CHSRA Announces Several New Hires

Aug 27th, 2012 | Posted by

One of the common criticisms made of the California High Speed Rail Authority has been that they’ve not filled numerous open positions. This was always an unfair criticism, given that the CHSRA’s never had the kind of budget certainty anyone needs to go out and make good hires to fill these positions. Until the State Senate approved the release of voter-approved bond funds to build the initial construction segment of the project, it wasn’t even assured that there would be a California HSR project to manage.

With that hurdle overcome, the CHSRA had the stability and certainty they needed to hire the right people to fill the vacancies. And they appear to have done exactly that. The new hires bring a great deal of experience managing transportation projects and working with state and local governments, which will be very important as the project moves to the construction phase.

From the CHSRA’s news release today, here are details of the new hires:

The following are the Authority’s latest appointments to its executive team:

Dennis Trujillo, Chief Deputy Director, has diverse experience in executive positions in state transportation and finance. He was appointed last year as Deputy Secretary of External Affairs at the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency. He has served as Deputy Director of External Affairs for Caltrans and as Deputy Treasurer to California Treasurer Phil Angelides.

Jon Tapping, Risk Manager, most recently was the Project Risk Management Coordinator for the $6.3 billion seismic retrofit of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Project (SFOBB). Tapping was hired to independently manage the refinement, implementation, and maintenance of an improved and enhanced SFOBB risk management plan. His transportation program management career spans over 28 years, including management positions in project management, design, maintenance, and mega-project construction.

Wendy Boykins, Chief Administrative Officer, started her career as a member of the United States Air Force and later transitioned from a non-profit organization to various state agencies. Her experience in personnel administration and human resources spans over 25 years, and served as Human Resource manager at the Department of General Services.

Karen Greene Ross, Assistant Chief Counsel, has held various management positions in state government. She served as Deputy Secretary for Legislation at the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, and held legislative policy positions in both the State Senate and Assembly. Greene Ross also previously served as Deputy for Investments for California State Controller Steve Westly, representing him on the Investment Committees of the Boards of the California Public Employees Retirement System and the California Teachers Retirement System.

Melissa White, Chief Deputy, External Affairs, has extensive experience in outreach and public affairs having worked as senior staff in the U.S. Senate and as senior legislative counsel for the National League of Cities. Most recently she was the Federal Affairs Coordinator and Senior Analyst at the Regional Council of Rural Counties in Sacramento. At the RCRC, White advocated for federal issues for the 31 rural counties in California, and was instrumental in building stakeholder coalitions to support county priorities in DC and Sacramento, including successful grassroots and press strategies.

Diana L. Gomez, Central Valley Regional Director, has close to 25 years of experience in California transportation garnering wide experience in technical, managerial and communication areas. Most recently she was part of the California Department of Transportation’s executive management team in Los Angeles. At Caltrans Gomez was involved in the implementation of QuickMap, which displays statewide traffic information, TMCal statewide software tool to track all activities associated with responding to incidents, and the consolidation of permit offices and reorganization of the Division of Traffic Operations in Los Angeles.

Ben Tripousis, Northern California Regional Director, for over a decade has served as the Transportation Policy Manager for the City of San Jose. In that role he was responsible for the development of Transportation Policy Guidelines for the City of San Jose and was the liaison to all local and regional transportation agencies. He was also the Chief Transportation Policy Advisor to the Mayor of San Jose and served on local Congressional and State Assembly staffs.

Rob Wilcox, Deputy Director, Communications, most recently served as communications director for the California Citizens Redistricting Commission which drew the state’s legislative and Congressional districts. Prior to that he was the Chief Deputy to California Inspector General Laura Chick who oversaw the spending of the state’s Federal ARRA funds. He served as Deputy Controller for Communications for the Los Angeles City Controller’s Office and previously operated his own public relations consulting business.

The release also noted that the CHSRA has already been working with Caltrans to fill other important roles within the Authority.

This is yet another sign that the California high speed rail project is on the right track (sorry) and should inspire even more confidence about the CHSRA’s ability to begin construction on-time and bring the project in on-budget.

  1. John Nachtigall
    Aug 27th, 2012 at 18:50

    Where is the HSR experience?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:


    John Nachtigall Reply:

    See we agree on something. They seem pretty “Mickey Mouse” to me

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You have a TGV experience and the when you enter the park you can have a Fantasyland Experience or a Frontierland experience… and then at the end of the day, when you want to go home another TGV experience…

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Just for fun, there was a spoof weblog entry a while back on a (cough, cough) “proposed” high speed train as one of the rides at Disney World in Florida, complete with atomic power plant to generate the electricity this thing would run on:

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Well they were going to build one sorta kinda like the one in France but it got canceled.

