FRA Gives California HSR Funding Extension

Feb 22nd, 2014 | Posted by

The Federal Railroad Administration delivered some welcome news yesterday:

The California High Speed Rail Authority is heaving a sigh of relief, as the Federal Railroad Administration announced its decision to give the Authority an extension on a $180 million payment.

As part of the grant agreement with the FRA, the Authority initially had until April to secure state matching funds for the California High Speed Rail project. However, with the legal setbacks that have faced the Authority in recent months, including a state court’s decision to deny the Authority’s use of nearly $10 billion in Prop1A bonds, it has remained unclear whether or not the Authority would be capable of making the $180 million payment on time. As a result, the FRA has extended the payment date until July 1.

Jeff Denham predictably whines and complains about this move in the rest of the article, but he has been on a crusade to destroy the project since he arrived in Congress three years ago. His remarks are no surprise.

The FRA’s action helps give California some needed breathing room. There are two possible paths forward here: the state could prevail in its appeal, throwing out Judge Kenny’s ruling and allowing the state to use Prop 1A bonds to provide the required matching funds; or the Legislature approves Governor Jerry Brown’s request to use a portion of the cap-and-trade funds to meet the same requirement. The Legislature must adopt a budget by June 15, so July 1 is a reasonable deadline from the FRA.

Either way, the FRA and the Obama Administration more generally has again been helpful to the California high speed rail project. We couldn’t have come this far without them.

  1. Keith Saggers
    Feb 22nd, 2014 at 14:37

    “The FRA’s action helps give California some needed breathing room. There are two possible paths forward here: the state could prevail in its appeal, throwing out Judge Kenny’s ruling and allowing the state to use Prop 1A bonds to provide the required matching funds; or the Legislature approves Governor Jerry Brown’s request to use a portion of the cap-and-trade funds to meet the same requirement”

    Let’s hope its both possible paths forward

    Zorro Reply:

    Agreed Keith.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Here is the complete letter and new proposed schedule from HSR for the Central Valley Funding Plan

    This is an update of the spreadsheet that was at the very end of the Dec 2012 funding agreement update

    It it is much more realistic about how long it will take to buy properties.

    We recently posted an analysis that shows how far behind purchases are from the schedule agreed with Tutor Perini just last August

    It is not clear if the project schedule fully reflects the delay in property acquisition.

    It is also not clear who is taking responsibility for a nonsensical acquisition plan or for being approx 100% off (so far) in cost estimates for right of way in the Central Valley.

  2. JOE
    Feb 22nd, 2014 at 15:49

    The guy’s bet the farm on stopping HSR.

    “It’s obvious that the Authority is determined to build at any cost, despite their failure to get court approval and provide a business plan that passes muster,” said Denham. “That’s why I introduced legislation in January that would protect taxpayer dollars by suspending federal funding to the project.”

    He’s taking a national party position. Saving taxpayers money by opposing federal funds to CA is high risk. If HSR goes forward, the project it produces billions of dollars of work for the region. Jobs and infrastructure for the region.

    Why is he doing this? On immigration reform, he’s being tossed under the bus.

    The universe of theoretically “gettable” Republicans is smaller on immigration. Only 24 GOP members represent districts where Latinos account for more than a quarter of the population. Mitt Romney carried 20 of those districts, mostly by 10 points or more. That helps explain why none of the members seeking new terms to those seats (all in California and Texas) faces general-election anxiety. Of the four GOP members in highly Hispanic districts that went for Obama, just two are in close re-election fights: Jeff Denham and David Valadao, both from California’s Central Valley.

    Only two are vulnerable – Jeff’s one of two nationally.

    “[His] quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail to the ruin of all.”

    Zorro Reply:

    I think Jeff Denham doesn’t want His cheap farm labor for the family farm to go away to better paying jobs, nor to spend Federal Funds in a Blue state.

  3. synonymouse
    Feb 22nd, 2014 at 18:13

    And after July 1 they’ll extend it another 3 months and after that another 3 months yada yada.

    Alan Reply:

    As well they should. USDOT is smart enough to see through the idiocy and dilatory tactics of Denham, Tos-Fukuda-Laurel-Hardy, PAMPA, etc. By showing that the Administration is still in support of the project, it takes some of the wind out of the sails of those who try to kill the project by delaying it.

    synonymouse Reply:

    On the contrary, they are conspiring with the Pelosi patronage machine to throw away the taxpayers’ money on a boondoggle. Queretaro or bust.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I thought it was been-dead-for-decades Barton. Nancy is the one with mind rays.

    synonymouse Reply:

    John Burton is still around. Go ahead; pick out the Party boss you want to name the patronage machine after. Feinstein, Boxer, Jerry or Willie Brown? It is a great honor to have the FRA functionaries kowtow to you.

    Hell why even bother with all these legal niceties? Just sign the ARRA checks to PB and Tutor.

    joe Reply:

    State officials say in the letter they have spent $95 million of state money against grant disbursements of $255 million. The Federal Railroad Administration allowed the state to count some prior spending as matching funds.,0,142691.story#ixzz2u7ZxKASh

  4. Thomas
    Feb 22nd, 2014 at 18:34

    As we’ve discussed, there still needs to be agreement with the freight railroads- BNSF and UP.

    From the draft 2014 Business Plan (pg. 70)-
    “Given the interface with existing railroad right-of-way, there is a need for agreement with the railroad companies. At this time, there is not a master agreement in place between the Authority and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) or between the Authority and Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) to inform design and construction of modifications to UPRR or BNSF facilities and each railroad’s right-of-way and operational requirements…If agreements cannot be reached with the
    railroad companies, then design work in progress or already completed may be affected, leading to cost increases or schedule delays that could become significant if the delay in reaching agreements persists.”

    UP has repeatedly said they won’t allow HSR on its ROW, nor will it sell its property, yet that is what the Authority is planning to do-

    “Finally, the Authority has begun negotiations with UPRR on a purchase and sale agreement, which will include all the parcels required from the UPRR for Construction Package 1.”

    So as things stand, either the FRA funds will time out in 2017, or they may need to take it back due to the lack of agreement.

    synonymouse Reply:

    They are not going to back the FRA funds under any circumstances. It is a utterly hollow threat. More likely Jerry Brown will become incapacitated in office and replaced by Gavin Newsom.

    synonymouse Reply:

    take back

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Make up your mind he’s either using his Jedi powers or he’s senile, he can’t be both.

    synonymouse Reply:

    PB regularly plies the jedi mind tricks on the weak-minded.

    Jerry, well, he can’t even get along with Willie. Grumpy old men.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If they can’t get along how are they managing to keep up the vast left wind conspiracy?
    There’s some bats in the windmills of your mind and the sails in your belfry need to be trimmed.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Jerry and Willie aren’t happy campers. Gavin is Willie’s protege. Gavin upstages Jerry on CAHSR.

    Solution: put Prop 1a back on the ballot and then PB-Tutor can contribute millions to the economy in brainwashing campaigns.

    joe Reply:

    “Gavin upstages Jerry on CAHSR.”

    Gavin only makes the news when he bucks a popular governor.

    The old farts who like this would vote NOT for him anyway – they’re sitting at home reading Latin and yelling at clouds.

    agb5 Reply:

    UPRR/BNSF will negotiate down to the wire to get the best deal while keeping in mind that the State has to power of Eminent Domain to take what they need.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I don’t believe there is eminent domain over a class one.

    Does Jerry have the power to impose martial law? Then he could “nationalize” the UP. And then when Moonbeam is in the ground his successors lose interest and sell the whole thing back to private interests at pennies on the dollar. The new owners “queretaro” the DogLeg. End of story.

    Bye bye Legacy

    synonymouse Reply:

    Like Pat Brown’s Embarcadero Freeway.

    jonathan Reply:

    I don’t believe there is eminent domain over a class one.

    The Interstate Commerce Commissoin ruled that states cannot use eminent-domain on a railroad where doing so would effectivley regulate interstate commerce. IIRC, the STB inherited that power from the ICC.

    Alan Reply:

    However, the STB does have the power to step in and require a railroad to allow a crossing, and so on.

    Alan Kandel Reply:

    Below comes from the linked Turlock Journal ( article:

    “Although opponents of the project have argued that state funds should have been secured and spent first before spending federal funds, as is the case with most federal-state matching fund programs, President Obama gave special permission to the Authority to spend federal funds first as all stimulus money must be spent by September 2017. While the Authority has yet to pay its first state-match payment per the agreement, more than $3 billion in federal money has been spent on the California High Speed Rail project to date. Should the Authority be unable to pay their share of the matching funds by the extended July 1, the federal government could withhold necessary funding for the state.”

    I don’t understand the entire premise here.

    If the feds are fronting the federal share as per quoted text above, then why is any payment due at all? The way it’s worded it sounds like the $3 billion federal grant has already been spent. If California doesn’t come up with the match ($180 million?) by July 1, is California obligated to give back the $3 billion that’s already been spent? I’d like to know how this is going to work.

    And, why in a fed-state structured type of grant agreement does money even need to be paid to the fed at all? Seems the state match should be going into construction of the high-speed train infrastructure itself via contract work. So, what, is the state matching amount first being paid to the fed and then the fed turns around and issues that money back to the state to then spend that money on infrastructure construction or land and/or property acquisition?

    Maybe a refresher on the way the California high-speed rail fed-state-match funding mechanism works is in order.

    morris brown Reply:

    @Alan Kandel

    The reason you don’t understand is because the author of this article has simply stated a miss-fact when she wrote:

    While the Authority has yet to pay its first state-match payment per the agreement, more than $3 billion in federal money has been spent on the California High Speed Rail project to date.

    that is simply not true. I have written her and advised her of her error, sent her the proper documentation, but no correction has yet been sent. Anyway, the total spent thus far of both State and Federal funds is of the order of $600 million. (not counting the $400 million of federal funds that was diverted to the TBT in San Francisco.

