Feb 20th, 2014 | Posted by

Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle, a reporter who I like a lot, decided to stir the pot yesterday with an article looking at Gavin Newsom’s newfound opposition to high speed rail. Marinucci touted other Newsom positions he took earlier than others that became widely adopted, like support for marriage equality and marijuana legalization.

But the difference between those and HSR is that Newsom was simply reflecting obvious demographic shifts that were producing much greater support for social justice causes. It’s very different when you’re looking at infrastructure – especially a project where, by most indications, younger people are much more supportive.

What really stood out to me though was Newsom’s odd and contradictory sense of priorities:

Newsom said the state has more pressing problems, such as “the issue that will define our time” – water.

Instead of focusing on high-speed rail, the drought underscores that the ability to store and transport enough water to go around is “not a ‘nice to have’ – it’s a must-have,” Newsom said.

This is completely nuts. Surely Newsom knows that climate change is fueling drought and that the state’s own climate change assessment shows that as the planet warms, the state’s snowpack will decline. Former Energy Secretary Steven Chu explained it to the New York Times in 2007:

even the most optimistic climate models for the second half of this century suggest that 30 to 70 percent of the snowpack will disappear. “There’s a two-thirds chance there will be a disaster,” Chu said, “and that’s in the best scenario.”

Newsom is taking the right-wing line on the drought, claiming that if we just add more storage and conveyance (meaning tunnels and canals) then everything will be fine. But if the snowpack vanishes, it won’t matter how much new storage you build because there will not be enough water to fill it. It’s like opening a new savings account when your wages have been cut in half – having a new account isn’t going to solve your underlying problem.

But you know what would help? A bullet train powered by renewable electricity that reduces millions of tons of CO2 emissions.

By opposing HSR, Gavin Newsom is now saying that climate change doesn’t matter, CO2 reductions are irrelevant, that fulfilling the state’s AB 32 goals is not a priority. If his view were to prevail, he would be helping ensure that this year’s drought becomes the new normal, rather than a passing crisis. I cannot imagine a greater priority for California than to build infrastructure that reduces CO2 emissions.

It’s hard to say what is driving Newsom’s new position. He likely is trying to appease conservatives, who will not ever vote for him, in hopes of advancing to higher office. It isn’t going to work, and contrary to his claims, most Democrats aren’t going to fall in line in agreement. But what we do know is that California’s future is no longer a priority for him.

  1. Mattie F.
    Feb 20th, 2014 at 23:22

    The problem I have with this line of reasoning is that California’s high speed rail will not on its own have any measurable effect on climate change, and certainly not enough to reverse our water woes – whereas “storage and conveyance” will allow us to smooth out the bad years by storing extra from the good years, a capability with benefits for both agriculture and fisheries.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    But I should add to that and say I don’t think it’s an either/or question. Both projects are beneficial for a California that can adapt to the economic realities of the next century – but only High Speed Rail has a justification for receiving AB32 funds.

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    I suspect desalination plants will enter discussions within next few months. Or sooner.

    StevieB Reply:

    Desalination plants a pricey option if drought persists. Kevin Fagan, SF Gate February 15, 2014.

    As the drought bakes its way toward a fourth year, the state has a string of secret weapons in the works that could supply millions of gallons of new drinking water and help stave off disaster: desalination plants.

    joe Reply:

    For drinking water, coastal cities producing desalinization will work.

    For eating, may i suggest some soylent green? One does not irrigate with desalinized water.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    They do actually use desalinized water for irrigation in certain places (such as Israel).

    joe Reply:

    Yes the actually do. And it’s an interesting footnote. They export foods like citrus.
    I’m skeptical CA can compete with FL’s citrus using desalinized water. SFGate article explains why food transportation is a small fraction of the costs in the US. We’d lose Ag industries.

    And of course Israel is a strip of land along a Sea. Pumping desalinized water to the CV would make it even more cost prohibitive.

    Most of our calories are from grains so becoming like Israel – we’d be depending on food imports. (check out the US Davis presentation you posted). Wikipedia sez 80% of Israeli grains are imported.

    I agree with you that we can make substantial improvements with what we have – looking at how water is used and why. Some uses seem wasteful but may have multiple benefits that are harder to quantify. Possibly rice fields help migratory birds or legumes like alfalfa reduce N fertilization and improve water quality.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’m skeptical CA can compete with FL’s citrus using desalinized water.

    It can’t compete for juice.

    “Additional shipments with specially-equipped refrigerated cars now travel 3,000 miles (4,800 km) by rail to California.”

    aw Reply:

    Re: alfalfa, it doesn’t help your water situation if you ship the water to China.

    joe Reply:

    Yes however it is more of an illustration of the screwed up water rights along the Colorado in the imperial valley.

    NPR tells me the Feds announced NO WATER this year.
    CBS agrees.

    And the Feds say only more snow that will relieve the situation, not rain.

  2. Eric
    Feb 21st, 2014 at 03:02

    Somewhat off topic, what do people think about Ankara’s subway which was reportedly built for $10 million/mile?
    While US cities are building subways for literally 200 times that.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The project is mostly above-ground. Nobody builds fully underground lines for this little money, not even in Turkey.

    Stephen Smith Reply:

    Ugh. Just noticed that apparently my editors edited out the part where I talked about how much of the line was underground and how much was above. That’s fucking annoying.

    Stephen Smith Reply:

    Okay, edited it back in. One source says two of the stations are underground, while another says four are underground (“yeraltı”), with two being elevated (“viyadük”) and the remainder at-grade (“hemzemin”).

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    As I understand it, typical costs are about as such:

    $20-$50 million per mile for at grade; range depending level of urban integration
    $200 million per mile for aerial/viaduct
    $500 million per mile for tunneling

    Also note, local criteria are different across the country and certainly elsewhere around the world. Labor costs are also different depending on location.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Labor costs cancel out almost perfectly with labor efficiency. What a construction worker making $50,000 a year does in the US and what a construction worker making $5,000 a year does in India aren’t the same; the American works more efficiently because of better education, better access to machinery, better work methods, etc.

    So, normally it costs about $150-250 million to build a kilometer of urban subway. Some places, like the entire Anglosphere, are more expensive. Others, like Spain, South Korea, and Turkey, are cheaper. There are a several subways out there built for $100 million/km, and a few built for $50 million/km. The Turkish line, after you adjust for PPP, is $10 million/km, but it’s almost entirely above-ground. I don’t know what its precise characteristic is, but if it’s on an existing at-grade ROW, then the cost in question is reasonable, if still very low.

