Will California HSR Tunnel Under the San Gabriels?

Jul 30th, 2014 | Posted by

The Pasadena Star-News reports that the California High Speed Rail Authority will hear a proposal to build a tunnel under the San Gabriel Mountains in order to connect Palmdale to Burbank and Los Angeles, rather than follow Highway 14 between those destinations:

A tunneling option that runs in a straight line from the Palmdale Transportation Center directly to a station at the Burbank airport is being considered by the CHSRA for the first time as part of its environmental review, said Michele Boehm, CHSRA Southern California Regional Director.

“Yes, we have included it as a corridor to look at in the next phase of the analysis,” Boehm said on Monday.

The tunnel route will be shorter than the 60-mile-segment route released in 2007, she said, although she did not know exactly how much shorter. Boehm said the alternative would shave time off the trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The CHSRA is also studying the route for a second and final Southern California segment from Burbank to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.

This is being driven by LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich and the City of Santa Clarita, who both would like to avoid some of the impacts that the Highway 14 route would cause on the surface.

The Authority will study the concept, looking both at feasibility and cost. And who knows what the best answer is. A tunnel is not going to be cheap. But it’s possible that driving a tunnel boring machine under the San Gabriels (and the Verdugo Hills) might be cheaper than the cost of multiple grade separations, excavations, retention walls, and other requirements to go through a hilly and curvy route. And there would be a significant time savings as well.

I’m agnostic but curious to see what the study produces.

  1. jimsf
    Jul 30th, 2014 at 20:47
    #1

    perhaps the time savings from such a tunnel will silence the tejonistas.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    It looks like the current business plan allocates only 18 minutes between Sylmar and Palmdale. That’s an average of 200MPH along those 60 miles, and it looks like the alignments currently under study are targeting accommodating 220MPH, with about half of the mountain portion already under tunnel. (For reference, I’m looking at: http://www.hsr.ca.gov/docs/programs/statewide_rail/proj_sections/Palmdale_LA/Palmdale_to_LA_Preliminary_Alternatives_Analysis_Report_7_8_10.pdf page xiii according to the page numbering on the page itself )

    That’s pushing me to think this won’t provide nearly as much of an advantage as some people think.

    It also occurs to me that many smaller tunnels would likely be far faster to construct than one long one, as they could all be constructed concurrently.

    jimsf Reply:

    I think the main advantage eing touted is less disruption to santa clarita. although I don’t know what makes them so special.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    Ah, I didn’t realize they were also talking about eliminating the Sylmar station.

    Every project should maximize cost-benefit ratio. I could see the need for studying arguments that that the Sylmar station brings cost (impact on communities) with less benefit (less integrated with regional transit and transportation).

    I’m not making that argument, merely that it is a valid question to study.

    Jon Reply:

    The Symlar station was eliminated long ago. The impacts they are trying to avoid are property takes and visual/noise impacts of the surface line, particularly in the Sand Canyon area.

    Clem Reply:

    The Sylmar station option was eliminated at the June 3rd, 2014 board meeting when the new Supplemental Alternatives Analysis was presented.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    Shows how closely I’m paying attention!

    jimsf Reply:

    Well with a straight shot from palmdale to burbank that leaves metrolink in tact for local service and leaves hsr to serve each region only as designed. a station in the high desert, a station in the san fernando valley, a station in la, a station in orange county, two stations the central valley, two stations in the southern san joaquin valley. a station in the monterey bay area, etc

    Joey Reply:

    What difference does it make for Metrolink? The plan was always to have separate tracks, particularly given UP’s desire to run freight during the day.

    Clem Reply:

    It also occurs to me that many smaller tunnels would likely be far faster to construct than one long one, as they could all be constructed concurrently.

    The topography does not allow this. Once you define a general corridor and a maximum vertical gradient, the mountains will decide where and how long your tunnels will be. (Incidentally, this is why independent analysis of trip times and infrastructure scope can be performed with great accuracy, even without access to detailed design documents.)

    Shorter tunnels require hugging the surface, which in turn requires impossibly steep grades. The San Gabriel tunnel being discussed here would be the longest tunnel in the HSR system by a large margin.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    I think you didn’t quite spell out how what you describe would prevent the many smaller tunnels from being constructed concurrently. Are you implying the start and stop points of the intermedia tunnels would be inaccessible until the end tunnels have been constructed to bring equipment to them?

    Joey Reply:

    Many shorter tunnels require surface access, which is difficult given the tall mountains between Palmdale and Burbank. There are basically no access points between Acton and Big Tujunga Canyon

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It needs emergency egress every six miles. Ventilation is nice too.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    You might take the Gotthard Base Tunnel as an example how long tunnels are built nowadays.

    Matthew F. Reply:

    The diagram on Wikipedia is nice:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gotthard_Base_Tunnel#mediaviewer/File:Nrla_scheme.png

    Joey Reply:

    Nope. The time savings are still limited by grades and it
    makes one of Tejon’s strongest points (cost) even stronger. Even ignoring Tejon, such a tunnel is too expensive to make it through Alternatives Analysis. You’re more likely to see tunneling on the Peninsula. Speaking of which, if this tunnel is perceived as an NIMBY issue, it could get PAMPA riled up again and demanding a tunnel. This is dangerous territory no matter how you approach it.

    Clem Reply:

    You might call it “a tunnel too far.”

    synonymouse Reply:

    Right, Clem, but who is invading whom?

    Operation DesertRat?

    joe Reply:

    Look the CAEQA EIR process requires a tunnel study. It’s going to be litigated if they do not consider this option. CAHSRA will go ahead and price the tunnel and its impacts.

    And recall PAMPA already demanded a tunnel. It’s not dangerous at all to do the study for this segment. It’s probably the safest way to proceed and have a rock solid EIR.

    synonymouse Reply:

    How come no optimal non-sandbagging study of Tejon? Oh yeah, PB dismissed it with disinformation. Please, PB, work your same bulllshit magic on the Antonovich base tunnel. Start with the most high no-no
    of crossing a fault in tunnel.

    Palmdale has been getting away with egregious dictating from the onset. It won’t be just PAMPA that demands the same uber-NIMBY kidgloving – aka tunnels and subways – how about Fresno and Bako and everybody else?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Somebody please sue Palmdale over this Prop 1a nonsense and get a ruling.

    Lewellan Reply:

    More Tejonistas consider matters of engineering, feasibility and impact a priority over speed, as do 200mph closed-minded fanatics. If Tejon is the best practical choice, Palmdale could have other rail options as could Gilroy. Resources are wasted on Madera/Fresno/Bakersfield, period, as any self-respecting rail afficionado will admit, unless they have a hidden agenda: worser & dumber

  2. synonymouse
    Jul 30th, 2014 at 21:31
    #2

    A quasi-base tunnel in the wrong direction to nowhere.

    How many billions? Let LA pay for it.

  3. jimsf
    Jul 30th, 2014 at 21:36
    #3

    a base tunnel to serve 500k people via high desert or a base tunnel to nowhere at the foot of the grapevine.

    synonymouse Reply:

    A base tunnel is not required to crest Tejon.

    Palmdale is LA regional not hsr.

    joe Reply:

    Viva Las Vegas
    http://youtu.be/nYSGOlfm1e4

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    to get to Las Vegas the train has to go through Palmdale. Until there’s so much traffic that they build something under Cajon.

    Eric Reply:

    Incorrect. Build Tejon with a wye at highway 138, and you have a straight shot to Las Vegas across the desert, bypassing Palmdale. This has been discussed many times before.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    so it’d be going through Lancaster instead of Palmdale. And be 40 miles longer. 40 years from now when Los Angeles has capacity problems the only traffic building Cajon diverts is Southern California to Las Vegas.

    Joey Reply:

    It’s longer for LA-Vegas passengers but shorter for LA-SF passengers who are going to outnumber them significantly.