    You can look at the documentation at:

    Alan Kandel Reply:

    Now what I am understanding (via datasheet), is the total funds contributed (spent) being $626,483,559.

    Of the approx. $450M spent by the State and approx. $176M spent by the Fed., the approx. $176M (call it $180M) is required from California to the fed because …

    This has the appearance of the $180M being a loan and not a grant. If this is indeed the case, I’m not sure I follow especially if the fed is “granting” money to the state.

    Like I said, a fed-state funding mechanism “refresher” may be in order.

    joe Reply:

    The State has a commitment. Even a cash grant is a commitment to spend on the project defined.

    In this case there is an additional requirement the State match Federal funds. Failure to comply with agreement means the grant has to go back.

    If CA didn’t choose to build HSR then the state wouldn’t get to keep the federal grant either and if they spent money on others things – CA would have to pay the Feds back.

    can choose to spend and build 180M with its own money or pay 180M cash back to the Feds.

    Alan Kandel Reply:

    “can choose to spend and build 180M with its own money or pay 180M cash back to the Feds.”

    Why wouldn’t the choice be to build with the $180M since it was, apparently, given the money? Seems to me the most logical and practical solution in terms of taxpayer (read: “high-speed-rail-riding Californian) benefit, whereas returning to the fed the 180M, in essence, this is saying the money is payback on federally-supplied funds advanced to California, funds to be used expressly to help build California HSR.

    That said, I could only see such money being returned should the HSR system not be built.

    joe Reply:

    Yes. That’s how I see it too.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    CHSRA Draft Business Plan 2014

    The Authority has executed reimbursement agreements with the following railroads and operating agencies: Orange County Transportation Authority, Southern California Regional Rail Authority, Capitol Corridor Joint Power Authority, San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission and UPRR. In addition, the Authority has executed MOUs with both BNSF and UPRR. Currently, the Authority is negotiating a reimbursement agreement and an overpass agreement with BNSF. The Authority has also signed an indemnification/insurance agreement with UPRR. Additionally, the Authority
    has made substantial progress in negotiating a master engineering, construction and maintenance agreement with the UPRR. Finally, the Authority has begun negotiations with UPRR on a purchase and sale agreement, which will include all the parcels required from the UPRR for CP 1

  5. John Nachtigall
    Feb 22nd, 2014 at 22:06

    Unlike Solyndra, California is not going anywhere so yet another delay is just embarrassment, but of no real consequence. The real issue is that they lack the funding, organization, and competence to actually execute building this HSR within the restraints of prop1a. A delay on the funding match does not change those things

    JOE Reply:


    You forgot to mock Tesla’s participation. And you’ll probably forget to ridicule the tax breaks to help Tesla buy and convert the NUMNI Plant to build the Model S.

    synonymouse Reply:

    If you like Tesla, you’ll love HyperLoop. Hey, stimulus funds, baby.

    jonathan Reply:

    What are you smoking? Why should anyone “love Hyperloop” because they like Tesla?
    Can you truly not think any deeper than grade-school personality politics, or what?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Curious how in one moment Musk is a genius for coming up with Tesla and in the next a dunce if not crackpot for conceiving HyperLoop.

    joe Reply:

    Musk invested in his good ideas and gave away his bad one to get attention.

    synonymouse Reply:

    What is the difference between throwing money at HyperLoop and throwing money at CBOSS?

    As to who is smoking what, Jerry Brown might as well be smoking rolled-up $100 bills courtesy of the Tejon Ranch Co.

    He is an influence peddler. No better than Willie Brown. Bring back the Sperminator.

    jonathan Reply:

    Cboss? Hyperloop? Order of magnitude check on Aisle 4!

    synonymouse Reply:

    Truly, I should have put it HyperLoop development.

    I should think coming off as Howard Hughes smashing his head during a test flight and having only loony ideas after that is not an image Musk would seek to create. Hell Bechtel used the same damn general vactrain idea in 1962 to peddle BART.

    And we know BART sits on the right hand of God. BART tech is of divine inspiration. It is the Devil that it causes empty BARTbeercans to climb the rails.

    jonathan Reply:

    From a BART-fanboy page, attributed to a BART spokesperson:

    If you know our system, you already know our trains don’t cross any other rail lines, so there’s no need to hitch onto someone else’s railroad. We’re self contained. Trying to standardize our gauge to the rest of the US wasn’t a need back when we began to design and build the system more than 50 years ago. The broader gauge also isn’t something that presents a significant problem for us now. We enjoy our broader gauge and our passengers like the more stable, smoother ride. Perhaps the rest of the world could learn from us.”

    Learn from BART, Like, about cylindrical wheel profiles. Tell that to George Stephenson.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You mean like how to be the noisiest subway maybe even of the Third World. And how to procure cars so tinny they collapse in on themselves like a swayback horse.

    Hubris is a word that clings to BART like a horsefly to a cowpie but the word I really like is “invidious”. You have to look at the word’s origins – “invidere” – to cast the evil eye. More figurative meaning would be to regard with jealousy and hatred. Know this: BART does indeed put the evil eye on anything that should dare to compare to it.

    Joe Reply:

    Musk is laughing. I think he made up that idea while vacationing in CO.

    “Duuuude I have this awesome idea.”

    synonymouse Reply:

    The real reason the Cheerleaders do not like HyperLoop is not because it is gadgetbahn nor ready for prime time but because Musk turned thumbs down immediately on wandering off to Mojave.

    Musk and the other Silicon Valley Youths can buy out the Tejon Ranch with pocket change and donate it to the State as another park.

    jonathan Reply:

    Balderdash. Th reason anyone with sense and even a smattering of domain-knowledge opposes Hyperloop is because it ‘s *vaporware*. Vac-trains, including Hyperloop makes even mag-lev look:
    * well-understood
    * Actually built
    * standardized
    * available off-the-shelf from multiple vendors
    * cheap, by orders of magnitude

    Need I go on?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Vactrains are definitely Buck Rogers but how much difference is there between non-functional and profoundly dysfunctional?

    DogLeg profitability is utter vaporware. Circling the wagons around Palmdale is Cheerleader job #1.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I didn’t mention A123 or Fisker either. That want the point. The point is that CA can’t get out of the obligation by declaring bankruptcy, so an extension is no big thing.

    Now if you want to start discussing how poorly Obama’s energy grants have paid off, well I am happy to oblige, but that was not my point

    joe Reply:

    Go ahead – I call your bluff and want the summary on “Obama’s” energy grants.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Ok here you go

    Only the loans since 2009 (Obama administration). It’s a little out of date because Fisker and a123 went bankrupt after it was written, but it was already a disaster at this point 6.7 millon per job, nice investment

    joe Reply:

    Things go better with Koch.

    The Mercatus Center, part of George Mason University, is one of the best-funded think tanks in the United States at the moment. It is listed as “sister organization” to the Institute of Humane Studies. “Mercatus generates knowledge and understanding of how institutions affect the freedom to prosper and holds organizations accountable for their impact on that freedom,” it states on its website. [2]

    The Mercatus Center was founded and is funded by the Koch Family Foundations. According to financial records, the Koch family has contributed more than thirty million dollars to George Mason, much of which has gone to the Mercatus Center, a nonprofit organization. Democratic strategist Rob Stein described the Mercatus Center as “ground zero for deregulation policy in Washington.”

    joe Reply:

    Jonathan Silver, who served as the head of the Department of Energy’s loan program from November 2009 to October 2011 and is now a clean energy investor and visiting distinguished senior fellow at Third Way.

    Of the companies that received loans or loan guarantees underwritten by the Department of Energy, those that did subsequently fail represent less than 3 percent of the portfolio, Silver said. The loan program has assisted with a number of different types of energy projects, from nuclear power to carbon capture and storage technology, to solar, wind and advanced batteries. “Most of the projects supported by the agency are now up and running and beginning to pay back their loans.”

    Moreover, Silver points out, the DOE loan guarantee program criticized by “60 Minutes” was designed to make a profit in the long term. “People forget that these are loans, not grants,” said Silver. “Not only do they get paid back, they get paid back with interest. When the investment cycle is complete, the government will actually have made a profit on the portfolio.”

    BTW, Mr. Sliver, insists that A123 never received a DOE loan.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Shocking that the head of the program thinks the loans were made well.

    Going to make a profit? I guess only time will tell

    In the meantime, they haven’t made a profit and the “per job” cost is astronomical.

    PS. Just because you don’t agree with the politics if the writer that does not make them wrong. Your source has much more conflict than mine

    joe Reply:

    I don’t agree with the mission statement of the organization.

    As I did read the article, I didn’t agree with the moral lecturing on the evils of Gov’t loans – that’s personal opinion.

    It’s also hypocritical since the founders, Koch, receives gov’t assistance via his corporations – routinely.

    Since the program had more than job creation as a motivation, the focus on jobs only is dishonest evaluation. Also “cost” is misleading word since the loans are not costs. They are investments which can return a positive cash flow and subsequently cost nothing. That makes the value infinity.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Jobs are part of the selling point used by the administration all the time so it is fair that criticism that they are inefficient. They also can’t point to any profound advancements or even technical victories. Now to be fair it is because this is early in the cycle, so they may end up with some “home run” that makes it all worth it.

    But as it sits right now, they have had 3 companies so bankrupt (Solyndra, Fisker, Solar One), that money is lost, so there is some “cost per job” we just don’t know what it is until the final numbers come in. It will be less than 6 million per job as the loans are repaid, but right now there is little to no benefit for what it has cost.

    Joe Reply:

    So the other parts count.

    Measuring research and development by jobs ignores the research and development part. Trivial? No.

    And A123 never got a loan. So please correct this persistent error. I bothered to check and found the xls sheet that proves it. Maybe you can be decent enough to admit it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Shocking that someone whose thinks the government cannot do anything right concludes the government can’t do anything right. Even though, so far only 3 percent of the loans have gone bad and the government recouped some of that 3 percent.
    As near as I can tell A123, in nice round numbers got 375 million from the government and directly employed 3,000 people. That’s 125,000 a job not 6,000,000. A large portion of that money was spent buying things like steel and concrete to build the plant from people who didn’t work for A123.

