downtown alignment and Y with the pepper field alignment and X > Y so we want X. We think X-Y=A A and the price for acquiring A is worth the downtown investment.

    Jonathan Reply:

    There’s not going to _be_ a trench unless Gilroy pays for most of the cost.
    Jerry Brown has said that the $98m YOE cost is out of line. He’s installed new management at
    CSHRA. If the new management is installed to cut costs, do you really think they’re going to pay for trenches? Gilroy’s choices were out-of-town at-grade, or in-town with modified grade separation.
    Gilroy has announced a “finding of fact” that .. they want a gold-plated Cadillac station that someone else will pay for. As for talk of cost/benefit: who costed out the trench?

    joe Reply:

    Jonathan;

    Gilroy didn’t mandate a “gold plated” tench and didn’t say they would not cost share on any aspect of the project. They recognize this is a recommendation by the City. The new guys at HSR promise to be more cooperative so your hard-ass interpretation is unsubstantiated.

    Despite your insight, the CAHSRA did not correct Gilroy’s trench option and could have so it’s not the impossibility you insist. Van Ark visited recently and knew exactly where the study was headed with preliminary reports.

    The City did a cost benefit of alignments and stations for it’s perspective and with anticipated impacts – that is their job.

    FYI the downtown alignment produces more tax revenue for CA. It preserves land and revitalizes the city.

    The CAHSRA can tell Gilroy the trench is cost X. That is part of the planning process. Gilroy can negotiate the costs and there is absolutely no reason the CAHSR would not consider cost sharing with a cooperative partner.

    None.

    In fact, I propose they will to demonstrate the benefit of cooperating otherwise there is no incentive to not resist at all costs and drive up costs.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Are you saying that Gilroy’s recommendation and “cost-benefit analysis” did not in fact include cost estimates of the trench? That seems to be the implication of your “the CSHRA can tell Girly the trench cost is X”.

    if so, the “cost benefit” is meaningless. GIGO.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But it’s context sensitive community driven GIGO.

    Jon Reply:

    All they decided was they didn’t want aerial structures. That leaves the trench and ‘modified at-grade’, which is essentially a small retained fill of 0-16ft in height with roads passing underneath. A trench is unlikely but I would not be surprised at all if CAHSR goes for modified at-grade.

    joe Reply:

    This is the beginning. The CAHSRA didn’t directly participate in the envisioning study. I’m sure they responding to requests but the project was initiated by City of Gilroy independently.

    Gilroy’s recommendation starts a discussion and it might be the CAHSRA describes their plans and options which should clarify misconceptions and areas of disagreement.

    The benefit of the modified at grade station is it includes the UP tracks in grade crossings. It maybe that the city projects tax revenue gains from the downtown alignment and quality of life benefits and decides to issue bonds to co-pay for a trench.

    Peter Reply:

    I agree with Jon that a trench is a non-starter. It’s significantly more expensive than the modified at-grade, while simultaneously not solving the lack-of-UPRR/Caltrain-grade-separation issue.

    joe Reply:

    while simultaneously not solving the lack-of-UPRR/Caltrain-grade-separation issue.
    ?

    The trench is only for HSR.

    UPRR is at grade and this is the Caltrain terminus – i.e. they ain’t running 110 MPH in downtown Gilroy.

    Peter Reply:

    The trench is only for HSR.

    I know.

    UPRR is at grade and this is the Caltrain terminus – i.e. they ain’t running 110 MPH in downtown Gilroy.

    Note the words “not solving” the “issue”. The lack of grade separation for Caltrain and UPRR would continue to cause significant noise impacts (horns blowing, crossing gate bells, etc). This problem would be solved with modified at-grade, but NOT with a trench.

    THAT was my point.

    joe Reply:

    My point is we are not complaining about UP horns or noise on the current ROW so how it is a failure? To whom – outside interests?

    We’re okay with not including the UP ROW if the HSR tracks are trenched. The city voted.

