High Speed Rail Should Stay in Central Bakersfield

Dec 23rd, 2012 | Posted by

Some Bakersfield residents, opposed to the current plan to bring bullet trains into central Bakersfield, are arguing for pause on the EIR for that portion of the route.

Bakersfield

Their argument is that the planning is flawed – but they’re only saying that because they just don’t want a downtown train station:

A kind of “time out” was proposed last week as a way to forestall lawsuits and rethink options on the proposed high-speed rail route into and through Bakersfield….

The authority would have to acknowledge that it only has enough money to build the line from south of Fresno to somewhere north of Bakersfield (authority reps claimed they could get all the way to Shafter, but I have my doubts).

Since there is no more money in the foreseeable future, the authority would agree to take the Bakersfield alignment out of its current environmental impact report.

The authority could certify the rest of the EIR and go forward with that part only.

Once it got to the end of its money, say Pixley or wherever, the authority would route the bullet train onto existing Burlington-Northern-Santa Fe tracks into and through Bakersfield.

The authority would have a workable track, albeit not high speed, while it waited for more money to magically appear, which could take five or 10 years, or even decades.

Meanwhile, the time-out would give the authority, city and other groups time to come up with a more amenable alignment and avoid lawsuits. Court action is almost certain if the pending EIR is certified with its current proposed route cutting through downtown Bakersfield on an 80-foot elevated track in some places.

Most importantly, a time-out for property owners would mean we wouldn’t have a certified EIR looming over our heads making it impossible to sell our homes or businesses for any decent money and with no prospect of the state buying us out either.

The author of this Bakersfield Californian column, Lois Henry, acknowledges that she’s a property owner in the path of the proposed tracks, and she deserves credit for being honest about that up front. Still, the concept being proposed here is tautological and flawed.

Henry’s avowed goal is to move the HSR route out of central Bakersfield and onto the edges of the city. She can’t prevail with that argument on its merits. So she’s trying to force it on the California High Speed Rail Authority by using the fact that it doesn’t yet have all the money it needs to build through Bakersfield as a lever to move the route away from her property.

The tautology here is that the CHSRA doesn’t have enough money to build this section of the route, so the plan should be kicked down the road by 5 or 10 years to ensure it can’t build on that part of the route even if it does get the money to do so.

I understand Henry’s point about homes losing value if there’s an approved EIR but no money to start building. Of course, government has no obligation whatsoever to protect anyone’s property value, but if there’s a way to avoid limbo, that’s worth doing.

The best solution to that limbo isn’t to use the lack of funds as leverage to move the route to a less useful location. High speed rail stations should be built in city centers, where there’s more room for walkability, proximity to major destinations, and room for dense development near the station. Moving it to the edge of town will reduce ridership and promote sprawl.

No, the best solution would be for Henry to turn her attention to her Congressional representative, Kevin McCarthy. If he wasn’t blocking further federal funds for high speed rail, the Authority might well be able to build the route to downtown Bakersfield in the near future. They surely could fund property acquisition, ending the limbo that people like Henry currently face. And the project could stay on the route that makes the most sense from an urban planning, farmland preservation, and ridership perspective.

Henry rails at the Authority for not immediately accepting the proposal to indefinitely defer the EIR, yet her column makes no mention of the fact that Bakersfield’s own member of Congress is helping create this limbo and denying Bakersfield an important piece of infrastructure that will create jobs and economic value for decades to come.

If it’s a deal Henry wants, well, here’s one. The Authority defers the EIR for five years, as long as the federal government commits to funding construction of HSR from Bakersfield to Los Angeles. I think that’s reasonable.

  1. joe
    Dec 23rd, 2012 at 18:42
    #1

    Kevin McCarthy is the Majority Whip in the House. http://www.majoritywhip.gov

    He could easily cut a deal with Pelosi to find the funding to help Bakersfield conditional on delaying the project. Right now there’s no chance of anything positive happening.

    He’s been fighting to keep his unspent transportation earmarks.

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0612/77916.html

    By JONATHAN ALLEN | 6/27/12 7:01 PM EDT

    House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy is tangling with Sen. Barbara Boxer over a seven-year-old, $630 million earmark for his rural district, and the issue has become a yellow flag as negotiators race to complete work on a two-year highway bill.

    McCarthy, a California Republican, is insisting that Boxer, the California Democrat who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, drop a proposal that would strip his district of unspent earmark money and allow the state to re-allocate it.

    StevieB Reply:

    Kevin McCarthy is an almond growing tea party ideologue. McCarthy has not seen local support for his position fade.

    joe Reply:

    Yep – He’s in a safe district based on voter registration. His position on HSR is to the right of his district – it is not against HSR.

    This potential EIR lawsuit is about incompetence and leverage – they want time and money to plan the alignment and more money out of the CAHSRA. Bakersfield does not want to stop the project. It couldn’t – he could push the statin out of town and lose the maintenance facility to Fresno or Merced.

    McCarthy is at odds with the Gov and CA delegation. He’s now openly revolting against The Speaker – apparently aligned with Cantor of VA.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Does Bakersfield really not want to just cancel the project, or else just push the station out of the urban parts of the city such as they are?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Obviously there are multiple factions in Bakersfield.

    StevieB Reply:

    Not an almond grower but a big fund raiser for the republican party. In December 2008, the right wing Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) picked him as his new chief deputy whip.

  2. Reality Check
    Dec 24th, 2012 at 01:49
    #2

    Shanghai’s maglev passenger traffic [much] lower than expected
    Passengers give city’s high-speed wonder a pass in favour of cheaper and more convenient metro

    Anecdotal evidence suggests that Shanghai’s maglev has not been well received by locals or tourists, with the load factor on one trip early this month appearing to be as low as 10 per cent.

    Others who have taken the maglev recently said it appeared to operating at less than 20 per cent of capacity.

    […]

    A one-way ticket sells for 50 yuan (HK$61.50) and the operator offers a 20 per cent discount on round-trip tickets. A similar discount is offered on one-way tickets to passengers due to board a plane at Pudong airport or those who have disembarked from a plane.

    Shanghai extended its Metro Line 2 to Pudong airport before the World Expo in 2010 and the metro trip only costs 10 yuan. Passengers using the metro line are also spared the bother of transferring from the maglev to the metro or other forms of transport to complete their journey.

    The maglev operator won’t release its latest passenger figures, but local media have reported that it could be posting a loss of 600 million to 700 million yuan a year

    […]

    [Trains which] used to run at a top speed of 430km/h, run at a maximum speed of 300km/h for most of the day for safety and energy-efficiency reasons.

    Passengers can travel at the top speed only from 9am to 10.45am and from 3pm to 4.45pm.

    Reality Check Reply:

    MetroPlan Orlando approves maglev project

    In Orlando, Fla., American Maglev Technology (AMT) has proposed to build, operate and maintain a privately financed fully automatic train system powered by magnetic levitation.

    The MetroPlan Orlando Board approved the AMT project to proceed if conditions in a MetroPlan Orlando staff report are addressed. This process is expected to take several months. After the issues are resolved and funding and lease agreements are in place, construction will begin on Phase 1.