    I’m not gonna go look for information anymore. Your source is biased and uses bad numbers.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    the article was tl:dr. The charts are pretty. Apparently 34 billion in loan guarantees. Another source says 36. Half a billion for Solyndra is one 1/68th. Quarter of a billion for A123 is another 1/136th. Without spending even more time searching Google there’s two other companies that have failed so far. Neither of them is Fisker. Neither of them is 1/272. So less than 3 percent of the loans have gone bad. Some of that 3% will get paid back.

    In it’s bankruptcy filing A123 listed 376 million in liabilities and was sold to Wanxiang America for 256.6, roughly 68 percent of the liabilities listed. The government got some of that money back.
    The 6 million per job they spent got spent on something. It wasn’t in the janitor’s paycheck. Or the CEO’s paycheck. They built battery plants with some of it. Those plants still exist. I know you think things can magically appear all at once but someone somewhere dug rocks out of the ground so steel and concrete could be made. Those people didn’t work for A123. The people who drove the trucks or ran the locomotives that hauled the rocks to the steel plant, the cement kilns and the concrete plant didn’t work for A123. The people in copper smelters that made the copper that is in the wiring didn’t work for A123. Or the people in the chemical plants that made the plastic that would eventually the insulate wire made out of the copper. Neither did the people who made the copper into wire. Someone has to truck it to the construction site. Those truck drivers, like ones who hauled the ore to mill etc didn’t work for A123. The construction workers used heavy equipment made by people who didn’t work for A123. And hand tools made by people who didn’t work for A123. And the construction workers didn’t work for A123 either.
    There’s 3,000 buses runnning around with A123 batteries in them. Five years from now they will have a service history that can be compared to other batteries performance at five years. We got that out of it.

    .. I know we should all let it be market driven

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Yes, that is very inefficient use of capital at 6 million plus per job created

    Joe Reply:

    The Loans are profitable but just as much as you expected huh?

    And this embarrasses you because ….

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    None of the loans are paid back yet except Tesla, so the subject of profitability is TBd

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    this afternoon Ginnie Mae held auctions for mortgages, none of those are paid off and TBD too. Right now the loans are being paid back. If they are paying the loans back they might not be sending dividends to their investors yet but the government is making money by borrowing money at effective zero interest rates and lending it out at very low ones.

    Joe Reply:

    Nine of the loans but Teslas are paid back yet!

    Progress!!!!! We’ve turned your embarrassment at total failure into a recognition it’s premature .

    So back off the partisan spin.

    Joe Reply:

    The funds to a123 were a grant, not a loan, so there is no payback with a grant.

    The DOE ARRA site says not all eligible funds were dispersed to A123, they didn’t get the full award.

    Measuring success by jobs and not product and technology developed is like mock Salk for his polio vaccine because his effort was just a few people in a lab and now they don’t even do that work any more. My mcdonalds hires as many people.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    They have invented what? They have advanced what? If you don’t want to use jobs to measure the program then what have the loans wroght?

    Joe Reply:

    A123 never got a loan. You want to rip the loan program, stick to the most basic facts and companies that got loans.

    Since I had to dig up and uncover this talking point is false, I propose you start answering your own questions about what was loaned to whom and for what purpose.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    The government’s mistake was in not investing 10 times as much in 10 Solyndras. It is unfortunate that the lesson of the Solyndra failure was that the government shouldn’t invest in any Solyndras.

    Development loans, like the Solyndra loan, are some of the better ways to fund the ‘development’ part of ‘research and development’, when the technology is of great importance to the nation, but promises little immediate payback to the private sector. University and government labs, facing no market pressure, don’t develop products very well. And for start-ups, this is a time when investment capital is hard to come by.

    Solyndra’s challenge was in pioneering solar conversion technologies which were a bit ahead of their time, when solar people were happy with cheap silicon from China, and the rest of us were happy burning coal. It’s too bad Solyndra couldn’t hang on. But some company like Solyndra – from Korea or Japan or China perhaps – will succeed.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The lesson is that in the US there is plenty of private capital available for good ideas. The government should keep its support on basic research (DARPA etc.) and infrastructure that can’t “make money” and away from implementation of that technology.

    Joe Reply:

    But the DOE investment program WAS EXACTLY patterned after DARPA -and as someone who had managed a DARPRA RD project, I assure you their selected projects are supposed to be high risk.

    These contradictions warrant some googling on your part.

    DARPA is good but higher risk research is bad. Bonus – what about the jobs metric with DARPA ? It’s not a factor or is it?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Allow me to consolidate my answers to the above in one reply here.

    1. You are correct and I was wrong, a123 was not on this program, it was on a different program. They did supply batteries to Fisker who was on the program but you are correct.

    2. I assume you are talking about this sheet

    Notice the “discontinued” loans which is government speak for “we ain’t getting the money back”

    3. The program was partially sold on job (see it displayed next to each loan) so criticism on cost per job is 100% fair

    4. The other way the program was sold was it promoted innovation. It has yet to do that. Either the company already had access to capital and is just using it to get a cheap loan (Tesla) or early stage technology that has not worked out (Solyndra) or is still unproven (thermal solar).

    5. I believe the government has a place in funding search (unlike some of my GOP brothers) but not companies, I think they should fund basic research and stuff that is 10+ years away from commercial. I.e. They invented the internet, but did not fund google or yahoo in exploiting it. Same with GPS, they put up the satellites, but not GPS companies in putting it in cars

    joe Reply:

    1. thank you
    2. that’s a good success rate.
    3. using jobs as the sole factor isn’t fair.
    4. you contradict yourself. Early stage and unproven tech that gets investment is how to fund innovation.
    5. companies that do research can compete for gov’t funds – that’s who DARPA funds. That’s a bulk of the DOD R&D budget. There’s a large gap between innovative idea and marketing. These loans bridge that gap.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    First, John, word on 5. This is of course true in biomed – private industry can figure out how to invent drugs, but there needs to be a lot of funding of basic research, especially translational research. The EU is spending like a billion euros on developing quantum computers to be able to do brain research computations faster; it’s so capital-intensive and the benefits are so diffuse that a private company wouldn’t ever do this.

    But on 4, Joe’s right. The model of venture capital is that you fail nine times and hit it big once to pay for the other nine failures. If the investment is capital-intensive enough that it’s too big for the private sector, there’s room for government involvement. My understanding of Solyndra is that it’s not where the government should’ve ever put its money – instead, it should be subsidizing homeowners’ installations of rooftop panels, which would encourage private-sector innovation by growing the market. But in principle, there’s nothing wrong with such loans, when they are targeted well. For example, despite having a lot of doubts about XpressWest’s plan, I think the FRA should’ve given them the loan: the funding goes to infrastructure so it’s an appropriate use of government funds, and the business plan suggested it would be able to pay recession interest rates.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    These loans are not good investments. None of them are so big that private could not have invested if they had wanted to. These are not Hoover Dams. XpressWest is closer, but there was no way they were going to pay back the loan, the assumptions were just too optimistic. so they did not get the loan simply because they were not going to pay it back. The buy US stuff was just an excuse.

    Solyndra, Tesla, etc. have private investors. Almost all of the companies on the list are publicly traded or venture capital backed. They have access to private dollars. Why should the government give them cheap loans, let the private companies take the risks and the rewards. The US has a perfectly functioning private funding system in place that works well in a variety of industries, there is no reason that “green tech” needs a boost when internet, med device, etc. work fine off private money. There is no gap to fill here….if you ahve a good idea that can make money you can get funded.

    The program was sold on 2 premises. Increases jobs and increases innovation. The cost per job is astronomical and they have yet to have a single “big hit”. it has not yet been successful. Now to be 100% fair it is far from over, but so far it is not a success, the best you can say about the program is that it is incomplete.

    Larry Scheib Reply:

    Ah, there it is again…the tea bangers rallying cry: Solyndra. Never is Tesla, Agua Caliente or other DOE loan beneficiaries mentioned. oooh haaa. New business success rates in general are below 25% so why the fixation on Solyndra is beyond me.

    Also, I believe you meant to say “Like Solyndra, CHSR is not going anywhere” but I guess this is expected from a tea bagger. CHSRs only issue thus far is tea bagger politicians and their persistence in not moving toward a progressive and modern society. I suppose they rather we go back to the horse and buggy days, what a glorious thing that would be.

  6. UN
    Feb 23rd, 2014 at 07:54

    CA AB16 (Assembly Bill 16) Page 2, San Francisco is already building the Transbay Terminal Project and other projects in Sol Cal, the Bay Area, and Central Valley have commenced. You will find that ARRA funds were surrendered by the State of Florida. These ARRA funds had to go to other qualifying states with the most developed high speed transit plans. California became the largest recipient and this money has already been obligated. These funds cannot just simply go to other non-similar projects. A direct quote from page 2 of AB 16: “$400 million is for constructing the basement of the new Transbay Terminal in San Francisco to accommodate high-speed trains.”. ARRA money already obligated, jobs already created, and this work must, and I will use a direct quote from AB 16 where law requires: “As a condition of the ARRA grants, the Authority must complete construction by September 30, 2017.” Read it for yourself.

  7. morris brown
    Feb 23rd, 2014 at 12:16

    Democrats to lose super majority (2/3) in State Senate?

    If indeed both Calderon and Wright are removed, then they are short one vote for a 2/3 super majority.


    joe Reply:,_Majority_Vote_for_Legislature_to_Pass_the_Budget_(2010)

    California Proposition 25, the Majority Vote for the Legislature to Pass the Budget Act, was on the November 2, 2010 ballot in California as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was approved.

    Proposition 25 ends the previous requirement in the state that two-thirds of the members of the California State Legislature had to vote in favor of the state’s budget in order for the budget to be enacted. Proposition 25 also requires state legislators to forfeit their pay in years where they have failed to pass a budget in a timely fashion.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    awwwww you went and spoiled his FUD.

    joe Reply:

    Maybe he forgot. The Budget’s in decent shape but we need to pay into some funds that were neglected by the previous administration.

