HSR Builders Open Fresno Office

Sep 25th, 2013 | Posted by

It may not be the groundbreaking, but it’s still an economic boost as the high speed rail contractors haveopened their downtown Fresno office:

Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons, the team of firms hired to design and build the first 29 miles of high-speed rail in the Fresno-Madera area, was welcomed to downtown Fresno with an open house Tuesday.

About two dozen managers and engineers from the three companies have relocated to Fresno in recent weeks, settling into offices on the third, fourth and fifth floors of the Grand Tower, the former San Joaquin Power Co. building at Tuolumne and Fulton streets. The number of employees will eventually balloon to as many as 250 as staff are added to handle engineering and construction supervision chores.

250 staff is a significant number for a downtown like Fresno – that’s the equivalent to a mid-size corporation opening up an office. Those staff will be spending money downtown and elsewhere in Fresno, providing a boost to the local economy. It’s not a huge boost, but it’s not a small one either, and will provide some welcome customers for downtown businesses.

The point of even writing about this office opening is to serve as a reminder of what will happen when construction gets under way later this year. Construction on the Fresno section is estimated to create 20,000 jobs which will be a major economic stimulus for a region badly in need of it. Central Valley Republican members of Congress may not care about the economic needs of their constituents. But the legislature and the governor clearly do, and thanks to their efforts, Fresno is about to get a much needed economic jolt. This downtown office is just one step in that direction.

  1. Tony D.
    Sep 26th, 2013 at 06:20
    #1

    We may never get full HSR between the Bay Area and LA, but at least Fresno got an economic boost from Prop. 1A. ?…

    VBobier Reply:

    CA may have to fund HSR all on our own and CA is quite able to do so, 10th largest economy in the world, Right between France and Italy(IMF & CIA World fact book), good enough to almost rival the rest of US I’d bet at $1.9 Trillion or 13.06% of the United States gross domestic product (GDP).

    Tony D. Reply:

    You know what, although I’ve personally given up on this project, a part of me still hopes your right…
    (Not holding breath)

    Travis D Reply:

    Why would you give up? From my perspective things are going great.

    nslander Reply:

    If you’ve already given up on the project, you never had the stomach for the political ****-storm that was equally inevitable and predictable.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Most of the mierda could have been avoided had they used the I-5 corridor and Tejon.

    Just make Barry Zoeller an offer he can’t refuse. It is called payola – the Burton machine wrote the book on it.

    jimsf Reply:

    pointless. if that had been the project it never would have passed the vote. nor would it be useful.

    StevieB Reply:

    Most of the economic benefit could have been avoided had they used the I-5 corridor and Tejon.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Quite the contrary – the Tejon, I-5, Altamont alternative could approximately break even whilst the DogLeg will bleed red ink and require permanent taxpayer life support.

    VBobier Reply:

    Sorry Syno Tejon won’t and can’t support itself, Tehachapi can by going Palmdale. ;p

    Don’t like that? Sue Me…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Palmdale commute detour a sure loser.

    Joey Reply:

    So I’m going to go ahead and disagree with both of you – once Phase 1 is complete, the inclusion/exclusion of Palmdale and the associated additional trackage will probably not have a meaningful effect on ridership or revenue.

    Clem Reply:

    The CHSRA’s own ridership and revenue models show otherwise. There is a big increase in revenue ($100M/year) from shorter trip times between Norcal and Socal, and a significant reduction ($60M/year) in operating expenses from fewer train-miles when avoiding the detour.

    To put it simply: a stop in Palmdale puts Norcal and Socal about 13 to 18 minutes further apart than they need to be.

    (13 minutes delay if the train is not stopping in Palmdale, and 18 minutes delay if it does stop)

    StevieB Reply:

    The economic benefit of California high speed rail for the citizens of the state is not increased by maximizing revenue by bypassing intermediate stations to decrease travel time between the endpoints. Maximizing revenue and profits is of benefit to the railroad operator which will be a corporation. The state benefits from the increased transportation options afforded riders at those intermediate stops you would bypass. This conflict of interests is why the route and stations are determined by the state and not the eventual operator.

