Attorney General’s Office Argues HSR Should Be Exempt From CEQA

May 21st, 2014 | Posted by

The California Attorney General’s Office is arguing in a new court filing that the project should be exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act – because Congressional Republicans got the Surface Transit Board to assert jurisdiction:

California’s $68 billion bullet train project should be exempt from the state’s strict environmental review process now that it is subject to federal oversight, the state attorney general’s office argued Tuesday in a state appellate court.

The hearing came after the federal Surface Transportation Board determined last year that it has authority over California’s high-speed rail project, subjecting it to additional federal requirements.

The determination was sought by opponents of the bullet train, led by Rep. Jeff Denham, a Republican from the Central Valley. It is one of several efforts by opponents to halt construction, but they did not anticipate that a state agency would then seek a legal exemption from the state’s own regulations.

If the judges agree the project is no longer subject to the California Environmental Quality Act, the state rail authority would be freed from a host of regulatory and procedural requirements that could slow construction. Opponents of the project would lose one of their most significant legal tools.

This is a classic case of anti-HSR forces being too clever for their own good. Congressional Republicans thought they could derail the project timeline by having the STB assert its jurisdiction. But doing so means that project review is federalized. Thanks to legislation and court cases dating back to the Gilded Age, state and local governments have very little power to regulate railroads. That power has been reserved to the feds.

It’s not a good system by any means. State and local governments should have regulatory power over railroads. And I’m not wild about exempting HSR fully from CEQA, though CEQA desperately needs reform if California is to have a chance at meaningfully reducing its carbon emissions. But it’s just too much fun to see HSR opponents’ tactics backfire on them this way.

  1. Engineering Student
    May 21st, 2014 at 22:21

    So if it’s federalized, that shifts it to NEPA then?

    Not entirely sure that’s a good prospect either, given the idle chatter about companies and how they’re not really well-versed on NEPA at all.

    Nathanael Reply:

    NEPA doesn’t have as many problems as CEQA; I’m not sure why, I assume they’re written differently. The sort of shenanigans which have been used to stop rail projects under CEQA — like claiming that reductions in parking are incurable environmental damage — don’t seem to work under NEPA.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    CEQA requires mitigation for environmental costs; NEPA doesn’t.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Ah, thank you for explaining the difference.

    I know NEPA cases have been successful at preventing egregious projects — either by proving that the project promoter was simply dishonest in the EIS, or by showing that the promoter failed to even consider alternatives which would be just as effective.

    But there’s no “you must mitigate everything possible” under NEPA, so suits demanding unreasonable levels of mitigation get thrown out.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Big Dig went through.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I’ve read the history of the Big Dig. The promoters literally bought off everyone who sued; every single case was settled. This is one reason the price tag started accelerating so high. In the end, nobody took a suit to trial because every last one of them was bought off.

  2. synonymouse
    May 21st, 2014 at 22:53

    Why should it be a federal matter since it is not interstate commerce?

    If it is federalized then PBHSRA would have to fall under all FRA rules and regs. I am talking about AAR heavy freight rules. Grabirons and anticlimbers.

    You cannot have it both ways. Otherwise every podunk bus op in California would legally fall under Federal government regulation not local. Dismantle the CPUC.

    Of course Jerry would love to federalize the massive operating deficits of DogLegRail.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Connects to the national rail network.

    Derek Reply:

    And that’s why local streets need federal oversight.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    No it is because CHSRA did not say that the operator of the railroad would not plan on through ticketing with Amtrak. For the IOS, it was assumed by CHSRA that Amtrak would be the operator – clearly there are interstate commerce implications in that prospect!

    Unless the IOS is truly stand alone, with no connections or links to the larger national interstate passenger rail network, then the STB has jurisdiction over CHSRA.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The STB is going to have to reconsider that Florida ruling. AAF is going to be the opposite of an isolated system.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    How so? All that I have heard says that AAF will be separate from Amtrak. No cross ticketing or joint operations. Why or how would the STB change their ruling? It has been over 18 months since the STB ruled on the AAF petition.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It interlines with freight.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    This could be holding up a bunch of other projects, now that I think about it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Huh? Local streets do not connect to the mainline rail network. Grade crossings follow the simple rule of absolute railroad priority, and tram-trains do not exist in US regulations. (In German ones, they do; Germany still has separate regulatory regimes for streetcars and trains, it just allows for a mixture under certain conditions.)

    jonathan Reply:

    Alon, are you implying that the San Francisco cable-cars run under FRA regulation?
    (Never mind Muni, for now.)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, of course not, they have no reason to.

