Lynn Schenk Reappointed to CHSRA Board

Dec 17th, 2012 | Posted by

Governor Jerry Brown has reappointed Lynn Schenk to the board of the California High Speed Rail Authority, where she has served for nearly 10 years. It’s a good move on the governor’s part, as Schenk has long experience with the project while also representing the interests of San Diego, the state’s third largest metropolis.

The CHSRA press release announcing Schenk’s reappointment explained that her HSR roots run as deep as Jerry Brown’s, if not deeper, in board chairman Dan Richard’s words:

We greatly appreciate Governor Brown re-appointing Lynn Schenk to the Authority’s Board. Lynn is much more than a stalwart member of this Board. It was Lynn Schenk who originally proposed the high-speed rail network in the 1980’s when she was the Secretary of California’s Business, Transportation and Housing Agency during Governor Brown’s earlier tenure. As a member of Congress she authored legislation signed by President Clinton establishing high-speed rail corridors across the nation. Lynn Schenk is known as the “Mother of high-speed rail” for very good reason. I am so pleased that she will continue to provide her guidance and leadership as we move forward.

30 years after setting the first spark for high speed rail in California, Lynn Schenk will be on the board when ground is finally broken on the project in the Central Valley. It’s fitting, but it also should not have taken so damn long. It was clear 40 years ago, in 1973, that California could not afford to hitch its transportation future to oil. After a second oil shock had hit in 1979, high speed rail began to emerge as a concept in California. The 1980s should have seen a system planned and begun. It could have been completed by the year 2000.

Instead California chose to avoid reality and spent those decades trying desperately to continue the 20th century version of the California Dream, one that relies on oil and freeways to move people. Precious time was lost and now the cost of building the system is even greater than it would have been had Schenk and Brown been listened to. Instead the Legislature killed HSR in 1983. They eventually realized their mistake, and now we’re back on track, under the leadership of those who had originally understood the problem and its solutions.

  1. Jerry
    Dec 17th, 2012 at 22:20

    You are correct. It was 40 years ago. Now, it’s on a lot of people’s ‘bucket list’ to finally ride High Speed Rail in California.

    John Burrows Reply:

    Have to admit that a ride on High Speed Rail in California is on my “bucket list”. Plan A was to walk across the street to Diridon and catch the train there. But now that projected service has slipped to 2029 at the earliest, “plan B” (catch the train in Fresno) has become necessary as it is problematic that I will be riding any trains at the age of 91 or older.

    I regret that it has taken this long to get started, and there will probably be further delays, but once running, high speed trains will serve California for a very long time.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    ya should go rummage around in the Popular Mechanix and Popular Science magazines of the 1960s. We were going to whisking between New York City and Washington DC in two hours or less by the 70s. For a very brief period Metroliner super express trains made it between the two faster than Acela.

  2. morris brown
    Dec 17th, 2012 at 23:06

    Here is a real bit of reality about at least some HSR train projects.

    The Downside of High-Speed Rail

    swing hanger Reply:

    Seems like a lot of the problems described are having to do with the service model rather than high speed rail per se. And the previous service, for its supposed cheapness, was pretty bad- old carriages that were some of the dirtiest I ever rode in Western Eurpoe, and chronic lateness.

    Peter Reply:

    Isn’t this basically the same business model as NS Hispeed already uses for it’s ICE 3 trains? I seem to remember that reservations were required for that, too. Hence why we weren’t able to take it on short notice.

    Matthew B. Reply:

    The arguments in the article sound potentially relevant for a densely populated country with lots of legacy track and a large change in ticketing policy coincident with the introduction of HSR. Those issues aren’t remotely applicable to California.

    thatbruce Reply:

    They’ve planned for the Benelux service to be replaced with a high speed service since the 90s, and since that decision was made, weren’t putting money into it, especially since the Thalys started running the same route.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Ho, ho, ho, ho!! I can’t believe Morris can pick such things that actually make his case worse by the day!! Whooee!!

