Central Valley Students Make Strong Statement In Support of HSR

May 22nd, 2013 | Posted by

Michael Lomio, incoming president of the UC Merced branch of the California Young Democrats, has an excellent op-ed in support of high speed rail published this week in the Merced Sun-Star. The core points:

Over the past 10 years, the Central Valley has been the fastest growing region in the state. We’ve seen our population increase by 17 percent compared to 10 percent statewide. The cities of Fresno and Bakersfield have populations of 500,000 and 350,000, and have become major financial, business and academic centers. Should we think about widening Highway 99 to 10 lanes to accommodate traffic? How long until that fills up? And how much will maintenance on those lanes cost year after year?

We think it’s time for a new, more sustainable mode of long-range transportation.

The students and young professionals that constitute I Will Ride take pride in going to college and working in a place proud of its agricultural roots, small-town feel and optimistic atmosphere. However, we are ready to embrace high-speed rail and the countless economic and environmental benefits it will bring.

Often, people ask why the project is starting in the valley instead of the Bay Area or Los Angeles. They’ll say, “Isn’t that the middle of nowhere?”

We don’t think a thriving region like the Central Valley, with its seven million residents, can or should be considered the middle of nowhere.

I very strongly agree with that last statement, as well as the others made in the op-ed, which you should read in its entirety.

Lomio’s op-ed also serves to announce I Will Ride, a new organization of Central Valley students who support the HSR project. These students, who represent California’s future, are organizing to support the high speed rail project as it moves from concept to construction.

  1. Engineering Student
    May 22nd, 2013 at 21:03

    I wonder what the ITE student chapters nearby think of this.

    Mac Reply:

    FYI This student I WILL RIDE movement is backed by the unions.. California Alliance for Jobs

  2. BMF of San Diego
    May 22nd, 2013 at 21:05

    I see an argument that has already been made. Unfortunately, I also see it when an alternate route is disscussed along the I-5.

    The CV is not the middle of no where. Period. The eastern CV along SR 99 is populated and growing fast. The best Transportation Plan thinking would be to connect and encorporate those large bergs into a statewide system. CHSRA has done that. That is the approved plan.

  3. jimsf
    May 22nd, 2013 at 21:18

    The perception of the valley as being the middle of nowhere comes from people, mainly in the southland who have never been out of their own neighborhoods. The valley has some surprising progressive strains running through it but the crusty old straight white guys still seem to have the clout, for now. Actually if more people would vote the valley would change tomorrow. It just happens to be the built in nature of the republican right to vote in lockstep. With Dems it really is like herding cats, if you can even find the cats in order to try to herd them in the first place. Lucky for the repupbicans. Otherwise they would never win any election anywhere.

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    True. I recently moved here. Here, a typical introductory question is, “Where do you live?” As-in, what LA neighborhood or city to live in.

    Elsewhere, the question is, “Where are you from?”

    jimsf Reply:

    Interesting. And true come to think of it. “Where do you live” means a lot in socal ( what we northerners collectively call “LA) because it determines/identifies, status, freeway, freeway exit, real estate value, time involved if i get to know you and have to drive to your house, etc. no one cares where you’re from because its irrelevant upon arrival in southern california, which of course, is the center of the known universe!

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The San Joaquin Valley is what the rest of California would look like if the Republicans were in charge: giant landowners subsidized by cheap water and electricity employing people in low wage, environmentally destructive industries. Using braceros was especially convenient because they couldn’t vote.

    The Valley leaders embraced “the nowhere” mantra as much as anyone else. God forbid they join the 21st century.

    BrianR Reply:

    I think the “where do you live” question means just as much (if not more) in the SF bay area than in the greater LA metro region.

    As example think of what the average San Franciscan thinks of someone from outside their fine gated community of a city. Heaven forbid if that other person happens to be from the hinterland of San Jose.

    1 out of 2 times the San Franciscan will say one of the three options: “I am sorry”, “that is horrible” or “that must suck”. The best counter strategy for the other person is to try to steer a conversation away from an impending “where do you live” question. And people wonder why San Jose always has an inferiority complex!

    Yes, San Francisco is just as status oriented and superficial as that fictional version of LA it likes to pretend is it’s diametric opposite.

    synonymouse Reply:

    San Francisco used to be a very different place when I got there in the mid-sixties. The old-timers were very accessible, down to earth. We had streetcars, trolley buses and cable cars and proud of it – LA had ripped everything up and thought that was a good thing.