    Plans call for three project phases, with a total cost of $800 million. Only Phase 1, estimated to cost $315 million, is being considered at this time. No taxpayer money will be used for construction, operation or maintenance and AMT is requesting to lease existing public rights-of-way. Phase 1 includes 14.9 miles of track, with stops at Orange County Convention Center, Florida Mall, the Sand Lake Road SunRail station and Orlando International Airport. The system is expected to be operating two years after a final lease agreement is in place.

    synonymouse Reply:

    A load factor of 10 to 20 per cent is also what can be expected on trains rattling over the Tehachapi DeTour. It will interesting and likely amusing to see how they try to justify those juicy subsidies when urban and suburban rail services with much higher patronage levels are also vying for funding.

    The commute ops will win out. You can detect that thinking in the CHSRA, which is 3 commute lines lashed together via 3rd rate detours. Similarly Caltrain will in time prevail over the CHSRA on the Peninsula.

    This is a very large project amounting to many, many billions to be entirely determined and driven by parochial political demands and machinations. It will be a real world test of how far “big digs” can bloat and veer off course without imploding. The Moondoggle might just be the one that defines and exceeds the limit.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes its’ why the Metroliners were the last attempt of American railroading at modern intercity service and the only way to get between NYC and DC or NYC and Boston is to use commuter trains.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Except where is the extra $5-10bil Tehachapi DeTour on the Metroliner run between NYC and DC.

    I enjoyed riding the Metroliner between NYC and Philly in 1970. But I did not see any tumbleweeds.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    They did tumbleweed eradication in the 30s as a WPA project, they were interfering with the catenary.

    Jonathan Reply:

    You’re looking in the wrong place.Try looking between NYC and Boston…?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Are there tumbleweeds on the NEC even north of New York? (I’m seriously asking; I had to look up what a tumbleweed is, and although I don’t remember seeing anything like it while traveling on the NEC, I wasn’t looking very hard.)

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    You normally only see them very early in April..

    Jonathan Reply:

    @Alon: I was responding to Synon’s point about multi-billion-dollar “detours”….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    There aren’t multi-billion-dollar detours there, either. The actual rail distance from New York to Boston is longer than the straight-line distance, but that comes from water and hills, and the difference in distance is comparable to the difference between Tejon-I-5-Altamont-Dumbarton and the straight-line LA-SF distance.

    Nathanael Reply:

    NY-Boston has got some seriously awful speed restrictions though.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yeah, but those are because the track design standards were seriously compromised in the 1840s and 50s, and not because the basic alignment is a problem. Of course Tehachapi can also be done at high speed, but the cost is very high and the detour adds 10 minutes.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    NY-Boston speed restrictions will be much less when they build the tunnel from New Haven to New Brunswick.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Surely New Haven-New York tunneling is enough to lift the NY-Boston speed restrictions…

    Wdobner Reply:

    The snail like speeds to go through New Haven, Philadelphia, and Baltimore (as well as NYC if you’re unfortunate enough to have to travel through it) each have a far more deleterious impact on the travel time of the NEC than the 5 to 10 minutes that will be expended serving Palmdale. Yet somehow the NEC manages a load factor far in excess of your ludicrous predictions.

    Paul H. Reply:

    Except that the airline industry may not exist in 20 years (you know, peak oil and climate change may have a say to when that ends, at least for the middle class), and gasoline prices are going to be double if not triple in 10 years what they are today, I would say the ‘Moondoggle’ may actually have been a great idea at the right time in history. We’ll see. It was Arnold that really made this happen. AB 32 opened room politically for high-speed rail to get construction started, and the President will likely use his last four years finding some funding for passenger rail in America. Every project of this scale will have its problems, but who knows what kind of catalyst this could turn out to be for California.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Except that the airline industry may not exist in 20 years (you know, peak oil and climate change may have a say to when that ends, at least for the middle class)

    Oh I’m sure the government will pump in insane amounts of subsidies as required to make sure they are…

    ’cause you know, jesus loves airplanes, etc.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Won’t happen. There comes a time when pouring subsidies in can’t counteract the natural economic trends, and that’s what’s happening to gasoline cars. In air travel, the government is actually driving demand down with the TSA groping and abuse, and subsidies are not going to be large enough to counteract that.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The commute ops will win out. You can detect that thinking in the CHSRA, which is 3 commute lines lashed together via 3rd rate detours. Similarly Caltrain will in time prevail over the CHSRA on the Peninsula.

    Because, as you know, our community college system is so much better funded than the University of California…. and those local jails are sterling compared to our state prisons…

    Metro and BART want control of the commuter trains because they have expensive systems that need to be fed. It’s true that initially, CHSRA will require synergy between the major systems to move passengers efficiently. But in the end, HSR will be of little interest to them once it enters urban areas because there will be no longer any need to justify extensions of service.

    To really “get” the alignment you have to think back to the “El Camino Real” and the idea that the Spanish wanted to have a uniform system of missions that evenly divided up the state. The major “innovation” is that you can use an alignment which branches out as BART does to serve California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Arizona while still retaining the “El Camino Real” design for the route within California: http://goo.gl/maps/eTmW

    Nathanael Reply:

    Syn, expect a load factor of 100% from Bakersfield to LA.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Just as on the trains that are currently running between Bakersfield and LA.

    Mostly empty is about right. You’ll be paying the taxes to keep them rattling. I have been trying to politely suggest to my kids they really ought to have an out-of-state relocation strategy just in case.

    But for me I’m too old to jump off a sinking ship.

    Nathanael Reply:

    There are no trains currently running between Bakersfield and LA, but hte buses are full.

    Steven H Reply:

    I don’t know if the Shanghai maglev example is all that helpful for understanding the problems in Bakersfield.

    For one thing, one of the reasons that no one takes the maglev is that it travels between the airport and the suburbs; it probably would have been more effective if it actually went somewhere useful. The maglev was originally supposed to travel deeper into central Shanghai, connect Shanghai’s international airport to the domestic airport (and HSR station) at Hongqiao, and continue to at least Hangzhou (if not the rest of China); however, the rail authority decided that conventional HSR was a better option

  3. D. P. Lubic
    Dec 24th, 2012 at 06:42
    #3

    Cap’n Transit weighs in on toll roads (and it looks like he reads this site):

    http://capntransit.blogspot.com/2012/12/greenfield-toll-and-hov-lanes-are-no.html

    Reads like a cautionary tale for businessmen to me.

  4. Jonathan
    Dec 24th, 2012 at 09:16
    #4

    Robert,

    you seem to take it as beyond question that the “right’ place to run HSR to cities in the middle of the route, is to run through downtown to a downtown station.

    Have you even considered the impact that choice has on trip times, environmental impact (noise and visual blight), as compared to building a station on the edge of town?

    William Reply:

    @Jonathan,
    I think both you and I know the answer lies on whether one wants to encourage denser developments within existing downtown that was filled with auto-centric low-density commercial, residential, or industrial buildings, or give up on existing downtown and start a “new downtown” beside a green-field HSR station. Simply put, the choice is between in-fill development and more sprawl.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You need to consider costs in addition to benefits. I agree that on the benefit side, downtown stations are much better. But they’re also more expensive, and in Bakersfield’s specific case a downtown station also points in the wrong direction, toward the Tehachapis instead of toward Tejon.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Depends on your destination. It’s pointing in the right direction if you want to go to Las Vegas or Phoenix

    Andrew Reply:

    Tejon is just as direct for going from Bakersfield to Phoenix, whose line would necessarily pass thru palm springs:
    https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=205242278980764848338.0004cee1ca9342ce961c8&msa=0&ll=34.325292,-115.532227&spn=4.472167,7.075195

    synonymouse Reply:

    Perhaps someone good at these things would compare potential travel times between, say, Sac and Sin City via the 99-Roundabout versus I-5 and Tejon and thence east via the best route likely available in the future thru the LA Basin.