    But to be honest? Things like the New York subway should. Not under the present regulations, of course – those are total garbage. But there should be a regulatory way to interline; the LIRR interlined with the Brooklyn els until the ICC told it to stop in the 1910s, and the London Underground and the mainline network have traded lines. In LA, the loading gauge of the Red Line might even be close enough for this to work. On older systems it’s not, and it might not be worth it, but in terms of regulations, it should be possible. And new lines… if there’s ever a second Transbay Tube, it should be standard-gauge, and it should carry both mainline trains and Geary subway trains. It’s entirely possible to have rules that say “build lines according to these specs, but if you’re connecting to a legacy system with different specs, you can be backward-compatible.”

    The only real reason to treat fully grade-separated urban transit systems as non-mainline trains is if the mainline train practices are so incorrigible it’s better to avoid them entirely and just not interline. They of course are, and the changes the FRA is planning probably don’t go far enough to allow the practices that happen daily in Tokyo and Seoul.


    But so much of the pent up demand for transit in the US is in suburbs that are serviceable only by mainline rail – Long Island, Jersey, the Peninsula, anywhere on Metra Electric – that reform is necessary, and that reform should allow urban rail vehicles and urban rail interlining without too much trouble. I’d add that in some of those areas, like the Metra Electric shed, the ideal train looks more like a subway train than like a commuter train.

    This is conceptually different from cablecars, streetcars, etc., which interface with streets rather than with mainline rail, usually board from the curb or from slightly raised platforms, etc.

    EJ Reply:

    It makes sense in London because British mainline trains are so small and lightweight. IIRC the loading gauge of the subsurface underground lines is actually slightly larger than the typical mainline gauge in Britain. North American trains are comparative behemoths; I don’t think it makes sense to force the extra expense on rapid transit lines to accomodate standard FRA-compatible mainline trains.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Why force an extra expense? This is not about forcing existing lines to accommodate a wider loading gauge, but about requiring greenfield systems to be mainline loading gauge-compatible. Same way all new-build subway lines in New York are for the larger trains of the lettered lines, even if they will only ever run numbered trains.

    EJ Reply:

    Again, why would you force new-build rapid transit lines to accomodate the massive size and weight of mainline trains? It’s not like the difference between the IND and BMT subway cars, a few inches in width and a few feet in length.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    BMT trains are 10′ wide and 60 or 75′ wide; mainline EMUs are 10′ 6″ by 85′. The difference with the longer trains is actually less than the difference between BMT and IRT (8′ 9″ by 51′ 4″).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Silly silly MTA. Instead of spending billions to build a tunnel to Grand Central they coulda just sent 20 trains an hour along the Queens Blvd line.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Historically, the South Shore Line ran on streetcar tracks through South Bend and Michigan City, and ran on the lines of the Illinois Central (a steam railroad) into Chicago. There was no arbitrary distinction between the two.

    We developed these distinctions in the US for bad reasons over long periods.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Whining that the LIRR doesn’t use IND tracks might have a point if the IND wasn’t busy using them for IND trains. The way to get the LIRR to share tracks with the IND in western Queens and Manhattan is to wait until someone perfects the time space warp machine that allows an IND train and an LIRR train to occupy the same track at the same time. I have a feeling if that problem is solved it would also allow teletransporters which means we would no long need the IND or the LIRR. Or the Chicago L or the Tokyo subway or the Toonerville trolley.

    Likewise converting the Port Washington branch to IRT loading gauge, a step backwards, so that trains could get to Grand Central that way. Those pesky pesky IRT trains are already using the tracks at near capacity.

    They have been casting around for ways to squeeze more people onto the trains in Queens since the Second Ave El was torn down. They need more tracks.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “Connects” means interchanges not sits alongside.