    LA was superficial like Vegas and rundown like Hollywood. A real disappointment. As the song said: “LA is just a great big freeway”.

    Nowadays the tables are turned. LA is doing just about everything right, except Palmdale exceptionalism; and the Bay Area has the underwhelming Bayconic Bridge and the blinking broad gauge BART imperial octupus. At least LA now acknowledges trashing the PE and LARy was a big mistake, whereas we are still waiting for a mea culpa from BART for its numerous grotesque Bechtelian sins and failings.

    Eric Reply:

    Do Republicans really have higher turnout? In the last election, the ethnic group with highest turnout was blacks, who almost unanimously voted for the Democrat.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Patronage machine did not celebrate in LA election:


    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    In other news likely voters when asked if they would vote for the Republican in the general election asked “there is a Republican running?

  4. Andrew
    May 22nd, 2013 at 22:15

    Run HSR from SF to Sacto., then link that from Hercules to Stockton (easy). Then you can run HSR trains from Merced to SF, and just as importantly SFO, via Stockton:

    Rough trip times to SF/SFO on this train: Merced 1:04/1:14; Modesto 0:48/0:58; Manteca 0:44/0:54; Stockton 0:38/0:48; Antioch 0:27/0:37; Martinez 0:20/0:30. Trains would take turns skipping either Manteca or Martinez.

    These times do nearly as well as Altamont would for Valley-SF trip times, are about twice as fast as driving, and easily beat any ACE+BART connections in terms of speed and convenience. This means I can live in Modesto and commute to downtown SF doing my email along the way, or get to SFO in one hour for my flight to Shanghai or Hong Kong. This would also link these Valley cities with Oakland and all four transbay BART lines along the way.

    Andrew Reply:

    And why not just go with Altamont? Because (1) it permanently cuts the North Bay and Gilroy/Monterey Bay out of HSR; (2) it doesn’t allow north-south trips within Norcal such as North Bay-South Bay, SF-Gilroy/Monterey Bay, SJ-Gilroy/Monterey Bay, etc.; and (3) it adds too much time to the LA-SJ trip, which would take only 1:40 in the configuration shown above.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    SF to Sac should have an HSR line, and it should not go via Altamont. As you note that does serve Napa and Solano counties in the North Bay.

    But for access from the south Sac valley (between Stockton & Merced) to the Bay Area, I don’t know if a Pittsburg routing is better than Altamont. I suspect the Altamont has a lot more NIMBYs so No. Calif. Unified Service via Pittsburg will get upgraded more easily.

    Joey Reply:

    Why shouldn’t SF-Sac go via Altamont? It’s the fastest route for end-to-end travel time, and there’s no reason to cancel local service along the existing route.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    By freeway mileage, via I-80 is 88 miles and via I-580 to I-5 is 130 miles. How is that faster, and why wouldn’t this important route deserve a direct route rather than one that is almost 50% longer?

    Andrew Reply:

    Plus going via Altamont, you must loop clear around Sac to get to the station. Via I-80 corridor, you enter Sac thru the front door.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Altamont kills two birds with one stone. You get a pretty darn good compromise single route linking the Bay Area with both Sac’to and the CV and points south. Can’t say the same for either Pacheco or I-80.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Altamont HSR was concluded to be insufficiently fast to be competitive with the Capitol Corridor (yes, really) for SF-Sacramento trips — way waaaay back in the early alternatives analysis stage.

    This is pretty much correct, because for SF-Sacramento Altamont represents a huge detour, a bigger dogleg than the one synonymouse complains about.

    It was concluded that the only real improvement for SF-Sacramento would come from a Second Transbay Tube. That was then dropped due to sticker shock. Since that point HSR plans have ignored SF-Sacramento.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Not even close to the fastest route for end-to-end travel time, Joey.

    The fastest route from SF to Sacramento is:
    (1) Second Transbay Tube
    (2) Tunnel parallel to BART to Martinez
    (3) Capitol Corridor route to Sacramento

    This is pretty obvious. The decision was made to disregard SF-Sacramento *quite* early in the HSR analysis, FWIW, more than a decade ago; I suggest you dig up the documents which rejected the Second Transbay Tube on grounds of sticker shock. Since that was done, SF-Sacramento HSR has not been seriously considered.

