Austerity Causes Anti-HSR Protest in Italy

Nov 21st, 2013 | Posted by

Romans protested French President François Hollande’s visit to Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta yesterday to show their opposition to a proposed high speed rail line linking France and Italy:

The protests were timed to coincide with a meeting between French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta in Rome. The two leaders were discussing the completion of the trainline, as well as other political and economic issues….

Opponents argue it is a waste of money at a time of recession and would have a disastrous impact on the environment.

The rail line would almost halve the time of a journey between Paris and Milan from seven hours to four.

The project was launched in 2001; it has suffered delays and is now set for completion in 2025 or 2026.

A project like this should not be at all controversial. Europe has built infrastructure through the Alps to connect countries for decades.

But it has become controversial not because of the HSR line itself, but because of austerity. Budget cuts create a downward spiral for a society, where projects get pitted against each other. People fight over scraps while the rich get everything else.

Up until a few years ago, when austerity mania gripped the Western world, governments and the public did not see different projects as competing with each other. One could create jobs, fund schools, build local transit, and build intercity transit. Europe had appeared to achieve consensus on this point, whereas in America such consensus was more uneven and depended on which state you were in.

But starting around 2009, governments began to impose austerity. This was done not because of recession but because the rich demanded their own wealth be protected from higher taxes, and their ideological allies in power in North America and Europe obliged them. As people watch funding evaporate, suddenly things one once took for granted are now uncertain and at risk. People start defending tenaciously what they do have and become ultra-suspicious of new projects and new funding. Something like HSR becomes an easy target for people panicked because their government is now attacking their pensions.

I’m not sure that austerity is the only story here. The protestors could well be people from Piedmont who just don’t want a train in their backyard. But even those attitudes are influenced by austerity, since there are fewer dollars available to pay for mitigation.

We see a very similar situation unfolding in Britain. I have planned to write more about this, but the coalition government’s plan to build HS2 is under threat thanks largely to austerity. Transit advocates who are worried about funding for improving existing passenger rail lines are turning against the high speed rail plan because austerity means they have to fight tenaciously for what they have.

The only way out of this mess is to reject austerity completely. No budget cuts for domestic spending. All transit infrastructure needs to be funded, from a rural bus route to an intercity bullet train and everything in between. Transit advocates need to be supporting each other’s needs, rather than trying to undermine other proposals.

Austerity is a rigged game designed to ensure everyone who isn’t rich loses. The only winning move is not to play. Fund it all. We’ve got the money.

  1. Judge Moonbox
    Nov 21st, 2013 at 17:00

    I remember that the Mont d’Ambin Tunnel project was being protested during the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, years before the Serious People started saying that the way to fight the economic crisis was to make things even worse.

    Say what you will about the risks of earthquakes, flooding, or radioactivity of the excavated material (I think these hazards are overrated); the problem is not because the Italian government is choosing A when there is a lot of demand for B; the real enemy is the austerians (as Paul Krugman calls them) are telling the government they can’t have both.

  2. jimsf
    Nov 21st, 2013 at 17:19

    The world’s elite are pushing their luck. There aren’t very many of them compared to the rest of us and they don’t pay the soldiers particularly well.

    JB in PA Reply:

    This has been going on for 6000+ years.

    “ruled over by a priestly governor (ensi) or by a king (lugal)”

    Here is a photo of the Sumarian freeway during the commute

    Clem Reply:

    Looks like the chariotpool lane had a minimum of two occupants per vehicle

    synonymouse Reply:

    Italy has its share of crises; in particular the south is being invaded by illegal immigrants, Sicily the primary target, and in Campania the Terra dei fuochi is an ecological disaster area, polluted with toxic waste and general “rifiuti”, hazmat or otherwise, dumped by the Camorra.

    But Italians have been discontent and complaining since the fall of the Republic. I mean as opposed to the Empire. I especially like the comment of Cornelius Tacitus on Rome:

    “urbem etiam, quo cuncta undique atrocia aut pudenda confluunt celebranturque”

    amateur translation: “the City even where from every direction all things atrocious and scandalous stream together and are being celebrated”

    Sounds a bit like Silvio Berlusconi’s more contemporary antics, no?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You realize that the immigrants are in the North, where there are jobs, rather than in the South, right?

    synonymouse Reply:

    They are in camps in Sicilia and riot periodically.