    Common carrier – check
    Hauls freight – check
    Diesels can operate in tandem on all sections of the line – check
    Compatible with all types of AAR signalization – check
    Double stack clearance – check
    Candidate for Stracnet – check

    Acela Part Deux – check

    synonymouse Reply:

    Or if you mean by connects forced transfers of passengers and-or freight then loading cargo off a truck onto a train means the trucking company is now a part of the rail network and under the FRA and STB.

    Nathanael Reply:

    STB has full jurisdiction over all trucking companies anyway, just so you know.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It doesn’t use its jurisdiction over truckers very often.

  3. synonymouse
    May 21st, 2014 at 22:57


    synonymouse Reply:

    So does a local transit bus on a US highway.

    So PBHSR becomes a common carrier, a class “1a”. Needs to be freight compatible.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    All the freight clogging the L in Chicago slows things down. Or the NYC subway.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Now is PBHSR transit or heavy rail(connects to interstate rail system)?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Mäi Loftkësseboot ass voller Éilen

    JB in PA Reply:

    Come on Éilen
    Éilen a Too-Rye-Ay

    Eric Reply:

    Dexys Midnight Runners!

  4. Ted Judah
    May 22nd, 2014 at 07:35

    Of course then we have to deal with the impact of 2017– does a new President use this jurisdiction to grind things to a halt…I know elections matter, but at least in California politicians can run on HSR and win. Nationally, I don’t think there’s much hope of an HSR Caucus.

    Sure, support will be strong on the NEC and in CA, but we need WA, OR, NV, and AZ on board out west and Pennsylvania on board too.

    Nathanael Reply:

    You’ll get the WA/OR support and the PA support. Also IL and VA and probably NC.

    The wind is at the back of passenger rail advocates now. Now that we’re 30 years behind the developed world. :-(

    Eric Reply:

    Las Vegaas, Salt Lake City, and Phoenix have expressed interest in connecting with a southwest HSR (via the previous desert express)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Unless airplanes get banned Salt Lake City is too small and too far away from anything for HSR.

    JB in PA Reply:

    Agree HSR will not be practical from SJC for foreseeable future.
    BRT, light rail, and commuter rail system is growing. Looks like a good start.

    Ogden, SLC, Provo. That’s all folks.

    JB in PA Reply:

    Las Vegas?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Nope. in nice really round numbers Reno is 500 miles from Salt Lake City, Las Vegas is 500 miles from Salt Lake City and Denver is 500 miles from Salt Lake City. There’s less than 3 million people in all of Utah. It’s too far away for so few people.

    EJ Reply:

    Yeah it’s hard when you live on the coast to really grasp how big and empty some of the Mountain states are. Not to mention Denver to SLC has to go through a little mountain range you may have heard of.

    What does make some sense IMO is LA – PHX, roughly parallel to I-10 (leaving aside the politics that make this unlikely). It’s less than 400 miles, and Phoenix metro is over 4 MM people. You could also run a line north from around the midpoint of this line, across the Mojave, and connect Vegas to both Southern California and Phoenix, with decent trip times to either city.

    EJ Reply:

    Vegas to *halfway between PHX and LA* works out to just about the same distance as the Desert Express line between Vegas and Victorville. It also provides better connectivity to San Diego (which kinda gets forgotten about, but Metro SD has 3 MM people), both to PHX and Vegas, if and when SD – LA HSR ever gets built.

  5. Keith Saggers
    May 22nd, 2014 at 10:20

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Sorry, tried to do link to Santa Clara Alum Rock BRT project

    Joey Reply:

    It sounds encouraging until you see that the dedicated busway is only for a short segment between 34th and Capitol. It’s a start though, I suppose.

  6. synonymouse
    May 22nd, 2014 at 10:58

    BART and the Bechtels really screwed up; they could have gone to 7 ft. gauge!:

    I was totally unaware of the Great Western RR experience. The Bechtels must have had an aversion to history to repeat it or at least attempt to re-invent the wheel.

    Systematically dual gauge BART preparatory to full standard gauge ops. Give Party organs PB and Tutor something innocuous to do for years.

    EJ Reply:

    EJ Reply:

    Why not just rip it all out and rebuild the Key System? Knock down the high-rises on Market Street, and set the clock back to 1946. Paradise! (If you’re a white man).