    Altamont is not a useful SF-Sacramento route, though it is fine as a commuter route.

    Nathanael Reply:

    (I mean, it is not a useful SF-Sacramento *HSR* route)

    Reality Check Reply:

    If HSRA and other Pacheco defenders can claim Pacheco isn’t a completely batshit insane SF-Sac’to HSR route, then how can’t Altamont be a useful SF-Sac’to HSR route?

    Neil Shea Reply:

    You’re not following — Pacheco is not an SF-Sac route. And neither is Altamont.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Why not? SF-Sac’to via Altamont HSR beats the pants off of the slow Bay Bridge bus + Richmond/Martinez route, and it doesn’t require the creation of any new HSR route miles since it uses the same infrastructure required for LA-SF and SJ-Sac’to.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Transbay Tube, which has to be built someday anyway, gives you San Jose-Sacramento just as effectively and a better San Francisco-Sacramento trip.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Yes, and so whenever “someday” arrives, and if it’s truly a better route at that time, then some Altamont trains can switch to using it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’d be better than what they have now which sucks. Especially the part where if you are going to San Francisco you get off the train and get on a bus.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Why not? Altamont-Dumbarton still offers trip times a bit more than an hour, faster than driving even without Bay Bridge congestion. (Yes, yes, Derek, congestion can be eliminated with a toll; but the mechanism by which it gets eliminated is that people who’d make the trip without a toll would choose to forgo it, and if HSR exists those people are likely to switch to it.)

    Neil Shea Reply:

    We need an additional bay crossing for rail, and it needs to be standard gauge. Maybe add a second set of ‘Indian Gauge’ BART tracks (as Syn calls them) but it’s probably a waste thinking ahead — better to use standard gauge on a ‘blended’ basis, and continue some of the Caltrains onward as Capitols.

    Later the Sac corridor should be upgraded to HSR speeds, starting with 125 mph, then 150. As Richard says, don’t buy the gold plated trainsets until the entire corridor is ready to use them.

    I-580 alone adds 40+ miles to a trip to Sac, add in Dumbarton and that’s another 20+ mi, for well over 150 mi total on a trip that is 88 mi via I-80 — almost double the distance. Talk about the mother of all doglegs or being batshit insane. Who’s advocating that now, you Alon?

    As Nathanael says, the 60 mi detour ov

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Capitol Corridor is freight-primary. Forget about upgrades. Dumbarton is an issue regardless of what route the trains follow once they get from SF to the East Bay.

    I-580 does add a detour, but it reduces total track length to be constructed statewide because it piggybacks on LA-Sac HSR that would have to be built anyway.


    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I-580 does add a detour, but it reduces total track length to be constructed statewide because it piggybacks on LA-Sac HSR that would have to be built anyway.

    …. so does Sylmar to Palmdale…. has to be built anyway to get to Las Vegas…
    One mountain crossing gets you the whole state and Las Vegas. The other one either gets you the whole state (Tejon) or it gets you Las Vegas ( Cajon ) but not both. Someday far far far in the future when Sylmar to LAUS is at capacity Cajon helps with Southern California to Las Vegas. Someday far far in the future Cajon helps with everything not to/from LA. It makes everything to/from Las Vegas and Southern California faster except maybe Las Vegas to the San Fernando Valley and maybe LAUS but only by a few minutes. … Hmmmm…

    Bill Reply:

    Andrew, did you know that manteca means butter in Spanish? I agree with you BTW. In 40 years, they’ll probably stop speculating on where to build and just build somewhere.

    Andrew Reply:

    Native speakers cringe at these Spanish names in California: Manteca (lard), Modesto (modest), Milpitas (little cornstalks), Pinole (cornmeal drink), El Sobrante (the leftovers), Madera (wood), Vacaville (cow-ville), Los Gatos (the great unwashed, in Mexican). Really pain-inducing.

    synonymouse Reply:

    But the most off-base town name in Spanish in California has got to be:

    La Ciudad de Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles

    nothing remotely angelic thereabouts

    In keeping with harshly realistic naming Sacramento should be “Mordida”.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Sacramento fits if that’s where you go to get your sycophant payments. Or where you go to the coven meetings where they put the hex on the judges.

    bixnix Reply:

    I haven’t heard of Los Gatos (the cats) associated with unwashed… where’d you hear that?