    I’ll wager the difference is not fatal at all. And for virtually every other trip Tejon is faster and more economical to construct, operate and maintain.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Tejon is still more expensive to construct and maintain, despite all fantasies to the contrary. Operate, yeah.

    synonymouse Reply:

    $5 to $10 billion dollars cheaper to construct. 50 miles less route mileage to tamp, grind, energize, etc. Why do you think they quashed any study of the route straight thru the Tejon Ranch at Bear Trap Canyon?

    Imperial agencies and their crony contractors loathe the very thought of any alternative existing that favorably compares with or downright trumps theirs. Ergo BART has for decades conspired to stop an electrified and upgraded Caltrain that could upstage their garbage proprietary Bechteltech.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    except for the 50 miles of branch line to Fresno.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Fresno will always be on a 50 mile branch – the question is why you would want all the paying passenger between LA and SF to have to detour thru it.

    The spur will provide Fresno will superb high speed travel to SF and Sac to the north and LA to the south. The Valley commute(such as it is)can be handled on the existing 99 rail corridor.

    synonymouse Reply:

    paying passengers

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    For the same reason the paying passengers between NY and DC detour through Philadelphia and Baltimore.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That’s tantamount to saying hsr passengers from Sac bound for LA on on an I-5-Tejon route would have to detour thru Stockton and Tracy or Santa Clarita.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Syn, have you looked at the rail routes, the canal route, and the most popular highway route from Syracuse, NY to NYC? They all “detour” via Albany.

    Wdobner Reply:

    What of passengers on the local trains? Unless you’re going to offer trains which stop at Bakersfield and Hanford/Visalia, but not at Fresno, passengers going to those CV stops from San Fran, San Jose, and Redwood City are going to face the prospect of a 100 mile detour down your spur which would waste at minimum around 45 minutes.

    Andrew Reply:

    @William – it’s more sprawl and it’s less. If the line is faster overall, it will be a more successful TOD-inducer statewide. Some dense greenfield development in Bakersfield is probably worth what it would mean for TOD in the major metro areas.

    Jonathan Reply:

    William,

    I think you are falling into the same fallacies as Robert. You can cheer-lead all you want for “transit-oriented development”; but I remain unconvinced that LA-to-SF High Speed Rail (HSR) constitutes “transit” in the sense of “transit-oriented devleopment”. It only works if the occupants of the high-dendisty “transit-oriented development” don’t use cars, but commute via HSR. I’m skeptical.

    And as for characterizing a “green-field HSR station”, with its own high-density transit-oriented development, as “more sprawl”, you’re crapping all over your own argument!

    William Reply:

    I don’t mind what you suggested, building a “new downtown” around a green field HSR station. In fact, I suggested before as a scheme to fund CAHSR, e.g. using government power to buy up large pieces of land on cities edge and give to BOT winner to build CAHSR, but this scheme is deemed illegal in US, as noted by Alon Levy.

    Nevertheless, a sprawl is a sprawl. I classified “building-where-there-was-no-building-before” as sprawl. Bakersfield has no reason to go for this as it has a perfectly workable alignment, and its urban area is too wide to avoid completely. Also, I don’t believe letting existing downtown to stay low density is the best course of action, and the HSR station provides opportunity to change that instead of developing farm lands on the edge of cities.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Nevertheless, a sprawl is a sprawl. I classified “building-where-there-was-no-building-before” as sprawl.

    So you’re saying that if you build TOD in downtown Bakersfield, that’s TOD; but if you build the _exact same buildings_ at a greenfield site, that’s sprawl? That looks like you’re playing Humpty-Dumpty with words, to me anyway.

    William Reply:

    Yes, that’s exactly what I am saying. Making existing downtown denser is far more preferable than building on prime farm lands. One reduces sprawl, the other encourage sprawl.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Brownfield vs. Greenfield.e

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s not just definitional games. There are differences between city-center infill and development near outlying stations, even assuming counterfactually that the buildings are the same, which they never are:

    1. The buildings downtown are closer to more of the city than the buildings at an outlying location, which means shorter driving distances.
    2. City transit systems point toward the preexisting downtown, and so the downtown buildings are likely to have a higher transit mode share (which in Bakersfield would be on the margins).
    3. Continuing the reasoning in #2, HSR would add a destination on top of the bus network, raising ridership and helping the city bus system (again on the margin, though Bakersfield bus ridership is so marginal that as a percentage of existing ridership it may be nontrivial).
    4. Downtown and other inner-city buildings are more likely to be developed piecemeal, with different developers owning different parcels, contributing to more diversity of uses; suburban smart growth tends to be more sterile due to common ownership.

    Development concerns heavily favor downtown stations, arguably more than any other concern. The question is not what gives you better TOD, but what gives you better ridership for the cost.

    Jonathan Reply:

    @Alon: once you start talking about driving distances, you’re no longer talking about TOD.
    William is playing Humpty-Dumpty with words. Yes, you can talk about ridership-per-dollar; but then you’re no longer defiining building designs built in city ceners as “TOD”, but the exact same buildings built just outside town as “sprawl”.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Driving distances matter because this being Bakersfield, the set of people who could afford a car but wouldn’t own one is very close to empty. Since expecting zero-car households is unrealistic, we can instead ask how to convince households to stick to just one car, or just drive their cars less.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Have you even considered the impact that choice has on trip times, environmental impact (noise and visual blight), as compared to building a station on the edge of town?

    @Jonathan: The irony of your statement is that as we speak the County is pushing ahead with a major highway project, the Centennial Corridor, that is going to rip up existing neighborhoods, not improve commute times substantially and create plenty of potential blight: http://www.bakersfieldfreeways.us/documents/TRIPProgramMap-Mar2012.pdf

    Moreover, outside of downtown, combining new highways with HSR in the median could reduce the environmental impact, yet is far from being proposed…

    Jonathan Reply:

    With a highwa project like that, Bakersfield County government sounds like it’s stuck in the 1970s.
    But that doesn’t speak at all to the comment you quoted.

    How come Bakersfiield isn’t talking about integrating the projects? Oh wait, is this the same Bakersfield whree the City Manager sat on communication from CHSRA, claimed they were unresponsive, and then had to apologize to the city council? Ha.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Of course, a gigantic freeway interchange is blight. But building an enormous HSR viaduct *over* the interchange will just make the blight worse. It’s a real cluster.

    (At least commuters stuck in traffic will be able to watch the pretty trains rumble past.)

  5. Richard Mlynarik
    Dec 24th, 2012 at 11:02
    #5

    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2012/03/jerry-brown-lowers-hsr-cost-by-30-billion/#comment-145287

    Jonathan Reply:

    I don’t see any substantive response there. Some middling, very derivative, ad-hominem, though.
    Strange you make “B Ark” allusions, when stuff like that makes a shoo-in for a ticket on one.

    I am curious whether Robert can actually show comprehension of the arguments against building new HSR lines into an existing downtown, and the upsides of an actual High-Speed line which bypasses downtown.
    By, for example, writing a paragraph or three on each — even if he doesn’t agree with said arguments.

