STB Approves Fresno to Bakersfield Route

Aug 12th, 2014 | Posted by

Despite Republicans efforts to prevent it from happening, the federal Surface Transportation Board today approved the Fresno to Bakersfield high speed rail route:

In a 56-page report, the federal board spelled out its decision on what would be the second section of the state’s planned high-speed rail system.

“The proposed Line will provide the public with electric-powered high-speed rail service that provides predictable and consistent travel times between major urban centers with connectivity to airports, mass transit systems, and the highway system network in the San Joaquin Valley,” the board’s majority concluded.

The board formally voted 2-1 on Monday to authorize the construction, with board member Ann D. Begeman dissenting.

The HSR project has been having a fantastic summer, with victories on funding, in the courts, and now with a key federal agency authorizing the next project segment to move ahead.

It’s starting to get very difficult for HSR critics to deny that the project has renewed momentum.

  1. john burrows
    Aug 12th, 2014 at 22:50
    #1

    From a New York Times editorial that came out today—

    “California’s plan to link Los Angeles to San Francisco by high speed rail is expected to cost $68 billion. Critics argue that such services cannot survive without public subsidies and that the United States has few of the dense urban areas that have made such train services successful in places like France and Japan. But these arguments fail to acknowledge that most forms of public transportation are subsidized somehow by the government; the federal government puts up most of the money to build the interstate highway system. Skeptics also greatly underestimate the country’s long-term transportation needs. The census bureau estimates that the American population will cross 400 million in 2051, and the country is becoming more urban, not less. California’s population is predicted to top 50 million in 2049. That growth will put an incredible strain on the nation’s highways and air-traffic system”.

    My only comment—“Well said New York Times”.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Except for the “the United States has few of the dense urban areas that have made such train services successful in places like France and Japan” … confusing transit systems with intercity HSR systems. California as a whole has similar density to Spain, and LA has become one of the more densely populated cities in the United States.

    Travis D Reply:

    Don’t confuse people with facts.

    Pretend reality is so much funner!

    JB in PA Reply:

    True at so many levels…actually all levels.

    JJJJ Reply:

    Yeah that logic never made sense. Nobody objects to Fresno, Bakersfield, Modesto and Visalia having highly subsidized airports with flights to LA. Density isnt an issue because the entire county will drive to the station/port to use the service. Total population is more important for distance travel.

    Incidentally, flying into Visalia is like a journey into history. Airplane with open cockpit door? Walk from airplane door-stairs straight into parking lot? Much fun. Didnt know that was still possible.

    Scramjett Reply:

    You’ve apparently never flown into Burbank before. Only airport I’ve been to where you walk out onto the tarmac to board the airplane. And SouthWest has a huge presence there!

    Eric M Reply:

    Santa Rosa is the same.

    Winston Reply:

    San Jose (the center of western civilization) airport had you walk onto the tarmac until 2007.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Long Beach too.

    JJJJ Reply:

    Walking on the tarmac is common enough. Not entering the building at ALL….thats different. Plane lands, door opens, 10 feet later youre in the parking lot.

    Scramjett Reply:

    That must be fun on a rainy day. Still, Visalia probably only has scare air flying in and out of it’s airport. Burbank has SouthWest’s 737’s flying in and out. Even John Wayne, the airport with the smallest runway in the US, has jetways.

    Scramjett Reply:

    That should be smallest commercial runway BTW.

    Scramjett Reply:

    I think there is a difference between Burbank, and the other airports above (except San Jose). San Luis Obispo also has you walk out onto the Tarmac. I don’t know what the official designations are, but Burbank is the only one of these airports that allows 737s on its Tarmac. None of the others do. That said, JJJJ’s point that at Vasilia you go from parking lot to airplane all outdoors is indeed unusual. As is an airport like Burbank that allows 737s but has no jetways.

    JJJJ Reply:

    I think the large planes from Mexico flying into Fresno make you walk on tarmac because the main jetway area doesnt have a customs setup.

    According to wikipedia, all the small valley airports – Visalia, Modesto, Merced – had in the past 737 equivalent jet service.

    But yes, the plane I took from LAX to Visalia seated 11. No bathroom.

    datacruncher Reply:

    I’m not sure what subsidies you are referring to.

    In California, only Visalia, Merced, Crescent City and El Centro are part of the Federal Essential Air Service program which provides direct subsidy payments to airlines to support flights at those cities. The current list of US cities eligible for a direct Federal subsidy payment for airline service is at:
    http://www.dot.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/Current%20list%20of%20Eligible%20EAS%20communities%20excl%20AK%20%20HI%20as%20of%20November%201%2C%202013.pdf

    Merced was recently informed by the Feds that due to low passenger counts and proximity to larger airports the EAS subsidy would be eliminated (which may also mean the end of flights there), although the city is currently appealing the decision.

    Modesto saw the end of all commercial flights in June. If there was a subsidy there then that airline service would probably still be operating.

    Visalia flights were being operated without direct subsidy until about 2002. Changes in the industry post-9/11 impacted the existing unsubsidized service at Visalia and the Feds agreed to provide a subsidy to ensure the continuation of flights.

    Fresno and Bakersfield have no direct subsidies to airlines at their airports.

    Eric Reply:

    EAS should be eliminated entirely. Unfortunately, Democrats don’t care about eliminating wasteful programs, and Republicans do care (except in the military) but won’t ever cut subsidies to their voters in rural areas.

