MTC Approves Caltrain Electrification and Blended HSR Plan

Mar 28th, 2012 | Posted by

Today the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission approved the so-called “blended plan” that combines high speed rail service and Caltrain electrification, combining $1.5 billion in local funds, state funds (from the Prop 1A bond) and federal funds:

Calling it a major “milestone” in Caltrain’s long quest to modernize its system, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission board voted to approve a “memorandum of understanding” with the rail authority that includes $1.5 billion for electrification and new train signals. Under the agreement, the rail authority would supply about half of the funds for the long-awaited project, with the rest coming from local and regional agencies….

The agreement was heralded by various Metropolitan Transportation Commission board members, local officials and Caltrain advocates as a huge step toward electrification, a project that the cash-strapped agency is banking on for long-term financial stability. With electrified tracks and a new signal system, Caltrain would be able to operate more trains and, as a result, generate more revenue.

“This really is the foundation for electrification and, really, for the future of Caltrain,” said MTC board Chair Adrienne Tissier, who also chairs Caltrain’s board of directors.

Of course, there’s also been debate about whether this conforms to Prop 1A, which lists requirements for HSR service frequency and travel times that a blended plan will struggle to met. As I’ve argued, the blended plan is not meant to be permanent. A close look at the Memorandum of Understanding shows that while the blended plan is clearly specified as sharing two tracks on the Peninsula, there’s nothing that says that’s all there will ever be. Which is sensible. It would be foolish to promise never to add another terminal at an airport, never to add another lane to a road, and never to add more tracks to a rail corridor.

The blended plan is basically a truce. High speed rail supporters concluded that going to war against the NIMBYs wasn’t going to produce immediate success, so they’ll fight that battle another day down the road when generational replacement has had a chance to thin the ranks of those who are ideologically wedded to the 20th century and unreasonably hostile to the 21st century.

Most HSR systems around the world have been developed in phases, with bullet trains using dedicated tracks between cities and sharing tracks within them, at least initially. California’s HSR system would be no different. As demand and gas prices increase, support will grow for expanding to four tracks. Better to fight the battle when there are fewer NIMBYs and more rail riders.

So today’s news is very good news for passenger rail as a whole and for HSR in particular. It should also help get the Legislature to approve spending the voter-approved bond money later this spring.

  1. Tim
    Mar 28th, 2012 at 21:12

    Build, baby, Build!

    Jack Reply:

    Has a nice ring to it!

  2. jimsf
    Mar 28th, 2012 at 21:19

    While this doesn’t get us the full blown hsr system all at once from the start, this does make sense in that, politically its easier for everyone to swallow (compromises) and on the bright side, it does in a sense the get system built faster even though the entire thing won’t be 220 full hsr.

    Instead we’ll have upgraded ends and a high speed center completed sooner, and then, once the north and south mountain crossings are done, it will be time to put the final full hsr updrades on the bookends. But we get service that travels at full speed on certain segments in the meantime which is better than waiting 20 more years for any service at all.

    Isnt this how it was done in europe? high speed portions (new construction) connected to legacy portions in the cities, until full build out was eventually achieved?

    I think this will be fine so long as the momentum doesn’t stall.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Well…no….because the blended system is going to exhaust funding for the “spine” before it can reach Gilroy or Palmdale.

    The real question is if the Authority or “operator” can run a fast diesel service on the spine to raise revenues to finish electrification. If so, then why electrify Cal Train with Prop 1A money? If not, then why electrify Cal Train at the expense of the spine?

    That’s why this is nothing more than political cover for Simitan et al. This is how they get around having to actually having to demonstrate real leadership instead of sticking a finger in the wind.

    This is a marriage of convenience, to the point that the divorce lawyers are already circling….

    J. Wong Reply:

    “exhaust funding”? You’re assuming there will be no further funds from the Federal gov’t or that the state won’t find another way to fund it. We’ll see. With the ICS done and plans in place for the IOS, I think we’ll be getting them (and those Tea Party Republicans resigning in frustration).

    Jon Reply:

    No one is planning to run diesel trains on the high speed track, except as a last resort in the case of abject failure. Nor should they be. A diesel service via existing Altamont or San Joaquin tracks would never have the speed, frequency or reliability to raise revenues.

    On the other hand, a high speed service using electrified Caltrain tracks for the last section would be almost as fast as building two dedicated HSR tracks in the same corridor, and so is a much more acceptable interim stage to full buildout.

    Eric Reply:

    Actually, I believe that until HSR trains are running in the valley, I believe Amtrak is going to be allowed to use the track and stations built, for the San Joaquin line trains. That will allow them to get off of freight tracks and allow higher running speeds than on the freight tracks. Once HSR gets an initial operating segment done, Amtrak will be back to freight tracks, if they’re going to continue running the San Joaquin line.

    Jon Reply:

    Nope. The ICS had to have ‘independent utility’ in the case that nothing else gets built in order to qualify for ARRA funding, so CAHSR put together a backup plan of having the San Joaquins use the track if the project is abandoned following construction of the ICS. If the project is not abandoned, the plan is to build a mountain crossing next and run electric trains on an IOS.

    There has been a lot of speculation/wishful thinking on this blog that an interim service could be operated using diesel trains on the ICS, but that is nowhere in the official CAHSR plan. They know it wouldn’t make money, and would just dilute the image of high-speed rail.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Numbers? Some things are hard to completely quantify, but budgeting is not one of those things.

    Indeed, they can’t “exhaust funding” without additional funds from somewhere, because the bulk of the bonds require 50% or more funding from another source ~ and the budget available changes dramatically depending on whether the bonds are financing a 50% match, or a 20% match, or a 10% match.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Bruce, that’s your first mistake. Public sector budgeting isn’t about money, it’s about priorities.

    Even in the original business plan, you would have needed a 4 to 1 federal match with Prop 1A to build the system without other funding. Even Arnold knew that was so improbable that he included private and local dollars to cover the shortfall.

    This might not be what people want to hear, but HSR supporters need to accept the following facts:

    1) There is not going to be another bond election for HSR that will succeed. The public will not understand why, if additional bonds were needed, that the amount was not part of Prop 1A. Those dollars are precious and should be only used when there are no other options.

    2) Republicans are going to control the House of Representatives for at least another six years. The upshot is that the majority of new federal dollars for infrastructure will be in the form of loans, not grants. The reason for this is simple: why would you use the same funding system for a transportation system that can actual cover its costs (HSR) with one that can’t?

    The Administration is already proposing a similar strategy for air travel relying heavily on higher user fees and excise taxes to fund air traffic control improvements, for example.

    Secondly, there lots of untapped local revenue to put toward transportation projects in California. Trying to make the argument to the rest of the US that they should subsidize Prop 13 is a losing battle.

    And third…given that there’s ALREADY A FEDERAL PROGRAM THAT LOANS MONEY OUT TO RAILROADS FOR REHABILITATION AND IMPROVEMENTS … why on earth do you blow $1.5 billion in Prop 1A money when there’s already ANOTHER POTENTIAL FUNDING SOURCE for it???????

    Prop 1A is only going to buy us 20-30 billion in track. I don’t even know if we can get Merced to Palmdale for that much. Every dollar dropped in the “bookends” increases the chance that Gilroy to Palmdale won’t make it, in which case the system is in real jeopardy…..

    joe Reply:

    1) There is not going to be another bond election for HSR that will succeed.

    2) Republicans are going to control the House of Representatives for at least another six years. T

    Interesting opinons.

    The Public, I doubt, ever thought HSR was a one shot, 9B bond. Prop1A even discussed how any HSR revenue or an operating segment was NOT to pay back bonds but to PAY for maintenance and EXPANSION.

    GOP controlling the House for 6 years. … Based on what method can you project that far ahead?
    I’ll defer to Nate Silver and his stochastic simulation methods calculating election probabilities.

    Tom McNamara Reply:


    1) The reason HSR won’t gain additional funding through bond election has nothing to do with high speed rail, but because of the issues surrounding how California ballot measures. It would be very difficult to craft an effective retail campaign to support MORE funding for HSR through the ballot when generally what wins are temporary, project oriented measures….

    2) Actually it’s pretty easy Joe…though Nate is very good at predicting specific races. Until 2014/5.. the majority of the voting age population in the US will have been born before 1964. That’s the dividing line for the culture wars because in ’64 you had the end of the Baby Boomers, the relaxation of immigration laws especially to non-European countries, the Civil Rights Act, and of course the “sexual revolution”. Once Boomers are in the minority politically, the type of “White Christian Party” rhetoric the GOP embraces runs out of gas.

    (Part of the reason that the Democrats lost in 2010 was because their majority relied too heavily on conservative blue dogs that are slowly disappearing.)

    After November however, Democrats shouldn’t be reaching for the sackcloth. The longer than the Tea Party tries to wag the dog, the easier it is for John Boehner to reach out to Nancy Pelosi for votes within her caucus. As a result, we are probably going to see more bipartisan ship in the vein of Reagan’s second term in the near future…..

    synonymouse Reply:

    Reagan’s second term saw the disastrous stock market crash of 1987.