    Andrew L-A Reply:

    Has anyone documented where the additional money goes to? Landowners, construction firms, consultants, transit agencies, remediation or all of the above equally?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not beyond the level of factoids. Two apparent sources:

    1. Union rules require higher staffing in New York than in Madrid, so the workers are less efficient.

    2. The New York State procurement system’s lowest-bidder rule requires the agency to set byzantine specs that turn away competent contractors, leaving public works to incompetent firms or the mafia.

    joe Reply:


    Alon Levy Reply:

    You got a problem with that?

    More seriously: ad point 2, the issue is that the competent contractors don’t want to jump through the hoops and get private-sector work. The private sector has the ability to say no to people it doesn’t trust to get the job done without cost overruns. The public sector based on New York procurement law does not.

    Stephen Smith Reply:

    I don’t think the mafia has anything to do with it…

    Joe Reply:


    The public sector can not select a contractor due to poor past performance,

    I am puzzled at how cost overruns are common in the private sector but they are explained as uniquely public sector.

    Hey. 19 billion to acquire a .99 app – fantastic.

    Eric Reply:

    1. 450M users * $1/year is a nice potential cash flow, especially if you’re mostly trading it for Facebook stock whose long term value is somewhat dubious. So the deal is not totally ridiculous.

    2. Evaluation of tech companies is not a mature field, there is not a track record by which the risks and benefits can be fully evaluated. In contrast to transit construction.

    3. If Facebook wants to waste their money, that’s their problem. If BART wants to waste our tax dollars, that’s our problem. And we’re entitled to complain.

    Stephen Smith Reply:

    WhatsApp rivals SMS in daily messages sent. Think about it as buying the whole SMS platform for $19 billion. 450 million users…with their growth rate, they’re going to hit a tenth of humanity pretty soon. If Facebook doesn’t fuck it up (big if), $19 billion is cheap.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Are cost overruns common in private-sector construction? Because unusually high costs aren’t. Building skyscrapers in different US and Canadian cities costs about the same, and the same as in China; building subways does not. An office tower in the 200-300 meter range is about $3,000-6,000/m^2 everywhere; why is the range for a subway so much wider?

    JOE Reply:

    “Are cost overruns common in private-sector construction? ”

    Yes. And also development projects – many of which fail.

    “Think about it as buying the whole SMS platform for $19 billion.”
    19 Billion isn’t cheap. It’s over 10 times what Google paid for YouTube.
    And they didn’t buy the while SMS platform. I don’t even know what that means.

    “450M users * $1/year is a nice potential cash flow, especially if you’re mostly trading it for Facebook stock whose long term value is somewhat dubious.”

    Recall Whatsapp has a privacy policy in 100% conflict with Facebook. They’ll lose people. 4B cash is nearly $10 per user. That’s 10 years payback – no ads remember.

    Cost is 19 B: $16 billion, including $4 billion in cash and about $12 billion in Facebook shares. Factor in an additional $3 billion in restricted stock units that will be granted to WhatsApp’s founders and employees vesting over the next four years.

    JOE Reply:

    “An office tower in the 200-300 meter range is about $3,000-6,000/m^2 everywhere; why is the range for a subway so much wider?”

    Because subways covers more ground – require contiguous land – higher variability in substrate.

    Building up has a small footprint that is extensively surveyed. Uncertainty is driven down before the project even decides to start.

    Joey Reply:

    JOE: That doesn’t make any sense. Costs aren’t randomly distributed – they are consistently higher in America compared to other first world countries, for instance Spain, Switzerland, and Japan. This goes for below-grade, at-grade, and above-grade construction.

    JOE Reply:

    Changing the subject from cost overruns to costs per nation.

    Look, if the US rates are higher then you use a high rate into the cost estimation model. Why are they higher – I don’t care.

    As for why subways can have higher overruns than tall buildings. They have more uncertianity that’s why.

    Soils are heterogeneous. They vary and it’s difficult to predict so that’s a geophysical reality for subway construction. Soil & substrate variability increases uncertainty vs a tall building which has a small footprint and can be studied extensively before anything id built (Or they can cancel the project or mitigate the problems if they find the substrate isn’t suitable for a tall building).

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Because subways covers more ground – require contiguous land – higher variability in substrate.

    There are nearly a dozen high rise towers under construction within half a mile of — including several with a block of — the out of control Transbay Terminal Bus Station In The Sky, all of them including deep excavation, multiple underground levels, and deep pilings in nearly identical soils.

    None of them — hundreds of feet tall — will cost a fraction of the bat shit insane out of control and 100% non-functional, ever, as a passenger train station $2 billion (without trains! another unfunded $2 billion for the trivial train tunnels!) low-rise Transbay Terminal fiasco. Not per cubic metre of excavation. Not per square metre of floor space. Not per anything. Again, not in absolutely, directly, unquestionably comparable engineering.

    Not a fraction.

    There is something very very very very very very very very very very very wrong, and it doesn’t involve “uncertainty” or “soil & substrate” or “studied extensively” or “contiguous land” or anything remotely related in any way to geotechnics, structural engineering, civil engineering, architecture, city permitting, Americans with Disability Act, CEQA, NEPA, the San Andreas Fault, Facebook, Palo Alto NIMBYs, …

    jonathan Reply:

    How much of that mind-boggling cost is due to tunneling through or under existing infrastructure (water pipes, sewer pipes, etc)? how much is due to engineering change-orders from the customer?

    I’m curious, I’d like to see an SF-to-world-costs comparisons, much like for electrification.

    joe Reply:

    Yeah Richard — you have a real problem. What I write isn’t about you or explaining away your problems. I have no explanation for your problems.

    I don’t know why your local infrastructure costs are so high. Is it the lack of proper oversight by SF residents? Possibly crying wolf at every transgression makes the large stuff hard to call out from the pedantic annoyances? I don’t know. Maybe its time to move. You are never happy.

    Spatial variability of soils and substrate is not controversial.

