Judge Declines to Block HSR Construction – For Now

Aug 16th, 2013 | Posted by

Judge Michael Kenny made his long awaited ruling in the case brought by Central Valley high speed rail opponents – and it’s not good. Judge Kenny finds that the California High Speed Rail Authority violated Proposition 1A by not identifying all the funds needed to construct the Initial Operating Segment and by not getting all environmental clearances completed. Judge Kenny is not blocking HSR construction, however, but that issue is not yet settled.

Here’s the nut of Judge Kenny’s ruling:

Having exercised its independent judgment in this matter as authorized by law, the Court concludes that the Authority abused its discretion by approving a funding plan that did not comply with the requirements of law. Specifically, the identification of the sources of all funds to be invested in the IOS and the certification regarding completion of necessary project level environmental clearances did not comply with the requirements set forth in the plain language of Section 2704.08(c)(2), subsections (D) and (K).

Judge Kenny goes on to argue that Prop 1A required funds to be identified for the entire Initial Operating Segment (Merced to Los Angeles, or San Francisco to Bakersfield), not just the Initial Construction segment (near Fresno). He said that funds had been identified for the latter but not the former – and by “identified” he meant something very specific:

the identification of funds must be based on a reasonable present expectation of receipt on a projected date, and not merely a hope or possibility that such funds may become available.

Judge Kenny’s findings on the environmental clearances issue is similar, saying that while the Authority met the standard for the Initial Construction Segment, Prop 1A requires them to be met for an Initial Operating Segment.

In other words, Judge Kenny appears to be rejecting the idea that anything other than an Initial Operating Segment meets the standard under Prop 1A, that the concept of an “Initial Construction Segment” won’t be sufficient.

So the CHSRA has lost on the merits, that much is clear. And while I don’t agree with Judge Kenny’s ruling, the question is now what effect this will have on the project.

Judge Kenny did not invalidate the Legislature’s July 2012 approval of the release of the Prop 1A bond funds, as the plaintiffs had asked. He pointed out that there is no remedy for the Authority’s non-compliance when it comes to the Legislature – basically, if the Legislature says the Authority’s plan is OK, it’s OK.

He also said he will not provide a blanket invalidation of future action by the Authority to approve funding and therefore approve construction. But he does leave open the possibility that he might block a specific action by the Authority – perhaps an authorization to a contractor to proceed to construction, but that’s my own speculation. A hearing will be held to determine what happens as a result of this ruling.

What we do know is that the California high speed rail project, and the CHSRA, are being held responsible for the actions of Congressional Republicans. It is they who are blocking further federal funding for high speed rail, jeopardizing the federal contributions identified in the 2012 Business Plan – exactly the shortcoming that Judge Kenny used as the centerpiece of his ruling. Republican obstruction has serious consequences, as anyone suffering from the sequester knows. This ruling may well be a big victory for that Republican strategy.

The loser, then, isn’t the Authority but the thousands of Central Valley residents who are being denied jobs by their Congressional representatives who are blocking further funding.

Lawyers and policymakers will parse the ruling in the hours and days to come. The outcome may not be so bad. Judge Kenny ruled against the Authority before, siding with HSR critics in an August 2009 ruling. Yet he did not meaningfully block the project’s progress, allowing the Authority to continue working on the project as they revised the EIR to address the judge’s concerns. It’s possible that Judge Kenny will again allow the Authority to proceed while they find a remedy.

But this ruling is a much more serious threat to the project. The clock is already ticking on the stimulus funds, which must be spent by September 2017. That’s four short years away. The HSR project can handle a few more months of delay, but probably not much beyond that. And while an EIR can be amended and revised, it will be harder to come up with a solid source for the other funds needed to complete the Initial Operating Segment should Judge Kenny and other appeals courts insist on that.

Ultimately the real effect of this ruling may well be that HSR supporters begin to write off the possibility of meaningful federal funding in the near future and seek to identify other sources. As long as the House of Representatives is in Republican hands HSR, along with numerous other major projects, agencies, institutions, and even the American economy as a whole remain in jeopardy. California can pay for HSR itself – and today’s ruling may make it urgent for Sacramento to begin going down that path.

UPDATE: Juliet Williams of the AP adds that the judge may defer to the Legislature on whether the funding plan is sufficient:

Kenny said the agency did not comply with either of those mandates, but Proposition 1A appears to leave it up to lawmakers to decide whether the funding plan is sufficient to warrant funding….

Deputy Attorney General Michele Inan, who represented the rail authority in court, had argued that lawmakers who evaluated the business plan determined that the funding identified to date “was sufficient for the state to take the risk to invest an initial sum of money.”

The issues raised in the judge’s ruling are not new and were well known to the Legislature when they made their decision in July 2012. If the judge leaves it up to the Legislature to act on any remedies, then it may turn out that the ruling has no teeth. But we will see what happens.

  1. Paul H.
    Aug 16th, 2013 at 19:34

    I hate to say this, but Tejon Pass might have to happen to save this project.

    That’s coming from a grassroots supporter that believes HSR can be a catalyst to a transportation revolution in this state and possibly others.

    Plain and simple we need to find the $30-35 billion it’s going to take to get the IOS running. There’s only three ways that’s going to happen. 1) A private investor or foreign country invests in the IOS and takes a cut of operational profits for decades. 2) The State passes another ballot proposition funding the rest of the IOS. 3) The Federal Government funds the IOS.

    We know one of those options will take at least 2 or 3 more election cycles, at which point who knows where the world is in terms of the converging catastrophes in energy, the environment, and the economy. The longer this goes on the much more likely there is no funding of any kind for electric transportation infrastructure that this country is thus screwed. So, number 3 is probably out. Will take too long.

    Number 1 is likely our best bet now. The sooner we can make private investment happen, the more likely we can use the money we currently have. Politically, I expect Democrats are going to fight for HSR, particularly because of how much was sacrificed just to get this far. Which leads me to my dark horse candidate, Number 2….

    If over the next year we see MAJOR volatility in the energy sectors (i.e. gas prices shoot higher than ever before) than there may be the political capital to fund this through the state. Again, this kind of shock to the system would widen the field of different kinds of thinking, especially around transportation.

    “In the end, America always does the right thing.” -Winston Churchill

    It’s only a matter of time before people wake up about oil and transportation in general, but likely it will have to get a lot worst before we get there.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I do not think Jerry has the moxie at this point to do a reset. So stupid to have fired Van Ark. We would have a backup and be so much farther along.

    I suggest a new Governor may be the only way to place a revised and improved plan before the voters. Basically Musk’s route but state of the art hsr tech.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Neither Musk’s route nor Tejon would provide the cost savings to get the IOS built under Judge Kenny’s rules, not under present conditions. The answer is for California to stop waiting for Congress and start charting its own course on HSR.

    Clem Reply:

    We don’t just need cost savings, we need more funding. Tejon would greatly increase the likelihood of deep-pocketed private investors coming to the table. California can’t afford the Antelope Valley detour.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB481

    Add in the fact that nullifying the EIR and bond issuance also reverts the 950 million in Prop 1a funds and allows them to select IOS North instead of South and be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I suggest that a concrete plan to connect Norcal and Socal via Tejon on the optimal alignment with a complete financing scheme can be sold to the voters. We need a third rail connection and this is not something out of the blue; the Santa Fe had it fully visualized exactly a century ago.

    But no private rr had that kind of construction capital then or now. Only in the halcyon days before internal combustion. And don’t forget LA was a sleepy village at that time.

    VBobier Reply:

    Agreed Robert, but as has been mentioned CA needs more funding, an oil extraction tax of the right size would help, if it were targeted to more than just HSR, like to local passenger rail, to highways and to local roads that need repaving and not just a slurry seal, roads in this area are just old patched together fragments really. If I thought a tax on Stock Market transactions was worth it, I’d say yes to that too, but I don’t know if that would work in CA or not, then there is CA’s traditional funding(non taxes), which is bonds, I’d go for them if an oil extraction tax paid for the bonds, otherwise I’m not in favor of bonds being used. Of course the legislature could also get rid of the 2/3rds requirement for infrastructure, which tends to kill quicker completion of needed transportation projects like over in Los Angeles, make it an easier to reach level of maybe 53% instead.

    Emmanuel Reply:

    Didn’t Van Ark suggest that the system would need $90 billion? If Van Ark would still be there, people would have repealed CHSR in another ballot referendum. Not even I can get behind this sum. Might as well invest in an “electric” highway and plants that filter the pollution.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And he was just right about on target. LA to San Diego is going to be expensive, but has to be.

  2. morris brown
    Aug 16th, 2013 at 19:35

    Robert, your title to this thread is nothing more than AMAZING, and completely miss-leading.

    Your title should read

    Judge rules against the CHSRA — remedy for non-compliance with Prop 1A to be determined after further hearing.

    The Judge has for now not issued a writ, because

    Based on its finding that the funding plan did not comply with the requirements of Section 2704.08(c)(2), the Court is satisfied that issuance of a writ of mandate directing the Authority to rescind its approval of the November 3, 2011 funding plan may, as a matter of abstract right, be an available remedy in this case. However, the Court is not yet convinced that invalidation of the funding plan, by itself, would be a remedy with any real, practical effect. Unless the writ also invalidated the legislative appropriation for the high-speed rail program or subsequent approvals (such as contracts) made in furtherance of the program, issuance of the writ would have no substantial or practical impact on the program. As a matter of general principle, a writ will not issue to enforce a mere abstract right, without any substantial or practical benefit to the petitioner.

    Thus the Judge is withholding, at the present time, the issuance of a writ, because he is worried it may not have any practical effect and would not benefit the petitioners.

    It is quite clear, the business plan is not in compliance with Prop 1A, and the need for the 2sd funding plan as required might well the the path to prevent Prop 1A funds from being expended.

    In any case, this is a clear loss for the Authority. Put whatever spin on this you want, the ruling will have serious consequences for the project.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    It’s not misleading at all. It’s completely accurate.

    VBobier Reply:

    With a writ that could be essentially worthless? I doubt there will be any consequences, but then I don’t know if any Judge in CA has ever told the CA legislature what to do and I doubt any will, anytime soon.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Which is why Judge Kenny declined to do so.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    But he can enjoin the authority from spending the money without any problem whatsoever and judges do that all the time

    Alan Reply:

    Judge Kenny has shown absolutely no hesitance in other HSR cases to issue writs where there clearly is a need to do so and a remedy to be gained. The fact that he did not do so here, and his explanation, indicate that he really sees no way to issue a writ, but needs a more complete record before issuing a final ruling.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Conversely you expect him to rule they broke the law but do nothing to stop or correct them?

    VBobier Reply:

    Judges can’t tell or prohibit a legislature from Spending, so a writ will not happen and the project will go on, however He can advise the legislature that funding for HSR from the State of CA is needed, like from an oil extraction tax of 25% per barrel of oil and gas that comes out of the ground with rules in place on fracking that says all fracking fluids must be harmless to underground water supplies…

    Resident Reply:

    The judge can advise the legislature? That’s hilarious.

    The judge does not even need to address the legislature in order to stop the spending.. The legislature is not the one making the commitments and spending the money. The CHSRA is entering in to contracts and spending the money (legislature just gave them the permission.) The judge does not even HAVE to address the legislature’s permission to spend. The judge certainly can put an injunction on the CHSRA from committing any money until they are in compliance with the law.

    The judge can advise the legislature…. that’s just awesome.

  3. Eric Knight
    Aug 16th, 2013 at 19:53

    It pains me to say this but I think the judge made the right call.

    The current implementation of the CHSA is not what was presented to the voters in Prop 1A.

    Not only are the funding and environmental reviews not in place per Prop 1A. The current ride time planned from Los Angeles to San Francisco is much longer than what was promised in Prop 1A and the cost is double what was presented in Prop 1A.

    The congressional Republicans have nothing to do with these failures.

    Derek Reply:

    The current ride time planned from Los Angeles to San Francisco is much longer than what was promised in Prop 1A…

    What’s the current ride time planned for Phase 1 Full?

    …and the cost is double what was presented in Prop 1A.

    Inflation’s a pain, isn’t it?

    VBobier Reply:

    It was a rough estimate, it was never expected to be anything else, since no one in their right minds would say without engineering and contracts what phase 1 would cost in total, also the cost initially went up to $43 Billion because they were told to use YOE dollars and as Derek says, Inflation’s a pain, suck it up, HSR is less expensive than the equivalent freeway going from SF to LA via Palmdale, the only difference is one uses 4 rails, less land, less concrete and less steel than a 4 lane(each way) freeway would.

    Derek Reply:

    California should do costs-benefits analyses on all large projects to determine (1) if the benefits outweigh the costs, and (2) whether there’s another way to achieve the same goal with a better ROI. This would rightly prioritize HSR above freeway widenings and airport expansions.

    Clem Reply:

    Are you kidding? Let’s not do this, Hyperloop would win hands down!!

    BrianR Reply:

    yes, and that would be based on budget numbers Elon Musk pulls out of his ass.

    Joey Reply:


    Resident Reply:

    as opposed to the business plan CHSRA pulled out of theirs.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The business plan’s projected costs actually track how much those things cost in the rest of the world.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Musk’s estimates are just as ridiculously off as the original HSR estimates in prop 1a. Not fun when the shoe is on the other foot is it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not at all. When project proponents say “if the costs are 2-3 times off mark it’s still a great investment” and don’t defend the estimates, you know something’s wrong. HSR is not going to cost 10 times more than the original budget. Hyperloop wouldn’t cost less than 10 times more than its original budget.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The cost estimate was 40 billon for te whole thing com San Diego to Sacramento and a full dedicated system it is now 100 billon from LA to San Francisco for a full system. With cost overruns and expansion to SD and Sac I am confident they could spend 400 billon. The bay bridge went that far over in percentage terms

    Alon Levy Reply:

    “The cost estimate was 40 billon for te whole thing com San Diego to Sacramento and a full dedicated system it is now 100 billon from LA to San Francisco for a full system.”

    The cost estimate was $42 billion in 2008 dollars for SD-SF/Sac and $33 billion in 2008 dollars for Anaheim-SF. The cost estimate went up to $65 billion in 2010 dollars for Anaheim-SF; it’s now $53 billion in 2010 dollars for LA-SJ with through-service to SF on electrified Caltrain, coming from cutting the less critical parts of the line. Those are the comparable numbers; the $98 billion figure is in YOE dollars for Anaheim-SF, and although it’s fine to smack CAHSR for using 2008 dollars publicly even though public funding (including 1A and federal funding) is in YOE dollars, to say that costs tripled when they in fact doubled is wrong.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Give them time, they haven’t even moved a shovel of dirt yet. I have faith in their ability to run up the cost to 10X

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, but they have bids for the first segment, and they’re a bit below budget (yes, even the ones by companies with good technical score).

    Nathanael Reply:

    Before a certain point, all projects were required to submit numbers in dollars based on a particular base year.

    There was a stupid requirement to submit numbers in “YOE” dollars inserted by some Republicans in Congress, and it was basically a sabotage move. YOE dollars are not comparable to anything and not useful.

    In fact, the YOE dollar estimates are going to drop, because inflation has been persistently below predictions for years on end.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Alon…you can’t think that the current bid is actually the final cost. That is why it is called an overrun.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    “You can’t think”?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    You prefer “you can’t believe?”

    Ok you can’t believe that the current bid is the final cost. You are smarter than that.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, I prefer an actual argument for why a large cost overrun is likely that does not invoke Tutor-Perini’s technical score (since Dragados wasn’t much higher, and still lower than the intended budget) to a “you can’t actually believe this” snark.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    No, I prefer an actual argument for why a large cost overrun is likely that does not invoke Tutor-Perini’s technical score …

    How about Tutor-Perini’s historical record?

    How about the rigging of the bid process?

    A large cost overrun is pretty much guaranteed. It’s the fundamental business model all of the involved parties. Just ask the revolving door PB vice president who is running the show.

    Here’s how we do things in the USA, straight from the horses’ mouth of somebody who has personally screwed the public and fixed plenty of deals for PB and Tutor over the decades:

    News that the Transbay Terminal is something like $300 million over budget should not come as a shock to anyone.

    We always knew the initial estimate was way under the real cost. Just like we never had a real cost for the Central Subway or the Bay Bridge or any other massive construction project. So get off it.

    In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment. If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved.

    The idea is to get going. Start digging a hole and make it so big, there’s no alternative to coming up with the money to fill it in.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    That’s still a Tutor-Perini-specific thing.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Ok how about the last big public transportation project managed by CA is 10x over budget (bay bridge). Plus the mismanagement (inspections, bolts, et ) and the former risk manager and project manager now works for CAHSR authority. That is not TP specific. Does that count?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not really. You’re confusing risk with average. The median latter-day US rail project is either on-budget or barely over budget. The datasets that people who complain about cost overruns are channeling are at this point 25 years out of date, and forecast accuracy has improved a lot since the 1980s.