    So, how about it, Robert? It’s one good way to refute the claim that you’re an unthinking Fan-Boy for anything and everything that CHSRA says.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I just now got the B Ark reference. (I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t seen the link and gotten reminded that people here, myself included, make these kinds of references.) Before then I thought it was the name of a local corrupt official who I’d forgotten. Sigh.

    Anyway, I’m fine with the lack of top-page discussion of the pros and cons of each issue. What annoys me more is the kind of reporting about political developments, like the appointment of new board members. As a reader, I’m interested in a) the biography of the person, and b) a way of distinguishing good appointees from bad ones. If every move the HSRA makes is A Step Forward For Progress, I am not getting that information.

    In contrast, take another major political transit blog, Second Avenue Sagas. The approach toward the MTA there is generally laudatory, and Ben has done a lot of work to discredit the myth that the MTA keeps two sets of books. But the reporting about new MTA heads is balanced, and when those heads have weird biographies (as Lhota did) apprehensive, while also giving commenters the information we need to form opinions.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The argument against building a high speed rail station in downtown Bakersfield? It’s a pretty simple one.

    In the 1960s, freeway builders nationwide ripped through many a functioning neighborhood with huge viaducts and concrete and ended up pushing many inner cities into decline. (Well, helping decline along, actually…) In some places, as synonymouse will note, it was very Brutalist and stark, in other places it was just destructive.

    What is poorly understand however, is that many of the decisions in regard to freeways were actually racial in nature. The 110 freeway through South Los Angeles was originally envisioned as a bulwark between the black neighborhoods to the east and the the white ones to the west. However, as block-busting became more common and new cities could spring up using the “Lakewood Plan”, the use of freeways became less about ringing in undesirables and more about spurring development in the suburbs.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Note that a HSR line is not a freeway, viaducts or no… A HSR line is much smaller and less intrusive…

    [In syno’s mindset, of course, the mere presence of a viaduct is evil, because for him they’re apparently some sort of bizarre symbol. In reality, on the other hand, the details actually matter…]

    synonymouse Reply:

    BART viaducts in Daly City are far from a symbolic presence but very tangible and quite freeway-like in footprint. This PB-Bechtel celebration of hollow-core would be more appropriate next to a steel mill or refinery than residences. The signature hiss of BART operations travels great distances, so the ugly brutalist experience extends well beyond the visual range.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Syn, why do you think CAHSR is going to be like BART in terms of bridge construction? BART was an attempt to jump into a future that was largely driven by ideas to compete with auto and aircraft technology (i.e., very light equipment, attempted light bridge construction, very high levels of automation, pushing the technology of the time, and an equipment style that looked futuristic enough to be part of the science fiction movie, THX 1138). Although the end result was something of a mixed bag as you’ve pointed out, parts of the program did turn out well (the Washington Metro is an almost twin to BART, including the same truck technology, but doesn’t have an oddball track gauge, weird operating voltage, or the sound problems BART has).

    The proposed CAHSR system will likely be built to an HSR standard, not BART’s; part of that will be because of the greater stresses high speed trains will place on the fixed structure, and part will be to avoid some of the worst mistakes of BART, including the noise issues. Now, as to routing and other such things, let us also recall that politicians have a bunch of fingers in that bowl (and are generally trying not to offend anybody, with some unfortunate choices and decisions there). Let us also recall that Drunk Engineer likes to point out how politicians are, shall we say, developmentally challenged, or at least seem to be. After all, I’ve run into too many of those myself!

    synonymouse Reply:

    PB took the brutalist torch from Bechtel. BART presents the closest and most likely example of what RoundaboutRail will look like. Their corporate culture holds as contemporary and modern as Jetsons stupid and sterile. Their interpretation of form follows function is the noisier the better.

    If anything positive comes out of the designed by-politicians-CHSRA it will be pure coincidental. It might as well been drawn up by Rose Pak.

    As I recall Kaiser concrete trucks used to sport the logo “Find a hole and fill it.” The Moondoggle mission statement is “Dig a hole and fill it.”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    for 9 gazillionth time the people who designed BART retired a long time ago. Or died a long time ago.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The prophets died, but the faithful followers still abound.

    Brutalism will never die so long as there is concrete and rebar.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Now there you go again, trying to confuse Synon with facts

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    Have any of you actually been to the Millbrae BART station? And when exactly was it designed and constructed?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Amanda, our Northern New York brains trust isn’t so clear on basic geography, or basic history, of Northern California. Or of Planet Earth.

    Reading maps is hard! Reality is so confusing! Let’s just type random letters instead!

    synonymouse Reply:

    And I would assume that Fremont to San Jose will keep the Bechtelian architectural grand tradition and legacy alive and well.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Go fuck yourself Mylarnik. But ya dick for that.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Syn, the people in charge of CHSRA right now are LA folks (and I definitely think that was an improvement over people like Kopp). What do you think of the project designs in LA?

    Stephen Smith Reply:

    A HSR line is much smaller and less intrusive…

    Smaller and less visually intrusive, yes. But the noise of a high-speed train as it passes you at full speed is infinitely louder than an elevated highway.

    Nathanael Reply:

    *Eyeroll*

    You’ve never lived next to an elevated highway, I take it?

    Instantaneous sound? OK, the train may be loud.

    Continuous sound? The highway has more sound hands down.
    One maladjusted truck, and the instantaneous sound from the highway is worse, too.

    Jonathan Reply:

    “infinitely louder?” Innumeracy is such a sad thing to see.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The argument against building a high speed rail station in downtown Bakersfield? It’s a pretty simple one.

    In the 1960s, freeway builders nationwide ripped through many a functioning neighborhood with huge viaducts and concrete and ended up pushing many inner cities into decline. (Well, helping decline along, actually…) In some places, as synonymouse will note, it was very Brutalist and stark, in other places it was just destructive.

    What is poorly understand however, is that many of the decisions in regard to freeways were actually racial in nature. The 110 freeway through South Los Angeles was originally envisioned as a bulwark between the black neighborhoods to the east and the the white ones to the west. However, as block-busting became more common and new cities could spring up using the “Lakewood Plan”, the use of freeways became less about ringing in undesirables and more about spurring development in the suburbs.

    StevieB Reply:

    What freeways did was speed movement of automobiles by bypassing slower streets which offer places which sell goods and services. The consequence is commerce in the city cores stalls. City tax receipts decline. Infrastructure decays for lack of funds and people flee to the suburbs.

    A well planned downtown high speed rail station with transit oriented development will reinvigorate the area with people using hotels and restaurants and shops and housing in walkable neighborhoods. A greenfield rail station will promote development around itself and hasten the decline of the old city center.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    A field trip to visit California on Planet Earth some time might be educational.

    StevieB Reply:

    The first freeway in the United States, the Arroyo Seco Parkway, was completed in 1940 and led to the decline of the adjacent business district.

    City planners also viewed the parkway as a mechanism for guiding future development—it was envisioned as the main artery of the area’s transportation routes, directing the city’s growth along these corridors and nurturing thriving developments. The business district of Highland Park was supposed to benefit from this expansion… But instead of the population expanding into Highland Park along the parkway, other developing areas in the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys became easier to reach, luring those looking to live in the suburbs.