    In all seriousness, what’s the return on standard-gauging BART? Cheaper railcars? Bzzt, no. The new batch of cars will cost about $2 MM apiece, just like new subway cars everywhere in the US. Interoperability with Caltrain/Capitol Corridor? No, not unless you either completely rebuild BART to handle larger and heavier trains (do you have a cost estimate for rebuilding all the aerial structures, reboring all the tunnels, and building a whole new transbay tube?), or develop a custom FRA compatible BART car that fits its existing structure gauge (that’ll cost you a lot more than $2 MM per car). That’s a lot of cost to make up just so you, uh, don’t have to buy custom-length sleepers and custom-gauge maintenance of way equipment.

    Sure, it was a dumb decision back in 1968 or whatever to go with Broad Gauge, but that train sailed a long time ago.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The great advantage of standard gauge would be rounding up equipment that could be pressed into service in the event of a great disaster. Or maybe BART could set up its own shop and manufacture like the Market Street Ry. No shows can make $2million cars.

    Meantime dismember certain outer parts of the system and convert them to standard gauge heavy rail OCS.

    EJ Reply:

    What equipment? From where? How are they going to find equipment that’s compatible with BART’s axle loading and structure gauge? What kind of disaster destroys all of BART’s railcars yet leaves the system usable?

    Meantime dismember certain outer parts of the system and convert them to standard gauge heavy rail OCS.

    Brilliant. I’m sure all those East Bay commuters don’t really like their one seat rides to SF, and they’ll love taking slow trolley cars and then transferring to BART.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I’m talking hsr expropriating a BART alignment.

    EJ Reply:

    I know you are. You haven’t explained why it’s worthwhile rebuilding all the track and stations and forcing a transfer to BART, other than some weird nostalgia trip about trolley cars.

    EJ Reply:

    Also not sure why adding time to East Bay commutes is a good thing, but the time it costs for CAHSR to detour to the Antelope Valley is a bad thing.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    trolley cars on a grade separated exclusive right of way aren’t slow.

    joe Reply:

    In San Francisco the cable speed is 9 and a half miles per hour according to the museum site.


    Nathanael Reply:

    You didn’t know about Brunel’s Broad Gauge? I’ve known about that for a very long time.

    Brunel’s was a good gauge choice, actually. But standardization is what matters.

    synonymouse Reply:

    News to me. I knew about the Erie RR 6 foot gauge.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    UK: Network Rail has awarded Parsons Brinckerhoff a system integration contract for the Great Western Route Modernisation Programme. Railway Gazette

  7. agb5
    May 22nd, 2014 at 11:48

    One idea to raise money to build High Speed Rail was to tax Shale Oil exploitation in California’s Monterey Shale.
    The EIA now estimates these reserves to be 96% lower than it previously claimed.
    Yes, you read that right: 96% lower. As in only 4% of the original estimate is now thought to be technically-recoverable at today’s prices.

    joe Reply:

    Kern County has lost millions upon millions of dollars. I hope the realize this means they are not exceptional and need to diversity off oil.

    Also the Tule Fog is disappearing which means few chill days and therefore bad for CV’s nut and fruit trees.

    The number of days when the valley was socked-in varied widely from year to year, he said, but the average amount of tule fog between November and the end of February declined 46 percent during the [32 year] study period.

    The Author, UC’s Dennis Baldocchi is well regarded and the GRL is a top publication.

  8. morris brown
    May 22nd, 2014 at 12:12

    View the letter sent from the Authority to URS of April 30 2014, wherein USR is instructed to revise a report that said the cost of the Fresno to Bakersfield was about $1 billion more than previously estimated. The Authority was very upset that their contractor would raise the cost estimate of the segment.

    The letter can be found at:

    This was disclosed in the LA Times article by Ralph Vartabedian on May 7; Link:

    (the letter from the Authority to USR was not made available in that article, but can now be viewed )

    Eric M Reply:

    Couldn’t find anything better to post so you rehash something you already brought up before?

    morris brown Reply:


    I guess you can’t understand what is written. The letter you have not seen before; it was not available and obtained though a Public Records request to the Authority.

    You may well not have any interest, but I am sure others do.

    joe Reply:

    Well this letter proves what?

