Bakersfield Californian Urges Local Electeds to Support High Speed Rail

Nov 26th, 2012 | Posted by

The Bakersfield Californian, Kern County’s main daily newspaper, has a great editorial out calling on local elected officials to drop their recent opposition to the high speed rail project and instead work together to ensure Kern County reaps the benefits.

Bakersfield Arch

The whole thing is worth a read, so I’ll just offer a few choice excerpts:

Is the valley prepared to provide the workforce that’s needed for what is being called one of the biggest public works projects in the state’s history? Will the thousands of jobs created be filled by local workers or by labor that’s imported from other cities and states? And is Kern County properly positioning itself to reap the most benefits possible from this rare opportunity?…

For all the negative talk, Kern County still stands to reap substantial gains from the construction and deployment of high-speed rail. The system will create thousands of construction jobs and facilitate new opportunities for employment and business. Isn’t that something we ought to hang some hope on? Isn’t that what every politician in recent years has pledged to help bring to our community, which was battered worse than many others by the Great Recession? It’s imperative that local leaders begin to prepare and situate our communities for the inevitable coming of high-speed rail.

We don’t expect an immediate about-face but we do hope, sooner rather than later, they’ll realize that it’s really happening. High-speed rail is moving forward, with us or without us.

The editorial board of the Californian understands why it may have seemed like a good idea earlier in 2012 to turn against high speed rail. But with President Obama re-elected and Democrats holding supermajorities in Sacramento, and with the project surviving yet another court challenge, there is no good reason to believe the project is going to be stopped. The Californian rightly advises that Kern County elected officials begin working to figure out how the project can be done well, and done in a way that maximally benefits the people of Bakersfield and the southern San Joaquin Valley.

They’re also right that this is a rare opportunity. High speed rail advocates have taken a lot of crap in recent years from others on the coast about spending billions of dollars in the Central Valley for this project. They argue, not without reason, that there are also pressing passenger rail needs in the Bay Area and Southern California that ought to be funded, and that the Central Valley doesn’t need this right now.

Many of us HSR advocates have resisted this argument. Even those of us based on the coasts have stood up loudly and persistently in support of starting in the Central Valley, and in making sure that Valley cities remained included in the project route and with stations. The Central Valley has been overlooked by the rest of California for too long. The region has far higher unemployment than the coasts, and a desperate need to be connected to the economic powerhouses on the coasts. We want the Central Valley to thrive and prosper, and high speed rail is essential to that economic future.

Some Valley Republicans will likely continue trying to kill the project. But high speed rail is coming to Bakersfield. Let’s hope that the region’s leadership follows the lead of their colleagues in Fresno and embraces it.

  1. Peter
    Nov 26th, 2012 at 14:59

    OT: New Velaro-Ds have a one second delay in braking due to software problems (Sorry, just in German). Germany’s railroad regulator is refusing certification until the problem is resolved.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Apparently this will put a strain on DB’s holiday services, such as special extra trains, as the new trainsets were expected to be delivered in time for the December timetable revision. In addition, axle replacements (which have inspection intervals of 160,000km vs. the current 30,000km) on existing ICE3 units are also delayed, hampering availablity.

  2. VBobier
    Nov 26th, 2012 at 15:51

    Not quite On topic, Measure J out of Los Angeles CA is now at 65.66%, that’s just 1.01% short of passing(66.67% is needed to pass), the results will be certified on December 4th 2012, Here’s hoping it might pass.

    Last Updated: 14:28 11/26/2012

    November 6, 2012 – Los Angeles County General Election

    Fake Irishman Reply:

    Probably not going to happen. There are about 180,000 votes left out. Assuming that 175,000 of those cast a vote on Measure J, you’d need to have a bit more than 82 percent of those to be in favor to get it over the top. The mail-in/absentee ballots they’ve been adding in since election day have been going about 72-73 percent in favor. It will probably cap out at about 66 percent in favor. Stupid 2/3 rule.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah, I know, but one can only watch and wait at this point.

    Mark Reply:

    There are not that many votes left out, Fake. THere are only about 75k to 80k left. Measure J has no chance.

    VBobier Reply:

    We will find out for sure, on December 4th 2012, no matter which way the vote goes.