    Second terms are historically fraught with trouble:

    Woodrow Wilson – League of Nations debacle and illness

    Calvin Coolidge – smart to not run; otherwise he would have been Hoover

    FDR – downturn of 1937 and major conflict over packing the Supreme Court

    Harry Truman – effective second term marked by Korean conflict and great unpopularity

    LBJ – gave up on a second term

    Tricky Dick – Watergate

    Ronald Reagan – stock market crash

    Bill Clinton – impeached

    “W” – disastrous second term setting up Obama victory

    A Barack second term will be impacted by a much larger and more dug-in opposition, lame-duck status and quantitative easing which will be repeated until it implodes.

    Charles Murray says your new generation are bums and that that the ruling elite continue to quietly adhere to conservative values and mores to which they owe their ever-growing dominance:

    synonymouse Reply:

    Oh, I forgot Eisenhower – major recession in 1958-59 which helped to elect a lot of Democrats and eventually John Kennedy. Also Sputnik and the U-2 shot down were highly embarrassing and made the Russians look like real contenders and not braggadocio bozos, which is how they had been depicted in our press at the time.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Charles Murray also thinks that differences in income among different religions are evidence of the True God. Remind me again why his opinion on anything matters?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Public budgeting may be about priorities, but a claim that there won’t be enough funds to reach an initial operating service is a claim that there shall be at most $X funds that shall be available and at least $Y funds that shall be required, and that $X < $Y.

    You can spin all the hypothetical mental models of the future that you want within that, but the claim is a quantitative claim, and there’s no reason to attach any weight or credibility to a claim like that which is made without the person making it being able to lay out the numbers they had in mind when they made it.

  3. Tony D.
    Mar 28th, 2012 at 21:22

    YEAH! Now that’s what I’m talking about!

    James M. in Irvine Reply:

    What I would really like to know is if there is a chance that this train will be rideable before 2020? For example, if the Central valley is supposed to be ready by 2018, could things come together and actually have it ready a year sooner? It would be great to showcase the high-speed train sooner, then the traveling public can show support for the project with ticket sales and get the rest built sooner. Many rail projects get completed under budget. Just curious.


  4. jimsf
    Mar 28th, 2012 at 21:46

    The blended approach brings to question though… doesnt this mean that caltrain as well as the palmdale to la portion of metrolink…. need to be fully compatable…

    this would be an argument for making sure that platform heights, and equipment are all compatable since there will only be two tracks on the bookends. Metrolink and caltrain should both buy the same type of hsr platform compatible EMUs to use on those portions.

    Tim Reply:

    One would hope

    I have a sneaking suspicion though that we will end up with a low platform Caltrain and Metrolink, with HSR stopping at dedicated high platforms at a few stations. Kinda stupid, but the inertia of rolling stock (all of our commuter equipment is low platform at the moment) plus freight requirements (unless we go gauntlet tracks or moving platforms like SD’s Sprinter) makes it tough to change. Hey we might go low platform HSR, but who knows. I wonder if there will be a push to electrify parts of Metrolink now that the “North” is on its way to do it. May the envy spread……..

    egk Reply:

    Re: platforms. Check out the new Euroduplex bilevel that just started international service on the Frankfurt-Marseilles route. This hot-double-level train (with seating capacity for over 1000 in double traction) runs at 200mph.

    Oh, and it has low-level boarding. Could that be the future of HSR/Caltrain compatibility?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Oh, and it has low-level boarding. Could that be the future of HSR/Caltrain compatibility?

    Yes. Or something roughly similar in overall configuration (duplex, low-level doors.)

    If anybody anywhere gave a rat’s ass about any of compatibility or costs or impacts or customers, that is.

    jimsf Reply:

    hmm that one is nice. although it would be better to go with all level boarding from the start. and to have caltrain and metro link get compatable equipment. still that looks nice

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Over a thousand? That’s nice. It’s almost as much as a single-level 2+2 Shinkansen.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or an 8 car NJTransit multilevel. ( @ an average of 130 per car ) MARC just placed an order for some….

    Miles Bader Reply:

    The euroduplex seems to be pretty underwhelming, much like the TGV duplex…. basically the same capacity and weight (for a given length) as a single-level shinkansen. I imagine the problem is that it has to be TGV compatible, and so suffers from the TGV’s narrow loading gauge etc…?

    thatbruce Reply:

    In a sensible world, the Caltrain fleet would shift to using HSR-platform compatible EMUs, as would Metrolink for its Palmdale/Lancaster line. Metrolink would still need to retain its FRA fleet for services outside the HSR corridor though, along with multiple platforms where they overlap.

    As far as this dream goes on the Caltrain side, this MOU seems to be only applicable for the electrification and signal aspects, not harmonization of platform heights or platform sharing.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    bolt three inch wide threshold plates down to a Comet III and run them to the Shinkansen Platforms in Los Angeles Union Station. Or order up some that are six inches wider than whatever they are ordering for the NEC.

  5. Roger Christensen
    Mar 28th, 2012 at 21:54

    Did I read that the legislature is discussing HSR on April 5? Love it how there seems a new acceleration of support in the air.

    Clem Reply:

    No, the CHSRA is approving the same MOU

  6. missiondweller
    Mar 28th, 2012 at 22:35

    Could someone explain how they will upgrade to full HSR when the time comes?

    Do they stop service and rip it all out?
    Does it leave us with street grade HSR?
    Do we build an elevated above the old tracks?

    These questions are not sarcasm I’m actually wondering. Or has it even been determined?

    J. Wong Reply:

    No, they don’t stop service. They’re currently running Caltrain on temporary “shoefly” tracks in San Bruno where they are elevating the tracks. The shoefly runs around next to where the old tracks ran where they are berming to elevate the roadbed or building half-size aerials. This is what was done between Belmont and south of San Carlos. It will be at grade where Caltrain is at grade like in San Mateo.

    Hey, did you know that there is already 4 tracks on the Penisula? Between Bayshore and South SF.

    BrianR Reply:

    yes, and there’s also a relatively short 4-track stretch in Redwood City but it seems like Caltrain almost never uses the outer tracks. The only time I’ve noticed those tracks being used is when there are delays or equipment problems and a Limited that is “ending it’s express run and becoming a local” needs to be passed by the Limited behind it that is “ending it’s local run and becoming an express” as a form of damage control to protect the schedule.

    From aerial images the ROW thru Atherton looks pretty wide too. It seems like they could easily extend those 4 tracks south thru Atherton and north from Redwood City to create a more usable passing segment.

    Suppose Caltrain and CAHSRA built grade crossing shanty’s staffed with a single crossing guard each if PAMPA continues to insist on fighting all REASONABLE efforts to grade separate. For the life of the system including wage and retirement costs I would imagine that would be cheaper than tunneling if that’s the only other solution they will accept (and they don’t mind spending more time in their cars waiting at crossings). Disasters could still happen but at least the guards would be in direct contact with dispatch and route warnings thru the PTC system.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    To do an Express / Local pass without substantial delays to the Local, you need the bypass to go past a couple of local-only stations. After all, if you have a 3 minute practical headway, and had a simple siding as a passing loop, the train that was passed would have to be three minutes ahead of the following train, then the following train would pass, then it would have to wait three minutes to follow.

    Better signaling can cut the second headway, since the train just getting going will not be going fast and the headway will be dominated by the signal layout, but the first headway for the chasing Express has a component of minimum safe stopping distance after receiving the stop signal.

    If you have a switch onto an Express track before a local platform stretch with two local platforms, between the deceleration for the two stops, and slower transit between the two stops than the Express is making on the bypass, the Express can easily make up the 3 minutes headway and hit the switch back onto the shared line while the Local is at the second platform. Or even better, the next Express stop is at a four platform station with the switch back onto the shared line after the Express pulls out of the Express platform ~ then the Local can be pulling out of the second local-only station while the Express is pulling into the Express platform, and the Express has pulled out when the local arrives at the local platform side of that island, picking up passengers switching to the local to complete their trip.

    One or two of the platform-to-platform transits of the Local service might take place below the top possible speed, but rather than losing 6 minutes standing still, the local only loses a minute or two, and since that is just in running below the top possible, the delay is far less noticeable than a halt.

    On grade separation ~ that’s a fight that can certainly be won, once there is an HSR service on the track. That will recruit more supporters in San Francisco, and since a growing number of PAMPA residents will be HSR riders, it will also divide the opposition.

    Indeed, for PAMPA residents who want the greatest say in how the corridor is designed, they risk losing their leverage by going for total opposition and impractical versions of “build it right” options. If they had gone for practical “build it right” options, they could have got those locked into place already.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    When the train makes the switch from the local track to the express track or vice versa it takes up the space 4 trains could occupy. ( Unless you want trains loitering around between stations waiting for signals to clear. ) It’s occupying one stretch of track. It’s going to occupy another which means that one has to be clear. There can’t be a train in the stretch of track behind on that second track ( unless you don’t care that it loiters around ) and the stretch of track ahead of it on the track it’s leaving or the stretch of track trailing it will be clear. Depending on the signaling system, some use up more “slots” If you are running a high frequency service you want to minimize the amount of switching trains do. If the expresses are stopping every 4, 5 even 6 stations the station sidings merge together into local tracks.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Adirondacker, given the context BrainR raised, of two through tracks, one each way, and a section with two Express passing tracks, I don’t see how your “four trains” all get there at the same time.