    Joey Reply:

    Maximizing revenue is relevant if you (1) have loans to pay off or (2) want to finance additional phases with operating surpluses.

    joe Reply:

    Maximizing revenue is relevant if you (1) have loans to pay off or (2) want to finance additional phases with operating surpluses.

    Maximizing? No – the system need only produce revenue to pay back the debt and expand. Maximizing revenue is not necessary and if maximizing revenue compromises the societal benefit of the system, it’s bad.

    jimsf Reply:

    yes but if you are going to build a system built it to serve the most people. In any case the porject I voted for said it would be this”>….. so thats what I expect them to do.

    And no one cares about 13-18 minutes.

    Joey Reply:

    Maximizing? No – the system need only produce revenue to pay back the debt and expand

    Well obviously it’s not absolutely necessary, but there’s always a tradeoff involved. Given limited federal and private assistance, having less revenue means that it will take longer to accumulate the necessary funding for phase 2 extensions. Would it be worth it if (for instance) serving Palmdale resulted in the Sacramento and San Diego extensions being delayed five years?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How many years would changing the route delay completing San Francisco to Los Angeles?

    synonymouse Reply:

    As soon as the Tejon base tunnel is done you have a quite viable starter hsr. If only LA to Bako. Take the time it took to mine the longer St. Gotthard and then add maybe 2 years for planning and 3 for California procrastination and you probably have an approximate. 15 years, maybe less with motivation.

    The base tunnel would cost the same as the DogLeg tunnels and would cope with the Ranch blockade. Does have some possible non-hazmat freight potential, say UPS trains.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    for the 9 gazillionth time ya don’t run freight over HSR tracks when there is a viable alternative. There’s a viable alternative, the one they have been using since 1876

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ adirondacker

    Never is a long, long time. If a broke State has to divest(aka privatize)a railroad it cannot afford to own and maintain any more, who’s going to buy it other than railroad interests?

    If the Swiss run freight thru their even longer base tunnels anything is possible.

    synonymouse Reply:

    A direct, straight route with a 1% ruling gradient could exercise a certain appeal on the likes of UP-BNSF.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The commonalities between Swiss freight and UP/BNSF: they run on standard-gauge tracks, and carry freight.

    The differences: pretty much everything else.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Swiss don’t have viable alternate routes.

    I suppose over geologic time spans the mountains under Tejon Pass could erode enough that sending freight that way may make sense. But by then Los Angeles will be north of San Francisco.

    Judge Moonbox Reply:

    Most of the mierda could have been avoided had they used the I-5 corridor and Tejon.

    Seriously? I can’t say what the UP’s angle in this is, but I doubt that using the Grapevine alternative would have settled their qualms. The Tea Party thinks that oil company profits are more important than the country’s well-being, so they would be even more opposed to an alternative to something that takes business out of fuel-guzzling cars and planes. I cannot comment on the engineering challenges of the Tejon Pass alternative, but I doubt that it’s clean enough that enemies won’t find something to pick the whole plan apart.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I am having difficulty understanding the argument here. Tejon and I-5 are far removed from UP operations altho the link to Bako and the UP there could prove of utility in constructing the more lengthy and difficult route thru the Grapevine corridor.

    As far as that remote possibility goes, a true base tunnel thru Tejon(approx. the same length as all the DogLeg tunnels put end to end)could likely achieve a ruling gradient quite acceptable for non-hazmat freight. Obviously the Swiss are doing just that at St. Gotthard.

    My take on bonafide grassroots teapartyers is that they are pretty much agnostic on fossil vs. electric if the economics are right. They would have no problem with something that uses less or no fossil fuel(like say an airliner)and makes more money. They are worried about their money being seized to subsidize inefficiency just out of political correctness.

    Wealth always wins. The oil lobby will shift over to whatever prevails.

    Now the Tejon Ranch and the happiest place on earth are another matter. They own Jerry. You have to buy them off with tunnels.

  2. John Nachtigall
    Sep 26th, 2013 at 08:22
    #2

    “When construction gets under way later this year”

    Good one. Did you hear the one about a duck and a rabbi walking into a bar?