    VBobier Reply:

    Today Measure J went from 65.66% to 65.88%, now J is at 0.79% away from possible passage…

    J Votes Percent

    YES 1,841,208 65.88%
    NO 953,507 34.12%

  3. Jo
    Nov 26th, 2012 at 18:22

    Let us hope that Bakersfield’s self-defeating attitude towards HSR does not turn into a self-inflicted wound.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    If they see some money they’ll come around.

  4. Andrew
    Nov 26th, 2012 at 18:57

    Use Cajon route, catch Bakersfield on the west side via I-5, ditch Palmdale, Hanford, and Fresno:

    Palmdale is ideally served by a fast commuter line, and the I-5 route still catches 4 of the 5 largest cities in the Central Valley. Drastically reduces Socal-Bay Area travel time and system’s energy usage and environmental impact. A mere 11 miles in tunneling gets you from I-5 to Gilroy, with no Pacheco-like backtracking.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Uh, Cajon? I think you want a different Spanish word.

    It is hopeless. Think Egypt – you know, the “Change of Farouk’s” Jerry, tho not a Farouk, is our latter day Ramses II. Builder of monuments to you know whom.

    VBobier Reply:

    It’s not possible to ditch Palmdale, it’s in the legislation, Hanford and Fresno are tied to the Federal ARRA money and the money can’t be used elsewhere or have You been away for a while?

    Um, do You even know where the Cajon Pass is on a map?

    Andrew Reply:

    tejon, cajon, whatever, i mean i-5

    ten years too late, i know. but it’s never too late to feel stupid about including palmdale

    synonymouse Reply:

    I feel stupid and ashamed whenever I think about voting for Prop. 1A.

    But for a little cheap therapy watch the original Godzilla and imagine the big guy is stomping thru Palmdale rather than Tokyo.

    Mark Reply:

    I have no idea why you obsess so much about Palmdale but I commend you for your consistency. Palmdale looks smarter and smarter every day especially when that Xpress West line comes into play.

    Besides, the Santa Clarita City officials took a good look at the plans for what HSR through SCV via the Grapevine would mean and said no way. And HSR wouldn’t even guarantee them a station for the effort. The engineering alone was causing too many problems, let alone the political issues that would result.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Candidly I don’t think HSR ever gets built if it runs through Tejon. I have a strong suspicion that Measure R funds are going to be used to complete the line through to LA Union Station from Palmdale on. Prop 1A funding is probably exhausted by the time Merced to Palmdale, and then the real fun begins.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The CHSRA is not going anywhere near Tejon. The firing of Van Ark was the defining moment in the routing controversy.

    What I find mildly amusing and somewhat puzzling is the Cheerleaders’ obvious insecurity vis-a-vis the DeTour and the Plan in general. Moonbeam & Co. have achieved an absolute, unquestionable victory over any dissidents and/or revisionists, such as Tolmach, but continue to mount an obnoxious propaganda campaign trying to prove their dumbdown superior. It is is not; it is a piece of shit, but they have won out and are going to ram the Plan thru no matter what.

    But that they continue to worry about any and every critique is revealing. In their heart of hearts they know this thing is a fiscal disaster. It is going to demand significant and continual subsidy. Their unions alone are not going to allow it to be privatized; a spun-off CHSRA is not be viable and would be abandoned in short order. The patronage machine is not going to permit this. In order to make the Roundabout “relevant” enough to justify the large subvention to run a few trains a day over the ridiculously underutilized and high-maintenance Loop replacement they will need an enormous increase in the population in the Greater Metro Palmdale area. Gigantic real estate development and high desert urbanization is the raison d’etre of the the CHSRA.

    Brown, Pelosi, Feinstein, Boxer et al belong to a different sub-culture of the same elite to which the Grover Norquists and the Koch Bros. of the world belong. There is nothing hippie or eco-green about Moonbeam – he is a total enviro phoney. Just like the rest of the one-percenters he does not want to save the planet; he plans to pave it.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Merced to LA is a pretty good route. The next step will be the relatively cheap extension to Sacramento, which is inevitable (it’s the state capital!), and at that point San Francisco will be agitating for its line — but sea level rise and global warming will have changed everyone’s computations at that point.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Relatively cheap to protect New York, nice seawall from the Atlantic Highlands to someplace in Brooklyn or Queens and a seawall from Montauk to Rhode Island. Even cheaper for San Francisco Bay. Just throw one across the Golden Gate.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Well, in NY the “big sea gate” would be a big mistake, because you will *also* get flooding coming downstreatm through the Hudson, Passaic, and Hackensack rivers, and you want it to be able to get to the ocean; the “big sea gate” wouldn’t help at all with that. The sea level rise is going to be extra-large on the Northeast, too, and a lot of coastal New Jersey is pretty much doomed. The design for protection has to be better thought-out that that.