    It sounds like you are explaining that, one day, when the Express passing tracks become part of complete Express through tracks, then it wouldn’t make sense to operate as if those Express passing tracks have become Express through tracks. Uhhhmmm … yeah, OK. But until they have been, the trains you are talking about can’t reach that Express bypass track to get in the way of the pass.


    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They they are there you can’t switch tracks. If it’s a high frequency line you are using up capacity. If it’s a low frequency line… why do you need passing tracks? Schedule it so the express leaves first and local can toddle along without getting in the way of the express.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And if its an intermediate frequency of both local and express services, then strategically chosen sections that allow timed overtakes allow both to be supported on a system with two through tracks.

    Locals have greater need for frequency than Expresses since they serve shorter trips on average and a lot of the impact of service intervals is in proportion to trip time, which is what leads to a target of being able to support up to four locals per hour. Four locals per hour is a below high frequency capacity for a two track corridor, but if the Express is going to be leading out one Local, it will need to overtake another Local before completing the transit.

    Once you have the capacity to support four Locals per hour and allow an Express through, you have the capacity to allow four Expresses through, which is ample to support up intra-regional and an initial intercity service.

    So yes, an inability to conceive of timed overtakes does indeed tend to cut the options down to a choice between egregiously bad service intervals at local platforms and a four track system that will be massively over-capacity at the outset.

    Andy M. Reply:

    Yes, temporary tracks are fine. But if those temporary tracks are going to be electrified that adds to costs. I’m sceptical of the need to electrify a corridor that sooner or later is going to be ripped up and rebuilt from scratch.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The majority of the corridor is not going to be ripped up and built from scratch … the majority of the corridor is just fine for use now with Express tracks added to the outside of the corridor later. Indeed, those Express tracks can be added incrementally, to expand capacity in stages.

    And given the revenue benefits to Caltrain of electrification, having to electrify shoefly tracks at each grade separation project is not really a net cost ~ financially, having the electric service sooner will return far more than maintaining an electrical versus diesel service through each grade separation project is going to cost.

    Matthew Reply:

    Most of the cost of electrification is due to the building of substations and supporting infrastructure, not the actual wires, which are relatively easy to reposition anyhow.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But not cheap.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    It realy depends on how the temporary tracks are arranged. But compared to the overall cost, relocating the catenary is not expensive. And if masts can be used, it is really easy.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Cheaper than the lost operating revenue and increased operating cost from not electrifying earlier.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    “Cheaper than the lost operating revenue and increased operating cost”? Maybe in Alternate Reality USA, or Anywhere Except the USA. But not here.

    Reminder to all: Caltrain plans — plans! — to increase its operating costs and to operate trains at almost exactly the same speed as today.

    Remember: these are the project proponents promising these astonishing benefits.

    You can’t make this stuff up.

    America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals on the job, once again.

    We lose moeny on every sale, but make it up with volume!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How many decades does it take to make it worthwhile to electrify? ..on a normal railroad where electric operation costs less than diesel operation.
    Moving it is more expensive than the original installation. You have to remove the existing – which costs money, it isn’t going to be done by pixies and elves getting paid with fairy dust – and then spend as much as you spent installing it to install it again. How many years of savings does that labor cost eat up?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The full build? Or the wiring and poles along specific grade separation projects?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The overhead contact component is budgeted to ~$360m, according to the EA/EIR that Clem cites below. If 10% has to be reworked five years later, that’s ~$36m 10 years down the track, or ~$28m p.v.

    If the full benefit/cost ratio is 1.25 on a project of $1.5b, that would be a net benefit of $375m, or delayed five years a net benefit of ~$294m. So the benefit of the advancing the project would be on the order of $81m.

    If the benefit/cost ratio is higher, the net benefit is higher. If the benefit/cost ratio on a full benefit / full cost basis is substantially lower than that, there’d be no clear reason for proceeding with the electrification in the first place.

    Matt in SF Reply:

    I think the point is that “sooner or later” is going to be much later. Full 4-tracking would not conceivably even begin for another 20 years if not much later. By that time we will know if we need to make further upgrades and we may then need to replace or repair parts of the system anyways as regular maintenance or part of a modernization project or whatever.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Exactly. And at that time improvements will have broad community support (excepting of course some on this blog).

    missiondweller Reply:

    So how do you do that through Palo Alto & Menlo? Too narrow.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Are you talking about for the four grade actually separations required in Palo Alto?

    There are four roads in Palo Alto that are not grade separated, with two of them, Meadow Drive and Charleston Road, close enough together to be a single project. The ROW seems to be 100 ft wide in this section (cf. 33-TCCM-200-B), so that’s obviously not “too narrow”. East of Churchill Ave, behind the High School stadium, its 85 ft wide there. Across Churchill itself its too narrow on the southern side (cf. 30-TCCM-200-B), but in a split grade separation Churchill will be dropping 0.5ft and the rail overpass will be, as is the nature of these things, over the road, not on it, so as long as the shoe fly track is on the north side and the initial construction is an overpass bridge on the south side, the 65ft width at ground level is not a binding constraint.

    And where Alma crosses the railroad tracks, that’s well over 100ft wide (cf. 29-TCCM-200-B).

    OK, so I’ve looked at Palo Alto ~ you go through the plats for Menlo, specify which grade separations are needed to be added, and which of the grade separations will not allow shoe fly tracks during construction for a fully grade separated corridor.

  7. Tom McNamara
    Mar 28th, 2012 at 22:35

    Let’s see if this truce lasts until the ink is dry…..

    J. Wong Reply:

    No, there won’t be any truce. PAMPA plus Burlingame know the ROW will eventually be 4-tracked and will continue to fight. But politicians higher up will no longer have any cover in opposing HSR so the cities will lose them in the fight.

    jimsf Reply:

    but isn’t most of the row, with the exception of a few short stretches, already wide enough for 4 tracks without taking property? Why are they trippin.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Yes but Because they don’t want the grade separation that will also occur even though it would improve traffic flow. They really, really don’t want HSR.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Why indeed. The previous HSR plan also included full grade seps everywhere. The aerials scared folks as much as the additional ROW requirement.

    Also, some parts of the ROW may be wide enough for 4 tracks but not wide enough for an extra shoefly to construct a grade sep for the 4 tracks, so that could involve some taking or ‘borrowing’ of land — but perhaps some could be built one half first like highway overpasses are often upgraded/replaced.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Under the Blended Plan it ought to be easier to avoid “borrowing” land than under the rail apartheid approach that Kopp was pushing … since completing two tracks worth of grade separation is sufficient for rail service to proceed through the work. For split grade separations where its necessary for the road to be closed for longer than just required to build the railbridge, you get started on the road side regrading early on, since motorists are less likely to freak out at a road closure when they see road work proceeding in the closed section.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Parts of the Caltrain ROW are quite pastoral with lots of tree and brush cover growing into the ROW area. Yes, it’s public property, but it’s been like that for decades now.

    If you went into any upper-crust suburb in America and suggested chopping down a bunch of greenery and replacing it with a concrete wall, you would see a similar reaction.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes ~ even if it would in reality be a long term insurance for their property values against the threats posed by oil price shocks, that net benefit will always be harder to imagine than the wall that looms in their imagination.

    Which is another part of why it will be much easier to get the work approved once the preliminary service is in operation ~ we’ll be a number of years into the bumpy decade ahead, and a lot more people will have that issue in mind when they think about property values.

    Matt in SF Reply:

    The area was even more “pastoral” before the NIMBYs moved in and clear-cut the trees for their houses, which they put right alongside an active, pre-existing railway.

    Makes you think, doesn’t it?

    flowmotion Reply:

    You’re right, all of this could have been avoided if only they hadn’t built the railroad in the first place.

    BrianR Reply:


    and it could of been avoided too if California did not become a U.S. state and there was no westward expansion and the transcontinental railroad was not built. President Lincoln must be rolling over in his grave knowing some of his own initiatives are causing “a bit of unpleasantness” among some of our nations wealthiest citizens in PAMPA!

    Then again I often forget that the Caltrain line (formerly the SP and before that the San Francisco and San Jose RR) was built BEFORE the transcontinental railroad! Lincoln can rest in peace.

    BrianR Reply:

    yes, that is a good point!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    PAMPA plus Burlingame know the ROW will eventually be 4-tracked

    Only because of the Los Banos routing.

    There’s basically no reasonable Altamont service scenario that requires either of those locations to be quadruplicated, ever.

    On the other hand, pretty much every all-trains-via-Los Banos-and-Diridon-memorial-Intergalactic nails both Burlingame and Palo Alto. It’s inherent in the train speed differentials and the excessive length of shared corridor.

    If you do something insane and without precedent anywhere else in the world, such as mix your high speed and regional trains on the same tracks for over 50 miles, then you end up with an insane outcome (each HS train overtakes at least two regional trains) and an insane amount of unnecessary and intrusive and unhelpful (but profitable, very very profitable!) construction.