    Joey Reply:

    I noticed that too … the Authority is filled with politicians who haven’t the faintest clue about HSR…

    joe Reply:

    Yes, why don’t we use politicians who are familiar with HSR. Get real. Name alternative memebers – – one that have worked on HSR.

    As if CEOs are engineering experts and Bill Gates wrote Windows.

    It’s a public project and political skill is needed in getting the project built.

    Joey Reply:

    You need both political skill and technical expertise. Right now, there is a clear deficiency of the ladder, particularly in the Authority’s leadership.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Agreed and to add to that they are not mutually exclusive. There are people in the world with both sets of skills, you don’t have to pick one or the other. I mean let’s hire some of those European guys who build stuff so cheap there and see if they can work their magic stateside. With the euro crisis in Spain I bet the promise of CA weather and a salary in dollars could get us most all the technical staff of both the Spain and Italian HSR staffs.

    VBobier Reply:

    I’m sure these are experts in their fields & if they need to, there are consultants that are experts in HSR, of course their either from Amtrak and the Acela program or from overseas, like from the people who built the SCNF’s HSR(France) or ICE’s(Germany) or RENFE’s(Spain) & oh yes they are Foreigners, oh whoop dee do…

    Some would object to anyone the CHSRA hires, just to object…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    This is a 20+ year project, how can they not want HSR experts on staff. And as I said above, hire the foreign experts, they are the ones with the experience. I am not critisizing them just to snipe, I am honestly surprised they would staff up with a senior staff with no HSR experience…they are building a HSR system. You don’t staff a football team with executives with no football expereience, and that is just a game, this is 70+ billion.

    The press guys sure, they don’t need HSR experience, but the deputy and regional directors should have it.

    I don’t know what they have left to hire but I hope they have an operations director position and construction director so they can get some direct HSR experience on board.

    VBobier Reply:

    One is an expert in PR, which the project badly needs, did Ya ever think that maybe the money isn’t there as usual to hire said experts, these people are needed and I see nothing wrong with that…

    Dennis Trujillo, Chief Deputy Director, has diverse experience in executive positions in state transportation and finance.
    Maybe He could have used experience in HSR or maybe they’ll hire an assistant who does.

    Jon Tapping, Risk Manager, most recently was the Project Risk Management Coordinator for the $6.3 billion seismic retrofit of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Project (SFOBB).
    Doesn’t need HSR experience…

    Wendy Boykins, Chief Administrative Officer, {snip}served as Human Resource manager
    Doesn’t need HSR experience…

    Karen Greene Ross, Assistant Chief Counsel(a Lawyer)
    Doesn’t need HSR experience…

    Melissa White, Chief Deputy, External Affairs, has extensive experience in outreach and public affairs
    Doesn’t need HSR experience…

    Diana L. Gomez, Central Valley Regional Director
    Doesn’t need HSR experience…

    Ben Tripousis, Northern California Regional Director
    Doesn’t need HSR experience…

    Rob Wilcox, Deputy Director, Communications
    Doesn’t need HSR experience…

    Hiring an expert in HSR could be expensive, so a consultant will have to do, unless Ya can get the legislature to spend some more money on salary for the CHSRA…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    how can you say the risk officer does not need HSR experience. How can you evaluate the risks on a project in which you have no experience. And the regional directors should have HSR experience also.

    The Deputy Director is the “assistant” to the CEO so he for sure should be the one with experience

    This is a 70+ billion dollar project and consultants are more expensive than full time hires. IF you have the money to hire a consultant oyu have the money to hire a full time person. If you are planning on going without that expertise then you are doomed to fail.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “Risk Management” in this can mean two things:
    – avoiding cost overruns
    – avoiding injuries due to collapse or bad working conditions
    In both cases, heavy construction is most of what’s relevant, and one heavy construction project is much like anohter for both purposes.

    The “Chief Deputy Director” is, frankly, going to have to spend most of his time on finance, given the persisent penny-pinching and fights over finance which beset any rail project; looks like he knows something about that.