    But you’re right, it would work better in San Francisco. The huge withdrawals of water upstream on the Sacramento, San Joaquin, and other rivers upstream of the Golden Gate, combined with the increasing tendency towards drought in much of the basin, mean that river-source flooding is not a major issue and the Golden Gate seagate would pretty much deal with flooding.

    Jonathan Reply:

    You have no clue of the cost of footings all across the Bay. None at all.
    I don’t either, but I know enough to know that it’s astronomical. Imagine the footings for the new East Span, expanded several thousand-fold; with seafloor-to-above-current-sea-level “dam” built on top of those footings. .How many trillions of dollars for that?

    Did you have something else in mind? Smaller sea-walls around the coast of the entire bay?

    Tidal barrage that can generate tidal electricity, that’d be interesting. But even more expeinsive.

    Andrew Reply:

    Xpress West doesn’t mitigate the folly of palmdale; it compounds it. XW should reach LA via cajon pass (this time i DO mean cajon), thru which it could directly reach inland empire and san diego as well. Thus including palmdale makes for two silly detours, not just one.

    Santa clarita doesn’t get to dictate the route, adn they would be compensated by related improvements.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Ever looked up the population of the San Fernando Valley? I know, it’s hard to figure because the municipal boundaries are whacked. I’ll wait while you count.

    In the long run, I expect routings via both the SFV and via Cajon Pass.

    Reality Check Reply:

    @Andrew: Re: your map … crossing from I-5 over to Paicines, Tres Pinos and Hollister to reach the Bay Area (while paralleling the valley line up to Modesto/Stockton) adds even more pointless and redundant network route mileage through the middle of nowhere.

    Altamont “follow the lights” is still the best way to go.

    Andrew Reply:

    problem is altamont cuts out the north and south bay, and monterey bay. It works great for socal to bay area, but doesn’t allow the n-s connections sacramento-fairfield-vallejo-oakland-sf-sfo-silicon valley-monterey bay. Check the other map under my name.

    joe Reply:

    “Follow the lights” is no longer operative.

    The HSR Project critics now contend the best route bypasses the CV lights and runs along dark I-5.

    The moniker was a fig leaf for a Altamont route – “the lights” was a coincidence and that heuristic quickly dropped as the project began to build in the CV – where the lights and people are located.

    Some claim a PPT presentation proves SNCF would have built a free/for profit system along I-5 But PB/Boogieman drove them away forever.

    It’s worth noting how often critics change what is the BEST design and alignment.

    Peter Reply:

    I’m amused at how the “SETEC” alignment proposed by the “Follow the lights” proponents doesn’t actually have a station in the lit area, bypassing Pleasanton and Livermore, and going through Fremont without a station.

    VBobier Reply:

    Agreed… Except where Your 1st line is, HSR will be built in the CV’s cities as planned, as that’s where it’s specified by the ARRA funds, i5 and Tejon are DEAD and will never be built, people like Syno will not get their way, not without a majority of the people in CA objecting…

    Jon Reply:

    Rule #1 of being an armchair HSR critic; the ‘best’ design and alignment is always the one that the authority didn’t chose.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You guys are sore winners.

    Can’t you just accept the fact your “design and alignment” is inferior – even the CEO had come to see its flaws – but that you’ve won out entirely and it is going to be built to your specs and whims. Be happy that you got exactly what you wanted and ignore the well-deserved jibes from the rest of us with better taste.

    Travis Reply:

    No, because a route that services a large population in the Central Valley and makes the project as close to a truly state-wide development as possible (not just benefiting LA and SF) is a superior long-term route from a public policy standpoint, regardless of your feelings about the consequences for construction cost or route length.