    Man, I wish we had the old service on that route here in America, instead of the essentially no service we have now!! Of course, then Morris and his like would rather discontinue the old service, so we could have more roads, and drive more cars, and burn more gasoline, and waste more time driving, so we could say we were still living like Real Americans when America was Really Something, because we younger whippersnappers don’t know nothing. . .

    Ho, ho, ho, ho!!

    I wonder why he posts here at all, when just about all he can put up gets shot down so easily. And blast it all, I don’t even live out there, and I can do it!! Ho, ho, ho, ho!!!

    VBobier Reply:

    Of course Morris doesn’t realize an Interstate Highway is not much more than an Americanized German Autobahn, which preceded the Pennsylvania turnpike by 17 years, 1920 vs 1937… They were both intended for troop transport, trains and aircraft can do that better, in the Civil War railroads were instrumental in the utter defeat of the rebellious South, the South couldn’t match that then, as the South was not prepared in any way shape or form, nor was it unified and organized.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    New Yorkers were carving limited access highways long before that.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yeah, the Long Island Motor Parkway and the Bronx River Parkway. Apart from these small examples, New York started building parkways in the 1920s.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah the Long Island Parkway was built as a Toll road in 1908, for Racing really, yeah that’s in the wiki on the subject, the parkway is not much more than a glorified race track… It was closed in 1938 cause of back taxes by the State of New York and then reopened. A failed private venture, that became public property… High speeds in 1908 hardly compares to 1938 when autos were beefier and yep faster than 30 years prior to 1938.

    It(The Long Island Parkway) opened in 1908 as a toll road and closed in 1938 when it was taken over by the state of New York in lieu of back taxes. Parts of the parkway survive today in sections of other roadways and as a bicycle trail in Queens.

    William Kissam Vanderbilt II, the great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, was an auto-racing enthusiast and created the Vanderbilt Cup, the first major road racing competition, in 1904. He had operated his races over local roads in Nassau County during the first decade of the 20th century, but the killing of two spectators and the injury of many others showed the need to eliminate racing on residential streets. Vanderbilt responded by floating a company to build a graded, banked and grade-separated highway suitable for racing that was also free of the dust churned up by horses. The resulting Long Island Motor Parkway, with its banked turns, guard rails, reinforced concrete tarmac, and controlled access, was the first limited-access roadway opened in the world.[3]

    VBobier Reply:

    Another thing, the Autobahn and the Interstate Highways were built with Military needs in mind, the Parkways were not, You know like for Tanks and heavy trucks…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Interstates may have been marketed to Congress as a military project, but they were not a military project really. The road builders wanted them beginning in the 1940s as a project to increase road capacity and speed, reduce accidents by raising design standards, and get long-distance through-traffic out of the urban arterials. Military needs had nothing to do with it. Occasionally you could find someone who liked the Interstates because they saw Germans flee Allied pursuit on the Autobahn system (in jeeps and such – those roads can’t handle tanks) and thought it was a nifty idea for the US, but most of the road people didn’t think in military terms.

    The Autobahn network, too, was not a military project. It was a public works project to boost the German economy via deficit spending on infrastructure, and also a national prestige project via which the Nazis could claim they were giving ordinary Germans access to parks and similar destinations.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Interstate System was just another way to transfer money from the Northeast and Midwest to Real America ™

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Essentially, yeah. Thomas Macdonald opposed the idea, on the grounds that traffic didn’t justify a national network, and the roads wouldn’t be able to pay for themselves out of tolls except possibly between Washington and Boston. He was pressured to write a more positive report, so his coauthor added that a national network of toll-free expressways would be an okay idea.

    Jerry Reply:

    The original Pennsylvania Turnpike used some old railroad tunnels. For a while they were single lanes without a divider. Until they bored new tunnels next to the old ones.

