HSR Construction On Track For Summer

Feb 26th, 2013 | Posted by

California High Speed Rail Authority CEO Jeff Morales testified at the State Capitol yesterday and declared the project was on course to begin construction this summer:

The state’s High-Speed Rail Authority has nearly doubled the size of its staff in the past six months and expects the first phase of construction to be “under contract and under way this summer,” the agency’s CEO told lawmakers Monday.

CEO Jeff Morales testified before the Assembly Transportation Committee in what its chairwoman called “the next chapter of legislative oversight” after debates last summer that culminated in the decision to appropriate the first $8 billion for what would be the nation’s first high-speed rail system.

And the CHSRA is staffing up to help get ready for groundbreaking:

The agency has hired 55 employees since lawmakers approved Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to move forward with the project in July, including a chief program manager who was recruited from a top position with Amtrak.

But perhaps my favorite part of the story was this, referring to last summer’s vote on the HSR project:

“Getting to that point was no easy feat,” said Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach. “That vote was a turning point. Until then, it was appropriate to debate the merits of the project. Now it’s time to move forward without regrets.”

Indeed it is.

  1. Jo
    Feb 26th, 2013 at 21:33
    #1

    The groundbreaking can not come too soon.

    YESONHSR Reply:

    If only that 2009 transportation bill had went thru… then 50 billion for HSR would have been available and alot more of the projects sections would have been moving forward at this point.

  2. Drunk Engineer
    Feb 26th, 2013 at 23:20
    #2

    The agency has hired 55 employees, including a chief program manager who was recruited from a top position with Amtrak.

    Obligatory Dilbert.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    More likely Wally!

  3. Donk
    Feb 27th, 2013 at 00:24
    #3

    DIG BABY DIG!!!

  4. EJ
    Feb 27th, 2013 at 01:54
    #4

    But perhaps my favorite part of the story was this, referring to last summer’s vote on the HSR project:

    That’s because you’re a stupid person who wants to be told what to think. You’re not interested in a positive outcome, but merely in the exercise of political power.

    Neville Snark Reply:

    What an asinine, mis-firing and offensive remark.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    “There are those one would wish to offend…”

  5. D. P. Lubic
    Feb 27th, 2013 at 05:03
    #5

    A related (kind of) story on a highway widening project; interesting that most of the commentors would rather see light rail rebuilt, with many references to the Pacific Electric:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/25/angelenos-against-gridlock-protest-405_n_2760297.html

    Ironically, the PE that is so symbolic of the trolley era in California was apparently never a real moneymaker. That honor went to its narrow-gauge sister, the Los Angeles Railway (LARy), which apparently made more money for Henry Huntington than the PE ever did.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Suburban railways always had problems making money; they usually made money off of land development. PE was no exception. Nowadays, with the suburbs well-established, it might be possible to raise fares enough to make money on them, but it’s more likely that the suburban governments would agree to pay taxes to subsidize the fares.

    Actual urban passenger railways were frequently highly profitable and the Yellow Cars of the LARy were no exception.
    Intercity rail is a whole ‘nother issue and has also often been profitable.

    Suburb-to-downtown seems to be a particularly weak model economically. It became popular because of the land development possibilities.

    egk Reply:

    hey thanks for that tidbit. In Germany both the intercity and the urban rail (s-bahn) parts of the Deutsche Bahn are essentially unsubsidized but the regional trains need heavy subsidies. I’ve always wondered whether that is a typical situation

  6. Sergey
    Feb 27th, 2013 at 07:41
    #6

    > The agency has hired 55 employees, including a chief program manager who was recruited from a top position with Amtrak.

    I take it that no manager with actual *HSR* experience from outside US was available.

  7. Ben Schiendelman
    Feb 27th, 2013 at 08:34
    #7

    Yay!

    I can’t wait until Seattle is unified in fighting for a link to Portland, and Portland unified in connecting to CAHSR.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    That’s contingent on finding a way to link the Tukwila station with SEA-TAC.