    Jon Reply:

    To be fair, you’re been totally consistent in your route advocacy. I’m more thinking of some the ‘technicals’ who though I-5 and Tejon was crazy until it suddenly became the obvious and logical choice and anyone who disagrees is a fool. And who also claim to be basing their opinions purely and objectively on The Facts rather than being held sway to politics and other practical details that cloud the judgement of lesser, unreasoning beings.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

    Evaluation of additional and changed data is a sign of weakness. Evaluation of any data is a sign of weakness. The strong man holds inviolable opinions and does so mercifully free of the ravages of intelligence.

    joe Reply: explains 85-90% of your behavior. It’s is all one has to track to predict the outcome you’re sophisticated, fact based analysis.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Are you talking about “Yes Minister”/”Yes Prime Minister”, or about CHSRA? Or Parsons Brinkerhoff?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I-5 and Tejon aren’t the same thing.

    synonymouse Reply:

    This is true, but the beauty part of Tejon is that from the north face one can proceed equally well via any side of the Valley one wishes. Alternately a primary asset of the very eastern orientation of the Tehachapi Detour is the connection at Mojave. The CHSRA is too daft to even recognize this or take any advantage of it. Say an SF Chief back from the dead.

    Andrew Reply:

    You’re right! It makes more sense for the desert line to connect at Mojave than at Palmdale.

    Jonathan Reply:

    “SF Chieif”? Now that’s Foamer crackpottedness!

    synonymouse Reply:

    Guilty as charged. I foam to book a roomette from the City to Flagstaff once again aboard a resuscitated San Francisco Chief.

    BTW, the new rails that SMART is deploying mit copious concrete ties seem to this amateur eye to be seriously undersized. Maybe it was an optical illusion but they looked quite lighter than what’s currently installed. Definitely not high iron.

    Maybe that’s the new era of value engineering. Seems stupid to me to chintz on steel.

    Especially when Moonbeam is giving the new UC dude a half-million per year. Now that’s crackpotted.

    Travis Reply:

    Steel is expensive these days. Why install 140-lb rail if the speeds and axle loadings of the projected equipment being used don’t require anything nearly that heavy?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Steel remains cheap in the context of Tutor change orders, TWU-Amalgamated, prison guard, UC Chancellor compensation packages.

    This California, not Japan or Switzerland. It is going to be our no-show union guys out there dong what there is of deferred maintenance. You’ll feel safer on the heaviest rail you can get. They’l be grinding the hell out of it to keep the corrugation down.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Syn, regarding SMART: you have heard of “light rail”? Now you know what it means. It refers to the weight of the rails. ;-)

    The fact is that you are never going to need heavy tracks on that line. Improved passenger service will still have light axle loadings. Improved freight service is not going to be 500-car coal consists; it will also still have light axle loadings.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I guess you never heard of Doug Bosco.

  5. JJJ
    Nov 26th, 2012 at 21:20

    What a beautiful picture. Such an attractive place.

    VBobier Reply:

    Better than here where I live at.

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    As a kid, loved the Bakersfield Arch when it spanned over Old 99 and connected the Bakersfield Inn .
    Buck Owens later restored it and placed it next to the freeway and his Crystal Palace. At one point there was a movement to rename the town Bucksville…..

  6. blankslate
    Nov 27th, 2012 at 09:53

    OT, but given the amount of airplay DesertXpress has gotten around here, I thought it would be relevant. A company called Las Vegas Railway Express has just hammered out a deal with UP that will allow them to run trains from Fullerton to Las Vegas, possibly by late 2013. This will be a “conventional” train that will make the trip in 5 hours. There are many things I like about this idea more than DesertXpress: 1) opening soon, 2) actually connects LA to LV, 3) no federal handouts.,0,1295767.story

    Peter Reply:

    With a grand total of two weekly roundtrips. It’s a start, but definitely not a panacea.

  7. morris brown
    Nov 27th, 2012 at 13:20

    Shuster to replace Mica as chair of the Transportation Committee.

    Shuster believes high-speed rail should be limited to the Northeast Corridor, which he says is the only place in the country with the appropriate conditions for it. He says high-speed rail is a “terrible idea” in California, even calling it a form of blackmail since the state will then be on the hook to finish the project. He’s called for taking the federal money allocated to California HSR and giving it to the NEC. For the rest of the country, he says “frequency and reliability” are what matters for increasing ridership – not 150 mile speeds.

    “It just prolongs the inevitable by subsidizing a failed Amtrak monopoly that has never made a profit or even broken even,” he said. “Government won’t develop American high-speed rail. Private investment and a competitive market will.”

