Another Central Valley Republican Throws Up Another Hurdle

Jun 27th, 2013 | Posted by

We haven’t heard much from freshman Representative David Valadao about the California high speed rail project. That all changed today when the Republican from Hanford pushed an amendment through a House committee that would require the Surface Transportation Board to approve the entire California HSR project before giving allowing construction on any segment:

Using his seat on the House Appropriations Committee, Valadao on Thursday won approval by voice vote of an amendment that says the federal Surface Transportation Board cannot take action on initial construction phases until the board has given final approval to the entire project. The practical effect would be to stop initial construction for at least the foreseeable future, as a massive and necessary environmental impact study has not yet been completed for the project..

The federal board had previously ruled, in a 2-1 vote, that initial construction of the Bakersfield to Merced section of the project could proceed. The board’s majority sided with the California high-speed rail planners in determining that exempting the initial construction project from prior approval requirements would “minimize the need for federal regulation and reduce regulatory barriers.” That determination, though, did not amount to approval of the entire project.

“It is important that impacts of this project are considered in their entirety, and that due diligence reflects the entire project being pursued,” Valadao declared in a statement.

For any such provision to become law the Senate must agree to it, and that doesn’t look likely to occur. But it’s yet another sign of how Central Valley Republicans are determined to kill the high speed rail project in their own backyard, no matter how many jobs they destroy to do so.

  1. Walter
    Jun 27th, 2013 at 22:56

    If anyone still believed the Axis of Concern was operating in any sort of principled way, I’m sorry your illusion was shattered today.

  2. 202_cyclist
    Jun 28th, 2013 at 04:36

    Next time Republican$ blather on and on about job-killing red tape, please ignore them.

    202_cyclist Reply:

    Similarly, you are free to ignore the Re(B)Publicans the next time they blather on and on and on about Obama delaying the Keystone Pipeline for environmental reviews.

    VBobier Reply:

    Just vote Repubs out in Nov 2014, defend the US Senate, do not let them take over the Senate or their threats will become real law… Their that crazy…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Vote them out with what army, exactly? Disenfranchised minority voters?

    VBobier Reply:

    Not all Democrats have been voting in off years and people may be fed up to vote out vulnerable Repubs from Office, especially the younger voters.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, and now even fewer Democrats will be voting.

    VBobier Reply:

    Well the Senate must be held or Repubs will do what they can not now, the 2014 election is vital, if Repubs/baggers take over the Senate, do you think they’d not do their worst? They will, their that nuts, peoples lives are on the line, for example Paul Ryans 2011 and 2012 Federal budget called for a 25.6% cut to SSI which is for Seniors, the Blind and Disabled People and is 69% White, the maximum check is $710.00 a month, Repubs/baggers insist without any hard evidence that SSI is laced with Fraud, Repubs/baggers are nothing but John Birchers and they don’t like anyone that isn’t exactly like them. The phrase that Repubs in an election or two back suddenly started using is “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps“, a character in MASH 4077th(a TV series) by the name of Major Frank Burns said that and that was the first time I’d ever heard of it, the Birchers are the same jerks that wanted loyalty oaths and were behind the RED Scare of the 50’s, as their paranoid hypocrites. Do you think HSR in CA will be built if Repubs take control of the Senate? I don’t, not unless CA decides to fully fund or to at least fund HSR in CA to the point where uncertainty is removed and private investment becomes a good thing to do, since Private enterprise is risk averse and would rather see Government take the big risk before they jump in with their more limited funds. Since Repubs are already taking initial steps to try and stop HSR by whatever means is necessary, including legislation hidden in another bill as a rider.

    Edward Reply:

    Really off topic:
    Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is an old (semi)humorous expression. After all you can’t lift
    yourself off the ground by pulling on your shoelaces.

    “Booting” your computer, short for bootstrapping, comes from this by analogy.

    When you start your computer a small bit of code in a chip reads a larger bit of code from your hard drive.
    THAT code then loads the operating system and away you go.