    Peter Reply:

    In other words, Gilroy enjoys having grade crossings?

    jimsf Reply:

    Isnt there a way to use landscped earthen berms and other features along side a grade level row that would reduce noise and visual impact. I think there is rom for this on the approaches to gilroy station.

    jimsf Reply:

    something like this

    jimsf Reply:

    hmmm. like this

    jimsf Reply:

    Cant they just do something like this

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    That’s weird, not for the scenic treatment, but how everything on one side of the railroad is green, and on the other, it’s brown.

    I hope you have enough water out there.

    William Reply:

    @Clem

    I agree that the trench option is expensive and with limited benefits, therefore should be dropped.

    However, I think the “modified at-grade” option has a good chance to be adopted by CAHSRA primary not only because it can be the cheapest due to no aerial structures, but also has recommendation from Gilroy’s HSR vision workshop.

    The one major difference from CASHRA’s original plan was that Caltrain and UP ROW would be grade-separated along with HSR, which, I think, CAHSRA would gladly paid for to gain community support.

  11. jimsf
    Feb 29th, 2012 at 08:51
    #11

    IF an elevated is needed, then parking spaces can be underneath.

  12. Peter
    Feb 29th, 2012 at 11:18
    #12

    Interesting development: Dan Richard open to reconsidering SR-99.

    This could be possible because construction on Fresno-Bakersfield will likely begin well after Merced-Fresno, anyway. If UP says “ok”, I’m all for it.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I don’t see how you inflect the right of way and retain the ability to reach top speeds.

    jimsf Reply:

    Is it the 99 or the UP row? Two different things.

    Peter Reply:

    Uhhh, they’ll have to take cuts out of farmland. Either option is going to be unpopular. It may simply come down to which option is least unpopular.

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    FSK (Fowler Selma Kingsburg) will squeal louder than Hanford.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “He basically ruled out any route along Interstate 5, saying it would create development on the Westside where little water is available and would affect more farmland by requiring several lateral tracks from cities along Highway 99.”

    What a total crock. He is basing his lateral track on the moronic Tehachapi DeTour. No stops, no more development than would occur if no hsr at all.

    Richard would gain credibility, just as Van Ark did by honestly broaching Tejon, by admitting that there is prevailing political pressure emanating from Fresno against I-5. Just like Palmdale they want a regional quasi-BART paid for by the State’s taxpayers at large. The farmers are not stupid – they know it is Fresno and the other towns that oppose I-5.

    The development issue is a totally fraudulent, just as much a canard as “green” hsr. Everything about this megaproject is to foster and enable unlimited population growth. The Tejon Ranch gang are a total bunch of phonies as they know full well that the population bomb will carpet their holdings with gas stations, tracts, freeways, strip malls within a few decades. They should worry about the impact of a couple of railroad tracks, and mostly in tunnel at that.

    Jack Reply:

    Population along the 99 > Population along the 5

    Trains need to go where the people are.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But if from you multi-million dollar condo along the coast “nobody” lives in the Central Valley, what’s the point? Especially if the cities there are Nowhere… there’s gotta be someplace called Nowhere in the Central Valley because people keep talking about the train to Nowhere…..

    jimsf Reply:

    Nowhere Ca is located between Kettleman City and Buttonwillow. Right about here near the lost hills Lost, obvioulsy because they are locate in Nowhere. Notice how you can’t see them.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Jack

    Yes – San Francisco and LA.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Developers have already been trying to push thru I-5 projects such as Quay Valley near Kettleman City.
    http://www.growholdings.com/quayvalley/location.html

    If HSR goes on I-5 the state politicians would soon cave in to those development interests and allow a station to be built serving new towns (they’d probably name it the Kings-Tulare Regional Station ;) ).

    With a station nearby probably some of the fallow land in the Westlands Water District would draw developer interest too.

    datacruncher Reply:

    I sometime think the unions favor I-5. They know additional track and trains would end up serving the 99 corridor cities. They’d get 2 different operations with 2 different locals and 2 sets of work rules.

    synonymouse Reply:

    In this case the unions would be correct.

