Charlie Crist Slams Rick Scott Over Killing Florida HSR

Nov 12th, 2013 | Posted by

I missed this last week, but it’s worth mentioning here. When former Florida Governor Charlie Crist announced his campaign for governor, he included a slam at current Governor Rick Scott for rejecting the federal stimulus funds to build high speed rail:

Republican-turned-Democratic former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist criticized incumbent Gov. Rick Scott (R) for rejecting high-speed rail money from the Obama administration in his announcement of his new campaign on Monday.

Announcing a challenge to Scott in 2014 in St. Petersburg, Fla., Crist twice noted that Scott rejected $2.4 billion that Florida was offered to build a high-speed railway between Orlando and Tampa that had been sought for years by state leaders.

The quashed railway figures to play a central role in the clash between Crist and Scott because the newly minted Democratic candidate campaigned for the money when he was Florida governor, from 2007 to 2011.
Crist foreshadowed the high-speed rail attack in an interview last week with the News Service of Florida before his announcement on Monday.

“Unbelievable. That could have created tens of thousands of jobs,” Crist said of the stalled high-speed rail proposal.

“Have you driven on I-4? I wonder if he has,” Crist continued in the interview. “He doesn’t have to. He flies over it in his jet. How does he have a clue what we’re feeling? It’s hard to have empathy if you haven’t suffered like that and been on I-4. I’m on it once a week, man.”

Crist knows that Scott is not only vulnerable generally, but that HSR is a good way to hit him. Florida’s economy is not doing very well, recovering slowly from the recession. President Obama twice carried Florida, and Scott rejected the HSR funds in part to make Obama look bad ahead of his re-election bid. Crist is using HSR to help make the argument that Florida was doing better under his leadership, but Scott came in and made highly ideological decisions that have made Florida suffer.

The Economist worries that Crist is playing a risky game by making HSR a campaign issue. But Crist is no fool. He was a popular governor and currently holds a lead in the polls over Scott. Crist wouldn’t make this attack if it didn’t poll well.

And that’s the point. Americans still want high speed trains. The systematic attacks on the California HSR project have taken a political toll. Yet large numbers of Californians still support it and Sacramento politicians who voted to fund HSR in July 2012 were all easily re-elected despite right-wing efforts to use HSR as a way to defeat them. Rick Scott is about to discover that when it comes to HSR, the politically risky thing for a statewide elected official to do is oppose them.

Why does this matter to the California HSR project? If Crist can hold on and beat Scott, with HSR as one of the campaign issues, he will show Republicans that their extremism has serious political costs. Already Republicans are starting to question the wisdom of the government shutdown now that it helped cost them the Virginia governor’s race.

2014 will be a pivotal election, with control of the Republican Party as well as the House and many state governments at stake. It is possible, if not yet likely, that the results of the 2014 election might lead Republicans to wind down some of their extremism and begin supporting infrastructure that they’ve backed in the past – like high speed rail.

  1. Bill Williams
    Nov 12th, 2013 at 22:54

    Having grown up in Florida before moving to California, and being devastated by FLHSR’s cancellation, one of the most interesting things about this to me is that the California and Florida projects seem to have completely failed to play off of each others’ strengths.

    California has a robust intercity rail network, where Florida just has two long-distance trains. The relative success of the Capitol Corridor and Pacific Surfliner corridors at low levels of investment help make the case that the very similar St Petersburg-Tampa-Orlando and East Coast corridors could do even better with an investment in full HSR.

    Likewise, FLHSR could still potentially be operational before CAHSR Bay-to-Basin if the Crist administration can find the money to pay for it, showing California that HSR investments are worth it, and that the system is worth completing. And of course, both states can be an example to the rest of the nation for how full HSR can pay huge dividends.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The problem with this argument is that Scott had Robert Poole on his transition team. No argument in the world could have convinced him to save it. It boiled down to the court challenge and to the Obama administration’s political response; the challenge failed because Scott’s lawyers lied to the court, and the administration didn’t try to pressure Scott to change his mind.

    Nathanael Reply:

    As the writer of the “My Stupid State” series of blog entries wrote about Florida, a state which elected Rick Scott — an unindicted coconspirator in one of the largest frauds against the government ever — just had too dumb an electorate to get things right.

    Rick Scott is basically a criminal and there’s nothing else there; no agenda other than “steal whatever I can and help my buddies”.

  2. synonymouse
    Nov 12th, 2013 at 23:32

    The Democratic Party really is the party of Wall Street.

    Which one does Disney own more: Crist or Scott?

    EJ Reply:

    Better question – are you allowed outside without a helmet?

  3. Eric
    Nov 13th, 2013 at 02:15

    Note to self: Charlie Crist != Chris Christie

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Honestly, I think they’re fairly similar, other than that ARC bit. The difference is that one is in Jersey and so has the full support of the party and acts accordingly, while the other is in Florida and got ousted in a coup so he talks more centrist.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Chris Christie is stupider. Charlie Crist is actually relatively bright.

  4. Brian_FL
    Nov 13th, 2013 at 05:08

    I blame Crist for the HSR cancellation as he decided to run for senator in 2010 and not remain in office to make sure HSR was secure. Why he decided to relinquish his position as governor I don’t know. If he had stayed as governor then Florida would have HSR today. He would have been easily re-elected in 2010.