    And now we return you to rail topics…

    VBobier Reply:

    Ok the US house has 435 seats, 234 Republican, 201 Democratic, needed for Majority 218 or 17 seats, not a lot really, at least for numbers that is, most are locked, but 29 to 31 are not locked and are possible tossups, also the US Senate needs to be held, less than 1/3rd of 100 seats is up for election, people are not happy with Republicans and there are 16 seats that Repubs have that are vulnerable from what this MSNBC video Here(Democrats and Republicans eye vulnerable House seats in 2014) says, note there is a Republican in the video too, just to be fair and not one sided. Those States/seats that are Potential DCCC targets are(some results are missing from redistricting and some are just the most recent):

    CA-10(Jeff Denham, R-Atwater), voted for POTUS in 2012 64.7%,
    CA-21(David Valadao, R-Hanford), voted for McCain in 2008 56.3%,
    CA-31(Gary Miller, R–Rancho Cucamonga), voted for POTUS in 2012 79.9%,
    WA-08(Dave Reichert, R–Auburn), voted for Clinton in 1996 47.0%,
    CO-06(Mike Coffman, R–Aurora), voted for POTUS in 2012 52.0%,
    MN-02(John Kline, R–Lakeville),
    MN-03(Erik Paulsen, R–Eden Prairie),
    IA-03(Tom Latham, R–Clive),
    NY-02(Peter T. King, R–Seaford), voted for POTUS in 2012 52.0%,
    NY-11(Michael Grimm, R–Staten Island), voted for Clinton in 1992 86.0%,
    NY-19(Chris Gibson, R–Kinderhook), voted for POTUS in 2012 52.0%,
    NJ-02(Frank LoBiondo, R–Ventnor), voted for POTUS in 2008 54.0%,
    NJ-03(Jon Runyan, R–Mount Laurel Township), voted for POTUS in 2008 52.0%,
    VA-02(Scott Rigell, R–Virginia Beach), voted for POTUS in 2008 50.0%,
    FL-13(Bill Young, R–Indian Shores), voted for POTUS in 2008 47.0%,
    FL-27(Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R–Miami).

    So it is not exactly impossible and don’t assume that gerrymandering is everywhere outside CA, cause it is not everywhere. And this is all I’ll say, rant off, back to lurking.

    VBobier Reply:

    Oops, missed one: NY-11 went to, voted for POTUS in 2008 91.0%.
    POTUS in 2008 and 2012 is President Obama.

    VBobier Reply:

    Also US Senate seats are statewide offices, there is no gerrymandering there.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Scott Walker’s high-speed fail: Train service would have started now

    Train cars are referred to as “rolling stock.” Now, thanks to Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican legislators who run this state, Wisconsin is thought of as a “laughingstock.”

    Had Tom Barrett won the election for governor in 2010, right now, June 2013, would have seen the opening of Madison’s high-speed rail station, connecting us to Milwaukee and Chicago immediately and the Twin Cities eventually.


    Now, it’s good-bye to all that. Shortly after Walker killed the project in December 2010, the Los Angeles Times wrote an editorial that ended with the line, “Thanks a billion, cheeseheads.” California was one of the states that benefited from funds redirected from Wisconsin’s folly.

    Joey Reply:

    I do hope that fiasco with Talgo doesn’t hurt other states’ ability to attract rolling stock manufacturers.

    Peter Reply:

    Sure didn’t hurt Illinois

  3. trentbridge
    Jun 28th, 2013 at 07:52

    I admire the Republicans who are bound and determined to pander to their base of support and ignore the realities of the last election. Restrict abortions, and lose the female vote. Vote down the Senate’s version of Immigration reform and lose the Hispanic vote. We can win elections on the white male vote!

    May 16 Fox News:

    The Republican-led House has voted, for the 37th time, to repeal President Obama’s health care law, even though GOP lawmakers know the Senate will not follow suit.

    The repeal passed on a 229-195 vote.

    So I wouldn’t have dignified this pathetic Valadao “voice vote” amendment with a post. The last train to reality has left the station and the entire Republican Party led by President Romeny are not onboard. The HSR construction will proceed while the Republicans play in the sand box.

    John Burrows Reply:

    The House Republicans have already left the station in their own special train which will transport them back in time to the mid 1920’s when Calvin Coolidge was president. It was a time when government was small, business was good, and the white male vote was all that really mattered.

    And on the trip backwards in time they may stop for a while in”Pleasantville”, that mythical 1950’s TV situation comedy town where everything is in black and white and where the world ends just beyond Main Street.

    jonathan Reply:

    GOP House representatives from gerrymandered districts the former Confederacy, and from other solidly-Republican districts (e.g., rural) , can and do with re-election largely on the white male vote.

    They then vote for asinine John-Birch-Society measures and policies, because their biggest threat to re-election is not a Democrat challenger’;it’s a primary challenge from someone even further to the right.