    And I reiterate: how does capacity factor into this at all? Either way you have a wye on the N-S mainline which points toward Las Vegas. You will have more or less the exact same service patterns either way. Cajon can be build at some point in the future either way if needed.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If Altamont is chock full of oggly goodness for trips that aren’t Northern California to Southern California Tehachapi is full of all sort of oggly goodeness for trips that aren’t Northern California to Southern California. Some day far far in the future the regional trips to and from Los Angeles can soak up capacity to Los Angeles and the trips not involving Los Angeles can bypass Los Angeles leaving the capacity for regional trips to Los Angeles.

    Joey Reply:

    The main difference is that Tehachapi costs significantly more, whereas Altamont does not. The program EIR placed the cost difference between Altamont and Pacheco at less than $1b, with Altamont costing sligntly more including SF and SJ termini and a Dumbarton tunnel. And that was before SETEC had been conceived of or the geological data from the water tunnels was available.

    And you have still failed to explain why capacity factors in at all to Tehachapi vs Tejon. The topology of the network is exactly the same, just shifted a bit. What services specifically would exist/not exist under either scenario?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    All the local traffic to and from Los Angeles gets in the way of the intercity traffic.

    Joey Reply:

    Which local traffic and why doesn’t it exist under Tehachapi?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    THe local traffic on Metrolink. If you are going from Glendale to Fullerton whether or not there are tunnels under the mountains and which mountains those are doesn’t affect your trip. Unless you think traffic in LA is going to be the same as it is now in 2050.

    Joey Reply:

    Yes, it doesn’t affect your trip. The splitoff point for Tejon/Tehachapi is Sylmar. There’s not going to be any local traffic on the tracks north of Sylmar. The length of the ROW shared with Metrolink is exactly the same either way.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    RIverside to Victorville to Bakersfield doesn’t go through downtown LA. For the people who don’t want to go to or from LA. San Francisco to San Diego for instance. Or Ontario to Las Vegas. Or Phoenix to Bakersfield.

    Joey Reply:

    Riverside to Victorville to Bakersfield has no trouble existing with Tejon. It just goes through Lebec instead of Mojave.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    where it bumps into the commuter traffic from Palmdale, Thought there won’t be as much commuter traffic from Palmdale because it’s 40 miles longer and takes that much more time.

    Joey Reply:

    High speed commuter trains are such a marginal fringe consideration though. Why even worry about them? If there are slots open and Metro wants to run commuter trains to Palmdale in them they are welcome to. If there are no slots they are not welcome to. This is the type of service I’m inclined to say shouldn’t exist anyway because it encourages people to live far from where they work, in a region with poor access to water. And the Antelope Valley may have a reasonable number of people, but they’re very spread out – even places like Hanford put Palmdale to shame in terms of density.

    Reality Check Reply:

    But Altamont is faster for ALL trips to/from the Bay Area except for those between San Jose and points south.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Well yes the ride on BART or Caltrain to or from San Jose and an HSR station would make the trip slower.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    But 90% of Calif. population is to the South as are almost all HSR destinations (all of them in phase 1).

    And Santa Clara County (served by San Jose and possibly Palo Alto or Mtn View) is 25% of the Bay Area.

    So you’re basically saying that you want to make service worse for a big chunk of the ridership, from a station defined in Prop 1a. And the justification is apparently to better serve regional commuters.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Well yes the ride on BART or Caltrain to or from San Jose and an HSR station would make the trip slower.

    No, because SJ Panglactic Intermodal Spaceport isn’t a destination. Not even for “downtown” SJ, which is on the other side of a shitshow of freeway overpasses and parking lots, and certainly not for where all of the activity is located in Santa Clara County.

    A Fremont transfer to BART will result in shorter trips for nearly all of the (measly handful of) SJ-origin and SJ-destination HSR passengers. A transfer is guaranteed (SJ Cahill Street station is not and never will be a destination, just look at a god damned map) after all, so why not transfer where it is more convenient and cheaper for more people and many billions cheaper for the idiot taxpayers to subsidize and build?

    Please do feel free to continue commenting once you’ve established even the most rudimentary familiarity with Californian and Northern Californian geography (no, Redwood City does not lie between Fremont and San Jose, as you once felt free to share with us), urban development and demographics.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    And Santa Clara County (served by San Jose and possibly Palo Alto or Mtn View) is 25% of the Bay Area.

    And the East Bay is 33% of the Bay Area population.

    So you’re basically saying that you want to make service worse for a big chunk of the ridership, from a station defined in Prop 1a. And the justification is apparently to better serve regional commuters.

    Regional trips greatly outnumbers trips to LA (by at least an order of magnitude).

    joe Reply:

    Not interested building a commuter system for the easy bay and Sacramento.
    CA voted to build an intercity rail system.

    The San Jose bashing is childish.

    Joey Reply:

    Richard brings up a good point here – there are a lot of both people and jobs in Santa Clara County, but they’re very spread out. This means that most people are going to have to transfer or drive anyway.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    A fifteen minute BART ride to the station in Fremont or a fifteen minute BART ride to the station in San Jose is a fifteen minute BART ride one way or the other.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Not interested building a commuter system for the easy bay and Sacramento.

    Very interested in building a commuter system for Gilroy.

    Clem Reply:

    A fifteen minute BART ride to the station in Fremont or a fifteen minute BART ride to the station in San Jose is a fifteen minute BART ride one way or the other.

    Well then! You’ve established that there is no net penalty from serving the South Bay at Fremont versus serving the South Bay at the San Jose pan-galactic interdimensional double-deck station. This is what we’ve been trying to explain to you for years, and here you go making our point for us. We are making progress!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and the people who aren’t obsessed with the travel possibilities between Livermore and Fremont decided that they would rather use another route.

    Joey Reply:

    and the people who aren’t obsessed with the travel possibilities between Livermore and Fremont decided that they would rather use another route.

    Just brimming with relevant information!

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    He is apparently not aware that I580 between Livermore and Fremont carries almost as much traffic as the Bay Bridge. After the next widening, I580 will carry more.

    Joe Reply:

    Gilroy is the monterey county / central coast HSR stop.
    Fares in the recent ridership and revenue model are too high for daily commuters.
    You can’t really address the facts objectively because you’re rigging the argument -as usual.

    Joe Reply:

    He is apparently not aware that I580 between Livermore and Fremont carries almost as much traffic as the Bay Bridge. After the next widening, I580 will carry more.

    Yes. We call those people Commuters. Few would pay or could afford a 40-50 ticket each way for a faster train ride to/from work.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Not only is the San Jose bashing childish but it ignores two facts: 1) Altamont as the primary HSR Bay Area route isn’t happening and 2) if it was the primary route it would terminate at SJ/Diridon! Not fly over Dumbarton like many fantasize about here. See ACE HSR Commuter Overlay for details.
    (Always love having fun with the haters!)

    Clem Reply:

    Under Dumbarton, not over. Easy peasy tunnel.

    Joey Reply:

    Yup. Right next to the recently completed water tunnels.

    joe Reply:

    It’s so obvious!!! California clapper rail. This endeared species’ name includes has the word “rail” in it.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    I often forget Palmdale has 500K people, since the Bay Area is the backwoods of California-sparsely populated, hardly any transit, and Bakersfield and Palmdale have long since eclipsed Silicon Valley as Silicon Valley. Downtown Gilroy has more jobs than around 4th and King.

  4. Observer
    Jul 30th, 2014 at 21:46
    #4

    The studies will be interesting. I am glad this proposal surfaced. Rail tunnels are after all routine in Europe and Asia. Even if they decide against it, it will surface again someday; might as well study it up front.

    Observer Reply:

    Even if the tunnel proves not feasible, perhaps studying in the alternative area will help in coming up with ways on how to shorten the route. Who knows, maybe that is the real goal of the study.

    Eric Reply:

    Slip faults, however, are not routine in Europe and Asia.

    EJ Reply:

    You do realize that Shinkansen lines cross a large number of active faults, right? Including several in tunnels?