    JJJJ Reply:

    Yes, Fresno and Bakersfield have direct subsidies, by the city. Look at what Fresno had to pay to get flights to Mexico.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Yeah that logic [US is largely Sprawl Hell] never made sense. Nobody objects to Fresno, Bakersfield, Modesto and Visalia having highly subsidized airports with flights to LA

    Yes they do object to those egregious subsidies, and have done so for decades.

    And yes, HSR to “places” like Palmdale or Modesto or San Jose is a guaranteed loser.

    It would be great if that weren’t the case, but here on Planet Earth it turns out that Bakersfield isn’t Lyon and Fresno isn’t Madrid and Visalia isn’t Frankfurt. Local CBD density and local transit connections are what drive urban railway ridership, HSR or any other kind. Look at a map. Do the maths. Don’t just click your heels together and wish for unicorn rainbows.

    joe Reply:

    People object to fluoride in the water and vaccinations. John Birch society objects to government spending. So do you.

    And yes, HSR to “places” like Palmdale or Modesto or San Jose is a guaranteed loser.

    Hilarious.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    How’s VTA intense urban light rail focused on the CBD of San Jose doing again?

    jimsf Reply:

    More population to come. WIth silcion valley booming and a shortage of housing and lucrative rents and home prices, new real estate adjacent to silicon valley will sell quickly.
    plans

    If you don’t plan ahead, you will be criticized, if you do plan ahead, you will be criticized.

    better to plan ahead. Too many people commuting from too far away.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    “Too many people commuting from too far away.” I take it you are in favor of eliminating south county Caltrain service then?

    jimsf Reply:

    I don’t have an opinion about south county caltrain service. I don’t know much about it.

    I was thinking more in terms of silicon valley workers who are residing in SF when they could be creating their own city in santa clara county.

    joe Reply:

    For what it’s worth, the commute distance from MtView to SF is about the same as Gilroy to Mountain View. What “too far away means”, I don’t know. Google runs a bus for employees and I believe the critic commutes form MTV to SF so I really don’t get it.

    Locally the South County housing boom is back. Single family homes, town homes and apt buildings infilling along the Caltrain ROW and near the freeway in Morgan Hill and Gilroy. Gilroy even added a new High School.

    101 Traffic is backing up along the south San Jose highway expansion which doubled lanes 10 years ago and obliterated Caltrain ridership.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Peak. Reverse peak.

    J. Wong Reply:

    It’s the north end of Silicon Valley (i.e., the Peninsula) not San Jose.

    jimsf Reply:

    Diridon Rail Station plans to transform downtown San Jose into ‘Times Square of Silicon Valley.’

    Joey Reply:

    Just quadruple the height limits and you’re good to go.

    jimsf Reply:

    Blank canvas vision

    Brilliot explained that the expanded Diridon Station — which would add a BART extension and bullet-train hub to its existing service, which includes Caltrain and Amtrak — would sit at the heart of the bustling new urban center. The southern district would focus on new housing. The area as a whole would be pedestrian-oriented and enlivened by iconic art and architecture.

    The plan represents a chance “for the first time in generations to paint on a blank canvas a vision for what the city can become,” said San Jose Councilman Sam Liccardo.

    “There are extraordinary opportunities for development around the station, whether there’s a ballpark or not,” added Liccardo, whose district includes the downtown. “This will be a critical opportunity for our downtown to grow to a size more appropriate for a city of San Jose’s stature.”

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    I have a feeling people who say shit like “bustling new urban center” in the same paragraph as “Diridon Station” have never tried walking from Diridon to SJSU or city hall. If they were serious they’d demolish 87.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    And the airport.

    joe Reply:

    But before HW87 there was a very wide surface street with lights and heavy traffic. Your suggestion they revert back is silly.

    Do people walk from the SF Caltrain station to City Hall? No.
    Or to SFSU from Caltrain /SF ? No.
    Are you critics even cognizant of how goofy this all sounds ? No.

    There’s now a paved bike path along 87 which follows the creek and is used by commuters.

    Joey Reply:

    If we’re just talking about the area between downtown and the station, there was not previously a road there before the freeway was built. The Guadalupe Parkway let out onto Market street which to my knowledge has the same number of lanes that it did back then.

    Here’s where it gets interesting. The grade-separated section between I-280 and Julian St was build before the rest of the freeway, probably when that segment of 280 was build judging by historic aerial photos. It appears to have remained this way from at least 1980 to 1987, when it was connected to the Guadalupe River Parkway, which at the time was not grade separated. It looks like the southern part was completed a few years later. Apparently the northern section wasn’t completely grade separated until 2005.

    So would it make sense to tear down the freeway? It would certainly create a nice convenient space to put the station much closer to downtown, which is really the only part of San Jose that has any semblance of density. Would it create a traffic problem on the surface? This claim has been made about nearly every freeway removal, and it’s definitely not as true as the people who say it claim, but it may not be entirely wrong either. Speaking from experience (San Francisco), the two streets which used to be freeways (Octavia and 24 Willie Mays Plaza aka King / The Embarcadero) do tend to get very backed up. The problem in those cases I think was converting the freeway directly into a wide surface boulevard (freeway surrogate) rather than distributing traffic evenly into the street grid.

    joe Reply:

    The suggestion 87 be torn down to improve San Jose is silly. Absolutely nonsense. It connects 85, 280/860 to 101. SF’s freeway that connects 101/80 to bay bridge and 280 and san jose ave all remain.

    There’s a path along the 87 Guadeloupe Creek which has been improved along with the 87 highway. That’s how one gets around N/S.

    Metrics of walkability to City Hall and SJSU are silly. No one walks to SFSU or City Hall from the SF Station.

    My experiences begin in 91. I’d drive from MTView to Japantown Taylor St. for Aikido and it was a wide street, very unfriendly area for pedestrians.