    For 2014, Crist knows he has to win the votes in the Tampa Bay – Orlando area. That is why he is making HSR an election issue. Crist will not carry the panhandle or north of Orlando. He will likely win central and south Florida. Regardless, there are a lot of even more unpopular decisions that Gov. Scott has made that a lot more voters are upset at him for. Democrats (and moderate Republicans and most independents) will vote for Crist as they really dislike Gov. Scott and the tea party agenda.

    HSR (ie electric trains running over 150mph) plans will not come back to Florida anytime soon. If Crist does win in 2014, I think you will see a much easier path forward for All Aboard Florida to expand. Perhaps the state would be more willing to give financial assistance to AAF to encourage them to expand to Tampa and Jacksonville? The present governor has been supportive of AAF from what I can tell. At this time, AAF has strong bi-partisan support from state and congressional politicians. I do not see that changing anytime soon. IMO, AAF will be the intercity rail carrier for Florida.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Crist’s was so popular in Central Florida in the 2006 election he took even counties that Romney lost in 2012: Orange, Hillsborough (Tampa) and Pinellas (St. Petersburg). Crist’s popularity comes from being from St. Petersburg whereas Scott lives down in Naples.

  5. Paul Druce
    Nov 13th, 2013 at 14:03

    Meh. The cancellation has led to AAF which is likely a better project anyhow.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Not building a train to Tampa gave them the urge to build one to Miami. Interesting.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Florida is horrible at directions. But more seriously, it was always planned to extend it south to Miami. FEC wouldn’t be putting in a conventional intercity service if an HSR line was going to be built relatively parallel within a short time.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Perhaps it’s because the conventional line serves places that won’t be on the high speed line if it ever gets built. Or they are hoping it’s such a rip snorting sucess that they get a whole bunch of grade separation projects out of it on the state’s dime.

    JB in PA Reply:

    Florida is horrible at directions.

    Easy, water flows down-hill.
    They must still be spinning from all the hurricanes.

    aw Reply:

    There are hills in Florida?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    There’s a six-foot peak in there.

    Eric Reply:

    yes, there are. they’re called bridges.

    Reedman Reply:

    One FEC freight project that just completed is re-connecting the rail link between the mainland with the Port Of Miami (which is on an island).

    joe Reply:

    If Miami wants a deep water port, FL will need better ways to move goods. The rail link seems to be in support of the port.

    Competition heats up as U.S. ports prepare for Panama Canal expansion

    Norfolk and Baltimore are the only East Coast ports deep enough for the big ships that will cross the Panama Canal in 2015, but Miami also hopes its harbor deepening project will be completed by then.

    Read more here:

    synonymouse Reply:

    But the Gulf ports serve the South as well.

    Joe Reply:

    It’s a boondoggle.

    Jonathan Reply:

    .. just like a Gilroy HSR trench “recommendation”?

    joe Reply:

    No – you need to look up the word boondoggle.

    Eric Reply:

    The port of Miami is also one of the nation’s busiest passenger terminals

    joe Reply:

    Sure – I vacation there. Space Coast and Orlando too.

    I don’t think the transportation infrastructure is there for a deep water port.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Ted Judah Reply:

    You are dreaming. You are saying that because you want Prop 1A money redirected to the Surfliner. SAD is vaporware. Just wait until Tri Rail crumbles without state support. AAF will magically take over the commute service to try and get Amtrak to lease from them and leave the other ROW for CSX.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Autocorrect nightmare: “AAF is vaporware”.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I would imagine it would be difficult for vaporware to operate anything.
    Why would FEC want to do things to make life easier for CSX? The meme is that evil freight railroads hate passenger traffic and are just dying to get rid of it. Why would FEC help CSX do that?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    FEC is not helping out CSX.

    The issue is this: Governor Scott wanted to eliminate state funding for Tri-Rail which uses CSX’s ROW. Amtrak also uses CSX’s ROW. The FEC ROW is way more favorable for passenger traffic because it passes through many of South Florida’s downtowns.

    However, Amtrak is in the midst of paying for track upgrades which…conveniently… CSX will get to use even if Amtrak leases FEC’s track to avoid “ruinous competition” with Tri-Rail and AAF in South Florida.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How many years before FEC announced it’s passenger service plans did the necromancers at CSX gaze into the crystal ball and get Amtrak to do all the planning that lets them to be spending money on CSX tracks today? I suppose when they sacrificed a few small animals their examination of the entrails predicted that the Tampa Orlando project would be canceled too.
    You been in Syno’s stash?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Don’t be silly: just because Florida is home to the NEARLY dead doesn’t mean it’s home to the UNDEAD….

    Brian_FL Reply:

    Not sure what project you are talking about in S Florida that Amtrak is paying for. The only recent projects announced or ongoing are the MIC station at the Miami airport and the new connections in WPB, near Ft Lauderdale, and near Hialeah which will connect FEC and the SFRTA (ex CSX, owned by FDOT) tracks that Tri-Rail runs on. That project is NOT being paid for at all by Amtrak. It is a public/private partnership between FEC, CSX, FDOT, and SFRTA (along with TIGER grant money). This project will benefit FEC, CSX, and Tri-Rail. FEC will run their freight trains over SFRTA tracks between WPB and Hialeah allowing more AAF and Tri-Rail trains on FEC tracks between the same places. It will allow FEC to go from the Miami port onto the SFRTA tracks and up to WPB. It is also possible in the future that CSX might gain access as well to the port via these new connections.