    Eric Reply:

    You’re right, Japan is an exception. Sorry for forgetting that. What measures do they take to prevent problems where faults are crossed?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Japan does not have PB.

  5. Donk
    Jul 30th, 2014 at 23:52
    #5

    Maybe once the they realize that a couple old shacks in Palmdale are going to have to get torn down and the NIMBYs start surfacing, Antonovich will start pushing for Tejon.

  6. Joey
    Jul 31st, 2014 at 00:35
    #6

    But it’s possible that driving a tunnel boring machine under the San Gabriels (and the Verdugo Hills) might be cheaper than the cost of multiple grade separations, excavations, retention walls, and other requirements to go through a hilly and curvy route.

    No, it’s not.

  7. agb5
    Jul 31st, 2014 at 01:34
    #7

    Note that on the 57km long Lyon-Turin base tunnel, they are not sending a tunnel boring machine from one end to the other. They have dug 4 survey/access/safety tunnels into the mountain at points along the route, and from these will dig the main tunnels simultaneously in 8 directions.

    The access tunnels will be used to excavate the base tunnel on several fronts simultaneously. Together with sections of drill+blast, eight TBMs are planned for the job. Two dual-mode slurry shields, two mixed-ground shields and four hard rock TBMs for high overburden sections. Shield diameters will vary between 6m for certain access tunnels and 10.5m for the base tunnel.

    The base tunnel will be excavated from the two portals St Jean de Maurienne in France and Susa in Italy and from the three intermediate access tunnels in France, for a total of 16 advancement faces.

    http://www.tunneltalk.com/Lyon-Turin-14Aug13-57km-long-tunnel-design-and-construction.php

    Clem Reply:

    The Alps are considerably more formidable mountains than the San Gabriels. The highest peak there is taller than Mount Whitney.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    OK this is probably going to sound stupid, but if you’r already digging a massive tunnel, what benefit is there to having an up-and-down grade underneath it? Why not just conform to the minimum incline that takes you out the other side where you need to be?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    In general (no idea what America’s Finest Transportation Planners are scamming here, but you can bet everything you own that it isn’t anything remotely related to maximizing public benefit/cost):

    Local geology. Not all rock is the same. Not all “rock” is rock. In addition to avoiding dangerous, “known-unknown”, or especially expensive geological conditions, it is generally desirable to maximize uniformity of conditions, to simplify construction techniques and logistics.
    Constructability/construction logistics. Diversions from a straight line may provide access from side adits or shafts allowing heading from multiple faces.
    Safety. Diversions may allow shorter or better evacuation routes
    Ventilation. Similarly.

    Just as the shortest and best practical route between San Francisco and Los Angeles does not follow a straight line everywhere, but for the most blisteringly obvious example of many, heads south form SF, east from Redwood City, and south-east from Tracy, the most practical tunnel route from A to B is rarely a line in either profile or elevation.

    Matthew F. Reply:

    That makes a lot of sense. Since geological layers tend to fold upward under mountain ranges, without knowing any of the specifics, following easier to bore layers would tend to rise and fall.

    I’m sure you noticed that “America’s Finest Transportation Planners” had nothing to do with the particular tunnel I was commenting on, right? You just can’t hold back on the throwaway insults…

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    You just can’t hold back on the throwaway insults…

    Thanks for your informed contributions.

    Matthew F. Reply:

    Just call me America’s Finest Transportation Commenter and then you can ignore everything I say ad hominem.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “You just can’t hold back on the throwaway insults…”

    Evidently not, so remarking on that incapacity each time would get tedious.

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    One reason involves targeting the bores through preferred soil types. Another might be to avoid fissures that may contain water. Of course, geological testing would be done to identify.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Geopolitical way trumps geological in re the SoCal-NorCal mountain crossing.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    In addition to what Richard said, it’s useful to reduce overburden. It’s nontrivial to have a tunnel with several kilometers of overburden.

    The Gotthard Base Tunnel’s route is not a straight line (unlike the older Swiss tunnels), as one of the bidders found that it would actually be cheaper to have a slightly longer route that would avoid tunneling under mountain peaks.

    In addition, the CAHSR design documents call for having tracks slope toward the portals of tunnels to simplify drainage, but that only imposes moderate grade requirements. If I remember correctly, the plan for the Pacheco Pass tunnel is to have 0.25% grades, sloping downward from the middle toward both ends. (At Pacheco and Altamont, unlike between LA and the Central Valley, the passes are low enough that overburden is not a major problem.)

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Actually, the non-straight Gotthard base tunnel has additional reasons. It allowed better intermediate access, and, even more important, it allowed to reduce crossing ageological formation which is extremely difficult (if I remember correctly, the rock crumbles like sugar). There was still some considerable risk, and they budgeted for quite an amount of money; fortunately that zone was just a couple of hundred meters long.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Is the better intermediate access not partly a matter of lower overburden, or is it more a matter of being horizontally close to access points?

    Andre L. Reply:

    You can excavate vertical shafts into tunnels, but they are less useful for construction and/or safety purposes.

    The current standard for safety in long tunnels is not to build a lot of lateral escape routes, but have a safety bore parallel to the transit bores, sealed and infused with high air pressure, so that escapes can be built easily every couple hundred yards.

    Overburden is not really important as a linear factor. The Mont Blanc road tunnel has 1.7 miles of vertical rock over its deepest point, yet it was a very easy excavation.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    You can excavate vertical shafts into tunnels, but they are less useful for construction and/or safety purposes.

    True, but in the example of the Gotthard base tunnel the Sedrun intermediate shaft (an incredibly impressive engineering undertaking — I was fortunate to be able to take a joy ride up and down a few years ago) is critical for construction and for operational safety. (“Multifunktionsstelle Sedrun”)

    There was a political move to try to make the 800m deep Sedrun station into something that would be used by scheduled trains (“Porta Alpina”). Wiser heads prevailed.

  8. Eric M
    Jul 31st, 2014 at 09:01
    #8

    Well the nice thing if they were to tunnel from Palmdale to Burbank, the grade would only be about 1.9%

    Eric M Reply:

    And a rough guesstimate, a tunnel would shave off about 15 miles

    synonymouse Reply:

    15 miles in the wrong direction

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    One can see where this is going.

    If the tunnel extended from LA Union Station to SF Transbay the grade would be 0.0% and they’d shave over 173 miles from the route.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    A chord is shorter than an arc. Make the tunnel deep enough the could cut off even more miles.

    Matthew F. Reply:

    But then you’d lose the 0% grade.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But it would be downhill half the way and uphill half the way, it would save a lot on the electricity.

    Matthew F. Reply:

    The law of conservation of energy would like to have a discussion with you.

    Joey Reply:

    It technically doesn’t violate conservation of energy. You just need very little friction … somehow. Under ideal (zero friction) conditions, a vehicle traveling on a chord between two points on the surface requires zero energy and takes 42 minutes regardless of how far apart the origin and destination are.

    EJ Reply:

    If they can do it with burritos…

    http://idlewords.com/2007/04/the_alameda-weehawken_burrito_tunnel.htm

  9. Derek
    Jul 31st, 2014 at 11:12
    #9

    The link in this article is malformed. It should go to here.

    Maybe the CHSRA could partner with Caltrans on a tunnel project for both HSR and cars to save money.

  10. Paul Dyson
    Jul 31st, 2014 at 15:21
    #10

    It’s interesting from the psychological viewpoint that this discussion concerns itself solely with the tunnel, and not the all important access to it at the southern end. Of course the datum that we have thus far about the route is not helpful. Felt markers on small scale maps are difficult enough. So far the orange slug is more like a 4 inch paint brush. Nevertheless we should be able to derive some notion about where the tunnel route will intersect with the San Fernando Road alignment. There are multiple choices including the 118 freeway in the north to staying in tunnel under the Verdugo Hills. The problem seems to me to be the transition between a broadly NNE – SSW line to a NW – SE line. Any helpful suggestions out there?

