The Truth About Tejon

Jun 16th, 2013 | Posted by

Below is a guest post from Clem Tillier, who also writes the Caltrain-HSR Compatibility Blog

If you try to reach Los Angeles from the Central Valley and points north, the Tehachapi Mountains stand squarely in the way.   This mountain range, crisscrossed by earthquake faults, forms a great barrier to California’s high-speed rail network and will (by geological and topographical necessity) result in one of the highest-elevation high-speed rail mountain crossings anywhere in the world.  Reaching even the lowest passes requires a roughly 1000 m (3300 ft) vertical climb from the floor of the Central Valley, with sustained steep grades and tunnels and bridges of considerable length.  The Tehachapi mountain crossing will surely be the most spectacular, complex and expensive section of California’s nascent high-speed rail backbone.

Crossing the Tehachapis is feasible at several topographically favorable locations, among which are Tehachapi Pass (to serve Palmdale and the Antelope Valley, as selected by the California High-Speed Rail Authority) and Tejon Pass, also known as the “Grapevine” or I-5 alignment.  Two possible HSR alignments through these passes are shown in the map at right.  The map, oriented such that the SF-LA axis is vertical, highlights one of the basic trade-offs of California high-speed rail: detour through the fast-growing but geographically isolated Antelope Valley, or take the direct shortcut to Los Angeles.

This trade-off was never technical.  For political reasons that will not be discussed here, Tejon Pass was never seriously considered for high-speed rail.

During Roelof van Ark’s brief stint as CEO of the rail authority, staff and consultants were directed to reconsider the options and produced the Conceptual I-5 Corridor Study, published at the January 2012 board meeting–the same meeting where van Ark resigned his post.  This study was tailored, rather blatantly as we will see, to reconfirm the route via Palmdale.  The technical rationale for dismissing Tejon Pass alignments was built on numerous contrived assumptions and constraints that warrant close examination.  A sophisticated path optimization tool, known as Quantm, was used to evaluate thousands of possible alignments through the Tehachapi Mountains, giving the false impression that they had been exhaustively researched; however, the tool was carefully tweaked to avoid some of the most promising alternatives.  While thousands of alignments may have been considered, the hundreds that weren’t are far more interesting.

A Good Tejon Pass Alignment

The map below shows a reasonable Tejon Pass HSR alignment, by no means the best, in comparison to the probable Antelope Valley alignment.  This map serves as a key to the rest of this article, and is even more revealing after downloading the KML file and opening it in Google Earth, where many of the locations, landmarks and topographical features discussed below are easily visualized in 3D.

Myths About Crossing the Tehachapi Mountains

Twelve myths have developed around the complex issue of the HSR southern mountain crossing, and are often trotted out to support the Antelope Valley alignment via Palmdale.  These myths, all of them wrong, include the following:

  1. Tejon Pass HSR alignments cannot cross into Tejon Mountain Village property
  2. Tejon Pass HSR requires more tunneling than the Antelope Valley
  3. Tehachapi Pass is the easier mountain crossing, as the Southern Pacific Railroad figured out way back in the 1870s
  4. Tejon Pass HSR suffers from greater seismic risk, compared to Antelope Valley HSR
  5. Tejon Pass HSR via Santa Clarita would significantly impact Newhall Ranch
  6. Antelope Valley HSR via Tehachapi Pass alignment can just plug into the electric grid
  7. Bakersfield can be crossed at 220 mph
  8. Bakersfield must be served with a downtown station
  9. Tejon Pass HSR is only 3-5 minutes faster than Antelope Valley HSR
  10. HSR can operate at 220 mph on long and steep down grades
  11. Tejon Pass HSR costs about the same as Antelope Valley HSR
  12. Tejon Pass HSR screws Palmdale.  Palmdale will never get a fast rail connection to LA unless it is on the HSR main line

A blog post is the wrong medium to address such complex issues; instead, the following presentation dismantles each of the myths using numerous figures and diagrams to illustrate each point.  These 75 slides are also available for download, 7MB PDF in much better resolution than provided by Scribd.

The conclusions are stunning.  Compared to the Antelope Valley alignment currently being planned with a stop in Palmdale, the more direct Tejon Pass HSR alignment would have the following advantages:

  • 12 minutes faster (7% of the SF – LA trip time)
  • 34 miles shorter
  • 10+ fewer miles of tunnel
  • 20 fewer miles of bridges
  • $5 billion cheaper to build
  • $175 million/year more profitable to operate

You might ask yourself at this point how some guy on the internet can come up with this stuff and claim that it undercuts years of studies by professional consultant teams paid hundreds of millions of dollars.  The point is that when it comes to math and physics, the numbers don’t lie.  The numerous advantages of a Tejon Pass alignment will not be lost on potential private investors, who will spare no effort to produce their own untainted investment-grade analysis of the mountain crossing.  If their numbers turn out anywhere close to this (and they will!) there simply won’t ever be any private investment.

Considering that the 2012 business plan relies on $13 billion of private capital (about 20% of the $68 billion overall budget), choosing the wrong mountain crossing could make or break HSR in California.  If the numbers presented here are to be believed, the smart money will demand a Tejon Pass alignment.  Failing this, private capital will stay away, and California’s high-speed rail system is unlikely to be completed as planned.

That’s why smart HSR supporters, those who are analytically-minded and open to new information, should place their full support behind the re-alignment of California’s high-speed rail backbone via Tejon Pass.

  1. Robert Cruickshank
    Jun 16th, 2013 at 18:51
    #1

    So this is a very interesting, exhaustively researched, and compelling read. It makes a strong case that the Tejon alignment is worth revisiting. I’ll have more to say on this in a post sometime this week.

    A couple of initial thoughts. I don’t agree with the conclusion that unless Tejon is chosen the HSR system “is unlikely to be completed as planned.” That’s a big leap. The costs for both are enormous and potential Tejon savings are not likely to be enough to make or break the overall financing issue. That said, every bit helps, and if Tejon really does save money, then it could certainly make it a bit easier to fully fund the system.

    This will be read with great interest in Bakersfield and Santa Clarita, where residents and electeds would like a different route. Clem’s given them some powerful ammo to make that case. His proposal also includes a greenfield station near Bakersfield which may produce sprawl but also helps solve a political challenge in central Bakersfield. Speaking of sprawl, I do agree that proposed developments in Tejon Pass and the Newhall Ranch should not influence the project alignment.

    A Tejon alignment would complicate connecting the XpressWest Vegas-SoCal HSR project to LA, but certainly wouldn’t make it impossible.

    Resident Reply:

    More to say …as soon as he checks the party line response with his bosses at CHSRA.

    Peter Reply:

    Why you think that someone who works for the Seattle Mayor is subservient to the CHSRA is baffling.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    The fact that this post is hosted on this blog at all shows the absurdity of your comment.

    Andrew Reply:

    Yes, this is a day to congratulate Robert, not take a cheap shot. Resident’s comment is an exercise in self-mockery.

    joe Reply:

    That’s why smart HSR supporters, those who are analytically-minded and open to new information, should place their full support behind the re-alignment of California’s high-speed rail backbone via Tejon Pass.

    Hilarious.

    Let’s postpone the sections south including Bakersfield. Bakersfield is clearly not ready to make decisions and may never be with City Manager Tandy in charge.

    Meanwhile follow Jimsf’s advice: Build to Pacheco and reach SF.

    At least until Clem’s next post on Altamont.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It makes a strong case that the Tejon alignment is worth revisiting. I’ll have more to say on this in a post sometime this week.

    In 2013. Which mountain crossing, the second one to serve Los Angeles, do you want to be considering in 2035 when they system is going to be reaching capacity in 2045 or 2050?

    Clem Reply:

    Can you explain your concern in a bit more detail? Are you suggesting the mountain crossing would ever become a bottleneck?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes
    In 2050 there are going to be 5 and half terminals for the lines radiating out from Los Angeles. Irvine, San Diego, Tuscon, Las Vegas, Sacramento and San Francisco. Which mountain crossings keep the most people out of downtown Los Angeles?

    thatbruce Reply:

    @adirondacker12800:

    Keep the most people out of downtown LA? By that measure, you’d be looking at a LA bypass from the Central Valley passing through the Antelope Valley to Victorville and the Cajon Pass down to San Bernardino, thence either to Tucson or San Diego. Both Tejon and Tehachapi options let you easily get to the Antelope Valley from the Central Valley.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yep, Why do people who aren’t in downtown LA and don’t want to go to downtown LA have to go through downtown LA? San Diego to Las Vegas – San Diego anyplace not LA? Or Bakersfield to Palm Springs? Or Fresno to San Bernardino? Or?
    The more people, who don’t want to go to downtown LA, are not in downtown LA, the more people who do want to go to downtown LA can get there.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    San Diego to Vegas means Cajon.

    Nathanael Reply:

    If Santa Clarita manages to successfully lobby for a Tejon route which goes smack dab through the middle of Santa Clarita — manages to convince the various Powers That Be in the LA area political world — then there will be a Tejon route. So far, Santa Clarita has tried to keep HSR away entirely rather than doing so. Which means Santa Clarita will be ignored.

  2. jimsf
    Jun 16th, 2013 at 20:16
    #2

    Clem glosses over the issue of the hundreds of thousands of high desert residents’ connectivity. he says tejon doesn’t preclude palmdale from getting a better link to LA.

    But its not about palmdale getting a better link to LA. Its about exisinting and growth regions to one another. People in the high desert don’t just want to go to LA. They are californians and therefore like most californians, they go all over the place. But running the main line through the high desert, the whole regions gets full north south connectivity to the all the other regions to the north and south. THat is the entire point of the hsr system to connect all the regions quickly to each other. so that regardless of which of the “californias” you live in ( with the the exception of the the far north for now) you are within 30 minutes to 3 hours to every single other region with a simple single seat ride.

    That is the brilliance of the system and the route.

    Way too many surburbaphobics around here who really just want to at the least, dismiss people who aren’t part of their hip little oh so cool “we are the saviors” world, and at worst, want to punish them for it. Thats whats really going on.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    That is one of my main concerns with a Tejon alignment. I don’t support simply bypassing large population centers, which the Antelope Valley certainly is.

    When it came to the Altamont vs. Pacheco argument I was neutral on that one. Both had pros and cons. I see the same in Tejon vs. Tehachapi. The time savings may be the most crucial point, especially depending on what the courts decide.

    jimsf Reply:

    For me, and for the average person, 10 or 15 mintues of travel time is not even an issue. Its an issue for the high strung types who are always in a hurry but regular people are far more interested in price, comfort/ammenties, and convenience.