    The first stage of the Highway 87 freeway, its 4-level interchange with I-280, replaced an old downtown neighborhood in the early 1970s. A ramp to Julian Street, north of the interchange with I-280, was completed in the mid-1970s. The freeway extension north to Taylor Street was completed in the 1980s. The southern part, from I-280 to Highway 85, was opened to Almaden Expressway in 1992 and to Highway 85 in 1993, built in conjunction with the construction of a light rail line. Local-express lanes were constructed along this segment, the Northbound segment running from Interstate 280 to Julian Street and the Southbound extension from Interstate 280 to Alma Avenue. At Highway 87’s northern terminus, its 3-level interchange with Highway 101 and North First Street was completed in 1992. Finally, with all grade-level intersections replaced by grade separations, construction of the six-lane freeway between Taylor Street and the Highway 101/North First interchange was completed in 2004, with the final ramps at the Skyport interchange opening in 2005. The widening of the southern segment, from Taylor Street to Highway 85, to six lanes was completed in 2007.

    wikipedia

    Joey Reply:

    SF’s freeway that connects 101/80 to bay bridge and 280 and san jose ave all remain.

    And did I say that either of those were good things? I lived near the southern part of 280 for much of my life, and can say beyond any doubt that it divides the neighborhoods it travels through.

    And in any case, SF is still removing freeways. Serious plans are under consideration to remove the northern end of 280 and to add intersections to that particular segment of San Jose Ave. Of course it’s not enough by my standards but it’s a start. When was the last time San Jose removed any segment of freeway?

    There’s a path along the 87 Guadeloupe Creek which has been improved along with the 87 highway. That’s how one gets around N/S.

    What does the path have to do with 87 other than being parallel to it? Is the state of bicycle/ped funding really so bad in the south bay that improvements have to be tied to highways to get funded?

    I’d drive from MTView to Japantown Taylor St. for Aikido and it was a wide street, very unfriendly area for pedestrians.

    I can’t say anything for Taylor St specifically but San Francisco has been narrowing a lot of streets lately for bicycle and pedestrian improvements. Again, it’s slow, but if the pace is slow in SF then it’s anemic in San Jose.

    joe Reply:

    SF is taking down the stub of a freeway that ends at and dumps into the city.
    SF took down earthquake damaged freeway stubs.

    SF HW80 isn’t going down. 19th street isn’t narrowing. Through routes are protected and upgraded.

    You suggest SJ remove 280 which connects within a region.

    What do bike paths built along with HW 87 have to do with making the area more pedestrian and bike friendly you ask. Because there is not such thing a bike path fund. It’s part of transportation.

    Joey Reply:

    SF is taking down the stub of a freeway that ends at and dumps into the city.
    SF took down earthquake damaged freeway stubs.

    SF HW80 isn’t going down. 19th street isn’t narrowing. Through routes are protected and upgraded.

    See, you keep citing SF’s inadequacies, which I agree are inadequate, but in all of these categories San Jose is much worse. Yes, the freeways getting removed are stubs. At least something’s getting removed. Yes, 19th AVE is unlikely to get narrower any time soon. At least the speed limit has been cut to 30 mph (unlike SJ’s expressways) and numerous other streets are getting narrower.

    You suggest SJ remove 280 which connects within a region.

    No, I was talking about 87, which, while being a through route, is largely duplicative of SR-85 and US-101. Why should all three exist? And I never explicitly said it should be torn down, I merely commented on the possibility and suggested that it should possibly be considered.

    What do bike paths built along with HW 87 have to do with making the area more pedestrian and bike friendly you ask. Because there is not such thing a bike path fund. It’s part of transportation.

    Which is precisely why bike/ped projects get so little funding. Highways always take the lion’s share, with transit getting a bit and bike/ped getting scraps. The funding model really needs to change.

    john burrows Reply:

    I look out the window and see 3 construction cranes downtown—we have gotten notices that we can attend planning commission meetings regarding two mid-rise projects, (totaling over 300 units) practically next door. Near the new family courthouse , two high-rise projects totaling close to 1,000 units are working their way through planning, and 3 blocks away from where we live, a 250 unit project is in the finishing stages.

    Developers are pouring some big money into this area, and I would imagine that they expect to get their money back and then some. You can argue all day long as to whether in central San Jose there is a there there, but within a few more years a lot more people are going to be living there.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Three cranes! Indeed SJ will be Paris by the end of the year.

    joe Reply:

    Comparing San Jose to Palmdale and Modesto is hilarious.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_26312024/santa-clara-county-has-highest-median-household-income

    Nation’s highest median income County is now Santa Clara County. Southern bay area has the most robust job growth. The infrastructure is following growth.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    How’s VTA intense urban light rail focused on the CBD of San Jose doing again?

    Eric Reply:

    You mean the light rail which is focused on the office parks north of Santa Clara? Which takes 46 minutes to cover the 4 miles (as the bird flies) between the San Jose CBD and Alum Rock? If it had been built in such a way as to actually be useful to the population of San Jose, then it would be doing fine now.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    At least they are learning from their mistake with the new BART extension.

    Oh wait….

    Eric Reply:

    Well, they are now adding signal priority to VTA light rail. So they learned a tiny bit at least.

    I haven’t looked deeply into it, but is anything really wrong with the BART extension besides the price tag (which is very wrong)?

    Joey Reply:

    For one thing, it misses many of the job-heavy (by SV standards) areas of Milpitas and north San Jose by swinging east through Alum Rock. The areas it serves are largely low-density residential with no major plans for densification beyond moderate amounts of station-area TOD.