    John Norquist argues that popular destinations tend to be crowded. Congestion, in the urban context, is often a symptom of success.

    Travelers who bring commerce to a city add more value than someone just driving through, and any thorough assessment of congestion needs to be balanced with other factors such as retail sales, real estate value and pedestrian volume.

    Speed of travel between end points should not be the sole consideration when building transit.

    In his critique of the Texas Transportation Institute’s “2010 Urban Mobility Report,” University of Connecticut engineering professor Norman Garrick wrote that “TTI lost sight of the fact that a transportation system affects almost all aspects of daily life and that its value should not be judged purely on the basis of how well it affords the speedy movement of vehicles.” In doing such, we fail to recognize the way traditional streets shape successful, self-reliant and stimulating places.

    Building high speed rail down I-5 in the central valley would decrease the travel time between the end points by a few minutes but by bypassing the cities along route 99 it would relinquish the opportunity to improve the languishing cities served by the central valley stations.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    First freeway in the US? Who died and zapped the Long Island parkways and the Pennsylvania Turnpike?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Depends on how you define “freeway”.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The PA Turnpike did the same damned thing, trashing the downtown business districts which had thrived in the railroad-and-US-route era.

    I can’t speak to Long Island, but did it ever have downtown business districts? It doesn’t now.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It didn’t when the parkways were built. They were not intercity roads; they were suburban commuter roads and beach access roads. Unlike the towns bypassed by the Turnpike, which were industrial or mining outposts whose population peaked in the early 20th century, Long Island developed after the parkways and so its development is more oriented around them. Garden City was made, not destroyed, by the parkways.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Define “downtown”.
    Garden City was made by the LIRR and Doubleday.
    The population density of Nassau County is 4,704, higher than many US cities – for instance Houston’s is 3,371. Salt Lake City, that hotbed of light rail, is 1,688. Great Neck Plaza is more densely populated than Queens. Many places in Nassau County are so densely populated that they make int onto Wikipedia’s list of densely populated places.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by_population_density

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Garden City the residential suburb was made by the LIRR; Garden City-East Garden City the edge city cluster was made by parkways.

    Joe Reply:

    Gilroy’s main street in downtown used to be the route for 101. The 101 highway was built and diverted traffic off Monterey Road. You can see legacy buildings from the old 101 on Monterey in the coyote valley section of south county of santa clara co. The business district, for many reasons, is hurting.

    Gilroy funded a study for HSR alignment Deciding between a green field station and down town station. The city selected the down town station and made that recommendation to HSR.

    The hope and expectation is this station will reinvigorate downtown gilroy.
    This expectation might be completely unfounded in fact and theory

    the CAHSRA will provide more details and impacts of that selection back to the city:Noise and track ROW details and cost.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Yes, but various nincompoops in Gilroy think they’re going to get CHSRA to pay to trench the HSR line through town. Good luck with that one, Joe. I wonder what 350 km/hr through downtown Gilroy will do to “invigorate” it. And one slows down to 220 km/hr for every town the train goes through — it’s not going to make the required SF-LA time.

    Let’s see, here’s a quote of Clem (as quoted by Joe) in 2011:

    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2011/03/gilroy-plans-launch-of-hsr-study/#comment-104963

    What needs to be highlighted is this: east Gilroy and downtown Gilroy are likely to be vastly different propositions from the standpoint of train speeds. In the starkest terms:

    East Gilroy = 220 mph
    Downtown Gilroy = 150 mph

    For reasons of noise impact and track curvature, a downtown alignment will not enable full speeds to be sustained through Gilroy. (For those who doubt basic feasibility, 220 mph can easily be reached in flat terrain from SJ, and even more so on the downhill coast from Pacheco Pass).

    That glaring speed difference has implications for trip times of ~50% of HSR riders who will pass through Gilroy on a train that does not stop there. Furthermore, trains will waste energy to slow from 220 mph to 150 and accelerate back up to 220.

    Before people get all enamored with TOD around walkable HSR stations, they need to get your brain wrapped around a basic fact: this is a high-speed train, not your neighborhood light rail. If you plop speed-restricting obstacles in its path, it will no longer be HSR. A minute here, a minute there, and pretty soon you’re talking real chunks of time.

    CARRD’s memo describes the east-of-101 alternative as “a rural agricultural area outside the city limits with no road network, infrastructure or supporting transit services”… OK, yeah, except for an excellent interface with highway 101, which is only the main transportation backbone of the region.

    If the Pacheco routing survives the ongoing legal and political challenges, then I think the Gilroy station belongs east of 101.

    William Reply:

    Gilroy forwarded “two” downtown HSR options to CAHSRA: one is trench HSR tracks but still leaves UP tracks and thus Caltrain station at grade, and the other is split-grade grade separation that also grade-separate UP tracks.

    I believe most of the participant in the workshop picked the downtown split-grade option due to its cost and that it also grade-separate UP tracks. Gilroy city council tacked on the trench option.

    You can read for yourself here: http://www.gilroyhighspeedtrain.org/workshops/

    Joey Reply:

    Shame the station loop option wasn’t carried forward. All the benefits of a downtown station without forcing express trains through as well. Might even be cheaper than the full downtown option, given the additional freedom you have with the alignment.

    Nathanael Reply:

    350 km/hr per downtown Gilroy will invigorate it nicely. I realize some people are hysterical idiots who think that fast trains are so loud they will destroy everything with their sonic weapons, but they’re, well, hysterical idiots. Business districts sit next to AIRPORTS, for goodness sake, and airports are extremely loud.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Where do CBDs sit next to airports?

    jimsf Reply:

    In San Jose

    Jonathan Reply:

    And San Jose’s CBD is “invigorated”? ROTFL!

    blankslate Reply:

    Not a good example, if the goal is to argue for downtown HSR stations. San Jose boosters and civic leaders constantly lament that the proximity of the airport to the CBD has limited the potential of said CBD.

    Besides, San Jose’s airport is over a mile from the CBD, not right in the middle of it.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    LOL, you sure as hell can’t walk easily from the airport to wherever the hell San Jose’s CBD is
    supposed to be-SJSU, the Federal Courts, Safeway? Unless by CBD you mean Costco, Trader Joes and Jack in the Crap (on the Santa Clara side of the airport closer to the Caltrain tracks). The airport is at Metro light rail station, not an easy walk to Santa Clara/Paseo de San Antonio.

    Nathanael Reply:

    London will do nicely as an example. Also LA. Yes, those aren’t the *central* central business districts, but they’re big and established business districts.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Hmm, San Diego comes to mind as well.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Burbank. This is easy, how many more do you want?

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Oakland all have airports that are nowhere near the CBDs, or anything resembling such. Oh, throw in Sacramento.

    Wdobner Reply:

    Boston

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Downtown Burbank is not that close to the airport. And Heathrow isn’t the City or the West End or Canary Wharf and never will be.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I realize some people are hysterical idiots who think that fast trains are so loud …

    In one corner: Parsons Brinkerhoff North America, Robert Cruickshank, Rod Diridon, “William”, “Nathanael”, “jimsf”, “Jonathan”, “Joe”, “adirondacker12800″, etc.

    In the other corner: “hysterical idiots”. Including every high speed rail operator and every railway network owner on the planet.