    There are 3 months left in this year, HSR is not starting this year.

    Neville Snark Reply:

    No, an academic year (Sept – June) is what’s meant. Later, in say May, we can switch back to the calendar year. And so on, ad inifinitum, we can prolong ‘this year’ as long as we like.

    Emmanuel Reply:

    Maybe fiscal year? I find it sad that we are here saying how 3 months is not enough to start construction. What kind of world we live in… If this was an oil pipeline, it would be halfway done. Yeah, yeah. I’m comparing apples to oranges. But, what I am trying to say is that the obstruction is definitely part of it.

    StevieB Reply:

    Utility relocation which is the first necessary construction is starting this year. This is the same construction task as on any highway, subway or rail project.

    Travis D Reply:

    Yeah, that’s what they are referring to. I guess you could also count the final geotechnical drilling

  3. Travis D
    Sep 26th, 2013 at 16:47
    #3

    I wonder when the bids for the next construction packages are released?

    Emmanuel Reply:

    Don’t worry. The authority can only focus on one thing at a time. They won’t even bother about the next construction packages until this is out of the way.

  4. D. P. Lubic
    Sep 26th, 2013 at 17:13
    #4

    Off topic, but definitely of interest here: Why Americans Don’t Ride Trains (and it’s not what you might think):

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/08/economist-explains-18?fb_action_ids=642405599116929&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_ref=scn%2Ffb_ec%2Fwhy_dont_americans_ride_trains_&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%7B%22642405599116929%22%3A355994091197839%7D&action_type_map=%7B%22642405599116929%22%3A%22og.likes%22%7D&action_ref_map=%7B%22642405599116929%22%3A%22scn%5C%2Ffb_ec%5C%2Fwhy_dont_americans_ride_trains_%22%7D

    Other linked batches of articles, many of which are duplicated, but not all:

    http://www.economist.com/topics/high-speed-rail

    http://www.economist.com/topics/amtrak

    http://www.economist.com/topics/train-travel

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Still off topic, and a foam topic at that, but still of interest to some here–progress on UP 4014, the “Big Boy” that’s slated for restoration:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmTr22rvldk

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhAFMuMRyxU

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wPCrzYis4g

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xV0HELqgu0E

    This is supposedly the latest for now.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Slower travel still, but fun and powered by steam:

    http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=35623

  5. joe
    Sep 26th, 2013 at 20:12
    #5

    Meanwhile in Bakersfield….borrowing and demolishing.

    City Council continues highway projects despite lawsuit threat
    http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/local/x558590944/City-Council-continues-highway-projects-despite-lawsuit-threat
    The secretary for the Westpark Home Owners Association, a group of residents whose houses would be destroyed if the Centennial Corridor freeway segment is built, threatened the Bakersfield City Council with a lawsuit Wednesday if the project continues.

    It was the legal first step toward later borrowing as much as $270 million, to match $570 million in federal funds secured for the city by former U.S. Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Bakersfield.

    BrianR Reply:

    here’s more on that for those that didn’t see it before
    (Stop and Move blog entry from December of last year)

    http://stopandmove.blogspot.com/2012/12/bakerfield-goodbye-neighborhood-hello.html

    Looking at it in detail I got to say it looks like a pretty heinous proposal. Too bad for those Bakersfield residents that they don’t have the clout of Palo Alto residents who could demand that Caltrans “put the Centennial Corridor freeway in a tunnel or don’t build it at all”.

    Furthermore, where is the uproar in Palo Alto over this? I thought Palo Alto was uniformly opposed to all projects that would negatively affect central valley communities, not just HSR.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Yes, where are the “concerned citizens” and “residents” who want things “done right”?

    joe Reply:

    Where’s the LA Times?

    This sure was a horrible when overpasses were planned for HSR.
    http://articles.latimes.com/2013/aug/18/local/la-me-angelos-drive-in-20130818

    Derailed by the bullet train
    Couple who own a ’50s eatery were ordered out by the state, which offered $120,000 — not enough to buy a new restaurant. Some longtime customers are trying to help.