    Just wait for the “Chief Technical Officer” before you start complaining about lack of HSR experience.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not sure about Windows, but Bill Gates wrote MS-DOS, which is the operating system that made Microsoft successful. And Mark Zuckerberg wrote Facebook, and so on.

    And the current CEO of Volkswagen happens to be a metal engineer by training and worked in automotive engineering for years.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They bought QDOS from Seattle Computer Products.

    VBobier Reply:

    Correct, not many would know that today, as that was a long time ago, back when PCs used lets see 64K of ram, this was before 640K(conventional memory) and 384K(extended memory) or 1024K(1MB) was used…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    they did, but Bill was a programmer, they bought QDOS to run the programs that he had coded.

    That buy is probably still the single most 1 sided transaction since they bought Manhatten (maybe even more then that)

    VBobier Reply:

    Don’t forget about Seward’s Folly or as it’s now called Alaska, that dwarfs everything I’d think…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Louisiana Purchase also….that was a good buy.

    joe Reply:

    They bought excel too.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    And Valve bought every single one of their products since Half-Life, but Gabe Newell still wrote code for Half-Life.

  2. Stephen Smith
    Aug 27th, 2012 at 18:51

    I’d be curious to see what megaprojects “Jon Tapping, Risk Manager” has worked on, and how they turned out.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The good news is that the blurb mentions the Bay Bridge Eastern Span replacement.

    The bad news is that the project makes the Big Dig look good. The Big Dig only ran over 5 times over budget – 3 times if you count inflation. The Eastern Span replacement ran over 8 times, and had only about 10 years of (low, 2000s) inflation, vs. the Big Dig’s 20 years of 1980s-90s inflation.

    joe Reply:


    How would you have reconciled the fight between Willie and Jerry Brown that caused about a two year’s delay?

    How you would have reduced material costs due to building boom in China.

    And when Gov Arhnold got involved, you would have what?

    This project, involved two counties and cities and a boom in construction which you don’t seem refactor into your inflation comparison.

    The Big Dig (favorite project of all time) was in Boston right? Just Boston right?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    How would you have reconciled the fight between Willie and Jerry Brown that caused about a two year’s delay?

    Daddy, what’s an “order of magnitude”?

    joe Reply:

    A factor of ten which is about the estimate cost overrun for the Big Dig.

    At least that’s what wikipedia says.

    “$2.8 billion (in 1982 dollars, US$6.0 billion adjusted for inflation as of 2006).[6] The project was not completed, however, until December 2007, at a cost of over $14.6 billion ($8.08 billion in 1982 dollars)[6]as of 2006.[7] The Boston Globe estimated that the project will ultimately cost $22 billion”

    But 22 Billion is far greater in cost so obviously the ratio Richard’s hung up on hides the fact the Big Dig, which I still maintain is in Boston, is worse and was not as politically complex as the bay bridge.

    The fighting and disagreements, from what I can infer, contributed to more than just the direct delays.

    And Richard has punted on correcting the inflation comparison.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Right, so adjusted for inflation, it’s 8.1/2.8 and this is actually a little less than 3. The 22 number is not actual construction cost – it’s the cost of construction plus future bond interest, which isn’t the same thing.

    And for what it’s worth, there’s mixed evidence that urban rail projects built in the US in the 2000s had less cost overruns than ones built in the 1980s and early 90s (it depends what you throw into your multiple regression) – they certainly didn’t have more. A helpful reader just emailed me a bunch of papers about this.

    VBobier Reply:

    The money spent on the new iconic bridge will be worth the money as it’s a cable stay bridge, it’s only iconic as it’s not too common in the USA, while in Europe and elsewhere like in Japan they do exist… I don’t know if the cables will need painting or not, but the concrete part won’t & that’s better than the Golden Gate which is a very secure job for painters(it ain’t a job for just anybody either & the pay I hear is not too bad either), as once they get done, then it’s time to start all over again, just to fight the constant corrosion…

    Joey Reply:

    The new east span is not cable stayed. It’s a relatively untested self-anchored suspension span. A cable stayed span would have made more sense given that you can’t build an anchorage at the east end.

    VBobier Reply:

    Not so fast Joey, that’s not what the Wiki says it is partly related:

    Related bridge types

    Self anchored suspension bridge

    A self-anchored suspension bridge has some similarity in principle to the cable-stayed type in that tension forces that prevent the deck from dropping are converted into compression forces vertically in the tower and horizontally along the deck structure. It is also related to the suspension bridge in having accurate main cables with suspender cables, although the self-anchored type lacks the heavy cable anchorages of the ordinary suspension bridge. Unlike either a cable stayed bridge or a suspension bridge, the self-anchored suspension bridge must be supported by falsework during construction and so it is more expensive to construct.