    2 millennia ago Tiberius would have welcomed them – you can never have too many slaves.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    That’s refugees, not illegal immigrants. And 2% of Sicily’s population is foreign-born, vs. 8% of Lombardy’s.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    there you go again clouding the reverie with reality.

    synonymouse Reply:

    They aren’t refugees; post-colonial Africa is a workers’ paradise.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I heard rumors that the African country nearest to Italy, a former Italian colony, had a civil war recently.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes the extreme libertarianism in Somalia is working out so well.

    VBobier Reply:

    Slavery was decided in 1865, the weak south lost(the south fired 1st and was doomed from then on), and the 13th amendment to the US Constitution made Slavery Illegal.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    He’s not talking about American slavery.

    James in PA Reply:

    The Sumarians used to argue about the dog-leg around the fertile crescent and some crazy guy called Noah going on about climate change.

    jimsf Reply:


  3. ericmarseille
    Nov 21st, 2013 at 17:40

    In this case historically the protests were staged so far by the local Italian NIMBYs, but there must have been some recuperation by austerians, certainly.

    This project has an enormous economic importance, for it would not only regard passenger rail but also freight rail (there would be a mixed line tunnel with a max speed of 220kph).

    Traditionally there’s been a bottleneck due to the Alps barrier in French-Italian exchanges, preventing both economies to reach their full cooperation potential…There is a huge added-value in this project, for it would connect two of the most active regional french economies, Lyon and Paris, to one of Europe’s richest regional economies, Northern Italy.

    The problem is the cost (enormous) and IMHO I think it’s wise to put it on hold for now for we have a few lines in construction or agreed upon (Tours-Bordeaux – Finalizing Paris-Bordeaux- and LGV Est phase II, then Le Mans-Rennes -Finalizing Paris-Rennes, plus the xtremely needed and very costly south Paris shortcut through the suburb between western and southeastern lines), and the priority is to reassure the international finance, austerian or not.

    Hopefully this project will be revived in a few years.

    StevieB Reply:

    Drilling started on a 6 meter wide exploratory tunnel last week in Chiomonte in northeast Italy.

    The first 200 metres of the reconnaissance tunnel were dug using mechanical diggers. With the tunnel boring machine excavators expect to advance between seven and ten metres a day to cover the 7,300 metres remaining.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    This isn’t about austerity; it’s about the frustration Italians and others have with the EU. The Mediterranean nations especially feel pushed around by the Germans and ECB. Italians want a project that favors them, not SCNF.

    ericmarseille Reply:

    I’m pretty shure the benefits would be shared between all actors, including SNCF, if they’re not killed by RFF tolls for using the road.

    @StevieB I’m pretty convinced the project is on hold, the costs are comparable to digging another channel tunnel, and if France wants to keep reassuring investors and the international finance (which is Hollande’s political line for now), we can’t start it for the moment.

    It will be probably (I hope!) part of the post-2030 projects.

  4. Paul Dyson
    Nov 21st, 2013 at 18:30

    Bring back the Barca brothers!

  5. Joe
    Nov 21st, 2013 at 20:10

    Thank god Prop30 passed.
    We have a 2+ billion surplus in CA.

    synonymouse Reply:

    More to funnel to PB and Tutor, but I anticipate that Federal judge is going to compel Jerry to spend a bunch of it on improvements in the Corrections system.

    VBobier Reply:

    I seriously doubt that Syno, the Judge just wants the prisoners released.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    That’s 4 km of subway toward the San Jose Flea Market.

    joe Reply:

    yuck yuck.
    The first concrete steps to create a transit village next to a future BART station in the city’s Berryessa district have come with the purchase by KB Home of a largely unused portion of a well-known flea market in San Jose.

    Construction is already under way. The subdivision will be called Market Park, and the first units will likely be available for purchase this fall. More homes will be built as customers order and buy them. Eventually, the 120-acre site is expected to have 2,800 to 3,000 residences.

    Joey Reply:

    3k new residences is nothing to scoff at, but it’s going to take much more than that to give the station more than so-so ridership. To actually get high ridership, it would need a mix of old and new high density development or decades of new development (if they were planning on replacing all of the lots with mid-rises rapidly then we might have something to talk about).

    joe Reply:

    First, it’s not a BART station at the Flea Market. That’s a Mlynarik trope.

    Second, the City is building a transit village which is described as “the beachhead for what will become a transit village with thousands of residences, b>many of them high-density, along with stores, a new school and park lands.”

    Thrid, the traffic along that corridor northward is heavily traveled now.

    Fourth, what’s the density of a BART station in Fremont or Heyward? Is this proposed devleopment less dense than the Fremont station?