    I read it a few times and don’t see the significance to any critic.

    The Authority writes:
    “Unfortunately a number of the JV statements in the report are misleading and not accurate.”

    Is this not true?

    “First, as you are aware, the JV’s role is to develop detailed quantities of work for the Fresno to
    Bakersfield project section. The PMT then uses these quantities to establish a cost estimate for the work to be performed by the design-build contractor(s). The final project section cost is based on the design-build contract(s). The PMT did not revise the quantities submitted by the JV nor did the PMT direct the JV to reduce the contingency to make up for potential cost increases. Therefore
    the JV’s claims “that no adjustments could be made without formal review to obtain Authority acceptance” are incorrect”

    or this

    Secondly, cost increases cited by the JV in their monthly progress report were recognized in the Fresno to Bakersfield Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS). Any assertion that cost increases were to be accounted for in the contingency is inaccurate.

    or this?

    Finally, roadway improvement costs within the Fresno to Bakersfield project section have not been overlooked. They have been reallocated and accounted for in Capital Cost Estimate Report that is part of the Fresno to Bakersfield Final EIR/EIS


    What’s the problem with the Authority memo other then you had to get it?

    They’re asking the company to correct their memo and explained the consequences of the report’s inaccurate content to the LA Times Reporter.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The total revised costs are consistent with year over year inflation. PB lowered spending on some work hours to compensate for higher acquisition cost. None of it makes sense given how sophisticated the parties are.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    This is exactly the problem.

    The 2014 plan has the cost of building the 2012 design – which will by definition only go up by year over year inflation.

    The design today, however, is different (and at least for Fresno – Bakersfield more expensive) than the 2012 design. There was pressure brought to bare on the consultants to pretend the designs have not changed over the last 2 years – despite official policy that the cost estimates should reflect current plans.

    Elizabeth Reply:


    Ted Judah Reply:

    Your own analysis didn’t demonstrate a cost increase even for land acquisition that wasn’t consistent with inflation adjustments. The Authority, er, PB’s problem really is that inflation keeps rising and it keeps on making year of expenditure costs rise.

    Even if AECOM is accurate and there is 1 billion in additional costs in constant dollars, we still don’t know why that is. My own guess would be Tutor Perini is deliberately understating some costs, AECOM declared shenanigans and PB tried to silence them. Moreover, it could be that if Perini had been forthcoming, they might have not scored high enough to win the bid…

    Nathanael Reply:

    Unfortunately, Tutor Perini has a bit of a record of this kind of cost lowballing.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    We actually do know exactly where the extra costs are.

    The EIR has a line by line costing. The extra costs from from a number of items – the big one is that they are going through wasco/ shaftner to avoid the oil wells. There are other big ticket items for things like making the clearance for certain bridges be high enough for maintenance.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Publish it, because at this point, that is the only way to demonstrate real cost increases. The Shafter piece isn’t funded yet, so it’s possible they revise other details south of Hanford to recoup those costs.

    joe Reply:

    First, which of the three specific complaints raised by CAHSRA is not correct?

    Second, projects do mitigate impacts and respond to local concerns – it’s an inalienable right for Palo Alto – so I am puzzled by the complaints.

    There’s not one person who thinks Caltrain electrification can go ahead without mitigating or responding to local requests and pressure from Palo Alto and those will be costs added to the project.

    The solution is to NOT respond to local input and stay on schedule. If CEQA is invalidated cost cutting critics will regret the double-standard when the project comes to town.

  9. Brian_FL
    May 22nd, 2014 at 16:05

    Off topic – All Aboard Florida

    A new economic study says that the impact of AAF and it’s related TOD alone (not including other independent development nearby to the stations) will total $6 billion over the next 8 years. 5000 jobs annually during construction (rail up to 2016 and TOD after that) through 2021 and over 2000 permanent jobs every year after completion. This is more evidence that rail transportation and TOD projects associated with it are a good way to grow the economy and reduce our reliance on the automobile. With only 3 million projected riders a year after 5 years of operation in 2021, AAF will make a significant impact. Since the CA HSR project is many times larger than AAF, what will the total impact be in CA? If CA does it correctly by focusing on TOD and development within a mile or two of stations, you guys should really see benefits.