    John Bacon Reply:

    Underground expansion in dense urban areas can be incredibly expensive not only beccaue of the need to dig below and not not damage established infrustructure but construction wage rates are about double those in rural counties. Given the relative abundance of urban job opportunities hiering and keeping an efficient cronstruction crew to work efficiently in a risky environment is likely to be expensive. Fortunately we live in an era when a judicious combination of conventional technology enabling an extremely intense yet safe use of a very few urban trackways is practical. For example if BART, while adhering to their present separation safety standards, used a continuous determination of train position electronic separation control system, the minimum period required to replace a 10 car train at a station position could be less than 36 seconds. (The NYC Subway using a three aspect signal system has brougt the their minimum close-up times down to 55 seconds.) A 1997 survey found most Norh American urban rail transit close-up times were equal to 60 seconds. Vancouver’s Sky train can operate 60 second headways, close-up plius dwell, but not consistantly. They have settled for 75 second headways. The 1997 survey found BART’s minimum close-up time to be 90 seconds.) The obvious answer to the off center to downtown San Francisco, poorly connected to fast popular transit to the East Bay, awkward for CHSR use, and the remakably expensive Transbay Terminal is to extend an electrified Caltrain right-of-way through the Market Street Montgomery and Embarcadero stations and BART’s Transbay Tube. BART’s 10.5 foot wide loading gauge would allow the probable width of most future long distance U.S. passenger cars to operate from the same platforms as BART when operating from a common-center-dual-gauge trackway. Short segment early morning conversion of presently in use BART track to duel-gauge will not interrupt on-going daijy service: the present 5 foot 6 inch gauge rail alignment could remain the same after conversion. The structures needed to support two running rails 4.75 inches apart would require little added material to produce. (Note: Conventional railway track gives ample support to high speed locomotives even when the rail’s weight is less 2% of the locomotive’s weight. Two feet between ties is not expensive to bridge.) Conventional air suspension systems driven by laser platform height detection could be designed to accomodate moderately different platorm heights.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    East Side Access is going to cost ten billion dollars according to some hysterical people. 2,000 construction workers toiling away at 200,000 a year with benefits for ten years comes out to 4 billion. There aren’t 2,000 construction workers on the project.

    NYC subway cars are designed for a maximum speed of 55MPH and the places where they follow each other closely they don’t go that fast. 27 trains an hour according to the New York Times.
    There maybe times when a train that is decelerating is only 55 seconds away from where a train accelerating is at that instant. They don’t run trains every 55 seconds.

    jonathan Reply:

    John Bacon writes:

    BART’s 10.5 foot wide loading gauge would allow the probable width of most future long distance U.S. passenger cars to operate from the same platforms as BART when operating from a common-center-dual-gauge trackway.

    No, John, it bloody well can’t.. there is *not enough room* between the BART tracks to allow for the web of two standard-gauge tracks inside the BART tracks. Not enough room. Even ancient PRR standard 100lb/fyard rail had a foot width of 5.5inches. In other words, from rail-center to rail-center, the *absolute closest* you can get 100lb/yard rails is *more* than 5.5in apart. A rail-top-center-to-rail-top-center of 5.5in leaves *no* room, *NONE AT ALL*, for rail fasteners. None. And 100lb/yard rail is “light rail”; according to Wikipedia, most of the NYC Subway is built with 100lb/yard rail. AREMA standard 132lb/yard rail has a *six inch* foot.
    John, if you repeat this canard again, you are a liar, pure and simple.

    And if that wasn’t enough: regarding your claim, “l1.5in loading gauge” allowing “most future long distance pasenger cars to operate from the same platforms as BART”:

    I guess no-one bothered to tell you that *loading gauge* includes *height restrictions*? That BART cars are not only 10.5ft wide, they’re also 10.5ft *high*? The newest US long-distance cars, the bi-levels being built for Calfornia, and Illinois and surrounds, are *HALF AGAIN* that height. Those cars *CANNOT* operate at BART platforms, because the are *TOO TALL* to fit through the *TUNNELS* which are the *ONLY ACCESS* to those BART platforms. Those 85-ft cars are also about 160,000 lbs each: more than *HALF AGAIN* the 60,000-odd lbs that 75-ft BART car weights. That weight-per-unit-length is *TOO HEAVY* for the many BART viaducts which are also the only way to reach many BART stations.

    Short segment early morning conversion of presently in use BART track to duel-gauge will not interrupt on-going daijy service: the present 5 foot 6 inch gauge rail alignment could remain the same after conversion

    Blatantly untrue. The foot of normal standard-gauge rails simply won’t fit.

    The structures needed to support two running rails 4.75 inches apart would require little added material to produce.

    Blatantly untrue. There is *no way* to lay rails 4.75 in apart, when one rail has a foot 3in wide, and the other has a foot approximately 5.5in wide. Even if you cheat and allow no room for fasteners. Repeat this canard again, and you are a liar.

    Conventional air suspension systems driven by laser platform height detection could be designed to accomodate moderately different platorm heights.

    You’re saying that air suspension between the bogie (truck) and the car body can compensate for *34 inches* of difference in platform height ? That’s the current difference. And relative to NEC/Shinkansen-style high platform, the difference is *six inches*. ROTFL. I think I just lbroke a keyboard by choking onto it. John, you missed your calling, you should try stand-up comedy.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Jonathan, are you asking about subways or skyscrapers? For subways, there are two projects in the Bay Area: the Central Subway and BART to San Jose. Both are very expensive for what they are, especially BART to San Jose, which is expensive without the “it has to cross under Market” excuse.

    For skyscrapers, what I do for a first-filter check is look up the “tallest buildings in ___” Wikipedia article, take the buildings opened since 2000, and check their cost per unit of floor area on their Wikipedia pages, Emporis, or news articles. New York is somewhat more expensive than other cities, even excluding WTC, but that can be ascribed to somewhat taller buildings, and the difference isn’t large, it’s maybe a factor of 1.5 without adjusting for those buildings’ greater height. I haven’t actually checked cost overruns on these buildings, but at least for the private-sector ones, the articles never mention any.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Sandhogs get paid a lot. Lets just say in outrageously priced New York it’s 200,000 a year with benefits. The rest of the construction crew gets paid more than a crew in Peoria but not a whole lot more. It’s not all sinking into blue collar labor. Now in New York even though they spend the money for the 2,000 page environmental report for Second Ave… Second Ave. what natural habitats are they going to affect?… someone sues because it wasn’t printed on the right kind of paper. Some else then sues because the stainless steel for the railings is two tenths of a millimeter thicker than spec’d. Someone else sues because the pedestrians on the sidewalk will, the horrors of it all, be using the sidewalk.
    …. it’s the same sport out in the suburbs. Took 25 years to find the final alignment for the missing link on I-78 through Union County. The Star Ledger calculated that the highway cost a million dollars a foot. That’s Big Dig territory, for suburban highway. The wildlife has overpasses so they can go do whatever it is wildlife does on both sides of the highway…. In a trench because the highway might disturb the wildlife. One of the compromises reached was to eliminate an interchange. The people near the interchange are now suing because they don’t have an interchange. Well it’s the grandchildren of the people who got the interchange eliminated… Took so long to build that the parts that were paved in anticipation of it opening had been sitting in the sun so long that they had to be repaved before it could open.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t think it’s just the lawsuits, to be honest. In Japan, when the NIMBYs don’t like an infrastructure project, they riot. Acquiring urban land in Japan is such a nightmare that they couldn’t build US-sized freeways through the cities: the elevated highways in Tokyo have two lanes in each direction because they have to go above existing streets, since demolishing buildings to make room for gentler curves and generous onramps isn’t possible given Japan’s difficult takings process.