    Don’t take my word for it, try it out for yourself and see.

    Bad operations and bad decisions have concrete consequences. Lots of concrete.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    > without precedent anywhere else in the world, such as mix
    > your high speed and regional trains on the same tracks for
    > over 50 miles

    Ahem… what about Hamburg – Hannover? what about Strasbourg – Mulhouse? These two segments are in no planning stage to be upgraded to HSR. OK, the Hamburg S-Bahn is separated, but trains beyond the S-Bahn network use the main line, and that main line also serves freight.

    thatbruce Reply:

    His proviso is ‘over 50 miles’. Plenty of examples where the HSR trains share tracks with conventional trains to access the city stations, but none where HSR and regionals (or commuter) share track for ‘over 50 miles’. Except for the Eurostar’s original entry to Waterloo. And Korea during its HSR build-out. And the Acela services, but that barely counts as HSR.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Max, 4 (or more, in their dreams) trains per direction per hour of high-speed inter-regional traffic sharing a full 80km of non-segregated corridor with 6 or more trains per direction per hour of S-Bahn?

    There’s nothing like it. And there’s no way in hell anybody would choose such a solution over half as much sharing.

    America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals will show the world how it’s done!

    Max Wyss Reply:

    I love the example; looks like a good reason for introducing communication-based signalling…

    It would be possible to set up that 10 train thingie, but its timetable would be extremely fragile. And there is still quite a bit of concrete needed to do so. And for the S-Bahn trains, you will need something in the 4-car KISS league or better (actually all axle drives would be even better).

    But with partial 4-tracking at the right places and good operation modes, it is feasible, but still rather fragile.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    But with partial 4-tracking at the right places and good operation modes, it is feasible

    Max. I agree. Of course. Angebot-Rollmaterial-Infrastruktur.

    It’s really easy and cheap to do if the high speed trains aren’t gumming up the corridor for the full 80km:

    Phase 1 (~6km 4miles of quadruple of even just triple tracking.)

    Phase 2 (~16km ~10miles of quadrupling.)

    But with partial 4-tracking at the right places and good operation modes, it is feasible

    Max. I agree. Of course. Angebot-Rollmaterial-Infrastruktur.

    It’s really easy and cheap to do if the high speed trains aren’t gumming up the corridor for the full 80km:

    Phase 1 (~6km 4miles of quadruple of even just triple tracking, Belmont-Redwood City.)

    Phase 2 (~16km ~10miles of additional quadrupling, Bayshore-Broadway)

    But if those HS trains are unnecessarily messing things up all the way from Redwood City to San José, the Capital of Silicon Valley, you’re in a world of pain. Unnecessary trains force track quadruplication exactly where it is most expensive and disruptive (add in Redwood City-Atherton-Menlo Park-Palo Alto California Avenue andBroadway-Burlingame quadruplication).

    Synergist win-win way-out-of-the-box “thinking”, courtesy of America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There’s basically no reasonable Altamont service scenario that requires either of those locations to be quadruplicated, ever.

    And no HSR service either.

    without precedent anywhere else in the world, such as mix your high speed and regional trains on the same tracks for over 50 miles

    Newark has been 80-ish miles from Philadelphia since Newark was founded. Some time in the late 1800s the predecessors to the Pennsylvania Railroad put in 4 tracks. Soon after they did, the CNJ/Reading/B&O partnership put in 4. On both of them there were places with 6 tracks. There still is a short stretch of 6 tracks in Rahway NJ.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    … Randolph Street to wherever Illinois Central’s four tracks went down to less than 4. Big chunks of that are still 6 tracks wide, 4 for Metra Electric and 2 for everything else.

    Tony d. Reply:

    So then this is all about what’s “best” for Palo Alto and Burlingame? Screw San Jose and Silicon Valley proper? Yeah right!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Good idea, Tony D.!

    San Jose is reaming the rest of the Bay Area raw. A little turn-about would be more than fair.

    You’re getting your $10 billion zero-passenger BART line. You’re getting your 101 and 680 and 880 and 85 and 262 widenings and “safety improvements” and interchange blow-outs. You’re not paying what you promised for any Caltrain capital project or for VTA improvements or for Dumbarton rail.

    But after all of that, there will, as today, still be no demand for anybody to travel to the doughnut of surface parking lots and abject Redevelopment Agency failure that is “downtown” San Jose.

    From today’s NYT:

    You can generally predict the quality of online photos by the words in their captions. Higher-rated photos had the words Peru, Cambodia, Michigan, tombs, trails and boats. The photo captions most likely to signify an uninspiring photo are San Jose, mommy, graduation and C.E.O.

    On second thought, sometimes the data will yield insights that are not so surprising. Sorry, San Jose.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Talk about speaking out of one’s a$$. Geez!! To the rest, let’s continue the intelligent discussion; proceed!

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Richard, you’re making stuff up again. The BART to San Jose project cost $2.3B with Santa Clara county taxing itself significantly and close to zero coming from other counties. Similarly SCC taxed itself completely to build Hwy 85, widen 101 and upgrade 237 into a full freeway (you don’t even know the correct hwy numbers down there). If you want to talk about transportation waste, point out which of your favorite cities and counties are immune from it.

    Hwys get expanded because so many people are trying to get to their jobs in Silicon Valley, which remains a key economic engine for the Bay Area and the state.

    the road to recovery runs right through Silicon Valley. … San Francisco is really trailing the national average in terms of job growth

    Your latest rant is that HSR and Caltrain cannot share the same corridor because … someday four tracks will be needed?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Hwys get expanded because so many people are trying to get to their jobs in Silicon Valley,

    Hwys gets expanded because it’s in the financial interest of highway construction contractors.

    We’re going to Solve Congestion!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So they pay taxes to build highways and then burn gas on those highways, that is taxed, to build highways in Fumbuck. I’m sure the stalwart yeomanry of Fumbuck can go on at length about how it si to spend tax money in the fleshpits of San Jose.

    Clem Reply:

    You’ve got BART to San Jose confused with BART to Berryessa. Richard meant the full project to Santa Clara (currently estimated at 6+ billion when all is said and done) and likely applied an overrun factor in line with recent BART projects. $10 billion isn’t that far off.

    Tony d. Reply:

    I think Richard meant BART to Berryessa, hence his stupid zero passengers commentary. By the day, defending Richard? You’re better than that Clem!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I think Tony D. meant “whatever the hell I like to pretend he meant.” Therefore he’s a liar. Like CARRD, the Sierra Club, James Hansen and, errr, sure, why not, William of Orange.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    the road to recovery runs right through Silicon Valley. … San Francisco is really trailing the national average in terms of job growth

    That’s an idiotic comment given that San Francisco has a lower unemployment rate.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    That’s right Tony, the primary objective of our transportation planning is the desires of a few entitled residents of Palo Alto and Burlingame. If others don’t like it, let them buy Teslas.

    Obfuscation becomes sport for some folks, they throw off a few factoids and some are fooled for a time. But the relentless drumbeat of negativity soon wakes up most readers to the reality that getting the best result was not the goal at all, rather it is the chance to ‘play doctor on tv’.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Sure Neil. And the SFO extension was going to cost $690 million.

    Once the project is approved, the sky’s the limit.

    VBobier Reply:

    Ok now 4 tracks mains aren’t a New thing, but then Richard I gather You’ve not heard of the Broadway Limited?

    Quadruple Track”>Quadruple_track has uses where a faster train or trains can overtake a slower train or trains, as 2 tracks can be a bottleneck. As is mentioned in the Wikipedia and as is quoted below.

    Advantages of quadruple track

    A 4-track section of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor in New Jersey is shown Here.

    Quadruple track can manage a larger amount of traffic with usually twice the capacity of double track. It is often seen around large metropolis or on busy inter-city corridors.
    In quadruple track, faster trains can overtake slower ones, and quadrupling can contribute to faster operation of trains. High-speed rail of 200 km/h average speed and commuter rail of 40 km/h average can co-exist in quadruple track without interrupting each other.
    It is relatively easy to do maintenance and engineering work of tracks in quadruple line with minimum effect of train delay because double-track service is kept even if the other two double tracks are halted during the work.

    Disadvantages of quadruple track

    Quadruple track costs more due to requiring more materials and increased land acquisition costs. This also applies to tunneling and bridge costs.
    When adding tracks, land acquisition can become prohibitively expensive.
    Maintenance costs are higher and often more complex as there may be more switches on the track than on a two-track line (to facilitate switching from outer to inner tracks and vice versa).
    For safety, grade separations are almost always required.


    Quadruple track section of the West Coast Main Line in Great Britain as is shown Here.


    The New York Central Railroad’s Water Level Route was the first long distance 4-track railroad in the world.
    Much of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor from Washington to New Haven is a four track line.
    The Pennsylvania Railroad had a four-track mainline carrying freight from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg via the Horseshoe Curve. This was how the name Broadway Limited came about due the “Broadway of a 4 track main.”
    The BNSF Racetrack in Chicago has a quadruple track section from Union Station to Lavergne.
    New York City Subway – many lines of the New York City Subway are quadrupled. Hence, many express services are operated in the New York City Subway. Express trains and local trains are separated with each different track.