    Clem Reply:

    Actually, PB and their subs did a nice job describing the sound impacts of 220 mph HSR. Look no further than the draft EIRs currently circulating. They confirm everything we’ve been saying, with “severe” impacts cutting a swath thousands of feet wide. That’s because the numbers are the numbers, once you get past the “otherworldly swoosh” bullshit that clueless consultants feed to gullible residents. Those of us who choose to remain innumerate are the hysterical idiots, if you ask me!

    Jonathan Reply:

    Richard, those are fighting words. You’ve lost the plot so badly, you can’t tell who’s following the actual numbers, and who isn’t. I have been highlighting the issue of HSR noise in downtown alignments in this very blog post.

    Do you have reading comprehension problems? Or maybe Clem is right, and it’s numeracy that’s the issue.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    I dunno Clem, you’ve posted bullshit about HSR noise in the past, so you’re hardly one to talk…

    William Reply:

    Aerodynamic noise on HSR trains is an issue that existing HSR train operators are aware of and numerous design changes have been applied or proposed to combat it, with Japan putting especially more effort into this due to Shinkansen tracks are often near densely populated areas.

    It is a problem that can be mitigated. There is no point talking about it like nothing can be done about the problem.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Actually William. it’s a problem that _has_ been mitigated, to the limits of our scientific understanding of the aerodynamics involved. I’ve read a number of l abstracts of original research into reducing HSR pantograph noise over the last year. The abstracts I read were Japanese; and they’re all talking about 1.5 to 2 dB noise reduction, if memory serves.

    Jonathan Reply:

    And if it is “a problem that can be mitigated”, _do_ tell us quantitatively what the base problem is, and just how much it can be mitigated.

    William Reply:

    Some Shinkansen noise reduction papers:
    Sound Absorbing Materials on Bogie Skirts (reduction of ~5db):
    http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/development/tech/pdf_1/13_21tecrev.pdf

    Sound Interference Device on Sound Walls (reduction of ~2db):
    http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/development/tech/pdf_16/Tec-16-60-62eng.pdf

    Jonathan Reply:

    And _when_ were these published, William? Do note that the first-cited paper investigates the E2-10000 units, which were ordered in 1997. Prototype delivered in 2000, production units in service December 2002. Ten years ago.

    And that paper says, I quote,

    The study has also made s it clear that a noise reduction of 3 dB is possible when all currently conceivable countermeasures have been taken

    I(see either the abstract, or Sec 2.6.) Where do you get 5 dB from?

    More to the point: these noise reductions came from a variety of techniques which are now well-understood. In fact, if Alstom is to be believed, their simulations of leading-bogie noise go rather beyond the scale-model experiments in that paper.
    I don

    quashlo Reply:

    For more context on Japanese operations, trains on the Tōhoku Shinkansen already operate at 300 km/h (soon to be 320 km/h) through the dense centers of medium-sized cities (Kōriyama, Fukushima, Furukawa). At other stations and in many places up and down the line, there are existing buildings in very close proximity to tracks where trains are operating at these speeds. JR East’s future vision for the line is to eventually bring it up to 360 km/h after the Hokkaidō Shinkansen opens, while still meeting the strict standards for noise (70 dBA for residential areas, 75 dBA for non-residential areas). I’m hardly a noise expert, but based on this, it doesn’t necessarily seem unmitigable to run at 350 km/h through Downtown Gilroy based on noise alone.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Thank you, quashlo.

    Noise reduction is much easier on train lines than on, for example, AIRPORTS or EXPRESSWAYS.

    William Reply:

    @Jonathan
    The main difference between E2 and E2-1000 is the pantograph design, which in the first paper indicated ~0.8dB reduction just on improved pantograph design alone. All other noise reduction measures such as full-bogie cover and flush gaps between cars are part of the experiment and are just being implemented into recently built trainsets such as N700, E5, and E6 series Shinkansen

    From the pictures I can find on newer European HSR trainsets, I have yet to see changes to pantograph, or the noise reduction measures employed by Shinkansen.

    Clem Reply:

    I would strongly doubt quashlo’s assertion that there are any Japanese urban HSR stations traversed at 300 km/h by non-stop trains. While the line speed limit is indeed that high, and going up, the stations are typically located near curves that limit speeds to something closer to 240 km/h. I am happy to be proven wrong, but in the meantime the line speed limit should not be taken as an indication of the speed actually practiced through urban stations.

    quashlo Reply:

    It’s not the line speed limit…

    Translate away:
    http://seisyo-euro.cocolog-nifty.com/blog/2012/09/post-de78.html
    http://seisyo-euro.cocolog-nifty.com/blog/2012/09/post-d512.html

    Jonathan Reply:

    Google Translate yields one column title as “GPS speed through station”. (That column is populated only at station rows; the station-to-station mean speed is populated only in the intra-station rows).
    Looks like speeds from 250 to 295 km/hr; with an outlyer at Fukushima in the Tokyo-bound directoin, due to a tunnel.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Google translate often does a crappy job with Japanese, but that’s an accurate translation.

    Also re: Clem’s claim*, the stations with high speeds in that table aren’t on curves…

    * Which seems downright bizarre to be honest: “stations are typically located near curves” is highly dubious to begin with, and even if it happened to be true, obviously wouldn’t be sufficient to conclude there are no stations with high-speed through trains. This is exactly the sort of weird handwaving (also see “HSR noise is a like a military jet on afterburner”) that sullies your previously pretty good reputation Clem….

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    weird handwaving

    Imagine having a good reputation. Imagine having a grasp of facts. Imagine ever contributing concrete data. Dare to dream Miles, dare to dream.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Don’t worry Richard, Clem might still be able to get his rep back if scales back on the obvious bullshit.

    You, on the other hand…

    Clem Reply:

    I happily stand corrected, not that I give a hoot about my “rep”. The next issue is that the Japanese measure noise differently than we do. What are the differences, and on what basis do we compare their dBA to ours? Reductions are all fine and dandy (a dB is a dB) but quoting an absolute level of 70 to 75 dBA is meaningless without understanding the reference to which it is measured. It’s confusing enough to swing back and forth between Lmax, Leq, Ldn just in our way of measuring things… What’s theirs?

    synonymouse Reply:

    I doubt if the CHSRA could get it “rep back” – even if it re-hired Van Ark and told Villa and Antonovich to take a hike, in the Tehachapis and get lost. Moonbeam and CEO Richard are the master purveyors of “obvious bullshit”.

    K.T. Reply:

    According to Ministry of the Environment of Japan’s Measurement and Evaluation Manual for Shinkansen Superexpress Railway Noise, noise measurement is taken at the location approximately 25 meters away from the centerline of the train track. I was not able to find the English version of this document on the web, but the Japanese version is available as a pdf document in

    .

    The English version of the environmental regulation was available in their website, but the language on measurement point is vague:

    Hope this helps.

    K.T. Reply:

    Uhh… Link Failure.