    Eric Reply:

    …resulting in things like this.

    Stephen Smith Reply:

    Different kind of lawsuits. The allegation is that in the US, contractors can sue for breach of contract if they’re not granted change orders (which leads each new contract to be more complex than the one before it, trying to avoid change orders but apparently not very much succeeding), or something like that. It’s not (supposedly) about property, like in Japan.

    Leroy W. Demery, Jr. Reply:

    “In Japan, when the NIMBYs don’t like an infrastructure project, they riot. Acquiring urban land in Japan is such a nightmare that they couldn’t build US-sized freeways through the cities: the elevated highways in Tokyo have two lanes in each direction because they have to go above existing streets, since demolishing buildings to make room for gentler curves and generous onramps isn’t possible given Japan’s difficult takings process.”

    Ah so, desu ka? A bit of racism here, o Levy-sama?

    “Japan’s difficult takings process ?”

    As recently as the early 1980s, there was no such thing. Japanese law made no (administrative) provision for “eminent domain” I would be very surprised to learn that things have changed. In other words, no one had administrative “authority” to “take” private land: “Libertarian” no utopia, desu ne! (However, the state itself did, and does, have such power: Libertarian no utopia, perhaps not.)

    If an agency (or railway) wanted to build a road or other “public” facility then it had to negotiate with each individual landowner along the way. “Negotiate” was something of a misnomer; one had to persuade the owners that their property was needed, that no other property would provide a reasonable alternative, and so forth.

    Most landowners were reasonable. The “typical” pattern, at least for residences, was that the government would offer to relocate homeowners and they would accept … in time. The discussions would sometimes drag on for months, or years, over the proverbial “endless cups of tea.” This was much more likely if business property was involved.

    In the Gate Tower Building example, the landowner(s) planned redevelopment but were refused building permits because the expressway was already in planning. Whoever translated the article into English did a good job – but s/he failed to emphasize a very important point. Yes, an expressway corporation “can” purchase land but this is not “guaranteed,” as in cases where the landowner’s objections are “reasonable.”

    (It helps to know that, with a recent exception confined to criminal court, Japanese courts have no juries, and “judicial independence” exists to a degree that would be unimaginable over here.)

    Some landowners were not reasonable: in 1983, in Hamamatsu, I saw a segment of a local railway that was being relocated onto concrete viaduct – on a “new” alignment. (The old alignment, a former steam tramway, had several sharp curves and a dead-end reverse, aka a switchback.) The viaduct had been completed – except for one short segment, blocked by a house (owned, perhaps, by an honorary citizen of Palo Alto …). The “holdout” did eventually give in, and the line was completed at the end of 1985.

    This type of issue also affects underground construction – subways, road tunnels and the like. Property rights extend “down” to a significant depth. Construction of a subway or road tunnel beneath someone’s property requires payments to the landowner(s). Therefore, subway systems follow the street pattern to the greatest extent practical.

    You won’t learn this from a Levy, but large-scale street and road widening is nothing new in Japan. The problem in Tokyo (and the other “largest” cities) was the extremely high cost of purchasing land and buildings “to make room for gentler curves and generous onramps.”

    “NIMBYs” are not in the habit of rioting in Japan. Why bother, when one can make a formidable economic argument. If a company (together with a building full of others) gives up its office location in central Tōkyō, then it gives up tangible benefits related to location, such as proximity and accessibility to clients. Such benefits would not necessarily be “offset” by the sale price.

    Levy’s backhanded allusion to the Narita Airport story omits a key detail about Japan that tends to flummox Americans – some of them, anyway. The Constitution (of Japan) is explicit: the state may take private property for public use provided that it pays “just compensation.” However, there were (and, most likely, still are) no laws (statutes) to establish administrative procedures for doing so. Thus, “takings” – a better choice of words would be “expropriations” – occur by exercise of “government” – that is, executive – power. If the Cabinet decides to expropriate “your” land, it can. (You are, in effect, ordered to sell.) The state can also use force, if necessary – so long as you receive “just compensation” for property expropriated. Obviously, the government uses this power only as a “last resort” – which is to say, “very rarely.” Plans for Narita Airport were announced in 1966. This followed four years of study, which concluded that a second airport for Tōkyō was necessary because of rapidly rising traffic at Haneda Airport. The study also concluded that there was no viable alternative to Narita as the location. Plans were announced in 1966 – and this touched off five years of political turmoil. The government of Prime Minister Satō Eisaku decided in 1971 that the time had come to advance the project. … … …

    … … … Watashi wa nani o iu koto ga dekimasu? Kare wa Levi desu!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t see what’s racist about saying Japan makes it easier to acquire land than the US, but as long as one of us does. Nor do I see what single point there is in your comment except the moronic “I know a few details you don’t” arguments you make every single time. Just stop it. Narita really did involve riots. Japanese urban freeways really are very narrow, and although we’re used to thinking of Japan as a high-land value country because of the 1980s’ bubble, all of this was also true in the 1960s.

    Paul Barter’s thesis has some extra references about this, re urban freeways in the postwar era.

    Assuming you care, of course.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Of course, I meant to say “Japan makes it harder to acquire land than the US.”

    jonathan Reply:

    Some places, like the entire Anglosphere, are more expensive.

    Sad to see that Alon is back to making shit up, yet again.

    Stephen Smith Reply:

    No, he’s not.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The canceled Sydney CBD Metro cost, per km, was higher than the cost of the Central Subway and the BART to San Jose tunnel.

  3. Paul Druce
    Feb 21st, 2014 at 07:21

    A few million tons of CO2e decades from now is nothing but spitting into the wind when it comes to preventing climate change. It’s about as meaningful as higher albedo from rail tracks.

  4. Ted Judah
    Feb 21st, 2014 at 07:36

    It’s about development. When gas prices were high, HSR was attractive to California’s land oligarchy. Now with the drought flaring up, it’s water that catches the eye.