    Jon Reply:

    Looking at the orange slug, it appears that there are two rough alignments being considered, marking the east and west boundries of the study area.

    1) A long tunnel from just south of the Palmdale station direct to Burbank station. As this passes under Verdugo Mountains, it would have to be in tunnel for almost the entire alignment. Very, very expensive.

    2) A surface alignment along Soledad Canyon Rd to just south of Acton, followed by a tunnel that emerges near the Hansen Dam an rejoins the Metrolink ROW in Sun Valley. The challenge here will be crossing the dam; if you go round it there will be major impacts to residential areas, and you can’t tunnel under a dam, right? So the alignment would have to emerge from tunnel at the point where it crosses I-280, and cross the dam and golf course on a bridge. Still very expensive.

    The whole idea is insane and will no doubt be thrown out after a cursory study to appease the politicians.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Jon, “direct to Burbank Station”.
    Which Station? We’ll have three by the time this happens, if it does.
    Does it make an instant 90 degree turn? What do you take out to build a long curve?

    Jon Reply:

    The HSR station, naturally.

    The curve will need to be underground, surfacing in or close to the Metrolink ROW, unless you want to take out all the residences on the NE side of the tracks. For this reason I think option 2 will prove to be more viable, although neither are viable enough to actually be constructed.

    Clem Reply:

    I agree with Jon’s option #2. Here’s what it looks like on a map. The 3000 m radius curve in Sun Valley (good for 150 mph) brushes past Hansen Dam and plows through mostly industrial blocks.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Right Through Vulcan Materials yard. Big UP customer, daily unit train. Bit if friction there, I forecast.

    Clem Reply:

    That’s the tiniest concern. I included the fault crossings; there has to be a viaduct over the 210, through Lakeview Terrace and across the Sierra Madre Fault Zone (a nasty piece of work without a nice clean fault boundary) before entering the base tunnel. As per usual in PB designs, the San Gabriel Fault is crossed in a tunnel. Seismic concerns alone may kill this alignment. Go clean, go Tejon!

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    You could probably go over the top of the Vulcan operation, it’s below the grade of the existing San Fernando rail alignment other than the unloading track.
    There is a reason that Sylmar is called “Shaky Town” around here.

    Eric M Reply:

    If you cross the San Gabriel Fault zone below grade, you might a well cross Sierra Madre Fault Zone below grade and keep it that way until San Fernando Road. Start tunneling/drop the machines in the ground from the south end at San Fernando Road and N. Clybourn Ave.

    Clem Reply:

    Not all faults are created equal. It’s been over a thousand years since the San Gabriel Fault moved, while the area of the Sierra Madre Fault has seen multiple large earthquakes in the last century.

    Eric M Reply:

    With that rough alignment, it looks as though San Andreas fault could be crossed at grade, then tunnel shortly there after. The other two faults, along with other undiscovered, will definitely be below grade. Workable, but what would the complete cost be with 4 (possibly 8. depending how deep it needs to be around Soledad canyon, you could drop 4 more in) tunnel boring machines to speed things up .

    Eric M Reply:

    oops……..then shortly there after, start tunneling.

    Clem Reply:

    The Palmdale end of this alignment is identical to the baseline SR-14 alignment, including the San Andreas crossing and the start of the first tunnel.

    This first tunnel goes uphill for about 7 miles to the vicinity of Acton. The total tunnel length for PMD-BUR is well north of 20 miles. I have to wonder, does money grow on trees even in a drought?

    Jon Reply:

    Thanks Clem – a picture is worth a thousand words.

    Michael Reply:

    Nicely laid out line. Thanks Clem.

    Jon Reply:

    I meant I-210 in the above. Bay Area thinking.

    Susan MacAdams Reply:

    Dear Paul;

    The San Fernando corridor has suffered from great flooding in years past.
    http://www.kcet.org/socal/departures/columns/la-river/los-angeles-flood-of-1938-channelization.html

    Flood Control Channels were built. In the center of the map, below, the Burbank Western Channel parallels the 5 Freeway. To the south, the proposed HSR closely parallels these two systems.
    http://www.watershedhealth.org/Files/map/51_LACDPW%20and%20ACOE%20Flood%20Control%20Channels.pdf

    The recent HSR route proposes tunneling under the Burbank Western Channel and the 5 Freeway.

    In the photograph, below, the bottom of the Burbank Western channel is about 25 feet below the road surface.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burbank_Western_Channel

    The outside diameter of the HSR tunnel boring machine is about 30 feet with the tracks about 5 feet above the bottom of the tunnel.

    At some point north of the Burbank Airport, the HSR alignment makes a right hand turn to travel beneath the Burbank Western Channel and the 5 Freeway. The track alignment criteria prohibits sharp turns in the alignment, which means the tunnel will go under the channel and the freeway in a flat curve at a diagonal angle. A very long diagonal angle. There will be many structural underpinning problems along the 5 Freeway, the major interstate trucking commerce connection between southern California and all points north.

    The top of the tunnel boring machine must be at least 10 feet below the bottom of the channel, unless, at the intersection of the Burbank Channel and HSR alignment, the construction is cut and cover technique. That could save about 10 feet of additional depth required for tunneling under the channel. But this construction method is more expensive than tunneling and there is grave doubt the Army Corps of Engineers would ever allow such a foolhardy proposal. What if there was another flood during the three years of construction and there was a long gaping hole at the bottom of the channel?

    Horizontal Analysis of HSR tunneling under the Burbank Western Channel:
    25 feet (depth of channel) + 10 feet (minimum distance between bottom of channel and top of tunnel boring machine) + 30 feet (diameter of tunnel boring machine) – 5 feet (bottom of tunnel to top of rail) = 60 feet below current roadway surfaces.

    The track for the HSR trains will be 60 feet below the surface when crossing under the Burbank Western Channel.

    HSR design criteria limits the profile decent to 3%. This means three feet of decent for every hundred feet of linear travel.

    Vertical analysis of HSR tunneling under the Burbank Western Channel:
    Using the profile gradient of 3%, for every 100 linear feet of track the tracks may descend 3 feet. Therefore, 2000 linear feet of track will be needed before the train can descend 60 feet, a distance of more than one quarter mile.

    But then what? The Burbank Western Channel, the 5 Freeway, and HSR all run parallel and in close proximity to each other through Burbank. Sudden right hand turn? Not permissible for HSR.

    This proposal appears geometrically infeasible but politically acceptable. But eventually political sway cannot outweigh the forces of gravity; water only runs downhill.

    In addition, tunneling under the Los Angeles River basin network has always been a hazard. There is a mixed face of debris: large boulders, soft sand and occasional tar deposits. Not good for tunnel boring machines. Not recommended.

    This study is a waste of taxpayer funding. There has always been a better solution, build a HSR aerial station in downtown San Fernando City. No need for a HSR rail stop in Burbank, it is too close to Union Station. Passengers can hop a Metrolink train to connect. A HSR station at Burbank Airport is not easily accessible to much of the population of the San Fernando Valley. For many residents, it’s easier to drive to LAX.

    The City of San Fernando has all the infrastructure in place to meet the intent of Proposition 1A: City Hall, Post Office, Library, schools, shops, medical, dental, social service offices, hospitals and museums. Plus the location can be accessed from four freeways: 405, 118, 5 and 210. An aerial HSR station in downtown San Fernando would cost one third as much as tunneling under Burbank. But San Fernando City is outside Supervisor Michael Antonovich’s Fifth district, outside his economic control.

    The proposed location of the HSR at Burbank Airport does not have sufficient infrastructure in place. What Burbank Airport has is a back-room redevelopment deal that the public is not in full knowledge about, but Michael Antonovich is in on the game.

    The City of San Fernando is primarily Latino and the population of Burbank is primarily White. This new proposal is a civil rights issue and should be handled by the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Inspector General who are currently investigating the mis-use of HSR funding in California. Please voice you concerns to hotline@oig.dot.gov.