    Eric Reply:

    True, but in all honesty, the gerrymandering is a bipartisan problem. It comes from Republicans who want to win a majority of seats, and also from Democrats who think creating majority-black districts (which are inevitably overwhelmingly Democratic, making all other districts lean Republican) is a civil-rights imperative.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not really. In Southern states there were alliances of black Democrats who wanted more black seats and Republicans who liked packing the Democrats into a few seats, but in other states, the Democrats gerrymander for incumbent protection (e.g. California).

  4. Bill
    Jun 28th, 2013 at 07:55

    Would it be possible for the more progressive lawmakers to call BS the one or two obstructionists in the Senate and House. Maybe said obstructionists could post a Youtube video stating the exact reasons why they oppose efforts by the US to update our transportation system so it at least resembles systems just about every other developed country has had for years? It’s not like Big Oil and The Big Three automakers are going to see profits drop by the billions just because we update an already existing rail network. They bitch about having to spend the money but they forget that we have a rail network is less profitable because it isn’t nearly as efficient as it could be. It’s a win-win for everyone in the end. IMO, it seems like anti-environment conservatives are crying communist pinko hippy on the people trying to build this on the basis of environmental preservation. BTW, I’m an outdoor enthusiast and am all for environmental preservation but I think conservatives need to hear a better argument than traffic reduction and environmental activism. Hell, the Senate just passed the immigration reform bill which includes provisions for $30 billion in improvements to border security that is most likely going to be just as ineffective as it is now. Your thoughts?

    VBobier Reply:

    All Repubs, since they vote lock step are guilty of Obstruction, since 2008 in one form or another…

  5. synonymouse
    Jun 28th, 2013 at 10:09

    “TGV: le coup d’arret”:

    Reveille-toi, M. Clair de Lune.

  6. Keith Saggers
    Jun 28th, 2013 at 13:46

    Would it be possible to build a HSR station under the International Terminal at SFO, I believe there was some empty space left there for rail that was never used?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:


    1. Empty space for station = Urban myth. The truth is out there, especially in the BART SFOX scoping/AA/EIR documents, but I’m not going to waste my time looking it up. again.

    2. Airports are losers for rail, in general, and always in the US. Especially airports that require several billion extra dollars to serve “directly” (whatever that means.)

    3. There are better ways to connect SFO to rail. (Repurpose useless BART SFIA-Millbrae concrete to the internal people-mover.

    4. It might have made sense 20 years ago.
    In fact, it made a lot of sense 20 years ago.
    But the SF Bay Area has been fucked raw by PBQD+Bechtel+Tutor and their criminal co-conspirators in regional government, especially the past and present executive staff of the MTC, and is doesn’t make the slightest sense today given the stupid concrete that has been stupidly placed at the very very very very profitable cost of a few billion of your tax dollars.
    Visit the wayback machine at!topic/ba.transportation

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    4 … [continued, browser UI fail] Visit the 1995 wayback machine at
    Visit the wayback machine at!topic/ba.transportation/By5msGpMRWs
    The alignment sketches for as well as the text ought to be archived at (but presently reports “Bummer. The machine that serves this file is down. We’re working on it.”)

  7. Derek
    Jun 28th, 2013 at 15:31

    Conductor, Please Drop Me Off a Mile From the Airport
    By Joe Mathews, Zocalo Public Square, 2013-06-27

    “You can see planes coming in to land at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field as you ride the city’s charming trolleys, but the trolley won’t take you to the airport. In San Jose, two train systems—the Metro Light Rail and the Caltrain—run near the airport, but a shuttle bus, the Airport Flyer, is required to reach them. In Southern California, the Metro blue line trains go to Long Beach, but not to its airport. The Metrolink commuter rail stops about a mile from the Ontario airport.

    “Another Metro rail line is being extended to the LAX area, but, of the options being considered by transportation and airport authorities, two would end the rail line at the corner of Aviation and Century Boulevards, more than a mile away from the airport… If the rail line stops short of the airport, riders could switch from the train to a people mover of some sort (that is scheduled to be built in 2028).”

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Why does nobody talk about rebuilding airports to be easier to get to by rail instead of rebuilding rail networks? A good airport from the perspective of rail access should look like Atlanta: a single landside area connected to the train station, with people mover connections to the airside terminals. Zurich, which only requires a short tunnel for train service from the mainline, is also very good, though the recent construction of Terminal D has led to some awkward people mover arrangements.