    1st link – Japanese
    http://www.env.go.jp/air/noise/sinkansen/manual.html

    2nd link – English
    http://www.env.go.jp/en/air/noise/railway.html

    Jonathan Reply:

    The graphs are all labelled: Sound Pressure Level, dB(A), at 25m. Same as the AGV environmental noise graphs I’ve seen. I haven’t found any more detail than that.
    I believe Japan’s limit, for that measurement, is 75dB. AGV. Alstom presentations for the AGV say that current (2011) Paris-Marseilles TGV train-sets hit 100 dB; but an AGV would be 90dB. They don’t say if that’s at the same speed, or if the AGV noise-level is at a higher speed.

    quashlo Reply:

    The noise measurements are taken as LASmax:
    http://webistem.com/acoustics2008/acoustics2008/cd1/data/fa2002-sevilla/forumacusticum/archivos/noi02004.pdf

    Everything I’ve ever read tells me that the Shinkansen noise standards are some of the strictest anywhere in the world, a direct result of the type of running environment (through areas of dense urban development). I have no reason to doubt it, and I have no reason to question why similar measures couldn’t be taken to mitigate sound for a Downtown Gilroy alignment.

    Peter Reply:

    FRA has published new High Speed Ground Transportation Noise and Vibration Impact Assessment. http://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Details/L04090

    Much more detailed than the 2005 handbook. Seems to be relevant to this discussion.

    Clem Reply:

    Thank you all for the valuable sources.

    So the Japanese specify things in terms of maximum sound pressure level (averaged over 1 second) at 25 meters from the track center line, and not as sound exposure level of the entire pass-by renormalized to 1 second. That inherently makes their measurement more conservative, but it also makes it impossible to convert between SEL and Lmax without making assumptions about the shape of the noise profile as the train passes by.

    One thing is certain, going from 300 to 350 km/h is worth a +3 dB bump in SEL, and possibly more in Lmax since the sound is potentially even more peaky.

    Jonathan Reply:

    @quashio:

    No, Shinkansen measuremnets are not in fact taken at LAS_max. The document scited by K.T — and another I found — state clearly that Japanese environmental noise measurements are the energy-mean of the upper-half of recorded peak noise. Noise levels are recorded as the peak over 20 successive trains in either direction. The measuring instrument shall be a a slow-response, A-weighted noise meter.

    That can’t be the same thing as $ L_{pA, Smax}$ (LaTex notation).

    The cited document webistem.com/acoustics2008/acoustics2008/cd1/data/fa2002-sevilla/forumacusticum/archivos/noi02004.pdf has a very interesting chronology of Shinkansen nose reduction. But, like lso many of the citations here, it’s very out of date: it stops at the 700 series, circa 2001.
    Not a complaint; I find it hard to find much newer than 2006-2009 myself.

    Jonathan Reply:

    @Clem: what you write, is not what I understand two different sources to say how Japan measures environmental noise. (It took me almost an hour to draft and check the short message above.)

    quashlo Reply:

    @Jonathan:
    Sorry, I don’t think I can provide any further insight as noise is not my area of expertise… Perhaps Clem can. However, I would consider both sources as “reliable”, even if they would appear to provide conflicting information. The source provided by K.T. is simply the text of the 1975 legislation that established the noise standards for Shinkansen lines, while my source is a paper by two members of the RTRI, Japan’s premiere railway research body.

    Anyways, I’m not sure exactly what you are looking for, but perhaps you should check here for details on the E5 / E6 series noise measures:
    http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/development/tech/contents16.html

    This particular issue details all the various measures (not just noise) in the FASTECH 360 project (speed increase to 360 km/h on the Tōhoku Shinkansen). The following articles in that issue all deal with noise:

    Environmental Measures along Shinkansen Lines with FASTECH360 High-Speed Test Trains
    http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/development/tech/pdf_16/Tec-16-47-55eng.pdf

    Development of New Tunnel Entrance Hoods
    http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/development/tech/pdf_16/Tec-16-56-59eng.pdf

    Shinkansen Noise Reduction by New Wayside Equipment Development
    http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/development/tech/pdf_16/Tec-16-60-62eng.pdf

    Development of Low-noise Air Conditioning Ducts
    http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/development/tech/pdf_16/Tec-16-63-66eng.pdf

    While they are only going with 320 km/h for now with the new E5 / E6 series, my overall impression (at least what I remember of it) from scanning the articles a year or so ago was that they were very optimistic about eventually increasing the line to 360 km/h from all perspectives, including noise and maintenance / wear and tear.

    Clem Reply:

    @Jonathan: I think the “energy mean” is just specifying the way of averaging the 10 highest readings out of the 20 acquired. Obviously, you don’t just take the average of the dB readings. The end result can still be interpreted as a max sound pressure level. (using the “slow” 1-second response averaging)

    Also, it looks like the new FRA handbook has a method for going between SEL and Lmax. This enables apples-to-apples comparisons of Japanese, European and US noise measurements.

    quashlo Reply:

    In closer examination of the noise measurement and assessment manual in the Japanese-language link provided by K.T., it’s actually pretty clear that they are calculating in LASmax. Section 6.4.1 (page 15) of the manual defines the “energy mean”, which is exactly what Clem describes.

    Jonathan Reply:

    @Clem:
    I guess I suffer from being dimensionally literate. I’m not going to try and replicate LaTeX notation here, sum over all readibut ‘averaging” the 10 highest readings is _exactly_ what one does.

    I’m still reading the cited FRA handbook. I’m still getting over their quaint 1963 definition fo “hiGh Speed Ground Transportation”…. Oh, it’s _so_ reassuring to see that their characterization of noise-regimes-by-speed is based on research from _1993_. Sec 2.2, Foot of p. 2.8: B. Barsickow and B. Mueller, Wayside Noise Generated by the German High-Speed Transport Systems, ICE and TransRapid, 72dnd Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C., 1993.

    1993 Wow, TR-07 is just _so_ representative of 500 km/hr train-sets, and the noise they make. I wonder what more gems these US Tran Professional Engineers have in store?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    $latex L_{pA, Smax}$ Test

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Okay, that doesn’t work here. It works on the WordPress site though…

  6. D. P. Lubic
    Dec 25th, 2012 at 12:48
    #6

    Off topic, but likely of interest–a NARP review on a book about Amtrak, with some interesting quotes from it pertaining to how the deck is stacked against trains:

    http://www.narprail.org/news/narp-blog/2171-wilnerbook

  7. Derek
    Dec 25th, 2012 at 14:00
    #7

    One alternative to building downtown, in a way that doesn’t promote sprawl, is to buy up a bunch of land and build your own TOD. Or ask that the area around the station be zoned for high density mixed development, perhaps 200 dwelling units per acre.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The problem with buying up the land is that people don’t have to sell if they don’t want to. You can’t exercise eminent domain, because that’d be excess taking, and was ruled unconstitutional in the 1930s when FDR proposed to buy up mile-wide ROWs along proposed road alignments and sell the land at a profit to suburban developers.

    JJJ Reply:

    Wouldnt the new haven case disagree?

    Nathanael Reply:

    JJJ is refering to Kelo v. New London, I believe. And yes, the ruling means that a government can buy land up for “urban renewal” and resell it to developers.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The precedents for this date to the late-50s early-60s IIRC, as they were used for the god-awful urban renewal projects of that period. I suspect that the 1930s precedent is bad law now.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The government would have to demonstrate public benefit. Put another way, the government has to be able to say “the existing landowners wouldn’t have sold this to developers for TOD.” Otherwise, it’s just a wealth grab.

    Peter Reply:

    Put another way, the government has to be able to say “the existing landowners wouldn’t have sold this to developers for TOD.” Otherwise, it’s just a wealth grab.