    Out of curiosity, which parts of VTA light rail are getting signal priority?

    Eric Reply:

    https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=vta+signal+priority

    Now you know as much as I do.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    You realize of course that incorporated cities in California chase transit projects because they are funded with sales tax money and the driver of California’s modern sales tax laws were developers an cities trying to find a way to pay for incorporation after the State allowed cities to purchase services from their county but keep zoning controls to mitigate the loss of racial covenants. What cities never realized is that auto sales proliferated and became the main stream for sales tax revenue.

    Then as auto sales and car transit declined, they wanted transit to backfill those dollars and attract more sales activity in their cities. In Sacramento, where there are not nearly as many cities to demand concessions, the light rail is full each day. Ditto for MUNI which is wholly inside SF’s corporate limits.

    But Metro? Forget about it. Cities, supervisors, all fighting for their slice. VTA? Wonderful if you live off Alamden Parkway and need a quick ride to City Hall. But worthless to get from Cupertino to Los Gatos. Menlo Park to Googleplex? Not a problem light rail can solve…

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    How many of those robust jobs are in downtown San Jose? Or points south? God bless Gilroy.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    50, 60 years ago most of Santa Clara county was apricot orchards. Things aren’t going to be the way they are now 50 60 years from now.

    Joe Reply:

    You tell mecwgrte they are! You mived to mountain view.

    San Jose SF alignment supports not only the tenth largest city in the US but quick transfers into Caltrain local stops and or on to redwood city for transfer and then SFT.

    Mockery is losing an argument – try another angle.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Re: “the tenth largest city in the US”

    It’s surprising for the 10th largest city in the US that the phrase Gertrude Stein attributed to her hometown of Oakland, “there is no there there” now better applies to San Jose. It seems like most San Jose citizens prefer to stay at home rather than participating in civic life.

    Oakland is benefiting from the high cost of living in San Francisco, which is forcing out young people and artists who are rejuvenating Oakland (Oakland is to San Francisco as Brooklyn is to Manhattan). There is starting to be a “there” there in Oakland.

    joe Reply:

    Oakland rocks. Job growth is in the south bay and San Jose.

    San Jose residents get out and it’s a very normal place with a civic life. There’s even a University at the city center.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sounds like it’s rich enough to afford to locally fund HSR.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    +100000000000

    joe Reply:

    CA residents pay a progressive income tax. High income residents and businesses along the ROW are paying disproportionally for the transportation infrastructure in CA.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They are funding it locally, they pay state taxes just like everyone else in the state. And Federal taxes too.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I know, I know, I’m just mocking the idea that governments should prioritize rich regions for infrastructure money. They should prioritize regions with high potential ridership, which include rich ones (like San Francisco) and poor ones (like Oakland).

    joe Reply:

    Like prioritize Beverly Hills by running the HSR ROW across the city as we are for Atherton ?

    Oakland has electrified, fully grade separated BART.
    San Jose to SF is an at grade diesel train.

    Electrification for HSR adds an environmental burden to the local, rich population, but the regional benefit of more service outweighs the local impact.

    No reason the locals have to pay for the State HSR project and pay to mitigate the impact.

    Well, the reason is Richard wants his taxes cut – again.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    there’s that doughnut problem – to get from the rich urban core to the rich suburbs you have to go through the poor neighborhoods between the two. Like Oakland.

    Reality Check Reply:

    San Mateo County earns top weekly wages in nation: Local workers making an average of $2,724 a week

    Workers in [San Mateo county] earned an average of $2,724 per week between December 2012 and December 2013. Based on four weeks in a month, that pencils out to about $130,000 a year. New York came in second at $2,041 followed by Santa Clara County.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    And yes, HSR to “places” like Palmdale or Modesto or San Jose is a guaranteed loser.

    Where is my tape recorder? Chamberlain is going to be jealous at your lack of prescience.

    The reason Phase 1 of HSR contains second tier cities is because they aren’t Madrid. Spain threads several of its HSR lines through common stations because the ridership isn’t sufficient to pull that station independently.

    Richard, think how the Spanish did it: The plopped a mission down south, then some up north, then a few in between. Then they built one road to connect them all. Then they built a few more missions where there was open land along the road.

    How did Southern Pacific do it? They built a big station in San Francisco and then secured a southern terminus with a port. Then they built one track to connect the towns. And then they sold some land along the route.

    If you build HSR along the 5 there is no way to develop that land. It dries up and dies. Fresno gets no HSR and the State still pays 98% of what it has to now. You take the current alignment and a least you have the option of letting new growth in Fresno support ridership. At least it’s an option, a possibility. Cuz despite what some might say, California is not France. An old building in France is a tourist attraction; in California it’s already a parking lot.

    Resident Reply:

    Really? Does Highway 5 dry up and die? Cuz I can get to highway 5 from a lot of feeder routes, and I can even get to highway 5 from Fresno or Bakersfield. Highway 5 is a spine, and its the fastest way to travel by auto/truck North to South, precisely because it doesn’t have a lot of destinations along the way, and allows express speeds. It just seems so incredibly moronic to claim that an HSR route along highway 5 can’t be the high speed backbone of California HSR with feeders that drop in to that backbone from the most important towns east and west. It really seems childish and greedy actually to presume you have to wind the main HSR line around California like a grapevine.

    joe Reply:

    Feeders!? Hilarious.
    HSR for SF — LA so the right people get fast, cost effective service. Fantastic idea – go fund it with a SF and LA city sales tax.