    Jon Reply:

    No, Shuster might replace Mica as chair of the Transportation Committee.

    nick uk Reply:

    is he the shuster from wayne and shuster as he seems to be a bit of a comedian ! high speed rail california bad high speed rail nec good ! another republican with vested interests –

    Alan F Reply:

    No, Bill Shuster (R-PA) will be the next chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee. The major House Chairman assignments are now set. Mica will remain on the committee, but not as chairman.

    Shuster will likely not hold hearings like Mica has to beat up Amtrak on Food & Beverage sale losses or other minor issues that Mica is obsessed with. Shuster will likely try another push for NEC privatization, but his efforts on that got little serious traction in the current House. The next House will have 8 more Democratic members, a narrower Republican majority, fewer Tea party members. Even as a committee chairman, he is not likely to get very far even in the House with a NEC privatization bill while also trying to block the California HSR project.

    joe Reply:

    Shuster’s a true believer.

    An East Coast tea bagger yells at California and threatens to move California’s HSR funding to the East Coast.

    The opposition is not cutting HSR funding – federal funding for HSR now validated by the opposition party of the President and Senate.

    He’s moving Funding to a deserving place. The debate isn’t about HSR. They conceed the popularity and not want to divide-and-conqueror HSR supporters. The NEC should get CA’s funding because of superior geography, population blah blah blah.

    Reid and Pelosi will laugh at that nuance.

    We’re winning.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    He is not from the East Coast. He’s from the Appalachian part of Pennsylvania, nowhere near the NEC. He used to own a business in Altoona. His constituents hate Philadelphia. If he were just directing pork to his own district, he’d push for investment in the Pennsylvanian, e.g. electrifying it and extending Keystone trips west to serve his district.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …. Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh separated by Alabama. Not only do they hate Philadelphians they hate Pittsburghers. He wouldn’t push for anything for the Pennsylvanian because it would make it easier for the hated Philadelphians and Pittsburghers to contaminate the pristine qualities of his district. ( and make it easier for his constituents to get to Pittsburgh or Philadelphia and see for themselves that they aren’t filled with debauched revelers out exercising their San Francisco values etc. )

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …and Real Pennsylvanians don’t ride trains. Only those dastardly Unreal Pennsylvanians on SEPTA or Amtrak do.

    Loren Petrich Reply:

    Alabama? The Pennsyltucky part? :D

    Nathanael Reply:

    Shuster apparently actually uses the Keystone to visit Philadelphia (from Harrisburg, I presume).

    We can certainly hope he has the sense to beef up the Pennsylvanian to connect to his district; it would be an excellent investment. But his privatization fetish may prevent him from doing so.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The dial-down that Shuster advocates is already happening at the CHSRA. That’s why Kopp is unhappy.

    Peter Reply:

    Kopp is unhappy because no one is listening to him anymore, now that he’s no longer on the CHSRA Board. That, and he’s Kopp.

    nick uk Reply:

    and where does he live so that he can offer this unbiased opinion ? yep the east coast pennsylvania

    JJJ Reply:

    Let me guess, his knowledge of California comes from movies, and if you ask him to name a single city in the central valley, he wouldnt have a clue. Ask him to name the population of fresno, and hed be off by an order of 10.

  8. rtaylor352
    Nov 27th, 2012 at 20:02

    In the comments, there’s a lot of talk about Palmdale and the HSR line to Las Vegas. Does anyone know why the private company isnt talking about taking advantage of the CAHSR line being built from LA to Palmdale, and going all the way to Union Station? If I’m a LA resident (again) it’d be lovely to not have to transfer trains, or drive to Palmdale.

    Maybe the company could even pitch in some $ to expedite the LA-Palmdale line for rights to travel on it?

    Matthew B. Reply:

    Xpress West is looking for a federal loan to support construction of their first phase between Las Vegas and Victorville. After that is completed, it may connect to Palmdale via the high desert corridor, which is currently being planned by LA Metro:

    It’s a long way from being in any position to throw money at an even more expensive segment between LAUS and Palmdale.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    i assume the two empty lanes in the center are for high speed rail

    Nathanael Reply:

    The LA-Palmdale portion of the HSR line is taking forever to get through environmental impact analysis. I assume the XPressWest people don’t think it’s worth pushing extra money at it right now. :shrug:

  9. Nathanael
    Nov 29th, 2012 at 19:15

    My respect for the citizens of Bakersfield and Kings County just went back up; at least their journalists have some sense!
    Though why, why, why did they vote for the jackasses currently malrepresenting them in their local governments?

Comments are closed.