    The Tejon Ranch is much closer to LA and more attractive. There will be huge development pressure no matter what. The management there is just being professionally stupid and shortsighted.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or extraordinarily farsighted. Hold onto the land for a century or two and sell it off the the far richer middle class of 2250.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There will be no middle class in 2050 California Hugo-World.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    2250, two hundred and thirty eight years from now.

    synonymouse Reply:

    California has put on the t-shirt that reads “Trouble Comes Looking for Me”. You won’t have towait 200 years.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m so excited about what the 23rd century will bring that I might just cryogenically freeze myself. By then, the full SAS will probably have opened.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But a second set of tunnels to New Jersey will still be under discussion and someone at Metro North will be dusting off the plans for service to Penn Station.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    When the subject of the Lemoore station comes up, discussion often turns to an expensive-sounding and inconvenient train service which would then be established between Lemoore and Visalia. That makes me think the cost of the Lemoore station is fairly high. Lemoore, being closer to I5 than Visalia, has most of the disadvantages and few of the advantages of a route along the 99 corridor, and none of the advantages of a route along I5.

    jimsf Reply:

    Its really too bad they cant put the station at 99/198 where there is a ton of room by the airport and the interchange, offering quick central access for visalia tulare and hanford.

  13. Reality Check
    Feb 29th, 2012 at 14:25
    #13

    Obama’s high-speed rail plans hit traffic in Congress

    LaHood said the state was now “well positioned” to proceed. LaHood specifically praised the work of Dan Richard, the newly appointed chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority under the administration of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

    “He’s mending a lot of fences that were broken over the past few years, and he’s making progress,” LaHood said.

    California officials now say construction probably won’t begin until at least early next year, instead of the originally scheduled start time of September.

    Utterly unconvinced of the project’s merits, and skeptical of a total project cost now pegged at $98 billion, congressional Republicans have taken special aim at the California proposal.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And the heat will not cool down. Some pundits are claiming Wall Street has already priced in an Obama victory. Not so fast – a Romney success in Super Tuesday and a Gringrich endorsement will bank GOP rancor and produce a much tighter contest. I am guessing Adelson will recommend Romney over Santorum to Gingrich and Perry will be the VP candidate.

    No matter what, the historical record over the past century shows presidents that get a second term run into trouble as lame ducks. Tricky Dick being the worst off but even Ronnie had that nasty stock market crash in 1987.

  14. Reality Check
    Feb 29th, 2012 at 14:32
    #14

    High-speed rail construction likely delayed until 2013

    The slowdown in the schedule is the result of revisions to environmental reports for the 120-mile Fresno-to-Bakersfield section of the rail line — part of the backbone of a proposed 520-mile system of electric trains connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles. Later extensions would add lines to Sacramento and San Diego.

    About $3 billion in federal stimulus and transportation funds earmarked for the project in 2010 and 2011 were based on construction starting by September 2012. But a 2013 start isn’t expected to endanger the funds, high-speed rail officials said, because the more important deadline is having the work completed by late 2017.

    An environmental report for the track segment was issued last fall, but two months of comment and public hearings across the Valley attracted a slew of objections, including opposition in Kings County to a route that would take trains through farmland east of Hanford.

    That uproar prompted rail authority engineers to withdraw the environmental report in order to revise it with a new alternative that bypasses Hanford to the west. The authority expects to issue the revised draft report this summer, triggering another round of public hearings and comment, months after the authority originally expected to have a final version approved.

  15. jimsf
    Feb 29th, 2012 at 16:53
    #15

    synonymouse Reply:
    February 29th, 2012 at 1:36 pm@ JackYes – San Francisco and LA.

    and the 4 miilion people within 30 minutes of hsr line between stockon and bakersfield who will be paying for the system with everyone else?