    The state’s backbone is HW 99. It runs along the population centers of the central valley. They’re paying and they’re riding.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There won’t be an I-5 and state highway 99 equivalent of HSR for a long time if ever.

    Michael Reply:

    There are dreams. Look at plans for SR 65 in California or the Mt Hamilton Freeway, SR 130. Won’t happen, but dreams.

    jimsf Reply:

    It was a mistiake not to finish sr 65. The gap between Roseville and Visalia could have gone a long long way in releiving congestion on 99 while also giving foothill and mountian communites much better access to the rest of the state.

    The entire SR system has been neglgeted and rendered inadequate.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Childish? Greedy?

    Even the French made sure that Lille, A city with about as much esteem in the Republic as Fresno has here…Lille sits on not one, but two major international HSR lines. Moreover, my understanding is when the British asked for a dedicated track that didn’t go through Lille, SNCF refused and now Lille has not one, but two major HSR lines running through it.

    In Spain meanwhile, the AVE routes that don’t serve Madrid still all pass through Cordoba and Ciduad Real. And Japan’s only HSR branch, the Joetsu, only exists because the Prime Minister years ago wanted his hometown of Niigata to have service.

    Don’t kid yourself, California cities will either be on the HSR main line or left behind.

    Eric Reply:

    The British were right. Travelers to major cities are all slowed down by Lille, and from what I’ve heard Lille’s economy hasn’t even significantly improved.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Don’t forget the small detail of the minimum use charge for the Chunnel. Eurostar is effectively subsidizing the bond payments for the Chunnel using passenger fares. The four people getting off at Lille might seem like a big inconvenience, but the junction allows both Paris to London and London to Brussels (and Amsterdam) passengers to offset costs.

    Moreover, by linking up in Lille, it reduced the new track cost for EuroStar since they could use the existing Lille to Brussels track for EuroStar.

    Another point I thought someone would make: what usuable would work for an I-5 alignment? Gilroy to Kettleman City? There isn’t enough funding for that segment, so it’s quite possible the racetrack idea would have killed the project before it started at this point. Gilroy to Tejon doesn’t pencil under the current funding plan no matter what.

    Joey Reply:

    Either way the track would sit mostly vacant until either San Jose or Los Angeles is reached. Mind you, I’m not a supporter of the I-5 alignment.

    And you’re correct about the Eurostar – the Lille wye alignment allowed more destinations to be served with less track (coughaltamontcough). Though a bypass (LGV Picardie) has been proposed, partially because the LGV Nord is beginning to have capacity problems.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    No. The sad reality is that once the Fresno to Bakersfield segment or any portion thereof is complete, expect some sort of modifcation of exisitng Amtrak California service to use the HSR track until electrification/Bay to Basin occurs.

    Joey Reply:

    Hence “mostly vacant.” The San Joaquins are 6 trains in each direction per day. That’s mostly limited by Union Pacific between Stockton and Sacramento and between Martinez and Oakland. They might allow a couple over the Altamont Pass. The track is still mostly unused.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Trains unlike airplanes or buses can haul more passengers by adding cars.

    ComradeFrana Reply:

    “Travelers to major cities are all slowed down by Lille”

    Except Lille-Roubaix-Tourcoing urban area has more than 1 mil. inhabitants which makes it same or bigger than Brussels, Cologne, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, not to mention it sits in the center of a metropolitan area of close to 4 million people.

    It’s big enough to have two subways for f*ck’s sake!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s big enough to have two subways for f*ck’s sake!

    But it’s not BART and therefore not important.

    Eric Reply:

    I don’t object so much to London-Brussels trains stopping in Lille. But why didn’t they build a bypass around Lille for London-Paris trains? That would save 15km of tracks plus acceleration/deceleration and a stop. Lille has a significant size compared to Brussels, but not compared to Paris.

    jimsf Reply:

    Highway does not allow “express speeds” First, the speed limit is 70 on 99 and 70 on 5. Second, I just drove the 5 from la to the bay area and it was 300+ miles of end to end traffic.

    The majority of californias population growth in the coming years is going to be in the 99 corridor so it makes sense to pu the train along the 99 corridor, where the people are now, and where even more people will be later.

    Had the voters been offered a chance to build hsr direct from sf to la without directly serving the 99 corridor, the voters would have rejected it.

    So if your goals is no hsr, then thats what you would have.

    Resident Reply:

    And the common practical speed on 99 (through the major towns) is about 55, and the common practical speed on 5 is about 80+. If you got bumper to bumper all the way down 5 for 300 miles – you’re either a liar, you’re unlucky or you traveled on at prime time. Easy time (regularly) from Peninsula to 405, EASY 5 hours. But it took 4+ just to get to Fresno going 152 to 99.

    the Majority of Population growth is going to be in the 99 corridors… – will take that for what is worth, and lets just pretend for sake of argument that’s true. Then it makes even LESS sense to constrict 99 corridor with HSR ROW, and a the same time constrict HSR even more because it will be traveling eventually through these massively populated areas. Its just plain simple logic, bring the HSR in to the populated area for pickup and drop off, and then head out of the populated area asap to fast, open space, unencumbered, straight, where it can hit the fastest speeds possible for the longest stretches possible. There’s not a single reason why a station can’t sit in a Fresno, then head west and join the trunk for a massive stretch of non stop 220mph. Have 3-5 of these along the 99 corridor in these soon to be massive population centers… How is everyone not served?