    Considering the location of the bridge, it’s better than any other type and who says it won’t work? You? I don’t see no Geological or Engineering Degree and unless You have something in these fields to where You and other detractors can back up anything You say, bad from My point of view, as real engineers picked this.

    Remember the NASA Curiosity Lander landed on Mars with an untried and except for the chute, an untested landing system, it landed perfectly, within 1.5 miles of its targeted landing spot…

    I’d like to see the detractors do better and I know they can’t…

    Self-anchored suspension bridge

    A self-anchored suspension bridge is a suspension bridge in which the main cables attach to the ends of the deck, rather than to the ground via large anchorages. The design is well-suited for construction atop elevated piers, or in areas of unstable soils where anchorages would be difficult to construct.

    joe Reply:

    Vbobier = MSL was 4x over budget. Oh noes !!

    Would our most esteemed experts every let anyone on that mission work again?
    Or ban JPL from doing any other work?

    yes and yes.

    Joey Reply:

    Yes, I know what a self-anchored suspension bridge is. You’re not the first person to discover Wikipedia. And you’re correct that like cable-stayed spans, self-anchored suspension spans must cope with high compressive forces on the deck (because the cables are anchored to the deck), but they’re not the same type of span any more than a conventional suspension span is the same type as a cable stayed bridge. And of course it’ll probably hold up. But this is a relatively simple crossing in shallow water and the signature span serves no purpose other than aesthetics. There’s no reason to be experimenting with new designs here, particularly when they don’t add any unique aesthetic features (a SAS span looks basically like a suspension span without the anchorages). As for the mars rover, unlike bridges and HSR, the technology involved is not well understood at this point in time. The only way to go forward is to test new designs.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Here is the aforementioned paper. Go to page 5 for a chart. (Not the world’s clearest, but there are trendlines that help.)

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I am pretty sure project managers are paid to solve problems, not make excuses. That is why they get the big bucks

    joe Reply:

    Jon Tapping, Risk Manager, not project manager.

    I suppose project managers are like WWF wrestlers who wear tights and stomp into the Oakland and SF Mayor’s offices and kick ass until they get what they want.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So how did he manage these particular risks. Read the wiki article on this disaster, it is still a cluster. The latest being the faked inspections by an employee they knew was faking inspections.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    And if 2 cites is hard to manage how many cities and counties is HSR going to cross…not inpiring

    joe Reply:

    Now you can look at the parties named in the article and understand why they are not engineers.

    Joey Reply:

    Why not even one of them has the slightest bit of engineering experience?

    joe Reply:

    Like Van Ark?

    Joey Reply:

    I was talking about the new hires. And Van Ark is just one in a sea of people who have no experience other than California politics. I’m not saying eliminate all the politicians, but there is a definite lack of balance here, and it’s showing in the designs they are coming up with.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Joe, who the hell cares it was two cities? That doesn’t make things more difficult, unless you’re a slave to agency turf battles. And seeing as how those turf battles are something like a third of the CAHSR cost overrun, someone who couldn’t deal with them in the past should not be allowed anywhere near management on this project.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    UP is an agency? Hmm.

    VBobier Reply:

    That I didn’t know, I do know the UP is also a Software Company now…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not talking about UP right now. The Bay Bridge doesn’t involve it (of course). Neither does the Peninsula, unless you think that UP gives a damn about whether it can keep its Apple-profitable 3 trains a day on the line.

    joe Reply:

    Look at the wikipedia article. Willie Brown and Jerry Brown fought and these were former Governor and Head of the Legislature. Powerful figures. Clearly this is more complicated than a project within Boston.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and Ronald Reagan vetoed the the authorization for the Big Dig and Congress over rode the veto. Boston, the White House, Congress, the governors of Massachusetts who this was a problem for, they are all east of the Sierra Nevada and since none those places have a BART stop, obviously not as important.

    VBobier Reply:

    Naturally Reagan vetoed the the authorization for the Big Dig, He was a Republican and the money was for a Democratic dominated area, same problem with New Orleans, another Democratic dominated area that after Katrina got lip service and a slow recovery from what I’ve read…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The difference is that New Orleans could’ve used the recovery money, whereas the Big Dig made Boston worse.