    LAX, in contrast, has a lot of terminals, mostly independent of one another except for some airside connections. This is hard to serve by rail. Better would be to demolish the parking garages inside the World War loop, build a central terminal extending east to Sepulveda, and then send the rail lines to a station at Sepulveda and Century. Crenshaw (ugh) can get there; a 405/Sepulveda line can get there and then continue south, taking over parts of the Green Line so that the rest of the Green Line could be rerouted to the airport; a Harbor Subdivision commuter/HSR line could also get there with much less in extra viaducts than would be required to grade-separate it over Slauson in the first place.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Until 1991, I think, new terminal construction was effectively funded by the airlines themselves. After deregulation took hold in 1978, this created an unusual problem of new market participants all creating networks to serve passengers that neatly avoided building new terminals.

    Then the federal program to charge passengers for improvements is created and some places like Denver respond accordingly (waits for snickers), but the majority of legacy carriers elect to hold onto their gates and leave them empty so that competitors like Southwest couldn’t grab them.

    Local authorities intervened in some cases, but it most cases they simply tried to accommodate Southwest by building common access gates.

    LAX has lots of little terminals because every major airline used to have their own, American, Northwest, Delta, United, etc… then as codesharing also took off to help reduce excess capacity and turn the screws on Southwest, you ended up with the fewest number of airlines/alliances to avoid antitrust action: 3.

    So the answer to your question is painstakingly easy: the airlines are no different than the railroads or other utilities. The pipeline is more important the product.

    Eric Reply:

    That would be a huge terminal. What would the space be filled with? How would you get from one end to the other?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    … a people mover? Still gonna have to have one, whether it’s something like the two car people movers at many airports or something like the airport trains in Philadelphia because there’s going to have to be a way to get people to the parking lots and the car rentals.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    I kinda liked the Detroit peoplemover that simply shuttles people along the enormously long linear gate area… it’s (literally) hanging right over your head and the “stations” are very close at hand (a short escalator ride up), so it’s convenient and “obvious.”

    Eric Reply:

    So why not put the people mover outside the doors of the current terminals?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Moving walkways fanning from the center to the gates.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Gonna be a zoo at the courtesy buses, car rental and hotel shuttles, regular buses, kiss-n-ride, taxis etc.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Alon Levy:

    After they finish with Tom Bradley, LAX has plans to replace terminals 1, 2 and 3 with a single linear concourse along the north side of World Way, allowing them to pull the northern runways further apart and get a taxiway between them. The parking structures in the middle of the terminal ‘U’ surrounding the theme building are planned to be replaced with a handful of centralized terminals, with a people mover connecting them to the relocated parking and public transit access.

    The LAX Master Plan is worth a read, but at the time of it being written, there were no coordinated plans to have Crenshaw/Harbor lines have a station across Century.

    Eric Reply:

    Not a bad plan, although there’s always room for improvement.

    I note that the entire residential neighborhood between Aviation/La Cienaga and Century/Arbor Vitae is planned to be razed and replaced with a transportation facility. If only HSR has the power of eminent domain that air travel has…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The people mover layout seems really awkward. There’s an airside line, a landside line to the Green Line, and a landside line to the parking facilities, all separate, and the car rental is only on the Green Line line and doesn’t connect to the car drop-off area.

    Could they really not just extend everything to Sepulveda and Century?

  8. Bill
    Jun 28th, 2013 at 17:52

    JFK has a great rail connection. Helluva lot easier than trying to negotiate that dilapidated maze of roads they have going on. The rail link at SFO fairly useless and a ripoff if you’re transferring to/from Caltrain.

    EJ Reply:

    A lot of NYC transit advocates are obsessed with the idea of a “one seat ride from Manhattan to JFK” and consider the LIRR or Subway + JFK Airtrain a failure, whereas a lot of Bay Area folks feel the SFO peoplemover should have been extended to an interchange with BART and Caltrain at Millbrae. The grass is always greener.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    It sort of depends on the details, doesn’t it? I mean, what people really want is a fast, frequent, and comfortable ride to as close to their airplane as possible, ideally with no transfers (and if there are transfers, they should be as easy as possible, e.g. cross-platform). Transfers are always at least a little annoying, and can be much worse when you have heavy luggage.

    Any system like airtrain that requires a transfer automatically fails one of the above points, but that doesn’t mean a direct system can’t be so badly engineered that that the result is actually worse in practice… devil…details… :]

    [I dunno, I’ve used neither BART to SFO nor airtrain to JFK (I always want too, but my GF never does)… I’ve heard mixed opinions about both, but airtrain does seem to get a lot of very positive reviews on yelp etc (chiefly along the lines of “decently convenient and so cheap!”)…]

    EJ Reply:

    I’ve used both – they both get the job done, though it’s worth noting that when you take BART to SFO you almost always have to transfer to the people mover anyway, which is one of the reasons so many people say the peoplemover should have just been extended to Millbrae.