    HSR needs a dedicated funding stream and many Dems want to restore services cut in the recent years. I see the two sides compromising. HSR spending produces jobs and revenues. It also builds infrastructure in the CV. All positives.

    GOP can influence the budget process if they are willing to vote for taxes to gain influence on issues – that is their only leverage. Absence that, they are irrelevant.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Juice the welfare payments a bit but put Prop 1a back on the ballot.

    Alan Reply:

    Like I said before, you get a revote on 1A as soon as the country gets a revote on the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No need to redo 2000, Al Gore won. Bush took office but Al Gore won. No need to redo 2004 because if Al Gore had been sworn in Al Queda would have been much more circumspect and or someone would have paid attention to the warnings and Sept. 11th would have been a lovely fall day that nobody remembers in any particular way. Light regulation of the mortgage bubble brewing would have prevented what happened to the markets in 2008. Instead of pissing away a trillion dollars on wars and a few trillion more on tax breaks for rich people we would be sitting around discussing how full employment and the elimination of the national debt is affecting the economy and who would be replacing President Kerry in 2016.

    35 years of cutting taxes on rich people was supposed to make them all go out and invest in productive enterprises that would lift all boats on a rising tide of prosperity… how’s that working out?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Glass-Steagall was repealed under Clinton; Gore wouldn’t have regulated the mortgage market at all. So what actually happens in this alt history is, Gore wins reelection in 2004 defeating McCain by a squeaker, but then the financial crisis lets Mitt Romney win in 2008, whereupon he cuts taxes to stimulate the economy, starts a war in Iraq, and then says the US can’t afford any domestic spending and exhorts state governments to tighten their belts.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There were murmurs about how this was encouraging a bubble and it had all the classic signs of one. When it was brought up there wouldn’t have been screaming about how regulating the markets lightly was giving into terrorists and UnAmerican and apple pie donchya know you bethcya.

    In imaginable scenarios, not the ones where electing Al Gore turns us into subway riding high rise living welfare cheats who drive our cadilacs to the welfare office, in some of them Sept. 11th never happens because the Gore administration continues the effective polices followed by the Clinton admin. Lots of the other things that lead up to the Second Great Depression never do either, the flight to safety for one that drove inflating the housing bubble. We are sitting around discussing full employment and the elimination of the national debt has altered the economy, if we saw the latest report on missing blond rich girl and whether the DOW was going to break 25,000.

    Jerry Reply:

    A rising tide of prosperity lifting all boats only helps those who have boats.
    U. S. Corporations are sitting on a stash of trillion$ of dollars in ca$h.
    The corporations should use it or lose it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Holy Writ of the Laffer Curve given to us by Saint Ronnie says taking money away from rich people causes them to take whats left and stuff it into their mattress. We just have to wait patiently for them to invest in boat building lowering the price to ones we can afford.

    jonathan Reply:

    Don’t tell Derek. Laffer curves actually have units on the axes. That’s beyond Derek’s ken.

    I wonder if Derek really means “read a demand curve”, or if he’s trying to get at price elasticity?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Gore did not win. They went back and recounted the votes. The only scenario where Gore wins us if you ASSUME that all the votes for Nader where for Gore. You can’t say “yep, this person must have been confused and voted for the wrong guy”.

    It was close, it was a mess, but Bush took Florida( and the election). And won 2004 easily

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Should have said

    Bush took Florida and the 2000 election and then subsequently took 2004 easily

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    yes and Saint Ronnie never raised taxes, the Iraqis were so very clever hiding their WMD we sitll haven’t found them, Obamacare is going to turn us all in Soviets and if we just deregulate Wall Street even more it will unleash the power of free markets creating a tide of prosperity that will lift all boats on an unprecedented tide of rising prosperity that will make us all rich, eliminate the national debt and sure teenaged acne.

  8. Keith Saggers
    Feb 23rd, 2014 at 15:29
  9. Thomas
    Feb 23rd, 2014 at 16:46

    Some questions regarding current litigation-

    What if Brown loses the appeal, could he appeal again and take the matter to the CA Supreme Court? Also, if the travel time/subsidies trial is heard, could that outcome also be appealed? What if it is found that they can’t meet the 2:40 hour travel time, what remedies would there be? What would be the timeline for both cases?

    Thomas Reply:

    The briefs from the plaintiff’s side is due March 17, with the Attorney General’s reply within 15 days after. Wouldn’t the briefs be the same as the ones submitted to the CA Supreme Court, since they just transferred the case to the Appeals Court?

  10. joe
    Feb 23rd, 2014 at 17:20

    Q:What if Brown loses the appeal, could he appeal again and take the matter to the CA Supreme Court?

    A: The Supreme court could review and over turn the Appellate court.

    Q:Also, if the travel time/subsidies trial is heard, could that outcome also be appealed?

    Q: What if it is found that they can’t meet the 2:40 hour travel time, what remedies would there be?

    A: This is highly unlikely at this stage since the determination they are not compliant would be speculative. The law doesn’t require the State prove a design. The State argues the law requires any time assessment be based on the State’s analysis – not 3rd party analysis brought to the trial. They also challenge the legality of litigating at all.

    Q:What would be the timeline for both cases?
    A:That’s the court’s call – year probably. The real question why would the judge block the project construction in the CV while they litigate travel time in the Peninsula. As for the 2:40 time – what’s the basis for stopping the fastest sections of the system?

  11. jonathan
    Feb 23rd, 2014 at 17:30

    What if Brown loses the appeal, could he appeal again and take the matter to the CA Supreme Court?

    The State would have to make a case that the Appeals court made a legal mistake in their ruling.

    Also, if the travel time/subsidies trial is heard, could that outcome also be appealed?

    Yes, but (again) the State would have to argue that Michael Kenny made a mistake in his hypothetical ruling.

    What if it is found that they can’t meet the 2:40 hour travel time, what remedies would there be?

    Judge Kenny has already ruled that the Authority’s 2012 Business Plan (for the “IOS” as an “operable segment”) does not meet the requirements of Prop 1A. Judge Kenny ordered CHSRA to prepare a new business plan, by (IIRC) July 1, which addresses the issues Judge Kenny raised. If the appeal fails, and the Authority’s does not submit a new business plan which in Judge Kenny’s opinion meets the requirements of Prop 1a, then the Authority cannot use bond money from Prop 1A.

    What if it is found that they can’t meet the 2:40 hour travel time, what remedies would there be?

    Presumably, in that case Judge Kenny would apply the same recourse as he has with Prop 1A bond funding: order the Authority go go back and come up with plans which *do* meet the requirements of Prop 1A. How would the Authority respond, in that hypothetical situation? One can only speculate.

    Personally, in the case of the Peninsula, I don’t see how that can be done, at all, under the current constraints of the “blended” system. Something has to give. I personally don’t see a judge ordering the Authority to go over Altamont, but I could be wrong. Perhaps fully grade-separating the Peninsula ROW? Adding more passing loops around Millbrae? Hard to say. Clem’s blog has a list of the top-10 curves (slow points) on the Peninsula, what it’d take to fix them, and how much time they’d save. Sensible engineers would look into those first. PB seems more interested in billion-dollar concrete pours.

    Regarding the SF-LA time requirement, Clem makes a very good case that there’s *no way* to meet the Prop 1A times, unless the route by-passes downtown Bakersfield and Palmdale. Some more savings could be got by by-passing other towns; but those towns want HSR money as a “free downtown redevelopment piggy-bank”.

    *if* Juddge Kenny agrees to hear the case, and *if* he rules for the plaintiffs, then the cat is well and truly amongst the pigeons. CHSRA (or rather, PB, since CHSRA are bureaucrats with a solid record of failures) will be forced to stop designing what Synonymouse calls “AmBART” — a meandering system with a 44 minute TBT-SJ service time, which *IS* what they’re currently designing; with a 3hr to 3:20hr SF-LA time, and build a true “full fat” HSR system with a service time, TBT to LA Union Statoin, of 2hrs 40 mins.

    Again, personally, in that situation I see failure of the project as a likely outcome. Remember that, *if* Judge Kenny hears the case and *if* Judge Kenny rules for the plaintiffs, then Judge Kenny is saying that CHSRA knowingly and willfully violated Prop 1A. Or, perhaps CHSRA didn’t realize that their design didn’t meet the requirements of Prop 1A, even though they claimed it did. In that case, CHSRA are igrossly incompetent.

    Either way, I doubt the politicians will have the stomach to keep going — let alone admit that their own back-room deals led to the failure. Supporting or reinforcing such a failure would be electoral suicide. With no political support,,the Authority will have no money, not even enough to keep paying PB for useless paper studies. The top tier at the Authority will go back through the revolving door.

    Or to put it more bluntly: California HSR is dead for at least a generation.

    What CHSRA is so incompetent that

    Very hard to say. *If* the State can come up with grounds for an appeal, then Jerry Brown could appeal t the state Supreme Court for urgent consideraton, just as he did when the state Supreme Court referred the appeal to the Appellate Court. Regarding the Tos &c case: Judge Kenny heard arguments on whether or not he shoud hear the case about meeting Prop 1A times. As far as I kinow, he hasn’t decided whether he’ll hear that case. If he does decode to hear the case: who knows?

    jonathan Reply:

    Darn! Preview functionaltiy! Preview!

    synonymouse Reply:

    Your arguments are quite sound, about as accurate as one can get given it is impossible to know a priori what the Judge’s instincts, drifts, takes, and finally conclusions are going to be. Plus Brown & Co. are certainly going to use every trick in the book to “fix the jury”.

    But I suggest taking the whole thing back to the electorate is the easiest and simplest way to proceed. All the parties get another chance at manipulating the voters their way. Of course, PB-Tutor would try to keep it an all or nothing choice of TehaVegaSkyRail.