    How much planning is there in the Central Valley cities for TOD around the proposed stations? Has there been any action taken by the cities of Bakersfield and Fresno yet? I know with AAF, the cities in South Florida with stations are basically clearing a path for TOD around the stations.

  10. Paul Dyson
    May 22nd, 2014 at 16:30

    Robert thinks “State and local governments should have regulatory power over railroads.” Good idea. Let’s have more BARTs and a different gauge track in every county, and transferring cargo at state lines. We’re all so exceptional we can’t standardize anything, let’s have more diversity…..

    joe Reply:

    Why make an exaggeration out of his reasonable comment? The states have regulatory power but can’t overrule federal power. States should shave the right to set a higher environmental standard on a federalized rail project.

    Article 1 Section 8.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Blame it on the “Unitary Executive” policy where the federal government is told to preempt all state power and do nothing with it. Balkanization is a real threat, but at the state level it is more sectional than obstructionist whereas in California it is the opposite when local govt enters the room.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yep. A constitution written after the advent of railroads would make a decision about who to delegate power to, and would almost certainly figure that this should be an exclusive federal power. Standardization is powerful, and the EU, where even confederalism goes too far for many voters, is spending extraordinary amounts of money on producing Europe-wide standardization of products and practices.

    jonathan Reply:

    Some of that standardization will save them oodles and oodles of money in the long term. Or perhaps even short-term, for countries where deferred maintenance meant the national rail system needed to replace its *entire* signalling infrastructure in short order. And said standardization has turned ETCS into the defacto world-standard for greenfield or update signal installations (excluding North America, that is).

    Those benefits aren’t going to be totally realized for another decade or so, when national signalling systems become obsolete. I read that SBB-CFF-FFS will allow ETCS-level-2-only vehicles to travel anywhere over their system by .. 2017? But it will take another 2-3 decades before all the “translators” &c (for ZUB) will be phased out.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yep. It’s worth it – they’re not the Pentagon, they don’t spend these sums of money just for the sake of it.

    jonathan Reply:

    Paul, you lack imagination. Let’s have *gauge changes* at each County boundary.
    After all, the Spanish and Swiss can manage gauge-changes, dynamically….

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Just be glad Sherman wrecked enough of the Confederacy’s rail network that the Union was able to make standard gauge really standard during Reconstruction.

    synonymouse Reply:

    After running for 54 years on broad-gauge, (7 feet wide) track, the last broad gauge train pulled out of Paddington, United Kingdom on the Great Western Railway, this was the old “Cornishman” express. The conversion was a marvel of organization, 170 miles of broad-gauge track were changed to standard gauge in two days, on May 21 and 22. Before the morning of May 21 every broad-gauge locomotive, carriage and truck was moved east of Exeter for dispatch to Swindon, where large numbers were reconstructed for the narrower gauge. Five thousand men were employed on the great change-over, which was accomplished without a single accident. The cost of the conversion, in relaying the track, and converting or scrapping engines and rolling stock, amounted to nearly £1,000,000. To the die-hard supporters of the broad gauge, who were so long blind to its disadvantages and so long insisted on the magnification of its merits, the passing of the original Great Western gauge, invented by the railway genius Brunel, represented stark tragedy.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Sorry about the lack of quote marks – the keyboard went wacko.

    jonathan Reply:

    Seven foot and a quater-inch, actually.

  11. joe
    May 22nd, 2014 at 19:54

    Note that Bakersfield has not offered any alternative or preferred routes to the Authority and remains 100% uncommitted to any alignment or solution. Tandy wants CAHSRA to study, in detail a set alignments of the CAHSRA’s choosing without a commitment to select one.

    His leverage is an EIR lawsuit.

    Manager Alan Tandy said the EIR and EIS were greatly lacking, and re-emphasized the CHSRA’s lack of responsiveness to Bakersfield.

    “The document was deficiente Bajersfield offered no alternatives – they wanted the CAHSRA to do moret on its face. A terribly prepared, horribly prepared document,” Tandy said, noting that he believes the rail agency will have to restart the environmental process and do a new EIR and EIS south of 7th Standard Road through Bakersfield — with a new alignment.