    BTW, Leave earlier next time.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The train that makes all the stops, stops and lets 50 people off and 50 people get on. 15 minutes later the next train that makes all the stops lets 50 people on and 50 people off. Rinse repeat every 15 minutes all day long. Or you can have one train come in and let 500 people get off and 500 people get on and go really really fast out on I-5. Every few hours. The people who want to do things like go from Fresno to Bakersfield don’t take the train because it’s as frequent as today’s Amtrak service and just as fast.

    datacruncher Reply:

    California projects by 2060 Valley counties will be about the same population size as Bay Area counties, population growth in the Valley will outpace the Bay Area. Southern California sheer growth will exceed both. For example, Kern County’s faster growth will make it about the same population as Santa Clara County in 2060, Fresno County will end up about the same size as Contra Costa County. The current county population projections from the state are at:
    http://www.dof.ca.gov/research/demographic/reports/projections/P-1/documents/P-1_County_CAProj_2010-2060_5-Year.xls

    The practical speed of “55” on highway 99 is probably due to traffic, many more people using that corridor than 5. Caltrans has no widening plans for I-5 since, as you said, it is not congested even at only 4 lanes. But Caltrans IS in the process of widening 99 to be 6 to 8 lanes its entire length (6 lanes even in the rural areas). Some of that need is driven by traffic that is intraregional, but there is also interregional like you.

    Where is the “constrict” by HSR along the 99 corridor? The selected ROW does not sit adjacent to 99.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Don’t rely on Finance’s population projections. They are often very optimistic and require revisions. California’s population growth since statehood has always correlated to migration more than natural increase. Even today, the number of births barely exceeds in migration. And migrants need jobs to stay—so be prepared for CA to hover around 40 million for a while.

    jimsf Reply:

    The fact is I drive 5 and 99 quite often and the speeds and travel times are the same. I alternate and use many combinations. somtimes 5 to 4 to 99 sometimes 5 to 152 to 99 sometimes 99 all the way sometimes f all the way to 198 then east.

    The traffic was bumber to bumber from the grapvine up the valley to san jose – granted at 65 mph – moiving but not even at the 70 limit. And more and more often I see the five is congested, mainly due to trucks, and people who drive in the left lane below the limit. A third lane for the length is needed ( and is planned)

    MEanwhile the 99 on a good day is 70 all the way. But there is a lot of contruction happening for the whole lenght. So it depends on if you get cuaght in a bad patch.

    There are toom many myths about 99 and 5 that are no longer true.

    corntrollio Reply:

    “And more and more often I see the five is congested, mainly due to trucks, and people who drive in the left lane below the limit.”

    Californians don’t seem to understand “slower traffic keep right” whether they’re from SoCal, NorCal, or Central Valley. I hadn’t driven I-5 in a while, but did so recently, and people need to GTFO of the way. The Bay Area bad about this (especially Prius drivers), and so are a lot of Southern California drivers too.

    It is illegal to block the left lane under California Vehicle Code §21654(a) http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21654.htm but many self-entitled people do it all the time. You know who you are, and it doesn’t matter if you’re going the speed limit or not.

    I prefer autobahn rules myself.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    It is explicitly legal to travel at the speed limit regardless of how fast the impatient assholes behind you want to go.

    corntrollio Reply:

    “It is explicitly legal to travel at the speed limit regardless of how fast the impatient assholes behind you want to go.”

    No, read the vehicle code section I linked to and try again. As I said, you know who you are.

    datacruncher Reply:

    The story I’ve heard is that I-5 was not the original location choice by the old Division of Highways. The planners wanted to route the N/S Interstate freeway along the 99 corridor to upgrade that route from a highway and serve the maximum number of locations and people with an interstate freeway using Federal funding help.

    The current I-5 route was a proposed long-term future freeway, one of many routes being proposed at the time like several new Trans-Sierra freeways or the proposed crosstown freeways in SF.

    But after the Legislature met behind closed doors, the preferred N/S construction route changed to the current location of I-5. Supposedly Southern California legislators pushed the choice to speed up their drive home from Sacramento. They didn’t care about SF to LA drivers, they wanted to benefit themselves.

    Eric Reply:

    That doesn’t make sense. I-5 is more direct for SF-LA trips.

    datacruncher Reply:

    The old highway planners probably were having the same discussions we see with HSR today. Were they building a system to serve LA-SF or a system to connect larger portions of the state?

    I did a quick search and here is a slightly different version of the story I’ve seen elsewhere.

    Many ask why the Westerly routing in the San Joaquin Valley was constructed. One poster on MTR noted that in 1965 or thereabouts, in response to a legislative request, the then California Division of Highways prepared a report on the effect of the Interstate system on California highway development. One important point noted in this report was that although both I-5 and Route 99 were planned for eventual development as freeways, I-5 had received artificially higher priority over Route 99 because it was funded as an Interstate and so attracted federal completion deadlines. This in turn meant that more resources were being devoted to I-5 even though it was projected to be far less busy than Route 99. This might imply that the Division had had the decision to build I-5 on an independent alignment wished on it—possibly by the Legislature, the Highway Commission, or even the B.P.R.—and would rather have chased the traffic on Route 99, possibly by building it as an Interstate, while leaving the facility now known as I-5 to be developed as a western relief route at some point in the relatively distant future.
    http://www.cahighways.org/001-008.html#005

    I seem to also remember the name Robert Cruickshank from the old Usenet MTR (I used to lurk there).

    Zorro Reply:

    HSR isn’t going to be built along the i5 fwy, the saying is ‘talk is cheap’. HSR is being built along the established routes as authorized and planned, that won’t change and there is nothing you can do to change that either. You don’t have what it takes.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …Ohio has nearly the same population density as France. So does Pennsylvania. New Jersey Rhode Island and Massachusetts are more densely populated than Japan….

    synonymouse Reply:

    Columbus does not even have a streetcar and is proud of it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Lots of places don’t have streetcars. Cincinatti has a subway they never used. Rochester has one they abandond. So?