    EJ Reply:

    And of course Caltrain to BART Shuttle to peoplemover is an inferior experience if you’re not coming from the City on BART.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    BTW, how fast is the SFO peoplemover? Would it work well over longer distances?

    I’ve only used it once or twice, to transfer between terminals, and my memory is pretty vague, but I remember thinking “this sucks”… [though I think much of the reason was that the stations were buried in the bowels of parking garages and involved a seemingly endless confusing hike through an unpleasant environment; it really gave the impression that people using the peoplemover were a vague afterthought.]

    Joey Reply:

    It’s not particularly fast, but it’s not bad enough that getting to the rental car center is a problem … I doubt Millbrae would be a problem either.

    Clem Reply:

    Most of SFO is a vague afterthought. Bents are placed in the middle of pedestrian walkways in the parking garages. Elevators are hidden around corners with no signage. Elevator control panels are noteworthy for the horrific failure of user interface design. Major connectors between buildings and garages lack clear wayfinding signage. The whole thing is emblematic of how we build civic infrastructure in this country: without really giving a shit about users. The people mover and Millbrae BART are just the cherry on top. 100% designed by civil engineers without the slightest bit of help from operations researchers.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    And the Bay Area is the home of Apple Computer, Google, and Facebook! Outfits which have made fortunes on products with elegantly designed user interfaces! Whenever I’m at SFO, I’m struck by the extent to which the airport is the antithesis of the iPhone. Just one expensive-looking kluge piled on top of the previous expensive-looking kluge, with no thought to everything working as one process.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    SFO will be spending another $4 billion on a “revamp” of terminals 1 and 3, plus another hotel. That is in addition to the $383 million just spent on a “makeover” of terminal 2, which included a Yoga room and wine bar. They truly have more money than they know what to do with.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    So are they going to do anything silly like improve passenger flow and access, or are they just concentrating on the yoga rooms and wine bars?

    [Actually, that’s the other thing I noticed about SFO the last time I was there (2005): there wasn’t much to do while I was waiting around for a friend… in this age of retail-packed airports, that seemed downright strange…]

    Eric Reply:

    Where does all that money come from?

    The only thing I can really imagine wanting while stuck in an airport is free wireless. Restaurants etc. will always be more expensive than and inferior to (in quality/atmosphere) what is available outside the airport. But maybe the wine bar crowd brings in the dollars. Or maybe the airport management has deluded themselves into thinking that it does.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    I forgot to add that the arrangement works equally badly for getting airport workers to their place of work. Apparently fewer than 200 airport workers use BART to get to work. Given that many airline workers are stranded, without a car, and many of the others are low-paid service workers who will have trouble financing an extra family car for commuting, this is an amazing number.

    In many areas, government doesn’t have the resources to do the best possible job, and we have to live with something that’s inferior but sort of works. But in this case, unlimited sums were lavished on the BART airport connection, Airtrain, and all the terminal modifications to accommodate them. And still, the outcome is inferior, but sort of works.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Airport trains only serve passenger terminals and parking lots. Many airport workers work in different parts of the airport, so those trains don’t help them at all.

    EJ Reply:

    Are BART tickets for airport workers subsidized? If they’re paying full fare, BART to SFO is fairly expensive for a daily commute.

    swing hanger Reply:

    +1 on the lack of thought on elevator buttons- tiny metal things set in a stainless metal panel surrounded by stainless steel walls- it’s as if they want you to think you’re caged in an iron prison with nowhere to go. What an appropriate way to say “welcome home” for those of us who live in places overseas which have much better and pleasant design of public places and public transport.

    Reedman Reply:

    I have gone from JFK to Manhattan many times using the JFK shuttle combined with the subway. I consider it an excellent piece of transit. The only downside is that there is a surcharge for going between JFK and the subway, and it is complicated to figure out the total cost for the surcharge and the subway fare. ‘They have people there whose full-time job is getting commuters/travelers routed to the correct ticket machine with the correct amount. I find it easier, however, than taking Caltrain from San Jose and getting to SFO. [In theory, the cab fare from JFK to Manhattan is fixed by regulation (a fixed fare, plus the bridge/tunnel tolls), but the cabbies have ways around that.]