  8. D. P. Lubic
    Feb 27th, 2013 at 09:29
    #8

    Off topic, but it does (very briefly) mention high speed trains:

    http://www.resilience.org/stories/2013-02-27/can-we-live-again-in-1964-s-energy-world

    One minor quibble: This fellow suggests 1964 as a good return benchmark for energy use. I would argue that, stylewise, a better time would be 1947 or so; 1964 is too modern for me!

    Equally interesting is that 1964 was the beginning of the HSR era in Japan.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Another item from the same place:

    http://www.resilience.org/stories/2006-02-26/things-come-parts-1-4

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’m old enough to remember what it’s like to live in 1964. I lived in a trolley suburb. You can’t live like that in an exurb or even a suburb designed for cars. It’s a pity that we stopped building trolley ‘burbs back in the 30s.

  9. Eric
    Feb 27th, 2013 at 09:46
    #9

    Dan Walters on the SacBee has a pretty scathing column on the hearings…
    http://www.sacbee.com/2013/02/26/5219976/dan-walters-california-bullet.html

    Eric M Reply:

    He always has those. Nothing new

    StevieB Reply:

    Dan Walters praised the hearing chaired by Mark DeSaulnier who voted against the project. Walters, as do many conservatives of his generation, favors more highway construction over high speed rail.

    He and other senators also questioned whether the state could build the bullet train without neglecting other, badly needed transportation work, such as highway reconstruction.

    duende78 Reply:

    You consider Walters a conservative? I wouldn’t call him conservative, but more just a bitter fellow who likes to complain about just about everything. Hard to take him serious anymore.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I do not much trust Walters; he seems to me to be the house shit-disturber. He never takes up the real damaging issues with the CHSRA, such as the noisome and gerrymandered routing. Nary a mention of the grotesque machinations of the Tejon Ranch co. He’s obviously under kid-glove orders.

    The LA Times takes a similar tack. They exploit the now majority public opinion against the CHSRA in their news columns and op-eds but their basal editorial stance is still rigidly pro-DeTour. They manage to have it both ways. Useless.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    A recent survey showed that the closer you live to the Sacramento Bee’s service area (and by extension Dan Walter’s reporting), the less trust you have in California’s government:

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2013/02/california-trust-government.html

    Eric Reply:

    Which is a moronic question. He’s suggesting that the state WILL neglect other transportation work while building HSR. So he believes road construction will just come to a halt while HSR is being built?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Considering the oil situation, the highway finance and subsidy situation (which is affected by the oil situation, with fewer people driving and more efficient cars), and the generational shift, maybe an end to new highway construction isn’t a bad idea.

    Which made me think–What does Walters think of the generational shift? Does he even know about it?

    Eric Reply:

    More efficient cars is one thing, but there’s always going to be a need for “working” vehicles. People need to pick up lumber from Home Depot, people need something that will tow their horse trailer, take the rat pack to soccer, etc. The problem isn’t so much for families that can afford to have multiple vehicles, its for single parent families, home owners with only one vehicle. What do they do?

    VBobier Reply:

    Even those are getting more fuel efficient, as their not exempt anymore…

    Eric Reply:

    A little bit, but CAFE standards are fleetwide, not for a particular vehicle.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Millions of families all across American get by without owning a car. All of the families all across American got by with out a car in 1880. When they need a truck to haul home lumber from Home Depot most Home Depots have convenient truck rental. Most Lowes and some Home Depots will deliver. It’s getting easier and easier to live a full rich and rewarding life with one car in the family. Or no car.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Amazingly, I could almost live without a car where I am now, provided I either got a job right where I live, or if I were able to retire and didn’t have to drive. Within walking distance, at least for me, are four convenience stores, (Sheetz, 7-11, and Roc’s (2), the last a local outfit), four drug stores (CVS, Rite-Aid, and two local firms), three banks (one of which is a local firm based out of a nearby town), a library, a post office, at least four hair places, a supermarket (Food Lion), a hotel (franchised), a new small medical center (doctor’s office, really), a laundry, a dry cleaner, two pet grooming outfits, two tax preparation firms (both local), a mortgage company, a hardware store, a video rental store, a second-hand clothes store, a fitness center, a jewelry store, and a bunch of restaurants, ranging from several fast food places (Mickey D’s, KFC, Burger King, and Subway), plus a Chinese place, and several local places, including a local Italian sub and spaghetti place, a local Mexican restaurant, and a country kitchen type place, the last one about 200 feet from my house. And while it’s a bit of a hike, there is a second fitness center across the Interstate highway from where I live, and it incorporates a sort of mini amusement park.