    Of course this is assuming Brown will remain obdurate about amending his scheme in any way when it goes to court next month. One wonders if PB has been given the high ball by Brown to Bear Trap Canyon rolled in to the alignment. That’s a slick move I would do to make 2:40 appear more credible.

    Thomas Reply:

    Thank you guys for the answers. Didn’t Gov Brown order an expedited appeal though? However assuming the lawsuits go past July 1, that would make the $250 million important in that they would be the only funds to match the fed dollars by July. What if the legislature does not approve Cap n Trade, would the FRA extend the timeline again to see if Prop 1A funds would be eventually available?

    jimsf Reply:

    will be forced to stop designing what Synonymouse calls “AmBART” — a meandering system with a 44 minute TBT-SJ service time, which *IS* what they’re currently designing; with a 3hr to 3:20hr SF-LA time, and build a true “full fat” HSR system with a service time, TBT to LA Union Statoin, of 2hrs 40 mins

    the problem with that is, that what the state needs is the ambart. There is no need for a system the is designed to serve la to sf express passnegers because those people have a fast option already. Flying. 7 million bay area folks living within a half hour of an airport servicing 20 million southern california folks living within a half hour of an airport.

    The people who need faster options and the city pairs that need faster options, are the intermediate cities…. to be connect to the bay area and socal, and for faster travel between intermediate points hwere flying doesn’t make sense.

    It is exactly the sacramentos, merceds, modestos, fresnos, bakersfields, riversides, palmdales, san bernadinos, Visalias, that most need a new, fast, convenient travel option.

    joe Reply:

    Fly to SFO or take HSR to SFT or RWC or JSC or GLY.

    SFO isn’t the City. SFT is and the City is growing upwards around the TBT.

    That’s why a visit to the corner of Mission and First streets is a crash course in what it means when a city’s center of cultural and economic activity shifts. Four office towers are in various stages of construction here, all conceived to appeal to traditional corporations while also hoping to catch the eye of companies whose workers aren’t likely to wear a tie unless they’re being ironic.

    This isn’t obvious yet in a landscape now defined by cranes and raw concrete and steel. The churning transformation is the main show, especially the most disruptive game-changer of all: the Transbay Transit Center, at present a 1,500-foot-long hole so deep and wide that 50,400 Mini Coopers could be stacked inside.

    Transit center

    Until the building is opened and occupied, we won’t know if the porous corner genuinely will function as a part of the public realm, as opposed to an airy lobby for the workers upstairs. Still, the ambitions of the space testify to the conscious effort on the part of some architects and developers to make their towers engaging, especially at sidewalk level.

    Promises of this sort have been made before. They often fall short. Yet one aspect of this scene is irreversible and unique: the Transbay Transit Center.

    Drive to LAX and fly to SFO, then take a cab or BART to SF.

    People in LA would probably want to get directly to TBT or RWC or transfer off an LUS express at SJC to HSR local or Caltrain.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes. You are right. There is no need for the 2:40 requirement, and I’m repeatedly on record saying that the time limit in the ballot proposition should’ve been a lot laxer to account for possible design changes.

    The problem is that the ballot prop did include such a requirement. So it’s on the HSRA to explain to a judge how the current plans meet the requirement. On superficial reading they appear to violate it, but I don’t have the legal department that the HSRA does, and it might be able to give an adequate answer. I hope it does, but I don’t know how likely it is.

    joe Reply:

    The question is, “On what basis is this litigated for violations early in the design and construction?”

    There isn’t a smoking gun memo or any evidence the state is grossly negligent or planning to violate the law.

    The plaintiffs want a trial so they can bring in experts to present new evidence, outside of the project data and documentation, and argue in front of a Jury.

    I don’t see how the law would allow them to do have this kind of trial.

    jonathan Reply:

    There isn’t a smoking gun memo or any evidence the state is grossly negligent or planning to violate the law.

    Yes, there is.

    jimsf Reply:

    yes what the state needs is a an integrated transportation system not an express train from downtown la to downtown sf which would be an elite service for business people. Sure it might even make a profit. But who cares? Why should we spend tax dollars on a fancy express train for the well heeled to use, and for a private operator to profit from. If we are spending tax dollars on transportation, then it should be spent on provinding better, faster, more comfortable, more convenient options for the average californian who doesn’t have the luxury of flying between intermediate cities ( and where such trips make little sense as flights) but who would like to get our of their cars and get from a to b a lot faster, to be able to avoid the 4 hour drive from sacramento to visalia by using a train that can get them there in less than 90 minutes at mostly 220mph. That is something that the average people of the state can use and deserve in return for all the crap we put up with living here.

    jonathan Reply:

    Lesson time for: jimsf, an express train from downtown LA to downtown SF is *exactly* what Calfiornia voters voted for.

    On another topic: you really, really *really* shouldn’t extrapolate your experience working for Amtrak, to be representative of what the tfavelling public want.s Especially not what potential HSR riders want.

    jimsf Reply:

    I think that you can do pacheco palmdale in 240 and if it means running the express trains through town with a minimum of slowing down then so be it. Do that, and shave some corners off there and there, ( the wye at chowchilla for instance, turn south sooner than any of the alternatives, cut corners between tehachipi and palmdale) and make sure the booked ends between la san fernando and sj-sf get slated for 125 service, if not in the beginning, eventually.

    right now there isn’t even a real plan for what the upgraded row between san fernando and laus will be. It could be 150mph instead of 125. Just get rid of grade crossings there. There is no law prohibiting 4 tracks there either.

    and remember even though there is prohibition of 4 tracks on the peninsula, most of it is already 4 tracks

    synonymouse Reply:

    “There is no need for the 2:40 requirement, and I’m repeatedly on record saying that the time limit in the ballot proposition should’ve been a lot laxer to account for possible design changes.”

    The 2:40 proviso was included as a guarantee of competivity and bonafide bleeding edge hsr to the voters and taxpayers. If it is deemed, as you are apparently claiming, as not feasible or practicable, then Prop 1a should never have been certified for the ballot.

    If it never should have been qualified I guess it could be construed now as unconstitutional. The whole thing needs to go back on the ballot.

    Same reasoning applies to the requirement for no subsidies. It is meant to prevent a “queretaro” for the taxpayers. Perhaps “queretaro” can be replaced with “Raton” as things are not going well for the Southwest Chief thru Colorado. Apparently New Mexico is way in the hole on its subsidized train ops and owes a bunch already for the RailRunner and is reluctant to take on the cost of Raton. And make no mistake the Palmdale-Mojave backwoods detour will be a stone money-loser.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    All the travel times were put into the ballot language by PB’s in order to eliminate less profitable (ie lower private profits, ie billions less in public losses and tens of billions more in public benefits) route choices. Nothing more, nothing less. Nothing at all to do with “bonafide bleeding edge”, everything to do with “billions in bleeding cash”.

    Prop 1A is sacred holy writ. Teh peoples have spoken! (Except when it is even more profitable for it not to be, in which case, never mind, it’s not really what teh peoples intended after all.)

    synonymouse Reply:

    Correct. I should have said the 2:40 proviso was “sold” as a guarantee, etc. etc.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The 2:40 proviso was over-ambitious. You can be pretty bleeding-edge with 3:00, and still have room for small change orders – compromising on curve radius here to avoid a tunnel, slowing down trains there to reduce noise impact. If you only do it occasionally, it’s not a problem. There should have been a time limit, to prevent NIMBYs and local interests from demanding so many slowdowns the average speed would suffer too much, but the time limit should’ve allowed some flexibility.

    The basic principle is that second-order decisions should be made as late in the process as possible. The same is true of Altamont vs. Pacheco, and Tejon vs. Tehachapi. In case further engineering on one of the options shows there are unexpected problems (as indeed happened with Tehachapi), it should be possible to switch to the other option. Such a switch is always painful because it means throwing away a lot of good work, but it should at least not have legal pain.

    Now, fortunately, at least the way I understand 1A, it permits both Tejon and Tehachapis, and if Tejon is chosen it permits both Altamont and Pacheco. (I think Tehachapi-Altamont violates the LA-SJ nonstop run time limit under any assumption.)

    By the way, note that the hardest run time mandate to fulfill is SF-SJ in 30 minutes. This also happens to be the shortest segment with a mandate. It’s not surprising: the shorter the segment, the harder it is to find other places to speed up to recover from a slowdown. So LA-SF in 2:40 is still possible if there’s a switch to Tejon even with the Peninsula slowdowns, especially if there’s also a switch to Altamont-SETEC, but SF-SJ in 0:30 looks like a lost cause.

    synonymouse Reply:

    What would be the estimated travel time for a BART Ring the Bay regular service run, from say, Embarcadero Station to the Flea Market in SJ?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Picking a travel time of 1:00 PM tomorrow the BART’s trip planner says it takes 46 minutes to get to Fremont.

    joe Reply:

    The trip requires a transfer. 46 is the least time.

    The BART extension from Fremont to Warm Springs is 5+ miles. Then the extension to San Jose would add more time.

    Even BART Embarcadero takes 40 minutes S to BART Milbrae

    Easily over an hour to San Jose either around the bay on the extension or heading south on a mythical BART Peninsula.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    but that’s more time to bask in the glory that is BART. Why would anyone want to take a Caltrain express train or HSR at premium prices?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If they switch to Altamont they aren’t going to meet 30 minutes to San Jose. But then no one will be measuring it because there won’t be any HSR to San Jose from San Francisco or Los Angeles.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If they don’t switch to Altamont, they aren’t going to meet 30 minutes to SJ, either, not with the rolling stock and cant deficiency regulations they’re planning on using. Somehow I don’t think “we could in principle have very high superelevation at San Bruno and buy tilting trains” would convince a judge.

    Actually… does 1A require the specified travel times to be achieved by the same trains? I mean, if they get a Pendolino or two to do the SF-SJ runs and run full-speed trains for the rest, does that count as fulfilling the conditions of 1A?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Those areas need bus type service in the more rural and traditional rail type service in the more urban. HSR needs to be very high speed, direct, and express to be competitive and self-supporting.