    Significant lengths of the West Coast, Great Western and East Coast Main Lines in Great Britain are quadruple track, with the remainder of the lines being double track. These lines are high capacity and high speed lines running from Glasgow, Bristol and Edinburgh to London.
    The London Waterloo to Southampton / Salisbury main line South Western Main Line from London Waterloo to Worting Junction, Great Britain.
    The Berlin Stadtbahn, Germany, has four tracks.
    The İstanbul-Ankara Main Line has a quadruple track section between Etimesgut and Kızılay in Ankara, Turkey.
    Most of the railway through Stockholm County, Sweden has four tracks, sometimes having two routes. Still the central section has two tracks only, with two more under construction (Stockholm City Line).

    Hong Kong

    The Tung Chung Line and the Airport Express in Hong Kong are quadruplicated between Kowloon and Tsing Yi stations, but share two tracks on the rest of their routes (until they diverge before the western end). The two lines shared two tracks when they were opened in 1998.
    The Ocean Park Cable Car system got two pairs of ropeways.


    The Guangzhou–Shenzhen Railway is quadruplicated for its entire length separating passenger with freight traffic. It is the first railway in China to do so.
    The Shanghai–Nanjing Intercity High-Speed Railway runs exactly parallel to the slower conventional Nanjing-Shanghai Railway.

    Huning Lines
    South Korea

    The Gyeongbu Line in South Korea is quadruplicated on 84.9km on its route, and sextuplicated on a further 11.7km


    Hankyu Railway in Osaka has a sextuplicated section between Umeda and Juso stations. (2.4km)
    Keihan Main Line in Osaka is quadruplicated between Temmabashi and Neyagawa Signal Box (~13km)
    Seibu Main Line in Tokyo is quadruplicated between Nerima to Nerima-Takanodai stations (3.5 km)

    VBobier Reply:

    Ok the link didn’t work, but no matter it’s Quadruple Track(Wiki)

    VBobier Reply:

    Plus the 2nd picture link, forgot the = sign, drat, Here it is then.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    One thing to be aware of with the British quad-track lines is that they do often have extremely long blocks, and rather few interchanges. With the exception of the “S-Bahn” zones, the traffic could be handled on a double track with shorter blocks.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    If you want to add a few more for Europe:
    • Zürich HB – Killwangen-Spreitenbach
    • Rupperswil – Aarau
    • Zürich HB – Oerlikon (2, soon 3 double track lines)

    • Mannheim – Basel (partially 4-track; some stretches under construction, some planned)
    • München – Augsburg (I think they are now finished with the work)

    • Paris Gare de Lyon – St.Florentin-Vergigny (one stretch 2 separated double tracks)

    and there are more…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    There are a lot more examples in Japan, but usually each track pair has a different name. This map partly shows which lines are different, but sometimes two parallel lines run on the same tracks.

    That said, the lines on the segment between Ueno and Shinagawa do not share tracks. In other words, there are four local tracks all the way, two Shinkansen tracks, and depending on the segment between zero and four express commuter tracks. (The segment with zero, between Ueno and Tokyo, is the most congested nationwide, and JR East is working on adding two.) Yes, those are ten tracks between Tokyo and Shinagawa – all used to full capacity.

    Not that there’s any relevance to Caltrain, mind you. The local stations on those lines have more ridership than all of Caltrain. And the areas around the suburban stations look like real cities, which isn’t the case for San Jose. Stare at Shinagawa or Yokohama or Kokubunji or Tachikawa on Google Earth and ask yourself how it compares with San Jose.

  8. Andy Chow
    Mar 28th, 2012 at 23:34

    Under the blended system, the corridor would be engineered for a max of 110 mph, so it will meet the requirements set in Prop 1a. 110 mph does not require 100% grade separations but a lot of cities are interested in separating at least some of the crossings for additional safety and improve traffic flow.

    I hope that you are not joining the Kopp club to try to make HSR difficult.

    Tim Reply:

    a la “sealed corridor” with quad gates and all of the cheaper grade separations done (making it a FRA Quiet Zone).

    Peter Reply:

    Depends on what requirements of Prop 1A you want to meet. You can’t do SF-SJ in 30 minutes at 110 mph top speed, you can barely do it at 125 mph.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    It is my understanding that it will be designed for 125mph operation but Caltrain is only analyzing an operating program that runs trains at 110mph. As long as the corridor is designed to meet the requirements, HSR trains can run trains at the required speed. Caltrain has different plans, which could be adjusted when HSR trains show up.

    jimsf Reply:

    does caltrain plan to run its emus at 110?

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    I believe so, at least for the baby bullets.

    Mike Reply:

    does caltrain plan to run its emus at 110?

    Not initially; all operations will stay at 79. Once TBD future improvements are made to accommodate HSR, and once HSR trains actually arrive and are doing 110, Caltrain will likely do the same.

  9. Jeff Carter
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 04:28

    In the real (NON PB/CHSRA/Caltrain) world, does it actually cost $1.5 billion and take 8 years to electrify and upgrade 50 miles of double track rail road?

    I have not seen any breakdown of the costs, i. e. overhead catenary, signals, rolling stock, etc… Wish I had more time to read through all this MTC stuff…

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You mean, $30m/mile, or IOW $19m/km? I wouldn’t think so with this much of the work involving track at grade, but whether $10m/km would be out of sight would depend on how much civil engineering is required, so it could be the normal reasonable x 2 that we expect from US projects.

    mike Reply:

    The last major electrification project in the US was New Haven-Boston in the late 90s. That cost around $680 million for 156 miles of double track (approximately $1 billion in 2012 dollars). In fairness that did not involve any rolling stock (and probably not much signaling either, though I’m not certain). Still, $1.5 billion seems somewhat overpriced.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So roughly 3 million dollars a track mile in today’s dollars. Keep the math simple, 4 tracks between San Francisco and San Jose is 200 track miles. Or 600 million.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    But the electrification is for a predominantly two-track line, and also the tension doesn’t need to support high speeds.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So it’s even worse….
    The untensioned catenary of the NEC supports 135 – except when it’s hot and it doesn’t – so they’d be tensioning the catenary for all the other reasons you tension catenary.

    J. Wong Reply:

    I think there is more than just electrification involved.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I think there is more than just electrification involved.

    There’s got to be at least $300 million in direct no-purpose kickbacks to America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals in the consultancies and contractor mafia operations that will “specify” and “design” the signalling system, electrification systems, and vehicles all in utter ignorance of and in direct conflict with best global practice. These things don’t come in at twice comparable project prices for nothing!

    It’s tough work, but somebody needs to stand in the path of the firehose of cash and suck it down. Luckily, there’s exactly one world class skill that America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals possess.

    Matt in SF Reply:

    The memo lists an outline of costs associated with each category of improvement, i.e. control systems, rolling stock, etc. It’s not detailed at all, but it’s probably a better starting point if you really want to price out the cost of each mile.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Of the $1.225B for Electrification and EMUs it appears 1/3 is for the EMUs, for an Electrification cost of about $10m/km

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That is from the note of funding of $342m for EMU’s? That is noted as FTA funding, so its not certain that is 100% of the EMU cost, but in any event, it leaves $883m for any balance of EMU costs and for electrification. If the FTA funding were, for example, the 80% of an 80:20 funding split, it would be $798m for electrification, which does indeed seem like $10m/km.

    That will be inflated to a certain extent because it will be nominal YOE dollars ~ the sooner the work starts, the lower the nominal YOE value because of the arbitrary projected inflation in the figures ~ but not as much as if it was 20 years in the future.

    Clem Reply:

    The information is available in Caltrain’s Electrification EA/EIR of July 2009.

    Rolling stock is $440M
    Non-rolling stock is $785M which breaks down as:
    $171M Traction Power Supply System
    $358M Overhead Contact System
    $93M Signal System & Grade Crossings
    $40M Communications
    $39M Tunnel and Overcrossing Clearance
    $27M Utilities and Landscape Improvements
    $22M OCS Equipment and Materials Storage
    $11M Retooling of CEMOF and Training
    $2M High-Level Catenary Platforms
    $9M Liability Insurance, Financing, Other
    Total $1225M

    Note $133M of signaling and communications charges that are probably double-booked with the $231M budget for CBOSS… juicy!

    (all in YOE $ assuming 2015 completion. You can add 4 years to that, or ~10%)

  10. SL
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 07:07

    What is this?

    9. Consideration of a Resolution to Rescind Resolution HSRA # 11-11 Certifying 2010 Bay Area to Central Valley Revised Final Program EIR, Selecting Pacheco Pass Network Alternative, and Making Related Decisions
    The board will discuss and consider taking action on a resolution to rescind its approvals and certification of the 2010 Revised Final Program Environmental Impact Report, in compliance with the judicial decision.

    Peter Reply:

    Old news. They were ordered to do this because the last revised Program EIR did not comply with CEQA.

    The next revision will likely be certified either on April 19 or at the May Board meeting.