    EJ Reply:

    It’s not a real thing. Spanish speakers accept these names the same way English speakers just accept city names like Weed and Needles.

    StevieB Reply:

    Actually the name Los Angeles is shortened from El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula—The Town of Our Lady the Queen of Angels of the Little Portion. Perhaps you prefer a name that sounds Spanish but means nothing such as La Crecenta.

    Andrew Reply:

    Yes, those are even worse!

    joe Reply:

    The Dick Van Dyke Show.

    Peter Reply:

    My favorite is “Panoche”. The fact that they named an aviation navigation system the “Panoche VOR” makes it all the funnier.

    EJ Reply:

    I thought panoche is just a kind of sugar. Does it have some other meaning?

    Peter Reply:

    Yes. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/panoche

    EJ Reply:

    Huh, learn something new everyday – I thought I was pretty fluent when it comes to Mexican vulgarities.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    you have the same problem if you called it Sugar, with the English speakers.

    VBobier Reply:

    And then there is Yermo, which translated from Spanish means: “the wilderness”…

    StevieB Reply:

    El Sobrante comes from the Rancho which encompassed the remainder of the area between the previous land grant ranchos in the area. San Mateo, Belmont, San Carlos, Redwood City, Atherton and Menlo Park should be pleased none of them were named after the Spanish land grant Rancho they are part of which is Las Pulgas, the fleas. All place names have a meaning. Pinole is said to be a Native American word for a type of flour.

    jimsf Reply:

    I thought los gatos was the cats, so named because native mountain lions are common in the area.

  5. Reality Check
    May 23rd, 2013 at 10:58

    Diridon Says High-Speed Rail Necessary For Pollution Reduction

    “We can’t expand our freeways anymore,” Diridon told a meeting of the San Jose Rotary Club in downtown San Jose. “We can’t double deck them. We can’t expand our feeder streets.”

    “We just can’t do it on single-passenger vehicles,” he said. “If we don’t have mass transportation, we don’t have a Silicon Valley.”


    “High speed rail is the best in the world in terms of pollution,” Diridon said. “That’s why I want high speed rail for America.”

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Right on Ron

  6. Reality Check
    May 23rd, 2013 at 12:20

    Ongoing White House woes give hope to fast-train foes

    Peninsula foes of high-speed rail have been taking heart this month.

    Foiled and discouraged by the results of last November’s election as Democrats held the U.S. Senate as well as the White House, the anti-HSR forces have been encouraged by the recent spate of damaging scandals afflicting the Obama Administration.

    Which means the odds of a 2014 Republican takeover of the Senate and continued firm control of the House of Representatives look increasingly good. At least, that’s the fervent hope.

    Combine this new, fortuitous circumstance with the looming onset of a massive, complex and highly controversial federal program that will mandate health insurance for every legal resident of the nation (monitored, in part, by the distrusted and loathed Internal Revenue Service) and you can understand why the GOP is guardedly optimistic these days.

    Putting the federal financial brakes on the fast-train project, which intends to utilize the Caltrain commute rail line from San Francisco to San Jose, has been a goal of the anti-HSR folks for nearly five years, ever since California voters approved Proposition 1A in November 2008.

    That measure approved about $10 billion worth of state bonds to jump-start construction of a transportation system that is supposed to link San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento and the Bay Area.

    Local fast-rail opponents (ironically, many of them conflicted liberal Democrats who voted for the current Democratic president) would like nothing better than a complete halt to this pricey, intrusive endeavor.

    Of course, any movement to secure both houses of Congress next year will have to occur elsewhere in this great land.

    The Peninsula remains an unyielding bastion of left-leaning voters firmly in the Democratic camp, regardless of unhappiness with the prospect of high-speed rail in these parts.

    synonymouse Reply:

    This does not make sense to me as the Peninsula has traditionally supported the commute service and ostensibly the “blend” constitutes an acceptable compromise. The real question is whether the blend is truly locked and loaded or whether Heminger-MTC-BART are quietly trying to undermine Caltrain(always a goal)and substitute Ring the Bay.

    This may seem nutty but of all the three controversial route changes I think Altamont is the one with the greatest chance. If BART succeeds with Ring the Bay. With Dumbarton to SFO hsr would get close to the City and as Clem has argued it could proceed from there to the general area of 4th and King with Caltrain replaced by BART and entering via Daly City and the Market Street subway.