    Nathanael Reply:

    There’s an entire book chapter about the politics behind getting the Big Dig approved (hint: the entire project looked like a bad idea when it was first proposed; a small group of people spent decades lining up the political support, which was most difficult given that it was a blatant violation of multiple national and state environmental laws. Once they’d lined up the political support despite that, it was fairly unstoppable.)

    I suggest you dig it up, because I can’t be bothered to find the reference.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Ok, it was hard. THAT IS WHY YOU ARE PAID. If it was easy then it would run itself. If you are the Chief Risk manager on a project that is…

    1. Late
    2. 8X over cost
    3. design cracked before commision date
    4. Fix for design crack also failed (and fell on cars)
    5. inspector of cement faked inspections and you did not fire him and he faked more inspections

    That is not something I would put on my resume.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yes-men only need apply.

    Clock in – pick up the check – adios, suckers.

    jonathan Reply:

    3. design cracked before commision date
    4. Fix for design crack also failed (and fell on cars)

    I believe that’s incorrect. Cracks were discovered in the existing span. Emergency repairs wer carried out;. Part of the emergency repair crosspiece itself cracked, and fell on a vehicle.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “….Tapping was hired to independently manage the refinement, implementation, and maintenance of an improved and enhanced SFOBB risk management plan.”

    That sounds to me like Tapping was brought in AFTER things had already gone wrong, as a “fixer”.

    Care to check the history? I haven’t Googled it.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    according to his linkedin profile

    he was interim project manager for 1 year (2005-2006) and risk manager for 6 years (2006-2012)

    he was in the thick of the disfuction

  3. Richard Mlynarik
    Aug 27th, 2012 at 19:13

    Ben Tripousis, Northern California Regional Director, for over a decade has served as the Transportation Policy Manager for the City of San Jose.

    City of San Jose Transportation Policy or Bay Bridge East Span Risk Management: which is the bigger relative failure?


    America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals. Where do they manage to even find such people?

    swing hanger Reply:

    Indeed. Discouraging.

    Joey Reply:

    Out of curiosity, what proportion of the Bay Bridge’s cost overruns can be attributed to the signature span? It’s already clear that it’s inclusion has extended the project several years (the bridge would be open already if not for it).

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    According to this article it is unclear, but I think it is fair to say more than 1/2 if you has stuck with it from the very beginning. In the middle they got into the gamblers dilemma and could not let go of the sunk costs–_Oakland_Bay_Bridge

    joe Reply:

    Sure, The former Gov in Oakland and head of the Legislature as Mayor of SF and all their alliances.

    Donk Reply:

    They should have hired Richard Mylnarik.

    joe Reply:

    I swear that during my SF Noe Valley days, that I recall his name and criticisms in the paper over the design. At the time it was over design incompatibility with future rail. The span would be incapable of supporting anything greater than light rail and light rail which would require taking traffic a lane.

    Joey Reply:

    incorrect. Obviously it would have been a simple matter to include rail on the east span in it’s redesign. The question of how it would be added to the west span is addressed in the report I just linked. It probably would have worked, if not for blatant sandbagging. Regardless, much cheaper than the eventual second tube which will be needed.

  4. Paul Dyson
    Aug 27th, 2012 at 19:31

    Makes mediocrity look stellar.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Given friends like you, who needs enemies?

    Frankly, the bad attitude with which supposed (but not actual) supporters of passenger rail have assisted every single hyperbolic attack on the project merely adds to the problem created by a set of interests who will attack the project on any hyperbolic grounds they can invent. The result is that CHSRA needs to employ people in positions like:

    Assistant Chief Counsel
    Chief Deputy, External Affairs
    Central Valley Regional Director
    Northern California Regional Director
    Deputy Director, Communications

    If we weren’t dealing with piles and piles of bullshit from opponents, reinforced by ignorant commentary from fake supporters of passenger rail, maybe the CHSRA would be thinking in terms of hiring people to improve the design of the project. As it is, the entire situation has been politicized, folks like you have fallen into the trap set by the anti-rail forces, and the CHSRA has to hire a lot of people for essentially political roles.

    They’ll be good at the political roles, looks like.

  5. BMF from San Diego
    Aug 27th, 2012 at 20:28

    Where’s the OPERATIONs experience? Ya need operations experience to properly design the system.

    synonymouse Reply:

    They are not interested in railway experience. Such professionals are more likely to talk back, like Van Ark. Why take the chance; get a placeholder like Nathaniel Ford.