    The High Speed Rail Authority has vowed to stay on course as the case makes its way through further hearings, and this month the state put out the first 106 notices to buy land within 90 days — Angelo’s among them. The diner sits in the way of a planned overpass.

  6. joe
    Sep 27th, 2013 at 11:20
    #6

    http://www.gilroydispatch.com/news/city_local_government/train-service-extended/article_27067be4-26df-11e3-aaed-001a4bcf6878.html

    South County economic developers are cheerleading Monterey County’s plan to bring train service from Salinas to San Jose, with stops in Gilroy, Morgan Hill and eventually Castroville and Pajaro.
    The $135-million project headed up by the Transportation Authority for Monterey County – which would be completed in 2018 – would increase visitor traffic to Gilroy, give residents more alternatives to the chaotic U.S. 101 commute to Silicon Valley and bolster downtown business, according to City staff and Mayor Don Gage

    Service starts in 2018. Largest chunk of money is (18M) from the VTA – Santa Clara. Sorry CALTRAIN. This is not an extension of Caltrain service but runs on the same UP tracks.

    Capital Corridor will offer new stops between San Jose and Salinas. (CA’s recent rail plan shows plans to double track the UP ROW from San Jose to 5 miles N of Gilroy or San Martin).

    Initial stops at Salinas and Watsonville, with two stops added at Castroville and Pajero when stations are built. Continues to San Jose and stops at two of the five Caltrain stops: Gilroy and Morgan Hill.

    Commute from Salinas to Gilroy will be 50 minutes. From Gilroy to San Jose 30 minutes.

    The commute from Gilroy to San Jose would be about 30 minutes quicker than today’s 51 minute ride on Caltrain. That’s 30 minutes of awesome time savings.

    CC predicts 140,000 riders on the two new trains.

    This train service will run to San Jose for transfers to Caltrain and then up the East Bay to Oakland and Sacramento, the three Caltrain will continue run to San Francisco.

    Like Gilroy, Morgan Hill has been increasing density in downtown area near the Caltrain transit center ~ 300 new housing units are or in progress or planned.

  7. Derek
    Sep 27th, 2013 at 13:27
    #7

    San Diego County Taxiing Toward A Longer Runway For Palomar Airport

    The 900-foot runway extension — one of three options detailed in the plan — would cost $95 million, of which $35 million would have to be raised locally.

    It would be nice if rail also had a federal agency like the FAA paying 2/3 of the construction cost.

  8. agb5
    Sep 27th, 2013 at 13:39
    #8

    Here is a news report on the construction of the High Speed Rail line from Tours to Bordeaux.
    Biggest construction project in Europe.
    300km being built simultaneously over 3 years.
    500 civil engineering structures including a 1.5km viaduct.
    8000 workers.
    Trains to start circulating 2017.
    Video shows a box tunnel being pushed under a road.

  9. Marvin Dean
    Sep 27th, 2013 at 16:31
    #9

    Kern & Central Valley Supporter of High Speed Rail a coalition of SB/DBE/DVBE/MB Sub Contractors continue to support high speed rail project. Our concern is lack of African American Sub Contractors to date being included in this project. We ask that the CHSRA contracting staff to convey to prime consultant & contractors to do better job sub contracting with African American Team. Our coalition is hosting the California Regional Transportation Summit Jan 9-10. 2014 in Bakersfield we are inviting all CHSRA prime contractors and interested SB/DBE/DVBE/MB to join us at this outreach conference event, for more information visit web site; http://www.sjvannualpce.info

  10. Ted Judah
    Sep 27th, 2013 at 22:02
    #10

    People need to remember that with AB 4 in the books and another vote coming on the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan, the San Joaquin Valley is going to be humming with construction soon.

    What’s happening in Fresno is going to be duplicated as the engineering and construction firms move in for the oil companies down in Kern to do fracture/acid based drilling and in Stockton as the water districts set up shop in Stockton to work on the tunnels. Pat Brown’s ghost may be seen walking the halls at the Capitol.

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