  11. Alon Levy
    Jul 31st, 2014 at 16:49
    #11

    Robert, you should think of this issue as analogous to that of the Peninsula NIMBYs. In both cases, the initial preferred alternative is mostly above ground. In both cases, various forces call for significant tunneling at high cost to prevent impact. In the case of the Peninsula NIMBYs, you’ve correctly noted that they’re trying to make the project more expensive, which would make it harder to construct. You should treat the NIMBYs of Santa Clarita the same way, oppose any tunneling imposed by unreasonable local concerns. And if the concerns turn out to be reasonable – as the environmental impact concerns in Soledad Canyon were – then it’s important to oppose sticking to an alternative that’s too expensive to construct.

    joe Reply:

    The CEQA will de facto require the CAHSRA study a tunnel. Any Environmental Impact Report between Palmdale and Burbank omitting a tunnel will be litigated for not considering that mitigation. It’s a reasonable request since they have to tunnel anyway.

    The NIMBYs along the peninsula can also demand a tunnel option be studied. Everyone can demand expensive mitigations be studied under CEQA and make their case. They can explain in court why a 150 year old right of way with surface trains requires a tunnel.

    Gold plating there HSR project is a strategy to try to kill the project but it can also backfire and provide the project with rock solid EIRs. So far the NIMBYS have assured blended HSR along their ROW. That backfired. Nitpicking travel times will only accelerate additional ROW improvements.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m not complaining about the study, I’m complaining that Robert thinks it should be considered seriously and not only as a legal formality, same as the requirement for including a no build option.

    joe Reply:

    It’s both a serious and necessary study.

    NIMBYs along the peninsula can make their case for burying HSR along a 150 yr old ROW next to the SF Bay.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    At least with regards to my enthusiasm, take it as a sign that I don’t have any clue about the relative costs of a direct base tunnel vs. the Highway 14-following routes, either in the short term for construction and in the long term for operations and maintenance. I feel a study should inform my opinion about whether it’s a feasible alternative – I don’t think it should be dismissed out of hand simply because it was suggested by NIMBYs.

    Have you seen anyone speculate with a reasonably informed opinion about how much it would add to the cost, vs. how much time it would save?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Clem says that, since the distance cut off is mostly in San Fernando Valley 150 mph territory, this is 4 minutes.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    That seems reasonable, my rough estimate was that it would save 12 miles.

    I wonder what the marginal cost/benefit is of each minute saved or added is according to the Cambridge ridership models/CASHRA cost-benefit models? (Not that I take them as gospel, but it’s a starting point for conversation).

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Minutes saved and less miles of construction vs high cost per mile in tunnel. Very pertinent questions indeed, plus avoiding Sylmar, notorious for quakes.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    It should be considered seriously … going into it treating it as just a legal formality just sets you up to bungling the analysis. Given that it would be faster from Palmdale to Burbank, and given the increase in expected cost of the lower tunnel compared to the initial estimates, the cost of the more direct tunnel is something that should be sorted out.

    EJ Reply:

    Not to mention time saved = lower labor costs per trip + potentially more efficient fleet utilization = lower operating costs. Within reason of course, obviously crew aren’t paid by the minute. Still well worth looking at seriously.

  12. Scramjett
    Jul 31st, 2014 at 16:51
    #12

    I am leaning in favor of the tunnel. I don’t discount the cost issues and the engineering challenges. The trip would also be much less scenic and you’d get probably about a 20 minute “black out” (assuming you could run the train at 200+ MPH in the tunnel). However, you’d be able to run the trains more or less in a straight line, at nearly top speed and cut trip time. It would also reduce most EIR concerns and render all of the NIMBY arguments moot. They’d still argue, just because they like to, and they can, but more people would recognize their arguments as baseless, including, most importantly, the judges.

  13. Clem
    Jul 31st, 2014 at 16:58
    #13

    Is this driven at all by Mr. Antonovich? What happens when he is termed out in 2016, does the balance of power in LA county shift?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Clem, mostly yes, and I have no idea. Also pushed by Santa Clarita City Council, Mayor Marsha McLean, unreconstructed Maglev adherent.
    I have not yet heard of any candidates surfacing to run for this seat. I think the district is much less Republican than it was when he was elected in 1981.

    Mark Reply:

    I’m sure that whoever succeeds Mr. Antonovich will run on a platform of taking High Speed Rail away from the 400,000-plus residents in the Antelope Valley that want the train and ram it through the Santa Clarita Valley and its 300,000-plus residents that oppose the train coming through their valley,. Riiiiight.

    Tons of complaining here about the only high profile Republican practically in the entire state that has supported HSR moving forward and worked with the Authority instead of condemning it and fighting against it tooth-and-nail. How strange. Maybe it doesn’t fit the narrative of the blog or its readers very well.

    Palmdale is here to stay. Let’s figure out how to make it work best. All this carping about Tejon is a waste of time.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Mark: If the City of Santa Clarita is effectively holding a veto power over the route, this impacts both Tejon and Palmdale via the original route roughly following highway 14. The acid test will be whether Mike A. or his successor stands up to Santa Clarita in the highly likely event that the tunnel option is too expensive or too difficult to engineer. The newly anointed may decide that it is all too difficult and oppose the project in toto.

    Mark Reply:

    This is not about veto power. You cannot well compare the impact of the HSR through Santa Clarita Valley along the 5 freeway to the impact along the 14 freeway, much of which is being mitigated already through proposed tunnels and the like.

    The 5 freeway alignment would take hundreds of homes and rip through many communities, including Newhall, if I can recall correctly the last time I saw the maps provided to the City.

    Santa Clarita is vehemently opposed to the 5 freeway route. They have been willing to work with the HSR Authority on the Sand Canyon issues. Big difference.

    If the next county supervisor for this region comes out against the project, and uses the seat on the Metro board as a bully pulpit, the entire project may not have a chance.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    the train is going to ruin the bucolic charm of the freeway?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Mark, I don’t think we disagree on this. I have seen alternatives for the I-5 route through Santa Clarita that are much less disruptive. One wonders whether the routes presented to the City were part of an attempt to sell the 14 route to Palmdale. In any event Palmdale is the chosen route and we have to make it work or have nothing. I think there is a lot of potential for Palmdale airport, and in any event the existing route used by Metrolink trains is completely obsolete. Metrolink will lose most of their passengers to express buses once the car pool lanes are complete through Burbank.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It gives them something to do besides carp about Altamont.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There is no way to make it work best. BART-Bechtel could not even figure out how to make IBG work; they built their cars to virtually the same dimensions as standard gauge.

    But California loves their Jerry and his puppet judiciary and deserves exactly what is happening. San Bruno was the inevitable product of triumphal stupidity and corruption.

  14. Lewellan
    Jul 31st, 2014 at 17:31
    #14

    Interesting that your “Sustainable Transportation” links list shows one from Seattle, but none
    (correct me if I’m wrong) from Portland. Jarrett Walker has interesting new maps to look at. We don’t agree on Circulators. The Talgo Avril is the compatable model for Caltrans, apparently, not sure.
    Talgo XXI is 135mph plus incompatable platform height. I’m unconvinced Talgo won’t work better.
    Maybe Clem will weigh in and shut you guys up. You have no idea either, one way or the other.

    jonathan Reply:

    Talgo is a non-starter for California hSR. It’s too slow. Next, please.

    Diesel-hauled trains through a ltens-of-km long tunnel under the San Gabriels? You’re barking mad.

  15. Lewellan
    Jul 31st, 2014 at 17:34
    #15

    Calling me a ‘Tejonista’ gets my dander up.

  16. Alan
    Jul 31st, 2014 at 17:38
    #16

    HOT OFF THE PRESS:

    The Court of Appeals has reversed Judge Kenny’s orders on BOTH the new funding plan and the bond validation!