    There is still a risk that a project will go many times over budget. This risk is larger for projects with extensive tunneling and bridging than for at-grade projects, e.g. the need for more tunneling in Soledad Canyon compared with more or less on-budget construction in the Central Valley so far. But unless the cost estimates are outlandish, and in CAHSR’s case they’re not, there’s no grounds for anticipating a large cost overrun ex ante. “It always goes over budget” is not true. The LA Expo Line didn’t – in fact the LA plans are on-budget so far and there’s extensive involvement by the local political honchos in CAHSR, specifically in the Palmdale disaster.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I am not confusing risk with average. I am anticipating incompetence. This board has shown a decided lack of project management skills so I am assuming tht incompetence will extend to cost estimates.

    Time will tell assuming the judge lets them build

    synonymouse Reply:

    But you cannot let PB anywhere close to a cost-benefit analysis.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I don’t agree with this at all. The plan is the same, but it was always going to be built in phases. It took over 30 years to get the system envisioned in the Interstate Highway Act.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Phase 1 was supposed to open in full by 2018. LA-SF was never meant to be the Interstates – it was meant to be a single Turnpike.

    Alan Kandel Reply:

    The cost of construction of the Highway 99 widening between Grantland Ave. (in Fresno County south of the San Joaquin River) to Avenue 7 (north of the river in Madera County) no more than 2 miles in length and including some bridge work, is $68 million.

    Assuming an average highway construction cost of $25 million (probably conservative) per lane-mile, a four-lane highway connecting LA-SF (at 400 miles long) would cost $40 billion. At six lanes, the cost rises by half to $60 billion. Even then, this 400-mile, six-lane highway would still not have the carrying capacity of 2 tracks of high-speed rail nor could the speed of motor vehicles match the speed of high-speed trains.

    In the “American Heritage History of Railroads in America,” published in 1975, book author Oliver Jensen writes: “One track can carry forty to sixty thousand people an hour in comfort, as against a six-lane highway, which can handle only nine thousand in the same time, each driver fighting all the way. In fuel expended per passenger mile the railroad is twelve times more efficient than the automobile, and fifteen times more than the airplane.”

    Why concrete is continuing to be valued by some over high-speed rail in the 21st century to me makes little if any sense.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is DIY, no BLE-UTU-TWU-Amalgamated chauffeurs required. No extortionate strikes.

    VBobier Reply:

    And no starvation wages of sub minimum wage that some Conservatards want to enact by repealing the minimum wage law, instead of raising the minimum wage and indexing the wage to inflation, unions aren’t a bad thing, but starvation wages are, but if you’ve never been poor you wouldn’t know that…

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Concrete takes you where you want to go.

    VBobier Reply:

    At little more than a proverbial snails pace at a high cost in the price of fuel & of time…

    Nathanael Reply:

    No, it doesn’t. Unless you alt.pave.the.earth (look it up if you aren’t old enough).

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Splitting hairs. Takes you closest to where you want to go, and most places you need to go. Rail has its place, but to the average Californian trying to get through the day and stay economically afloat the road plus the auto is the answer. Hate to admit it after 33 years trying to fight for rail but that’s the reality.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Does Prop1A specify the cost at all? Or are you saying that the estimated cost at the time of the election led voters to believe the costs were a certain amount that later proved to be too low?

    I think it is the latter, and as such has no force of law because they were clearly documented as estimated costs.

  4. NoFortunateSon
    Aug 16th, 2013 at 20:20

    As a Professional Engineer and a Professor of Civil Engineering, I find this news heartbreaking. I’ve been following this blog for years, and as such, was surprised by this ruling. Perhaps I shouldn’t be, considering the original wording of the ballot initiative.

    As reprehensible (really, treasonous) as Congressional Republicans have been with regards to Cilvil Infrastructure, I’m not sure it is entirely fair to blame them (for once). If, as the judge ruled, a funding source for the IOS was required before construction bcould egin, in this political and economic climate, it is highly unlikely the full $30B would have been available. Perhaps the original sin was in the wording of the ballot initiative all these years?

    I’m heartened that California has learned to purge Republicans from elected office, and that California’s elected leaders are invested in this project. But based on the judge’s ruling, I think this is the end of the lin California High Speed Rail. Will California try and fund it itself? who knows.

    I feel that speaks very poorly of the American spirit. I feel this says America can’t do even the most simple things. I feel this sets our infrastructure that much further back behind the rest of the developed world, forces citizens to continue to rely on unsustainable oil consumption, and delays addressing Califrnia’s transit issues. Which is, of course, exactly what the Republicans want.

    StevieB Reply:

    High Speed Rail will be built in the United States. The question is only when. The longer the delay the more construction will cost.

    VBobier Reply:

    Agreed and maybe the legislature could do something, since they do have a 2/3rds majority in both houses, maybe $30 to $35 Billion in bonds, maybe or maybe not, time will tell and right now the future is quiet on that. If the CA legislature wants to fix the economy in CA, I can’t think of a better way to do that, than to have HSR construction funded by CA Herself, to stick it to Repubs/baggers in Congress…

    morris brown Reply:

    @noFortunateSon and others:

    Attempting to lay the blame on the failure of this project on Congressional Republicans as well as State Republicans is without basis.

    The Judge’s ruling centers upon restrictions that were placed into AB-3034 in the spring / summer of 2008. Leading this effort was State Senator Alan Lowenthal, a strong Democrat and Chair of the State T&H committee. He was really the lone legislator, who, early on, conducted hearings on the proposed project, was extremely worried about the risk to the State and had written into AB-3034 the very restrictions, that Judge Kenny has now found the Authority with their plans and lack of funding, lank of environmental clearances has violated.

    Later Lowenthal got some support from other Democrats on the committee and when SB-1029 was approved, 4 Democratic members of the T&H committee, really the only group of legislators who knew a lot about the project all voted NO (Simitian, Lowenthal, Pavley, DeSaulnier). The Democrats through this whole period had control of the legislature, and Schwarzenegger, a Republican, while Governor, sided with them. The only reason SB-1029 passed, was the diverting $1.1 billion of funding from true HSR onto the “bookends”, where these funds are projected to be used for non-hsr projects. This was an effective “bribe” to Senators in the Bay Area and LA Area, to hold their noses and vote for the project, knowing the regions would be pulling in some of the money early. Steinberg and Leno through these illegal tactics, by one vote managed to pass SB-1029.

    The time has long passed when this was truly a HSR project. It has been morphed into a “rail modernization” project, and clearly the Authority was just ignoring most of what Prop 1A promised to the Voters.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It is true that Lowenthal has been a saboteur who has been trying to stop the HSR project from day one, and it is true that he is registered in the Democratic Party.

    As for the rest of your bullshit… not worth responding to.

    NoFortunateSon Reply:

    As I stated, I don’t agree with Robert that Congressional Republicans are to blame (for once). If the original proposition required all the funding to be secure before construction would begin, then we’ve been chasing a fantasy. Republican or Democrat, that level of funding isn’t available.

    VBobier Reply:

    Though the legislature could fix that slight funding omission & make it so.

  5. Nadia
    Aug 16th, 2013 at 21:33

    The funding plan wasn’t just about money – it also required that environmental review had to be completed. We warned the Authority about this in Nov 2011 at their board meeting and on our website. We asked them to reconsider, to delay, etc. They chose to push forward.



    AND in Dec 2010 ( a year earlier!) when the board voted to approve the ICS plan – their own attorney at the time (George Spanos) made it clear that he didn’t think the ICS plan fit Prop 1A since a usable section is the IOS and not ICS. (Spanos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBW5NMyWjHY)

    You can quibble about whether the additional $20 billion would ever have come to complete the IOS, but it was always clear the Authority certified a Funding Plan without the necessary environmental clearances.

    VBobier Reply:

    It’s not like the CHSRA stopped the work on the EIR’s for the rest of the IOS, the other parts are just still being worked on, the one for the CV was just about ready, with a few modifications added in of course.

    Nathanael Reply:

    You were not acting in good faith.

    You asked them to delay. How does “delay” help get the environmental review done? Answer: it doesn’t.

    Alan Reply:

    “…since a usable section is the IOS…”

    Nonsense. The term, “usable section” is very clearly and specifically defined by the law in SHC 2704.1(g): “’Usable segment’ means a portion of a corridor that includes at least two stations.”


    The judge got it wrong. The funding plan for the “usable segments” clearly identifies all of the funding available–the judge admitted that much.

    The judge ignored the phrase “corridor, or usable segment thereof,” which appears repeatedly in 2704.08. The court’s redefinition of “usable segment” to mean an entire corridor is an absurdity given the phrase, “corridor, or usable segment thereof…” It would make “corridor” and “usable segment” synonymous, and that clearly was not the intent of the Legislature in drafting the law.

    There’s an old saying in law about legislatures: They “say what they mean, and mean what they say”. The Legislature clearly meant that a “usable segment” is a *section* of the line which includes as few as two stations. The Authority didn’t help itself by misusing the term “usable segment”, but the court should know better. Because it didn’t, CHSRA should easily be able to get this overturned on appeal.

    Worst case? The judge orders CHSRA to rescind and revise the funding plan. OK…revise it to indicate that the first “usable segment” is Merced-Fresno, for which all funding is in hand, and all environmental work is complete. Then, start moving dirt.

    The court also said that “The concept of an “Initial Construction Section” does not appear anywhere in Section 2704.08(c)…”. But neither does the concept of the IOS. Only the phrase, “corridor, or usable segment thereof” appears. And both of those terms are clearly defined. “Corridor”, as it relates to Phase I, is defined as SF Transbay to LA Union Station. So, the judge didn’t even get that right.

    But, the court also said that it could not and would not issue a writ if there was no real remedy available. And, since Prop 1A did not provide such a remedy, there may be none available. The court also could not enjoin the use of the Federal funds appropriated by SB 1029.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So you are right about interpretation of the law and a judge, who’s whole job it is to do this, is wrong?

    Give it up, you said the court would rule correctly on the issue and they did

    Alan Reply:

    I don’t recall saying that. However, judges do make mistakes from time to time. That’s why we have courts of appeal. Even they make mistakes from time to time.

    agb5 Reply:

    Can’t a “Corridor” also mean “Fresno to Bakersfield to Palmdale to Los Angeles Union

    VBobier Reply:

    A “corridor” mean from the Earth to the Moon(Luna)…

    VBobier Reply:

    A “corridor” could also mean from the Earth to the Moon(Luna)…

    Eric Reply:

    Or from my cubicle to the coffee room.

  6. Howard
    Aug 16th, 2013 at 21:44

    The only solution is for the California Legislature and Govenor to immediatly vote into law an oil severence tax to fund high speed rail. It might need to also fund local transit and roadway projects to have broad support. The Democrats still have a 2/3rds majority to pass taxes in the State Assembly and Senate, and Govenor Brown will sign it to keep his project from getting stoped. Taxing oil drilling, like every other state, will not raise oil prices, only cut oil company profits. It a painless tax for citzens. We could also then fund needed local transit projects.

    VBobier Reply:

    Sounds good to Me, it’s always good to throw others a bone to make them happy, this are here as a lot of paving that could use some money to make happen. Probably better than more bonds too, maybe, but We’ll see.

    VBobier Reply:

    Edit: ‘this are’ should be ‘this area’…

    VBobier Reply:

    Correction: ‘this are here as’ should be ‘this area here has’…

    Howard Reply:

    Let’s start a movement to pass an oil severence tax for high speed rail and local mass transit tonight! Can Californians for High Speed Rail lead the organizing of the movement, in coalition with other California mass transit advocacy groups?

    VBobier Reply:

    To get that tax, you’ll need it to be more inclusive, like to cover local highway projects and stalled repaving efforts to sell it, an online petition would be a good idea targeted at the CA legislature and don’t make the amount of sigs too high of course, lets say 20,000 signatures.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    And we damm well should!! even “red” Texas taxes it oil production…and yes it will no way be given all to a HSR project..far to many others would want some of that funding…

    Derek Reply:

    Instead of an oil severance tax to fund high speed rail, how about making roads pay for themselves 100% instead of only 65%? It would drive up demand for alternatives (such as HSR) and simultaneously free up money for those alternatives.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It’s very hard to toll local streets, unfortunately.

    Derek Reply:

    How about a street frontage tax? The longer your property’s street frontage, the more of a burden your property places on the city, so shouldn’t you pay proportionally more?

    VBobier Reply:

    Street frontage tax? Regressive, no support as it’s an unworkable & unfair tax since not all properties are next to a road, except among crazies… An oil severance tax of 25% is the ticket, it would not be passed on as it is an oil profits tax, if oil and gas companies want oil and natural gas from within CA, that’s the price for extraction, it’s that or they can’t drill at all. Take it or leave it and I think they’ll take it, they’d be fools not too, since most will…

    Derek Reply:


    No, the poor don’t own real estate.

    …not all properties are next to a road…

    And therefore they burden the city less and benefit less from being next to a road and therefore should pay less to the city. So it all works out nicely.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The poor pay rent which the landlord uses to pay property taxes.

    Derek Reply:

    Property taxes create the right incentive for cities to fix potholes and broken sidewalks and to make other improvements that increase property values. The same incentive doesn’t exist with sales taxes. As any economist will tell you, “incentives matter.”

    All sales taxes do is encourage cities to attract more Wal-Marts and other big-box stores.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They also create an incentive to create a housing shortage via restrictive zoning.

    VBobier Reply:

    I pay both rent and property taxes and yes that can and does happen, nothing I can do about it right now, considering My income, if My SSI check was $265 a month more I could afford, barely, to move out and maybe get a mortgage on a house near Barstow CA, instead of renting here where to replace the front door of a mobile home would cost $2434.00 from the Home Depot, I need to keep My rent from rising to $450 to $550 a month as I have nowhere to go outside of the street, since I have no relatives to live with, those that would are all dead and have been since 2005. Right now I need to pay the DMV on My car($98), smog check($40) and repair the broken drivers seat in My 14year old car and all 3 together could cost as much as $338 and right now I could get on Aug 30th $255, so I’d have to put off either the DMV and/or the smog check until October and the DMV then would be $132, in Nov or December the DMV would be $171 and I don’t want to pay that much for My cars DMV Registration, plus I need to get some a/c for both My mobile home(a sliding/casement window a/c unit and mount $500) and My car a/c fixed eventually(Possibly $300 or more cause the problem is under the dash and I wanted to wait until I could buy an adjustable steering column for the car), but before that I have to replace a defective motherboard($304.98 to $406.99) which has problems with delivering enough voltage to the video cards and cause of My income level, replace some video cards before their gone, not to mention get a spare lamp for the TV as they do need replacement sometimes and I’d just replaced one that went out with a BANG, I kid you not, as that’s what I heard. Just cause I’m severely disabled and unable to work doesn’t mean My expenses have gone down or have disappeared, I’m otherwise just like anyone else, I don’t break laws or bother anyone where I live, but then I don’t have the sheriff called to where I live. Mind you I don’t live alone as that would be cruel and unusual punishment, as I have a cat for company who doesn’t take up much space or money, but then I don’t have anywhere to go, My Grandpa died at age 82 cause He was alone, He’d out lived His wife by a year and and Dad didn’t visit Him enough, they didn’t get along very well, Grandpa was an Evangelical type, which is why His wife while alive insisted on Him living in a shed behind the detached garage, while His son lived above the Garage before My Dad got married.

    expand-social-security petition, NO cuts
    Organizations Call on U.S. Senate Candidates to Support Social Security Expansion

    TomA Reply:

    Street frontage tax is an interesting idea.

    The idea of it being regressive is ludicrous. The poorer you are, the more likely you are to rent a place with multiple units in it (either by having a roomate, or having an apartment in a multiunit building).

    If anything its quite progressive. Among other things – generally exurban housing has more frontage.

    I guess the question would be – would all street frontage be equally assessed. A large parcel in the woods (but still with lots of street frontage) is probably not costing nearly as much in various maintenance as a smaller parcel on a busy city block with needs for sidewalks (and relatively frequntr repair), etc.

    VBobier Reply:

    Where I live We have a cracked paved road, no sidewalks or gutters, lots of desert sand though, that’s 8 acres of land that’s next to a paved road and yes the people on that 8 acres rent and are working poor or seniors or disabled people, it’s a family oriented Mobile Home Park with maybe 60 to 70 mobile homes on the land, out of 88 total spaces, rent is low cause most don’t want to live out in the desert and some just can’t move, that’s expensive, for Me it would cost at least $750 to move to the nearest city, that would take Me 3 to 4 months to save up and I’d have to have an affordable place to move to and currently I don’t, although I know of a few places I could afford with the right financing.

    What might be seen as affordable by some, might not be so to others, have a care and don’t be heartless.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    You have to stop with this 65% stuff. Roads provide benefits for people who don’t drive. It is not unfair that some funding comes from general taxes

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Trains provide benefits to people who don’t ride trains. So do buses and airplanes, ferries, the occasional unicycle, pack mules….