    Regarding your comment about AAF being vaporware, from my vantage point here in Florida, I have a stronger case of saying the same thing about CA HSR. AAF will be breaking ground by the end of the year adding additional tracks between Miami and WPB (not just “talk” like I have heard throughout the year from the CHSRA about starting construction sometime in July or September or whenever the latest date is now…). AAF has actually bought land in WPB and Ft Lauderdale for their new stations (at a cost of over $5 million dollars). Signed contracts have been reached with the Orlando airport authority and the agencies that own the Beachline expressway. Overall, I see much more progress being made by AAF than I do with the CA HSR project (and in a lot less time!).

    joe Reply:

    It sure helps to have over 80% of the track in place and just focus on stations and rolling stock.

    The new route will feature passenger service along the existing Florida East Coast Corridor between Miami and the Space Coast and the creation of new tracks into Central Florida.

    Approximately 195 of the 235 miles of Right of Way (ROW) needed are in place and the corridor has been used for rail operations for more than a century. This gives the passenger rail service a jump start to begin operating in the shortest timeframe possible. All Aboard Florida is focused on choosing its rolling stock, identifying exact station locations and other significant decisions that will affect the overall timeline.

    Analogies in CA to this project would include extending the capital corridor south from San Jose to Salines.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    Or for example, expanding the existing Surfliner schedule to more frequent service, double tracking the corridor it runs on, and increasing its speed to 110mph along most of its route. That would be a good project to do! Are there sections of the route that can be improved to accommodate 125mph running? I am not familiar with that route.

    Having most of the route is one of the main reasons that made the AAF project possible. And honestly, 110-125mph trains is really all that Florida needs for now. Maybe in the future if AAF is a huge success, they could consider electric trains and higher speeds in order to increase capacity.

    What I am really looking forward to is the design of the Miami station complex and how they integrate in with the public transit already there. That will be a super cool station if they can coordinate everything together!

    I saw a presentation where AAF said they will offer services including picking you up at your door and checking your luggage (I assume that would be for people flying out of the Orlando airport). The new Orlando airport station building will have space for luggage handling. But I don’t know about luggage pickup or seamless transfer of luggage from plane to train to final destination.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    AAF, for reasons which are almost too many to name, is not analogous to the Surfliner. That’s because the latter is really a supplement to commuter trains that ply the Southern California Coast. The last thing the local transit monopolies want is a real competitor in Amtrak California to their commuter rail services (Metrolink & NCTD).

    Moreover, the use of Orlando’s airport as Florida’s transportation hub is questionable given the viability of an Atlanta to Miami HSR route via Orlando. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    Ultimately after Tri-Rail Coastal Service is up and running on FEC tracks between the new downtown Miami station and Jupitor, Fl then AAF will also serve to supplement commuter rail service just as the Surfliners do now. I have not heard much about a MIA to ATL service. If AAF does get to Jacksonville then that would be half of the route. I think the airport site was chosen as that is where a lot of visitors to Florida go. AAF chose it due to the numbers of travelers between the two areas. Sunrail in Orlando will be built to the airport eventually providing local connections to other areas around Orlando. AAF is just the beginning, not the end.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Ted J, that’s a very odd view of the Surfliner. First of course it existed before the commuter services were established and its the only service that provides a through seat all the way from San Diego to San Luis Obispo. Admittedly the commuter agencies try and hijack the service (rail to rail programs etc.) to fill in their gaps. Also of course the Surfliner cannot meet its potential without the infrastructure, which is still sadly lacking. Since Surfliner fares are roughly double the commuter line fares it isn’t, and doesn’t set out to be a competitor.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Define odd.

    SB 1225 (2012) effectively spins off Amtrak California to local joint power authorities who operate commuter rail services that are supposed to complement but really compete with Amtrak California.

    To make matters worse, the managing agency for the Surfliners is now going to be OCTA. Given the fact that now Metrolink is effectively controlled by LACMTA, we could easily see both transit agencies going head-to-head over routes and riders.

    Tri-Rail doesn’t have that problem, but I’m not really sure if there’s already Amtrak service between Orlando and Miami, Tri-Rail between Palm Beach and Dade County, and then AAF overlaying both services where the riders come from.

    If you had a HSR link from Atlanta to Orlando that then branched off to South Florida or Tampa, you would have a very large number of air travelers to tap in addition. But with only Orlando to Miami, it’s less clear what new business you could attract.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Rail-to-Rail… Before Amtrak stopped running the Clockers between Philadelphia and New York, Princeton Junction and Metropark were in the top 25 lists of Amtrak stations. I suspect the same thing goes on with Surfliner trains filling otherwise empty seats with Metrolink passholders.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Except with Rail to Rail full fare passengers often have to stand while $8 Metrolink riders get seats. And Ted, SB 1225 spins off Amtrak CA to new JPAs separate from the commuter agencies. What is needed is the infrastructure to allow the Surfliners to be intercity trains and cut the number of station stops. Unfortunately the three southern counties are all busy widening I-5 and only pay lip service to passenger rail. You are right though, there will be plenty of turf wars before the the fat lady sings. With 7 owners of right of way, two freight service providers, 3 passenger agencies and a few shortlines thrown in for good measure I’ve given up hoping for even late-20th century service in southern California.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes, VRE, MARC, SEPTA, NJTransit, LIRR, Metro North, SLE and the MBTA along with the P&W, NYAR, NS, CSX and Conrail screwed up Metroliner service to no end and today it’s impossible to get trains between Boston and DC. And running trains across nine states and through Washington DC was insurmountable.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    You forgot Amtrak