    Subsidized services need to be economical. That often means bus.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If 50 miles of bus service to the HSR station out on I-5 is good enough for the people of Fresno why isn’t 40 miles to Castaic good enough for people in Los Angeles?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Fresno will get a spur.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    30 miles out of the way to get to Palmdale will cost too much but 50 miles of spur won’t. Okay

    synonymouse Reply:

    The spur will provide Fresno with super fast service north and south, LA and SF, via the I-5 racetrack.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    1,040,250 passengers a year spread out evenly over every day of the year is 2,850 a day. If one third of the traffic is northbound that’s 950 a day. Half of them arriving and half of them departing means there enough of the to fill one train a day to San Francisco. Two trains a day to Los Angeles.
    Double the number of passengers and it’s two trains a day northbound and four trains a day southbound.
    Double that again it’s four trains a day to San Francisco and eight a day to Los Angeles.
    Four million trips from a metro that is in very very round numbers a million people means that in even rounder numbers Los Angeles will be generating 40 million trips and in generously round numbers the Bay Area 20 million trips.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Actually, Fresno can expect to have way more per capita rail trips than LA or SF. LA would be connected to SF only and SF would be connected to LA only, but Fresno would be connected to both, so more destinations. They’d be closer, too.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If Fresno is connected to both, both are connected to Fresno.

    joe Reply:

    “Fresno can expect to have way more per capita rail trips than LA or SF.”

    Setup a meeting in fresno and both N and S parties can be ther q

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You’re right that both LA and SF would be connected to Fresno, but Fresno is less of a destination than LA or SF; the percentage of LA and SF residents who are interested in going to Fresno is much smaller than the percentage of Fresno residents who are interested in going to LA and SF.

    Using a pure product-of-city-populations model, ignoring distance, let’s consider just LA (18 million), Bakersfield (1), Fresno (1), and SF (8). Total ridership out of LA is 18*(1+1+8) = 180, or 10 per capita. Total ridership out of SF is 8*(18+1+1) = 160, or 20 per capita. Total ridership out of either Bakersfield or Fresno is 1*(1+8+18) = 27, or 27 per capita. I’m of course ignoring units – the ratios are what matters for this computation.

    Correcting for distance shouldn’t matter all that much – people are more willing to travel 300 km than 700 km, but they’re also more willing to drive that distance rather than pay for HSR; empirically, in Japan, France, and Spain I’ve found negligible effect of distance in this range on ridership. Now, the best fit model for ridership on city pairs isn’t product of city populations but product to the power of about 0.8; this overemphasizes smaller cities, so it means they get even more ridership per capita. Doing the same calculation above with an exponent of 0.8, we get LA ridership is 18^0.8*(1 + 1 + 8^0.8) = 73.5, or 4.1 per capita; SF ridership is 8^0.8*(1 + 1 + 18^0.8) = 63.9, or 8 per capita; and Fresno and Bakersfield ridership is 1*(1 + 8^0.8 + 18^0.8) = 16.4 each, i.e. 16.4 per capita. By this model, then, Fresno and Bakersfield have four times the per capita ridership of LA and twice that of SF.

    Conclusion: HSR is a project of disproportionate benefit to the smaller cities.

    Note also that this assumes symmetric traffic – we do not distinguish LA from Fresno except in population. This may be a reasonable assumption for a line connecting two big cities like LA and SF, but for LA-Fresno and especially LA-Bakersfield, it’s almost like a commuter line. If you think of the LIRR, very few people living in New York ever use it to travel to Long Island; Long Islanders use it to get to New York. Long Island may have 3 million people living in it, plus a bunch more in Eastern Queens, but their relationship to Manhattan is a city-suburb relationship rather than a symmetric relationship.

    Eric Reply:

    Correct. Fresno’s spur will be on flat Central Valley land, while the Palmdale detour requires huge amounts of extra bridging and tunneling.

    jimsf Reply:

    and how will fresno’s spur help people get from merced to fresno or from bakersfield to modesto or from fresno to stockton?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or Fresno to San Francisco or Los Angeles…. because the train to San Francisco comes in once day, drops off 450 people fills up and goes back to San Francisco. The train to Los Angeles would do it twice a day.

    synonymouse Reply:

    connecting buses

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Buses aren’t a high speed spur.

    So people in Fresno who want to get to Bakersfield are going to take an hour long bus trip out to I-5, get on a train, get off in Bakersfield and take a half hour bus trip into Bakersfield. Google says the time to drive between the two is 1:40.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You still have the San Joaquin buttressed with extra buses.

    I would also approach the UP about hanging wire on their line Bako to Fresno at State expense. Never know.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So wait around all day for the two car San Joaquin to toddle through, that takes longer than driving? How many people who own cars are going to do that? There won’t a San Joaquin.

    Clem Reply:

    Fresno’s spur will be on flat Central Valley land, while the Palmdale detour requires huge amounts of extra bridging and tunneling.

    Not only that (if five billion can be described as “only”), but a Fresno spur would not delay every passenger traveling between northern California and southern California. The Palmdale detour, on the other hand, adds 13 to 18 minutes to EVERY trip regardless of whether a passenger wishes to board or alight at Palmdale. I don’t think that’s fair to the rest of the state.

    synonymouse Reply:

    no stop at Castaic

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    but think of all the money they would save by not having to go all the way into Los Angeles! Just like terminating in San Jose saves them all that money not having to go into San Francisco. Or terminating in Livnermore. Just think instead of nice bus ride to Transbay and going downstairs to the HSR train you could take a nice bus ride to Transbay, walk a block to BART, take an hour long BART ride and change to HSR either at San Jose or Livermore. Sounds great don’t it?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Plan now is not to go to Los Angeles but to an as yet undetermined (or not revealed) San Fernando Valley “interim” terminus. Helps the Authority pretend that the project is less expensive.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is LA to SF that wants and needs to be HSR whereas LA and SF to Sin City for instance wants to be air.

    Alan Reply:

    “Again, personally, in that situation I see failure of the project as a likely outcome.”

    “Or to put it more bluntly: California HSR is dead for at least a generation.”

    Jonathan’s wet dream. Fortunately for the rest of us, it won’t happen.

    Jonathan and the anti-HSR Neanderthals have been insisting that the state follow the very letter of the law. We should expect no less of the opponents. However, even after being asked several times, Jonathan refuses to point to any section of AB 3034 which requires the state to prove the design to the satisfaction of project opponents, or any section that requires that proof to be made before the design is even complete. Nor has he cited any part of the law which gives a court the power to order a remedy for supposed design faults.

    Or maybe Jonathan thinks he has some special power which allows him to demand absolute state obediance to the printed text of the law, while allowing him to create any mythical additional law he likes, pulling it out of his a**.

    jonathan Reply:


    when you grow up, maybe you’ll stop imputing false motives to people.

    Alan Reply:

    Look in the mirror, and you’ll see the one who’s not grown up. You’re the one who’s been acting like a playground bully. And you’re still not man enough to answer the straight questions that have been asked of you. Consequently, we will take your silence to mean that there is no requirement that the state prove the design before construction, and that you’ve been talking out of your ass.

    jonathan Reply:

    What questions? Bullshit statements don’t count as questions.

    Alan Reply:

    I’m not imputing false motives to anyone. Your motive is crystal-clear: To stop the HSR project using whatever combination of lies and deceit are necessary. You’ve lied about the law, and you refuse to cite the sections of law which prove your point–mostly, because there are no such sections. When someone holds you to the same standards as you try to hold others, you whine, pout, accuse others of not understanding words or needing remedial reading lessons, and generally act like the school bully. Sorry if the truth hurts, Jonny, but that’s life.

    jonathan Reply:

    ’m not imputing false motives to anyone. Your motive is crystal-clear: To stop the HSR project using whatever combination of lies and deceit are necessary

    Alan, you need some remedial vocabulary lessons. Facts about how judges apply the law, are facts Facts about numbers, are facts. The fact that *you* don’t like the facts as they pertain to the “blended” plan on the Peninsula does not make them “lies”. And I have cited the relevant sections of AB3034 at least twice now.

    I can’t help it if some people cannot, operationally, disitinguish between minima and maxima. I can’t help it if some people read “maxmimum”, and then apply the word as if it actually said “minimum”. Operationally, such people *cannot* tell the difference between “maximum” and “minimum”.

    I hope some day you grow up enough to deal with facts in the world as they are, not as you wish them to be.

    I note that Alon Levy agrees that 30 mins iSF-SJ s looking very much non-acheivable for the “blended” plan. Does that make him a “liar” and a “bully”?

    jonathan Reply:

    [….] anti-HSR Neanderthals have been insisting that the state follow the very letter of the law.

    Duh. “Following the letter of the law” is exactly what judges are *supposed to do*. And the State, too.

    joe Reply:

    Then what does The Law establish to assure and monitor compliance ?

    Maybe take some time and read the Law and explain the established, mandated review process.

    jonathan Reply:

    Ths from the person who can’t distinguish “maximum” and “minimum”…. .!

    Alan Reply:

    I rest my case.

    jonathan Reply:

    A simulation shows an SF-SJ HSR service time cannot, in some circumstances, be less than 40 minutes. Now, is 40 more or less than 30? Which is the maximum, 40 minutes or 30:22 secs?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    judicial review is not written into every law, it is a constitutional right.

    For example, there was no judicial review that allowed the courts to overturn gay marriage, but they did.

    As far as when they have to prove what, would you rather they build the system, it fail to meet 30 minutes, and they tear it down?

    By your estimate, when is the “proper” time to sue because they cant meet the time mandate. As you are so fond of saying, it is the opponents burden of proof. SO when do we get our shot?

    joe Reply:

    “judicial review is not written into every law, it is a constitutional right.”

    It is a regulated right.

    What is the legal standing Tos lawyers claim in their lawsuit?