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    yes they do (I wont comment on the mules). and all those receive funding out of the general fund.

    No train in the US runs without subsidy. Airlines get a small subsidy but it still exists. Buses get a huge subsidy. Same with ferries.

    So we agree, subsidies from the general fund are not bad.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Airlines get a small subsidy but it still exists.

    If by “small” you mean “guaranteed bailout every time they go bankrupt,” then sure.

    Derek Reply:

    John, I already pay the trucker to pay road taxes to bring groceries to the store. Why should I have to pay for the roads again through the sales tax? Isn’t that double taxation?

    VBobier Reply:

    An oil extraction/severance tax is not paying double Derek, not at all… If that’s what you mean, that is.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    its not even close to double taxation. The trucker pays a gas tax (or toll tax in rare cases) plus license, registration, etc. He passes those on to the consumer. Sales tax is on the product itself.

    A double tax, for example) would be taxing corporate profits, then taxing the dividend given out of those profits. Same money taxed twice. That is a double tax.

    Of course all of this is irelevent because even if it was a double tax the answer is “so what” Roads need to be paid for and there are a variety of funding mechanisms.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    What does the trucker pay the taxes and tolls with? ( Even though he’s driving on a toll road he still pays taxes on that portion of the trip ) He recoups them from the shipper or the consignee in one way or another. Then the customer pays sales taxes on it. With income that was taxed.

    Derek Reply:

    Sales tax is on the product itself.

    And yet some of that revenue goes to pay for the roads. There’s the Prop K transportation sales tax in San Francisco, Measure R in Los Angeles, and TransNet in San Diego. Why do we need non-user fees like sales taxes to pay for the roads when we already have user fees like gas taxes and tolls to pay for them? And which is a better way to pay for the roads, user fees or non-user fees?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Fuel is exempt from sales taxes.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    In most states.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Which states do levy sales tax on gas?

    VBobier Reply:

    Whose side are you on Derek? CA or Big Oil? An oil severance/extraction tax won’t be passed on to people like you and Me, other oil producing states in the US have them(Alaska and I think Texas comes to mind), why should CA give away it mineral wealth for free to greedy oil companies that already get billions in oil subsidies from the US Government, thanks to Repubs/baggers who won’t repeal that and corporate welfare… CA needs the money, a 25% tax on every barrel pumped out of the ground seems fair, its that or no oil should be allowed to leave CA wells and I’d also apply this to ‘natural gas wells’ too, since their usually one and the same, but not always of course because of the geology below ground.

  7. morris brown
    Aug 16th, 2013 at 22:30

    LA Times:

    Court rules state bypassed requirements for bullet-train process


    Article includes quotes from Judge Kopp, Attorneys Flashman and Brady, Rep McCarthy. Also in denial is CHSRA chair Richard.

    “It destroys the state’s timetable for the project,” said former state Sen. Quentin Kopp, an early architect of the system who recently turned against it. “This ruling destroys the representations of the high-speed-rail authority.

    Michael Brady, the attorney who bought the case, called the ruling a victory, adding he’d expected the judge to order additional hearings on a remedy.

    “The high-speed-rail-authority went way out on a limb, and now that limb has broken off,” said Stuart Flashman, Brady’s co-counsel in the suit. “They are in a real bind now.”

    “Today’s ruling reaffirms what Californians have known all along about California high-speed rail…. We can’t afford this boondoggle that relies on a fundamentally flawed business model,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield).

  8. synonymouse
    Aug 16th, 2013 at 22:39

    Brown will try to get the Legislature to effectively modify or nullify Prop 1A, but that of course would invite further legal challenge. I dunno if they have the stones to gut a voter approved initiative.

    I am surprised at the ruling, which is much more activist than I expected, when he really did not have to do anything. If forces Jerry off his duff. Perhaps there is more apprehension at the Federal level over possible public relations fiasco of a thoroughly underwhelming, mediocre 100mph diesel Amtrak orphan segment costing so many billions. Clearly, already, the Feds did not want to risk the collapse of Deserted Xprss.

    Jerry has other fiscal problems. Where is he going to get the money to funnel to BART and AC to pay for Amalgamated’s fat raises? If he does not launder some funds and slip them to these agencies they will have to raise fares and that will cause trouble for the Burton machine’s extortionate pet unions. He will have to think about tax increases to bankroll greedy unions when a re-election campaign is coming up. Meg did skewer him for being a union asset.

    Of course, our three crones in DC could try at this late date to get the ARRA monies transferred to LA, where they can be put to much better use.

    Clem Reply:

    Do you think they might go hat in hand to SNCF and swallow that bitter Tejon pill?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Clem, you have to hope “they” read your fine expose. Which, by the way, we all need to thank you for in earnest. A lot of hard work on your part but one of the high points of the year in my estimation.

    That Musk’s team did not evidently even consider the CHSRA “standard model” routing is quite an endorsement for Tejon.

    Maybe Kopp will propose something to get the ball rolling. I believe he does not want to kill hsr per se.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Do you Syn and Clem really think that after this fiasco the politicians and the public really care about Tejon/Tehachapi? Do you really think if you go to them now and say “oh yes, we have a new plan, we want to go this way, not that way, solves all the problems”, do you think you can sell that? Seriously? This project is so tainted, no one will listen, no matter how clever, or even how correct your arguments. The voters chose to believe, at least just enough of them to pass 1A. As I have said before, they voted for a delivered system, to be at the top of the mountain, not for a 20 year climb. They don’t believe any more. Time for Plan B.

    Clem Reply:

    It’s no longer about going to the public. It’s about going hat in hand to private investors and asking them what it will take to bring them on board.

    Besides, what is Plan B ? Shower Prop 1A dollars over Amtrak and expect something great to happen?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    It takes public subsidy to bring private investors on board. Capitalism is a low risk activity when it comes to big ticket infrastructure.

    Plan B? Build transportation infrastructure where it is really needed and where it will actually make a difference in people’s lives. If you really think HSR is a solution then build the networks at the end points that can support it.

    VBobier Reply:

    Then the endpoints will not want to build out to the current rural areas, Freeways in LA County were built in Rural areas first, then expanded to the cities, in the 50′s and 60′s areas that were rural are now cities, so that’s what HSR is doing, it is being built where the need is greatest and where it is cheapest right now…

    Nathanael Reply:

    Clem: Plan B? I have no problem with transferring the federal money from California to New York State. :-) Our state legislature has proven pretty good at spending lots of money very quickly, and could probably eat up most of the money just purchasing railway lines from CSX, which needs to be done.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Fuggedaboutit. California has a very large presence in Congress and much will be made about how we contribute more than we get back.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    We let Amtrak do that. They own Poughkeepsie to Schenectady now. ( High taxes do have a few charms don’t they? )
    Supposedly there are 1,000 track miles between New York and Washington DC. That could be FONSI’d in an afternoon. The same people who cite 1,000 track miles say it would gain 15 to 20 minutes with existing equipment on existing track. Has to be done anyway to let new equipment on rebuilt track run at speeds higher than 135. They also claim it could be done for 2 billion. Leaves another billion left over for other things. How ’bout the half billion it’s supposed to take to restore service to Scranton? Much easier to get to NYC if you can leave the car in the park-n-ride just off I-380 in doesn’t it? Makes extending the train all the way to Binghamton much easier too.

    BrianR Reply:

    what does FONSI’d mean?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Finding of no significant impact. Tearing down the current catenary and replacing it doesn’t have any significant impacts.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Our state legislature has proven pretty good at spending lots of money very quickly

    …especially on the Tappan Zee replacement boondoggle.

    VBobier Reply:

    Ah yes, the legend of the headless horseman of Sleepy Hollow

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m thinking more about the legend of the structurally deficient bridge (it’s not, it’s just narrower than people would like) and the legend of growing traffic that requires widening (it’s been flat for ten years).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s structurally deficient. Many many compromises were made because of material shortages during the Korean War. It doesn’t help that New York City stopped dumping all the sewerage from Manhattan and most of Brooklyn into the river which kept down the shipworms.

    Jerry Reply:

    @ adirondacker – “many compromises made during the Korean War.”
    How very very true.
    Then it was called, Guns OR butter. During the VietNam War it became, Guns AND butter.
    Then the Iraq War made it, Guns AND butter AND tax cuts.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There were shortages. Substituting wooden pilings for concrete for instance. There were other compromises made because there was a war going on. It’s structurally deficient and needs to be replaced. The other options are to spend more money repairing it or letting it fall into the river.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It is not currently classified as structurally deficient. It is classified as functionally obsolete (i.e. not as wide as they’d like).

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The SCNF plan is still dead.

    They will come back with a new plan that focuses on IOS North and using AB 481 revenue that holds the Tejon/Tehachapi question open. They also will invalidate the 950 million in Prop 1a local funding. The irony is that Fresno to Bakersfield section is going to stay intact.

    synonymouse Reply:

    On the contrary your Governor, two Senators and Minority Leader hail from the Bay Area. More likely, as strange as it might sound, would be for failed ARRA gravy to be devoured by California’s transit big dogs. In the north that would be BART to SJ and the TBT Tunnel. MTC and Ed Lee would be salivating at the prospect of getting some of that money.

    Before you say ain’t no way, remember in politix many strange things are possible.

    VBobier Reply:

    Teds right Syno, the SNCF plan is dead…

    synonymouse Reply:

    What I am claiming is that there is no way the “bookends” are going to get dumped. If the orphan segment dies all the transit agencies will want to dine on the carcass. And the politicos will try ever so hard to keep that ARRA money in California.

    morris brown Reply:


    The Legislature under the California constitution, has absolutely no power, what so ever, to modify of nullify Prop 1A. As a voter approved measure, this is an area of which the Legislature has no ability to change.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Don’t it past them to try a Hail Mary.

    When I think of the Legislature I think of Henry Hill. I believe the first line in “Goodfellas” goes something like:

    “As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster.”

    That observation explains a lot of behavior I see.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Wrong. If I’m not very much mistaken, Prop 1A was a legislative proposition, not a constitutional proposition. As such it can be amended by the legislature just like anything else.

    morris brown Reply:

    @nathanael who wrote:

    Wrong. If I’m not very much mistaken, Prop 1A was a legislative proposition, not a constitutional proposition. As such it can be amended by the legislature just like anything else

    You are very much mistaken. Prop 1A / AB-3034 as a voter approved measure, cannot be altered by the Legislature. I am not an attorney, but this issue has been discussed with Attorneys who know the law, and they are all in accord that the legislature has no authority to amend a voter approved measure.

    VBobier Reply:

    If so, then maybe the vagueness could be corrected in Prop 1a by the legislature.

    Alan Reply:

    Well, “correcting” could be construed as “amending”, which isn’t allowed.

    But I don’t think anything prevents them from *adding* to what’s already there. Perhaps something like, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the term ‘usable segment’ includes the sections of the corridor between Merced and Fresno, Fresno and Hanford, and Hanford and Bakersfield.”

    It’s hard to understand how the Legislative Analyst (no friend of HSR), the legislature and their counsel, the governor and his counsel, the FRA and DOT, and everyone else could have overlooked the definition of “usable segment” to mean IOS, not ICS or individual construction segments. Only Brady and Flashman got it right? Very hard to believe.

    Resident Reply:

    You must be new. The CHSRA defined the IOS. They defined an IOS North and IOS South. Among the many requirements, an IOS is required to be able to stand on its own as a complete usable high speed rail segment, including proof of its own ridership and revenue model for THAT usable segment that would sustain the operations without subsidy. Which is mainly why the IOS is much longer than the “ICS” – a segment definition not recognized by AB3034, a term they pulled out of their asses to try to skirt the law, precisely because the requirements of the lawful IOS was not something they could meet.

    The only thing hard to understand is how most (not all) of the democrats in the legislature, the Attorney General, and the CHSRA foamers so willfully and defiantly overlooked the definition of IOS when its been clear as day in the AB3034 wording from day one. Plenty of observers, including the LAO pointed this out early and often.

    Alan Reply:

    I’m not new, but you must have some issues with reading comprehension. I said that *the law* does not define the concept of “IOS”. Read this again, slowly: THERE IS NO DEFINITION OF IOS IN THE LAW. CHSRA can call it anything it wants, but Prop 1A does not define IOS. And if you don’t understand the concept of dividing a major project like this into workable segments, you probably don’t have any business trying to correct the rest of us.

    Reread AB3034: A “usable segment” is a portion of a corridor which includes at least two stations. Period. Nothing else.

    Resident Reply:

    read it again. Hint: What’s the definition of a corridor?

    Resident Reply:

    hint #2: After you find the definition of Corridor, find the definition of “High Speed Train System”.

    Don’t worry – Its all in the same paragraph.

    And taken together those define precisely what a usable segment -of a corridor – of a high speed train system – is…

    Resident Reply:

    And I’m in such a good mood today, that I’ll copy it here for you…

    (d) “High-speed train” means a passenger train capable of
    sustained revenue operating speeds of at least 200 miles per hour
    where conditions permit those speeds.
    (e) “High-speed train system” means a system with high-speed
    trains and includes, but is not limited to, the following components:
    right-of-way, track, power system, rolling stock, stations, and
    associated facilities.
    (f) “Corridor” means a portion of the high-speed train system as
    described in Section 2704.04.
    (g) “Usable segment” means a portion of a corridor that includes
    at least two stations.

    But you’ll have to find the part that says the system is required to operate without subsidy and the part that says they’ll submit a ridership model for the usable segment they are proposoing to COMPLETE with the funding plan. Like a little treasure hunt… have fun!

    agb5 Reply:

    A bag of M&Ms means 50 M&Ms and includes but is not limited to the following colors: Red, Green, Yellow, Blue, Orange.

    Must a portion of a bag of M&Ms include one of each color?
    Could it still legally be called a portion if it comprised mostly Red and no Green?
    Could a single M&M qualify as a portion of a bag of M&Ms?

    Could a single component of a “high speed rail system” e.g. the right of way, qualify as a portion of the components of a high speed rail system?

    The dictionary definition of “portion” is “a part of any whole, either separated from or integrated with it”

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    If it was goverened by prop 1a then the judge said no. It needs all colors…hence the term “including but not limited to”. To use your analogy it needs all colors but if you threw in a purple that is ok

    agb5 Reply:

    So the judge has decided that the word “portion” had no meaning; A portion of a high-speed-rail-system is exactly the same thing as a high-speed-rail-system. One wonders why the authors of Prop 1a went to the trouble of defining “Usable Segment” if it does not add any useful meaning.

    Resident Reply:

    agb5 – The definition is pretty crystal clear, and the judge called it ‘plain language’.

    But to indulge the analogy, the word “usable” also has meaning in a dictionary – and if you are building M&M’s, then viles of red food coloring would not be construed to be ‘usable’ M&Ms.

    Plus, if you read this definition including (d-g) in conjunction with the funding plan requirements, for instance requiring that the usable segment be complete and ready for high speed train operation WITH the funding plan for the usable segment requested, then you can see that the intent of the law was to build in complete usable segments of high speed train system, not random components of a high speed.

    Resident Reply:

    agb5 – No, a portion means: High Speed Train System, the size of a corridor, which is less than the size of the whole thing from SF to LA.

    Pretty sure you’re being deliberately obtuse at this point, but the meaning really couldn’t be clearer. The intent was to allow the CHSRA to proceed to building when they had secured full funding for complete usable segments that could operate on their own without subsidy. Which is a LOWER bar than requiring them to have full funding up front for the whole entire thing from SF to LA. But higher bar than allowing them to run around buying up property and digging holes and disrupting lives before they have enough funding to put a usable High speed train system in place.

    But you ARE asking a key question – why WOULD the CHSRA authors have put this Usable Segments requirement in Prop 1A? That’s also a simple question. Voters would not have approved it without this protection. The writers of Prop 1A thought they would write the law with very strong protections for the citizens, property owners, tax payers. And then proceed to do whatever they wanted when the time came. Bait and switch. Arrogance. etc.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So then the only way they can build it is if they find a contractor who who will have it all erupt simultaneously from the bosom of the earth or otherwise it doesn’t meet the requirements?

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ adirondacker

    They could have easily put together a bare bones but fully functional and viable starter with adequate financing in place at the beginning. Kinda like BART. For instance, LA area to Sac with a branch to Bako and proceeding thru Tejon and I-5. Manage the costs carefully but still state of the art and hella fast. There would be private investment for this and not much opposition.

    Proof of concept and pay as you go and from there you move on with a winner. I still think it could be possible to approach the class ones with money for more tracks and catenary. The rr’s will try to take monetary advantage of the situation but so will Tutor et al. No substitute for keeping your eyes wide open.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If ten years after the track is laid doesn’t meet the requirements of the legislation neither does ten months, ten weeks or ten seconds. It all has to magically appear all at once.
    And for the gazillionth time frieght and HSR can’t mix for a long list of technical reasons.

    Resident Reply:

    adirondacker, no. What they have to do is show full funding for a plan that will produce a complete usable segment.