    All this is in an unincorporated town in West Virginia that’s about 14 miles from the nearest Amtrak & commuter rail station, with no bus service, and a rail line that is currently freight only (and was, even in the best days, just a good branch line).

    The town:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inwood,_West_Virginia

    http://www.mapquest.com/maps?city=Inwood&state=WV

    The mini amusement park:

    http://www.jaydeesfun.com/

    Lot of stuff for a place like this, although I wouldn’t advise Jim SF to move here. I doubt that he would like any of the food places here, which are likely to be mediocre after eating for years in San Francisco.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And while it’s a bit of a hike, there is a second fitness center

    Well.. if you hiked there you wouldn’t need what the fitness center had to offer would you?.. people drive miles so they can get on a machine and walk….

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Get on a machine and walk–Pfffft!!

    The big problem is that some of these places–the fitness center/amusement park, and the supermarket, video rental, Subway restaurant, laundromat, and local spaghetti-sub shop–are across major roads. The fitness center/amusement park is perhaps a mile, a chunk of it on the shoulder of a road with a speed limit of 45 mph; you also have to walk across a bridge over the Interstate highway below. You have to cross the same road to get to the supermarket and the other stuff mentioned above; speed limit there is reduced to 35 mph, but there is also a bidirectional center turning lane to deal with and no pedestrian lights or other protection at all. It doesn’t help that so few people walk there that drivers aren’t used to looking for people on foot; there are times it’s not even easy to navigate some of this in a car, especially if making a left turn onto this road.

    We need some pedestrian upgrades here, which would be good for bikes, too. And I wouldn’t mind a passenger train on that branch line again.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …yes they will drive a mile to the gym to walk on the treadmill for three miles and then drive a mile back home…..

    swing hanger Reply:

    And they’ll use the drive-thru at starbucks on the way back to get an enorme frappucino, negating the benefits of that treadmill.

    synonymouse Reply:

    What generational shift? My kids drive as much as previous generations.

    There is not that much change in transit use if you factor out enforced monopolies like the BART Transbay Tube. And Muni is trying to discourage ridership. Utter inertia and incompetence.

    Public transport in 1940 in the Bay Area was better relatively than today. Transit use fell for good once the War was over

    If you want to attract business away from road and air you need real express speed, not gratuitous political detours. The CHSRA is not meant to succeed.

    Joey Reply:

    Nothing like anecdotal evidence standing in for actual statistics.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Anecdotal as educational as spun data, torqued and hyped to sell a scheme. Look up under the heading PB.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Strange comment, considering how much this has been discussed in the past.

    http://transportationnation.org/2012/07/20/percentage-of-young-persons-with-a-drivers-license-continues-to-drop/

    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/03/why-dont-young-americans-buy-cars/255001/

    http://www.motortrend.com/features/auto_news/2012/1208_why_young_people_are_driving_less/

    http://www.uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/Transportation%20%26%20the%20New%20Generation%20vUS_0.pdf

    http://adage.com/article/digital/digital-revolution-driving-decline-u-s-car-culture/144155/

    A thought–how old (or young) are Syn’s kids? (Which leads to the question, how old, or young, is Syn?)

    synonymouse Reply:

    Kids – 34, 33, and 23. 68 for me. Boss lady just turned 62. They all drive – I haven’t in years.

    Everybody I know drives all over hell and gone – one does some car pooling.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Boss lady? I can identify with that–

    “I am a man of constant sorrow,
    My wife spends all my pay. . .”

    Don’t tell my wife I said that. . .

  10. 101 Train
    Feb 27th, 2013 at 09:55
    #10

    This is exciting. If it was any cheaper I would much rather ride a high speed train to the east coast instead of flying.