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Aren’t all the other methods of transport much more expensive than the airtrain charge + subway fare though? I remember the buses as being $15 or more, and of course taxis are crazy expensive…

    … and of course in many cases you’ve got to transfer to the subway anyway once you reach manhattan…

    [Hmm, the reason I never took airtrain was because people told me not to… but now I’m determined to do it the next time I go to NYC! ^^; ]

    Marc Reply:

    I flew on New York Airways several times during the 70s, took all of 10 minutes to get from JFK to Manhattan (Pan Am building or Wall Street). The notion that a regularly scheduled helicopter airline could actually be profitable (for a while), without costing a ridiculous amount, seems quite alien in the 21st century. The cost of the ticket was often folded into the cost of an international flight, out of pocket it was barely more than a taxi ride…

    Eric Reply:

    Interesting. Just looked New York Airways. “In February 1955 the one way fare from LaGuardia to Idlewild was $4.50.” That’s $38 in today’s dollars, though fuel and labor were cheaper then. The airline had 14 deaths in maybe 5 million passenger-trips, significantly higher than any other travel mode (except maybe motorcycles).

    EJ Reply:

    I wonder how that compared with cab fare back then.

    Eric Reply:

    Good luck getting a 10 minute cab trip to Manhattan.

  9. D. P. Lubic
    Jun 28th, 2013 at 20:35

    Off topic, but perhaps of interest–designs for a proposed new station in Raleigh, N.C.:

    swing hanger Reply:

    What? It’s not going to be called a “multi-modal transportation center” or “intermodal transport node”?? I thought using “station” is “too 19th century”…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Delightful the way the station house is on side and the platforms on another with a parking lot between the two.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    There’s a reason for that. The station itself is to be a repurposed industrial building that is already government owned. And the passenger access is to be grade separated, with tunnels and the like.

    Now, whether this was the best that could have been done is up to question. . .

    frozen Reply:

    If you look closely at the site plans, theyre planning on another platform on the opposite side from the amtrak platforms for SEHSR– you go South for Amtrak, North for SEHSR. That makes a bit more sense than if it was amtrak only.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Very important to Enterthe Station House (WTF?) through a Pedestrian Plaza to Establish a Sense of Place, before being corralled through Celebratory Access Control into a Festival Waiting Area, then making a Single Chokepointed Secured Wayfinding Enabled Detour towards the Embarkation En-training Facillity … located right across from where you started in space, but 20 minutes removed and lost in time.

    EJ Reply:

    Dude, it’s an Amtrak facility. You forgot “Marshall everyone into a completely pointless queue and make them stand around for 15 minutes.”

    swing hanger Reply:

    And people will accept it, unfortunately. After all, they experience it at airports and don’t know any better.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Or they won’t accept it and just drive instead.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Alon

    Totally OT I saw “Standup Guys” tonite. Al Pacino and Al Pacino redeem themselves from their career-ending performances in “Gigli”.

    Great htrowawy line from my heartbreak Juliana Margulies to Al Pacino:

    “How’s your pecker?’

    As I said OT totally and you had to be there.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Al Pacino and Christopher Walken

    Ted K. Reply:

    From D.P.Lubic‘s link :

    Currently, when passenger trains are at the existing station, the mainline railroad track is blocked. This forces freight and other passenger trains to wait until the passenger loading or unloading is complete before they can proceed. The new facility will have a station tracks that remove passenger trains from the mainline tracks, thus improving operations for freight train operators.

    There may be design flaws with their plan but unblocking the mainline seems to be a good counterweight. Also, that’s a very tight site for them to shoehorn in a bigger station and a second track with a larger and longer platform. I believe the old station will continue in service during construction. If so, that’s going to make for a neat juggling act.

    Ted K. Reply:

    Here’s some YouTube videos :
    Current station by cityofraleigh‘s Raleigh Union Station Phase I

    Propaganda piece from NCDOTcommunicationsRaleigh Union Station

    And a rail fan’s view by EMY2GIRLamtrak train leaving raleigh station

    A key takeaway from the first and third videos is that there is a level crossing right at the end of the platform. That may be okay for a lightly used commuter station but is a safety issue for a good-sized main station. Also, near the end of the first video is a hint that the plans include a grade separation for one or more streets. That’s confirmed in the “Revised Site Plan” PDF.

    Another nice thing is the warehouse, seen in the second video, that’s being re-purposed. It seems to have a decent frame and will hopefully save some money on the construction costs.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    That may be okay for a lightly used commuter station but is a safety issue for a good-sized main station.

    That would never do.

    And whatever you do, don’t construct an access route directly to and from the station platform to where people might want to go. Anything but that! Send them through on a magical mystery trip through a re-purposed warehouse via a really really long bridge/tunnel. They need the exercise, after all, and if their time were worth anything they’d be driving after all.