    Derek Reply:

    So the feds want any form of independent utility, while this judge wants a complete usable segment of HSR. To resolve the dilemma, I guess this means the ICS must include tracks, catenaries, and stations. I wonder who will get the blame for building these depreciating assets?

    agb5 Reply:

    I’m not buying the argument that voters were reassured by the idea that a Usable Segment would have expensive high speed trains running slowly on a tiny piece of track with only two stations with no subsidy and no maintenance facilities.
    Sounds like an incompetent way to go about it.
    More likely the intent of the Usable Segment language was to reassured the voters that the segment right-of-way would not rot and depreciate while the rest of the corridor was build to the point where high speed trains could efficiently operate.

    The definition of a high-speed-train-system has no size, so a “portion” of a high-speed-rail-system cannot mean less than the whole size.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ agb5

    It could be that your concerns are gradually being shared by the government establishment and that could also have been a tacit factor in Kerry’s decision. The fiscal and pr failure of the orphan segment would constitute a real embarrassment for the entire transport bureaucracy.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I’m not buying the argument that voters were reassured by the idea that a Usable Segment …

    A line of attack was cut off. By lying, as it turns out. Just as other constituencies and potential opponents were bought off by various pieces wording and various unwritten backroom arrangements.

    It’s not that the Informed Yeoman Citizenry examined the proposition text with a fine tooth comb. (It would have been opposed unanimously if so.)

    It’s that a sufficient number of swing voters didn’t get to see political attacks, counter-endorsements and advertisements going after the possibility of (the reality, as it turns out, of) ten billion of their earth dollars vanishing with nothing to show but an orphan disconnected track-to-nowhere in the middle of nowhere that somehow Amtrak might use someday.

    Resident Reply:

    agb5 at 12:31 pm: “so a “portion” of a high-speed-rail-system cannot mean less than the whole size”

    Please see agb5 at 2:42am: “The dictionary definition of “portion” is “a part of any whole, either separated from or integrated with it”

    To recap, the defintion of a High Speed Train system has no size (true) but the definition of a usable segment (a “portion” of a corridor) and definition of a corridor (a “portion” of the HST) DOES have a measurement component (ie: portion = less than whole).

    So there is a size element included in the definition of a usable segment, which means less than the whole system.

    Again, taken in conjunction with the requirements in 2704.08 (d), its plainly clear that the ‘portion’ of the whole is intended to be an operable HST system that will be completable with the funding being presented for the Usable Segment, meaning an HST system segment containing all of the components needed to operate.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    What they have to do is show full funding for a plan that will produce a complete usable segment.

    It will be usable. By diesel trains.

    Resident Reply:

    Derek, you wouldn’t have to worry about assets sitting idly by going unused for years.. AB3034 also requires a ridership model for that Usable segment that would show that it would be able to generate enough revenue to operate HSR ON THAT USABLE SEGMENT without subsidy. So there would be no reason to depreciate those assets unused without a revenue generating HSR business occurring. You’ll also notice that the law requires the usable segment to be completed and ready to begin operation with the funding presented for that usable segment.

    This is precisely why the ICS does not cut it to qualify as a Usable Segment. And the CSHRA recognized this and didn’t even try to claim that the ICS was a usable segment. Even THEY realized that a usable segment in order to generate revenue would have to be able to attract significant daily ridership from station a to station b. A tiny stretch of HST from nowhere CA to nowhere CA would never generate required revenue to operate subsidy free HSR, they could NEVER show a ridership model that would qualify for the ICS. CHSRA in fact define the IOS North or the IOS South as the “Usable Segments”

    (Adironacker – I realize its your very very favorite argument to make, but the law requires no such ‘springing forth’. If they had brought a plan for a complete usable segment that they could show had enough funding to complete full HST on that segment, could be completed with the funding they presented, could generate enough HSR revenue on its own, could show its own defensible ridership model, and had completed permits ready to proceed to construction, then they could just as easily phase the building of that usable segment. As long as the requirements are met to complete the usable segment per that plan. (So you can really just stop this nonsense garbage about requiring something to spring forth from the ground all at once)

    John Bacon Reply:

    A 2008 Ridership and Revenue study sponsored by the CHSR Authority estimates for 2020 after full build-out that revenue will 36% higher between the San Joaquin Valley and the Francisco Bay Area compared to between the San Joaquin Valley and the LA Basin. Nearby access to two major international airports along the projected SF Peninsula CHSR right-of-way compared to CHSR access to LAX probably accounts for this sharp yield difference.
    Combining Caltrain electrification with momentum aided hsr operation(no tunnelsrequired) across Pacheco Pass and a 150 mph peak speed right-of-way on established rail routes between Fresno and Bakersfield on mostly single track beyond San Jose it should be possible to establish a popular hourly 7/14 service between San Francisco and Bakersfield. Electrified trains with level boarding should be able to average 60 mph to San Jose with 10 intermediate stops, 80 mph SJ to Gilroy, 176 mph Gilroy to Fresno and 100 mph Fresno to Bakersfield. With over $8 billion now available for CHSR related capital expenditures it should be possible to come up with an immediately useful hsr segment.

    agb5 Reply:

    “the law requires no such ‘springing forth’.”

    No but if your definition of Usable Segment is a long enough piece of track to run a non subsidized HSR service on, there are probably not enough engineering resources in the US to build that all at once, it would need to be built in “portions of usable segments” which would lie idle and depreciating for decades as the law does not require that they be put to any use in the interim.

    I can’t believe that this is what the authors of the law had in mind. This is not how they do it in advanced countries.

    Resident Reply:

    agb5 – Dang. Hoisted by their own petard then. Hate it when that happens.

    VBobier Reply:

    ‘Usable segment’ doesn’t say in Prop1a that it has to be ‘HSR usable’, just that the segment has to be usable, nothing more, nothing less, I think some of you assume and read HSR into usable segment, since it’s part of Prop1a HSR (PDF) of 2008.

    agb5 Reply:

    Dang. Hoisted by their own petard then.

    Why would the people of California knowingly vote to be hoisted by their own petard?
    They must have been tricked into believing that a Usable Segment could be used for anything.

    Resident Reply:

    agb5 – its the CHSRA that has been hoisted by their own petard.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    For the I am us not last time. It’s not about when it is built, it is about having the money before you start. It’s a simple requirement…don’t start building until you have the money in hand.

    Once you have the money, build at any rate or combination you like, but before you start, have all the money in hand.

    It’s a simple concept…really

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It might be a simple concept on your planet but it’s not on this one. Explain it to us in more detail and explain why the legislature didn’t explain it that way.

    Resident Reply:

    On his planet… you mean the one where people speak and write things down, and publish them on the internet?

    This is about as specific and detailed as it gets – written in black and white, in AB3034 from day one, and its been copied an pasted on this blog so many times, it would probably be impossible to count BUT it has already been published on this very thread as recently as yesterday, so you can just scroll down to see the whole section…

    Do you need more spaces? All Caps? A different language? Let us know what you need, we’ll see what we can do.

    (d) Prior to committing any proceeds of bonds…
    for expenditure
    for construction and real property and equipment acquisition
    on each corridor, or usable segment thereof
    other than for costs described in subdivision (g)
    the authority shall have approved
    concurrently submitted to the Director of Finance and the Chairperson
    of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee the following:

    (1) a detailed funding plan for that corridor or usable segment thereof
    (A) identifies the corridor or usable segment thereof, AND the
    estimated full cost of constructing the corridor or usable segment
    (B) identifies THE SOURCES OF ALL FUNDS to be used and
    anticipates time of receipt thereof BASED ON OFFERED COMMITTMENTS by
    private parties, and authorizations, allocations, or other assurances
    received from governmental agencies…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And they have gathered the funds for the usable segment they are proposing to build, what is so difficult to understand about that?

    VBobier Reply:

    @ Resident: Usable Segment does not say in Prop1a that it has to be electrified and/or used for HSR in any way shape or form, it just says ‘Usable Segment’ as long as the segment, in this case the ICS, is rails that can be used in the interim for Passenger Rail at higher speeds, then I see no problem and I do have the Official Voters Supplement online(a PDF) and it does not say that a ‘Usable Segment’ has to be used for HSR, just that the segment to be usable, saying anything else is a DIRTY ROTTEN LIE… Official Voter Guide for Nov 4th 2008; Prop1a HSR(PDF)

    2704.01 (g) “Usable segment” means a portion of a corridor that includes at least
    two stations.
    2704.08 (c) (1) No later than 90 days prior to the submittal to the Legislature and the Governor of the initial request for appropriation of proceeds of bonds
    authorized by this chapter for any eligible capital costs on each corridor, or
    usable segment thereof, identified in subdivision (b) of Section 2704.04, other
    than costs described in subdivision (g), the authority shall have approved and
    submitted to the Director of Finance, the peer review group established
    pursuant to Section 185035 of the Public Utilities Code, and the policy
    committees with jurisdiction over transportation matters and the fiscal
    committees in both houses of the Legislature, a detailed funding plan for that
    corridor or a usable segment thereof.
    (2) The plan shall include, identify, or certify to all of the following:
    (A) The corridor, or usable segment thereof, in which the authority is
    proposing to invest bond proceeds.
    (B) A description of the expected terms and conditions associated with any
    lease agreement or franchise agreement proposed to be entered into by the
    authority and any other party for the construction or operation of passenger
    train service
    along the corridor or usable segment thereof.
    (C) The estimated full cost of constructing the corridor or usable segment
    thereof, including an estimate of cost escalation during construction and
    appropriate reserves for contingencies.
    (D) The sources of all funds to be invested in the corridor, or usable segment
    thereof, and the anticipated time of receipt of those funds based on expected
    commitments, authorizations, agreements, allocations, or other means.
    (E) The projected ridership and operating revenue estimate based on
    projected high-speed passenger train operations on the corridor or usable segment.
    (F) All known or foreseeable risks associated with the construction and
    operation of high-speed passenger train service along the corridor or usable
    thereof and the process and actions the authority will undertake to
    manage those risks.
    (G) Construction of the corridor or usable segment thereof can be completed
    as proposed in the plan.
    (H) The corridor or usable segment thereof would be suitable and ready for
    high-speed train operation.
    (I) One or more passenger service providers can begin using the tracks or
    stations for passenger train service.
    (J) The planned passenger service by the authority in the corridor or usable
    thereof will not require a local, state, or federal operating subsidy.

    And finally this below, as usable segments is almost all over the place in the legislation that is Prop1a, too much really to post here, go read the pdf, it’s quite a lot to read…

    (f) In selecting corridors or usable segments thereof for construction, the
    authority shall give priority to those corridors or usable segments thereof that
    are expected to require the least amount of bond funds as a percentage of total
    cost of construction. Among other criteria it may use for establishing priorities
    for initiating construction on corridors or usable segments thereof, the
    authority shall include the following: (1) projected ridership and revenue, (2)
    the need to test and certify trains operating at speeds of 220 miles per hour, (3)
    the utility of those corridors or usable segments thereof for passenger train
    services other than the high-speed train service that will not result in any
    unreimbursed operating or maintenance cost to the authority
    , and (4) the
    extent to which the corridors include facilities contained therein to enhance
    the connectivity of the high-speed train network to other modes of transit,
    including, but not limited to, conventional rail (intercity rail, commuter rail,
    light rail, or other rail transit), bus, or air transit.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Stop cherry picking. From the definition (from the law) below

    A usable segment is a portion of the corridor
    A corridor is a portion of a high speed system
    a high speed system must (not may) include right-of-way, track, power system, rolling stock, stations, and associated facilities.

    So your argument is that the word “portion” applys to what the system must include. i.e. a portion of the system like building only the track and not the power system.

    What the judge said (and what was obvious to everyone else who read the law without trying to find a loophole) was that the word “portion” applies to the length of the section only.

    So if the line is 200 miles long, you can build a portion of the line (i.e. 50 miles long) as long as it has all the must haves (power, track, trains, stations, etc.). We know this is the intent because it says “usable” and this is a HSR law, not a freight train law. So there is no way anyone is going to buy an argument that “usable” means use by freight trains. You might as well say “usable” means a paper weight.

    You are wrong, the judge says you are wrong, the plain language of the law says you are wrong. Give it up.

    It does not require “erpution from the earth” It does not require you to even install the power systems right away. All it requires is that you have the money UP FRONT. not complicated.

    (d) “High-speed train” means a passenger train capable of
    sustained revenue operating speeds of at least 200 miles per hour
    where conditions permit those speeds.
    (e) “High-speed train system” means a system with high-speed
    trains and includes, but is not limited to, the following components:
    right-of-way, track, power system, rolling stock, stations, and
    associated facilities.
    (f) “Corridor” means a portion of the high-speed train system as
    described in Section 2704.04.
    (g) “Usable segment” means a portion of a corridor that includes
    at least two stations.

    VBobier Reply:

    It would have been much simpler if language like the following were in prop1a:

    Funding for a Usable segment must be identified before construction can begin.

    Funding in corridors does not need to be identified, unless one is building a whole corridor at a time.

    Instead we get lots of corridors or usable segments in prop1a…

    And as My last post mentioned Passenger rail service is allowed on HSR tracks and that electrification is not something that has to be completed at once as noted from the “Supplemental Voter Information Guide” that contains Prop1a, as Passenger rail service is also a means of funding for construction through “revenue bonds“.

    agb5 Reply:

    Or just rename “Usable Segment” as
    “Usable for passenger train services other than the high-speed train service that will not result in any unreimbursed operating or maintenance cost to the authority Segment”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    “Usable for passenger train services other than the high-speed train service that will not result in any unreimbursed operating or maintenance cost to the authority Segment”

    And if they had intended to define it as “capable of carrying passengers at high speeds the instant the last of the paint dried” they would have defined it that way.

    agb5 Reply:

    When you strip it down to its essentials, the language says:

    “Usable segment” means a part of a (list of components built between SF and LA) that includes
    at least two stations.

    It is ambiguous if “part of” refers to the components or the distance or both, which is exactly what the author intended, to give the builders maximum flexibility while still achieving the end goal of a proper High Speed Rail System from SF to LA.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Thankfully the judge did not find it ambiguous.

    Joey Reply:

    It’s the judge’s job to decide what the ambiguity means in context.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Usable segment” means a part of a (list of components built between SF and LA) that includes
    at least two stations

    Which is what they are building. It’s probably going to be served by diesel trains and it may not be the stations that HSR trains eventually go to but they are going to have two stations.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Pardon me if I don’t trust your claims regarding California law, Morris. You’ve been wrong about enough other things.

    “10 (c) The Legislature may amend or repeal referendum statutes. It
    may amend or repeal an initiative statute by another statute that
    becomes effective only when approved by the electors unless the
    initiative statute permits amendment or repeal without their

    Except… um… Prop 1A is neither an initiative statute nor a referendum statute, according to the law.

    I don’t see any black-letter law either way, and the default is that legislative enactments can be amended.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Note that Prop 1A is a legislatively-referred state statute. I do not know the term of art in California law for this.

    It is not a constitutional amendment. It is not an initiative (in California legal terms). It is, as far as I can tell, not a referendum (in California legal terms).

    I think your attorney friends weren’t paying attention to the details.

    The legislature can amend Prop 1A whenever it likes. (Might this invalidate the bond sales? Perhaps, I haven’t checked the laws on voter approval of bond issues.)

    Mike Reply:

    Interesting point. The only reason that Prop 1A went on the ballot is that voter approval is required (CA Constitution Art 16) to issue general obligation bonds. It seems likely that case law would have determined that all provisions presented to the voters as related to the bonds in question cannot be changed by the Legislature. But perhaps this guarantee applies only to the section (Art 3) of the ballot measure that specifically authorized the issuance of the bonds.

  9. Resident
    Aug 17th, 2013 at 00:04

    Its quite clear that the judge does not have to even touch the legislators vote last year to approve the funding plan. All the judge has to do is order an immediate stop to all further commitments by the CHSRA for expenditures that will encumber bond funds (including expenditures of federal funds that are predicated on matching), until the authority proves to the court full compliance with 2704.08 (d) – Note – that (d) is NOT the same section that specifies what they were required to submit in the funding plan, but rather is the very next paragraph of the same 2704.08 that the judge has already used in his decision.

    section (d) specifies that PRIOR TO COMMITTING BOND PROCEEDS the CHSRA is required to certify to all the same requirements as noted in section (c) but also adds additional requirements PRIOR TO COMMITMENT of the bond funds.

    Notably for example: 2704.08 (d).. “(B) identifies the sources of all funds to be used and
    anticipates time of receipt thereof BASED ON OFFERED COMMITMENTS by private parties, and authorizations, allocations, or other assurances received from governmental agencies.

    (In other words, come to the table with ALL the documented funding commitments PRIOR to commitment of AB3034 Bond funds.)

    The judge’s ruling simply needs to require that the authority get sign off on compliance to AB3034 2704.08 (d), from the court, specifically because the judge has already found that the Authority has proven themselves in violation of the law by abusing their discretion to self-authorize.