    If the hsr station is closer than the nearest airport…
    and the ticket price for the train is equal to or less than the plane ride from the nearest airport ( which is further away than the train station)
    and boarding the train and being on your way is simpler and more comfortable than getting on to the plane and on your way….

    you could add a half hour to the rail. trip and it would still win.

    Go to your local mall or target, and watch the californians.

    Do they look like they are particularly concerned about doing anything quickly? lol.

    jimsf Reply:

    that reminds me. the seats on the train will likely be much wider than the typical airline seat as well. That gets the vote of half the population right there.

    bixnix Reply:

    We’ll only have bicycle seats on major airlines pretty soon, just you wait.

    Emma Reply:

    Isn’t that the point of HSR? Getting from A to B quick. IF you want sightseeing, I suggest Amtrak. If every tiny section demanded 7 more minutes just because it wants a special detour to XYZ, we would soon end up with a travelling time of 4-5 hours.

    The shortest path should be taken into consideration, especially if it’s more affordable and provides more profit. To me, that’s a no-brainer. Population is something organic. The center of population will slowly shift towards the HSR line once it’s build so I am not worried about that. In fact, aren’t those population centers filled with NIMBYs who want the train to be as far away from their homes as possible anyway? Can you say Win-Win?

    Now all we need is to beat some sense into the decision-making of the authority.

    Emma Reply:

    *12 minutes.

    Andrew Reply:

    Emma, right on

    blankslate Reply:

    you could add a half hour to the rail. trip and it would still win.

    In that case, why is it such a problem to increase the trip for Palmdale residents by about a half an hour (under the Tejon alignment)? Your argument also works in the other direction.

    IMO, making the trip 12 minutes faster trip times for 40 million people statewide (the vast majority of whom are suburbanites) seems like a worthy tradeoff for making the trip a half hour longer for a half million other suburbanites.

    Derek Reply:

    For me, and for the average person, 10 or 15 mintues of travel time is not even an issue.

    False. Every additional minute reduces ridership by a certain number of people per trip. Ridership isn’t quantized with respect to travel time–it’s a continuous slope.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Continuous? Really? How many fractional people do _you_ know, Derek?

    Derek Reply:

    I fly about twice a year. That means I’m 1/6th of a monthly airline passenger.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes which is why the Regional branded trains in the Northeast are empty all the time.

    Clem Reply:

    it’s a continuous slope.

    Yes indeed. For those who actually care, I referenced two sources that peg the sensitivity at approximately $10 million/year of additional revenue per minute saved.

    Joey Reply:

    jimsf, that’s a huge amount of well-researched analysis going up against your claim that the only reason to support Tejon is to screw over Palmdale. Do you really see that anywhere in Clem’s post?

    jimsf Reply:

    What I see is the glossing over of the issue of giving the large and growing high desert region the good connectivity to the rest of the state that everyone else is going to get upon full build out, by reducing their perceived needs as being only getting to LA.

    especially when you are only talking about 10 or 15 minutes, something the majority of californians wouldnt give a second thought about. versus, access to a population center that urban elites like to brush off.

    joe Reply:

    I think this sentence was unintentionally satirical and possibly lifted from “Heathers” the Movie.

    That’s why smart HSR supporters, those who are analytically-minded and open to new information, should place their full support behind the re-alignment of California’s high-speed rail backbone via Tejon Pass.

    and I too had this reaction:

    Way too many surburbaphobics around here who really just want to at the least, dismiss people who aren’t part of their hip little oh so cool “we are the saviors” world, and at worst, want to punish them for it. Thats whats really going on.

    Andrew Reply:

    I also am not fond of the language in that sentence by Clem, but I don’t see the urban vs. exurb, us vs. them attitude in it. It seems like you and jimsf are reading more into it than is really there. This reveals more about your own thought process than about Clem’s post, in my view.

    joe Reply:

    Well, I’ve actually seen it written here. e.g. Caltrain service south of Blossom Hill should be terminated.

    Joey Reply:

    The service needs on the Peninsula corridor are vastly different from the service needs south of SJ. North of SJ you want multi-car non-compliant EMUs running on tight schedules and multiple service patterns. South of SJ you want small compliant DMUs on all local service and you need some schedule leeway because of UP. Trying to mix these two types of service is a drag on both of them. So yes, it makes sense to split off the southern end into a separate service, probably with different governance since San Francisco and San Mateo counties are never going to want to put resources into service south of SJ.

    Clem Reply:

    Yes it should, and I made this recommendation after exhaustive research, something I prefer to do before advancing arguments that go against commonly held beliefs.

    You live in Gilroy, so everybody can understand why you might disagree.

    Donk Reply:

    Clem does gloss over the fact that the connection from Palmdale to SF is now longer and maybe the one flaw in the whole report was that this wasn’t mentioned. I don’t know what the correct counterpoint to this is that is “pc”.

    Mine is that Palmdale and Antonovich are being selfish to impose 15 min, $5B, $100+M/year, many more years of construction, and potential failure of the project on the rest of CA for their direct connection to SF and they should be ashamed of themselves.

    How about we instead subsidize flights from Palmdale airport to SFO and SJC and a bus to the central valley.

    wdobner Reply:

    Mine is that Palmdale and Antonovich are being selfish to impose 15 min, $5B, $100+M/year,

    But it’s better to impose a 40+ minute detour for Antelope Valley passengers going anywhere? Those 125mph tilting DMUs aren’t going to cost nothing, especially after UPRR gets done demanding their pound of flesh. $5 billion and a $100 million/yr will undoubtedly look *cheap* when we finally get the bill for a Palmdale-LA regional rail service.

    How is anyone supposed to read this any differently than “To Hell with the fly-over counties, SF and LA über alles”? We’re optimizing the system around a service pattern which we’ll be extremely lucky to operate. We’re not going to get the chance to operate that service if the IOS fails. The surest way for the IOS to fail is run empty trains, and because all trains will be local on the IOS the loading will be entirely dependent upon the potential number of passengers in the catchment areas along the route. Cutting off potential riders is the surest way to get the project killed as soon as the operating contractor is unable to operate without a subsidy.

    blankslate Reply:

    How is anyone supposed to read this any differently than “To Hell with the fly-over counties, SF and LA über alles”?

    Tejon would provide longer travel times for roughly a half million people in Antelope Valley, in favor of quicker travel times for roughly 40-50 million other Californians (projection range, 2030), many many many of whom live in exurbs and “fly-over counties.” So this really is not a city-vs-suburb issue.

    wdobner Reply:

    No, it’s about one particular fly over county which, despite being supportive of he CHSRA’s efforts has somehow managed to arouse the ire of the Disciples of the Most Perfectly Designed Alignment. Yes, it would make for a trip which is somewhere between 5 and 15 minutes for 40-50 million people. This proposed alternative would see the half million people of the Antelope Valley will be sitting through a trip which is between 40 and 70 minutes longer than the CHSRA proposed. Meanwhile it would strand XpressWest in Victorville, so the extreme inconvenience to LA-LV trips must be included as well.

    rant Reply:

    WOW….Clem’s post is excellent and has changed my mind . The Antelope Valley should not be part of the Initial Operating Section (IOS). In the future we could build a “138” to Victorville section for the Antelope Valley.

    Saving money and time for the IOS is the way to go!

  3. jimsf
    Jun 16th, 2013 at 21:01
    #3

    with palmdale you get the half million people, the xwest connection, improved commuter service,… for those living there, and you give everyone else in california a good connection to their friends and family who live up there.

    but. if it doesn’t benefit the hipsters, geeks and yuppies, then its not important. God forbid they have to sit fifteen minutes longer so that “those people” up there can get to fresno to visit their family or something.

    Joey Reply:

    “Hipsters, “geeks,” and “yuppies” being dismissive of “suburbanites?” Isn’t that sort of categorization a rather dismissive in itself? Can’t we have a discussion of the costs and benefits without calling names?

    jimsf Reply:

    the argument has been coming down to this on this blog over and over again. There is a bias against the residents who are not part of the bay area and los angeles and the constant complaint is over the 5 – 15 minutes of travel time. Its ridiculous.

    Joey Reply:

    All other things being equal I would support stopping at Palmdale. But all other things are not equal. We have a significant difference in capital and operating costs to worry about. And while that 12 minutes isn’t going to make a difference to anyone on this blog, there are definitely cases where it will be the deciding factor between HSR and other modes. Now, whether any of this outweighs the prospect of serving an additional 500k people is evidently a matter on which we disagree, but I think it needs to be honestly studied, not politically decided then justified with a sandbagged study.

    joe Reply:

    A bias against those south of Mountain View and definitely San Jose. I think i can guess where most of the live and work.

    Here’s Senator’s Reid’s two cents. http://www.palmdalechamber.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Reid-Brown-High-Speed-Rail-June16.pdf
    Apparently Nevadans like the current alignment. Something about rail to Vegas.

    Clem Reply:

    the hipsters, geeks and yuppies

    I feel you. Those elitist geeks always reveal themselves to be such bigots!

    jimsf Reply:

    I doubt they are bigots. They are just very much more important than people in the valley and the high desert, both groups that would be better bypassed entirely so as not to slow down the people getting from sf to la ( who by the way already have the option to fly, unlike so much of the valley and high desert.. god forbid those regions get any investment or economic benefit.

    EJ Reply:

    That’s some fine California whine right there!

    John Burrows Reply:

    Back about 2 years ago didn’t Palmdale sue to block the Authority from spending Prop 1-A funds to study the Tejon Alignment? And wouldn’t they sue again if Tejon gets any traction this time around? The political implications of cancelling HSR to a growing population center that wants the bullet trains so badly that it has previously sued to keep them could be severe.

    John Burrows Reply:

    political and legal implications

    Joey Reply:

    So they sued the authority for doing their job, i.e. actually studying the alternatives?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Palmdale is an LA basin transport issue, not statewide. End of story.

    Donk Reply:

    Agreed. Palmdale is a bedroom community of LA.

    To jimsf’s argument, why don’t we just have the train weave its way throughout the state and pick up everyone at their front door. It is our duty as Californians.

    wdobner Reply:

    Such hyperbole and strawman arguments should be beneath you. If you don’t serve the Antelope Valley, who is going to ride the IOS? Are you willing to bet the completion of the project solely on the strength of the LA-Fresno market? If that’s the case, you may as well just hand the money from the Feds off to Illinois or the Northeast, because I can think of few more effective ways to kill the project than to force the operator to run empty trains over Tejon.