    Either way, what Newsom is really saying is that California’s economic growth is tied to population growth. If you want to change that, you have to change the state’s economic and social structure in a very significant way that would affect everyone reading this blog. Fueling the population growth is easy and subsidized access to think like water, transportation, education, health care.

    But water has a special role because to build more housing, you need to demonstrate the availability of water to serve those people and if that includes federally subsidized water, there is oversight in DC as well. California has always chosen to bring water to the people not bring people to the water. Until that paradigm changes, don’t expect Newsom or any fellow Senate hopeful to suggest otherwise.

    joe Reply:

    The problem is the water isn’t going to be there for redistribution.
    That fact has to sink in.

    1 Our state reservoirs are design for storing runoff from the historical pattens – historical snow accumulation amounts, and historical timing of melt water.
    2 Scenarios show warmer and drier climate. Less precipitation, far less snow.

    From 2006-
    Decreasing Sierra Nevada Snowpack (2006)
    If heat-trapping emissions continue unabated, more precipitation will fall as
    rain instead of snow, and the snow that does fall will melt earlier, reducing
    the Sierra Nevada spring snowpack by as much as 70 to 90 percent.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    There will be 70,000 surplus but serviceable railroad tank cars available after they are replaced by the new standard CPC-1232. That’s about 1,750,000,000 gal capacity. 2 turns a month, could keep some coastal communities supplied.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The real impact of snowpack decline is that it decreases the value of big, federally subsidized hydro electric dams.

    Decreased precipitation isn’t assured. There is also the possibility precipitation and climate turn more tropical….

    joe Reply:

    The real impact is massive forest loss.

    Melting 30 days sooner means 30 more days of drought at the summer end. I’ve done countless simulations on this topic in the 80’s – duration is very important. DSeep snow that melts sooner doesn’t help – it has to last.

    Sadly the dams that hold water for irrigation and perform flood control are built to the historical hydrology.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    But California is right to the north of a subtropical desert, and standard models have global warming causing the Hadley cell to expand, moving the desert northward.

    jimsf Reply:

    There is an incredible amount of waste. Stop the wasting of water, and we can grow.

  5. Tony D.
    Feb 21st, 2014 at 09:37


    If you were really for climate change you would be against the current implementation of this plan (Central Valley HSR) and be all for regional HSR/bookends first. Think about it: use whatever funds we currently have to electrify/modernize the NorCal, SoCal commuter networks and thus remove hundreds of smog belching cars from our roadways from the get go. Putting it another way: more smog is created from hundreds of daily LA, Bay Area commuters than those occasionally driving north/South on The 5.

    Zorro Reply:

    Bookends only is not HSR, it’s Transit.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Palmdale commute ops are transit not HSR.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Bookends are the foundation of HSR. Sine qua non.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Passengers are going to make a cross platform transfer from San Jose to Sylmar?

    Tony D. Reply:

    Thank you Paul.

    wdobner Reply:

    Are the bookends, or at least the expensive improvements required to utilize them at 125mph, really that essential? There are always ways of getting the HSTs (or even just the passengers) from the anchor cities to the HSL. But investing in the bookends first means you don’t have high speed rail, instead you have two disjointed and incredibly expensive commuter rail lines.

    A high speed line running from Modesto to Palmdale may not exactly be in keeping with AB3034, but then neither are “HSLs” running from San Fran to San Jose, and from Palmdale to LA. But the HSL from Palmdale to Modesto gets us the biggest bang for the buck in terms of reducing travel times between LA and SF relative to the current situation. Investing in the bookends only forces the CHSRA to squander billions of dollars quad tracking and grade separating a hundred miles of track in the expectation that some unfunded HSL through the Central Valley will be built. I’d rather have the Central Valley HSL now and look for ways to take advantage of it rather than bellyache over parochial concerns.

    Zorro Reply:

    This has been gone over and over to death, you aren’t getting anywhere here.

    Tony D. Reply:

    What part of no @$#! funds to build HSR like we all dream of DON’T YOU GET?! I’ll take high-speed commuter TRANSIT at the bookends any day over HSR infrastructure in the CV (infrastructure only because we know no true HSR trains would ever serve Fresno to Bakersfield).

    Zorro Reply:

    Funny I didn’t know you had a Time Machine, the military would be glad to enlist your help then.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Time machine; now that’s funny. I’ll tell yah what; when the billions needed to build out our dream system starts raining down from the sky, I’ll gladly give you 1,000 push ups straight, without a break…

    wdobner Reply:

    That’s all fine and well. But the state didn’t vote for “high speed commuter transit”. They voted for high speed rail. The Central Valley is the only segment currently being contemplated which is high speed rail.

    And why would you want to force the HSRA to confront the NIMBYs on the Penninsula or in the LA Basin right off the bat? The “farmers” in the Central Valley are bad enough, do you really want to multiply the problem by a few thousand and put them in the districts of the representatives still pushing for this project? Insisting on a bookend approach is the perfect way to hand a victory to the project opponents.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Lord have mercy.. (shaking head very slowly)

  6. Tony D.
    Feb 21st, 2014 at 09:50

    I’d also argue that Newsom isn’t against the concept of HSR: just the current plan and funding realities. Again, unless Cap and Trade revenues come to fruition AND massive amounts of private financing falls from the sky, this thing ain’t happening ad we once all envisioned! A fucken line to nowhere in the Central Valley that will do nothing to combat climate change; really?

    joe Reply:

    Sure – he wants to stop the project and spend all the money elsewhere.
    Sadly we can’t spend the money elsewhere so we’re just going to lose it.

    Conceptually Gavin’a A BIG HSR SUPPORTER.
    He’d rather give the money back in this case because it’s the central valley’s fault.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Of course you can divert the money away from nowhere to nowhere. That’s what our huge congressional delegation is for.

    And since when have we heard a peep out of the crones?

    Zorro Reply:

    Republicans control the House, once HSR funds are gone from CA, they will not return, then I guess CA will have to expand or build a freeway near you, have fun. Chao.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is called wheeling and dealing. A very strong argument can be made that nowhere to nowhere concerns will be taken care of by moving ARRA funds south of Bako, that a huge lacuna in the California rail network(the Tejon line the Santa Fe planned to build a century ago but did not have the capital at that late date)is being remedied and that California contributes way more in Federal taxes than it receives and payback is in order. We’re owed it and have the traffic to justify it.

    These are points Boehner can easily understand. You just have to be willing to make them.