    The damage to taxpayers that can be done by the judge failing to regulate the CHSRA’s compliance in this manner is not just hypothetical, it is already occurring, as the authority itself confirms a)Authority is already making offers of purchase of private property, and already commenced buying up private property (spending funds, and dragging the communities in to accelerated negative impacts predicated on the faulty and incomplete state of the project and funding relative to requirements in 2704.08, b)Authority is already entering in to commitments for construction contracts based on same incomplete information (ie: lacks of completed permits, lack of complete definition of IOS, and lack of funding sources), c)Authority continues to rapidly hire staff, thereby committing to expanded payroll as if the construction were ready to proceed d) continues to push forward with an imminent “ground breaking” in order to commit to federal funding which will trigger encumbrance of the AB3034 source matching funds. These are all CURRENT and irreversible damages to the taxpayers and to the communities impacted that will occur if the CHSRA is not commanded and monitored by the court to comply properly with 2704.08 (d)

    Here’s a copy of section (d). For those of you who have read AB3034 carefully, you’ll see immediately the more comprehensive requirements of (d) compared to (c).

    (d) Prior to committing any proceeds of bonds described in
    paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) of Section 2704.04 for expenditure
    for construction and real property and equipment acquisition on each
    corridor, or usable segment thereof, other than for costs described
    in subdivision (g), the authority shall have approved and
    concurrently submitted to the Director of Finance and the Chairperson
    of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee the following: (1) a
    detailed funding plan for that corridor or usable segment thereof
    that (A) identifies the corridor or usable segment thereof, and the
    estimated full cost of constructing the corridor or usable segment
    thereof, (B) identifies the sources of all funds to be used and
    anticipates time of receipt thereof based on offered commitments by
    private parties, and authorizations, allocations, or other assurances
    received from governmental agencies, (C) includes a projected
    ridership and operating revenue report, (D) includes a construction
    cost projection including estimates of cost escalation during
    construction and appropriate reserves for contingencies, (E) includes
    a report describing any material changes from the plan submitted
    pursuant to subdivision (c) for this corridor or usable segment
    thereof, and (F) describes the terms and conditions associated with
    any agreement proposed to be entered into by the authority and any
    other party for the construction or operation of passenger train
    service along the corridor or usable segment thereof; and (2) a
    report or reports, prepared by one or more financial services firms,
    financial consulting firms, or other consultants, independent of any
    parties, other than the authority, involved in funding or
    constructing the high-speed train system, indicating that (A)
    construction of the corridor or usable segment thereof can be
    completed as proposed in the plan submitted pursuant to paragraph
    (1), (B) if so completed, the corridor or usable segment thereof
    would be suitable and ready for high-speed train operation, (C) upon
    completion, one or more passenger service providers can begin using
    the tracks or stations for passenger train service, (D) the planned
    passenger train service to be provided by the authority, or pursuant
    to its authority, will not require operating subsidy, and (E) an
    assessment of risk and the risk mitigation strategies proposed to be
    employed. The Director of Finance shall review the plan within 60
    days of its submission by the authority and, after receiving any
    communication from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, if the
    director finds that the plan is likely to be successfully implemented
    as proposed, the authority may enter into commitments to expend bond
    funds that are subject to this subdivision and accept offered
    commitments from private parties.

    agb5 Reply:

    [A] usable segment … would be suitable and ready for high-speed train operation

    So now a usable segment must have electrification and ERTMS signaling installed ?
    In Prop1A, a usable segment was defined as having any subset of the list of components comprising a high speed rail system.

    Resident Reply:

    No, it was defined as having all, not any subset, of the components listed.

    Alan Reply:

    Since one of the purposes of the ICS is to serve as a test track, it follows that electrification and signaling will be installed. You can’t test the signaling if it isn’t there, and it’s pretty hard to test an electric train without electricity. So it follows that the ICS would be “suitable and ready”.

    Resident Reply:

    Their submitted plan for the so called “ICS” doesn’t even include electrification or signaling – it doesn’t include many of the elements that would make it suitable and ready for HSR operation. Moot point because the ICS is just a small subset of a usable segment – ICS is a term the CHSRA pulled out of their asses in attempt to shirk their responsibilities under the law.

    Alan Reply:

    And you’re pulling your definition of “usable segment” out of *your* ass.

    Resident Reply:

    oh, I’m sorry Allen, I didn’t realize you are scroll-up challenged. Would you like me to copy the conversation you and I are having about the definition of Usable Segment about 10 inches above to this box? I’d be happy to do that for you.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah He can’t miss it… LOL

    YesonHSR Reply:

    ICS will be very usable…first as a test section ..Then when the Ahole Rebs in DC are gone this nation can get to work with a real transportation bill like that was propposed in 2010.

  10. Emmanuel
    Aug 17th, 2013 at 00:36

    We should simply have done it like Qatar. Say you have $9 billion for anyone who can build you the most high speed rail possible. Leave the research, planning and construction in the hands of SNCF, RENFE, Deutsche Bahn, or JR East! They will compete for the money, present their plans, all our government does is choose the best plan.
    Sorry but you can’t build it at a low cost while employing California workers. Those two things are mutually exclusive. Hire Chinese, Indian or Mexican workers, give em temporary visas and you can build a lot more for less. The stereotype that cheap labor does a poor job is not true anymore.

    Let American workers worry about maintenance once it is finished. If we start from scratch we haven’t lost much time since it appears that the judge declared those EIRs null and void essentially saying “dear CHSRA, what the heck have you been doing all those years??”

    synonymouse Reply:

    Neither the SNCF nor any of the others will build the DogLeg. Nor Musk.

    You have to deal with Brown, who appears to be intimidated by the Tejon Ranch Co. Hell, he is intimidated by Amalgamated. The Republicans need to make this a re-election campaign issue right now, to bring him out of his coma.

    If he refuses to revisit Tejon he is hsr’s worst enemy, worse than Reason.

    VBobier Reply:

    What and you want Stilt-O-Tube?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Musk’s tech is clearly not ready for prime time, and maybe never will be. That did not stop Bechtel from promising pretty much the same thing in 1962. Curious, isn’t it? Musk has a powerful precedent.

    Musk is a non-political, non-foamer, disinterested party with considerable resources. He immediately plots the default Tejon, I-5, Altamont course because that is the one that succeeds. Most California voters who are interested enough to form an opinion about hsr would agree with Musk on the route.

    So why again are Brown and Richards stuck off in no man’s land? Earth to Jerry.

    VBobier Reply:

    Cause short sighted dumb dumbs think Rural areas will always be Rural, Freeways were started in Rural areas in Los Angles County back in the 60′s now their cities, it will be more expensive to start on the endpoints first. HSR is just following the Freeways example and so is Governor Brown, the Legislature and Dan Richards, don’t like that Syno? Tough Shit…

    synonymouse Reply:

    So if it comes down to suspending or terminating CAHSR you would rather do that than revisit Tejon? That would be some serious PB worship.

    VBobier Reply:

    Tejons dead Syno, no one outside of a few like you, even know about it & even less want it…

    Nathanael Reply:

    Musk also proposed to terminate his route in Sylmar and on the wrong side of the San Francisco Bay.

    That is what we call “stupid”.

    synonymouse Reply:

    How many airports are located in downtowns?

    By your logic Palmdale airport should indeed be shut down.

  11. morris brown
    Aug 17th, 2013 at 05:32

    Phil Matier of KCBS (San Francisco) comments on Judge Kenny’s ruling


    (about 4 minutes)

  12. MMLowe
    Aug 17th, 2013 at 07:56

    So very sick of stones being pelted at this project. The votership of the State of California approved this project. Since, interests have been trying to figure out how to stifle it. California Needs to
    have a modern high speed rail project, not a boondoggle, not individuals trying to directly enrich themselves or their lobby interests. In the East one can travel “slower” but effective all over. IT is
    absolutely SHAMEFUL California has no such animal. We are a PRIME world travel destination, and
    since we manufacture little, and our putting our farms across the border. We need the investment.
    If Bakersfield does not want it, MOVE on, give them their wish & move on, around, or outside, and
    lets see what happens to that City. It already struggles for a positive identity, It may die slowly!

  13. John Nachtigall
    Aug 17th, 2013 at 08:09

    Stop blaming the GOP. The state Dems could pass funding if they wished. There is no requirement for federal funding. Face the truth…

    1. The democrats don’t really believe in this project or they would fund it
    2. The CAHSR authority broke the law and got caught
    3. The project has been poorly managed from the start.

    Emmanuel Reply:

    Guilty of all three of them. I think the problem with Democrats and Republicans and humans in general is that we want to see benefits in the short term. No patience.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I don’t agree that humans and Americans in particular are only short term focused. In fact I think they are quite easy to inspire. There are plenty of projects that took lots of time to come to completion (highways, space race, damns, bridges, etc).

    HSR biggest problem is not that it is a money losing monstrosity. It’s biggest problem is that it lacks competent and inspired leadership. Jerry Brown tried to step in and provide that leadership but he seems to have given up as of late. And the authority itself is so bad at day to day management and vision management they can’t do it either.

    If you had a “Musk” type guy in charge you could get this built, warts and all, but they don’t have that.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    PLEASE…they are the root cause of alot of problems in this nation…unless your an oil company or build weapons.

  14. Jos Callinet
    Aug 17th, 2013 at 08:18

    Below is an excerpt in today’s (Saturday, August 17, 2013) New York Times from an article about Governor Brown, in which The New York Times characterizes the California High Speed rail project as “a target of skepticism and ridicule.” The quoted excerpt follows:

    Mr. Brown has his share of problems. He unsuccessfully resisted a federal court order to move inmates out of overcrowded prisons. Changes in the state employee pension system approved last year do not, in the view of most analysts, come close to addressing the long-term pension liabilities over the horizon.

    His latest proposal to overhaul California’s water distribution system is smacking up against the same entrenched geographical and business factions that defeated him when he tried to address the problem as governor from 1975 to 1983. Mr. Brown’s signature plan to build a high-speed rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco remains a target of skepticism and ridicule. In a setback Friday night, a superior judge in Sacramento ruled that the agency overseeing the project failed to comply with the cost and environmental requirements in a ballot measure authorizing the project.

    When even the progressive-minded New York Times views the High Speed Rail project as essentially a joke, its prospects do not look good. I truly do not thing the United States is in any way politically aligned with the idea of constructing rail of any kind – it is too wedded to the status-quo.

    Neville Snark Reply:


    “Mr. Brown’s signature plan to build a high-speed rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco remains a target of skepticism and ridicule. ”

    This is true — plenty of people subject the scheme to skepticism and ridicule — but to doesn’t mean that the NYT themselves do so.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    “the progressive-minded New York Times”

    You’re confusing Krugman’s op-ed column with the rest of the paper.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Indeed. I’m not sure the NYT has ever been progressive-minded. It has always been the Voice of The Establishment.

    I read the history of how a bunch of corrupt corporate types managed to get lead into gasoline, despite the fact that tetraethyl lead was known to cause the factory workers at the factory where it was made to go VIOLENTLY INSANE AND START MURDERING PEOPLE. For real.

    (This was quite likely the worst decision made in human history, because the lead-poisoned generations proceeded to do lots and lots of incredibly stupid and destructive things. Had they not been lead-poisoned, they might have been less stupid.)

    Anyway, the New York World (the paper of Joseph Pulitzer) reported on everything in the initial controversy, including the lies and dishonesty from “Ethyl Corporation” et al. It was a good source of information.

    The New York Times reported the corporate party line. It wasn’t a good source of information.

    Has that really changed since the 1920s?

    BrianR Reply:


    Did you forget the New York Times participating role in getting us involved in the Iraq war? That doesn’t sound very “progressive-minded”. Regardless, don’t mistake a newspaper’s description of certain people’s points of view as necessarily being an official editorial position.

  15. Jos Callinet
    Aug 17th, 2013 at 08:48

    As I see it, it’s only a matter of time before this deeply-flawed project disintegrates from the sheer weight of its own incompetent design and poor planning.

    It is sad to have to say it, but the sooner the CAHSR project is put out of its misery, the better. There are far too many obstacles standing in its way, such that if it isn’t tripped up by one, it surely will be by a host of others.

    No money should be spent on the ground; the direction in which things are heading, any money now spent on CAHSR might as well be fed into a paper shredder, for all the difference spending it will make.

    If possible under current law, it would be better to redirect and invest the CAHSR funds toward improving the performance of today’s trains, and leave it at that.

    NoFortunateSon Reply:

    Peter O’Toole, is that you?

    There is nothing flawed about the California High Speed Rail project.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You mean Randall O’Toole? Peter O’Toole is an actor.

  16. toma
    Aug 17th, 2013 at 09:00

    And thus ends americas only realistic hope for hsr. At least until texas pulls a saudi arabia and relizes its better off selling oil than using it.

  17. Paul Dyson
    Aug 17th, 2013 at 09:24

    One could also blame Obama and his “fixer” Ray LaHood for tempting California with stimulus money, with a spending deadline, before the project was ready to spend it. If stimulus was the objective there were plenty of conventional rail projects around the state that could have been started straight away. Instead we have wasted close to a billion dollars on studies and plans. As I predicted at the FRA conference in Los Angeles in 2009 to Mr. LaHood and Senator Boxer, the project is being badly managed and we are likely to end up with a stack of reports and no railroad. LaHood said I was “ridiculous”.

    It could still go either way of course. The folks in power could still come up with a fix that negates the safeguards that the voters approved. Don’t forget that the legislature approved the funding plan and they are not usually ready to admit that they made a mistake. Nor is the Governor likely to back down since he hopes to be reelected. The fat lady is not yet on stage.

    Donk Reply:

    I was always holding out hope that the full project was going to get built in a reasonable amount of time, but at this point I am throwing in the towel and support Paul’s plan. Unfortunately Paul’s plan will never happen either, and we are doomed to be stuck full gas in neutral for the next 5-10 years.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You are quite right in pointing out the “folks in power” will counterattack.

    But they really have a problem: the people with the money are becoming more reluctant to commit that money to what appears more and more a certain fiscal bomb. PB is intent on building a HyperBART in the boonies. Picture a BART without the huge magnet attraction of a San Francisco. The Valley ridership could not come anywhere close to justifying the expense of constructing, maintaining and operating a Valley commute line. Even with a private concessionaire it would bleed red ink. And imagine if it were commandeered over by a militant transit union.

    There is a limit to how much tabloid embarrassment politicians will court and countenance. There’s a downside to becoming the butt of ridicule as the weenie has discovered.

    synonymouse Reply:

    ditch the “over”. sorry

  18. Paul Dyson
    Aug 17th, 2013 at 09:34

    Correction, the FRA conference was in Feb of 2010.

  19. Donk
    Aug 17th, 2013 at 09:53

    I don’t believe that the main problem is mismanagement. Building a project like this is just not possible. You can’t possibly appease the voters, the NIMBYs, the environmentalists, the unions, PB, Democrats, and Republicans on a project of this magnitude. This project is too easy a target for all of these groups, and I don’t see how anyone can manage something like this without veering into oncoming traffic at some point.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It’s not about pleasing everyone. It’s about displaying competence in every phase. People will respect the ability even if they disagree with the decision. In specific…

    …accurate cost forecasts (as opposed to 40 mil, no 30, no 98, no 68 and we really mean it this time)
    ….accurate timeline forecasts (break ground in 2009, no 2010, no 2011, no 2012, no summer 2013, no beginning 2014..2we mean it this time)
    ……excellence in execution. They have been short staffed (by everyone’s account) for many years…what are they waiting for.
    …..realization and mitigate of risk. They knew they were outside of prop1a but did it anyway and hoped a judge would not stop them. That is not management, that is hope. But it does not stop there. They went to the STB way late. They are late on the permits for the fish and game…they Re late on the EIR….they just don’t plan well.

    Excellent management of the project and pleasing everyone are 2 different things

    Alan Reply:

    You ignore the fact, as many opponents do, that the first of the supposed cost increases was a result of the Federal insistence that the way of expressing costs be done on a year-of-expenditure basis, rather than year-of-estimate. You also ignore the reality that costs are going to change as the project becomes more fully developed and geologic and other testing reveals conditions that were not initially foreseen.

    Short staffed? Thank the Legislature. Can’t hire people without money.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Explain “forgetting” to get STB approval. Explain the late fish and game approvals. Explain the piss poor timeline estimates. They are just incompetent.