    Ted K. Reply:

    Choices :
    1) Raleigh, NC builds a copy of Diridon Intergalactic; or
    2) A modest, well integrated, bus + train depot that has some room for expansion.

    It looks to me like the planners of the new station are trading some walking by future passengers for reduced construction costs. Plus, the location in that wye is probably forcing a bunch of gnarly compromises. I agree that it’s far from perfect. But if it accommodates today’s traffic without crowding then that’s a step forward. Plus, they’re leaving room for additional service (bus + train) so that future growth won’t choke the facility.

    RM, do you see signs that they may be making the same mistakes that were made at Millbrae BART (e.g. hogging the ROW, overbuilding the facility) ?

    P.S. Thanks for the link to the Uppsala, Sweden pictures. That’s a neat bike/ped crossing with safety gates. But Raleigh’s is a motor vehicle crossing with the typical single gate per direction.

  10. Reality Check
    Jun 29th, 2013 at 18:02

    A Straighter Extension of Caltrain/HSR Into Downtown SF: Is It Worth It?

    By 2029, San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center — which has been called the “Grand Central of the West” — will allow people to hop on an electrified Caltrain to San Jose and high-speed rail down to Southern California from the same platform. That’s the vision, at least, of planners working on the extension of Caltrain from the current terminus at 4th and King Streets to the massive transit hub under construction in SF’s downtown core.

    But some advocates and planners say the planned rail alignment for the downtown extension of Caltrain and California High-Speed Rail, which will share tracks along the Peninsula, needs to be revisited because it includes too many sharp turns, which they say could slow the trains down and create a bottleneck. Planners at the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, however, say any increase in speeds would be minimal, and that embarking on a planning process for a different alignment could delay construction by at least a decade. Currently, the extension is expected to be built some time before high-speed rail is completed in 2029.

    Clem Reply:


    synonymouse Reply:

    I do not know where the various levels of government, local and State, are going to find the money to construct and operate rail systems that are so poorly planned and inefficiently designed.

    The Cheerleaders really owe it to the “movement” to do the mental exercise of imagining BART as a private operation. It would help them to grasp why the DogLeg will necessarily be a government function and so expensive to subvent.

    Absent a few high-profile phonies like Buffett, Gates, Soros, etc., most very wealthy will not look kindly on blowing their tax money on BART slackers, etc. So the massive subsidy burden will fall on the bottom, mostly thru regressive taxation.

    Hollande’s socialist government has just abandoned plans for tgv to the “massif central”, analagous to the high desert and southern San Joaquin Valley. I assume Alstom-SNCF will probably be demoralized by these developments such that PB-CHSRA won’t have to worry about those particular foreigners talking back or showing serious interest. The only Europeans involved will be Ansaldo-Breda with Bombardier. Neo-Acelas.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Neo_Acelas are going to be off the shelf.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:


    Perhaps you meant “off the wall” or “off the rails”.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And the horse too.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    a new, technology-neutral, performance-based approach

    New. Special. Special needs. Developmentally challenged. Unique. American. Number One.

    Technology-neutral, as long as the integrated system is not in production or in service anywhere else in the universe.

    Off the rails.

    VBobier Reply:

    Then there’s HS2 in the UK, it’s cost is at £42.6bn or $64.8bn, which is not to much less than the CHSRA HSR project estimate of $68.5bn, a difference of $3.7bn…

    The government also says a further £7.5bn will be needed to acquire a fleet of 400km/h trains. Nevertheless the government remains committed to the project and has set a detailed budget worth £16bn for HS2 from 2015-16 to 2020-21.

    Joey Reply:

    The UK is not particularly good at controlling costs. I’m pretty sure that the cost of HS2 (per unit length) is now comparable to the Chuo Shinkansen (maglev, also mostly tunneled) in Japan.

    Also, comparing total project costs is silly. While the overall cost of HS2 might be comparable to CAHSR, the cost per km (or per mile, or per furlong, …) is actually more for HS2.

    If you want examples of the kind of costs we should strive for, look at Spain or Germany or Switzerland. They build much more useful rail infrastructure for much less money than we do (this is not to say of course that every project in Spain or Germany or Switzerland is perfectly managed). Infrastructure is expensive, no one is denying that, but we can do better than the current plan.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Spain and Switzerland, sure. Germany, not so much. The second Munich S-Bahn tunnel cost overruns led to repeated delay, and the project as budgeted is the most expensive per km in Continental Europe. The cost overruns on two of the Neubaustrecken reached 100%, and the per-km cost of Frankfurt-Cologne reached $50 million, about the same as the 50%-underground Shin-Aomori extension of the Tohoku Shinkansen. Stuttgart21 is €8 billion.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Well, Switzerland had their serious cost overruns as well (Furkatunnel, about 250%, but the reason for that was that they initially deliberately used too long numbers to get the project through the federal parliamnt)…

    On the other hand, the cost overruns of the Gotthard Base Tunnels are more or less all assignable to changes during construction (mainly different safety requirements).