  11. Nadia
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 07:39

    O/T: Brown administration, bullet train board seek to ease environmental reviews of the project,0,882981.story

    Brsk Reply:

    “The environmental review doesn’t describe the system they want to build,” said Nadia Naik, a cofounder of Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Development. “The blended approaches puts constraints on how many high speed trains can operate. It affects the trip times. The question is where is the analysis?”

    Ummm, see maybe?

    Wow, now you hate the blended system too? You prefer they do 4-track aerial because they did “the analysis,” really? Surprise!

    Come on be a grown woman. Fess up that you hate ANY HSR plan and just want it dead.

    When the endless lawsuits are stopped by Brown and they break ground in Fresno I’m going to be laughing at you. You and your friends and how you wasted so many years of your life doing nothing but fail at stopping the future.

    You might as well go grab a bucket and fight the tide.

    Walter Reply:

    Whining, lawsuits, and concern trolling in the media are sport for CARRD.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Ummm, see maybe?

    Pure comedy gold from America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals.


    (Pregnant pause. Audience runs through the cliched possibilities and savours the associations. Will it be “Incompetence?” “Corruption?” “Grotesque unprofessionalism?” “Complete ignorance?” “Consultant rent-seeking?” “Reptilian hind–brain level of foresight?” “Sheltered Workshop for Special Needs?”Ineptitude?” is the obvious follow-on, but wait for it … wait for it …)


    (NOBODY saw that coming. The house explodes in peals of hilarity! You agent’s phone lights up with offers!)

    Seriously Brsk, quit you day job and go into the gag writing biz. You’ll slay ’em.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    No one beats you Richard for pure comedy

    joe Reply:

    It is not comedy, it is bullying.

    Peter Reply:

    The article is a grab-bag of interesting information and propaganda.

    It’s not surprising that the Authority is looking for concessions for the project in order to not blow ARRA deadlines. Those would likely be I agree that an all-out exemption is politically an impossibility.

    On the other hand, TRANSDEF is overstating its case on the revised EIR. The Authority has gotten the issues in the EIR that were not in compliance with CEQA. The fact that the Authority “lost” on a number of issues means nothing as to whether there is any remaining issue not in compliance.

    Similarly, CARRD is incorrect if it assumes that later-developed plans have ANY bearing on the Program EIR. If you will recall, that was one of the issues raised in the more recent lawsuit, and the plaintiffs lost on that issue. The fact that the plan has changed again will not change the result if that argument is raised again. Remember, what is discussed in a Program EIR is NOT what is planned to be built. It’s a general study of impacts. A Project EIR is where the detailed impacts are studied. You can’t co-opt a Program EIR and try to make it do a Project EIR’s work for you, otherwise there’s no point in separating them to begin with.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    The mountain of lawsuits that are coming down the pipeline will backfire on anti-HSR, pro-CEQA environmentalists. When they abuse the CEQA system on the HSR project, which now has large amounts of political support, I predict that lawmakers will finally say enough is enough and pass legislation to significantly reform CEQA. In other words, Gary Patton, will undermine the law he loves – CEQA – because of his extreme and obessive efforts to kill HSR by suing over everyting bogus angle under the sun.

    joe Reply:


    CA is already flirting with building in exceptions to the law.

    The new bill would require that legal challenges be resolved within 175 days for projects estimated to cost at least $100 million, if the governor selects them for such treatment during the next three years. The projects would have to win certification that they are environmentally friendly.

    Senators acknowledged that the broader measure would probably have to pass if they are to approve the AEG stadium bill. Its principal co-author, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), said it was justified by the state’s 12% unemployment rate.

    “This is a recession,” Steinberg said. “People are hurting, and we have to use every tool in our disposal to help people get back to work, and do so in a way that does not undermine our very important environmental laws.”

    The bill, AB 900, would allow a wide variety of projects — residential, commercial, sports, cultural, entertainment, renewable energy and recreational — to apply to the governor for expedited treatment. They would have to be located on an under-utilized property in a developed area.

    A possible HSR exception would be a coalition of interests, probably not the Sierra Club but enough of a coalition to expedite the process. It would “save money”, cut “red tape”, be “pro-jobs and business” and piss off the hippies. One can find enough behinds those interests to get a HSR exemption.

    joe Reply:

    Status 2011-12

    LAST HIST. ACTION : Chaptered by Secretary of State – Chapter 354, Statutes of 2011.
    COMM. ACTION DATE : 09/09/2011
    COMM. ACTION : Do pass, but re-refer to the Committee on Appropriations
    COMM. VOTE SUMMARY : Ayes: 05 Noes: 01 PASS

    Mike Reply:

    Thanks for explaining that, Peter. I wish the Authority would have a nice one page document that helps the public understand the distinction between Program and Project EIRs.

    VBobier Reply:

    Problem is nothing is ever simple, life is complex & so is project of any size.

    jimsf Reply:

    Its groups/people such as this who are the cause of the country’s economic woes. They abuse the legal system and contribute to the astronomical costs of doing business. In this process they have been screaming bloody murder, completely irrational, over a train. a freakin train. How can grown people be that selfish, uniformed, and hysterical?

    Id be embarrassed to be them. Most american are just annoyed by these kinds of people for they are the reason the country isn’t moving forward, and instead stagnating.

    Meanwhile we all pay for it.

    Peter Reply:

    Remember, CARRD told Fresno State students that their tuition would go up by $2000 if HSR was built. So, I guess college students in particular would pay for HSR…

    jimsf Reply:


    joe Reply:

    CARRD’s founding member also claimed HSR would cost CV jobs.

    HSR would reduce travel times and let corporations consolidate all their satellite office workers to the Bay Area or LA. The audience was confused. WTF?! What satellite corporate offices ?

    CARRD is a collection of upper middle-class citizens without a clue how the SV works or what a CSU student job faces for job prospects in Fresno. I say invite them to every debate. Let them explain how the CV has a socio-economic demographic that does not fly in airplanes or rail lines.

    Tony d. Reply:

    You’re kidding, right Peter? No one could be that sleazy.

    Peter Reply:

    From the Fresno Bee:

    Elizabeth Alexis of Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design and Daniel Krause of Californians for High-Speed Rail discussed the effect of high-speed rail on communities and the California State University budget.

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

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    When I first met CARRD folks they were still somewhat constructive. And now that they have made tremendous progress to eliminate the elevates in their community, they still are claiming nothing has changed (see Mountain View meeting). Uh? Nothing at all has changed? Rapid credibility loss. CA4HSR was willing to change our position from opposing blended to supporting because we realized that the way things have evolved that the plan makes sense at this time. We also saw that reduced impacts on the Peninsula is good for the people there and good for the project. But CARRD won’t budge.

    Why are people so damn extreme these days? It is really a sad fact of modern oppositional politics. The art of compromise in the best interest of society is totally lost on these folks.

    Alternatively, CARRD could have applauded the changes while staying at the table to express any remaining concerns, such as how can we now collaborative figure out how to resovle the issue of traffic mitigation, grade crossing/grade separations. As I see it, they are not at the table now except to lay the ground work to abuse CEQA, which will lead to CEQA’s undoing.

    Eric M Reply:

    It was only a matter of time the the typical “done right” CARRD would run out if smoke screens and show their true colors of anti-CAHSR.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Haven’t noticed any of the known CARRD folks posting here lately.

    Peter Reply:

    Look who started this thread.

    But they weren’t part of the Mountain View hearing, either, which surprised me. I’m wondering of their relevance is beginning to fade.

    thatbruce Reply:

    You’re right. Guess I should have said ‘participating in the discussion’.

    Tony d. Reply:

    By the way, funny (or sickening) that NIMBYS cried and bitched about a 4-track ROW…now they’re crying and bitching about the ROW NOT being 4-tracked! This new blended arrangement, designed as a compromise to help appease them, is now viewed by them as “illegal” and compromising trip times…un-@#$%%-believable! Thankfully, in the end they won’t win.

    BrianR Reply:

    I know! Isn’t the hypocrisy so blatantly obvious! CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM is not their real objective. Killing the project is all they are after, regardless of what it takes. Until they get exactly what they want it is going to be a never ending cycle.

    Tony d. Reply:

    I am personally calling out Nadia, Elizabeth, or other CAARD members to answer to this hypocrisy! You can’t have it both ways!

    joe Reply:

    IMHO, CARRD was formed to protect CARRD member’s financial interests, not advocate responsible rail design.

    Walter Reply:

    I’ve tried. They’re silent. These days, they just come back to take cheap shots and leave.

    thatbruce Reply:


    Have you considered submitting some of your articles from here to the LA Times?

  12. Reality Check
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 12:43

    O/T … but relevant to Caltrain’s ill-advised plan to develop its own “homegrown” CBOSS PTC solution:
    Digital Rail Crash-Avoidance System Runs Into Trouble

    Some passenger railroads, backed by the Association of American Railroads and the American Public Transportation Association, say they can’t afford the new PTC systems, which will also require the hiring of highly trained employees to install and maintain the new technology.

    A bipartisan group in Congress has recommended a five-year delay in the deadline for implementation. The Republican-drafted legislation would also permit railroads to install simpler, more affordable safety solutions.