    Joey Reply:

    1) Where did I mention the Flea Market? I said that the station area is currently flanked by large expanses of concrete which, according to your link, may someday be developed.

    2) It will help, but I’m skeptical that it will be enough to counteract the effects of station’s otherwise shitty location.

    3) Is it traffic that goes to places that BART will serve?

    4) Fremont and Hayward have moderate density, certainly much more than the Beryessa location will have for the next few decades at least. Both have okayish ridership by BART standards, though I’m willing to bet that a lot of Fremont’s ridership comes from people driving from south and parking (because it’s the end of the line). They both have a moderate number of jobs in their vicinity too.

    By rest of the world standards though, their ridership is quite lackluster, and this only underscores the main argument against BART extensions into Santa Clara County: Why should money be spent on further extensions into low-density areas when high density parts of the inner Bay Area (SF-Oakland-Berkeley-etc) are still completely unserved? If your goal is to increase transit usage and mobility then serving existing dense areas is a much better strategy then pushing outwards and hoping that development happens eventually.

    jimsf Reply:

    There are several bart stations in low density areas, Orinda, Lafayatte, South Hayward, Union City, and several more that were in very low density areas, such as Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Concord, Fremont, that later used BART as an anchor for denser development. So I would say at least give San Jose, the State’s third largest city, the same chance those other places had.

    It will take time but that is what planning ahead for the future means. Building the tranport infrastructure ahead of the game instead of trying to squeeze it in after the fact.

    The same thing for hsr.

    San Jose, much like Sacramento, once left a lot to be desired. But both cities have long been motivated by civic competition due to their respective locations adjacent to SF and Oakland.

    I say let them go for it. Mu understanding of SAn Joses development plans is that while they are trying to make it a city unto itself, it will also function as a high density bedroom community to Silicon Valley and that’s ok too. Nothing wrong with bart serving a downtown full of high rise residential towers and taking those folks to work.

    Joey Reply:

    If San Jose wants to get serious about becoming more of a city and less of a suburb they need to stop prioritizing drivers, which means no more freeway and expressway expansions, dedicated bike infrastructure (more than a narrow strip next to 50 mph traffic), fixing VTA light rail (TPS etc), no parking minimums (and possibly parking maximums), the elimination of surface lots in transit accessible areas, and a slough of other things the city has shown no interest in considering.

    joe Reply:

    “1) Where did I mention the Flea Market?”
    Alon did mention the Flea Market and I responded.
    If you want to comment on a response then have the courtesy to recognize the comment thread.

    “2) It will help, but I’m skeptical that it will be enough to counteract the effects of station’s otherwise shitty location.”

    What about the location is shitty? It must be readily access to East Bay and Peninsula as well as San Jose. Or being about a 1 mile from the old downtown area of San Jose.

    “By rest of the world standards though, their ridership is quite lackluster, ”

    Maybe you can chose to live near a high ridership train system. That would be a real plus in life. I’m sure — but you can’t afford it. By rest of the world standards the area has high paying jobs and is quite desirable climate. The reason Santa Clara is building BART is because Santa Clara VOTERS want BART and voted to pay for it.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Build the A’s ballpark at the current Flea Market site in conjunction with rest of mixed-use transit village. Would still be easily accessible to East Bay residents via BART in 2017 and only be 1-2 stops away from downtown SJ via future BART subway. That should help with ridership ;)

    Reedman Reply:

    The new 49ers stadium has both light rail and heavy rail adjacent to it. The BART stop in Milpitas will be the connection point for VTA Light Rail. The Silicon Valley Extension is dependent on the predecessor Warm Springs Extension (both are under construction presently) getting completed.

    The A’s would gladly build a new Silicon Valley ballpark if Major League Baseball would allow it. The Congressional antitrust exemption and SF Giants “territorial rights” need to be dealt with, however.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Agree Reedman. FREE SAN JOSE!!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:


    Fleas into TODs!

    Bees into peas!


    So mercifully free of the ravages of intelligence.

    Joey Reply:

    In the future, if you’re responding to Alon’s comment, please do it in a direct reply to his, rather than in a reply to mine. This is the reason we have threaded comments.

    Joe Reply:

    I responded to you

    The comment thread you joined corrected the flea market dig.

    Joey Reply:

    Just a tip to avoid confusion. We weren’t at the limit for nested comments so if you had something to say about the Flea Market thing specifically (which I didn’t mention at all) you could’ve done it in a direct response to Alon.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Okay, so it’s building a transit village, even though all past attempts to do such a thing in the Bay Area have been disasters and failures (unlike in Washington and Vancouver, where they’ve built business districts from scratch on top of subway stations as well as dense housing), and even though there are places in the Bay Area that already are dense that are getting nothing.