    Ted Judah Reply:

    You are confusing interstate service with interregional service. We are in a new age of competition in light of the 2011 realignment. There’s no equivalent in the NEC. NJ Transit isn’t running trains on Long Island or to Harrisburg.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Metrolink doesn’t run trains to San Diego and NCTD doesn’t run trains to Los Angeles. Amtrak runs two trains an hour through 7 states and Washington DC 16 hours a day. It’s less frequent the other 8 hours a day.
    Define interregional. If it’s between CSAs SEPTA and NJTransit do it all the time. MARC leaves the Washington-Baltimore CSA. If it’s between MSAs the only one that doesn’t do it is VRE. Longest trip you can make on the MTA is just over 200 miles long. NJTransit serves four states, SEPTA three, the MTA two and goes through a third, MARC and the MBTA two each. Well, MARC serves two and Washington DC. Gawd only knows how many counties that involves. It’s just awful the way political borders got in the way of things.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Again, I really don’t see the point you are trying to make.

    I understand how the NEC is used and which states/transit agencies serve which jurisdictions. But you lost me:

    VRE does serve DC, but it doesn’t go into Maryland. MARC also serves DC, but doesn’t go to Virginia or even Philly.

    LA County and Orange County are the same MSA. But yet, we are on the verge of having dueling commuter rail lines with OCTA’s control of the Surfliner.

    The analogy you seem to be looking for is what if MARC took control of the NEC and started to run its trains to coordinate with it’s Maryland commuter service. You would think…man that’s dumb, now you are just forcing more people onto NJ Transit between Philly and NYC. And that’s precisely it, spinning off the Surfliner to local control is just as foolhardy.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s just awful the way BART makes everyone change to BART at Richmond instead of just staying on the train. After all a bus from Emeryville to San Franscisco would means there’s competition for those passengers, they wouldn’t be getting on a BART train would they? And skimming off a few passengers at Coliseum.

    Yes Amtrak and MARC are in three way death struggle with the WMATA to serve New Carrollton has been terrible. And the bloodshed in the bus bays in New Carrollton, between the WMATA buses, MARC buses, Greyhound and the low cost carriers is just awful. Amtrak NJTransit and PATH in another battle until there is a victor to serve Newark, for the past 30 years. And there’s the slugfest between Metro North, SLE and Amtrak for the Stamford-New Haven passengers. And the MTA with itself to serve Jamaica. And Marble Hill. Or SEPTA with itself at Fern Rock. Or NJTransit with itself at many many train stations where there is bus service to New York or Philadelphia. Very very confusing that you can have a two seat train ride from Atlantic City to New York, two different three seat train rides or a one seat bus ride. And the Port Authority should be broken up into 47 different agencies because there’s no way one agency could handle ocean freight, roads, trains and airports. Or subsumed into one mega agency that does it all from Richmond to Portland.

  6. JJJ
    Nov 13th, 2013 at 14:25

    You know whats funny? There was an article last week about how Florida rejecting a medicare expansion resulted in them missing out on something like $3bn.

    Guess who got $3bn in additional funding for their medicare expansion?

    Yup, California.

    I like the Florida governor. Guy has been excellent at sending funding to California. What else could we ask for? If the people of Florida want fed funding to go elsewhere, then so be it.

    JJJ Reply:

    Edit: Looks like it’s 6bn according to this article

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I have a quibble with the broader meme which is red states are letting money get redistributed to blue states. Red states refusing to expand Medicare just means that blue states won’t be sending quite as much money to red states.

    Donk Reply:

    Exactly. The Red in “Red State” is for blood-sucking leeches.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Who in hell is responsible for twisting around red and blue?

    My first time in Hong Kong in 1977 I went to a movie theater to see “The East is Red”. The party guys sent out a guy to sit next to me and try to recruit. true story. The first time I ever heard the term “patrimony”. I told him I was way too low a civil servant to even bother with.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    its not HSR money. If FL expanded medicaid tomorrow they would get the funding.

  7. synonymouse
    Nov 13th, 2013 at 16:51

    From the Economist article:

    “But ultimately, the fate of high-speed rail in America will probably turn on the success or failure of California’s massive rail initiative.”

    But it will prove decades before the incredible stupidity of the DogLeg scheme will dawn upon the electorate. How many of them recognize now how badly Bechtel cum PB fucked up BART with broad gauge and other betises 5 decades later?

    So if and unless the Judge intervenes with a bully stick Jerry and the rest of the machine functionaries are prepared to bankrupt the State pouring billions down a gopher hole for years on end. But maybe we are due for some social discord the way the Hayward fault is overdue. The French used to say “beurre ou canons”. This more like “welfare or boondoggle”. Perhaps the mob will riot for more bread for them rather than payola for PB and Tutor.

    EJ Reply:

    I’m sure cries of “Bechtel! PB! AmBART!” will suffice to drive the sans-culottes to the barricades.

    synonymouse Reply:

    La Commune de Palmdale.