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    So, in your esteemed view, Marbury v Madison is unconstitutional?

    joe Reply:

    Got me there – that case wasn’t in the State’s Jan 10 with the court.

    What is the legal standing for Tos’ lawsuit over travel time? If they can sue – on what legal basis can they sue?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It’s a constitutional (both state and federal) right. Even the state is not arguing they lack standing.

    Prop1a was passed by proposition. More than any other perhaps they can sue because the will of the people expressed in the law is being ignored and land is being taken from Tos et al.

    joe Reply:

    I have a free speech right but cannot slander or yell fire in a crowded theater so our rights are regulated.
    Which if their rights are being violated?

    “they can sue because the will of the people expressed in the law is being ignored and land is being taken from Tos et al.”

    They are not litigating their property. They’re not suing claiming their land is being taken – they are suing because they claim the travel times are impossible. How can they assert that fact – what is their evidence? The peer review group is the legal entity the law established to assure the authority would be compliant.

    Derek Reply:

    If the theater is on fire, what are you supposed to do?

    Alan Reply:

    Generally speaking, a plaintiff must have standing to be able to file a lawsuit. It is the obligation of the plaintiff to prove standing, not the obligation of the defendant to prove otherwise. Tos, et. al., cannot possibly prove standing. Their action over the project design should be dismissed on that basis alone, to say nothing of the lunacy of suing over the design of a project which has yet to be fully designed. Nothing in AB3034 gives an individual taxpayer the right to sue over alleged defects in the design of the HSR project.

    If every person were allowed to litigate every act of the Legislature, nothing would ever be accomplished, because there is never complete agreement on any issue. You could enact a law making apple pie the official State pie, and some cherry farmer would file suit…

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    “More than any other perhaps they can sue because the will of the people expressed in the law is being ignored and land is being taken from Tos et al.”

    1 “More than any other”, what happenened to one person one vote?
    2 “the will of the people expressed in the law is being ignored” my will is not being ignored, I am perfectly happy with Prop. 1a. (just wish they would get on with it)
    3 “land is being taken”, no, land is being bought.

    Alan Reply:

    In other words, John, you’re trying to establish the judiciary as a super-legislature that has absolute power to override any law. Take ten steps back, and reread the chapter on “separation of powers”.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    Its funny that its the nominal liberals on this board who all of a sudden have a problem with judicial review.

    Joe Reply:

    Your liberal stereotype is funny. You need to fix it.

    The courts are being used to delay the project. The delays are being used to stop the project. This is a transparent tactic. The governor’s appeal was accepted because there’s a timeliness issue. Possibly the Supreme Court does not like judicial review either. They bypassed the normal judicial review process.

    There is no evidence that the authority is engaging in fraud. There is no evidence that the authority is grossly negligent. The peer review group is overseeing the project. There are protections built into the law to prevent fraud and negligence.

    If citizens right to sue the government is to prevent gross negligence waste and fraud then what is the basis for that lawsuit in this specific case. The law has built-in protections to prevent these problems. What evidence is offered that there are violations given the oversight organization, the peer review group, has not found any violations and has not raised any concerns.

    Alan Reply:

    On what basis do you have any evidence to label me, or anyone else, as “liberal”. And on what basis do you even have the right to label people at all? Please be specific.

    Alan Reply:

    And the people who don’t like a project, so when the facts and the law don’t suit them, they start lying about what the law says.

    Joe Reply:

    Tracks and station without representation!

    jonathan Reply:

    For at least the third time, from AB 3034 (Prop 1A):

    2704.09. The high-speed train system to be constructed pursuant
    to this chapter shall be designed to achieve the following
    (a) Electric trains that are capable of sustained maximum revenue
    operating speeds of no less than 200 miles per hour.
    (b) Maximum nonstop service travel times for each corridor that
    shall not exceed the following:
    (1) San Francisco-Los Angeles Union Station: two hours, 40
    (2) Oakland-Los Angeles Union Station: two hours, 40 minutes.
    (3) San Francisco-San Jose: 30 minutes.
    (4) San Jose-Los Angeles: two hours, 10 minutes.
    (5) San Diego-Los Angeles: one hour, 20 minutes.
    (6) Inland Empire-Los Angeles: 30 minutes.
    (7) Sacramento-Los Angeles: two hours, 20 minutes.

    (c) Achievable operating headway (time between successive trains)
    shall be five minutes or less.

    emphasis added.

    joe Reply:

    The State’s January 10 2014 court filing discusses legal challenges to travel times and it’s devastating.
    One might ask critics to read the Proposition/Law.

    The Law establishes a Independent Peer Review Group to oversee the Project. Amazing no? And they have a website and it’s publicly available and the legislated travel times are achievable.

    On what legal basis do critics and unhappy property owners have to sue the project?
    Well the State also goes over the law and the rational for lawsuits and it’s not looking good for critics.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I guess according to the Cheerleaders “critics and unhappy property owners” have no rights.

    Jerry Brown, under the spell of Palmdale and the Tejon Ranch Co., is obsessed with imposing a “legacy” debacle on California, a scheme so conceptually flawed it is doomed to failure and liquidation.

    The upshot of this and other fiascos, such as the Bayconic Bridge, is that the electorate turns against any more megaprojects because the planning is full of lies, those carrying them out are incompetent, and they invariably cost way too much or require hefty permanent subsidy. One bloviated disappointment after another.

    Joe Reply:

    Unhappy property owners need to see a therapist.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Perhaps the Cheerleaders missed the boat historically – they would have made solid and faithful Tories. Jerry does show some George III potential.

    jonathan Reply:

    Unhappy property owners need to see a therapist.

    I hope you remember that when Gilroy doesn’t get SEM to pay for a trench, but gets the option that CHSRA offered the city.

    joe Reply:

    Maybe you can be specific ….

    The CAHSRA gave the city four options, two locations each with two grades. Gilroy selected one of the four offered by the authority for more detailed study. A trenched approach to a down-town station.

    Which one did CAHSRA offer the city?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    the estimates of the independent review group dont support a travel time of 30 minutes

    Alan Reply:

    Joe, do you perhaps mean the state’s *February* 10th filing? That one does a pretty good job of ripping apart the Tos plaintiffs’ claim of standing.

    Joe Reply:

    Most Possibly, I’m at soccer practice and away from my desktop.
    It is in 2014 and the State makes a convincing case. The Peer review group in particular guards against the kinds of claims made by the plaintiffs.

    joe Reply:

    SEC. 2. Section 185035 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to
    185035. (a) The authority shall establish an independent peer
    review group for the purpose of reviewing the planning, engineering,
    financing, and other elements of the authority’s plans and issuing an
    analysis of appropriateness and accuracy of the authority’s
    and an analysis of the viability of the authority’s
    financing plan, including the funding plan for each corridor required
    pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 2704.08 of the Streets and
    Highways Code.
    (b) The peer review group shall include all of the following:
    (1) Two individuals with experience in the construction or
    operation of high-speed trains in Europe, Asia, or both, designated
    by the Treasurer.
    (2) Two individuals, one with experience in engineering and
    construction of high-speed trains and one with experience in project
    finance, designated by the Controller.
    (3) One representative from a financial services or financial
    consulting firm who shall not have been a contractor or subcontractor
    of the authority for the previous three years, designated by the
    Director of Finance.
    (4) One representative with experience in environmental planning,
    designated by the Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing.
    (5) Two expert representatives from agencies providing intercity
    or commuter passenger train services in California, designated by the
    Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing.
    (c) The peer review group shall evaluate the authority’s funding
    plans and prepare its independent judgment as to the feasibility and
    reasonableness of the plans, appropriateness of assumptions,
    analyses, and estimates, and any other observations or evaluations it
    deems necessary.
    (d) The authority shall provide the peer review group any and all
    information that the peer review group may request to carry out its
    (e) The peer review group shall report its findings and
    conclusions to the Legislature no later than 60 days after receiving
    the plans.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    yeah lets review what that independent peer review group says.

    Starts on page 79

    some of my favorite parts

    Capacity simulations completed jointly by Caltrain and the Authority show that interactions
    between Caltrain and potential HSR schedules will produce an actual non-stop HSR run time
    from San Francisco to San Jose of 37 to 39 minutes during hours of normal operation (see
    “Caltrain California HSR Blended Operations Analysis,” March 2012, page 50). Again, we
    note that this is a different question than the TPC analysis of the minimum travel time that
    could be achieved based on the system’s design parameters.


    Some concerns from earlier reports by this Group remain. There is still no source of federal or
    private funding to finance construction beyond the work in the Central Valley, although the
    Brown Administration has offered the potential of state-level options such as cap-and-trade
    revenues in amounts sufficient to finance the gap if other sources do not materialize. The Group
    also strongly believes that management resources are inadequate to the immense task ahead and
    that the Authority will have difficulty in meeting that challenge within current State bureaucratic
    limitations. Capital costs in the Central Valley appear to be reasonably estimated, but costs
    outside the Valley are still in earlier stages of development and are based on assumptions of
    availability of funding that are not settled. The Authority has included contingencies in its
    estimates, but potential schedule slippages could put pressure on the contingency allowances.
    Demand forecasts have again been lowered and are supported by professional peer review;
    however, we believe that the forecasts continue to be subject to a broad range of potential
    outcomes. Operating and Maintenance (O&M) Costs are based on a relatively simple model that
    should be improved in order to yield better forecasts of cash flow generation and thus a better
    picture of the prospects for private investment beyond the Initial Operating Section (IOS) stage.
    We also recommend that the Benefit-Cost analysis be further strengthened.