    As with BART this thing only has to work somewhat. Functionality is purely coincidental, not its central purpose, which is to spend money, the most possible.

    There is a palpable, cancerous grotesquerie surrounding this thing. Watch for Jerry, PG&E Richard, PB & co. to try to make it as proprietary as possibly, just like BART, its progenitor.

    Everything they do will be the precise opposite of what the Spanish recommended in the Bloomberg article.

    Joey Reply:

    I have actually heard from some (Richard M.) that BART is operated relatively well given how badly it is designed. And it’s reasonable to assume that they couldn’t do much better than they do given silly configurations (curves in downtown Oakland, SFO wye) and an ancient, proprietary fleet.

  6. Paul H.
    Aug 27th, 2012 at 22:03

    They are legally required to only hire people that work for the State of California, the only exemption being the CEO position. It’s in the legislation that was approved to give the Authority the budget to hire more staff. We don’t have a high-speed rail system, the best people within the government of the state would be people out of Caltrans that at least have experience with major infrastructure projects. I think it was stupid to only hire state employees outside of the CEO (Morales), but I’m not sure what their options were. In this cost-cutting environment, your not gonna attract overseas high-speed rail talent.

    I think it was stupid to have that language in the budget approval for the Authority. But here we are.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    That is not true. They had a number of exempt positions, and even non-exempt don’t need to have previously been state employees – they just don’t have the power to set salaries wherever they want.

    joe Reply:

    Salaries are not trivial.

    We know the SJ police are losing skilled staff to OR and other states and cities not knee-capping employees. I’d bet the law allows them to hire experienced HSR engineers that also know political and program management. I’d start them at 39K a year. Know of any?

    Nathanael Reply:

    The exempt positions are presumably being saved for the positions which, you know, actually demand HSR experience…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Can you show that part of the law?

    synonymouse Reply:

    “In this cost-cutting environment, your not gonna attract overseas high-speed rail talent”

    Yeah, particularly when you fire said “overseas high-speed rail talent” for responsibly suggesting an obvious way of “cost-cutting” numerous billions.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah with this budget attracting more than consultants could be hard, yet some ignore that simple fact, as it would require an increase in taxes on the RICH, We all know who’d oppose that, CA Repugs & the corpse of Howard Jarvis who hated all Government, which funds and contracts to be built all large projects in CA and other areas of the USA, private companies w/o Government money are weak kneed weenies by comparison, yet Repugs will rail for Privatization just to make more profit for their RICH Wall Street and Hard Right Corporate Campaign Contributors(Lots of Hypocrisy there, as not all Corporation are alike, yet some idiots assume that they all are, …stupid idiots…) and cost everyone else more MONEY.

    Government is supposed to be for the People, by the People and of the People and not a for PROFIT Corporation.

    Government is not supposed to be for the Corporation, by the Corporation and of the Corporation and a for PROFIT Corporation…

    Kitchen table budgets might work at home, since that requires an income that is steady & predictable, Governments income is not steady and so predicting income is very difficult…

  7. BMF from San Diego
    Aug 28th, 2012 at 08:31

    Qualified people that have alternate choices for employment will not go work for the State. Sacramento? Nah. Lower salaries…. Pffff.

    The CHSRA project is a big project and will draw some people.

  8. Billy
    Aug 28th, 2012 at 12:19

    Won’t the true HSR experience-needed factor come when it actually comes to the design and construction?

    Elizabeth Reply:

    What stage do you think we are at?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Past the stage where the route was determined, which is design? They are down in the nitty gritty now and deciding more precisely where things are going to be. Which is also design…

    synonymouse Reply:

    The stage the CHSRA is at currently is reminiscent of the stage BART was at when I arrived in SF in early 1966. BART was on the verge of construction and all the railfans and old railroad hands were scratching their collective heads at the boffo direction Bechtel had gone off in. Indian broad gauge, unique operating voltage, A-B type cars – everything was eccentric and flew in the face of a century of realworld railroad experience.

    VBobier Reply:

    Well the CHSRA needs to learn how to crawl, before they can start walking…

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Well the CHSRA needs to learn how to crawl, before they can start walking.

    Special Ed! For America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals.

    The billion dollar (that’s ONE BILLION OF YOUR EARTH DOLLARS) mark for “planning” ought to be passed or have been passed around now-ish.

    That’s a lot of Special Ed.