    VBobier Reply:

    Here’s a quote from the 1937 link on the original Pennsylvania Turnpike from the wiki…

    Prior to groundbreaking of the first section, the turnpike commission sent workers out to assess the former railroad tunnels in 1937. In September of that year, a contract was awarded to drain the water out of the tunnels.[163] Following this, workers cleared rockslides and vegetation from the tunnel portals before they could evaluate the condition of the nine tunnels.[164][165] From the evaluations, the turnpike concluded six of the nine tunnels of the former South Pennsylvania Railroad could be used for the roadway. The Allegheny Mountain Tunnel was in too poor condition to use, while the Quemahoning Tunnel and the Negro Mountain Tunnel were to be bypassed with rock cuts through the mountains.[165] The Quemahoning Tunnel had been completed and used by the Pittsburgh, Westmoreland and Somerset Railroad.[166]

    Groundbreaking for the Pennsylvania Turnpike occurred on October 27, 1938 near Carlisle; commission chairman Walter A. Jones dug the first shovel into to earth.[167] The construction of the turnpike was on a tight schedule as completion of the road originally planned by May 1, 1940. After groundbreaking, contracts were awarded for various work in building the road, such as finishing the tunnels of the former South Pennsylvania Railroad, grading the turnpike’s right-of-way, construction of bridges, and paving operations.[11] By July 1939, the entire length of the turnpike was under contract.

    VBobier Reply:

    In any case the wiki further states the following on the “NEW Tunnels”, were built in the 1960’s, were not built in the 1930’s or earlier

    The turnpike commission announced plans to build a second bore at the Allegheny Mountain Tunnel along with a four-lane bypass of the Laurel Hill Tunnel in 1960. A bypass was planned for the Laurel Hill Tunnel because traffic would be relieved faster and less expensively than it would by boring another tunnel.[239] In 1962, the turnpike commission approved these two projects.[240] That August, $21 million in bonds were sold to finance the two projects.[241] The Laurel Hill Tunnel was bypassed by way of a deep cut to the north of the tunnel; it would feature a wide median, truck climbing lanes, and a 145-foot (44 m) deep cut into the mountain.[33][242] Groundbreaking for the new alignment took place on September 6, 1962.[243] This bypass of Laurel Hill Tunnel opened to traffic on October 30, 1964 at a cost of $7.5 million.[33][242]

    Work on boring the second tube at Allegheny Mountain Tunnel also began on September 6, 1962.[242] In building the second tube, the former South Pennsylvania Railroad tunnel was considered, but was again rejected as it was in too poor condition.[244] On March 15, 1965, the new tube opened to traffic. Following the opening of the new tunnel, the original tube would be closed to allow for updates to be made, reopening on August 25, 1966.[242][245] The construction of the second tube at Allegheny Mountain cost $12 million.[33]
    The abandoned section of the highway

    In 1965, the turnpike commission announced plans to build second tubes at the Tuscarora, Kittatinny, and Blue Mountain tunnels while a 13.5-mile (21.7 km) bypass of the Rays Hill and Sideling Hill tunnels would be built.[246] A study in the early 1960s had concluded that a bypass would be the best option to handle traffic at Rays Hill and Sideling Hill.[119][247] A bypass of these two tunnels was considered in the 1930s, but at the time was determined to be too expensive.[119] The turnpike commission sold $77.5 million in bonds in January 1966 to finance this project.[248] Construction of the bypass of the Rays Hill and Sideling Hill tunnels involved building a cut across both Rays Hill and Sideling Hill.[249][250] The new alignment began at the Breezewood interchange, where a portion of the original turnpike was used to access US 30.[251] In building the cut across Rays Hill, a portion of US 30 had to be realigned.[249] The cut over Sideling Hill passes over the Sideling Hill Tunnel.[250] The new alignment ends a short distance east of the Cove Valley service plaza on the original segment. This bypass of the two tunnels would have a 36-foot (11 m) wide median with a steel barrier in the middle.[85] The turnpike bypass of Rays Hill and Sideling Hill tunnels opened to traffic on November 26, 1968.[119]