    The train’s current alignment would cut through significant city and private properties, including McMurtrey Aquatic Center, the city’s Municipal Services Corporation Yard, Bakersfield High School, Bethel Christian School and Mill Creek.

    “At this point, we know the route they’ve selected is not acceptable to us whether they can tweak it or need to move it four miles or what,” Tandy said.

    He indicated negotiation still might not be out of the question. “We hope that the gesture of delaying construction, or not authorizing construction is an invitation to actually deal with us on those issues that are important,” Tandy said. “By filing the litigation, we protect ourselves. If you don’t file, after 30 days you can’t file.”

    In 1999, then-Mayor Bob Price testified in favor of a downtown Bakersfield alignment before the CHSRA board, but Tandy said the city’s subsequent change of heart shouldn’t affect its ability to win a CEQA lawsuit.

    “I don’t think so. At the point in time we did that, they weren’t funded and it was kind of a phantom,” Tandy said.

    If CEQA is no longer applicable the CEQA lawsuits are not going to work and Tandy’s passive aggressive approach – not offering anything constructive.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Tandy is scum. He lied to the Bakersfield City Council about what he was doing and talked out of both sides of his mouth.

    Mayor Price’s backing of the alignment is quite sufficient to throw out Tandy’s frivolous lawsuit.

    joe Reply:
    City Manager apologizes to council over High Speed Rail plans
    By The Bakersfield Californian

    In his weekly memo Friday afternoon, City Manager Alan Tandy apologized to city council members for not telling them sooner about a new High Speed Rail alignment being proposed for downtown Bakersfield. ..

    Alan Tandy: 20 years of accomplishment, ‘forceful’ dealing


    Still, Tandy can be difficult to work with, said several people who’ve been on the other side of the negotiating table from him. One city department director hired by Tandy said he sometimes pushes people’s buttons to get things done.

    Many of those same people, however, said they respect Tandy’s tenacious fight for the city’s interests.

    Former Kern County Resource Management Agency Director Dave Price was on the other end of negotiations when Bakersfield and Kern County hammered out the first of a series of agreements in 2003 for a joint animal control facility.

    “Alan never wanted to pay the full amount of what the costs were,” Price said. “After a while, it just got to the point where we thought we were being taken advantage of. … It was just things like that that made him a challenge to work with.”

    Tandy was a formidable and savvy negotiator, Price said. “(He’d) intertwine issues that weren’t related. … He’d always try to keep you off guard.”

    Nathanael Reply:

    “(He’d) intertwine issues that weren’t related. … He’d always try to keep you off guard.”

    That’s the sort of guy you should never, ever, ever have as a City manager.

    That sort of behavior is OK in an elected politician, but extraordinarily dangerous in someone who is supposed to be an appointed subordinate to the elected politicians. He clearly doesn’t know his place and is manipulating his bosses.

    Nathanael Reply:

    For reference, this is the sort of lawsuit which would be thrown out very quickly under NEPA rules. It has no basis whatsoever under NEPA.

  12. Donk
    May 22nd, 2014 at 20:36

    Carpool lanes on the 405 are finally complete. 70 miles of continuous carpool lanes on the 405, for a total of 950 miles of carpool lanes in SoCal.

    What is not discussed in the article is how much $$$ was spent on carpool lanes, whether they are effective in any way in reducing traffic, and how LA would look if that $$$ was instead invested into a 950 mile transit network.

  13. StevieB
    May 22nd, 2014 at 21:08

    The California High Rail Authority staff will recommend Burbank Airport as the San Fernando Valley station to the exclusion of the other choices as heard at the Union Station Community Open House.

    joe Reply:

    Good. The airport has this new development which I would expect HSR to share.

    Bob Hope Airport is moving forward with the development of a Regional Intermodal Transportation Center (RITC) to be located along Empire Avenue, across from the Bob Hope Airport Train Station. The RITC will be a three-level structure housing a consolidated rental car facility and rental car customer service building and will include a bus transit station on the ground level. An elevated moving walkway will convey rental car customers and rail and bus passengers between the airport passenger terminal and the RITC, making Bob Hope Airport uniquely convenient and accessible via multiple transportation modes.