    Metrolink and its partners have chosen to build an overlay system, which integrates with existing safety and signaling equipment, making it more expensive than a stand-alone system, which eliminates the need to retrofit existing equipment.


    “We’re out in front developing this,” says John Fenton, Metrolink’s chief executive. “We’ll be one of the first rail lines in the country to have it, and it’s something we need in this region since we work with both freight and passenger trains on the same tracks.”


    The idea is to market a Metrolink-style system to other rail lines both in the U.S. and internationally once it is operating in California.

    A couple other, less advanced PTC solutions currently exist, including the Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System, ACSES, now used on Amtrak’s busy Northeast Corridor (Boston to Washington).

    Metrolink is building its system with interoperability as a top priority by, for example, using the 220 mhz frequency band — popular among freight lines — for radio communications.

    Industry-wide adoption of PTC will allow regional railroads to choose their own technology and tools while permitting all rail lines to communicate with each other. One potential hurdle is the lack of sufficient 220 mhz bandwidth to accommodate all of the railroads.

  13. Eric
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 13:34

    You know, with the regional commuter operations planned for CAHSR in the future, I don’t know why they haven’t explored eventually supplanting Caltrain with HSR. They will be serving the exact market and purpose as far as the peninsula is concerned. Why not just run the eventual HSR trainsets as “Caltrain”.

    Reality Check Reply:

    CAHSR plans to run Caltrain-local type service providing trips like Belmont-Menlo Park? Really? When? Where?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Making trains that can go 220 MPH is very expensive. For local service between San Jose and San Francisco you need trains that can go 70 MPH and maybe a few that can go 125 for the express services. They’re a lot cheap than 220 MPH trains.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I think you are overstating the case. Indeed, depending on the actual business model chosen, it might not be a decision that the Authority would ever be making, it might be a decision made by a franchise operator.

  14. Reality Check
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 13:40

    O/T: Rail Corridor Task Force to Detail Findings Tonight
    14-month investigation into best option for new Caltrain and High Speed Rail tracks led to one strong recommendation.

    Third Draft Complete

    The Third Draft of the Palo Alto Rail Corridor Study is available for download. The study is a report of the Task Force’s work and discusses the vision for the study area.

    Previous drafts of the Palo Alto Rail Corridor Study can be found in the resources section of this website.

    Peter Reply:

    The Task Force made an early choice not to review every possible option presented by the California High Speed Rail Authority, which oversees the statewide project, but instead to focus on the two most desirable options for Palo Alto: buried tracks and at-grade tracks.

    Well, that’s a good way to ensure a particular result for a “study”. Just ignore options you don’t like. Unfortunately for PA, the Authority is going to have to study an elevated alternative in order to comply with CEQA. They have to study a range of reasonable alternatives, one of which will be an elevated alignment.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Yes, and this isn’t that study. This is of a review of the corridor for town planning purposes. One of its main conclusions is that the tracks, together with the parallel major streets Alma and El Camino, form a barrier through the town, and that grade seps and safer crossings would be desirable. Grade seps desirable in Palo Alto? Stop the presses!

    Peter Reply:

    What, you don’t think PA is going to trot out this “study” and claim “But we studied the issue, and we concluded a trench was the best option for PA, no need to look any further!”

    synonymouse Reply:

    PB will oppose a trench. PAMPA will have to hire its own engineers, just like Berkeley.

    VBobier Reply:

    A trench will only enable suicides to happen by depressed kids being able to jump or even hang themselves with a rope of something, that’s the reality of a trench and the State said PA wants a trench, PA has to pay for a Trench and that includes long term body retrieval by the local Coroners Office, So I’d think as do a majority that an elevated would be better than carting out a bunch of body bags, don’t like it Syno? Tough…

    synonymouse Reply:

    “Just ignore options you don’t like.”

    And what the hell do you think they did in spades at Tejon? Cheerleader double standards once again.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And among the alternatives will be primarily at-grade alignment with a few specific overpass and underpass and split-grade options for grade separation. There’s no reason except sound-bite news coverage why a viaduct or low berm and split grade separation at one point in the line means anything at all about what should be done five kilometers away.

  15. Reality Check
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 13:44

    The New Plan for California’s High Speed Rail Project: Faster, Smarter, Cheaper — and Legal

    Tony d. Reply:


    VBobier Reply:

    Very nice find Reality Check, very nice indeed.

    synonymouse Reply:

    But Stilt-A-Rail remains a welfare infrastructure jobs scheme which will need ongoing subsidies, just like BART. Palmdale, for example, will demand and get below market fares as its only interest in being on the hsr route is to get a free commute line to LA.

    VBobier Reply:

    Worthless and useless argument Cyno, other areas have it, they do just fine, so get off it.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Just what other area in California has it, pray tell? May I remind you of the simple, brute fact there is currently no(as in nil, nada, zippo)passenger service either over the Tehachapi Loop or to Las Vegas from anywhere in the Golden State. What does that tell you about demand?

    No private entrepreneur would build the Roundabout. Only crooked machine politicians with your money.

    California has one third of US welfare cases. When Jerry secures the 2/3 lock in the Legislature, he will institute even more welfare spending. By then we should have half of the welfare recipients in the country. You can give them free one way tickets to Palmdale.

    Mark Reply:

    Your obsession with Palmdale and some shadowy conspiracy of “machine politicians” and Tejon vested interests would be laughable if it wasn’t such a serious sign of other issues you might have.

    synonymouse Reply:

    How do you plan to pay for the exploding welfare-social service budget?

  16. Roger Christensen
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 16:08

    Excellent! I am surrounded by the Families Protecting the Valley crowd. Can’t wait to pass it along!

  17. Tony d.
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 17:11

    Back to the intelligent discussion: does anyone know why this project won’t be completed until 2019? BART to SJ (from Warm Springs Fremont) will break ground next month and be completed by 2016. What’s the timeline for Caltrain electrification?

    Peter Reply:

    No, BART to Berryessa is supposed to be completed in 2018. For $2.3 billion.

    Tony D. Reply:

    When BART to SJ landed federal funds a few weeks back, the local media was reporting that the project could be completed by the end of 2016. 4 years to construct heavy-rail rapid transit from WS to Berryessa sounds reasonable. 7 years to electrify/modernize Caltrain from SJ to SF; just curious as to why?
    By the way, hats off to Neil Shea for putting down a beat down earlier in the thread. I love when facts defeat nonsense!

    Neil Shea Reply:

    There’s one very shrill purveyor of nonsense here. I think he wears a cape and mask at home to best assume the persona of super hero. Like most of us here, I really appreciate America and the Bay Area and want to see more transit alternatives available. I don’t understand the vicarious thrill of always tearing things down, but maybe if I was dropped as a baby I might see things differently.

    Jon Reply:

    That’s not the reason. Richard M used to be all buddy-buddy with the Caltrain management, until he felt that they weren’t doing exactly as he told them to and threw a hissy fit. Now it’s his personal vendetta to expose Caltrain and their contractors as fools and incompetents, even if it means arguing against upgrades that would improve the railroad. A case of if you can’t join them, destroy them. Personally, I just want to see improved transit in the bay area, and have no desire to see people die in a fire just because I disagree with their views.

    Matt in SF Reply:

    The memo on the electrification agreement lists a timeline for PTC and for electrification, so you can at least see how long they are estimating each phase of the project will take. PTC by 2015 or so and electrification by 2018/2019 IIRC.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Thanks Matt.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    There may be different projects being discussed here ~ the $900m in Federal Funding was for Fremont to Milpitas to North San Jose … there is also the link to central-ish San Jose and Santa Clara.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    The funded and underway project to Berryessa is the subject of the $900m federal grant. It is 10 miles for $2.3B, no tunneling, links to VTA light rail which go through the job corridor of North San Jose (Cisco land), and the end station is next to a Hwy 101 exit.

    The other portion is $4B+ for 6 miles under downtown SJ and turning up to Santa Clara next to SJC airport. Santa Clara County has about 40% of the funds itself already. The economics of it are problematic in large part because it is mostly tunneled. But we will probably want to link the systems and complete the ring around the bay at some point.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    So if one person is talking about finishing the first “project to San Jose” and someone else about finishing the second “project to San Jose”, its normal for the “earliest completion” date to differ.

  18. Matt in SF
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 18:23

    This has probably been posted previously, but for people like me who only stop by occasionally I just noticed that Caltrain released their detailed analysis results of the feasibility study conducted on the blended plan dated March 2012:

    Also, I notice in their 3/22 press release supporting the agreement for the electrification project says:

    “…Caltrain has expressed opposition to a four-track system and the agreement specifies that future improvements would be limited to support blended high-speed and commuter rail operations on a system that is primarily two-tracks…”

    Which is strikingly at odds with their existing 2004-2023 strategic plan which promotes 4-tracking as the “ultimate” scenario for building service and ridership. Not that I am opposed to the recent agreement, but it’s a little quick for them to start pretending like they have been singing this tune all along. There’s truly no need for Caltrain to misrepresent their position or how it might have changed over time.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Glad to have you stopping by Matt. I am occasional as well. I do think this MOU has generated some cautious optimism and quieted some of the negative voices, but certainly not all of them.