    VBobier Reply:

    Try under staffing and underfunding by the legislature, plus inexperience, their new to the game John, give them a break.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Simply no, I will not give them a break. They have had the money to hire people for years. They can hire experienced people. After getting audited and told this they still did not. They are just poor project managers

    VBobier Reply:

    They lacked the authority to do so, that comes from the legislature, Repubs didn’t wan the the CHSRA to have any staff, since they could point to it and say they supported HSR, when Democrats got in power Repubs were suddenly against HSR cause the legislature actually started to allow HSR to become real and Repubs hated that.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It’s a Democratic legislature and governor. Try again. I will give you a hint…it’s incompetence

    VBobier Reply:

    That’s your opinion John, Brown will be reelected as Governor, there is no candidate that could conceivably defeat Him, Meg threw $100 Million at the campaign last time and He only used maybe $10 Million, He’s shrewd and not incompetent, He’s hell of a lot better than that sorry excuse of a Texas Governor Rick Perry…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I like Jerry, I think on whole he is a great Govenor. I disagree with him on HSR and most social issues but I agree with him on financial issues and think he is doing a good job of keeping the legislature in check. He is very shrewd and not incompetent.

    Which makes it all the more baffling that he accepts the incompitence of the HSR board. Or for that matter CalTrans in general. One wonders why?

    synonymouse Reply:

    If you are understaffed why would you fire the smartest guy in the room?

    VBobier Reply:

    You mean why hire Dan Richards and dismiss the former guy in charge? Simple It was Brown choosing who would serve as the appointed head of the CHSRA.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Fire an experienced engineer for properly executing his job and bring on a guy from BART, careening into management failure, and PG&E, the outfit that blew up San Bruno and then tried to get out of responsibility.

    Talk about undermining moral at PB-CHSRA – the underlings get to see their boss thrown under the bus by Barry Zoeller and Michael Antonovich.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The official story is that he left for more money. If you think it’s because he was fired I can think it’s because the Hunan restaurants are better in Hong Kong.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The All Aboard Florida case was binding precedent establishing that CAHSR did not need STB approval.

    Now, I happen to think it was bad precedent. But really, you can’t blame CHSRA for assuming that the STB would follow ITS OWN PRECEDENT from THE SAME YEAR.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Since it is written that the San Joaquins will use the initial alignment and that the operator of these trains sells though tickets to interstate destinations then the STB can exercise oversight.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The Florida train was on a dedicated track that did not share with anyone. CAHSR is not. There is no comparison

    aw Reply:

    Huh? AAF plans to use existing track between Miami and the Space Coast. I haven’t heard about them not running freight trains over those tracks.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    They run fright in the ROW. They are building new tracks



    AAF Project. AAF-O plans to construct and operate an approximately 230-mile rail line
    that will run between Miami and Orlando. The Line would have stations in Miami, Fort
    Lauderdale, Orlando, and West Palm Beach. AAF-S plans to develop and manage the passenger
    stations to be constructed along the route. AAF states that approximately 200 miles of the Line,
    between Miami and Cocoa, Fla., would be built and operated within the existing FECR right-ofway
    along the east coast of Florida (the FEC Corridor), alongside FECR’s existing tracks.

    AAF intends to obtain any additional land needed for construction of the east-west segment of the
    Line connecting Cocoa and Orlando through the negotiation of leases or other rights to use
    certain rights-of-way owned by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the
    Orlando Orange County Expressway Authority (OOCEA).

    AAF states that it would also acquire the rights to minor segments of other land, where necessary, to optimize travel time. According to AAF, the FEC Corridor originally consisted of double-track rail that supported both freight and passenger service, although FECR ceased passenger operations in 1968, and much of the double-track rail has been removed. AAF further states that the existing right-of-way widths are typically at least 100 feet throughout the FEC Corridor, and that the system was built and maintained to Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Class IV track standards, permitting 60 mph freight and 79 mph passenger operations. Within the FEC Corridor, the plan is to use both tracks for freight and passenger service. In addition, AAF states that a new dispatch district controlled by FECR is planned between Miami and West Palm Beach for unified control of freight and passenger services.

    VBobier Reply:

    Agreed on all points, as all are valid points, but some will never see that.

  20. Roger Christensen
    Aug 17th, 2013 at 10:49

    Here in the Central Valley, as Judge Kenny’s ruling was about to hit, there was a lot of media fawning on the alternate universe of highway construction. Local newscasts featuring a happy farmer proud and thrilled to have 10 acres of his farmland used for the eastbound extension of 180. No funding identified yet for the future segment.
    Lost farmland. No funding. Everyone happy as clams.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Highway improvements remain popular in liberal coastal areas as well. It is best to just accept this reality as a given and try to stop the most outrageous freeway projects, meanwhile pimp transit as an alternative.

    Do I-5 now and worry about 99 when hsr is up and running and looking good.

    VBobier Reply:

    Those farmers are a bunch of short sighted and ignorant hypocrites…

    synonymouse Reply:

    who are feeding you.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    They are still short-sighted and hypocritical, which could eventually get to where they don’t feed us (or anyone else for that matter).

    Selling for subdivisions and all reminds me of the story, supposedly from California, of some doofus who, commenting about farm policy or ag subsidies or something, said, “What do we need farms for? We get our food at the supermarket.”

    Duh. . . .

    VBobier Reply:

    Exactly, thank you DP Lubic…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The farmers are up in arms because they think having the train come through will make their crop of McMansions worth less.

  21. Jos Callinet
    Aug 17th, 2013 at 10:55

    Donk, I could not agree with you more wholeheartedly. I truly do admire Robert Cruickshank’s forward-thinking on this subject, and wish as fervently as he that we get to see some true high speed rail built in this country in our lifetimes, but the more time goes by, the more it’s obvious the death-knell handwriting’s on the wall for this project.

    I truly don’t know where we as a nation can go from here. Stagnation, indecision and obstructionism now reign supreme in these United States. We have lost the desire to do “big things,” and now retrenchment is the wave of the future.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    The big mistake..and it was huge was by the Democrates and the President in 2009-10 not to get Oberstars transportation bill passed..AND they could have ..it had in it 56 Billion dollars for HSR..None of this BS in this ruling would be happening right now..we would have had 15 or 20 Billion dollar match for construction!!..All because they were afraid of raising the gas tax and losing congress…Which happened anyway…

  22. Tony D.
    Aug 17th, 2013 at 14:11

    Our “worst enemy,” oil, could wind up being our savior. Allow environmentally sound fracking of Monterey shale and.tax the hell out of it for HSR and other transportation needs. Fellow lefties won’t like this idea, but it could be our only way without the feds.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I believe that all environmentally sound fracking should be allowed, and that no fracking should be allowed at all. This is not a contradiction.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I started to go through, in detail, what it would take to do environmentally sound fracking. Before I was done, the costs had escalated to the point where any company trying to do it would be losing money on every cubic foot of natural gas pumped — even if natural gas tripled in price.

    Fracking is only profitable if it is done very unsafely and with reckless disregard for the local water supplies, the property rights of neighbors, and so on.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    There will be alot of other hands out for that money ..we still need a nationwide Transportation bill that has HSR in it…then we will be able to use this as a match for funding

  23. Clem
    Aug 17th, 2013 at 14:42

    Speaking of Tejon, the latest California Rail News has a comparison of Tehachapi vs. Tejon HSR. You may have seen it before, although maybe not in such stark, overlaid contrast! I think this article is quite timely, given the lack of funding now becoming apparent.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is timely and combined with Musk’s obvious out-of-hand dismissal of the Tehachapi detour and Judge Kerry’s extraordinarily hands-on decision this is the time when just maybe some change of mind might be forthcoming at the CHSRA.

    But I doubt it. IMHO it will take the replacement of both Brown and PB for any improvement to become possible. I would hope that hsr supporters will try to convince any potential GOP gubernatorial candidates to adopt at least a neutral position on the basic principle of hsr for California. Not pretty but I deem Brown-PB hopeless at this juncture and I believe a solid business case for the direct mountain rail crossing can be made and even austerity-minded conservatives can be brought around that it can pay for itself.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Guys, no funding is no money is…. What difference does it make which route you guys want? Either the Governor and legislature will cheat and lie and we carry on or its dead. Time for Plan B.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I am all in favor of Plan B if it gets back to the fastest route, which is what hsr is all about, speed.

    But I cannot imagine anyone at PB proposing Plan B. Van Ark did and look what happened to him.

    Unless maybe they got a better job offer lined up.

    VBobier Reply:

    Ah yes, back to cheapskate rail, thankfully yer in the minority Syno…

    Clem Reply:

    Did you know that private investors (especially those who have achieved a position where they can put billions on the table) are the biggest cheapskates of all?

    VBobier Reply:

    Sure, it’s called being Risk Averse, I’m well aware of it Clem, they want to see a good deal of Government money invested before they spend a dime of their own money.

    Clem Reply:

    That’s the thing you see, it’s not just about how much it will cost to build, but also about how much it will earn. The earnings part is broken in the current scheme, no matter how much (even 100%) government funding is available. They won’t touch it with a ten foot pole until the route starts to make some financial sense.

    VBobier Reply:

    Well it’s been proven that people do want to ride on Passenger Rail, as people have been buying more and more tickets to ride on Amtrak breaking records in passenger volume and not just in CA either, so that means HSR will have once it starts service will have ridership already built in, since people will go towards HSR, since HSR will replace Amtrak-California Service in CA and cause it’s higher speed it will attract more people and airline routes in CA between LA and SF will become unprofitable, as that is what happens in other countries that have HSR, since rail can carry more people than airplanes and freeways combined…

    Clem Reply:

    The route makes all the difference, when you factor in shorter infrastructure and quicker run times. Higher revenue, lower operations & maintenance costs, and of course lower capital costs, are things that matter greatly to private investors.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And, of course, these considerations are foremost in the minds of class one rr management. But no one even cared to consult with either the UP or BNSF. After all who gives a damn about whether it is easy or hard to put in a siding?

    I kinda think both the class ones may be emboldened to be a bit tougher in dealing with PB henceforth.

    VBobier Reply:

    That is not going to happen without significant Government investment, as private investors are highly risk averse…

    Clem Reply:

    If they are risk averse, why scare them off with a mountain crossing that is higher, longer, costs more to build, costs more to operate and maintain, and depresses fare revenue because it puts SoCal and NorCal 12 minutes further apart by express and 18 minutes further apart by local? Private investors can be forgiven for resisting this logic, and aren’t about to jump off the cliff just because the State of California did!

    VBobier Reply:

    That’s been covered already Clem, cause it’s less expensive to build where they want than to build in Tejon and making a loop to Palmdale to keep that City happy, since they would sue about the route and in fact they have done so in the past and they won…

    Clem Reply:

    Less expensive… yeah, suuuuure. Private investors agree through their refusal to fund this turkey.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Clem, “private investors” refuse to fund any route. So that doesn’t mean anything in terms of the relative costs of different routes.

    Clem Reply:

    Quite the contrary. Private investors will indeed fund some routes but not others.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    They will “fund” some routes Clem? Of course they will, but wait ’til you see the fine print. Private risk funding of this type of project died with the Channel Tunnel. They all sing “we won’t be fooled again” and will demand guarantees which amount to bond financing, not equity. In other words it’s guaranteed by the taxpayer one way or another. I have no argument with your technical analysis of the routes south of Bakersfield, but it won’t make a happorth of difference given where we are today.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Heck, I’d take the straight shot down 5 from LA to SF. Just make sure a spur line is included from Fremont to Diridon SJ. Make it happen Clem! ;)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Just make sure a spur line is included from Fremont to Diridon SJ.

    They are building that already, it’s called BART.

    BrianR Reply:

    How committed is Brown to Tehachapi vs. Tejon? Isn’t he just going along with what the CHSRA already decided? If it was up to Brown wouldn’t Altamont have been selected instead of Pacheco? At least that was his position as mayor of Oakland. Maybe Brown needs to exert more influence on the route structure.

    Obviously the people of Palmdale and San Jose are better served by a route structure that enables the entire system to be viable even if HSR does not serve them directly. The alternative of no HSR at all serves no one well. It’s analogous to a living organism or an ecosystem. Even the lowly shuttle bus can be a beautiful thing when it seamlessly connects you to a wider transportation network. A well planned network would hopefully convince Republicans and “red-state California” in counties not directly served by HSR that supporting the system is in their own interest as well (on the other hand it seems like a rare thing to find a Republican these days doesn’t rely solely on “morning zoo radio NewsTalk” to form all their opinions).

    If the CHSRA gets disbanded hopefully the project will at least go into dormancy with future revival under a new rail division as part of Caltrans as was previously recommended (by the GAO I think). I can’t imagine that a new organization under Caltrans control would repeat the mistakes of the past. I am sure there would still be problems (of the bay bridge variety) but Caltrans should see the value in routings that follow existing freeway corridors like the Grapevine and Altamont.

    Musk dismissively said the CHSRA project will become “California’s Amtrak”. Well, maybe under Caltran’s control it will just become an HSR component of the current ‘Amtrak California’ branding. Maybe not such a bad thing but if SNCF would be interested in the project again ‘SNCF California’ would inspire a hell of a lot more confidence!

    Lastly, as the prior week has revealed I don’t think there is need to worry anymore about San Jose or Silicon Valley corporate types objecting to a route change from Pacheco to Altamont. These people that constantly get off on listening to TED Talks bullshit on how capitalism and CEO’s will save humanity are too distracted by their glowing praise of Elon Musk and his imaginary Hyperloop. All these closet Ayn Randians clearly see Musk as “their Hank Rearden”. Well I guess Musk will prove something to all us “luddites” when he can demonstrate you can exit a Hyperloop by means other than in a body-bag!

    synonymouse Reply:

    That really is the question – what does Brown have against Tejon? Maybe Van Ark knows but maintains omerta.

    It is rumored that Calpers is invested in the Tejon Ranch Co. but the footprint of hsr thru the Ranch would be piddling, as Clem has described. It is a puzzlement, but I would like to see the GOP stance move from eliminating CAHSR to reforming.

    But absent Jerry seeing a cross in the sky over Tejon, I don’t hold out any hope for a conversion.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Maybe Van Ark knows but maintains omerta.

    If he doesn’t the black helicopters will come after him.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah, black helicopters from the NSA…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Professional courtesy and discretion but “leaks” from reliable sources can and do occur. Remember Watergate?

    Interesting aside from a poster on the Altamont site who knows the area and has toured the Ranch under official auspices. She says condors are there, altho naturlich the Ranch denies this. This would apply to the east side of their huge property as well. Point being the shortest route with mostly in tunnel always impinges the least on the natural environment and any endangered species that might dwell therein.

    Donk Reply:

    Great summary. Too bad nobody reads California Rail News. Good ideas get banished to the CAHSRblog and California Rail News while bad ideas like Elon Musk’s make national headlines.

    Mark Reply:

    Give it up guys. Tejon is not going to happen. Period. It’s a nice side fantasy but that’s all it is, a fantasy. It’s place like Palmdale that have kept HSR alive with support and enthusiasm. Thankfully the same circlejerk that goes on here has no real power or authority on any type of decision-making having to do with any part of this project.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You are being too harsh on Musk, who has performed an important service by bringing attention to the CAHSR miasma.

    Policy maker types like Perez and Leno, who are strictly hands-off when it comes to rail – just not interested, will never read California Rail News, but they do take notice of Musk and his wild-hair scheme. Utter zombie-grade apathy has plagued this project from the outset and if there ever were a time to rattle Moonbeam’s cage, this is it. I wish Lord Acton had coined a catchy observation about the dire consequences of brain-dead rubberstamping as well as the corrosive effect of power.

  24. Eric Knight
    Aug 17th, 2013 at 15:50

    Good advice I read over in the comment section of the San Francisco Chronicle….

    I say turn this project over to people who have demonstrated they can get the job done–say, a partnership between the Bay Bridge retrofit team and the America’s Cup organizers.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    No the Chinese..they have a real HSR system in just 8years..The USA is hopeless anymore on large scale projects…

  25. trentbridge
    Aug 17th, 2013 at 17:03

    Either the political will exists in Sacamento to see this project proceeds or it doesn’t. The “source of all funds to be invested in the IOS” has to be identified. Sooner or later this matter had to be addressed – according to Judge Kenny – sooner. Obviously the GOP House is adamant that the Federal Government will not provide any required funds for CAHSR so it’s up to the state. It is unrealistic to see the House changing hands inside of four years so California has to put on “its big boy pants” and rectify this situation. The economy is growing here in California and the yawning abyss of state budget deficits has closed. In the long run, this hiccup is positive. The weakness of the whole plan was to start building and then imagine the rest of the funds would appear from some magical place – now the flaw has to be addressed immediately. This makes this project much more a State of California venture – and less dependent on Federal funding. In the end we might be grateful that we build it ourselves.

  26. Jos Callinet
    Aug 17th, 2013 at 17:04

    On Wednesday, August 14, I was in Germany, and rode an ICE between Hamburg and Frankfurt. There were sections on that line where we were really “tearing along” at, I would guess, at least 125 MPH. The track was smooth, and the train raced thru open countryside and tunnels in alternation, all at the same high rate of speed and very smoothly. If we high-speed rail advocate are serious about getting some decent high speed rail built in this country, we could do worse than to hire some of Deutche Bahn’s (DB’s) experienced civil engineering staff to design and build a sample section of the line. Then buy one or more sets of DB’s latest all-emu ICE train-sets and give people a demonstration ride on a completed segment of line. It would not take very long before people would be genuinely impressed with the performance, ride quality and speed of these trains, and opposition to HSR would at least have some real-life competition – a true-life “show and tell” demonstration. Right now, all we have is speculation and hot air.