    What is the point of holding a 2 hr 40 minute express trip paramount if the system never reaches San Fran?

    blankslate Reply:

    Such hyperbole and strawman arguments should be beneath you. If you don’t serve the Antelope Valley, who is going to ride the IOS? Are you willing to bet the completion of the project solely on the strength of the LA-Fresno market? If that’s the case, you may as well just hand the money from the Feds off to Illinois or the Northeast, because I can think of few more effective ways to kill the project than to force the operator to run empty trains over Tejon.

    You start your paragraph talking about hyperbole and strawman… and end with the claim that a lack of direct service to Antelope Valley (half million people) on the way to the LA metropolitan area (18 million people) will result in “empty trains.”

    wdobner Reply:

    You start your paragraph talking about hyperbole and strawman… and end with the claim that a lack of direct service to Antelope Valley (half million people) on the way to the LA metropolitan area (18 million people) will result in “empty trains.”

    Yes, and what of that?

    Merely serving a population center of a given size isn’t going to get those residents to ride the train, particularly if it exists solely for LA-Fresno travel, as an IOS over Tejon would. There must be some inducement to ride the train, and while a few Angelinos may ride it out of curiosity, that’s going to be a vanishingly small fraction of the Metro area’s population, only slightly smaller than the number of Basin residents who will take trips to Fresno. You may see a much larger fraction of Fresno’s population utilize the service, but whether or not that’ll prove sufficient to support the operation without a subsidy would remain to be seen. As you might guess, IMO, it’s extremely unlikely LA-Fresno will provide the riders to sustain the IOS, particularly if Bakersfield is bypassed and Hanford deferred. The trains may not exactly be empty, but with so limited a market it’s going to be extremely difficult to run a schedule that is convenient to passengers without incurring extremely low load factors. Only Palmdale (as well as Lancaster, Victorville, Hesperia, and even Barstow) provides a community with a decently large population, a strong social and cultural link to the anchor city, and can generate the sort of stable revenue stream required to support the operation of the IOS before Bay-to-Basin is inaugurated.

    Clem Reply:

    Given a choice between building HSR via Tehachapi to Palmdale, and building HSR via Tejon to Sylmar, which one do you think would make the more effective IOS? They are about the same length, 105 miles.

    VBobier Reply:

    I think the naysayers think that to achieve 2 hours and 40 mins, one needs to stop at every station, which is not true, as only SF and LA are mentioned, but then Prop1a is vague for the most part. Some think that HSR must do this or HSR must do that, not if it’s not in Prop1a or in AB3034, but then Repubs and Big Oil were against this and funded the NO on Prop1a campaign, they lost and the naysayers are almost out of time and their last lawsuit is it, I’ve been told there will be lengthy lawsuits over eminent domain for HSR, do I know that for sure? No. I’ll just have to wait and see like everyone else.

    VBobier Reply:

    that should be “last current civil lawsuit”…

    VBobier Reply:

    Oh and everyone is forgetting one thing about Tejon, Santa Clarita said NO to HSR, Palmdale said YES, one goes where an alternative exists, Tejon is DEAD and is a Worthless Pipe Dream…

    Nathanael Reply:

    Politics matters. Politics is often a GOOD thing when it means “local people vote for what they want”.

    Santa Clarita said NO. Palmdale said YES. This matters. This *always* matters.

    Don’t be surprised if the northern end of California HSR ends up going not via the Peninsula (NIMBYs!), not via Altamont, not via Pacheco, but via a new Transbay Tunnel, parallel to BART, along the Capitol Corridor communities, and through Sacramento (areas which have welcomed train service). Politics matters.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    San Jose is a bedroom community of San Francisco.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    The Antelope Valley has something like 500,000 people living there today and could hit 1 million by the 2030s (according to some projections). It’s a statewide issue.

    VBobier Reply:

    To Repubs, CA will not be growing, they only count Whites, everyone else doesn’t count, I think they’d like to deport everyone else and make CA a red state…

    bixnix Reply:

    If Tejon is selected, here’s what’ll happen regarding Palmdale/Lancaster/Vegas (#12).

    1) Xpress West is dead. Even if it weren’t, they might build it via Cajon thirty years from now.

    2) There will be talk about sending money to improve the AV Metrolink connection, but it’ll be prioritized at least until after phase 1, if not phase 2, which means “when hell freezes over” as we’re over budget already. DMUs over the existing track – well, there’s no comparison to an electrified Metrolink with double-track and a straightened path for high speed as would happen if Tehachapi is built. They’re screwed.

    3) Any requests from Palmdale/Lancaster for real Metrolink improvements will be met with the current argument – “there’s around 300,000 people, and you want us to spend $$$ hundred million (whatever the cost is) to double-track / tunnel / straighten the route / add passing tracks so you can get to LAUS thirty minutes faster?”. It won’t happen in our lifetime. Reid could sh**-can any funding, anyways. Palmdale/Lancaster is SOL forever if HSR doesn’t go there.

    bixnix Reply:

    Also, I’d imagine that Reid would reply to “Should California taxpayers be funding a casino train?” something like “Should the 49 other states fund a California train?” Since the Feds are funding at least two-thirds of the project, Reid has some big-time leverage on us.

    … which goes to show, as Clem and others have said, that the route choice is really a political and not technical issue.

    bixnix Reply:

    one-third of the funding, I mean. As the costs go up, the Fed’s share will probably be more than a third.

    Emma Reply:

    I like this idea actually. If Reid wants Xpress West to survive, he better gets his butt up and tries to send some federal funding to CHSR. Otherwise it would be the California taxpayer subsidizing the bad planning of Xpress West. Why the hell didn’t they include the last half mile in their cost projections? Oh, right. To appear more affordable to Nevadans. Well, tell Nevada if they don’t want toe walk from Victorville to LA, they better pay more.

    joe Reply:

    @Emma: Reid has and will continue to help CAHSR. CAHSR landed extra funds when FL and WI said “no”. The Xpressswest system will draw additional riders and revenue.

    @bixnix: What’s a casino train? Californian and Nevada are neighbors with extensive travel both ways and Vegas is the largest NV city and airport hub.

    bixnix Reply:

    I was quoting Clem’s study (a line of text under #12). I agree, there’s money as well as people flowing both ways. The connection to Vegas may be as lucrative as any of the other LA rail connections that are planned.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ bixnix

    Obama and LaHood funded CAHSR as a national proof of concept hsr model program. That alone they considered as adequate justification for federal financial involvement.

    I favor funding Deserted Xprss. That folly needs to happen.

    “Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.”

    Frank Zappa

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    “Should the 49 other states fund a California train?”

    Should California be funding roads in South Dakota or cell phone service in Mississippi or flood control in ….. When California starts getting more money back from the Federal government than California remits to the Federal government the other states can start asking those kind of questions.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    The 50 states need to fund a massive expansion of electric passenger rail in every state. Like the Interstate Highway Act.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There aren’t enough people in some states to justify running a single car DMU. Maybe someday a trolley car line of two in their “big” city but there are states that are so lightly populated that it doesn’t make sense to have any passenger rail at all. Buses get them there faster and more frequently.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Going through various states right now… obviously, we’re not talking about any state east of the I-35 corridor, since even relatively remote ones like Maine and Arkansas justify some intercity rail. So, west of I-35, we have:

    California: very non-remote, should have HSR, has a city with about 500 fewer route-km of urban rail than it should have.
    Washington: non-remote, should have more urban rail in its largest city, should have HSR to Portland and maybe also Vancouver, should have low-speed intercity rail to Spokane.
    Oregon: not very remote, should have some more urban rail in its largest city, should have HSR to Seattle.
    Nevada: should have HSR to California and probably also urban rail in its largest city.
    Arizona: should have HSR to California and more urban rail in its largest city. Also should be occupied by federal troops on civil rights grounds.
    New Mexico: too remote for HSR, but should have better urban rail in its largest city, possibly even low-speed intercity rail to El Paso.
    Utah: far too remote for HSR, but should have (and is getting) better urban rail in its largest city.
    Colorado: too remote for HSR, but should have (and is getting) better urban rail in its largest city and low-speed intercity rail to smaller cities.
    Idaho: too remote for HSR, but should have some urban rail in its largest city, and maybe also low-speed intercity rail from Coeur d’Alene to Spokane and Seattle.
    Montana: too remote for HSR, low-speed intercity rail, and any other kind of infrastructure.
    Wyoming: too remote for HSR and most other kinds of infrastructure, should have its coal rail infrastructure removed immediately, but could have low-speed intercity rail to Colorado.
    North Dakota: too remote for HSR, but should have low-speed intercity rail from Fargo to Minneapolis.
    South Dakota: too remote for HSR, but should have low-speed intercity rail from Sioux Falls to Minneapolis.
    Alaska: too remote for HSR and any other kind of infrastructure, but Anchorage might justify some urban rail.
    Hawaii: should have (and is getting) urban rail.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    35 million people in California most of them clustered along a corridor isn’t “not enough people”
    To Phoenix and Las Vegas are going to be relatively cheap and easy to build. So is to Tuscon. There’s nothing close enough and populous enough past that to go to with any kind of rail except maybe Amtrak land cruise once a day.
    Metro Seattle is too far away from anything other than Portland and Vancouver BC to ever have HSR other than to those places. Unless cars and airplanes are banned. Spokane is too far away and too small.
    Albuquerque? Metro Albuquerque is the same size as gigantic Metro Worcester MA. Metro El Paso is the size of metro Allentown PA And about the same distance apart. Without anything between them or destinations beyond. With a lovely interstate highway between them. What’s wrong with having a once an hour bus? Which is about how many people you might scare up at ten dollar a gallon gasoline. Sioux Falls has the same problem, there aren’t enough people there for a train.

    Anchorage? So they can take the trolley from one enormous downtown parking lot to another enormous downtown parking lot? Unless you think building enormous park-n-ride lots out in the suburban parts of town so they can take the trolley to the enormous empty parking lots downtown will be attractive.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Nah, there are probably enough people in nearly every state to justify one single-car DMU. Maybe not South Dakota. Alaska can justify that, if only due to the terrain, which is inhospitable for cars.

    For Wyoming… well… the train would go from Colorado to Cheyenne and stop there. And there are are several other states which can really only support *minimal* service, a train ducking into a city in the corner of the state to whisk people out of state.