    Complete with extra Enrichment Activities.

    Nathanael Reply:

    High planning costs are due to endless rounds of studies: “alternatives analyses”, “environmental impact statements”, “major investment studies”, etc.

    High planning costs are due to endless rounds of studies. Nothing more, nothing less. Yes, this is a bad thing. It has absolutely nothing to do with your favorite contractors. It has to do with the federal and state laws, which are designed to make it as difficult as possible to build any rail projects whatsoever. The same problems with inflation in planning costs affect model rail projects which turn out just great.

    Your brain is addled by hatred and you see EVERYTHING as the fault of the same people.

    synonymouse Reply:

    From what I detect, it would be more disgust than hatred.

    Sadly it is the fault of the same people.

    Joey Reply:

    The CHRSRA needs to take a cursory look at how other people are doing things rather than insisting on figuring everything out for themselves, which can and will lead to completely avoidable mistakes. Like SNCF said, it’s like trying to design a 747 yourself when you could just go out and buy one.

    synonymouse Reply:

    PB-Bechtel dba’s do not play “just go out and buy one”. First you build yourself a test track and then proceed to re-invent the wheel. That’s the proprietary eccentritech way. Engineers with too much money and no adult supervision. Do it crazy – et voila Tehachapi Stilt-A-Skyrail. They have to come up with something that is the contemporary equivalent of Indian broad gauge. But I am sure Bechtel’s descendants will come up with something choice.

  9. Jo
    Aug 28th, 2012 at 12:51

    These appointments are all excellent. These people are all highly intelligent and are high speed rail supporters, and most importantly they know California like the back of their hands – exactly what is needed at this important juncture. Mr. Van Ark knew high speed rail like the back of his hand, but with all respect to Mr. Van Ark, he did not know California well enough – and look what happened. High speed rail experience will come in due time. Right now these are the type of people that are needed.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    “I come from a long line of morons. These are my peeps.”

    joe Reply:

    He’s right.

    You’re pissed too.

    Joey Reply:

    Angry and correct are not mutually exclusive.

    synonymouse Reply:

    They know which hands to grease and which derrieres to kiss.

    jimsf Reply:

    Like it or not Jo is correct. high speed rail is a political project first and a transportation project second, just like all projects in california and you need connected people to get things done.
    With out that, there won’t be any projects, ever. I prefer to have the projects.

    Its never going to be any other way and crying about it on this blog isn’t going to change that, ever.

    The important thing is that when its done, people will be able to take fast trains between lots of city pairs, as intended.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    …and that’s why in 10 years Vancouver is going to overtake San Francisco as the city with the West Coast’s busiest rail system and why it’s unlikely Los Angeles is going to overtake it in the next 25 years.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Pure, irrational, non-sequiter. Do you know how political projects are in Vancouver?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Hint: they haven’t built rail on their single most promising corridor yet, choosing to build a bunch of other corridors first. Hmm.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I know. Said most promising corridor is (soon going to be) my commute.

    And with all the politics that’s leading Vancouver to make Kits and UBC and a Millennium-Canada connection a lesser priority than Coquitlam and Port Moody, the cost estimate for rail under Broadway is $250 million/km. And judging by how Translink phrased parts of the public outreach document, they’re intending to actually do it by 2020 and not just build BRT or whatever.

    It’s actually a lot like Wilshire in LA and Geary in SF. It is the busiest bus corridor, it is clearly the highest-ridership extension, like in LA and unlike in SF there’s a strong anchor at the outer end, and it’s also the most expensive because it has to be done entirely underground. The difference is that LA is going to open the Wilshire subway in the 30s and San Francisco is doing bus-plus and calling it BRT, while Vancouver is actually building the damn subway.

    jonathan Reply:

    …. High speed rail experience will come in due time. Right now these are the type of people that are needed.

    But right now is when we’re doing the deisgn! Getting it wrong here — by trusting contractors who themselves have no experience in HSR — will add billions and ibllions to the cost.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The added billions are part and parcel of the plan. Capiche?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Not really. I’d estimate the “bad design overhead” at well under 10% of the total costs.

  10. Roger Christensen
    Aug 28th, 2012 at 18:39

    Attended Hanford HSR meeting this afternoon – which is still in progress.
    CEO Morales there – basic public hearing format.
    I wasn’t aware that there is a below grade option for the Hanford West station. 35 foot trench between Grangeville and Houston Ave.

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