    Zorro Reply:

    You are forgetting or maybe you don’t know of the Hastert Rule in the House, a Majority of the Majority has to approve of a bill before the bill can be voted on in the House, that’s the Republican way as of late.

    aw Reply:

    Boehner has been violating the Hastert rule recently, but maybe just so he can get Democrats to vote overwhelmingly for a bill that Republicans will overwhelmingly vote against to build up their conservative cred before the midterms.

    Zorro Reply:

    That’s cause He said He would not put the country into default on the debt limit, with Republicans HSR does not use oil, so it’s against Republicans ideology.

  7. jimsf
    Feb 21st, 2014 at 10:25

    Its the farming the take place in the southern san joaquin valley that needs to end. Keep in mind that while big ag likes to say “but where will your food come from” the truth is that much of what is farmed is done so for profit and sold on the global market. It is not necessary to grow those things in order for californians to keep from starving. Here in the north where there is ample water, even in drought years ( if you didn’t send so much of it south) the farms are smaller and there is a lot more in the way of local farming. That farm to fork option, where food is grown and consumed locally or regionally is healthier for people and the environment. We should be growing things where they can be grown naturally. We shouldn’t be growing cotton and almonds for sale on the global market for profit, in the alkaline desert of the southern san joaquin.

    The san joaquin river, for the valley is named, doesn’t even run that far south. Its entirely north of fresno.

    Ag uses more water than people. And again, poeple, as in development, can go a lot further towards conservation especially by landscaping with native plants, and drought resistant plants.

    Then the need to ship more sacramento watershed water south will cease.

    joe Reply:

    Here’s something along those lines jimSF – food shipping costs are trivial.

    Despite living close to the country’s most productive cropland, Bay Area shoppers pay steeper prices at the grocery store than people who live much farther from farms.

    A cost comparison of the staples of American diets shows that San Francisco prices are on par with those in Washington, D.C., a city with a more distant and tenuous connection to farmers.

    We can import food and not have it cost that much and we do import food now.
    Only 30% of CV irrigation is efficient – most is flood irrigation or sprinklers. There’s large savings by irritating efficiently.

    The South Central Valley used to be a large wetland naturally irrigated by waters from the sierras. It’s only a desert since we messed with it.

    I would disagree with exporting almonds – it’s a high price food that we dominate globally and would not like to lose that dominance and 2.8 B income. It’s certainly not feeding California so any farmers argument that we’d starve is bullshit.

    In the United States, production is concentrated in California, with almonds being California’s third leading agricultural product and its top agricultural export in 2008. and 100% of the U.S. commercial supply. The United States is the dominant supplier of almonds. In 2011, the country exported about 637,000 metric tons, valued at US$2.8 billion. Almonds were mostly exported as shelled almonds (70%), with the remainder being either unshelled or processed.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Joe, well known for sweeping generalizations. Take those Russet potatoes for $1 per pound. 50c to the farmer if he’s lucky. Ship them from Bakersfield to Hunt’s Point Market probably costs $6,000 for a $24,000 load. Not exactly trivial.
    And who needs to export? The world will keep giving us credit indefinitely so we can all have a Prius.

    joe Reply:

    Joe refers to an article explaining why food costs in SF are so high.

    Paul can write a letter to the newspaper and man-splain why they are wrong. It’s not my generalization. Now let me cook my mexican asparagus and eat some Chilean blueberries.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Potato farmers would be deliriously happy if they could get 50 cents a pound.

    If I’m reading this right almost nothing more than 20 cents a pound.

    Derek Reply:

    If there’s a drought in California, we likely won’t be growing potatoes in Bakersfield and shipping them to New York. We’d be shipping them from eastern Idaho to California, around 800 miles.

    A $24,000 load of $1 per pound potatoes is 12 tons. At about 4 cents per ton-mile for rail freight, that load will cost around $400 to ship from Pocatello to San Francisco or Los Angeles. So shipping in this case will be under 2% of the cost of the potatoes.

    datacruncher Reply:

    I’m not sure where the 30% efficient number is coming from. Perhaps a memory of old data?

    Using the state definition of irrigation methods, low volume irrigation is drip irrigation and micro/mini-sprinklers.

    Among the 3 hydrologic regions in the Central Valley in the 2010 data, only the Sacramento River region would be at 30% low volume use. The 2 regions in the SJV section of the CV are at higher low volume irrigation use numbers. All of those regions saw increases in low volume irrigation use compared to prior surveys.

    Sacramento River region – Low Volume irrigation – 29.9%
    San Joaquin River region – Low Volume irrigation – 42.5%
    Tulare Lake region – Low Volume irrigation – 41.7%
    And for comparison – Colorado River region – Low Volume irrigation – 20.1%

    Paul Druce Reply:

    It’s the dairy industry that is the problem. Top two agricultural uses of water in state are pasturage and alfalfa, 70% of the crop of which is used as dairy feed.

    joe Reply:

    Be careful – it’s not just grown for dairy.
    First, the opinionated presentation questions if that crop should be stopped. Why?

    Alfalfa is deep rooting and a water hog but it is a legume – a nitrogen fixer. Legumes are necessary in crop rotation. There are crops grown for their soil benefits and happen to be used as feed or sold to fools like me at farmers markets – fava beans are grown in the winter by some of the local farms here. I buy ’em. They are part of organic farming rotation.

    BTW I don’t agree with the presentation – or rather I am very surprised and skeptical that irrigation type and technique isn’t a significant part of water conservation.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Be careful – it’s not just grown for dairy.

    I do believe I made note of that when I mentioned that 70% of the crop was used for dairy feed, which leaves 30% for other uses.

    BTW I don’t agree with the presentation – or rather I am very surprised and skeptical that irrigation type and technique isn’t a significant part of water conservation.

    Irrigation is like both pizza and sex: Even when it is bad, it is good (except Thai pizza: Peanut butter does not belong on a pizza crust). Quoth another study:

    • The estimated potential new water from agricultural water use efficiency is 1.3 percent of the current amount used by the state’s farmers – about 330,000 acre‐feet per year (at funding level PL‐5 of the Department of Water Resources latest California Water Plan Update 2009). That represents about 0.5 percent of California’s total water use of 62.66 million acre‐feet.

    It is erroneous to conclude that a particular irrigation system such as sprinkler or drip requires only a fraction of the water applied by systems such as furrow or border‐strip…Because of the recoverability and reusability of field runoff and deep percolation, it is even more erroneous to conclude that decreasing runoff and deep percolation will proportionally reduce the state’s net water deficit. Therefore, statements suggesting a 10‐50% potential savings in agricultural water conservation by improving irrigation application systems are a disservice to the people of California because water policy and action programs based on such statements will substantially underestimate the state’s needs for future water supplies

    joe Reply:

    “I do believe I made note of that when I mentioned that 70% of the crop was used for dairy feed, which leaves 30% for other uses.”