    So fine. Let’s say “The 50 states need to fund a massive expansion of electric passenger rail in 40 states.” That doesn’t really change Robert’s point.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    enough people in nearly every state to justify one single-car DMU.

    No there aren’t. The upgrading that would need to be done to get the DMU get there as fast as a bus isn’t worth the investment.

    Derek Reply:

    1) Xpress West is dead. Even if it weren’t, they might build it via Cajon thirty years from now.

    Xpress West to Victorville never counted on a rail link to LA. If CAHSR is built through Palmdale, building a low-cost link to Palmdale is a no-brainer for Xpress West, despite the increased travel time. But if CAHSR is built through Tejon, suddenly it becomes more attractive for Xpress West to build a more direct link to LA through Cajon, because the cost is only slightly higher than linking up in Tejon but it would save even more travel time.

    bixnix Reply:

    Higher cost – and also a wait for CAHSR phase 2 construction for completion – Metrolink SB is not electrified and has capacity issues IIRC. If they stop in the Victorville parking lot, would they get enough riders?

    Andrew Reply:

    Half a million people is not that many people. And in a sprawling region that is not amenable to being reoriented to public transit, the number is even less than meets the eye.

    wdobner Reply:

    Then what does constitute “that many people”? If the Antelope Valley were all one municipality it would be the fifth largest in the state, larger than Fresno. Even taking just Palmdale and Lancaster together you’d end up right around the tenth largest city in the state, about the size of Bakersfield. Surely if those other areas of comparable population deserve a stop then so does the Antelope Valley.

    And since when does Public Transporation enter into this? The blog post told us downtown HSR stations are bad, and that we must build sprawltastic greenfield stations on bypasses. If that’s not auto oriented then what possibly could be? By comparison a Palmdale station looks like TBT or LAUS in terms of its non automobile accessibility.

    jimsf Reply:

    Its no more a sprawling region than every other region in the state. the pattern of growth in every flatland city from redding to indio is exactly the same.

    Andrew Reply:

    A quick and dirty Wikipedia check suggests that Palmdale and Lancaster have less than a quarter of the average population density for the main urban areas that would be anchoring the system (and adversely affected by a Palmdale detour): SD, Orange County, LA, San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento.

    joe Reply:

    “Adversely affected” means what? Did you unintentionally omit every CV city aside from Sac.

    The city of Palmdale was listed in the Proposition as part of the route. Folks have to accept it’s a state system, not a flyover.

    Andrew Reply:

    1) The meaning of “adversely affected by a detour” is self-evident. 2) The cities listed were introduced as “the main urban areas that would be anchoring the system” – in other words, the primary sources of ridership. If you want to add in Fresno or Stockton or whatever, my statement about average population densities would still hold. Please don’t thoughtlessly dash off comments making people spend time explaining things that are already clear. 3) To your “it’s a state system”: That could also be interpreted to mean it has to serve the state considered AS AN INTEGRATED WHOLE, rather than specific subunits such as AV. If one examines the issue on an integrated and non-discriminating basis within the unit of the state as a whole, one provides non-HSR service to AV, as Clem has so clearly explained. One has to approach the issue with a broad principle of balance, fairness, and overall utility, not with some rigid, simplistic commandment or rule — “Uhhp – ‘it’s a state system’ – gotta make a detour to Palmdale!”

    jimsf Reply:

    In what non sprawling region of california do you live andrew

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Andrew

    You almost have that many in Sucka Rosa and it is a doodlebugburg.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Every region is amenable to public transit. Every single one. The transit may look and operate differently in the Antelope Valley than in San Francisco but they deserve buses and electric passenger trains as much as any other part of the state.

    Andrew Reply:

    The Palmdale connection to Vegas is immaterial because the Vegas line, God forbid it ever be built, should instead pass thru Inland Empire and northern Orange County on the way to LAUS.

    wdobner Reply:

    Why would you set out to construct two parallel mountain crossings when you can consolidate that effort in one project? If traffic reaches the point where two crossings are required then needed, but as with all Tejon arguments, this is putting the cart before the horse.

    Andrew Reply:

    Because it would make most trips way shorter and cheaper. Imagine trying to go to Vegas from Orange County, Inland Empire, or San Diego via Palmdale. The combined population of these areas is much greater than that of LA. Not to mention shorter trips from LA itself, in any direction. This is the way to go (only the thick lines represent HSR):
    https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=205242278980764848338.0004cee1ca9342ce961c8&msa=0&ll=34.052659,-117.80365&spn=1.221972,2.469177

    Furthermore, Palmdale by itself requires two mountain crossings!

    wdobner Reply:

    But again, why does claim Cajon must be the first step? Tejon and Cajon are both predicated on achieving some greatest convenience to the rider assuming cost is no issue. But cost is very much an issue and thus some measure of inconvenience to the rider is warranted in the name of halving the infrastructure to be built. In this case we would be perfectly capable of running XpressWest trains over Tehachapi without any difficulty or any negative impact on an eventual Cajon pass HSL if that were determined to be required. Why build two crossings when one will suffice with minimal inconvenience for all involved for the time being?

    In any event the CHSRA will not be constructed to the Inland Empire, San Diego, or even Orange County any time in the forseeable future, so now we not only have the cart before the horse but I suspect there is no cart to begin with. You’re not optimizing for a second iteration of Phase I (as those here obsessed with express train travel time are), but for a second phase whose construction is doubtful at this point. It’s possible that if things go well we could have service from LV to LA very early on via the High Desert corridor and the CHSRA’s tracks between Palmdale and Sylmar. But insisting on Cajon means you get to start the mountain crossing EIR process, and begin undertaking the difficult process of driving an HSL through the Inland Empire, solely for Las Vegas-bound traffic. While LV can serve as a useful enough draw to bring the CHSRA to Tehachapi from Tejon, it is highly unlikely to attract enough revenue to justify its own mountain pass.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The starting point re cost is that Tejon is $5 billion cheaper than Tehachapi.

    Afterward, the point is that the important trunk is LA-CV and not LA-Vegas, and this means that the purported Phase 2 of XpressWest connecting to Palmdale should be put in the same basket as LA-SD, and LA-IE.

    And because LA-IE is going to be built anyway, Tejon-Cajon does not require more construction than Tehachapis. Victorville-SB is slightly shorter than Victorville-Palmdale, actually. The question then is how much tunneling is required to achieve the ruling grade. Given sufficient compromises on curve radius the answer is zero, but presumably they’ll want to run trains at >200 km/h, requiring some tunneling. However, at the given cost differential between tunnels and earthworks of about $100 million/km, nearly the full route would have to be in tunnel to compensate for the $5 billion in savings of Tejon versus Tehachapis.

    Andrew Reply:

    Right on

    wdobner Reply:

    It’s Clem’s claim that it is $5 billion cheaper. That is not a fact and I’m not quite sure why it is being taken as one because it requires you to believe the conspiracy theories that the entire project’s alignment is being determined by politics. There may be some savings, but it’s most likely that the truth lies somewhere in between Clem’s figures and the CHSRA’s numbers. I know that it is uncomfortable when a favored alternative is rejected, but sometimes it has to be accepted.

    XpressWest’s use of the High Desert Corridor is, at this point, much more likely to happen than any element of the CHSRA’s Phase 2. It is disingenuous to claim LA-LV is will be completed around the same time LA-SD is simply because they both are in the second phase of their organization’s implementation plans. LV can be served via Tehachapi, and that service can get underway relatively early in the CHSRA’s program. Tejon dooms any LA-LV service to the late 2030s or whenever they get around to constructing the Inland Empire, if ever.

    The cost of building through the sprawl east of LA is going to quickly make up whatever difference you claim between the ephemeral “saving” Clem claimed in going over Tejon and your Cajon route.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The $5 billion in “savings” will be eaten up by the “medium speed” connection from Palmdale to LA. Most of the cost of the Palmdale route is in the San Gabriel Mountain crossing.

    Nathanael Reply:

    And this is where we get back to LA area politics. Yes, quite likely it makes sense to run California High Speed Rail over Tejon Pass and to run DesertXpress over Cajon Pass via San Bernadino — and incidentally to have all San Francisco-Vegas passengers stop in Los Angeles on the way.

    However, this cuts Palmdale out completely. Now, perhaps it makes sense to make the High Desert into a nature preserve and quite deliberately cut it out. But the politicos of the LA area have united behind improved service from Palmdale to LA, and that is *extremely expensive*, even if it’s medium-speed.

    The initial analyses found that crossing Tehachapi Pass was billions cheaper than crossing Tejon Pass. Because is *is* billions cheaper. The extra cost is due to crossing the San Gabriel Mountains.

    The thing is, politically, it seems that we have to cross them anyway to provide Palmdale with better service. Therefore the San Gabriel crossing is being (correctly) treated as a sunk cost, causing the Tehachapi Pass route to evaluate as cheaper.

    Joey Reply:

    The amount of tunneling in the San Gabriel crossing can be reduced a lot if you allow sustained 3.5% grades (<125 mph speed limits) and impacts to places like Agua Dulce. Enough to make it affordable on its own, I don't know.

    Nathanael Reply:

    This is worth looking into, given that the politicos are hellbent on an LA-Palmdale connection.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    San Francisco-Vegas passengers stop in Los Angeles on the way.

    Both of the them? Detouring through Los Angeles adds 100 miles to the trip. On the slow tracks through urban-ish LA. They’ll fly.

    Joey Reply:

    I doubt SF-Las Vegas was going to be a huge HSR market anyway.

    Andrew Reply:

    jimsf, I respect your point and the way you expressed it, but in my view you are making too much out of the ‘single seat’ issue (earlier thread) and are too quick to reduce everybody’s arguments to this urban v. rural ‘us versus them’ dichotomy. For the most part everybody is just trying to strike a balance between connectivity and other rational concerns (speed, cost, fuel, track maintenance, etc.), and the general verdict is that the palmdale detour is too far from that balance to be worth it. This is a point that you should listen to rather than dismissing it as simple elitism.

    In my view, every point you’ve made in favor of palmdale is adequately addressed by a non-HSR connection to HSR. Yes, it would mean you could not get from palmdale to SF or SD on a single seat, but I think that’s a lot less important than you do. People are spread out all over Antelope Valley, so they’ll need to sit in some other kind of seat to get to the station anyway. They might as well just ride a commuter train with more convenient stops and just make a timed transfer at Sylmar.