    Naturally I hope the blend and electrified Caltrain to the TBT is a done deal. To my mind the key personality in this decision is Ed Lee and his staff. If SF officialdom is convinced that Ring the Bay is better financially for the City that could be a game changer. So far that does not seem to be the case, but you never know what may be transpiring behind the scenes.

    The one change I would like to see is dumping the Orphan ARRA-ICS and using the money for Bako to Tejon. Not at all likely. But Deserted Xprss could be down the crapper. In a way I hope it is funded since it is guaranteed a total disaster, perhaps fairly quickly, and could really stall PB-CHSRA future machinations, say at the DogLeg.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Dear Mr Reality check.

    you cannot keep posting this drivel while claiming to be a disintrested third party.

    synonymouse Reply:

    No more drivel than bs from PB. As in how wonderful is Tehachapi and how horrible is Tejon.

    All the seated governments are not that popular at the moment. Barack, Cameron, Hollande. As much as I admire British sang-froid and stiff upper lip when you are attacked by rabid bullies harsh retaliation is in order, IHMO, not Downton Abbey diplomacy. Cameron ought to demission.

    synonymouse Reply:


    Peter Reply:

    All he’s doing is passing on news. News from both sides.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Right. Just passing along HSR-related news & comment folks here might be interested to see (regardless of whether it’s “drivel” or not).

  7. Alon Levy
    May 23rd, 2013 at 14:19

    Often, people ask why the project is starting in the valley instead of the Bay Area or Los Angeles. They’ll say, “Isn’t that the middle of nowhere?”

    The people who say that are stupid.

    However, it’s legitimate to ask why not start by connecting two different regions – the CV and the LA Basin or the CV and the Bay Area.

    StevieB Reply:

    Two very important reasons these regions were not constructed first. The EIRs could not be completed in time to receive the available funds and the money provided is not sufficient to build those segments.

    Joey Reply:

    The EIRs were completed in the order the Authority wanted them completed, based on what they prioritized.

    StevieB Reply:

    Another unsubstantiated conspiracy theory. Conspiracy theories can be very satisfying where you want something to be true but have no evidence.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s not a conspiracy theory. The HSRA could’ve concentrated more resources on LA-Bako environmental work; it didn’t. With the budget it thought would suffice at the time, Prop 1A would’ve been enough to build LA-Bako full-fat. It also thought that it would get all other sources of funding immediately, allowing opening by 2018. The HSRA made a choice to require matching funds for 1A and not to advance the environmental work for LA-Bako to allow for immediate construction.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Alon, you’re right that that’s a legitimate question.

    The first answer is that the Bakersfield-LA EIRs have been a long, slow pain to finish, while the Bakersfield-Fresno EIRs are by comparison very straightforward.

    The second answer is that LaHood, in his infinite wisdom, decreed that the stimulus money would go to the Central Valley. The reason probably being that Bakersfield-Fresno could be guaranteed to be constructed by the 2017 deadline, but Bakersfield-LA couldn’t.

    Obviously the SF end had too many NIMBY explosions to be worth even considering.

    synonymouse Reply:

    If you only have a little money and maybe that’s it why spend it on the weakest and least used link?

    Mac Reply:

    Because Mr Costa arranged it that way….for the first segment to be built in his district. Check the paperwork…

    synonymouse Reply:

    I believe you. I wonder if he would go for selling it to the BNSF if the segment becomes truly orphaned.

  8. StevieB
    May 23rd, 2013 at 16:16

    The ICS in the central valley is expensive but is the other one billion dollar California transportation improvement better? The first 1.7 miles of the new northbound carpool lane, between the 10 and Santa Monica Boulevard, will open this Friday as part of the one billion dollar I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project. The full project will extend this northbound carpool lane for 10 miles.

    Because this will not provide adequate transportation through the pass the incoming mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, has proposed a heavy rail tunnel through the pass.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, it is better. An expansion of car usage is going to help dredge the world’s waterways, helping foster more trade and improving the world economy. In the very long run the Panama Canal wouldn’t even need locks, boosting shipping capacity far beyond what’s currently possible.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I realize that that’s snark, but it doesn’t make any sense.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I like snark which holds together better, _A Modest Proposal_ style.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Does Garcetti subscribe to orthodoxy on the mountain crossing?

    StevieB Reply:

    Sherpa guides?

Comments are closed.