    Jack Reply:

    Non-persons in Syno’s world; unfortunately the majority of the population in SF and LA believe the same as he does.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Tejon-I-5-Altamont alignment would would feature a leisurely wye and branch to Bako and Fresno. And serve Sac from the outset. That cancels out the 4 million.

    But none of this is to happen. They are going to just throw money away, like distributing cash to compulsive gamblers.

    Which segues to an LV editorial panning Desert Xpress:

    http://www.lvrj.com/opinion/hold-on-to-your-wallets-if-feds-build-train-140839213.html

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And Keebler Elves using pixie dust, are going to build this wondrous no cost track from I-5?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The same pixie dust we are going to use to pay for the TWU’s 200k/yr. compensation packages and the intensive maintenance of 50 extra miles of Tehachapi Stilt-A-Rail.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Assuming that TWU members get 200k a year and assuming that the HSR operator will be using the TWu or even be unionized. Unions come and go. Railroad tracks are forever.

    synonymouse Reply:

    No, kind sir, I assure you railroad tracks are sadly not forever. If you were traveling south along the San Juan de Cristos in July 1960 heading toward Alamosa and looked east and spotted theh forlorn, abandoned tank still standing at Villa Grove and traced the overgrown ROW, with bridges missing here and there, you would know lines do indeed disappear.

    The NdeM electrification is ripped out, the Milwaukee Road is gone, but the TWU is still around

    We will have to see what the UP does with the Feather River route.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    On the other hand the Carrollton Viaduct, completed in 1829, is still in use. What’s the oldest piece of ROW that BART uses?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I seem to recall someone said here that BART is partially on the right-of-way of an interurban, but I’m afraid I don’t recall the details of which one it was.

    Of course, the transbay tubes essentially parallel the Key System’s route over the Bay Bridge, but that’s a “new” line, in that it’s only about 40 years old!

    synonymouse Reply:

    Should be Sangre de Cristos – memory is going.

    BART to SFO utilizes an abandoned SP branch row.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Where? I’m guessing you mean somewhere from Colma to San Bruno not where BART heads from the Caltrain ROW to SFO, which was never a railroad.

    synonymouse Reply:

    From Daly City to the southeast.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    What is this “google” thingummyjig that the young people today “hip hop” on about?

    VBobier Reply:

    Too bad, so sad Syno, and I’m not sad. ;p

  16. Brian
    Mar 1st, 2012 at 01:36
    #16

    One thing I don’t understand about the CAHSRA’s aerial structure designs is why they are making them so tall. Can’t they design them so they are just tall enough for other rail and road traffic to cross underneath?

    I was looking at the CAHSRA visualizations for aerial structures throughout San Jose and approaching Diridon and the upper level with the HSR tracks is completely towering over the existing Caltrain tracks. It seems to be the equivalent of a 5 story building in height with a concourse suspended below the HSR tracks and above the Caltrain tracks. For a station design it just seems like that would be very impractical to quickly access the tracks from street level. You don’t want to be running up endless flights of stairs or patiently waiting on a long slow escalator ride just to get to your platform.

    It’s like comparing the quick short flights of stairs afforded by the New York Subway’s cut and cover approach with the London Underground’s deep bored tunnels and epic escalator rides. Otherwise I can’t say I really have anything against aerial structures. I just hope the CAHSRA can develop station designs that prioritize passenger convenience and quick access to the platforms.

    Peter Reply:

    It’s the concourse there. Cut that out and you can lower the whole damn thing by like 30 feet. No matter what, it will still be shorter than the HP Pavilion right next to it, though. That’s 117 feet tall.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    it will still be shorter than the HP Pavilion right next to it, though

    So, all fine, then. Community Context Sensitive.

    (What does it mean that Community Context Sensitive in Gilroy is a trench?)

    Peter Reply:

    So, all fine, then. Community Context Sensitive.

    That’s a surprisingly low snark level for you. Your snark booster not working?