    Let a peremptory writ of mandate issue directing respondent court to 1) vacate its order of November 25, 2013, and the peremptory writ of mandate issued thereon requiring the Authority to rescind and reissue its preliminary funding plan under Streets and Highways Code section 2704.08, subdivision (c), and 2) enter judgment on the complaint for validation filed by the Authority and the Finance Committee, as follows:

    Read it here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/C075668.PDF

    joe Reply:

    I got the notice that court posted new documents to the Tos et al. case – glad to hear it was good news for California.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Woo-hoo!

    joe Reply:

    A writ of mandamus will not lie to compel the idle act of rescinding and redoing it.

    The 2011 Funding Plan served it purpose. Redoing the 2011 Plan is an idle act.

    Shooting down claims that the Project is not what the voters indented or approved.

    The courts have been particularly attuned to the fluidity of the planning process for large public works projects. In fact, the Supreme Court has allowed substantial deviation between the preliminary plans submitted to the voters and the eventual final project, admonishing: “[T]he authority to issue bonds is not so bound up with the preliminary plans as to sources of supply upon which the estimate is based that the proceeds of a valid issue of bonds cannot be used to carry out a modified plan if the change is deemed advantageous.” (Cullen v. Glendora Water Co. (1896) 113 Cal. 503, 510.)

    Similarly, the court broadly construed the purpose of the proposition approving the Bay Area Rapid Transit District and sanctioned the relocation of one of the terminal stations. The court wrote, “Obviously, the statutes, the notice of election and the ballot proposition itself contemplate a broad authority for construction of a three-county rapid transit system. In the wide scope of this substantial transit project, the deviation of 1 1/2 miles in location of a single station is but a minor change in the tentative plan which was relied upon only to forecast feasibility of the project as a whole.” (Mills, supra, 261 Cal.App.2d at p. 669.)

    The development of a high-speed rail system for the state of California is even more complex than a regional water or transportation system.

    The court Trollins our local critics with BART as an example of why deviations from preliminary plans are allowed.

    StevieB Reply:

    Important is the court orders the Prop 1a bonds validated.

    We therefore will issue a peremptory writ of mandate directing the trial court to enter judgment validating the authorization of the bond issuance for purposes of the 2008 voter approved Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act. (Bond Act)

    Alan Reply:

    It’s also important to remember that Judge Kenny has already ruled (in his last Atherton ruling) that the “blended plan” does not make the HSR system a different project than that which was presented to the voters. He ruled that the blended system is merely a different way to implement the same project.

    Where, as here, the administrative agency performs a discretionary quasi-legislative act, judicial review is at the far end of a continuum requiring the utmost deference. (Carrancho v. California Air Resources Board (2003) 111 Cal.App.4th 1255, 1265.) An agency’s exercise of discretionary legislative power will be disturbed “only if the action taken is so palpably unreasonable and arbitrary as to show an abuse of discretion as a matter of law. This is a highly deferential test.

    In other words, the 526a part of the Tos case is pretty much dead in the water. Not that there won’t be plenty of other opportunities for L&H to rack up billable hours, but the fat lady has sung on this one.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You underestimate the creativity of crackpots.

    Alan Reply:

    Not at all. I did acknowledge that there will be plenty of opportunities for L&H to rack up billable hours, but I think we’re seeing signs that future cases will be more and more futile. And even the PAMPA clowns can’t (or won’t) keep funding those suits forever.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    At times it’s amazing how much money rich people will piss away.

    Alan Reply:

    “A fool and his money are soon parted…”

    Zorro Reply:

    If L&H do that enough, they can be either threatened with disbarment or simply disbarred, others under vexatious litigation.

    Under California law[51] a vexatious litigant is someone who does any of the following, most of which require that the litigant be proceeding pro se, i.e., representing himself:

    In the immediately preceding seven-year period has commenced, prosecuted, or maintained in propria persona at least five litigations other than in a small claims court that have been (i) finally determined adversely to the person or (ii) unjustifiably permitted to remain pending at least two years without having been brought to trial or hearing.
    After a litigation has been finally determined against the person, repeatedly relitigates or attempts to relitigate, in propria persona, either (i) the validity of the determination against the same defendant or defendants as to whom the litigation was finally determined or (ii) the cause of action, claim, controversy, or any of the issues of fact or law, determined or concluded by the final determination against the same defendant or defendants as to whom the litigation was finally determined.
    In any litigation while acting in propria persona, repeatedly files unmeritorious motions, pleadings, or other papers, conducts unnecessary discovery, or engages in other tactics that are frivolous or solely intended to cause unnecessary delay.
    Has previously been declared to be a vexatious litigant by any state or federal court of record in any action or proceeding based upon the same or substantially similar facts, transaction, or occurrence.

    jonathan Reply:

    All the Court says is that the bonds are valid, that the State can issue them.
    Pp. 30 ff explicitly note that the report required by Prop 1A Sec 2704.08, have not yet been filed, and must be filed before the bond funds can be committed. The Court of Appeal says, quite clearly, that the court isn’t prepared to challenge the Legislature; the Legislature has voted to approve the bonds, and the Court invokes separation of powers.

    The Court substantially agrees with Tos &c; but notes that the “insurmountable hurdle” for Tos &c is the Legislature’s vote to appropriate.

    I wonder if Tos &c will try to appeal to the California Supreme Court :) I don’t know enough about US law to know if the Appeals court would have any different opinion if the Tos 7c suit had included the Legislature. I can’t see anything in the Appellate Court ruling which suggests that.

    interestingly nobody seemed to have the clue to challenge 2704.08, (c)(2))(H), that the Authority’s planned segment be “ready for high-speed train operation”. The Appeals court notes that the time to challenge — to try — actually *spending* any bond proceeds is when the Authority files the reports required by

    The Court also agrees with Union Pacific’s brief, that the State’s request is, in part, too broad.

    i don’t see this as a significant victory for CHSRA. CSHRA still can’t spend (or “encumber”) any bonds proceeds until they file reports as required in 2704.08 (d) (1) and 2704.08 (d) (20.
    And the Authoirty *cannot* meet those requirements, as I have explained repeatedly.

    joe Reply:

    Whew, for a moment I thought the lawsuit mattered.

    This take on the successful appeal is like describing how you beat up a guy by pounding him repeatedly in the fist with your face.

    Alan Reply:

    Joe, you knew this was going to happen, didn’t you? That Jonathan and friends would come up with some way to spin this as no big deal?

    No one with any common sense has suggested for a moment that the Authority was not planning on complying with the requirements for the second funding plan, or complying with any other requirement of law.

    Alan Reply:

    All the Court says is that the bonds are valid, that the State can issue them.

    “All the Court says…”? Seriously? Jonathan’s dream that the state wouldn’t be able to match the federal grant goes “poof”, and that’s it? Denial. Utter denial.

    i don’t see this as a significant victory for CHSRA. CSHRA still can’t spend (or “encumber”) any bonds proceeds until they file reports as required in 2704.08 (d) (1) and 2704.08 (d) (20. And the Authoirty *cannot* meet those requirements, as I have explained repeatedly.

    And as several of us have explained repeatedly, you’re full of s***. In any event, the Court made very clear what we can expect, based on previous case law and at least one cited Supreme Court ruling. Not to mention Judge Kenny’s previous ruling that the blended plan does not make the HSR project different from what was presented to the voters.

    But keep on with that state of denial…

    jonathan Reply:

    Yes, Alan. that’s what the court said. The court *explicitly* said that CHSRA cannot *spend* the bond proceeds, until they meet the requirements of Prop 1A 2704.08 (d) (1) and 2704.08 (d)

    The Appellate Court says that *explicitly*. And as I have explained, repeatedly, the Authority *CANNOT* meet those requirements. The Authority can pick a portion which it can fund — EXCLUDNG electrification — but which cannot sustain HSR service. Or, the Authority can pick a section which *can* support HSR funding; but the Authority cannot come up with a detailed plan for that.

    Alan, ad-homiems like “your’re full of s**” because you don’t like the conclusions, doesn’t change the facts and it doesn’t change the argument.