    I was thinking differently – Crops are also grown for soil fertility – it’s necessary to grow legumes maintain the farmland. It’s then fed to cattle since they grew it for more than the purpose of growing.

    US fed corn is subsidized – that’s the fed on which dairy depends.

    I doubt CA irrigated alfalfa is cost competitive with USDA subsidized feed corn. Alfalfa maybe more a byproduct of farmland maintenance.

    Zorro Reply:

    Peanuts are also legumes and do the same thing to the soil, couldn’t farmers plant that instead of Alfalfa?

    Joe Reply:

    I don’t know, peanuts probably need more humid climate.

    N ID and eastern WA produce most of the lentils and garbanzos and it’s dry climate.
    I was wondering about garbanzos which are in greater demand and higher prurient content for is at least.

    Zorro Reply:

    Ehow says a Dry climate can be used to grow peanuts in.

    Peanuts are an easy-to-grow crop, as long as you can provide the right growing conditions and climate. A warm-weather plant, peanuts require a long, hot growing season, loose sandy soil to develop in and careful adherence to watering requirements. Northern gardeners often have a difficult time cultivating peanut crops because the growing season is too short and does not stay hot enough. Very dry climates can work, provided adequate moisture can be supplied.

  8. synonymouse
    Feb 21st, 2014 at 10:37

    Gavin Newsom is homing in on Jerry Brown’s obstinacy and inflexibility. Brown has a problem with alternatives. And he has gone from being a Norcal centered politican to a Socal centered one.

    Newsom plans to go over the white-haired heads of Palmdale and the Tejon Ranch to the younger voters and independents, whereas Jerry does not realize that the old money of the Chandlers, for instance, is way eclipsed by that of the instant billionaires, such as the Zuck.

    Jerry could not bring himself to throwing out let’s just buy the Tejon Ranch and turn some of it into a park, but Gavin could.

    Zorro Reply:

    And you are an HSR Hater mr mouse.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I voted for Prop 1a but not for PB-Tutor.

    synonymouse Reply:

    BTW, how’s the weather in Barstow?

    Zorro Reply:

    Isn’t that where you live at?

    Zorro Reply:

    You would object to anyone doing the work Mr mouse.

    synonymouse Reply:

    On the contrary, bring on Herrenknecht, SNCF, JNR, etc.

    Cashier the current bunch.

    Zorro Reply:

    They all would have to obey Prop1a as much as the CHSRA, flawed as Prop1a is.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Prop 1a is innately contradictory. Place Palmdale back on the Metrolink net and proceed with Bako to Sta. Clarita via Tejon. There is your IOS. ARRA funding relocated to the mountain crossing but still in the Valley.

    Zorro Reply:

    Since the term IOS does not appear anywhere in Prop1a as has been mentioned a lot here, then the IOS can be any amount of track/row that has at least 2 stations. ARRA funding is dedicated to the CV by the FRA, so it can not be moved, except out of state, that’s how CA got the money, Remember?

    synonymouse Reply:

    South of Bako to the base of the Grapevine is still in the CV. But it is an integral part of the absolutely necessary mountain crossing for CAHSR therefore not nowhere to nowhere.

    The mountain crossing can stand by itself. I adhere to the heretical position that – in the interim – Amtrak coaches and electric locomotives be used so that passengers would not have to change trains just motive power.

    The really over the top proposal of approaching the UP with the notion of hanging wire from Bako to Fresno at the State’s expense and maybe some extra track here and there. The worst thing they can say is go to hell but they probably have to look at wire eventually and where’s the big risk? Natural gas is going up too.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Put San Jose back on the Caltrain net and send HSR to Livermore where everyone can transfer to BART.

    Clem Reply:

    Why, that isn’t such a bad idea!

    jimsf Reply:

    except the plan is to end the ios at merced with the unified services feeding in.

    jimsf Reply:

    and from livermore you can’t get hsr into tbt.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Not just BART but MCI coaches, VanHool’s, etc. connecting from all over the Bay Area not close to BART.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Kopp never wanted to go to the TBT. And forget Merced; move the real hsr line to I-5.

    jimsf Reply:

    I prefer sticking with reality.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Lee has to be mulling over whether he prefers an exorbitant TBT Tunnel that is not too functional or Ring the Bay opening up all that 4th and Townsend property to development and added to the tax rolls.

    Tough call. But I believe Newsom has picked up on this and gone with BART.

    therealist Reply:

    NO CASH !!

  9. Keith Saggers
    Feb 21st, 2014 at 11:42

    Jerry Reply:

    So would this PTC work for CalTrain?
    If so, why would CalTrain have to develope it’s own PTC system?

    jonathan Reply:

    Caltrain management insists that Caltrain has “unique, special needs”. I thought Richard M. was making that up, until I looked into how often Caltraiin manaement say that in public to defend their decisions.

    Caltrain isnists that it needs a special, unique-in-tue-world Automatic Train Protection System, wihch will allow Caltrain to raise crossing-gates adjacent to a station, when a train is stopped at that station. Caltrain is spending hundreds of millions buying an ATP system from a contractor who has already nearly failed once — was 13 years late delivering the promised system for Amtrak Michigigan. Caltrain i/ MTC is giving another signalling contract to the same company which totally fucked up BART AATC. Joe says it’s unrealistic to prognosticate failure based on those facts, but that’s Joe.

    Meanwhile, I note in sheer disbelief that CHSRA’s simulations — the basi for CHSRA’s factually incorrectly) state that their Peninsula “blended” plan meets the requirments of Prop 1A — explicitly assumes that the maximum speed on the Peninsula will be raised to 125 mi/hr.
    The only known way to get FRA approval for 125 mi/hr operation is — wait for it — complete grade separation.

    I’m puzzled just how anyone, even Joe, can justify spending Prop 1A HSR dollars on a custom, unique-in-the-world signalling system, which can serve no purpose at all under the (factually incorrect, but never mind) assumptions behind the CHSRA memo clamining that “blended” meets the requirements of Prop 1A.

    “Yeah, we’re giving Caltrain a few hundred million dollars or so, for a special one-off signalling system, whose sol justification is raising crossing gates — at the exact same time that we assume the “blended” plan will actually be totallly grade-separated, in order to allow the 125 mi/hr top speed ithat’s absoutely necessary for our simulation to even come close to 30 minutes.”.