    Donk Reply:

    Joe, you are missing something significant: What you are linking us to is the Burbank Airport Amtrak/Metrolink stop on the LOSSAN/Ventura County Line. However, HSR will travel along the Antelope Valley Line. Unfortunately, the Ventura and Antelope Lines bifurcate right southeast of BUR. So the project you are referring to will have no value to the HSR project.

    They are planning a new Burbank Airport-Hollywood Way station directly east of BUR – this is right on the Antelope Valley Line and where HSR will be. But the station is going to be 1 mi east of the airport and require a shuttle to get to the terminals.

    Therefore, even if a HSR-BUR connection made sense, you are not really getting that here. I would have put the station closer to beautiful downtown Burbank, right under the IKEA. This would also position the line close to the potential terminus of the Orange Line, if it ran all the way up Chandler Blvd. A Metro transit connection to the station is more important than an airport connection. Plus that way you can hop also hop on either the Ventura or Antelope Lines, whereas with either of the BUR stops, you only get either of the lines, not both.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I don’t buy it. I think ARTIC North here is not going to materialize. It will be like Hanford’s station. Helps the Authority meet Prop 1a on paper then discarded.

    Donk is also completely right: a subway from Hollywood to downtown Burbank that intersects with Metrolink and HSR is the way to go.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    The Burbank HSR station will be at the north end near Hollywood Way, not near or at the downtown station, which has insufficient room. There may be a people mover that links HSR, the new Air terminal which will be built along Hollywood Way north of the east-west runway, and the new RITC. This would allow for shared parking and rental car facilities and provide a connection from HSR to the VC line. I would guess that the new Metrolink station on the AV line would become redundant. If the Orangeline busway gets to Burbank it will be up Vineland Ave and along Vanowen and a new tunnel under the tracks to Empire, and not along Chandler. We may see the Red line extended to airport and HSR station. Burbank will be the southern terminus for HSR for quite some time.

    joe Reply:

    I noticed from the video – HSR will run along the highway. ~1.3 miles from the Transit Center on Empire.

    Burbank’s built up and hard to get into out of the downtown area (for me at least in our family car). Burbank center is better suited for a regional commuter station than an statewide HSR station.

    HSR Stations at BUR Airport benefit from airport services like long term parking / rental car and existing connections to bus/shuttle systems that service the airport.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    BUR is hoping to boost it’s declining passenger count with east-west air travelers to and from the San Joaquin Valley.

    joe Reply:

    I think it will work.

    Also, the onsite airport services and transit connections will benefit from shared use by HSR passengers.

    Meanwhile WA DC has found ways to fund the DC METRO Blue/Yellow to stop at DCA and now extending the Metro Silver line out to IAD. Also replaced the Thunderbirds style bus-shuttle-thingamajigs with a underground rail at IAD.

    If we only had that kind of money to spend on transit in this country. (sarcasm)

    StevieB Reply:

    Burbank airport will build a new terminal on the north side closer to the HSR Station.

    Joey Reply:

    The Burbank airport station is good for little more than a park-and-ride. Downtown Burbank actually has destinations, not to mention being a transfer point.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Done deal, it will be near the airport.

    Donk Reply:

    It really is a shame that a requirement of a HSR station is that it have a gazillion parking spaces next to it. The Downtown Burbank location would have been much more practical for every other reason (Orange Line, Ventura Line, Antelope Line, Amtrak connections), especially with an elevator/bridge over the 5. Hell why not put the gazillion space parking structure on top of the 5?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    You’ll see from another posting that the idea is to link the existing rail lines by means of a people mover. The Orange Line will reach the airport before it is extended to downtown, and likely through to Pasadena. There will be transit connections to downtown. If we can get the Red Line extended north there will be excellent connections to Universal City and Hollywood.
    I agree it’s not ideal for all purposes but I think we can get the City to go along with this.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s not ideal for any purpose. Where are all the transit-oriented airport edge cities? How come the Metrotowns and Arlingtons of the world are all in areas where they can grow skylines, far from airports?

    EJ Reply:

    Plenty of cities right next to airports have skyscrapers, including Burbank. Or take downtown San Diego. Lack of transit orientation is more to do with 1950s and 60s freeway oriented development, not the airport.

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