    Try *reading* Prop 1A, and dealing with what it *says*; and that that isn’t reconcilable with the Authoriyt’s plans. Even Joe has tacitly accepted that.

    joe Reply:

    The legal challenges were foiled on appeal. The project can go ahead as planned. If the argument is CAHSRA can’t act unilaterally – no one is arguing it can.

    Stuart Flashman, one of the plaintiffs attorneys, said an appeal of Thursday’s “disturbing” decision will be considered.

    “The ruling is a microscopic examination of the ballot measure. It parses and analyzes it to death,” he said. “When most people read a ballot measure and decide how to vote, they consider what the measure means, read the arguments for and against and decide. This decision destroys people’s trust in what is put on the ballot.”

    Ironic no?

    Alan Reply:

    Last I heard, parsing and analyzing the law is the job of the appelate courts. Flashman is trying to put a good spin on things, but he got his butt kicked, and he knows it.

    joe Reply:

    Opponents interpreted Prop1a as a CA HSR Prevention Act. They asked the courts to delve deep into the legislative process and micromanage the executive’s execution of the project.

    Judge Kenny has got to be aware of the implications of this ruling on the current hearing. The ripeness of plaintiffs travel time claims in particular. Also recognize the Gov’s office will seek an immediate appeal of any ruling and put their best staff on the case.

    HSR has to maintain close coordination with the AG Office and continue to acquire staff experienced in CA public works projects. They need to be careful and methodical.
    The Tunnel alignment study is necessary to pass an eventual EIR court challenge.

    Opposition County Govs (e.g. Bakersfield and Kern Co.) might now pull their heads out of their collective asses and settle the EIR lawsuit quickly and compete for the HSR Maintenance yard. Fresno County’s no vote just leveled the playing field.

    J. Wong Reply:

    So the CAHSR will file a report. It’s only your interpretation that it won’t satisfy the requirements of Prop.1A. Of course, the opponents will try to file against the report. This will be after the bond sale. Whether they can prevent disbursement of the sale proceeds, we shall see.

    jonathan Reply:

    No. The Appellate Court states specificcally that those are the appropriate times to sue, to enforce Prop 1A — given the “insurmountable hurdle” of the Legislature ignoring the voter-approved safeguards in Prop 1A, and voting to issue the bonds.

    And it’s not just my opinion; it’s the *only* opinion that can be reached if you read Prop 1A, and look at the Authority’s plans.

    J. Wong Reply:

    “[I]t’s the *only* opinion”. Your opinion that your interpretation is correct is only your opinion. The court can rule differently. Given that prior case law gives significant discretion in the implementation of plans, what makes you think that the court won’t do so in this case? Like construct the ROW with follow on electrification and signaling say?

    Alan Reply:

    Jonny, Jonny, Jonny…you’re one to talk about ad hominems. What I wrote wasn’t an ad hominem–it was a statement of fact. You haven’t won a thing by happily proclaiming that the Authority must adhere to the requirements of 2704.08(d). That was never at issue. And the idea that the Authority cannot meet those requirements exists only in your head. In the real world, that’s not going to be a problem.

    Face it, Jonny–you’re desperate. Absolutely desperate. The Court of Appeal shot holes in your hopes that the project wouldn’t be able to sell the bonds, and thus wither and die. Sure, the Court indicated the appropriate time to sue against the use of the bond proceeds. They did NOT say that such a suit would be successful.

    The “insurmountable hurdle” is in your dreams. Nowhere else.

    Alan Reply:

    The Court also agrees with Union Pacific’s brief, that the State’s request is, in part, too broad.

    And the court worded its ruling to remove the ambiguity in the state’s request. So UP and Tos and friends didn’t win a thing on that point. The bonds are valid and will be issued.

    jonathan Reply:

    But bond proceeds cannot be *spent*, or committed (Prop 1A language) or encumbered (Court of Appeal’s langauage).

    corntrollio Reply:

    The first rule of statutory interpretation is “keep reading.” Jonathan, you don’t seem to understand this principle, as I’ve seen in other threads where you keep telling people to read AB 3034 in order to ineffectively refute criticism of your flawed interpretation of Section 2704.08.

    1) You should read it yourself. Section 2704.04 (c) describes payable and reimbursable costs:
    Capital costs payable or reimbursable from proceeds of bonds
    described in paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) include, with respect
    to the high-speed train system or any portion thereof, all activities
    necessary for acquisition of interests in real property and
    rights-of-way and improvement thereof; acquisition and construction
    of tracks, structures, power systems, and stations; acquisition of
    rolling stock and related equipment; mitigation of any direct or
    indirect environmental impacts of activities authorized by this
    chapter; relocation assistance for displaced property owners and
    occupants; other related capital facilities and equipment; and such
    other purposes related to the foregoing, for the procurement thereof,
    and for the financing or refinancing thereof, as may be set forth in
    a statute hereafter enacted. The method of acquisition of any of the
    foregoing may also be set forth in a statute hereafter enacted.

    Note the words “high-speed train system or any portion thereof” — we’ve already discussed the definition of high-speed train system previously on another post. In plain English, this says that they can construct any portion of a high-speed train system. If they construct tracks without catenaries, that is still payable or reimbursable under the plain language.

    2) You fail to separate the plan from the actual initial construction segment. The plan absolutely must include electrification. The initial construction absolutely doesn’t have to include electrification.

    Under 2704.08 (d), the plan for construction must indeed account for all elements of a “high-speed train system,” including electrification. However, the ICS doesn’t have to have electrification in order for it to be funded because funds are payable or reimbursable for any portion of a high-speed train system. In order for the funds to be authorized, there must be a plan, but as long as there is a plan, the funds can be used for any portion of that plan, regardless of whether that portion allows full operation. As long as the plan includes electrification, and a particular construction segment is being constructed pursuant to the plan, that particular construction segment doesn’t have to have electrification.

    3) You are also not reading 2704.08(d) correctly. The plan must describe how the corridor or usable segment will be “suitable and ready” for high-speed trains. However, in 2704.08(d)(2)(B) it says “if so completed, the corridor or usable segment thereof would be suitable and ready for high-speed train operation.” You are using this language to suggest that the ICS is not “suitable and ready.” However, the condition says that the IOS (not the ICS) must be “suitable and ready.” The plan is for the IOS, not just for the ICS.

    Those words “if so completed” are very important. They mean that the ICS can be constructed initially, as planned, and as long as the IOS will result in high-speed operation, when completed, that’s perfectly fine. The ICS or any other component of the IOS doesn’t need to be “suitable and ready” as long as the IOS is suitable and ready when completed.

    4) You lack common sense. Obviously these things are constructed in phases.

    5) You haven’t kept reading this blog. See this post which already covers this ground and mentions the language in (d):
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2011/07/amtrak-california-and-the-initial-operating-segment/

    You also ignore the fact that the EIR and the plan include electrification, obviously, as has been stated by other people. Quote from the business plan on the CA HSR website:

    “The IOS is achieved through expansion of the first construction segment into an electrified operating high-speed rail line from Merced to Palmdale and the San Fernando Valley, accessing the populous Los Angeles Basin.”

    Joe Reply:

    Boom! There goes the dynamite. Pretty thorough, thanks.

    corntrollio Reply:

    I might also add that the Legislature and this appeals judge have already determined that the preliminary plan under (c) meets the requirement for “suitable and ready” for the IOS. The final plan under (d) must include this factor as well, and there’s absolutely no reason to think it won’t.

  17. Alan
    Jul 31st, 2014 at 18:06
    #17

    Between last week’s Atherton ruling, and today’s ruling, we have a very clear picture of the Court of Appeal’s position on HSR, and I think that the rulings provide some very definite guidance to the trial courts for future cases. All in all, it’s been a good fortnight for HSR supporters, and a bad one for Laurel & Hardy and their clients.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s great for L&H, the next crackpot scheme their clients brew up means more billable hours.

    joe Reply:

    Procedurally, the court pointed out that the Tos real parties did not seek invalidation of the legislative appropriation in the second amended complaint and raised the issue for the first time in their reply brief. The court subscribed to the general rule that, in fairness to petitioners, arguments raised for the first time in reply would not be considered.