    I don’t object to sending subway lines to flea markets serving dense areas, by the way. If you check my two recent posts about the Tel Aviv subway, one of my criticisms of the route is that it doesn’t serve the flea market. The difference is that in Tel Aviv, the flea market is one of several anchors of high density, mixed uses, and extremely narrow streets in Old Jaffa, and moreover the adjacent residential area is one of the poorest in the region (it’s the only Arab neighborhood of Jaffa whose inhabitants weren’t ethnically cleansed in 1948 and replaced by richer Jews). The chosen route serves lower-density areas with residents who aren’t ethnic minorities.

    The difference is that Berryessa isn’t Old Jaffa and never will be. In Tel Aviv, too, they’re saying they’ll do TOD and build a business district on top of the subway line, but so far the development has been auto-oriented if still dense. In both metro areas the idea that infrastructure should go to where dense development already exists is foreign to the thieves and liars who run the relevant government departments.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Oh come on people. Not only is San Jose underway with TOD plans, but don’t forget that this location directly adjacent to where US-101, carrying 178,000 cars per day, crosses I-880 carrying another 167,000 cars per day. If we could get 10% of the 880 traffic to switch to BART you’d not only have a much better working freeway you’d also have one of the better performing BART stations in the system. PLUS add trips from several thousand residences within walking/biking distance. 2012 AADT spreadsheet rows 4312, 6946

    jimsf Reply:

    and the alum rock station is next to the 101/280/680 interchange which would make a good park and ride location, especially for commuters coming from the south who are headed up the peninsula or the east bay.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Just like Hayward Park station on Caltrain! So convenient to 92 and 101! SO MUCH PARKING! So many spaces!

    And yet, one of the worst performing stations on the line, and one that unambiguously should be permanently closed.

    How can that possibly be? Commuters should be flocking to it.

    joe Reply:

    When I saw Neil’s comment I thought of Mike Anderson’s paper, I think this was the one Paul Krugman mentioned in a column.

    Transit rider’s are typically commuting long distances on routes with severe road delays thus have marginally high impact (positive) on congestion.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …commuters aren’t stupid, if they can drive there faster they will… the people who don’t own cars, the people who tend to be the only riders on low use bus systems, can’t drive to where they are going because they don’t have a car…..

    joe Reply:

    “The effects are largest on freeways that parallel transit lines with heavy ridership, and they are small and statistically insignificant during the same period in neighboring counties unaffected by the transit strike.”

    Joey Reply:

    This is at odds with the fact that BART’s strongest O&D pairs are all in the core system (SF/Oakland/Berkeley), not between suburbs and the core.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Oh come on people.

    Millbrae Intergalactic was “predicted” — by the exact same cast of deliberate, systematic fraudsters at PBQD who are behind the CHSRA ridership “projections” and the BART to San José Flea Market scam — to see THREE TIMES AS MANY RIDERS AS REALITY. Ooooh! Inter-modal! Oooh! End station of a new extension! Oooh! So so so so many completely fictional riders. Oooh! So many billions of dollars directly into the pockets of PBQD, Tutor-Saliba, and Bechtel!

    I’ll bet you a year’s salary that the PBQD SJX scam doesn’t see half of “predicted” ridership to the Flea Market, “TOD” (jesus fucking christ we’re talking a few extra condos in a sea of sprawling condos and freeways which make the “city” of SJ) or no TOD. Are you on?

    The numbers associated with this and with all other BART extensions are nothing other than laughably transparent fraud perpetrated by the contractors to extract maximum revenue from corrupt/stupid/gullible/colluding public bodies.

    Here’s what “25,000 daily passengers projected in 2030” (“projected” by those who pocket billions even when it it proven that they are lying; and remember “daily passengers” means boardings+alightings, ie half that many actual humans) looks like:,-121.873419&t=h&z=16

    Here’s what a real world BART station that actually sees 25,000 average weekday boardings and alightings looks like:,-122.41802&t=h&z=16 (exact same scale)

    There are only seven stations in the entire BART system that see more than 25,000 entries+exits today: Berkeley downtown, Oakland 12th Street, SF Embacadero, SF Powell, SF Montgomery, SF Civic Center, SF 24th, SF Balboa Park. None of the suburban stations are close.