    I’d rather have Rob Ford than Jerry, way beyond cracked-out.

    synonymouse Reply:

    sold out to developers.

    jonathan Reply:

    Surely sans-culottes is over Synon’s head? He’d be carping about .. . the dastardly damnable Guilds trying to take over the manufacture and operation of M. Guillotin’s device. And next, about the corrupt incompetents imposing an unnecessary system of weights and measures in a hodge-podge fashion — probably for personal gain, sans doute. N’est-ce pas?

    synonymouse Reply:

    « S’il y a plus de gens qui visent à la gloire, l’Etat est heureux et prospère ;
    s’il y a plus de gens qui visent à la fortune, l’Etat dépérit. »

    Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

    Eric Reply:

    As I understand it, BART broad gauge was so that freight trains couldn’t use the tube to get to SF

    Jonathan Reply:

    Well, that cannot be true. most freight-train stock won’t fit in BART’s loading gauge. A tube under the Bay is’t’ exactly amenable to expansion to AAR Plate C, is it?

    Joey Reply:

    A large number of structures on the system are designed around BART’s very low vertical clearance. There was never a question of freight using any of those tracks.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and even they were possessed of the urge there isn’t any where to send the freight on the San Francisco side.

    joe Reply:

    Why run trains around the bay when they can dock at Oakland.

    SF could shave annexed ares such as Oakland prior to the transcontential rail road but didn’t so unlike NYC, SF never grew and we’ve evolved the public transportation mess of today.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    NYC consolidated after the Transcontinental Railroad was built.
    What was being shipped and how it was being shipped was radically different when they were planning BART. For instance containerized shipping was barely beginning. There wasn’t any container port in Oakland at that point. From Wikipedia:

    In 1962, the Port of Oakland began to admit container ships. Container traffic greatly increased the amount of cargo loaded and unloaded in the Port. By the late 1960s, the Port of Oakland was the second largest port in the world in container tonnage. However, depth and navigation restrictions in San Francisco Bay limited its capacity, and by the late 1970s it had been supplanted by the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach as the major container port on the West Coast.

    During an expansion of the Port in the late 1960s, fill material was added to what remained of the old Southern Pacific mole. The fill came largely from the concurrent excavation of the Berkeley Hills Tunnel during the construction of the BART system. The BART trunk line also crosses over part of the port, and the east portal of the Transbay Tube that carries BART trains from Oakland to San Francisco lies within the Port.

    Michael Reply:

    Old joke, from Herb Caen.
    Who dug the BART tube?
    The Oakland Mole!

    joe Reply:

    In the case of SF and Oakland. My understanding is SF was the dominate city and port. A merger then would have been to Oakland’s favor economically and allowed SF to expand. SF lost that dominance when Oakland gained the railroad terminus and Oakland lost interest.

    I don’t know the dynamics in NY assume that Brooklyn comprising Kings Co made the merger easier. wikipedia says “The municipal consolidation would also precipitate greater physical connections between the boroughs. ” I think that’s the interesting distinction.

    VBobier Reply:

    The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach CA are major hubs for container trains. As Los Angeles and Long Beach handle about 25% of all cargo container traffic in the USA. If that is what you are talking about.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It barely passed in Brooklyn, they’d be in the same city as those icky New Yorkers. Having the borough boundaries co-terminal with county boundaries didn’t happen until after the consolidation though Kings and Richmond that happened to be the case at the consolidation. Brooklyn had become co-terminal with the county lines only a few years before. All those people out in the hinterlands had been reluctant to merge. The people in Eastern Queens were uncomfortable that the county seat was in New York City so they formed Nassau county soon after municipalities Western Queens was consolidated into New York City. Bronx county wasn’t formed until 1914. And what’s now the Bronx was part of New York City before the consolidation. Which happened before Brooklyn gobbled up New Utrecht to become co-terminal with Kings County.

    Eric Reply:

    I don’t understand how mergers ever happen, if both sides must consent and one is richer than the other. Either it’s not a zero sum game (contrary to popular impression), or one side must always be misguided.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Many of them happened because the city had services that the communities being absorbed couldn’t provide. Very often water.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    In the late 19th century, central cities wanted more territory to develop, so they annexed what they could even if those areas were poorer. The strategic annexations of industrial territory around poorer residential areas are a more recent innovation – that’s why Houston looks like it does today.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It was mutual. In the late 19th Century the farmers wanted the city to expand so they could sell off their farms at a tidy profit. Growing tenements is much more lucrative than growing cabbage.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, but some of the annexed areas were suburban rather than rural. Boston annexed suburbs, it’s just that Brookline was richer than Boston so it opposed annexation.