    Edward Carroll Reply:

    The present top speed on that line is 300 km/hr (186 mph).

    I rode the Cologne to Frankfurt Airport line last month. Left my hotel in Cologne at 7:45 am. Took the train just before 7 and got to FRA at 7:50. Checked my bag with Lufthansa at the station, went through passport control and security and was at the gate by 8:30. Then I realized that I had passed a lounge and there was time for breakfast before my 9:40 flight. The Lufthansa Business Lounge had a great breakfast buffet and free WiFi.

    It was only two weeks before that I had realized that my lowly silver class frequent flier status gave me lounge access in Germany as a coach passenger. Yes, there is such a thing as (almost) free beer.

    Edward Carroll Reply:

    Everyone is so tied up in the various HSR debates that nobody even noticed that I got from my hotel to FRA in five minutes flat. Make that departure 6:45 am.

    jonathan Reply:

    On Wednesday, August 14, I was in Germany, and rode an ICE between Hamburg and Frankfurt. There were sections on that line where we were really “tearing along” at, I would guess, at least 125 MPH.

    125 mi/hr? 200 km/hr? Gosh, really? I hope you enjoyed your mid-1960s train ride, then.

  27. Jos Callinet
    Aug 17th, 2013 at 17:09

    Amtrak’s Acela is a pig in a poke by comparison with what DB and SNCF are offering, so we mustn’t waste our time relying on it as an example of what HSR can do.

  28. Keith Saggers
    Aug 18th, 2013 at 09:10
  29. Derek
    Aug 18th, 2013 at 12:31

    The Case for Letting Nonprofits Run Public Transit
    By Eric Jaffe, The Atlantic Cities, 2013-08-16

    All too often, transit agencies try to be everything to everyone. They try to attract more riders to generate revenue, and they also try to cover more space in the metro area to serve the public…

    …transit agencies are managed by boards whose members are beholden to an elected official in some way or another. That makes every decision to change a route, raise a fare, or negotiate new labor contracts a politically charged debate rather than an objective business move…

    Private donors don’t usually money to the government, but they do give to non-profits…

    A good first candidate to make the shift into non-profit hands? Try Caltrain, says Aggarwala.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Well, one can certainly say this is thinking outside the box.

    TomA Reply:

    What happens if people don’t give enough to cover the shortfall in funding? Just stop running the rail?

  30. Resident
    Aug 18th, 2013 at 17:26

    agbt – Its the CHSRA that has been hoisted by their own petard.

  31. Reedman
    Aug 18th, 2013 at 19:55

    In other bad news for California transit:
    – the union for AC Transit workers rejected their latest contract (9.5 percent raise).

    The BART workers will likely use this as a benchmark for their “cooling off period” negotiations that Jerry Brown is orchestrating.

  32. synonymouse
    Aug 18th, 2013 at 20:11

    This comes as a surprise as obviously the union leadership must have recommended a yes vote.

    Jerry has a union problem.

  33. D. P. Lubic
    Aug 18th, 2013 at 23:16

    Off topic, but fun–a video promoting the SMART service:


  34. Elizabeth
    Aug 19th, 2013 at 02:21

    Our take on the case

    For those who can’t get enough HSR,

    *Lots of new documents posted by the high speed rail peer review group, including review of O&M costs by the UIC at

    *We have new regional consultant reports on our website

    *The ridership peer review panel’s latest reports are up

    Aug 19th, 2013 at 09:27

    As someone who worked on the legal team that achieved this victory and who has lived with the minutiae of Prop 1A for years, I can say that the issue is simple. The HSRA never produced a financially feasible plan: they acknowledged that private capital was essential, then refused to let go of the political deals that made the project a money-loser. Clem’s posts in this thread are right-on.

    This conflict between the entities that benefit from playing politics (Richard’s rent-seekers) and the delivery of a viable HSR project reached a climax when HSRA turned down SNCF’s funded proposal to build SF-LA and insisted it remain secret. They couldn’t allow the conflict–and their abuse of the public interest–to be known.

    They knew full well that Fresno-Bakersfield didn’t qualify for HSR Bond funds, but insisted on proceeding there, thinking no one would have the balls to take them on. We’ve called their bluff, and they had nothing. Their project is dead. Only the terms of surrender remain…

    TRANSDEF wants the State to seek offers from HSR operators willing to invest in California (and throw out all the work done by HSRA). We hope others on this blog can get behind the idea of a business-driven project, rather than the pork barrel we’ve had for the past decade.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Just give me electrified/modernized Caltrain from SJ to SF and I’ll be happy! For I’ve personally given up on the “dream” of true HSR in California. The (gulp!) Naysayers and obstructionists have won…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Congrats on the win, I know it was long and hard in coming

    synonymouse Reply:

    I’d suggest you hold off on breaking out the champagne. You are way underestimating the sheer mindless power and inertia of the massive Burton patronage machine.

    AFAIK there is no indication whatsoever of any change of plan at the Moonbeam bunker. Age tends to make one more obstinate and not even aware of the drift. I see that tendency in spades chez M. Brown. Strictly my way or the highway.

    He really has a problem with his out-of-control unions and they know as a machine functionary he is weak. The last thing he wants to do is crack down on them and endanger his coalition. They want so much fares will have to be raised or service cut absent laundering money from the State and just turning it over to them. This is not sitting well with a large swath of voters, not just Repubs.

    Everything about DogLegRail screams government ownership and operation, extensive subsidies and militant unionization. Just a big BART.

    But that is exactly what the machine has always wanted; don’t count them down and out at all as yet. They will be pulling some cute tricks.

    Derek Reply:

    TRANSDEF wants the State to seek offers from HSR operators willing to invest in California (and throw out all the work done by HSRA).

    For the best chance of success, the State should put in a non-compete clause. This means the 4,295 lane-miles of freeway and 115 new airport gates and 4 new runways must not be allowed to be built.

    TRANSDEF wants the State to seek offers from HSR operators willing to invest in California (and throw out all the work done by HSRA). We hope others on this blog can get behind the idea of a business-driven project…

    You’ll find some support for that here.

  36. JB in PA
    Aug 19th, 2013 at 11:38

    Off Topic
    Trans Bay Terminal loop track. Gets the job done with only a moderate amount of extra cubic fathoms of concrete.

    Ah to turn the clock back and do it right.

  37. Mike
    Aug 19th, 2013 at 11:40

    Reading the actual decision now. Very curious. Much hinges on the judge having equated IOS with “usable segment.” Did the parties dispute this and brief on it, or had the financing plan itself equated the two? Judge notes that “the concept of an Initial Construction Segment does not appear anywhere in [Prop 1A]” but he fails to note that Initial Operating Segment also does not appear. He erroneously states that SB1029 appropriated funds to construct IOS South (rather than ICS), and fails to note that SB1029 was not predicated on the plan under his review but rather on a subsequent revised plan.

    Mike Reply:

    Oh, “it is the IOS South, and not the ICS, that the Authority explicitly defined as the ‘coridor or usable segment thereof’ that the funding plan addresses.” So apparently the Authority gave away this point. WTF?

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    So, is there a “legisture solution”?
    Is the ruling “ripe for repeal”?

    Mike Reply:

    Dunno, but further corrections to my notes above:

    SB1029 does indeed explicitly say that it is an appropriation for the IOS (even though we all know that it was only for the ICS).
    The Authority never updated its Financing Plan (which was based upon the original draft 2012 business plan) to reflect changes made in the Revised 2012 Business Plan.
    And, as I noted above, the Authority itself equated IOS with “usable segment.”

    I’m no lawyer, but maybe they could have put themselves in a stronger position by having defined the ICS as the usable segment. Again, WTF?

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The point was ceded with the funding plan in 2011 which explicitly named the full IOS as the operating segment.

    As a reminder, the ICS is missing a few things, like electrification and signaling and not even the authority has suggested that madera to wasco will be a standalone hsr route.

    Mike Reply:

    But “standalone hsr route” is not a requirement of a usable segment. By definition, a usable segment is one with two stations. That’s it. There’s a couple more things that must be shown of a usable segment in the financing plan. The simple interpretation is that the usable segment needs to be ready for HSR service, but that’s not the only interpretation. It would have been interesting, and more sporting, had the parties argued “what is a usable segment” under Prop 1A.

    Resident Reply:

    If you look at 2704.08 you’ll see why the usable segment has to be a standalone complete HSR ready segment, longer than just the ICS. Because 2704.08 (d) says they are required to provide a ridership model for that usable segment and they are required to show it will completed and ready and capable of HST operation with the funding plan submitted, (whether or not they plan to run HSR or not, still says it has to be completed and ready) and it says the usable segment has to be able to operate without subsidy. Its very clear that the intent of the bond was to ensure that complete usable segments capable and HSR ready were being built and fully funded, one section at a time, not just partial segments, not just random components, not just stranded segments that wouldn’t serve any HSR purpose if no further funding ever came to be.

    Mike Reply:

    I agree that this is the simple and commonsense reading, but it is not the ONLY reading. Regardless, the Authority conceded the point, so we’ll never know how it might have been argued and decided.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Then you are back to them having to find a contractor who can have everything, including revenue generating passegers, appear in the same instant along the segment. They can’t dig the holes and not fill them up until the next day and put tracks on top of it later in the week and catenary and signals the next week because that means they aren’t building everything all at once.

    jonathan Reply:

    Nope, wrong. Resident has been over that point before.
    CHSRA just has to line up funding for track, AND signalling, AND electrification (and whatever else falls under ” the including but not limited to”). They don’t have to do it all at at once, like Athena springing forth; but they do have to identify funding.

    VBobier Reply:

    Signaling and electrification would have to be guarded from metal thieves until activated, in any case nothing will result from this ruling, at least unless the legislature wants to do something and they could, We’ll will just have to wait and see what the fallout of this null ruling has on the legislature, if anything at all.

    Alan Reply:

    Yeah, the Authority kind of shot themselves in the foot with that. Under the legal definition of “usable segment”, the IOS South does qualify, because it contains more than two stations. The problem seems to be that the funding plan only requested money for the ICS, which is a *portion* of that “usable segment”. It sounds like the answer would be for the Authority to define future “usable segments” to be closer to the legal definition–at least two stations, but no more than the current funding allows.

    If the judge were to require that the current funding plan be rescinded and revised, it seems that the answer would be to redefine the plan’s “usable segment” as the IOS. That’s legal, since it includes at least two stations. That would seem to be comparable to the instances where an EIR had to be rescinded and revised–once those documents corrected the faults found by the court, work could continue.

    The judge certainly could have considered whether or not the ICS by itself constituted a “usable segment”, despite the Authority’s error in the funding plan. But nothing required that he do so, and obviously, he did not.

    But the question still remains: Can the court order the rescission of SB 1029? It seems unlikely. That may explain why the judge questioned whether or not a remedy was available, and chose not to issue a writ.

    Alan Reply:

    And a revised funding plan would also have to wait until the EIR was done for the segment south of Fresno. Or, divide the ICS into two “usable segments” with two funding plans. That way, Merced-Fresno could begin, because the money is in hand *and* the environmental work is done.

    synonymouse Reply:

    No doubt the entire Burton patronage machine will now be “leaning” on the Judge, John Friendly style.

    jonathan Reply:

    What the hell is the “Burton patronage machine”? Is this like your former, oft-repeated claims that the Chandler family was, in 2012, still in control of the Tejon Ranch Co. and the LA Times?

    VBobier Reply:

    Knowing synos ranting, probably.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    This article is meant to be a thought piece to demonstrate that with the proper mix of revenues, California can pay for high-speed rail. SPUR.

    Our assumptions are as follows:
    •An increase in the gas tax of 6 cents per gallon for 20 years
    •Road tolls of $4 per vehicle on six highways that parallel high-speed rail as it enters the Bay Area and Southern California
    •An $8.50 increase in the annual vehicle license fee (VLF) for 20 years
    •A regional general obligation bond for green power for Caltrain and BART that also includes $1 billion for electrification and grade separation
    •$13 billion from the annual state cap-and-trade auction revenues until 2020
    •Various value capture tools (impact fee, tax increment, Mello Roos district) at five high-speed rail stations

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Let see

    Our assumptions are as follows:
    •An increase in the gas tax of 6 cents per gallon for 20 years

    Good luck with that, but more possible than the below suggestions

    •Road tolls of $4 per vehicle on six highways that parallel high-speed rail as it enters the Bay Area and Southern California

    You cant toll a highway unless you pay back all the federal money used to maintain it. Other than that and needing a toll system, infastructure, etc not to mention political will, this is a great idea

    •An $8.50 increase in the annual vehicle license fee (VLF) for 20 years

    Didn’t we recall the last govenor who did this?

    •A regional general obligation bond for green power for Caltrain and BART that also includes $1 billion for electrification and grade separation

    paid back with????

    •$13 billion from the annual state cap-and-trade auction revenues until 2020

    Can an trade is not going to make $13 billion by 2020.

    •Various value capture tools (impact fee, tax increment, Mello Roos district) at five high-speed rail stations

    Code for “raise other taxes until the books balance

    Its a great plan, the Dems should put it front and center

    thatbruce Reply:

    @John Nachtigall:

    You cant toll a highway unless you pay back all the federal money used to maintain it. Other than that and needing a toll system, infastructure, etc not to mention political will, this is a great idea

    The current ‘experiments’ on introducing tolling to the former HOV lanes on I-10 and I-110 near downtown LA show that it is possible to have new toll infrastructure on federal roads. I can’t say that I agree with aspects of the implementation of it, which now requires carpoolers to maintain a Fastrak account, but it’s an interesting exercise in nonetheless.

    •An $8.50 increase in the annual vehicle license fee (VLF) for 20 years

    Didn’t we recall the last govenor who did this?

    After being happy that he’d (Davis) cut the VLF during the dot-com-boom, we got unhappy when he had to later restore it in an attempt to balance the post-dot-com-boom budget. Then we got the Governator.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The experiments are just that, exceptions to the current federal law. No way it goes mainstream on all lanes of an existing free road which was the suggestion.

    And yep, people are filckle but consistent about hating making driving expensive which is why all these suggestions are non starters

    Mike Reply:

    Alan, the judge seems to be saying pretty clearly that he cannot block the legislative action to appropriate funds in SB1029. The substantive grounds are more compelling than the procedural grounds. Viz., nothing in Prop 1A prohibits the Legislature from appropriating funds even if the funding plan is deficient; Prop 1A leaves the appropriation decision to the “collective wisdom” of the Legislature; the Court has no authority to block that exercise of judgement.

    What’s left is potentially to block the Authority’s own adoption of the funding plan and any actions that followed from it. Were there any? My hunch is that the only action that followed from the Authority’s adoption of the funding plan is the Legislature’s action to appropriate (which the Court can’t and won’t block), with other Authority actions then following from the legislative appropriation.

    Resident Reply:

    Well, lets see… there’s the selection of the contractor, there’s the offers and purchases underway of property, there’s been hiring, there’s impending ‘ground breaking’, etc. All of the decisions on the committing and spending of funds are decisions being made by the authority. Legislature only authorized the sale of the bonds – the actual spending decisions are being made by the authority.

    In fact, all the requirements within 2704.08 (d) are within the decision control authorization of the authority – have nothing to do with submission to the legislature – so it looks to me like the judge could block all spending decisions being made by the authority pending full compliance with 2704.08 (d), and still leave the legislative appropriation in SB102 completely alone.

    Mike Reply:

    Not quite. What the Legislature did was appropriate funds to the Authority. (Sale of bonds has actually not been authorized yet.) All the things you listed are indeed actions of the Authority, but my hypothesis is they follow from the legislative appropriation of funds. In other words, the Authority wouldn’t/couldn’t have undertaken them purely on the basis of its own approval of the funding plan; rather the Authority had to wait for the Legislature to appropriate, so the actions flow from the appropriation.

    Resident Reply:

    Ok, my understanding is that AB1029 is the legislative approval for the sale of bonds = appropriation? But in any case, those bonds sit idle until the authority goes out and enters in to contracts, and makes offers, accepts offers, hires workers, and in general makes spending commitments. Those spending and commitment actions by the authority are well within the scope of judge to stop. He doesn’t have to make some grand stand ruling against AB1029 to put a halt to action by the authority. All he has to do is require the authority to show him that they meet the requirements of 2704.08 (d), for IOS (Usable Segment), before they can make any more spending commitments.

    VBobier Reply:

    Doubt that will happen, so give it up, it’s a toothless ruling.

    Resident Reply:

    Both the Draft Business plan (attached to the funding plan submitted to legislature for appropriation vote) AND the subsequent Revised 2012 Business Plan state clearly that the IOS, and specifically in revised IOS-South as the Usable Segment. They say the ICS is the first construction segment of the IOS.