  11. synonymouse
    Feb 27th, 2013 at 13:01
    #11

    The image from the HuffPost LA article does not remind me of anything that appeared in the pre-Prop 1A election propaganda. It looks like an amalgam of the worst of Manhattan and LA. A scene right out of Hunger Games. Or a zombie apocalypse flick. Only the undead could handle the noise.

    But about a foot of snow and ice would make it look more inviting. Carte postale, as they say on France 2 jt.

  12. D. P. Lubic
    Feb 27th, 2013 at 14:41
    #12

    In other news from up north:

    http://transitsleuth.com/2013/02/27/1423/

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    And other news from the east:

    Fung Wah’s entire 28-unit bus fleet ordered out of service by the Feds for structural flaws, including cracked frames in 21 units; fleet construction ranges from 1998 to 2004. Fung Wah continuing service with chartered equipment.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323699704578328583521953140.html#articleTabs%3Darticle

    Either Cato is making sense, or we should be alert for a con game:

    http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/take-public-private-road-efficiency

    Same old, same old:

    http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/get-feds-out-infrastructure

  13. joe
    Feb 27th, 2013 at 16:44
    #13

    When HSR construction starts, the impacted CV cities will start seeing proposals for infill and other development projects. Look at the San Jose Flea Market.

    KB Home buys part of San Jose Flea Market for first phase of a transit village in the Berryessa district
    http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_22675105/kb-home-buys-part-san-jose-flea-market

    The first concrete steps to create a transit village next to a future BART station in the city’s Berryessa district have come with the purchase by KB Home of a largely unused portion of a well-known flea market in San Jose.

    KB Home on Feb. 11 bought 10 acres on the north side of the 120-acre San Jose Flea Market operation, which is on Berryessa Road near King Road.

    The site is the beachhead for what will become a transit village with thousands of residences, many of them high-density, along with stores, a new school and park lands.

    jimsf Reply:

    Nice. Unfortunately, none of that house will be affordable to normal people.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    What a bunch of ignorant comments that follow. One of the guys sounds like a racist version of Syn.

    I can’t help but wonder if this country has (a) a bunch of old, foolish, unreconstructed Confederates still living, or (b) has a bunch of paid flacks from the oil biz or other corporations who are afraid of HSR and rail in general. Sheesh, talk about an elephant afraid of a mouse!

    VBobier Reply:

    Or even affordable to someone like Me.

    joe Reply:

    Recall retiring Senator Rubio made 90+K which times 3 means he can afford about a 300K home. Good luck with that.

    If these kinds of projects attract the upper middle class, then I hope that interest will just accelerate the pressure to improve transit for the rest of us and infill development.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Back around 2000, it was estimated that you needed to make at least 70K a year to be able to afford rent on a one bedroom apt., have a little savings, and live reasonably comfortably in the South Bay. Don’t know about now.

    jimsf Reply:

    the housing shortage is worse and the prices are higher, and now there is another boom going on. jobs in the valley have driven san francisco rents to death defying heights.

    joe Reply:

    How about back in 96, the bottom of the Nor Cal housing slump. MTView Crap home was 275+ so that was out of reach with 70K. The Googleplex was a corn field back then.

    Surely in my town its doable on 70K.

    FWIW 2013 Con.Reoprts April issue says lowest cost option, Honda Fit, runs 5K a year to operate 15K miles a year (with CA being higher). 15K is reasonable mileage, 5K a chunk of change.

    Peter Reply:

    Pretty much the same again now.

    VBobier Reply:

    Sometimes it’s cheaper to get a mortgage or in My case a voucher… When their available that is.

  14. jimsf
    Feb 27th, 2013 at 18:21
    #14

    Why does the chsr website show that merced fresno has reached stage 5 in planning, and fresno bakersfield is only at stage 3, but construction will begin on fresno bakersfield?

    Peter Reply:

    Because construction won’t begin on Fresno-Bakersfield, but Fresno-Madera first. They haven’t even certified the EIR for Fresno-Bakersfield yet.

    jimsf Reply:

    oh. yes I thought i saw some poking around going on out there when I was living in that area.

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