    If, as the trial court found, the appropriation was not subject to challenge, the question posed is whether a writ of mandate to rescind the preliminary funding plan would have any real and practical effect.

    Since L&H did not challenge the legality of the Appropriation in the second amendment, the court would not accept arguments challenging the legality later in the case.

    L&H’s singular focus on the 2011 Financial Plan was a house of cards resulting in no real remedy to invalidate the Appropriation. This mistake to timely admen the case was the basis for overtiring the Judge’s requirement CAHSRA redo the 2011 Financial Plan.

    Alan Reply:

    I’m really not sure that the legislative action would have been undone by the trial court even if L&H had included the Legislature in the second amended complaint. Judge Kenny was pretty clear about his respect for the separation of powers.

    Anyway, you can bet that the Authority is bending over backwards to cross every “T” and dot every “I” on the second funding plan. The Authority does now have the environmental clearances for both Merced-Fresno and Fresno-Bakersfield sections, with ROD’s from FRA on both (One presumes that the necessary permits from the Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies are proceeding in due course), full funding is now in hand for the full ICS, and the Authority can certainly certify that the segment will be completed as being ready for HSR service.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we see that plan fairly soon.

    Little by little, we’re seeing case law come into being which will guide future cases and make them easier and faster to dispose of. One would also hope that the Authority has learned a lot from these cases, to give future Tos’ and L&H’s fewer and fewer grounds for suit.

    Finally, it wasn’t all beer-and-skittles for the AG’s office. The ruling today did chide the AG’s office for some errors in drafting its petition on the bond action, but the errors were not substantial enough to affect the outcome.

  18. Zorro
    Jul 31st, 2014 at 18:44
    #18

    The court of appeals has ruled in favor of the CHSRA…
    http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/C075668.PDF

    The scope of our decision is quite narrow. Applying time -honored principles of statutory
    construction, separation of powers, and the availability of extraordinary writ relief, we
    conclude:

    1. Contrary to the trial court’s determination, the High-Speed Passenger Train
    Finance Committee properly found that issuance of bonds for the project was necessary
    or desirable.

    2. The preliminary section 2704.08, subdivision (c) funding plan was intended to
    provide guidance to the Legislature in acting on the Authority’s appropriation request.
    Because the Legislature appropriated bond proceeds following receipt of the preliminary
    funding plan approved by the Authority, the preliminary funding plan has served its
    purpose. A writ of mandamus will not lie to compel the idle act of rescinding and
    redoing it. We therefore will issue a peremptory writ of mandate directing the trial court to
    enter judgment validating the authorization of the bond issuance for purposes of the
    2008 voter approved Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act.

    (Bond Act)

    The stupid Tos Lawsuit on the bonds is over…

    Alan Reply:

    Theoretically, they could try to pursue it to the Supreme Court (as they could with last week’s Atherton ruling), but the Court of Appeal didn’t leave much wiggle room. I’d be surprised if the Supremes heard either case.

  19. joe
    Jul 31st, 2014 at 19:03
    #19

    EDITORIAL: High-speed rail vote shows 3 supervisors stuck in past
    BY THE FRESNO BEE EDITORIAL BOARD

    The board had an opportunity to embrace the future; instead, it clung to the past and thus limited the opportunities for young people now taking Career Technical Education classes in our schools and engineering courses in our universities.

    http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/07/30/4048062/high-speed-rail-vote-shows-3-supervisors.html?sp=/99/274/#storylink=cpy

    Alan Reply:

    Well said.

  20. JJJJ
    Jul 31st, 2014 at 19:56
    #20

    How does this affect passenger comfort?

    Tunnels = ears popping. Is one long one better than a bunch of short ones?

    Michael Reply:

    All modern HSR trains are sealed. Eurostar double-seals as it goes through the Chunnel.

    JJJJ Reply:

    Even at the slow speeds it does when going into NYC (50mph?) you can feel it on the Acela.

    Eric M Reply:

    You do feel a pressure change on your ears when passing through a tunnel at high speeds (300 kph). TGV and Velaro. Haven’t been on the AGV yet, so not sure if it is any different on that train set. But it is not uncomfortable.

    Michael Reply:

    Yes, not uncomfortable.

    I can feel the buffet from a passing train on a TGV or ICE when passing, but it’s nothing like the pop that one gets today from BART at the portals (air shafts) on each side of the Transbay Tube.

    Eric M Reply:

    Yeah, BART tunnels can be terrible sonically, in more ways than one.

    Here is some interesting reading about the developing a very high speed double deck train.

    German Aerospace Centre investigates ultra high-speed

    and

    DLR website

    EJ Reply:

    File this one under “awesome – if it works.” Aerospace engineers have a long and not particularly illustrious history of thinking they can design a better train than the railway guys.

    Eric M Reply:

    The German Way!

  21. Keith Saggers
    Aug 2nd, 2014 at 16:07
    #21

    Interesting news about crosswinds, the Chinese said they took new 350kph trains out of service because they where “too sensitive”

  22. Clem
    Aug 3rd, 2014 at 16:15
    #22

    I’ve now had a chance to model the long tunnel alignment in detail and simulate its performance.

    The biggest surprise to me was this: while my San Gabriel tunnel came out 13 miles long, the overall amount of tunneling between Palmdale and Burbank is about 19 miles, or pretty much the same as the baseline SR-14 alignment. If NIMBYs win an extended tunnel in the Sand Canyon area, the base tunnel alignment comes out shorter overall. This may explain why many moons ago (long before it became an official SAA alternative) we saw this option start being studied in the monthly regional consultant reports as posted by CARRD.

    Smoking hot commuter rail up the hill from Burbank to Palmdale, at 14:36 (17 minutes stop-to-stop by the timetable). High-speed trains manage 150 mph at full throttle on the relatively gentle 2.1% tunnel grade.

    The tunnel shortcut is 3.5 minutes quicker and 11 miles shorter.

    Clem Reply:

    I forgot to mention for context:

    The Tejon shortcut is 13 to 18 minutes quicker (depending on whether a stop is made at Palmdale) and 34 miles shorter.

    3x the benefit with far less tunneling.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    The Tejon shortcut is 13 to 18 minutes quicker (depending on whether a stop is made at Palmdale) and 34 miles shorter.

    It took me a second to figure out what you meant by that, so I wanted to restate it and make sure I got it correctly: “If you compare an SF-LA trip along the Tejon shortcut to one along the Palmdale route, it’s 18 minutes faster than a train stopping at Palmdale, 13 minutes faster than a train bypassing Palmdale”.

    For a second I thought you had managed a Tejon alignment that didn’t exclude Palmdale/Lancaster and eliminate the possibility of a single-seat or transfer to DesertXPress.

    Clem Reply:

    Yes, that’s correct.

    The connection you speak of can still take place at the pass, along SR 138. The time lost (compared to the equivalent Palmdale connection) is likely about 10 minutes, although I haven’t simulated this in detail.

    It does kill the seventeen-minute commute between PMD and BUR, lest we forget the true Center of the Universe.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The true center of the universe is in San Jose.

    Joey Reply:

    Much appreciated as always, Clem. I guess the only remaining unknown is how much more this tunnel will cost.

  23. Dr. Sen
    Aug 9th, 2014 at 17:37
    #23

    Don’t send the Bullet Train through Acton. This could be a death nell for Acton and the surrounding area. Everything in the approximate vicinity will be greatly impacted including The Shambala Preserve. The Rail Authority has nothing positive to offer the local community…only ruination on many facets. There is overwhelming local opposition. The train conection from San Francisco and LA works as it is. I have taken it many times. Stop destroying communities and the environment.

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