    I can’t go with you when you reduce everything to connectivity/access, as if the total travel time between SF/SJ and LA, SD, Anaheim, etc were completely immaterial. Every single day there will be thousands of transport decisions that will hinge on the marginal difference in travel time of Tejon vs. Palmdale, and these numerically predominant folks cannot simply be discounted. Especially when one can make a plausible argument that Antelope Valley folks are actually better off with a feeder line that will have more stops, be less expensive, and not be all that slow.

    You are right that for many people, 10 or 15 minutes is not a big deal. Of course for many people (say San Diego to San Jose, SF, or Sacramento), that would make the difference between riding HSR and flying. But you’re right that many others would not care. But these same people probably WOULD care about paying more for a ticket, which they would have to do with a longer and less fuel efficient route, and ESPECIALLY if the overall system is not doing well financially. So in other words, it IS actually a priority for the laid-back types that the system provide rapid service for “high strung” types, because it’s only by making money from massive ridership by high-strung types that the system can keep prices down for laid-back types. Thus your concern with access is deeply interdependent on the issue of speed, even though you argue that speed should not be of great concern. You should treat the concerns of the laid-back types and high-strung types as one integrated concern rather than dividing them up in your imagination into these mythic primordial groups with identities and destinies that are somehow whole and distinct.

    joe Reply:

    “In my view, every point you’ve made in favor of palmdale is adequately addressed by a non-HSR connection to HSR. ”

    When and how?

    “Of course for many people (say San Diego to San Jose, SF, or Sacramento), that would make the difference between riding HSR and flying.

    Thus your concern with access is deeply interdependent on the issue of speed, even though you argue that speed should not be of great concern. ”

    No. In fact the analysis has nothing to do with ridership – no projects whatsoever. It’s all “physics”. Claims that this 5-10-15 time equates to critical ridership is a leap and strangely attracting HSR investment means we avoid a privately proposed project connecting to Vegas.

    Clem Reply:

    Read myth #11

    wdobner Reply:

    But it’s not necessarily a myth. Saying it’s a myth does not make it so, and you do an extremely poor job making the case that it is a myth because every element rests upon myth #1 being true. But your case for that myth (which actually looks to be the only actual myth contained in your report) is not particularly convincing if you aren’t given to believe whatever conspiracy theory Syn cooked up and repeated long enough for a few people to take seriously. And after that the rest of your argument falls apart. If Tejon Ranch wasn’t the reason for the Grapevine crossing to be “sandbagged”, then there must be alternative explanations. It might just be that Tejon is an unsuitable alignment for HSR. No conspiracy theories, and no cabals of conniving real estate developers required.

    joe Reply:

    “Myth 11 Tejon Pass HSR costs about the same as Antelope Valley HSR”

    Hilarious – we’re now adding new constraints on HSR project.

    Let me be fact based and open minded.
    1.
    Construction costs are NOT to be recovered by the project – Proposition 1A forbids the State from using HSR revenue to pay back bonds. I don’t care which costs more if my goal is to operate on revenue. In fact I’d worry if the primary goal became building the lest expensive system.

    2. Cost of construction and ridership is at best independent. Probably positively correlated !! Building a system that attracts riders should not be the cheapest alignment. So myth 11 is irrelevant at best and minimizing cost can suppress ridership.

    3.
    You can’t make an argument about ridership using physics. There’s no numerical basis for arguing servicing Palmdale is going to cost ridership.

    4.
    The only private investor planned HSR system nearby is the proposed Las Vegas. The current alignment is more compatible with a interstate system at the cost of several additional minutes.

    Andrew Reply:

    @”Hilarious”: The last refuge of someone with an indefensible argument – sarcasm.

    joe Reply:

    Pick a number between 1 and 4.

    Operating revenues are by law disallowed to pay for the construction of the system. The cost differential between the alignments will not matter unless we mistakenly choose to couple them.

    Clem has decided they are to be coupled which is an added requirement/constraint/goal. It’s hilarious because in my professional experience I see this kind of feature creep all the time. And projects fail because of it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You’re misusing the term “feature creep.” Adding viaducts that don’t need to be there just so that Caltrain and HSR can be kept separate is feature creep. Value-engineering, which is what this is all about, isn’t.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    He’s also misusing the term “professional”.

    blankslate Reply:

    I don’t care which costs more

    Then you don’t care whether or not the project gets completed and California ever has an HSR system of any kind.

    Nathanael Reply:

    A “non-HSR” connection to Palmdale, if it is to go at reasonable speeds (rather than the tortuously slow speeds of the current Metrolink line), is going to consume the bulk of the costs of the Palmdale HSR route anyway.

    Most of the cost turns out to be in the San Gabriel Mountains (Soledad Canyon) crossing.

    This is the fundamental error in claims that Tejon will be much cheaper. If it actually allows you to avoid both the Techachapi Pass and the Soledad Canyon crossings, then yes, it might. It won’t; you’ll have to build the Soledad Canyon one anyway.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s going to be HSR speeds because people in Los Angeles want to get to Las Vegas…..

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Single-seat ride is extremely important to generating riders. A 10 or 15 minute penalty for going through the Antelope Valley is not a make-or-break for getting people onto the trains, especially when you consider rising oil prices and eventual carbon taxes will make flying uneconomical for most people. Clem argues that Tejon is a significant cost and time savings and those points are significant. But neither am I convinced yet that those factors should be decisive, especially when it comes to bypassing 500,000 people.

  4. Eric M
    Jun 16th, 2013 at 21:40
    #4

    Clem, that is a VERY nice analysis. Have you forwarded it to the rail authority? It definitely needs to be brought into the light again politically and now is the time with Bakersfield waffling and the proposed construction to end outside of Shafter.

    Posting it on this blog was a good idea as it has a wide reader base. Most people should understand, decisions are going to be political in huge projects such as this and that will not change. As much a people don’t like, the political game must be played in order for changes to be made.

    I respect people like you who make you case in order to dictate change for the better, unlike other groups who are just trying to create controversy to halt and ultimately kill the project.

    Nice job!!

    Donk Reply:

    Agreed, great work Clem. I hope someone outside of this blog reads it. Unfortunately it has too many facts. Thanks Robert for posting it.

  5. Matthew
    Jun 16th, 2013 at 21:49
    #5

    Thank you Clem, nice work.

  6. synonymouse
    Jun 16th, 2013 at 21:50
    #6

    Well done, Clem.

    Don’t get spooked by all the bs “they” are going to throw at you.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I should add Happy Fathers Day to all the fathers out there, whether they know it or not. Your posting capped a very nice day.

  7. datacruncher
    Jun 16th, 2013 at 22:13
    #7

    I recognize the maps are simply rough routings for discussion purposes.

    But two things struck me as I looked at the West of Bakersfield alignment as drawn:
    1) More likely a West Bakersfield station would be located a mile or so south of where shown, closer to the Stockdale Highway. That would place it near the new Freeway 58/Centennial Corridor alignment as shown on this map (you can see part of the cleared ROW on the Google map):
    http://www.bakersfieldfreeways.us/documents/TRIPProgramMap-Mar2012.pdf

    However, more interestingly:
    2) The proposed West of Bakersfield alignment as drawn on the map appears to cross part of the Kern Water Bank (KWB) land.
    http://www.kwb.org/store/files/4.pdf
    http://www.kwb.org/store/files/5.pdf

    The KWB is pretty much controlled (via water districts they control) by Stewart Resnick’s Paramount Farms along with, drumroll, Tejon Ranch. The KWB is supposed to be a major water supply source for Tejon Mountain Village.

    Clem Reply:

    Excellent points. The water bank issue is tough, since hewing closer to downtown Bakersfield starts to impact residential subdivisions. None of these people will want the roar of 220 mph trains in their backyard. Then again, the noise issue seems never to have stopped HSR planning in other locations…

    datacruncher Reply:

    Who knows if the Water Bank would be an issue or not, but some big, connected players are involved in it. It would take some investigating to see if crossing it would be a problem or not.

    But looking at the Bakersfield freeway plans there is the Westside Beltway planned as a 6 to 8 lane freeway to bypass 99 thru the city. It looks like that Beltway plan passes to the east of the Water Bank although it is near/thru some residential areas. Perhaps a straighter routing of it with HSR adjacent to jointly plan mitigation if crossing the Water Bank was a problem?

    Nathanael Reply:

    California water politics are whacked. And they’re only going to get weirder as the water supply dries up….

  8. Alon Levy
    Jun 16th, 2013 at 23:23
    #8

    Is there a way to get a little bit closer to Bakersfield, or would that require too much residential impact or too many great separations?

    Ted K. Reply:

    Alon, perhaps you meant “… or too many grade separations?”.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes. Sorry.

    datacruncher Reply:

    I did some checking on Bakersfield planning and growth this morning. Residential growth is already closing in on the location of Clem’s line.

    Bakersfield expanded its Sphere of Influence all the way to I-5, adding over 70,000 acres for future growth (Kern LAFCO approved the larger SOI in 2006). At the time they called it a 20 year growth need. Map of SOI and related article:
    http://www.bakersfieldcity.us/WEBLINK7/ElectronicFile.aspx?docid=991242&&dbid=0
    http://www.cp-dr.com/node/351

    There appear to already be streets cut within 1 mile of Clem’s route (a current project or perhaps a project that stopped in the housing bust?). Zoom into the Google map along Panama Lane to see the construction. Additionally there are many future already-vested subdivisions west of the city on this map (having the vesting also raises the values on currently empty land with it).
    http://www.bakersfieldcity.us/weblink7/0/doc/991245/Electronic.aspx

    Whether it is current or future residential, Bakersfield’s plans result in residential areas needing impact mitigation from nearly any route for a west of the city line.

    Nathanael Reply:

    If you put the Bakersfield station that far west — then the residential area is going to go even *further* west, while hollowing out on the east side of Bakersfield. Don’t encourage *more* sprawl just because there’s a lot of sprawl already.

    Joey Reply:

    Intelligent zoning can prevent sprawl. Not that I’d expect any intelligent decisions.

  9. Paul H.
    Jun 16th, 2013 at 23:25
    #9

    This proposal has multiple lawsuits attached to its implementation. The High-Speed Rail Authority is not going to go LOOKING for another lawsuit. I’m sorry Clem but your entire slide titled “One Slide on Politics” make assumptions about lawsuits from both Palmdale and Tejon Ranch that you must know will turn out exactly opposite from what you hope will be the case. There is more grounds for Palmdale to sue on Prop 1A then there is for Kings County to sue on Prop 1A. Kings County won’t win their court battle on Prop 1A grounds, but Palmdale probably will since its inclusion in the route is very specifically written into that law.