    How could the authority now go in to court and try to claim that the ICS is The Usable Segment? They’d be required to submit a ridership model for that usable segment – stand alone – to prove it.

    ICS is not a usable segment, and they HAD to choose a much larger segment, because there can be no ridership/revenue models that would defend a standalone HSR operation that could operate without subsidy on the ICS by itself.

    One of the densely populated bookends might have qualified as a Usable Segment but the funding available would have NEVER covered an entire bookend section, the political opposition would have continue to be too strong, the environmental process mired, AND the Feds prohibited them from starting there with the ARRA funds anyway.

    Mike Reply:

    I wouldn’t expect them to try to change the usable segment at this point; that horse has left the barn. But I’m still not convinced that the ICS couldn’t have been the usable segment. Here’s how to deal with the ridership and revenue point. “Ridership zero; revenue zero. We’re not planning to operate service on this first usable segment. Amtrak might, but we’re not. When we complete the full IOS, we forecast ridership of XXX and revenue of YYY that will come from the stations on this first usable segment.”

    Alan Reply:

    Remember, under SHC 2704.01(g), a “usable segment” is defined as a portion of a corridor which includes at least two stations. Nothing more. They don’t have to provide any ridership model to meet that requirement. And I think you’re correct that in order to meet the requirements of 2704.08, a “zero/zero” projection would work. It has to be remembered that one of the purposes for the ICS is to use it as a test track. A test track must be built before rolling stock can be certified for service, and rolling stock must be certified before revenue service can begin. So obviously, there has to be a period of time during which the ICS will be in use for testing, but no ridership or revenue can be obtained. If revenue was required the moment the ICS was complete, but before rolling stock can be certified, we’d enter into an infinite “chicken and egg” loop.

    Keeping in mind the requirement that a “usable segment” need only include at least two stations to qualify, the Authority could revise the business and funding plans to define the “usable segment” for this funding request as Merced – Bakersfield. That doesn’t change the definition of IOS. It would be in line with the technical corrections and changes that the Authority has been required to make in the various EIR’s.

    As far as restraining the Authority from spending any of the SB1029 proceeds on construction: Nothing in AB3034 gives the court authority to do so. And as far as getting an injunction or writ under CCP 526a (the other part of the Tos suit), to me it’s a bit of a stretch. I think the plaintiffs would have to prove that the errors made in the definition of “usable segment” by the Authority, and the fact that the environmental clearances hadn’t yet been completed, would have made a significant difference in the decision of the Legislature to approve SB1029. I don’t think they can do that. The legislators are not stupid people; and the funding plan was quite clear that the funds were being requested for Merced-Bakersfield, and nothing more. That being the case, it’s hard to argue that the Legislature didn’t know exactly what they were voting on. And as long as the Authority complies with the conditions in SB1029, it is acting within its lawful authority in expending those funds.

    Resident Reply:

    The authority already tried to use the ICS to meet the Usable segment critiera, with zero ridership and zero revenue. That’s exactly what was just litigated. Since the authority themselves have stated in multiple business plans over multiple years that the ICS is only a subset of a usable segment, it would be pretty amazing to get the judge to say, OH… You’re CHANGING THE NAME of the ICS to IOS. Well, why didn’t you say so? THAT’s a horse of a different color!

    And you say Nothing in AB3034 gives the court authority to compel them to follow AB3034? That’s an interesting position, judges don’t have authority to give restraining orders, or injunctions or enforce provisions of contracts, at all then? Do contracts usually say in writing : ‘a judge has permission to compel me to follow this contract or else I can’t be held to this contract? I believe the law gives the judge the authority to enforce the law.

    Whether the legislators are stupid people, or corrupt people, or greedy people.. that’s certainly another debate to be had.

    Mike Reply:

    It’s not just Alan who says that AB3034 gives the court no authority to block SB1029, it’s the judge himself who says that. Look at the decision, page 13, lines 6-15. The link to the decision is in the first line of Robert’s post.

    Resident Reply:

    Oh, I misunderstand – I don’t disagree that he is saying he can’t block SB1029 (In this lawsuit, because the legislature wasn’t named).

    But AB3034 gives him the authority to block further improper spending and commitment of bond funds of the CSHRA under AB3034.

    Resident Reply:

    What I meant so say was – I misunderstood that your argument was that he wouldn’t block the legislature in approving the funding plan in SB1029. He doesn’t have to. My argument is that he doesn’t have to, to block the authority from further spending under AB3034.

    Resident Reply:

    So, you’re suggesting that AB1029 overrides the terms and conditions for the bond funds, for committing bond funds, under AB3034. That’s incorrect, the legislature doesn’t have the power to ignore the voter approved bond measure, and authorize those bond funds for other purposes that don’t meet the voter approved law.

    If that were possible that would pretty much wreak havoc with California’s bond market. In fact, they would never have to try to get a water bond, a HSR bond, or anything else approved. He could get any kind of bond approved and use it for anything they wanted.

    But the CHSRA can take that to court in another lawsuit if they wish to try that. They’d be remiss and then people really could say they were stupid.

    Resident Reply:

    FYI, here’s what SB1029 says about meeting the requirements of AB3034

    5. No funds appropriated in
    this item shall be
    encumbered prior to the
    High-Speed Rail Authority
    submitting a detailed
    funding plan for the
    project or projects in
    accordance with
    subdivision (d) of Section
    2704.08 of the Streets and
    Highways Code to (a) the
    Department of Finance, (b)
    the Chairperson of the
    Joint Legislative Budget
    Committee, and (c) the
    peer review group
    established pursuant to
    Section 185035 of the
    Public Utilities Code.
    6. No funds appropriated in
    this item shall be
    encumbered for
    construction of a project
    prior to completion of all
    environmental clearances
    necessary to proceed to
    construction and the final
    notices being contained in
    the funding plan for the
    7. Prior to the obligation of
    funds to any specific
    project, and subject to
    the approval of the
    Department of Finance, the
    High-Speed Rail Authority
    Board shall develop an
    accountability plan,
    consistent with Executive
    Order S-02-07, to
    establish criteria and
    procedures to govern the
    expenditure of the bond
    funds in this
    appropriation, and the
    outcomes that such
    expenditures are intended
    to achieve, including a
    detailed project
    description and project
    cost. The procedures shall
    ensure that the
    investments comply with
    requirements of applicable
    state and federal laws,
    and are consistent with
    and advance the state high-
    speed train system.

    Resident Reply:

    2704.08 (d) when all requirements taken together, along with the defintions of “Usable Segment” “Corridor” and “HST”, I believe that it would be pretty steep to argue that the law is somehow not requiring to show that the Usable Segment will be fully funded, fully completed and ready for HST operation, with the specifically identified and committed funds available, and that it will be usable by an HST system with the funds available, and if usable will be able to operate (something) subsidy free, with appropriate backup via revenue/ridership studies required, etc. If the authority had thought they could get away with building segments of holes in the ground, with no intended ridership usage of any kind when completed, they probably would have tried it already.

    (Oh, I guess they did. Its called the ICS plan.. Didn’t work. Does changing the name from ICS to IOS change the substance of what they’ve already proposed? No.)

    BTW, 2704.08 (d) says any passenger service operating on that segment would be required to operate subsidy free. I don’t think the Amtrak argument avoids the ridership question. And per 2704.08 (d), the segment would still need to be HST complete anyway, fully permitted, etc., etc, etc.

    ” (B) if so completed, the corridor or usable segment thereof
    would be suitable and ready for high-speed train operation, (C) upon
    completion, one or more passenger service providers can begin using
    the tracks or stations for passenger train service, (D) the planned
    passenger train service to be provided by the authority, or pursuant to
    its authority, will not require operating subsidy,

    thatbruce Reply:


    Just to be clear, any Amtrak or Amtrak California service which might be operated over the ICS while it waits for further funding to transform it into an AB3034 ‘usable segment’ would not be a ‘passenger train service … provided by the authority’, and would not be receiving an operating subsidy from the California High Speed Rail Authority.

    The operating subsidy the non-high-speed Amtrak-branded train would be receiving if it operates over the ICS would be its current one(s) via the Caltrans Division of Rail.

    Resident Reply:

    Just to be clear, its says “or pursuant to its authority” that means ‘ or in accordance with its authority’. And its authority only allows for no operation without operating subsidy.

    And it does not say ‘operating subsidy from the CHSRA’, it says “will not require operating subsidy” (period).

    Any operating subsidy.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah any CHSRA subsidy, not an Amtrak subsidy meant only for Amtrak, Amtrak runs on whatever rails are available to it.

    thatbruce Reply:


    Those conditionals are hard to parse, aren’t they?

    Yes, you are absolutely right that when the CHSRA starts up a passenger train operation over an AB3034 ‘usable segment’, there can be no operating subsidy. Completely and utterly correct.

    However, what I said, and how any sensible mention of Amtrak and the ICS has been phrased, is that Amtrak-branded trains would not be operating over a ‘usable segment’ as AB3034 defines it. The suggestion of Amtrak using the ICS tracks is that it would be prior to the ‘ICS’ being completed to AB3034 ‘usable segment’ status, however long that would take.

    Once it has been completed to AB3034 ‘usable segment’ status (which includes the ability to operate high speed trains over it) and the authority starts (or permits to start) a passenger service under the auspices of its authority, then this clause takes effect and no operating subsidies can be permitted. At that point in time, if there is a subsidized Amtrak service operating over the former ICS tracks, it has to go back to its previous BNSF routing, be terminated at the start of the ICS for passengers to transfer to the HSR service, or some kind of weird subsidy/non-subsidy hybrid that will give accountants headaches.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Don’t fret, by that time Prop 1A will be utterly obliterated.

    But they will be selling the ICS, IOS, POS because the State cannot afford it anymore.

  38. StevieB
    Aug 19th, 2013 at 17:02

    Jerry Brown says high-speed rail ruling won’t stop project.

    Governor Brown was questioned by reporters at the Lake Tahoe Summit on Monday where he said, “It’s not a setback”

    He said the ruling “didn’t stop our spending, so we’re continuing. As we speak we’re spending money, we’re moving ahead.”…

    Brown said the ruling “didn’t stop anything … It raises some questions, and I think they’ll be answered within that judge’s framework.”…

    “We have to take bold steps,” Brown said. “I think we’re well on our way. If you read that decision carefully, there’s a lot of room for interpretation, and I think the outcome will be positive.”

  39. egk
    Aug 19th, 2013 at 17:52

    So resident:

    Is four reading that an Amtrak train that operates over the ics but requires no subsidy for this segment would meet the legal requirements?

    VBobier Reply:

    I think it will, baggers don’t like the idea…

  40. Jos Callinet
    Aug 19th, 2013 at 18:39

    Do ANY of us posters here truly believe ANYTHING SUBSTANTIVE for the CAHSR will ever ACTUALLY be built, or will one hitch after another endlessly surface to delay anything being built? My own very strong sense is that nothing of substance will end up on the ground – simply because there are way too many obstacles of every imaginable kind standing in the way. I am revealing the depths of my own very deep cynicism, I know, but the “track” record so far underscores it.

  41. Jos Callinet
    Aug 19th, 2013 at 18:44

    The endless delays will continue until the Feds’ timeline clock runs out in 2017 or whenever it is they’ve stipulated the stimulus funds have to be spent. It’s all working out to plan for the CAHSR’s opponents.

    VBobier Reply:

    We’ll have to just wait and see what really happens though, no choice.

  42. Useless
    Aug 19th, 2013 at 19:58

    Intercepted al Qaeda call reveals attack plan for European high-speed trains

    Al Qaeda is planning attacks on high-speed trains in Europe and the authorities in Germany have stepped up security on the country’s rail system, a German newspaper reported on Monday.

    The information about the planned attacks came from the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA), which apparently intercepted a call between senior al Qaeda members several weeks ago, the mass-circulation daily said.


    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Since Germany is against NSA spying shouldn’t they refuse to up security out of principle?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Note how this security still doesn’t mean security theater. Because Germany is not insane.

    Note also how we are told “the NSA intercepted a call between Al Qaida members” and not “the NSA intercepted a call between journalists and then had their partners detained at the airport.”

    Clem Reply:

    If you were trying to repair the NSA’s public image in Germany, this is exactly how you would do it. I’m not saying it’s a fake warning, but PR interests have a role to play and often use the press to great advantage by selectively highlighting certain nuggets of information.

  43. Clem
    Aug 19th, 2013 at 22:09

    Did y’all notice that IOS South is no longer ending at Sylmar? The new terminus is going to be Palmdale, because there’s only enough money for half a mountain crossing. Thanks again to CARRD for digging that up in regional consultant reports.

    morris brown Reply:

    That will do wonders for ridership numbers which I am sure will ensure that “no subsidy” will be required, and that profits when services starts are sure to pay to complete the system.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Palmdale real estate developers and Antonovich are surely going to love that. It is of virtually no value to them as they require a quasi-BART to LA.

    Alon Levy Reply:


    Clem Reply:

    Check out the latest regional consultant report available for the Tehachapi section on CARRD’s website.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    This one?

    Clem Reply:

    No, I misremembered where I read this important fact. It was in the Independent Peer Review of the California High-Speed Rail Ridership and Revenue Forecasting Process. See the beginning of section 3:

    Jeff Morales briefed the Panel by teleconference on issues faced by the Authority since the last meeting. The Authority is presently evaluating a revised initial operating segment that would
    operate between Merced and Palmdale. A large number of scenarios will be tested to identify the
    most efficient and cost-effective alternative. As part of this reorientation the Authority has
    requested a four-month extension to the deadline for submitting the 2014 Business Plan.

    There. The cat is out of the bag.

    rick rong Reply:

    When did this briefing occur: And does this mean the HSRA is considering a different “usable segment” than the one that was described in the funding plan?

    Clem Reply:

    The briefing occurred on April 11th, 2013. A bit over four months ago. This is corroborated by the engineering effort being reported by the Bakersfield – Palmdale regional consultant to devise alternatives for a terminal servicing facility in Lancaster, rather than in the San Fernando Valley.

    Meanwhile, there is concern that the ridership and revenue model will not have undergone sufficient updating even by the 4-month-late deadline for the 2014 business plan. As a reminder, the 2012 business plan predicted the following daily boardings for the year 2030 at Palmdale:

    IOS to San Fernando: 2000 to 3000 daily boardings in Palmdale (with another 9000 – 14000 at the terminus)
    Bay to Basin: 2700 to 4900 daily boardings at Palmdale
    Phase 1 Blended: 5500 to 8100 (enough to entirely fill more than 10 trains a day, nearly half of the entire SF ridership!)
    Full Build: 6900 to 8900

    You can see how, at least according to their ridership numbers, the Palmdale Trans-Antelope High Desert Terminal would need to triple in size if it were to be the IOS terminus.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals are on the job:

    A webinar was conducted by the PMT regarding O&M Cost Model upgrades. The Model was utilized to develop FCS cost estimates for electric and diesel service alternatives. The PMT prepared a preliminary operating plan for the Palmdale IOS scenarios (Palmdale transfer scenario and diesel-tow one-seat service to LAUS scenario) to generate capital and O&M cost estimates.

    Clem Reply:

    Les Sables de l’Antilope… except through a twisty canyon. Ladies and gentlemen, please expect the uphill ride to take a while longer than the downhill ride.

    The sheer level of incompetence and desperation on display here is just sad. Nice find.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Just imagine the hourly depreciation on the 350kmh-capable, redesigned-for-unique-American-conditions, super-train super-sized fleet they will undoubtedly buy to provide this service.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    And the maintenance costs through tighter curves than exist anywhere on European mainlines.

    synonymouse Reply:

    My best guess is that they will bite the bullet with forced transfer and let the machine deal with any Prop 1A promise conflicts. I should think dual fuel with diesel storage tanks onboard would kick in hazmat precautions in those DogLeg tunnels, especially after Santiago de Compostela.

    As to the Judge’s ruling, which still has me scratching my head, here’s a thought. He averred any attempt to quash, by writ or otherwise, with the expectation that Brown-PB-CHSRA would immediately appeal it to a higher and more obsequious court. So not only would Kerry have incurred the retribution of the machine but be humiliated by being overruled. This way he gets to express reservations shared by many in the bureaucracy without ruffling too many feathers.

  44. Observer
    Aug 19th, 2013 at 22:10

    All this has left me comparing the two HSR routes, that is the I-5 alignment between S.F. and L.A. vs the current alignment that the CAHSRA has been working on. Yes the I-5 alignment may be shorter, cheaper, less litigation; but I see it as little more than a business class type of shuttle between S.F and L.A. whereas the current route hits many more population centers directly – yes it is longer, more expensive and more litigation; but overall – I anyway think it will better serve the population – a valuable public service that will better get people out of their cars vs just getting business travelers out of shuttle jets flying between S.F. and L.A.. Myself anyway I am wondering if a business type shuttle (I-5) is really what this state wants vs a high speed train that directly serves more people and will be more of a game changer. Just my opinion.

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