    (What does it mean that Community Context Sensitive in Gilroy is a trench?)

    Nothing, actually.

    synonymouse Reply:

    PB’s notorious edifice complex.

    And of course building a monument to the Diridon legacy.

    Clem Reply:

    The answer is outrigger bents. What was the question, again?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Bents, and a mezzanine level. Don’t forget the mezzanines!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The Satanic Location To The North That Must Not Be Named is to have a ravishingly gorgeous World Class mezzanine, after all.

    San José, Capital of Silicon Valley, can’t be outdone.

    Emma Reply:

    I like the fact that the Transbay Terminal whatever will be finished 30+ years before any HSR shows up. LOL. By that time, the Terminal will be considered old anyway. Oh, the cooperation. Oh, the humanity.

    Brian Reply:

    There’s got to be a better way to design a 2 level through station. If the issue is outrigger bents why not abandon the long span aerial structure idea for supporting the HSR station platform level and use a more repetitive structural bay with columns centered on the lower level Caltrain platforms? Shorter spans should equal shallower beams. Basically in concept instead of designing it as a bridge with building appendages above and below just design it as a 2 level building (3 levels if counting the mezzanine) with the aerial structure portions appended at either end.

    The mezzanine level could even be integrated into the structural system supporting the HSR platforms with a concrete truss system deep enough you can walk between the cross members. Like a vierendeel truss. The concourse should be strictly designed to function as a concourse with minimal ceiling heights. Other parts of the station could be given more impressive architectural features if the city of San Jose wants to make their own investments in it. Otherwise I really think they should take the “less is more” approach. I am sure it will be more elegant too.

    And finally if Altamont is selected and Diridon is now a terminus none of this may be required. They just need to figure out where to add the catenary and address the separation issue with the UP Main. I actually like Diridon a lot just as it is right now. It’s got a lot of charm. Kind of feels like something out of an old Hitchcock movie. I am at least glad to hear San Jose considers the existing station building historic and the objective is to preserve it in all possible scenarios.

    Peter Reply:

    “Kind of feels like something out of an old Hitchcock movie.”

    It IS something out of an old Hitchcock movie:

    The passenger platform is featured in the opening scene of Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie (1964) as representing the Hartford, Connecticut train station. Margaret (Marnie) Edgar (Tippi Hedren) is seen walking down the platform, back to the camera with a yellow purse tucked under her left arm and carrying a suitcase with her right, setting down the suitcase and waiting for her train to arrive.

    Brian Reply:

    very interesting!!!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There’s got to be a better way to design a 2 level through station.

    There’s an even better solution. Putting all the trains on one level.
    In some alternate universe where cars are banned there might be 20, even 25 trains an hour, in each direction. How many tracks do you need to do that? How much space is there on the existing train level?

    Peter Reply:

    Now there are 9 platform tracks. If they didn’t spend 30+ minutes for a turn-around, that shouldn’t pose a problem.

  17. Reedman
    Mar 4th, 2012 at 10:49
    #17

    Gilroy, like all California cities, looks at HSR as a giant government slush fund to be plundered as much as humanly possible, because the more money that the project spends on construction, the more money that will spill into the local economy. A downtown alignment will require spending more than a farm field alignment, so a downtown alignment is the choice. Putting HSR in a trench will cost more than aerial track, so trench is the choice. I am surprised that Gilroy didn’t spell out candlelight for the waiting areas and gold fixtures for the bathrooms.

    Peter Reply:

    So, in other words, there can be no other reason for Gilroy wanting the HSR alignment placed downtown? Such as an attempt at urban renewal, and avoiding more sprawl?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    You’re right: “ignorance” and “stupidity” also work.

    They might explain how something many times longer and only a little narrower than this is supposed to fit in with the Urban Context of Downtown Gilroy.

    Or this trenched 350kmh design speed station, which, because Spaniards are dumb foreigners without the expertise of Gilroy Community Planners, they foolishly neglected to in run anywhere near the middle of the city or place at the historic train station location, for some crazy foreign reason.