    Yes, of course spending scarce HSR dollars on a system whose sole justification is “raising crossing tates when a train is stopped” is consistent with, and doesn’t harm, our requirement for a totally grade-separated right-of-way. Yep. No inconsistency there.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Pretty discouraging, isn’t it.

    But BART is smiling.

  10. Travis D
    Feb 21st, 2014 at 12:34

    I used to like Newsome but the second he opposed HSR he was forever stricken from my list of “human beings worth having on this planet.”

    I have to be very harsh on this. Just last year I barred a close family member from my home forever when they started criticizing the current CHSR plan.

    synonymouse Reply:

    What are you going to do when the rest of the Party bosses go over to Newsom?

    therealist Reply:

    PUNT !!!

    Travis D Reply:

    At that point I’ll have nothing to live for except for the HST. I’m a 35 year old virgin. I have no wife or girlfriend. I’m unemployed. while I write my book.

    All I have is this project. And if it where stopped I’d probably just kill myself.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Newsome doesn’t oppose HSR. What he opposes is the current plan, while at the same time acknowledging the financial realities of the present.

    joe Reply:

    So he’s pro something but just not the current something.
    That’s a courageous position because most voters don’t like political waffling.

    Here’s a real time test: Lookup Newsom on a news search site and you’ll find:
    “Gavin opposes HSR.”
    “Other Dems soon to follow?”

    Wait 4 months and run the search again.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Got Money?

    joe Reply:



    Tony D. Reply:

    Face palm! (Wow!)

    JOE Reply:

    I know, that’s a lot of money. It does astound.

    Tony D. Reply:


    C’mon man, you’re completely closing your eyes to reality! How many “billions” do we have on hand right now? Maybe $12 billion. How much is needed to get a true HSR system running from SF-LA (not just infrastructure in the CV)? Perhaps $68+ billion. I’m no mathematician, but I do believe 68 is greater than 12…

  11. trentbridge
    Feb 21st, 2014 at 13:15

    “There is a change in the weather pattern however beginning by midweek. On Wednesday the first in a series of storm systems is prognosticated to approach the West Coast. This first low pressure trough is forecast to impact the district on Wednesday into Wednesday night bringing rain to most areas. There is expected to be a brief break on Thursday…then another system is forecast to affect the entire state Friday into Saturday. A third system is then lined up for Sunday. These systems appear to be very progressive and should spread rain across most of the state. It is too soon to nail down rainfall amount estimates…but at this time it looks like much of the state will see some rain at times. ” Accuweather today

    By all means be worried but not hysterical – the wet season isn’t over yet and you might ask the English how their summer drought of last year turned into the wettest February in over a hundred years. Sometimes it rains and sometimes it doesn’t.

    BBC News April 16 2012
    “Official drought zones have been declared in a further 17 English counties, as a warning came that water shortages could last until Christmas.

    The Environment Agency said dry weather over the past few months had left some rivers in England exceptionally low. It has now extended its “drought map” into the Midlands and the South West. Officials say public water supplies are unlikely to be affected by the continuing drought, but are reiterating calls for water to be used wisely.
    England’s South West and the Midlands have moved into official drought status after two dry winters “left rivers and ground waters depleted”, the agency said.”

    BBC News – yesterday
    “With a week still to go in the winter, the UK’s rainfall record for the season has already been broken. The incessant storms and rainfall over the past two months have made this the wettest winter since records began in 1910. According to provisional figures from the Met Office, the UK received 486.8mm of rain between 1 December 2013 and 19 February 2014. This beat the previous record of 485.1mm of rain set in 1995.”

    John Burrows Reply:

    Lets hope that this coming summer in California doesn’t go like this—

    “More than 140 cities in 11 states across Brazil are rationing water because the worst drought in decades has dried up reservoirs. Brazil is having one of the hottest summers ever, and many towns are turning on the water only every other day, In one city, Itu, running water is only available for half a day every three days. The drought has devastated crops, and global prices of coffee, soybeans, and sugar–all major exports for Brazil–are already rising. The record heat has also produced an immense algae slick off the Brazilian coast that stretches 500 miles and is visible from space”.

    The question of whether what’s going on in California and in Brazil has anything to do with global warming may be answered eventually, but in the mean-time we both need a lot of that rain that falls “sometimes” to fall right now.

    Note—Quote came from the current issue of “The Week” magazine.

    joe Reply:

    Land use change too. Brazil’s rainfall is effected by deforestation. The loss of forest to crop land and pasture reduces water cycling and rainfall in the interior.

    I don’t see how CA can avoid a large fire season. 1988 in MT, late August fire weather conditions were occurring in June. That’s what to look for in this spring, fire conditions occurring early and progressing to unprecedented conditions by late summer.

    Statistical methods – without any physical link and therefore not reliable – show El Nino forming in 2015. We’ll see.

  12. morris brown
    Feb 21st, 2014 at 14:24

    Group’s high-speed rail ethics complaint against Valadao dismissed

    Zorro Reply:

    That’s no surprise, Republicans will not go after fellow Republicans on Ethics charges, but thanks for the link Morris Brown.

  13. joe
    Feb 21st, 2014 at 19:16

    Let’s dispense with the political sleight of hand that Conway and her fellow Republicans are proposing. There is no legal way to shift dollars from the high-speed rail bond funds to other programs. Attempting to do so would immediately wipe out $3.3 billion of federal dollars that will flow directly into our region. Those dollars would go to other parts of the country for their infrastructure projects.

    Not only did the Legislature approve the use of federal funds and some matching bond funds to build the high-speed rail backbone in the San Joaquin Valley, but the total funding package, including state and local match, hit $13 billion.

  14. morris brown
    Feb 21st, 2014 at 21:52

    LA Times: Federal authorities give bullet train agency more time to raise cash

    As usual, the FRA accommodates the Authority by again changing the requirements of the grant agreement. Apparently some reality is creeping in, since the indication from the Authority is that Prop 1A funds may indeed not be available until 2015. Yet the FRA continues to stick its neck out by allowing expenditure of ARRA funds without the accompanying State match.

    When the legislature refuses to approve the use of Cap and Train funds for HSR, maybe the FRA will wise up.

    Link to letter and attachments:

    StevieB Reply:

    The Federal Railroad Administration has only extended the due date of the first payment of the High Speed Rail Authority matching funds from April 1 to July 1. That seems reasonable as the California Legislature will not have a budget passed before summer and this will determine if Cap and Trade funds or other matching funds will be used on the project.

    therealist Reply:

    THERE IS no CASH !!!

Comments are closed.