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    Columbus will be even prouder when the day comes it has no more “loser cruisers” (city buses)!

    synonymouse Reply:

    In the fifties we used to call them stink buses. Trolley buses were much nicer but anathema to the highway lobby. SF did have some cooler buses, Macks and small and large Whites, which were gas, not diesel.

    Eric Reply:

    Any city should be proud not to have a mixed-traffic streetcar.

    Joey Reply:

    Which is why the overall population density of a large area is not a useful measure. It doesn’t tell you how clustered people are.

    Joe Reply:

    And where people are clustered today doesn’t tell you where they’ll be in 5-10-20 years.

    Across from MTV Caltrain and central expressway 180+ More units replace a single story office with large parking lot.

    This is the HSR corridor In filling.

    Joey Reply:

    And where people are clustered today doesn’t tell you where they’ll be in 5-10-20 years.

    It does to zeroth order. To first order use population growth rates. Most are well below 1% so you’re not going to see much change.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    it’s not 1%

    http://www.dof.ca.gov/research/demographic/reports/projections/view.php

    http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06000.html

    Joey Reply:

    These projections have been known to be inaccurate, but let’s ignore that for the moment. I was talking about annualized population growth rates. And it still tells you nothing about population densities. Many of the counties with the fastest population growth are ones with no controls on sprawl, and often even policies which encourage sprawl (see: Bakersfield’s new freeway). If cities start zoning for mid-rises and aggressively replacing traffic lanes with protected bike lanes I’ll be impressed, but that’s not really happening.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They taught you about the magic of compound interest in fifth grade. It applies to population growth too.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    In special needs fifth grade class did they teach about shutting up when you don’t have the slightest clue what you’re talking about and have nothing meaningful to contribute?

    Did they teach you what any mathematical terms mean or did they just give you a typewriter and say “You’re Special. Type away! Anything that feels good for your self esteem.”

    Did they mention that “(1 + x) ^ y” is approximately equal to “(1 + x) ^ y” for all values of x and y? Even when “x” means “population growth” and “y” means “years”?

    joe Reply:

    In special needs fifth grade class did they teach about shutting up when you don’t have the slightest clue what you’re talking about and have nothing meaningful to contribute?

    In fifth grade, even the “special needs” kids know bullying is wrong and a sign of a disturbed classmate needing help.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Since you have so much experience as a student in the special needs classes why don’t you tell us more?

    Joey Reply:

    And yes, I took the 1/n power to find the annualized rate rather than just dividing by n.

    jimsf Reply:

    who in hell wants to ride a bike? get real.

    Joey Reply:

    Hipsters, socialists, and college students. Clearly not anyone who matters.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    In hell? Probably nobody, the heat melts the rubber on the wheels.

    (Sorry.)

    Thankfully, Amsterdam and Copenhagen are not in hell.

    Joey Reply:

    Is there a map of projected population densities anywhere, rather than just overall growth rates?

    Jon Reply:

    http://files.mtc.ca.gov/pdf/Plan_Bay_Area_FINAL/7-Appendices.pdf

    Contains both change in jobs/households and absolute job/households in 2040. Even by these projections, the South Bay is never going to approach the density of San Francisco.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Making the Case for High-Speed Rail

  2. joe
    Aug 13th, 2014 at 07:17
    #2

    So happy Obama reached across the party divide in to appoint John McCain’s former Chief of Staff and campaign staffer to the STB so she could cast the Lone NO Vote on HSR.

    Times’ HSR hit piece created some backlash
    TIME Mag.
    http://time.com/3100248/high-speed-rail-barack-obama/

    Don’t believe the New York Times or the train haters who cite it: High-speed rail is not an $11-billion failure.

    The Economist http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2014/08/obama-and-high-speed-rail

    Last week, America’s paper of record published a story under the headline “$11 Billion Later, High-Speed Rail Is Inching Along,”

    Critics talk about Mr Obama’s decision not to allot money to Amtrak’s densely populated north-east corridor, the most logical location for high-speed rail in America, as a failure. But giving the money to rich, north-eastern states could have allowed opponents to paint the project as solely benefiting Democratic urbanites—which rarely sells in politics. Coincidence or not, states like Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin won the federal grants instead.

    StevieB Reply:

    The Time article The Truth About Obama’s High-Speed Rail Program correctly points out that while Congress has made almost $11 billion available for rail projects only $2.4 billion of that has been paid for completed work. The New York Times Editorial Making the Case for High-Speed Rail repeats the charge that the federal government has spent about $11 billion on high-speed rail with few visible improvements when in fact what has been spent is less than a quarter of the available funds.

    Alan Reply:

    A lot more of that money would be spent by now if not for the likes of TROLLDEF, the PAMPA mob, Tos and Fukuda, and Laurel and Hardy.

    Zorro Reply:

    Agreed Alan.

    Joe Reply:

    Spent in government speak means the money is authorized and can be dispersed. HSR has until 2017.

    StevieB Reply:

    It is not the government claiming $11 billion has been spent but journalists at the New York Times. They could correctly claim that $11 billion has been authorized but only $2.4 billion has been spent.

    Zorro Reply:

    But of course lazy journalists, leave that on the cutting room floor, unsaid, they tell half truths to halfwits, who eat the rwnj/nimby/KOCH talking points up.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    ….and when they turned down the money it was reallocated to rich urban states…..