    Meanwhile, studies concluded that a parallel tunnel was the most economical option at the Tuscarora, Kittatinny, and Blue Mountain tunnels. Work on the new tube at the Tuscarora Mountain Tunnel began on April 11, 1966 while construction began at the Kittatinny and Blue Mountain tunnels a week later.[245] The parallel tubes at these three tunnels would open on the same day as the bypass of the Rays Hill and Sideling Hill tunnels;the original tubes were subsequently remodeled.[119] Both the new and remodeled tunnels would have fluorescent lighting, white tile walls, and a lane width of 13 ft (4.0 m).[252] The portals of the new tunnels were designed to resemble the original tunnels. Reconstruction of the original Tuscarora Mountain Tunnel was completed in October 1970 while work on refurbishing the original Kittatinny and Blue Mountain tunnels was finished on March 18, 1971.[51] With the completion of these projects, the entire length of the highway was four lanes wide.[253]

    synonymouse Reply:

    Not to worry, Morris

    The Moondoggle is not hsr, not even Benelux or TEE – it is AmBART.

  3. Peter
    Dec 18th, 2012 at 06:08

    Watching rerun of the 12/13 House High-Speed Rail Program hearing. Denham is such a blowhard.

  4. Reality Check
    Dec 18th, 2012 at 17:32

    Malaysia plans 300km Kuala Lumpur – Singapore HSR:
    High-Speed Rail System in Malaysia Eyed for 2013

    Besides Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, Malaysia is studying the possibility of linking the HSR system to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and several cities in China.

    Thailand expects to complete first two Bangkok HSR lines by 2015 using Chinese technology:
    High speed rail to Bangkok

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They’ve been planning that for a while. I’ll believe it when I see it. KL-Singapore would be a very good HSR line, but the construction costs in Singapore are likely to be a bitch: there’s no good site downtown for a train station since the legacy station is out of the way and there are no good ROWs, and Singaporean construction costs are some of the highest in the world.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Also, it’s not like Singapore and Malaysia are particularly known for cooperating. There’s a reason they’re two separate countries. Would you be surprised if the HSR line just dumped people at the Malaysian side of the border?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, Malaysia actually wants the line to get to Singapore. There’s a lot of air traffic between the two cities, and a Johor-KL line isn’t very useful. A transfer at the Johor end is also going to kill ridership, since the MRT lines have intermediate stops and the average speed is about 45 km/h; if you need a transfer at Johor, you might as well make Changi your transfer point and pay AirAsia fares.

    Also, nowadays there’s a lot of hot air between the two countries, but they economically cooperate. Each oppresses the other’s majority ethnic group, Singapore also oppresses Malaysian immigrants of Chinese origin, and neither country has a problem with it. The honchos don’t care as long as they make money on their shady deals.

    Michael Reply:

    I was just there, travelled from Bangkok to Singapore, via Butterworth and KL. Malaysia has all new double-track, electrified railway under way, replacing the colonial-era line from the Thai border to Gemas. From Gemas to Johor Bahru, still colonial era. Singapore is building two new transit lines, one will reach the Woodlands rail station, and there is speculation there that it will be extended across the causeway to the border station at Johor Bahru, making the rail-transit interface take place in Malaysia.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Looks like the Thailand project will get built on schedule, though. Awesome.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What will the Thailand project connect, though? Thailand has no large cities except Bangkok. The largest city outside the Greater Bangkok area has 150,000 people.

    Michael Reply:

    From what I read, it’ll head up towards China and will be financed by China. Further phases are east to Vietnam and south towards Malaysia.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Also west to Burma and probably Sittwe port for exports heading west avoiding Mallaca Strait

    VBobier Reply:

    Don’t You mean South from China to Vietnam? No part of Vietnam is to the east or west of China, Japan is to the east, some people really don’t know their Geography, I’d be amazed if some can even read a map… BTW, Yes I can read maps. Bunch of know nothings these days…

    VBobier Reply:

    Now if one is talking Burma or Laos, ok then.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    East from Thailand to Vietnam.

    Reedman Reply:

    While Chiang Mai (the city) only has 150k population, metropolitan Chiang Mai is large (over 1 million population). Chiang Mai gets around 5 million visitors per year. The state railway runs 14 trains Bangkok-to-Chiang Mai every day (12-15 hours travel time, 468 miles). This seems like a perfect distance and situation for successful HSR.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Mea culpa.

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