    Reedman Reply:

    There are a few states where forced annexation by a larger city is allowed. The typical example is Memphis. If Memphis had not been able to take over it’s wealthy suburbs, Memphis would be in the same situation as Detroit (Detroit — 1967 riots, Memphis — MLK assassination, outbound migration motivation). Hint: when Elvis purchased Graceland, it was in a city named Whitehaven. Memphis can’t annex across state lines. So, during the ’90s and ’00s, the fastest growing city in the USA was Olive Branch, Mississippi (1990 population — 3567, 2010 population — 33484) . Olive Branch is just over the state line from Memphis.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …like Beverly Hills and Los Angeles. It depends on conditions and the state government, it’s usually because the city can offer services the people being assimilated into the Borg can’t do by themselves.
    Newark wanted to suck in the eastern half of Essex county and the western half of Hudson county. It didn’t. The towns that would have been annexed already had things like water systems. The towns that did get annexed didn’t. I’m not going to go look up Brookline and Beverly Hills…. they were rich enough to not get lured in by the promise of services that they couldn’t afford by themselves…. Like bridges to Manhattan that would make it possible to grow tenements instead of cabbages. And the water supply to be able to fill the tenements. Tenements were less alluring to people in what is now Nassau county so they voted against annexation. Some rainy afternoon I’ll go try to find out the places in Westchester County, other than what is now the eastern Bronx, were offered to join the consolidation. Things like if Yonkers voted down consolidation but already had a water system…

    swing hanger Reply:

    Another story I heard was Southern Pacific didn’t want BART eyeing their (standard gauge) track lines, so the broad gauge was adopted to placate their fears.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Charlie Smallwood told me the SP was very pleased with the broad gauge fiasco at BART. Charlie knew a lot of people on the inside but I suspect Harre Demoro was his source.

    Two Bechtels sat on the SP Board of Directors at the time, I understand. Actually the policy worked fairly well for the SP, crappy for BART. The attitude today of the UP is not that much different.

    I can see where the SP was coming from. Had I been dictator of transit in 1962 I would have seized the SP East Bay and South Bay trackage, and paid cheap too, and then built a bridge or tube, electrified with overhead, and that would stand as BART of a different stripe. Sans Bechtel.

    synonymouse Reply:

    South Bay = Peninsula. I suspect that CEO Richards will find the UP about as open to sharing as the SP in 1962.

    Ted K. Reply:

    The published story is that the broad gauge was chosen for a safer crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge. The winds through the Gate can be pretty fierce (I’ve pedaled across the bridge a bunch of times) and high winds have been known to knock trains over.

    And remember, they wimped out on the Richmond District / Marin County leg when Marin County didn’t join the taxed counties. A Marin County connection could have led to a north – south subway with stations like :
    Irving – Judah @ 19th (N-Judah LRV, public library, shopping)
    Taraval @ 19th (L-Taraval LRV, public library, shopping)
    Wawona – Sloat @ 19th (Stern Grove, 23-Monterey to the Zoo, public pool)
    Stonestown (M-Ocean View LRV, public library, shopping)
    S.F.State Univ.
    D.C. BART

    synonymouse Reply:

    If you believe that you probably accept the Warren Commission report verbatim.

    Believe it, in 1966 everybody knew broad gauge was incredibly dumb, just as today, but standing alone Bechtel and SP were formidable; together they were untouchable and unstoppable.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s just awful the way trains get blown off the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges. Or off the Ben Franklin. Or off the Quebec Bridge. Or Amtrak trains off the Hells Gate. Or the way they get blown off Els in Chicago, Philadelphia and New York.

    Eric Reply:

    $8.5 billion for 165km of bridges? Wow.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    A propos of high winds and trains blowing over, that estimable enterprise the West Clare Railway suffered thus and had a wind gauge at the Post Office at Ennis or Miltown Malbay or some such. Above 60mph winds the trains were stopped and additional concrete ballast was added. BNSf/triple Crown lost a RoadRailer train to high winds a few years back and since then the trailers were modified with chains to keep trailer and bogie together. Brunel’s broad gauge had a different problem. A broad gauge waggon was blown out of a siding and onto the main line where it caused a derailment of a passenger train, Norton Fitzwarren I think. Wind; a good servant but a bad master. Need any more useless information?

    Ted K. Reply:

    Note to all – I said “published“. The Golden Gate Bridge story has developed some very deep roots.

    However, synonumouse and adirondacker12800 have inspired me to do some further digging. That led me to an Overhead Wire post called “BART Rumor Mill” (Overhead Wire blog post, 22 Nov. 2008). That led me to the following :

    Assuring the Stability of the BARTD Lightweight Rapid Transit Vehicle
    W. A. Bugge
    Pearsons Brinkerhof-Tudor-Bechtel
    (Res. Rpt., Apr. 1964, 14 pp, 12 Fig., 2 Photos, 9 Ref.)

    The BARTD System will utilize lightweight cars about 800 lbs. per linear foot operating at higher average speeds than any other transit system in the world. These vehicles will be subjected occasionally, on 31 miles of aerial structures and 24 miles of at-grade construction, to high winds. Mathematical formulas were developed to determine the reliability of vehicle-track systems constructed to a range of gauges under various combinations of adverse conditions. As a result of these investigations, it is recommended that the BARTD System vehicle and track system be designed to a gauge of 5′-6″. Findings clearly indicate that this approach would assure the lateral stability and safety of the desired lightweight vehicle more effectively and economically than any other design approach.

    Citation was published in the following :
    Special Bibliography: Safety-related Technology
    National Research Council (U.S.)
    Railroad Research Information Service
    pub. by National Academies, 1973
    Entry # 037595

    Also, Wikipedia has this on wind-related accidents :

    P.S. Here’s a fun bit of photo-shopping that’s BART-related :

    Ted K. Reply:

    My apologies – s/synonumouse/synonymouse/ .

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is BART and Bechtel/PB that owe the Bay Area an apology.

    But stupidity seems to have taken deep root at BART. It took them weeks to even bother to read their contract with Amalgamated?