    That being said, I agree with you about the costs savings being more appealing to bring in private investment. Also, lowering the overall cost of high-speed rail will boost public opinion of the project across the board. I think a downtown alignment for Bakersfield is better than the outside of town alignment for the simple fact that it brings development for the city inward and not towards more sprawl which is what your alignment will bring (whether that’s your intention or not, it will bring more sprawl than the downtown alignment).

    At the end of the day, I think Palmdale is still the better choice. I honestly believe it’s more likely we’ll see Altamont happen instead of Pacheco than Tejon instead of Palmdale. Just the reality of politics in this state. Mark my words, if the alignment is switched to Tejon there will be lawsuits filled that have MUCH better grounds than the current Prop 1A lawsuit from Kings County. In the end, I don’t think the Authority will want to bring more lawsuits onto itself. I thank you Clem for your work here, it is quite excellent. It is a tough call with the apparent financial and time savings you have revealed here.

  10. VBobier
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 00:02
    #10

    Tejon Pass Elevation: 4,160′ (1,268 m)
    Tehachapi Pass Elevation: 3,793′ (1,156 m)

    Tejon Pass(Grapevine/i5 Fwy) Grade: 6% for 5 miles
    Tejon Pass Calculated Average Grade(i5 Fwy): 4.2%(No distance given)…
    Tehachapi Pass average grade(Post and link by: AlanF) of 2.85% over 20 miles
    Tehachapi Pass sustained grade of 3.3% over 8 miles…

    Tejon is still too steep for HSR or any train, all the railroads looked at it and surveyed the Tejon Pass and to this day NO Railroad uses Tejon Pass, only the Interstate 5 Freeway does…

    Difference in elevation: 367′(112m)
    Difference in cost(from what I remember posted here): $0.00

    EJ Reply:

    If only Clem had taken the time to put together a 75 page pdf that debunks every single one of these claims.

    VBobier Reply:

    It wouldn’t matter, Prop1a mandates HSR goes to and stops in Palmdale CA, so not going to Palmdale is an illegal act under State Law and the CA Constitution…

    And I don’t see that changing anytime soon, nor do I see HSR being revoted on as some wanted…

    So Clem, Synonymouse, Donk, etc, etc, have no leg to stand on, legally or otherwise, while Palmdale CA does, HSR will go to Palmdale CA no matter how much they all rant and rave, if you think 2 tracks are expensive in the Mountains, 4 tracks is even worse…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Does Prop 1A actually mandate Palmdale service?

    VBobier Reply:

    Be careful what you ask for Alon Levy, yes it is:
    Prop1a Ballot(Supplemental Voter Information Guide) as seen by the voters in 2008…

    VBobier Reply:

    Oh and that’s a PDF file in that link…

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Just remember: Prop 1A is Sacred Holy Writ. except when it isn’t.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Jerry & Co. are counting on the courts to nullify and void the provisos of Prop 1A far beyond the notion of changing to a cheaper route away from Palmdale.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not quite. The only mention of Palmdale is the following:

    the Legislature may appropriate funds described in paragraph (1) in the annual Budget Act, to be expended for any of the following high-speed train corridors:
    (A) Sacramento to Stockton to Fresno.
    (B) San Francisco Transbay Terminal to San Jose to Fresno.
    (C) Oakland to San Jose.
    (D) Fresno to Bakersfield to Palmdale to Los Angeles Union Station.
    (E) Los Angeles Union Station to Riverside to San Diego.
    (F) Los Angeles Union Station to Anaheim to Irvine.
    (G) Merced to Stockton to Oakland and San Francisco via the Altamont Corridor.

    Line (D) does not actually mandate a Tehachapis alignment. It is fine to connect Bakersfield directly to LA via Tejon and give Palmdale upgraded medium-speed service. The “Bakersfield to Palmdale to LA” language looks like it indicates it’s not fine, but let’s compare it with line (G): although the language there is “Merced to Stockton to Oakland/SF,” Altamont doesn’t connect Merced to the Bay Area via Stockton, since the wye is located between Modesto and Stockton. So the intent isn’t clearly to put Palmdale on the same line between Bakersfield and LA, but rather to serve Palmdale at the same time that Bakersfield-LA is built, for example by the tilting DMU that Clem’s presentation suggests.

    Notably, in subsection a of the same section, the ballot prop describes its intent to build,

    a high-speed train system that connects the San Francisco Transbay Terminal to Los Angeles Union Station and Anaheim, and links the state’s major population centers, including Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Central Valley, Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, Orange County, and San Diego

    Antelope Valley is not on the list at all.

    VBobier Reply:

    Antelope Valley is a part of Los Angeles County and since Prop1a is a bit vague, it can be stretched to include all of Los Angeles County. In any case this has been decided by the lawsuit and it landed in Palmdales favor, it’s over and done with and no one is going to vote on that either, short of a violent coup on state government, this won’t change, Clem, Syno de Bergerac, Donk, Drunk Engineer, Richard, etc, etc, can say that this should should be, well I got news for you all, I5/Tejon ain’t gonna happen, as that flies in the face of reality and continuing on this says one is delusional and should be committed when there is no hope of this being changed, but then there is the old saying or should I say taunt: You and whose Army is going to make this so? Cause that’s what it will take and it would have to be a violent overthrow of State Government and We all know that will NEVER happen…

    blankslate Reply:

    Antelope Valley is a part of Los Angeles County and since Prop1a is a bit vague, it can be stretched to include all of Los Angeles County.

    Wow…. just wow.

    Joey Reply:

    Heaven forbid we should skip Pasadena!

    Peter Reply:

    Holy shit, dude, take your meds!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Antelope Valley is a part of Los Angeles County and since Prop1a is a bit vague, it can be stretched to include all of Los Angeles County.

    Two things:

    1. The proposition does not state “Los Angeles County,” but “Los Angeles.” It is capable of stating “Los Angeles County,” as seen in its reference to “Orange County,” but it chose to specify the city only.

    2. The proposition does state “San Francisco Bay Area,” a large region that includes areas that are never going to be served by HSR, such as North Bay. So clearly not every subregion of Los Angeles or of Orange County is required to be served.

    Finally, re,

    You and whose Army is going to make this so?

    Don’t taunt when the state doesn’t have the money to complete the project yet and no clear, publicly stated plan for how to get it. If California had enough money to complete the IOS, then sure, it would build via Palmdale. But it doesn’t, and federal funding isn’t forthcoming from this Congress or (based on current generic ballot polls) from the next one. Clem’s right that potential private investors as well as foreign government investors are likely to demand a change to Tejon.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    the investors are likely to say “the market to Las Vegas makes the parts north of Union Station much cheaper on a per passenger basis if you go through Palmdale. “

    Andrew Reply:

    Nice work

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Thanks.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Alon, I’m pretty sure line (D) does mandate a Tehachapis alignment.

    Yes, it could be satisfied by a “medium-speed” connection from Palmdale to a trunk line… But it would have to connect not only to LA but also to Bakersfield. There’s no reasonable “wye” route to do so with a Tejon mainline since you can’t run along the tippy-tops of the mountains.

    Worse, even if you ignore the requirement to connect Palmdale to both Bakersfield and LA, the expensive part of the Palmdale route turns out to be the mountain crossing from Palmdale to the San Fernando Valley. And the existing Metrolink route doesn’t even qualify as medium-speed.

    In short, this was written this way for a reason. That reason was to serve Palmdale. There is a long list of politicos lined up behind service to Palmdale. If you really want to not serve Palmdale, well, yeah, honestly, I’m OK with not serving Palmdale, but there’s 27 politicians you have to convince first.

    The extremely honest Parsons Brinkerhoff report listed the governments and agencies which were openly backing a Palmdale route, and stated outright that that was the reason why a Tejon route was not worth further consideration. I read it.

    Joey Reply:

    Yes, obviously HSR would be following I-5 exactly. Did you read the post?

    VBobier Reply:

    It is still not legal to bypass Palmdale as the Supplemental Voter Information Guide above says Palmdale is a part of the HSR system. Tejon is too steep for any train, Tejon would need loops and/or switchbacks to climb a 6% grade, besides I know where Tejon is and that Interstate 5 crosses it, I’m a native Californian who was born in Los Angeles County, nuff said.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Did you look at Clem’s alignment and elevation profile at all? No loops, no switchbacks, just a few tunnels and it adheres to 3.5% and 4 km radius.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And he points out the as yet unpinpointed optimum route could be even sweeter.

    Brown should straightaway order PB to study the best Tejon alignment without any a priori constraints. They can still have their boondoggle but the dissidents will have been accorded the recognition that an inferior route was selected for political reasons. Transparency

    VBobier Reply:

    Oh and so the 6% grade on Tejon just doesn’t exist? 4K radius, sounds loopy to Me… I’ve laid track and I’ve seen how steep the area is compared to Tehachapi pass, it’s cause of a change in elevation of the valley floor, the Valley is lower in relation to Sea Level at Tejon than at Tehachapi, cause Tehachapi is closer to the Sierra Nevada mountain range than Tejon is.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Clem’s report lists 3.5% as the maximum gradient vs. 3.3% at Tehachapi.

    VBobier Reply:

    Tejon short of force, is not going to have HSR there, you simply don’t have the support to make it so and you can’t make it a matter of law either Syno…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    6% grade on I-5 exists, to avoid tunnels. Clem’s alignment has tunnels. That’s why there are bends in the line – a straightaway would be too steep.

    4,000 meters, 13,000 feet, is not loopy at all. It’s still the standard for new-build Shinkansen, it’s the standard for the older TGV lines, and it’s actually a bit looser than the curves on one of the German HSR lines. To put things in perspective, the bad parts of the Connecticut NEC are about 500 meters; the bad parts of California’s legacy lines, including the Antelope Valley Line, are 175.

    VBobier Reply:

    Clem is dreaming, Tejon has never had any rail and where would the tunnels be in relation to the fault lines? Has Clem done this with more than guess work and MS Paint? He can blog all He wants, Tejon will never have any HSR tracks… He can say that until Hell Freezes over, it ain’t gonna happen, no matter how much He and a few others want it, period.

    Joey Reply:

    Clem shows exactly where the fault lines would be in relation to the HSL. If you think it’s incorrect it’s easy to verify. Again, read the post.