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Well, even with the cost overruns, the Furkatunnel was CHF37 million/km in 2010 francs. That’s PPP equivalent to not much more than $20 million/km. I don’t want to make comparisons to projects today because there’s a long-term increase in cost in most cities. For example, Second Avenue Subway is $1.7 billion/km and the 7 extension is $1.3 billion/km, while 63rd Street Tunnel and the associated connectors, built from the 1960s to 2000, were about $900 million/km. But even with those cost overruns, Furka wasn’t that expensive.

    VBobier Reply:

    The value of the US Dollar has dropped since that $900 million/km was spent in 1960 to 2000, gasoline was nearer to $0.25 a gallon, today it could be $3.799 a gallon(What I paid per gallon today in fact).

    VBobier Reply:

    I would have loved to look for Spain and in fact I did do a search, but I came up empty, so I used what I could find, so sue Me…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Some information isn’t available in English. See for example here for the cost of Madrid-Barcelona.

    VBobier Reply:

    Not to hard to understand, if one uses Google Translate of course, like Here, oh and thanks for the find, I know the translation is not perfect, but it’ll have to do, of course your example has no mention of cost, but it’s good example of how a site can be translated into English.

    The high speed line Madrid-Zaragoza-Barcelona-French border is a railway line
    , perteneciende to General Interest Network managed by ADIF
    . It has a top speed of 350km / h, but now the speed limit is 310 km / h.

    The line starts at the station Madrid-Puerta de Atocha
    and ends after the Figueras-Vilafant station
    , where he continued with international section
    connecting the rail networks of Spain and France. The line goes into the cities of Barcelona
    , with the seasons of Barcelona-Sants
    and Barcelona-La Sagrera
    (currently under construction), and Gerona
    . It also has two variants that allow off the line access stations Zaragoza-Delicias
    and Lleida Pyrenees
    , and has full line stations in Guadalajara
    , Calatayud
    and Camp de Tarragona

    In addition to the internal services of the line ( AVE
    for long distance and Avant
    for middle distance), there are wide changers
    in the enabling environment Zaragoza out of the line, plus a wide international ramp ending Huesca
    . By gauge change
    in Zaragoza use this line trains between Madrid and Navarra and La Rioja, and between Barcelona and northern Spain. Also a connection to the Madrid-Sevilla
    can continue south without going into Madrid.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It mentions cost in the last paragraph of the introduction.

    The line was inaugurated on 3 sections, starting from Madrid. In October 2003 came to Lleida, in February 2008 to Barcelona and in March 2013 the line was completed. The corridor is included in the Trans-European Transport Network , and in this concept has received substantial subsidies from the European Union. The cost per kilometer of the line between Madrid and Barcelona amounted to 14.4 million euros, with a total cost of 8.96671 billion euros, 31.4% more than originally budgeted.

    14.4 million euros per km, inflated to the midpoint of construction (=2006), is $19.5 million per km in 2010 dollars, which means LA-SF would cost about $13 billion.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    The DTX is relying on a major grant from the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program that’s expected to come through in 2022. It takes about a decade to get a New Starts grant, from the application to the time the grant is issued, said Boule. And agencies can’t apply until a project’s environmental review process is completed. Environmental review for the current alignment began in 1987 and was cleared in 2005.

    SF Streets blog

    VBobier Reply:

    And by the time CA is ready to do that, Repubs/baggers in Congress may have walled off CA HSR from even that source of Federal Funding out of spite, so CA may have to fund HSR on our own and CA is unlike other states, as CA is quite capable of doing so, CA just needs the will and the acknowledgement that HSR costs as much or less than building new Freeways and enlarging airports, but then you get what you pay for.

    High-Speed Transportation: California is Leading the Way in Green Transportation
    and Job Creation

    “According to the Authority’s updated business plan…high-speed trains will alleviate the need to spend nearly $100 billion to build about 3,000 miles of new freeway, five airport runways and 90 departure gates during the next two decades,” Morshed wrote. “A statewide high-speed train system will meet that same need for about half the cost.”

  11. Keith Saggers
    Jun 30th, 2013 at 09:32
Comments are closed.