    Resignations all around need to be forthcoming.

    synonymouse Reply:

    This is why California will only get a decent hsr if PB is fired.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Who replaces PB in this fantasy of yours?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Most likely an offshore engineering firm – not Balfour Beatty.

    There are others. PB is too tainted politically to be entrusted. Their specialty is mendacity and cover stories. Do you really want them to re-invent the wheel down at their testtrack in nowhere to nowhere land?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Van Ark got fired for doing his job; Crunican needs to be canned for not doing hers.

    Any opportunity to get back at PB and the corrupt cabal of incompetents: the house engineering consultant and the house contractor. They deserve it in spades.

  8. synonymouse
    Nov 13th, 2013 at 22:21

    Breda with a mind of its own don’t need no TWU 250A chauffeur:

  9. Brian_FL
    Nov 14th, 2013 at 16:19

    Vegas X-Train Finally Dead (Maybe…)

    The deal with Union Pacific has fallen apart and X-Train will lose its $600,000 deposit as well. Little chance of this company raising money according to this article.

    I always figured this was a scam and not a serious proposal. Anyone know what triggered this at this time?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They’ve moved onto other things?

    synonymouse Reply:

    There just is not the traffic potential. Casinos are popping up everywhere, big ones too, and most people fly or drive.

    Similarly, hyped ridership “dogs” the DogLeg-99 proposal. PB knows this but just wants to cash in. Zero professional ethics. The ouster of Van Ark tells you everything you need to know about how badly CAHSR is misdirected.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Easy money for the Ewe-Pee; too bad they could have not gotten some more from Deserted Xprss and out of Reid.

    trentbridge Reply:

    Not so fast. The company announced that it has changed it’s plan to adding first-class party coaches to Amtrak trains and it hopes that Amtrak will revive the LA to LV route. Operating private rail-cars on Amtrak trains sounds feasible to me and far cheaper than the original plan.

    “That concept of offering a first class service option has an application to Amtrak trains across the country. Amtrak runs mostly commuter type train service and does not offer a first class option on most of its routes in the US. There is a market demand for a first class option to commuter rail service on multiple routes here in the US. It is upon this model that the Company has focused its resources. The X Train continues to pursue the Los Angeles to Vegas route, but that corridor has more complicated logistics and financial requirements which may take several years to complete. For that reason, we have bifurcated our business plan into two segments. First is the deployment of a first class option on existing Amtrak trains connecting to metropolitan areas. The second is working diligently with Amtrak to re establish service on the Los Angeles to Vegas corridor which has been in the planning stage since 2010.”

    Why get in the train business if you can hitch a ride on Amtrak for a fee?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Amtrak should pay more attention to extending the San Joaquin over the Loop to LA than Vegas zombie vaporware. The Desert Wind just died of natural causes. RIP

    datacruncher Reply:

    The Loop may end up as a pseudo-oil pipeline instead of an extension for the San Joaquins.

    Two proposals are pending to run multiple trains per day over Tehachapi hauling oil from points east like Bakken to Bakersfield. The oil would be off-loaded there into pipelines to send it to refineries in the Bay Area and Southern California.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I kinda think spending more than the minimal amount to keep things going on California refineries not a very wise move. In the Bay Area for instance after the Air Pollution Control District shuts down everybody’s fireplace there won’t be much left to go after other than the refineries. I mean you can’t buy any paint now except whitewash. You gotta go to Healdsburg to get wood primer.

    Industry generally seems to be drifting away from the West Coast. Look at Boeing. You’d think the union vote against must have been a Sopranos moment for Boeing management. I mean the episode where all Tony’s guys are laughing at his joke except the one old made guy fresh out of jail. Tony reflects: “Didn’t I learn anything from Ralphie?” The union is that old wiseguy and my guess is the new production will go to So. Carolina.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Damn, I was looking forward to the iconic station in beautiful North Las Vegas.

  10. Reality Check
    Nov 14th, 2013 at 19:46

    Bosnia’s high-speed rail dreams end up in a fleet of trains to nowhere

    “It’s as if you bought nine Ferraris and … no roads to drive them on,” said Samir Kadric, an official with the publicly-owned railway company that bought the trains.

    The saga of the trains captures some of the bitter ironies of this war-scarred nation that remains mired in poverty and strife. The nine super-fast trains that Bosnia bought from Spain for 67.5 million euros ($90 million) pack a maximum speed of 240 kilometers per hour (150 mph) — but they have been parked at a side track in Sarajevo since they arrived from the factory of Spain’s Talgo company.

    Meanwhile, passengers ride trains that are 40 years old, running at a maximum speed of 70 kilometers per hour (45 mph) — and pay back the loans for the high-speed trains through taxes.

    The purchase “turned out to be a mistake,” admits Kadric. Not only are the tracks too old to handle the trains, he explained, there’s no money to maintain them, meaning they just decay as they sit idle.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Talgo seems to target the marginal markets.

    joe Reply:

    Like Wisconsin ?

  11. synonymouse
    Nov 15th, 2013 at 12:15

    Imbeciles in BART management need to go, again:

    Crunican should be poring over her contract, just like her predecessor. Just trying to police this provision will cost a bunch – probably private investigators, as with disability fraud, and taking malefactors to court.

    What, does this give Amalgamated equivalent to a 20% raise? They need to slap on a 20% fare increase to wise up the ridership.

    joe Reply:

    One BART director says there’s a provision that grants too much paid family medical leave to union workers.