    VBobier Reply:

    And Clems unauthorized route will go through an area with at least 2 fault lines, it’s steep and steep is expensive, tunnels or not, where as Tehachapi goes only across one fault line. Clems route is also not buildable since Santa Clarita will not cooperate and Palmdale has already sued and won, this route is a dead duck, no money will be spent or HSR track laid in Tejon…

    Peter Reply:

    Unsubstantiated claim about cost, wildly incorrect claim about number of fault lines, speculation about Santa Clarita, gross misunderstanding of the outcome of Palmdale’s suit. Anything I missed?

  11. Andrew
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 01:29
    #11

    Truly excellent post, and sincere kudos to Robert for posting it in the public interest despite its contradicting his own (previous?) views. Huge credit to Robert – this is exactly what this blog should be about.

    The author is bothersomely hyperbolic and bluff-authoritative in places (“The Truth about Tejon”, “there simply won’t ever be any private investment”, “when it comes to math and physics, the numbers don’t lie”, “smart HSR supporters”, etc.), but on the whole he deserves huge credit and I can only hope that people with influence will pay attention to his meticulous report. I completely agree with the overall thrust of it and especially the point that this whole decision process needs to be subject to re-examination by private investors. If private investors are not part of the decisionmaking process on the route, we are likely to make major mistakes that will reduce the long-term value generated by this investment.

    In the same spirit as the author, I have a couple of suggestions to share that I think should not be overlooked:

    1) Location of West Bakersfied Station
    In my view, the station should be around the junction with Highway 119, not 58: first, because there will presumably be more HSR traffic between Bakersfield and Socal than Norcal, and second, because a station on 119 would be part of any I-5 route as well (see red line in map below).

    2) Tejon Base Tunnel
    I suggest the author need not worry about the steep grades, bridges, and various tunnels. Just take all that money, and a bunch more, and build one, flat, 32-mile base tunnel at 500m elevation, and use that to shift a large portion of N-S/S-N freight hauling from truck to rail. This investment would permanently change the state’s geography in favor of the cheap movement of goods and people, and drastically reduce energy consumption and labor for N-S freight hauling. See the black line here:
    https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=205242278980764848338.0004cee1ca9342ce961c8&msa=0&ll=35.146863,-119.256592&spn=5.056486,9.876709

    To make this work for freight, build one electrified trunk freight line down thru the Central Valley to LA and Ports of LA/LB. In combination with the other regular HSR lines shown and additional feeder lines, this would allow electrified freight transportation at or below 500m elevation throughout urbanized California. Yes, 32 miles is a lot of tunneling, but with this one tunnel we can permanently solve two big problems at once.

    The Palmdale connection to Vegas is immaterial because the Vegas line, if it is built, should instead pass thru Inland Empire and northern Orange County on the way to LAUS, as shown above. And I for one hope that it is NOT built, as a casino train runs against the long-term interests of the people and State of California. Let Nevada return to sand!

    The Antelope Valley would be more than adequately served by ACE-style service to LAUS with transfer service to HSR at Santa Clarita or Sylmar. They don’t need the entire system to make a detour in order to speed up their relatively short trip to LAUS, and for longer trips they can easily transfer to HSR, without having it blaze through their communities. And as the author points out, conventional service would be a lot cheaper for them.

    Obviously a Tejon base tunnel would eliminate all of the Tejon-area impacts that have given CHSRA pause. It would and even compared with the author’s Tejon surface route would allow trains to move much faster, along a much straighter route, and using considerably less energy. My extremely rough and amateurish calculations suggest that the difference in travel time between a Tejon base tunnel (straight, low, flat) and a Tejon surface route (windy and climbing) would be about as great as that between a Tejon surface route and the Palmdale route.

    Again, many thanks to Clem and Robert for this great post.

    synonymouse Reply:

    3 instantaneous off the top problems with a 30 mile base tunnel:

    1. It would necessarily intersect with the 2 east-west faults.

    2. Sticker shock would be killer.

    3. 20 year ETA.

    Andrew Reply:

    1. There’s plenty of tunneling in Clem’s proposal too – perhaps across these same faults?

    2. I’m suggesting this is a long-term favorable investment and the cost of the alternative (bridges, tunnels, ascent & descent, longer route) is comparably high

    3. Let’s get started. Also, see #1.

    Thanks to Clem, today is a good day for Tejon proponents, and Syn deserves much credit for working many months to keep the flame burning. If we do indeed get to move on to Tejon as a first option, I hope the base tunnel option will get a full airing out, just as Clem is giving to the Tejon surface option now. If it ultimately does not make sense, we’ll be that much more certain that we’re making the right choice.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Clem’s primary critique of the PB study is that it added gratuitous tunneling to bloat costs.

    Furthermore he indicates that speeds at the crest will be such that mitigation – vastly, vastly cheaper than tunneling – will work well.

    The wildcard here is extreme and crazy NIMBYism in the TMV boardroom. Morris is a rabid hsr foamer by comparison to these apparent dinosaurs.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    1. There’s plenty of tunneling in Clem’s proposal too – perhaps across these same faults?

    If only somebody had created a 75 page document that provided detailed and ready answers to such blathering questions.

    Andrew Reply:

    OK, OK, I confess I did not read the entire thing. I was just making a quick reply and crowd sourcing the answer rather than pretending I knew it, like most contributors this blog. Since you insist that asking others if they know is a ‘blathering question’, I have checked myself and can now say that the base tunnel would avoid teh fault convergence zone, just like Clem’s route. It would not cross all faults at grade, of course, but then neither would the AV route.

    VBobier Reply:

    So what are you waiting for? Go sue CA to have this route made the one to build, oh what’s that? You need money to sue with? And you don’t have two nickels to do this with, well then since this design is unconstitutional since Prop1a is a part of the CA Constitution and Palmdale is mentioned as having HSR, then this route as drawn is ILLEGAL and unbuildable claptrap… It will not see one red cent of money, period and there is nothing you can do short of suing the CHSRA to force the issue and that isn’t going to happen as you’d 1st have to overturn the Palmdale decision which has now set precedent in the courts and I think that would require a majority to overturn, doubt that will happen either… Unsupported Innuendo will not help either, you’d also need an engineering firm to confirm this and on the back of a paper napkin does not qualify, not even close, since peoples lives would be at stake.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I welcome posts from anyone who supports this high speed rail project in California. Posts are welcome even if they criticize aspects of the current project, but they need to be constructive, and Clem’s post here is an excellent example of how to do that.

    I was agnostic on Altamont versus Pacheco – I would have been fine had Altamont been chosen instead. I will admit to being a bit more biased toward Palmdale here only because I am generally opposed to bypassing population centers, but I would not oppose Tejon if it were built along the lines Clem describes.

    Nathanael Reply:

    You should oppose any proposal which bypasses Bakersfield that far west. Clem really does not understand urban planning.

    The rest of Clem’s Tejon plan — omitting the Bakersfield bypass and instead running up 99 to a station somewhere a lot nearer to downtown Bakersfield — is viable from an urban planning perspective. It is politically hopeless because Palmdale has a lot of political support behind it, and Palmdale *would* be omitted forever if Tejon was built. (Now, perhaps Palmdale should be omitted forever and there should be more nature preserve in the High Desert. I could be convinced. But I doubt the LA politicos could be convinced.)

  12. Emma
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 02:45
    #12

    Let me sum up the Xpress West debacle.

    1. Let’s propose super-cheap HSR line so that we get support.
    2. Plan from Vegas to nowhere in CA hoping that California will pay the other mile.
    3. ???
    4. Profit.

    In a perfect world where the federal government covers half of the bill, Palmdale would have been a non-issue. But, this is reality. Unless CHSRA finds ways to save $5 billion and 12 minutes of travelling time at other sections of the project, it should be Tejon.

    bixnix Reply:

    If Xpress West pays for track usage and Reid finds $5B more under his mattress, would that change your mind? It would help pay for maintenance on the portion of the track that needs the most upkeep. Trains to the Central Valley will probably happen, too – helping to cover Tehachapi pass. It would also save more than 12 minutes for folks going to/from Vegas (which a lot of people do).

    Not that I’m all in favor of Tehachapi … but it can have some advantages.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Note that AFAIK none of the moguls – Wynn and Adelson most notably – have fronted any money for this project. They are old hands and have better use for their money.

    But by all means build it – the foamers simply cannot conceive of hsr failing – they need an object lesson in fiscal reality.

  13. wdobner
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 04:28
    #13

    Shouldn’t this be called The Opinion About Tejon? The entire premise of the argument is that there is some cabal dedicated to keeping Tejon Ranch free of an HSL, despite there being no direct evidence that this is the case. There are plenty of other areas the CHSRA has avoided which do not arouse the same paranoid claims.

    And even if the CHSRA is kowtowing to a politically powerful developer, so what? You claim some tremendous cost to the state, but even that isn’t clear. Your numbers are extremely optimistic for the Tejon alignment while being overly conservative for Tehachapi. You’re doing exactly what you accuse the CHSRA of doing to obfuscate the issue.

    But more importantly, why would we concern ourselves with express travel times at this point? The CHSRA is unlikely to operate a train between San Fran and LA before 2030. For at least five years the CHSRA’s operating contractor will have to try to turn an operating surplus on the IOS. If that IOS avoids Palmdale, whiffs on Bakersfield, and lacks a Hanford station it will *never* carry enough passengers and thus garner enough revenue to generate that surplus. We’ll be looking to serve only Los Angeles and Fresno directly. That is a recipe for empty trains, and empty trains will see the Northern mountain crossing, be it Pacheco or Altamont, canceled.

    If you want the northern end of the IOS to be stranded in the Central Valley then Tejon is undoubtedly the way to go. But if you want a completed project then it is essential to emphasize ridership and revenue from local trains early in the project. It doesn’t matter whether the express between SF and LA will take 2:40 hrs, 3 hours, or even 3:30hrs if the project is canceled before the project gets to the Bay to Basin stage.

    Clem Reply:

    Your numbers are extremely optimistic for the Tejon alignment while being overly conservative for Tehachapi

    I should point out that the profile data backing up Myths #2 and #3 was produced by an algorithm with no tweaking of any results. An algorithm is neither optimistic nor conservative.

    Tunnel lengths are not the province of opinion.

    wdobner Reply:

    Tunnel lengths are not the province of opinion.

    When your engineering analysis begins with “Because of conspiracy…” everything that follows thereafter is opinion regardless of whether the numbers are grounded in reality.