    Combine local stupidity with contractor rent-seeking (see for example the BART tunnels in Millbrae) and the sky’s the limit. So you don’t have to choose one or the other, Peter. You can be stupid, while other people are corrupt, and everything works perfectly together.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Isn’t the billion dollar tunnel in Millbrae for HSR? So that it doesn’t disturb the delicate sensibilities of BART or disrupt the historic and cultural significance of the station that has been intimately tied into the social fabric of Millbrae for over a decade?

    Jonathan Reply:

    You forgot “ugly” and “badly-designed” station.

    Peter Reply:

    There’s no way in hell they’re going to construct a trenched station in Gilroy. They also won’t be going through Gilroy at 350 km/h. The same way they won’t be going through Bakersfield or Fresno at 350 km/h.

    joe Reply:

    Gilroy hasn’t asked for a penny to build anything.

    Gilroy voted on a recommendation based on the results of a citizen lead envisioning project.

    Democracy is about citizen buy in and the City may or may not go ahead with a trench recommendation after more details are substantiated – it is their recommendation to HSR given the priorities the city has for the downtown.

    The next step is HSR provides more specific information given the preferences. This is years away.

    People do not work the way you want them to work. The city has to build a democratic consensus and establish the values from the citizens in the envisioning study.

    “Local stupidity” Nope guys.

    There’s nothing in Richard’s rant that hasn’t been acknowledged by the City. There are even nasty foreign Y’rops HSR train riders who now live here. I’ve seen discussions over the possible impacts, issues over speed, traffic size and traffic in the city core.

    The response is we are working a process. Those concerns have NOT been dismissed but the envisioning process is bottom up and the city is going with the recommendation it produced.

    Next step is for some specific details on how big, what the impacts will be and I can see the city deciding to move it out-of-town or an at grade station.

    Apparently being flaming asshole know it all doesn’t work in government.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Joe,

    So there weren’t any actual “costs” involved in your repeated claim of “cost-benefit analysis”?

    joe Reply:

    Yes.

    Gilroy doesn’t run the CAHSR project so my City paid to assess the preferences of residents and cost benefit of stations and alignment for the City: Visual impact, tax revenue, traffic, ancillary development, parking, greenfield preservation and etc.

    That’s our job, the CAHSRA does their job and the two parties negotiate.

    I do not expect the CAHSRA would have the competence or even has the charter to assess the cost-benefit of the project on my city. Likewise my city does not have the competence to price estimate CAHSR infrastructure or calculate statewide cost/benefits.

    The significance of the recommendation vote is Gilroy voted YES.

    Gilroy could have voted to recommend CAHSRA NOT build any station. We could have sued like PAMPA.

    We are working with the CAHSRA and approved the envisioning project’s recommendation. It would have been foolish to over-ride the study.

    What’s next?

    The CAHSRA responds to the recommendation and I expect challenges some of our “facts” in the report. They’ll also understand the objections and preferences of the city residents. We’ll start to see costs and impacts on the system and will need to balance those with the City.

    Maybe we’ll cost share a compromise design, maybe a congress-critter will help out with a “station-to-nowhere”, maybe a bully-dictator will put the station in the pepper field at the lowest cost possible. 

    Meanwhile the city government is socializing residents to the project and letting the residents participate.

    Some Gilroy residents are immigrants from European cities with HSR and know first hand about HSR and discuss the drawbacks of a downtown alignment at meetings. Some residents are European born and educated rail transportation engineering.

    Comments about the city being stupid and selfish presupposed the recommendation was a final offer and not the initial preference of the resident lead study.

  18. jimsf
    Mar 4th, 2012 at 17:40
    #18

    @ joe ^

    well that was three snaps in a Z-formation if ever there was one! good for you.
    Too many people here being critical and not enough people working with the process we have and being supportive.

    like ti or not, what gilroy is doing is exaclty the right thing to do.

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