    Terrible. Too much paid family leave.

    While the United States takes great pride in its family values, it is the only high-income country that does not offer a paid leave program. (Eight countries in all don’t offer the benefit, according to Dr. Heymann’s research.) Most of Europe and Central Asia — or 38 of 53 countries — provide 26 weeks or more of paid leave for mothers, according to Dr. Heymann’s research. “Twenty years ago there were a few other advanced economies that did not yet provide paid leave, and now, the U.S. is entirely isolated,” she said.

  12. synonymouse
    Nov 15th, 2013 at 12:24

    Hey, I was thinking with automated toll taking they can go back to tolls both ways. Get the suckers good. More money for Heminger to parcel out to friends of the regime.

  13. Reality Check
    Nov 15th, 2013 at 21:16

    Reforms key to controlling costs on California’s megaprojects, say experts

    Forget the $1 billion megaproject. It’s all about the $10-billion-and-counting gigaproject now.

    Experts coined the expanded term to keep pace with the vastly more expensive bridges and other huge infrastructure projects on the drawing boards around the world, such as California’s $68 billion high-speed rail plan.


    “The Bay Bridge is a beautiful and spectacular bridge, fitting in its setting, but I do wonder if it was worth the cost and the delays,” said DeSaulnier in his opening comments. “Now, we have high-speed rail in California and if you believe … in the research around what happens with rail projects, Californians might be paying $300 billion or $350 billion instead of $68 billion.”


    In an Oxford study of 157 bridges and tunnel projects built in 1919-2001, costs rose on average 34 percent and estimates were low in nine out of 10 cases. High-speed rail and dams fared worse, he said.

    Researchers blamed the phenomenon on project bias, described as excessive optimism and “strategic misrepresentation or, put simply, lying,” Budzier said.

    “People think they can do a project faster and so the cost estimates are that much less,” Budzier said. ” … And project proponents are the most likely to intentionally misrepresent the risks just to get a project going because once it gets started, it is almost always finished no matter how big the overruns.”

    One of the keys to reversing this trend is sharing the risks — extra costs, delays and blame — more equitably between the public agencies, designers and contractors, said former Boston “Big Dig” manager Virginia Greiman, currently a professor of law at Kennedy School of Government and Law School at Harvard.

    The “Big Dig,” a series of tunnels beneath Boston that replaced a deteriorating elevated freeway system, started at $2.5 billion and ultimately cost $15 billion.

    “Many states require balanced budgets but we never seem to require projects to do the same,” Greiman said. And when those massive projects are completed, the state should follow France’s example and mandate publications of an easy-to-understand report on how the endeavor scored on cost, schedule and other factors, suggested Louis Thompson, chairman of the California High Speed Rail peer review group.

    “There is no way to get rid of (cost and timeline bias) unless the people making the estimates have something at stake,” Thompson said. “Unless they know that at the end, ‘Here is where you failed and here are the consequences,’ nothing will change.”

    Among the experts’ other recommendations:

    * Commission outside people with no financial stake in the project to conduct mandatory cost-benefit analyses on every big project.

    * Hire top-notch project managers with the skills to bring together the public agency, designers and contractors.

    * “Mega-communicate” with the public and media.

    * Use specialized computer systems that scour designs and project plans for conflicts or errors that could cost time and money.

    * Convene citizen and technical oversight committees.

    synonymouse Reply:


    * Don’t fire the smartest guy in the room.

    joe Reply:

    Among the experts’ other recommendations:

    * Commission outside people with no financial stake in the project to conduct mandatory cost-benefit analyses on every big project.

    HSR has a Peer Review Panel

    Hire top-notch project managers with the skills to bring together the public agency, designers and contractors.
    Jeff Morales and current senior staffing.

    * “Mega-communicate” with the public and media.
    Fluff. Mega-Communicate would be called wasteful by critics

    * Use specialized computer systems that scour designs and project plans for conflicts or errors that could cost time and money.

    Like SkyNet. I’m not familiar with this kind of natural language software system. Possibly design analysis – early in design analysis and models but this too is going to be attacked for being wasteful and controversial.

    * Convene citizen and technical oversight committees.
    And then what?

    Clem Reply:

    Not SkyNet. Try Quantm.

    synonymouse Reply:


    “It’s growing – it’s changing – it’s like it has a mind of its own”



    agb5 Reply:

    Airbus is hoping to avoid many of the mistakes of the Boeing Dreamliner megaproject using “specialized computer systems that scour designs for conflicts or errors”.
    Their new A350 plane is computer modeled down to the last nut and bolt in a Digital Mock Up that all subcontractors must be part of. In theory, the whole production process is fully thought through to a fine level of detail before the first shovel goes in the ground, eliminating errors before the manufacturing stage.

    I am looking forward to seeing the digital mockup for HSR Phase1, so far we have only seen the 15% plan.

    synonymouse Reply:

    PB don’t do no stinkin’ “digital mockups”.

    If you are wont to bluff the last thing to do is reveal the contents of your poor hand.

    Judge Moonbox Reply:

    As for Boston’s Big Dig, I strongly think that if they had included the proposed rail link between North and South Stations and the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations had ordered that the whole project be overseen like a rail transit construction project, the added scrutiny would have saved more money than the added construction would have spent.

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