    In the absence of actual new federal programs, 80 percent of the funding of the IOS and,
    depending on the role of the private sector, 50 to 75 percent of the remainder of the funding for
    the program, is in question


    Beyond the worst case scenario, what is an unacceptable risk in the Central Valley projects and
    the Bookends? At worst, the work could become so snarled in litigation or cost overruns that it
    would never be completed. As we have stated in other reports, we are not qualified to assess
    litigation risks, but we do believe that the current state of construction planning gives some
    confidence that a significant part (if not all) of the 130 mile section can be completed and used
    for the San Joaquin services. If so, and if the project ends at this point, the state would be
    responsible for repaying $2.7 billion in Prop 1A bonds on a segment that may not serve as a test
    segment for 220 mph service and that could clearly carry fewer passengers than originally
    planned. It would be a poor use of resources and an embarrassment, but not a financial disaster
    for the state


    Ringing endorsement indeed

    joe Reply:

    Step back and ask yourself “what is the basis for the Laurel and Hardy lawsuit over travel times given this Legally mandated Group is reviewing the project for compliance?”

    What gross negligence or illegal behavior is possible that requires a private party to sue the state to stop the waste and fraud?

    Favorite part 1) Peer review group is assessing Travel times and compliance to the law. 2) The experts are not interpreting the travel times in the Law as normal service times. 3) They accept the TPC analysis – no conclusion the travel times are not achievable.

    The project’s compliant and any non compliance would be caught and corrected with this group. No basis for lawsuit.

    Favorite Part 2 – Cap and Trade would be sufficient. They need to continue to staff up. Slippage is within contingencies. Demand forecast are good. Improve O&M and other estimates.

    Favorite part 3 – Stating the obvious. If there’s no new federal funds – then there need to be new funds.

    Favorite part 4 is the basis for overturning the Judge’s ruling in Brown’s Petition.

    Beyond the worst case scenario, what is an unacceptable risk in the Central Valley projects and the Bookends? At worst, the work could become so snarled in litigation or cost overruns that it would never be completed.

    This is EXACTLY what Brown stated in his Petition to overturn the Judge’s ruling. He has a the backing of the peer review group.

    And the cancellation of the project would be an embarrassment. it is a poor use of funds so don’t cancel the project. Keep going,don’t do stuipd things like cancel the project.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    1. No where in the independent review do they accept it as legal. They only state the authorities argument(pure times ok) and the true operations times (37-39 min). They never say it is legal.

    2 and 3. They specifically state cap and trade is not enough to build the IOS

    4. You can’t ignore the law to “save face”.

    joe Reply:

    1 . They are not a certification board. The claim the law is being broeken needs evidence and the peer review group has not found any non-compliance or law breaking.


    the Brown Administration has offered the potential of state-level options such as cap-and-trade revenues in amounts sufficient to finance the gap if other sources do not materialize.

    4. The Petition doesn’t ignore the law – it Petitions to have the law applied correctly.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Comments of the Peer Review Group on the Revised 2012 Business Plan, not the Draft 2014 business plan.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So you are not arguing they meet the letter or intent of the law…just that no one can stop them. Interesting. When did you give up on the rule of law?

    joe Reply:

    ….just that no one can [sue] them because they are not convinced or unhappy.

    Private citizens need a legal basis to sue. Not convinced or happy with the project isn’t a legal basis to sue. Citizens can sue when there is gross negligence resulting waste or if there is fraud.

    There’s a Peer Review Group overseeing the project. This legal mechanism established in the law protects the voters from fraud and negligence.

    Get a copy of their January 10th 2014 court filing.

    agb5 Reply:

    Can you post a link to January 10th 2014 court filing

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Now who is late with filings. The state could have objected to Tos and standing at the beginning of the case but accepted them both when it was split. Now they changed their tune. The judge is going to rule against these arguments, the state already accepted the timeline and standing

    Zorro Reply:

    Some want to sue without any proof, they just say there is fraud since they assume there is fraud in government cause government is doing something they don’t like, so they whine like 2 year old brats…

    Reedman Reply:

    I am not a lawyer, but perhaps this might be ‘food for thought’ for folks who are commenting about why Tos/Fukuda are allowed to sue.

    The US Supreme Court ruled (Massachusetts v. Mellon) that except in a few unique situations (Flast v. Cohen), a US taxpayer is too removed from federal government to be allowed to sue over particular expenditures.

    California, on the other hand, has an explicit “taxpayer standing” enabling statute. It essentially says that any taxpayer can sue to stop a supposedly illegal expenditure. It isn’t obvious whether the HSR Authority falls under this category, but it might.

    “An action to obtain a judgment, restraining and preventing any illegal expenditure
    of, waste of, or injury to, the estate, funds, or other property of a county, town, city or
    city and county of the state, may be maintained against any officer thereof, or any agent
    … by a citizen resident therein . . . who is assessed for and is liable to pay, or, within
    one year before the commencement of the action, has paid, a tax therein.”

    California Code Of Civil Procedure, Section 526a, etc …

    Joe Reply:


    The state argues against the application of this because they are in a pseudo-legislative activity which is not challenge able under the law.
    They argue the peer review group is the mechanism the HSR Law establishes to guard against illegal expenditures fraud and waste.
    They also argue the evidence is limited to the record, not allowing third parties to bring their own evidence to trial.

    These are their arguments. I would expect those declaring the project is in obvious violation to reconcile the peer review group and the state’s arguments against their understanding of what standing is allowed and how the illegal expenditures are demonstrated.

  12. StevieB
    Feb 24th, 2014 at 11:19

    Politico offered details of Denham and California HSR funding.

    Rep. Jeff Denham sent a scathing press release on Friday, saying the FRA is “protecting” the California High-Speed Rail Authority and thereby “putting California taxpayers at greater risk.” His anger came from the agency’s adoption of a new Funding Contribution Plan — essentially a detailed spreadsheet of current and projected expenditures and revenues. Denham said the document pushes back by three months the deadline for CHSRA to chip in $180 million toward the project, but the Authority says the April 1 deadline (now July 1) never really existed in the first place. It’s a bit of a semantic fight that gets into how the underlying grant agreement is a “living document” that reflects the new funding plans filed every quarter.

    The full story is by subscription only.

    Zorro Reply:

    Denham would say something even if the CHSRA had the money right now and paid the $180M. Like why didn’t the FRA claw the money back sooner. The FRA is really hurting Him, He needs to go anyway, last time He won by only a few percentage points in the 2012 election, He is vulnerable, since Republican demographics are heading south, since more and more die every day.

    Joe Reply:

    I noted his “anger” and “scathing”.

    If this starts and is producing jobs in 2014 as expected, the Representative had got a far more difficult reelection explanation as to why he worked very hard to stop it.

  13. Reality Check
    Feb 25th, 2014 at 11:36

    Kopp on Newsom’s recent HSR comments

    Letter: Correcting the record on high-speed rail


    Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose ability and apparent desire to “get under the skin” of Gov. Jerry Brown are limitless, now proclaims his opposition to the revised California High-Speed Rail project.

    Such opposition is understandable, not because of the meaning of high-speed rail in California, but because the present California High-Speed Rail Authority has violated the November 2008 ballot measure approving general obligation state bonds for high-speed rail in California. In doing so, Newsom makes the unwarranted claim that he was the first California mayor to support such bond measure and campaigned for it with then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Let’s correct the record: Newsom was not the first California mayor to support the measure; the mayors of Los Angeles (Antonio Villaraigosa), Sacramento (Kevin Johnson) and Visalia, among others, preceded him. As chairman of the bond measure campaign and as then-chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, I recall no campaigning by Newsom — or Schwarzenegger, who finally in the summer of 2008 expressed publically his support of the bond measure.

    Your weekend story “Newsom says to stop high-speed rail plans” also reports that the governor’s office referred to the authority questions about Newsom’s new opposition, thus inviting Dan Richard, the current authority chairman, to give away the strategy by stating that “voters [in 2008] backed a statewide rail modernization program that is creating jobs that will provide clean transportation for generations to come.” Voters in November 2008 did not back “a statewide rail program”; voters backed high-speed rail, which differs from the conventional rail systems in the Central Valley, Los Angeles Basin and Peninsula to which Richard seeks to divert bond money without voter approval. Voters backed high-speed rail in 2008, not “a statewide rail modernization program.”

    Quentin L. Kopp
    San Francisco
    The letter writer is a retired judge of the Superior Court and a former state senator.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Kopp is correct about high-speed rail but what was/is his position about the Palmdale-Mojave Detour which was a gross deviation from not only professional high speed rail practice but “conventional rail systems” practice.

    A century ago the Santa Fe was planning to build out Tejon but could not afford it with air and auto competition looming. Nothing was ever done of any consequence to upgrade the Loop line because it is an unmitigated POS. The class ones would never invest a penny on the infinitely lossy DogLeg for passenger service.

    Was Kopp still around when they summarily canned Van Ark? That act nailed shut the coffin of real high speed rail.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    A century ago airplanes were still experimental and the idea that city people would own cars would have got you laughed out of the room. Or even most suburban people.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Tell you what – you need to read some newspapers from even as early as 1910, which was a bit before the Santa Fe took up Tejon. They are going crazy over automobiles. By after the First World War it is nothing but auto ads.

    I have seen some references that the Santa Fe was still interested in Tejon into the twenties but that could conflict with the Chandler purchase of the Tejon Ranch property, which I believe was in 1914.

    IIRC some futurist planners had already come up with elevated freeway concepts as early as 1910 for the big cities.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Tejon would have been a done deal if LA had been anything but a sleepy village in 1870, when railroads dominated everything.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Dream on.

    Zorro Reply:

    Your link isn’t working adirondacker12800 History of the Automobile: Ownership per Household in U.S. By Shuling Tang, though this one will.

    Zorro Reply:

    Your link isn’t working adirondacker12800 History of the Automobile: Ownership per Household in U.S. By Shuling Tang, though this one will.

    Zorro Reply:

    Your link isn’t working adirondacker12800
    History of the Automobile: Ownership per Household in U.S. By Shuling Tang, though this one should.

    Zorro Reply:

    Your link isn’t working adirondacker12800 History of the Automobile: Ownership per Household in U.S. By Shuling Tang, though this one will or hopefully should.

    Jerry Reply:

    Very interesting link. (what?? Mrs. Benz pushing a car up hill?)

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