    The SJ Flea Market BART extension numbers are pure, unadultered, deliberate, systematic, transparent fabrications, and will be proven to be so, just as all the part BART extension “projections” have been.

    joe Reply:

    SF BART station traffic includes MUNI monthly pass users

    Also from riders avoiding the costly Bay Bridge Tolls as well as taffic.

    Mike Anderson’s paper describes road delay relief (benefits) derived from BART use along the East Bay which temper the criticism for this station.

    Joey Reply:

    So what if BART ridership includes MUNI monthly passes? They’re still paying riders.

    And I don’t doubt that BART provides traffic relief and other benefits to the suburban locations it serves. It would just provide more benefits to more people in denser areas, and not necessarily richer people.

    joe Reply:

    Where did I write they were not paying riders?

    It would just provide more benefits to more people in denser areas, and not necessarily richer people.

    I’m sure you have an idea but are teasing – please tell us where you’d extend BART.
    I am curious – what would be the rent in that area?

    Joey Reply:

    1) Geary, at least to Masonic. This serves both lower income (Tenderloin) and mid to higher income areas, but the density along this entire corridor is much greater than any BART suburban station can hope to have for the greater part of the next century.

    2) Emeryville and West Berkeley. Some of the adjacent uses are industrial and a lot of the nearby houses are single-family but there are also a lot of adjacent jobs and the nearby homes aren’t the pedestrian-hostile tract housing type. I implore you to try and analyze pedestrian routes between the future Beryessa BART station and the existing nearby homes. Even given the same density, an area with a real street grid will have better transit ridership than an area with cup-de-sacs connected to arterials because it’s easier to walk to transit.

    Other possibilities I’m less sure about:

    – Van Ness / north SF – pushing into richer areas but has the density to justify doing so. Parts of this may eventually be served by an extension of the Central Subway but that’s little more than lines on the back of a napkin at this point. Again, transit priorities.

    – Foothill / 580 corridor in Oakland, and Alameda (existing Alameda, not some nebulous future development on the airfield). Again, mostly single-family uses, but on an actual street grid and the density is consistently reasonably high.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    I’ve often thought the much maligned Oak Airport Connector could’ve been a way to get BART extended into more dense parts of the East Bay. Alas, its not even compatible with the rest of BART’s shitty wide gauge system.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    People live at the airport?

    synonymouse Reply:

    #1 is TWU 250A territory and rightly so.

    A subway all the way out Geary means instant and certain high-rise tenements all the way to the Beach. Why does everybody want to be ****ing Manhattan?

    Joey Reply:

    Maybe you want to look at rents in Manhattan and then reconsider the word “tenements?”

    synonymouse Reply:

    Let me re-phrase: rent-gouging tenements with just enough air to let you last the night.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    someone finds them amusing or they wouldn’t be filled. San Francisco has to become Brooklyn before it can think about becoming Manhattan. Brooklyn is just over twice as dense as San Francisco. Or the Bronx which is slightly less than twice as densely populated. Or Queens which is more densely populated, around 20 percent more densely.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not sure why you think it means instant tenements. They never built tenements on top of BART stations in the East Bay, Balboa Park, or the Mission District.

    In Vancouver, a city with much more proactive upzoning, they built things like this next to the Expo Line and are planning buildings in the 4- to 8-story range on top of the Canada Line stations. The NIMBYs who oppose the Broadway subway do not seem to make a ZOMG TENEMENTS argument but rather ZOMG STREET DISRUPTION and ZOMG MOAR UBC STUDENTS ones.

    synonymouse Reply:

    First Van Ness, then the world!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Tenements are a terrible thing. Like the awfulness on the Upper East Side of Manhattan or Chicago’s Gold Coast.

    Joey Reply:

    And as to the paying riders part, you seemed to imply that they should not be counted as ridership for some reason. Evidently I was mistaken so maybe you could to clarify to me what you meant by this:

    SF BART station traffic includes MUNI monthly pass users

  6. John Nachtigall
    Nov 22nd, 2013 at 05:23

    Since Italy willingly entered into a money union where they gave up the right to devalue and print infinite amounts of money, where do you propose that this pot of money come from?

    Additional taxes will slow down an already struggling economy.
    They are barely able to borrow to support current spending and those interest rates are well above standard for a government.
    I think it is well documented how Germany feels about loaning or giving them more.