    BrianR Reply:

    I was also taken aback when I read the “system that is primarily two-tracks” statement. I was thinking to myself “what kind of business does Caltrain think it is running? Is it in transportation or running a quaint tourist railroad?”

    I couldn’t imagine United Airlines creating a business plan saying we will only ever use ‘X’ amount of gates at SFO and restrict the growth of our entire route structure so we will only ever need those ‘X’ amount of gates even if traffic demand requires obtaining more gates.

    Unfortunately for Caltrain they are the weakest player on this whole issue and can easily be bribed by PAMPA / Simitian and various mayors of San Mateo county to subordinate their own interests unless they want to risk losing their funding. It would be nice if Caltrain didn’t have to be so spineless on these issues.

    One of the biggest ironies is that those groups have taken the Transit Oriented Development rhetoric, abused it and flipped the logic upside down. Since when is a 4-track grade separated passenger railroad a bad idea for TOD? What good is TOD if based around sub-standard ineffective transportation infrastructure?

    It seems so pathetic that in the year 2012 here on the peninsula we need to replay this 4-track vs. 2-track, grade separated or not grade separated debate. It’s like we are caught in a time warp here.

    It really is a shame that back in the 1920’s the Southern Pacific didn’t complete their originally proposed project to 4-track and electrify the peninsula line from SF to San Jose. If only they got further along than just adding those extra tunnel bores in SF. Yes, of course I get it that there was the great depression, WW2, postwar suburbanization, an entire restructuring of our society (and so on) since then. It’s always nice to imagine those “what-if” scenarios though.

    Gianny Reply:

    NO-Cal has taken too much power in this planning, Los Angeles needs to take it back!

    synonymouse Reply:

    Torpedoing the obvious Tejon punch-thru for a 50 mile detour in the boonies is not a power-play on the grossest scale?

    “The student is now the master”

    “Master of evil, Antonio”

  19. jimsf
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 18:50

    So in 8 years in say 2020, what does this new plan brings us. from segment by segment from transbay center to union station?
    1.transbay center will be complete.
    2.DTX complete?
    2.caltrain will be electrified from transbay to gilroy?
    3. pacheco finished?
    4.chowchilla wye?
    5.merced to bakersfield electrified?
    6.bakersfield to palmdale finished?
    7.palmdale to sylmar finished?
    8.sylmar to laus electrified.?

    Matt in SF Reply:

    I noticed that the new agreement lists the scope for electrification as being from the TTC to Diridon.

    That maybe makes sense anyway as the CHSRA counts SF-SJ as one segment, and SJ-CV as the next segment, so south of SJ could be a focus for a different group of partner agencies, perhaps at a later date once the peninsula portion has been completed.

    Tim Reply:

    We’ll let you know in November……

  20. jimsf
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 19:21

    I think its time for caltrain to go away. They don’t know what they are doing. They’ve already run their existing railroad into the ground. Go ahead and electrify it and make the switch to EMUs, the dissolve the corrupt caltrain agency, and let bart manage it. Say what you want about bart, but there’s one they well and thats run lots of trains, to lots of places, on time, on a schedule, with better frequency, and with timed transfers. with their ebart they already plan to integrate smooth transfers from the ebart trains to the legacy bart trains and they know how to do it smoothly. they could do the same thing at san jose. traveling from fremont to moutain view – no prob step off the bart at sj and onto a waiting ebart to mt view. they could even integrate the ticketing.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    Is there much to go away? Caltrain has outsourced decision-making to consultants, and has outsourced operations to contractors (Yikes! That sounds like CaHSR!). Public oversight is by a “Joint Powers Board” composed of reps of local transit districts, who don’t seem able to come up with money to pay for the trains. As is the case with many companies and government agencies which have outsourced themselves out of existence, Caltrain as an organization consists only of the name “Caltrain” and the red circle logo.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    You’re right actually. Electrification actually goes 1 stop past Diridon to Tamien in SJ. South from Diridon, Santa Clara Cty should work out a deal with Monterey Cty to run a few diesel trains per day. But around the bay we should definitely have a single operator, and BART is a trusted brand.

    jimsf Reply:

    even it didn’t become part of the bart district, caltrain could at least contract bart to manage it just like bart works with ccjpa.

    BrianR Reply:

    If Caltrain stops all service south of Tamien perhaps the VTA could resume service by purchasing some of those recently re-built Budd RDC’s for service between Tamien and Gilroy.

    The re-built RDC’s at least solve the FRA compliance issue assuming that part of the line being UP owned will not be granted the same exceptions as the Caltrain line. If FRA matters are not a concern the VTA could purchase something like the DMU’s used for the Sprinter in Southern California.

    Or the VTA could just contract with whoever is operating Caltrain (Amtrak or Herzog) to operate the DMU’s for them. Having separate train service to Gilroy not tied into Caltrain’s main operations may actually benefit traffic growth on the line since frequencies could be more easily adjusted to meet traffic demand. Another benefit of not being tied into Caltrain is that the route structure could expand. Maybe go beyond Gilroy to serve other cities down the line.

    If there was funding this would not necessarily have to be tied into whenever Caltrain gets electrified. It could happen relatively soon.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    That they need to use RDCs is really sad.

    Peter Reply:

    Or they could lease some modern FRA-compliant DMUs from SMART while SMART waits for Army Corps of Engineers to issue their permits to fill in wetlands so they can lay some track and build some stations. Thank you, Supreme Court and SWANCC.

    William Reply:

    My idea was to have one quasi-state owned company running both CAHSR and Caltrain. This, in my view, would take care of issues raised in this blog, such as cross-ticketing, common-platform height, rolling stock compatibility, etc…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why stop there, why not a Federal operating company.

    BrianR Reply:

    something like Amtrak perhaps!

    When the CAHSR project was first being introduced I remember hearing statements in the media that “this is not going to be anything like Amtrak so we don’t need to worry about it being ineffective and mis-managed”. I am talking in terms of the general public there. Personally I have a positive perception of Amtrak and really like the idea of a nationalized passenger railroad.

    Ironically, having the moniker ‘Amtrak’ attached to it might actually give it better PR at this point in time!

    CAHSR could just as well be branded as an Amtrak California operation. Caltrain would just become the local service operation of Amtrak California. In a way that brings Caltrain back to it’s roots as a Caltrans operated service.

    synonymouse Reply:

    79mph Amtrak – Kopp’s gonna love that. That’s about the level of deferred maintenance they will be able to afford. That’s all Palmdale to LA requires anyway and the entire CHSRA raison d’etre revolves around Palmdale.

    Peter Reply:

    Kopp? You mean the guy who no longer has a say? Invoking him as a boogeyman is a lot less effective when he’s out of the picture.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If California should ever split into two or three separate states, then Federalizing it would be one option, yes.

    Seems a bit silly to federalize an inter-regional system that is contained within a single state.

  21. jimsf
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 19:28

    Oh lord the hillbillies are at it again. Can you stand it. Chowchilla votes to end high speed rail

    joe Reply:

    The Chowchilla City Council approved a resolution Tuesday to support Assembly Bill 1455, a bill designed to stop the proposed high-speed rail project so more taxpayer dollars, according to the council, aren’t wasted.

    Gilroy’s Mayor and City Council Opponents of HSR agreed on one thing: The City had no power to stop HSR so they agreed it was in their interest to conduct a study and recommend an alignment to HSR *if* the project were to go to implementation.

    Opponents were smart enough to recognize they can’t pass a bill to stop high speed rail. Disengaging and nonsense posturing runs the risk of being marginalized.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “Put the Wye somewhere else”.

    Not quite as silly as the farmers south of Fresno, but the Wye has got to go somewhere. Mind, while the people near a likely Altamont Pass Wye are not going to pipe up, “No, no, keep the Wye in Chowchilla” ~ if asked, they’d probably agree with that.

    James Reply:

    (I am not a rail system expert but…) A while ago I thought to locate the Wye ‘under’ a future airport terminal. The terminal would be served by three branches of an HSR system, Bako, Sacto, and SF. I suppoe by ‘under’ I mean in close proximity since the curve radius would make a nominal wye very large. Unless the station is located near the wye.

    James Reply:

    With a simple shift of the three legs of the curves that make up the wye, the three lines can meet the curve radius requirements and cross over each other in a small area the size of a station. Not unlike a cloverleaf. Then any train can stop or pass through without slowing. I may even take up less land area since part of the wye overlaps. But then the inner parts of the wye will of course be farm land anyway. As a structural design engineer one way I approach a problem is to look at the geometry. I understand that actually planning a wye in a given CV location is of course much more complicated.

    William Reply:

    All alternatives carried forward have the wye placed outside of the Chowchilla city-limit. Don’t know what the city is complaining about…

  22. datacruncher
    Mar 30th, 2012 at 10:46

    Part of the opposition is driven by a developer’s current proposal in Chowchilla for a NASCAR track complex. The race complex location is along Avenue 24 west of 99 and south of the city. That is the same general area that part of the Ave 24 Wye alternative uses.

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