    Joey Reply:

    Okay, where specifically do you disagree?

    wdobner Reply:

    Start with “Myth” 1. The case is not made that TMV has exerted undo influence on the process. If that is not the case, then the CHSRA’s analysis cannot be dismissed nearly as easily as so many of the contributors here seem to have no problem accepting. It’s easy to look for bogeymen responsible for whatever problems we perceive with the project, but we’ve reached the point where these conspiracy theories rival those involving JFK.

    But in dismissing out of hand the political consequences of bypassing Palmdale, who have shown their willingness to defend their inclusion on the HSL through litigation, Clem shows that he is somewhat lacking in comprehension of the politics in Southern California. Except that the basis of his argument that the CHSRA Tejon study was flawed rests on his being a canny observer of the same politics. And if he is wrong about the politics involved in depriving Palmdale then what are the chances this elaborate conspiracy theory regarding Tejon is any way correct?

    And if the political observations that underpin the case are likely flawed, then how can the math be trusted?

    Clem Reply:

    I never claimed political influence. I merely pointed out that in avoiding TMV (as stated in the I-5 study), certain consequences are incurred that cost more than the entire market cap of the Tejon Ranch Company. Those facts are easy to establish and are laid out in detail.

    You will be hard-pressed to find the word “conspiracy” anywhere in my post, maps, or slides.

  14. Peter
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 07:36
    #14

    Clem, quick question. In PB’s study used to admittedly sandbag Tejon, they constrained viaduct height to less than 150 feet, I believe. At the same time, I think the Tehachapi “New T3” had a viaduct height greater than 200 feet. How high would viaduct height be in your proposal.

    Clem Reply:

    New T3 has lower viaducts than the other options. You can measure height in Google Earth. Right-click the ‘Top of rail’ element, and click ‘Get Elevation Profile’. Then find your viaduct, and measure its height on the elevation profile vs. height of terrain in the main window.

  15. Realist
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 11:27
    #15

    Thank you Clem, if only you were in charge. And, thank you Robert for posting it.

    I like the idea of trying to get the private capital people involved early in the design process, so if there are decisions as clear cut as this appears there would be much less chance for silliness.

  16. rafael
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 13:13
    #16

    @Clem –

    Very nice analysis, but allow me to sound two notes of caution.

    1) Earthquake risk: the Garlock fault did produce a 5.7 quake near the town of Mojave in 1992, probably an aftershock of the Landers quake two weeks earlier. Some sections of the fault feature aseismic creep and are therefore unlikely to experience major sudden unloading. Other sections, especially the one close to the intersection with the San Andreas near Tejon Pass, are locked and therefore accumulating stress.

    There was also a substantial quake on the White Wolf fault along the northern foothills of the Transverse Range in 1952. It’s epicenter was located between Bakersfield and Tejon Pass.

    http://www.sjvgeology.org/geology/bakersfield_earthquake.html

    Does that mean a Tejon Pass alignment would be at greater seismic risk, or at a lower one? Unfortunately, no-one really knows. Earthquakes often happen in swarms, with unloading in one part of a fault complex accelerating stress accumulation in another. The individual events can be anywhere from days to decades apart, each with its own set of aftershocks. In some cases, swarming is focused on secondary faults running perpendicular to the primary one. In others, the epicenters are located along the primary fault (e.g. the North Anatolian Fault in Turkey, also a slip-strike type). Many fault systems are incompletely understood, e.g. to what extent are quakes along the White Wolf fault and the Garlock/San Andreas complex linked?

    In any event, I’d be careful not to make overly sweeping statements about the risk of future major events on any California fault or complex. The truth is, the best scientists can do right now is provide estimates of the risk that a certain event might occur in the next e.g. 30 years, based on their current – incomplete – understanding of the geology and state of accumulated stress.

    I do agree that expensive underground “fault chambers” are best avoided by choosing alignments that cross faults at grade. It’s much easier to rescue passengers and crew from a stricken train that way and, repairs to a damaged rail line can be completed much sooner and at lower cost. This argument also applies to the Hayward/Calaveras fault system in the East Bay, which all of the Altamont Pass alternatives would have had to cross in some manner – and to the Ortigalita fault near Pacheco Pass, the San Gabriel fault near Santa Clarita etc.

    2) Another issue the tunneling workshop considered but that appears to be absent from your homebrew analysis is pockets of underground water, oil and/or natural gas in fault systems. You may not have access to that data (to the extent it is already known at all) nor to the tools that can take it into account for alignment optimization. That’s ok, but you may want to hedge your conclusion that Pacheco is both technically feasible but much better than the currently preferred AV route. Poorly managed risks have a way of coming back to haunt engineers and construction crews, cp. Valle del Abdelais (AVE Madrid-Malaga) or the South Pacific Coast Railway’s tunnels through the Santa Cruz mountains.

    VBobier Reply:

    And the fact is these “fault chambers” could possibly collapse during or after an earthquake and anyone inside reduced to crushed meat pudding… I’d rather be far away from the locked section of the San Andreas fault, the wolf fault and the garlock fault, over in Tehachapi Pass instead, instead of doing major rebuilding in Tejon Pass after every last Quake there and any washouts from the reservoirs that are located in the area, then HSR would have to be rebuilt from the ground up, no exception as the ground would have changed…

    Tehachapi Pass has no reservoirs last I looked and I’ve seen the map and driven through both areas, so I do know, Tejon is too much of a gamble and too dangerous and unbuildable cause of both Santa Clarita and Palmdale and I’d think they’d team up to stop any Tejon route, Oh that’s right, there was already a lawsuit, Tejon as a result is DEAD…

    Joey Reply:

    The updated Tehachapi alignment crosses faults below grade, while Clem’s alignment does not. This is all covered in the post.

    Nathanael Reply:

    More specifically, the Soledad Canyon alignment crosses a fault below grade.

    Tehachapi Pass is easy. The problem is actually Palmdale to LA.

    Clem Reply:

    Correct. For about the same investment as building HSR to Palmdale, you can build HSR directly to Sylmar, and that will do wonders for the IOS.

    Clem Reply:

    Those of you interested in the geography of faults in southern California can overlay these nice KML files provided by the USGS.

    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/hazards/qfaults/google.php

    In Google Earth, you can see how these interact with the various HSR alignments.

  17. Nathanael
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 13:50
    #17

    I realize you don’t know anything about population geography. But allow me to point out two things:
    (1) Tejon screws the Vegas HSR project, which then has no route into LA.
    (2) If you don’t give Bakersfield a downtown station, but you put a Bakersfield station way out somewhere, you are encouraging sprawl. If you don’t give Bakersfield a downtown station, you might as well not give Bakersfield a station at all.

    I also urge you to read Rafael’s comment about the geotechnical risks.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The problem is that all the geotechnical risks they were afraid of with the Tehachapis actually happened, because of the need to tunnel through Soledad Canyon. Back in 2008 Tehachapi seemed less risky, but based on today’s state of knowledge it’s not.

    Nathanael Reply:

    *Tehachapi* is less risky. *Soledad Canyon* is worse.

    The thing is, everyone in the SoCal political world is determined to provide better Palmdale to LA service. Don’t ask me why. Given that, they have to do something to get from Palmdale to LA.

    I personally would propose thinking outside the box — trying to find a different route from Palmdale to LA, so that “medium speed service” would be doable. The Devil’s Punchbowl route hasn’t been examined carefully, though it’s probably terrible. Honestly, would it be best to just go all the way around to Cajon Pass? Or perhaps a route following CA-138 out of Tejon Pass?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Honestly, Palmdale’s not important enough for more than minor track realignment, double-track passing segments, and maybe electrification. The problem with these exurban commuter rail projects is that to the extent people ride them, they just induce more sprawl – instead of driving an hour and a half to LA, people might drive half an hour to Palmdale and then take a train for an hour. The required investment in suburban rail is the kind that helps densify inner suburbs.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    1. Screwing over the Vegas project is a net plus.
    2. Bakersfield doesn’t have an actual downtown and, unless it massively up zoned, would sprawl regardless if people and businesses decided to locate there due to HSR.

    Nathanael Reply:

    (1) Matter of opinion, can’t argue with that.
    (2) Going 20 miles west of downtown Bakersfield will make the sprawl problem substantially worse.

    To show that I’m being fair here, I will propose a Tejon route which actually does have a Bakerfield station — which would be OK.
    (1) Run up SR-99 from Tejon into Bakersfield. Run down the median of the highway. They seem to love widening highways around there, and the noise issues are insignificant where there is already a highway. For the conspiracy theorists, there’s lots of concrete to pour modifying or replacing all those highway overpasses.
    (2) Fly out of the highway median onto an elevated alignment (ooh, more concrete pouring!) and curve west just south of the railyard. You’ll have to buy a number of hotels and fast food chains, as well as a few office buildings. Then fly over the river and rejoin the CHSRA planned alignment.
    (3a) Locate the station near the intersection of CA-99 and CA-58. There are available vacant lots nearby, and it is in fact in Bakersfield.
    (3b) Or locate the station near the parking wasteland (uh, mall) near Ming Avenue.
    (3c) Or locate the station south of White Lane.
    Whichever you do, you’re locating the station *in the actual city* rather than in farmland, and you don’t need many if any residential properties.

    Nathanael Reply:

    In short, bypassing Bakersfield discredits Clem’s proposal. Which is silly because there’s a perfectly good Bakersfield-Tejon route.

    Clem Reply:

    So we can agree on something, at least.

    The only issue with downtown is that it adds miles, and miles add minutes.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Re 2, it’s an empirical question: have edge-of-urban-area stations promoted more sprawl in France and Japan? That is, is there more suburban sprawl near e.g. Aix-en-Provence TGV?

    Nathanael Reply:

    To the degree to which this depends on zoning law, we can’t consider places with different land use laws to be a comparable experiment, unfortunately. :-P

    That said: it sure looks like it has to me. Also, don’t get confused by the scale difference; Aix-en-Provence TGV is closer to the various urban areas there than Clem’s alignment is to Bakersfield.

    wdobner Reply:

    We do not have their zoning laws. If you’d like to come down from the ivory tower Vancouver to help fix Southern California’s zoning laws then by all means, I’m sure they’d really value your input.

  18. thatbruce
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 16:06
    #18

    @Clem:

    Myth #6 seems to be driven by the windfarms off Oak Creek Rd west of Mojave and associated power lines around the area, all of which can be seen from SR-58 as you drive west from Mojave.

    Clem Reply:

    There doesn’t seem to be a plan to supply the area between Bakersfield and Tehachapi. This remains a gap in the CA grid, mostly because there isn’t anything that needs power around there.

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