    Where is the money coming from?

    trentbridge Reply:

    Germany needs to get over it’s “creditor nation” complex. It’s in Germany’s own interest to finance debtor nations like Spain and Italy to repair their economies so they can then import more goods from Germany – thus keeping German factories humming. The same could be said about China and the US. It’s in China’s interest to finance the US deficit by buying US Treasury Bonds so the United States can import more goods made in China.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    the vast majority of US government debt is sold to US citizens.

  7. 202_cyclist
    Nov 22nd, 2013 at 08:25

    Meanwhile, back in CA…

    Two busy Amtrak train lines set ridership records in California,0,3697662.story#ixzz2lOO8RKjd

    synonymouse Reply:

    But whence the San Joaquin over the Loop to LA?

    JB in PA Reply:

    When the economy was better the loop sometimes had 100 car freight trains every 20 or 30 minutes. They would send a few up and then send a few down for hours crawling at 15 mph or so. I have no idea what the traffic is like now but it seems like passengers might have to wait in line to get through. Bring a good book to read.

    EJ Reply:

    It’s the busiest single track freight line in North America, and one of the busiest in the world. That’s why there’s no passenger service. Even if there was, it would be slow as hell, and if you want to get from LA to the Bay Area and have all the time in the world, there’s already the Coast Starlight.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Ridership records mean precious little. Think about market penetration. 2.7 million in a whole year on the Surfliners which have a catchment area of 15 – 20 million. That’s about 7400 people per day, not even a rounding error. And from this we are supposed to project that we’ll fill trains every 5 minutes on the HSR line? I asked Dougherty at the recent HSR conference why we are not giving priority to double tracking the Surfliner route, at least south of L.A. and he had no good answer. And if you think that the new JPAs are going to get anything done you should have been at the LOSSAN Board meeting this week. Apart from the chairman and one other member, (and myself in public comment) no one made any contribution to the discussion, asked questions, made suggestions for improvements. The only enthusiasm shown was when they decided to skip the December meeting. It’s really pathetic.

    202_cyclist Reply:

    Ridiculous claim. Of course all of those 15M – 20M residents are not traveling back and forth between LA and San Diego or LA and San Clemente daily. The more relevant figure is what percentage of daily intercity trips are on rail.

    We also know that a 5-10% reduction of vehicles on highways is often enough to have noticeable congestion and mobility improvements.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Rail, including commuter, gets about 2% of the total market.

  8. JB in PA
    Nov 22nd, 2013 at 17:16

    It seems that seeds have been planted and are beginning to sprout interest in HSR. Florida, Denver, Columbus, Seattle, Texas. Unless they are talking about mid-speed 200kph or so. If at all possible they should lay track with a radius and transitions that can go faster.

  9. jimsf
    Nov 22nd, 2013 at 17:37


    Currently commuting the 99 between visalia and merced, I am seeing large chunks of 99 under construction and being upgraded to full 3 and 4 lane freeway, some of it being built in entirely new ROW ( not just adding existing lanes, but building a new freeway and interchanges from scratch) expecially in the Merced Area.

    I notice that as they are completing this segment by segment, they are leaving abandoned, a perfectly good, flat, straight, ROW, that is adjacent to UP, but on state owned property, for most of the fifteen miles between downtown merced and the chowchilla hsr wye 9 yet to be determined)

    So why on earth would they consider taking the hsr tracks all out through the hinterlands east of chowchilla, and buying up farmland for ROW, when the state already has this newly abandonded old 99 row that will turn back to weeds

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They’ll renumber it. Or call it 99 Alternate. Or turn it over to the counties.

    jimsf Reply:

    Meanwhile a new row 300 feet wide and fifteen miles long carved right out of existing farmland and local business properties …. and not a peep of outrage out of anyone.

    I guess ripping out orchards for freeways does not impact the apricots the way ripping them out for high speed rail does.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Of course not. Real Americans ™ everywhere and whatever going to do when they get out of the car is vitally important the well being of the Nation. The Unreal Americans ( or is it Real Unamericans?) who use something other than cars are a threat. George Will even wrote a column about how using trains was a plot to turn us all into commie zombies.

    swing hanger Reply:

    I think George wrote that column on while riding first class on the Acela Express.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    rumor has it he prefers Business Class on the Regionals.

  10. jimsf
    Nov 22nd, 2013 at 17:40


    15 miles of new freeway row leaving 15 miles of abandon row between merced and chowchilla

    VBobier Reply:

    Nice map Jim, I’ve no idea why Caltrans is building a whole new ROW, but I do like your thinking, though right now the attention and funding is to the south, I’d hope the HSR ROW there could be bent around Kings County going to the east, thereby making the lawsuit moot.

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