    Actually, under Kelo, “public purpose” means essentially anything covered by the state’s police power. Which means the state has practically free hand to exercise eminent domain on any property it wishes to.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    State laws and constitutions are rather more restrictive; there was a major surge of such in response to Kelo.

    Peter Reply:

    For practically any purpose.

    JJJ Reply:

    Yes, thats the one I meant.

    Derek Reply:

    Surely someone in the vicinity of Bakersfield would be willing to sell. They could put the station there.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They can force people to sell for the station, but not for any TOD around it. This is significant, because if means that if they try to get people to sell for TOD, the existing landowners can demand the price the land would have after the station were built, capturing the excess value instead of letting it accrue to the HSR operator. On top of it, the first residents would be free to incorporate and put whatever zoning regime they like.

    Derek Reply:

    If they don’t tell the existing landowners that the land would be used for TOD, then by the time the existing landowners find out what it will be used for, it will be too late for the landowners to demand more money because they will no longer own the land.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You’re assuming much more imperfect information than is the case. The value of the land depends only on its proximity to the station, and since the station site is public information, landowners will know to bid up prices. On top of that, if the station site is not public information, landowners will see that the HSRA is trying to buy up land in an area and put 2 and 2 together.

    Derek Reply:

    But if the station site is not public information, and if the HSRA has someone else buy up land on their behalf, then it will be more difficult for landowners in the area to put 2 and 2 together.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    What you are suggesting is illegal and intrinsically flawed since it requires the assumption of idiocy by the opposition.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’m almost sure the former landowners would be able to sue too.

    Derek Reply:

    What’s illegal about it?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Environmental impact reporting.

    Though banning it on those grounds is a lot like sending Al Capone to jail for tax fraud.

  8. jimsf
    Dec 26th, 2012 at 07:05
    #8

    mexico announces hsr project

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Wasn’t this announced and then dropped a few years ago, or is this a different project?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_transport_in_Mexico

    Paul Druce Reply:

    It’s not actually an HSR project, just regular rail.

    StevieB Reply:

    The Mexican project is similar to the HSR project from Chicago to Kansas City.

    Nathanael Reply:

    But without the money extraction by Union Pacific; and it’s designed to help a “poorer” part of Mexico.

    So perhaps it would be better to compare it to the Chicago to Detroit project.

  9. morris brown
    Dec 27th, 2012 at 08:29
    #9

    VTA (non success) story. Along with BART to the Airport and other disasters, you can already add the CA HSR project, which is now nothing more than building orphaned, non-electrified low speed tracks to nowhere, in the Central Valley. Pure Pork being given out to land developers and construction unions.

    See: the VTA story here:

    The heavy cost of VTA’s light rail system —

    25 years later, VTA light rail among the nation’s worst

    Derek Reply:

    If tracks that can support a train going 200+ mph are “low speed tracks,” then what’s your definition of a high speed track?

    morris brown Reply:

    @Derek:

    Actually you don’t know what the tracks will or will not support, but in any case, they aren’t electrified and won’t support real HSR unless
    they get electrification, which isn’t even on the horizon.

    After a few years of nice and heavy train sets rolling on them, what will be their condition?

    Eric M Reply:

    @morris,

    Really?!!! “Actually you don’t know what the tracks will or will not support”. Are you just playing dumb or intentionally keeping your head in the sand? Here is the Request for Proposal
    for Design-Build Services
    , in which you might want to read section 4.2.1.1. But sice I know you wont, here is what it says:

    4.2.1.1 CHSTP Design Criteria
    Design Criteria has been prepared to direct the development of Contractor’s final design and
    construction drawings for the Project. Contractor shall develop the alignment to ensure an
    initial operating speed of at least 220 miles per hour and future operation at 250 miles per hour.
    Contractor shall document the applicability assessment in the Requirements Verification
    Traceability Matrix (RVTM), including identification of each criterion that is determined by the
    Contractor to not be applicable to the Project. RVTM is described in more details in Verification,
    Validation and Self‐Certification in Book 3.
    Contractor shall review the CHSTP Design Criteria and determine applicability of each
    criterion.  
    Where Contractor has determined a specific design criterion is applicable but cannot be
    reasonably and/or practically achieved for the minimum criteria, a Design Variance Request
    shall be submitted to the Authority Representative for approval. Design Variance Requests are
    location‐specific. Design Variance Requests are subject to Configuration Management and
    Change Control. Contractor shall not assume that additional Design Variance Requests, above
    those included in Book 4 of Scope of Work, will be approved. Refer to Design Variances (see
    4.14 in this Scope of Work).

    You can find other technical drawings on the California High Speed Rail website and I am sure your buddies at CARRD have them too.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Morris

    Don’t you feel a little like Brigadier General Charles de Gaulle trying to warn his superior officers ca. 1938 about the delusional Maginot Line?

    Moonbeam is equally delusional. Situation hopeless.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    “In our case we tried to graft a big-city transit type of mode onto a suburban environment, and it’s still kind of a work in progress.”

    Tenth most importantest major city in teh universes! TOD coming … any … decade … now.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    SkyTrain opened in 1986. VTA light rail opened in 1987.

    Naturally, in the high-growth but low-density environment of the Vancouver suburbs, it’s impossible to set up retail or residential density (go to the bottom of the dropdown menu), and it’s absolutely impossible to increase mode share in this time period.

    Stephen Smith Reply:

    Kind of incredible that some at VTA, which is currently building funding new BART lines, will admit so freely that San Jose is too suburban for even light rail.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Morris remains dishonest.

    We all know that VTA light rail was one of the worst-designed systems in the country — there was a long list of “what not to do with light rail” which they did. It was then very poorly managed.

    Let’s count some of them: freeway alignments; slow through downtown; indirect and twisty routings; and of course, as Connolly says in the article, they ran through onion fields rather than going where the people already were.

    Many of the problems were discussed back in 2004:
    http://www.lightrailnow.org/features/f_sj002.htm

    CAHSR is an entirely different sort of operation, and at this point it is run by LA folks. You’re going to find very little to criticize in LA rail.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I will say this though: the crazy Peninsula NIMBYs may well succeed at keeping CAHSR off the Peninsula. It’s already been determined that the Central Valley section is being built first, followed by the LA section and the connection to LA.

    At this point it might be simpler to just run a base tunnel directly to SF and skip the entire suburbs.

    Joe Reply:

    Caltrain remains critical for the Pennisula Cities.

    Even Menlo Park needs the system to offset auto trips and permit growth, including their own downtown Develpment plan.

    Jobs that prop up NIMBY property values (Facebook and google) currently rely on free bus service paid by the employers. Eventually these companies age and the perks are cut back. Those riders will be push to Caltrain or cars. The status qup is maintained with private bus service.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What interest is there for homeowners to allow more housing and square footage growth?

    Jonathan Reply:

    Status qup? Status qup?
    How about Status Quip, a throw-away line about the status? No, wait, I have it: Status Quipu! Status in knotted string, very specially for BART, VTA Light Rail, and the people bringing us CBOSS!

    No wonder they have to pay 3x-4x market rate for a short-line dual-track lend-of-last-century signalling system: they’re doing all their internal memoranda in knotted strings!

    Jonathan Reply:

    Nathaniel: in what possible world is Dan Richard — a 12-year BART Board member and now CHSRA Chair — “LA Folks”? Methinks you’re LA Dreamin’.

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