  3. Gianny
    Aug 13th, 2014 at 08:04
    #3

    So when does California give the contract to Japan and accept their 0% loan to build out the system?

    Eric Reply:

    while any electric high speed train builder will do, I’m selfishly hoping that Siemens gets the contract for the trainsets, as their plant in Sacramento would likely be where they are all built, and the economic boost would be great!

    synonymouse Reply:

    Whoever tithes the most.

    Bill Reply:

    The Mormons tithe the most…but sadly all their earnings go to building giant temples and racist/sexist/homophobic political organizations. Sorry to any Mormons reading this if there are.

    Eric Reply:

    If your accusation is correct, you shouldn’t apologize for it. If not, you shouldn’t make it.

    Eric Reply:

    not the same eric, by the way

    Eric M Reply:

    There is also me. LOL Eric M

    Eric Reply:

    Ha. Sorry about that. (Grandparent Eric)

  4. les
    Aug 13th, 2014 at 11:09
    #4

    This is huge! The only thing that would stop HSR at this point is at the federal level and this approval was opponents last gasp. The state Democratic majorities can thwart any local challenges from here on out so I’m not worried about lawsuits. Given new candidates won’t assume positions until winter I think the path is clear for construction to be underway from Fresno to Bakersfield. And seeing how Brown can veto any legislation next year, Cap n Trade is assured for the Burbank-Palmdale section as well as others. Denham, I hope your legacy goes down as the most futile Congressmen to ever grace DC. What a waste! And starting on the Valley segment first had one more benefit, it helped overcome the greatest obstacles to the project and help determine HSRs fate early in the process.

  5. Keith Saggers
    Aug 13th, 2014 at 11:35
    #5
  6. jimsf
    Aug 13th, 2014 at 12:20
    #6

    So does the initial construction begin north of fresno at madera? If so, maybe the can build merced madera concurrently with fresno bakersfield

  7. Reality Check
    Aug 13th, 2014 at 12:34
    #7

    The NY Times Is Wrong; There Is No Case For High-Speed Rail

    The New York Times today favours us with an editorial insisting that the US should be gearing up to invest hundreds of billions in high-speed rail projects. I always find it slightly odd that left liberals are so in love with a 19th century technology such as the railroads. They’re most certainly not in favour of 19th century science nor moral attitudes so what is it about rail that so excites them? But other than that mystification they’ve missed a very important point. There simply is no case for high-speed rail in the US. There’s not even very much of one in the much more densely populated areas of Europe the technology is vastly more suited to come to that. They’ve just not grasped that the entire technology is about to be creatively disrupted by Google’s (and others’) driverless cars.

    [...]

    Meaning that there just is no economic case for high-speed rail at all. Simply because we’ve a 21 st century technology coming up, those driverless cars, which makes rail as a form of long distance passenger transport simply obsolete. Between the car and the airplane there’s simply no room left for it.

    J. Wong Reply:

    The same old tired tropes: “19th century tech” (as if autos weren’t invented in the 19th century too!), “driver less cars”, etc.

    joe Reply:

    Also recycling futurism such as the atomic jet packs.

    Self-driving autonomy is not a solved problem.

    http://www.technologyreview.com/news/529466/urban-jungle-a-tough-challenge-for-googles-autonomous-cars/

    John Leonard, an MIT expert in autonomous driving who attended the conference, says that he and other academics find themselves constantly battling the assumption that all of the technology challenges associated with robotic cars have been solved, with only regulatory and legal issues remaining. “It’s hard to convey to the public how hard this is,” he says.

    And if it were, the software will need to be reliable enough to operate even if the algorithm and controls problems are solved. That degree os safety is expensive. Google has NO culture that can build such software.

    Then it has to work in practice. Human hand off issues must be practical. According to Stanford researchers it can take up to 2 minutes for a human to become fully situationally aware when taking over from autonomy.

    Zorro Reply:

    Plus right now the cars barely do 25mph, that’s really fast, for a computer, instead of hours to travel any distance from, like say LA, it could to some locations take a day… Self Driving cars from Google, way too slow.

    The inside is futuristic, and that doesn’t mean 17 cup holders. It lacks a steering wheel and column, and doesn’t have a brake pedal or an accelerator. Classified officially by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as a Low-Speed Vehicle, a designation notable for its restricted top speed of 25 miles per hour, a regulation-approved glass windshield, the presence of side and rear-view mirrors, and a parking brake, the $150,000 electric Google robo-car can only go around 100 miles before needing a recharge.

    A Nissan Leaf will go about as far and is faster too.

    Joey Reply:

    Electric cars and driverless cars are two completely independent things. You can have a vehicle with one or the other or both. Trying to compare the two is silly.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    J. Wong – Horseless Carriages?

    Jerry Reply:

    There is more to High Speed Rail than just High Speed Rail.

    Edward Reply:

    Self driving cars will be quite useful for commuting. They can increase the capacity of highways by platooning. However the difficulties will not be technical – those will eventually be solved – but legal: Car #1 blows a tire and ends up in the ditch, and twenty cars follow it. Who do you sue?

    For self driving cars to replace high speed rail the technical problem of the high speed rubber tire will also have to be solved. You CAN buy 300 km/hr rated tires, but remember that a speed rating is the maximum speed that you can run for ten minutes without danger of tire failure. The problem is that tires flex and build up heat but don’t dissipate heat well. Steel doesn’t have the same flexural problems, conducts heat rather well and can withstand much higher temperatures.

    Zorro Reply:

    Of course, none are for sale, only one company is doing research, at least openly. Driverless is a fad in My opinion, a pet project, doubt it will see commercial reality. Do you REALLY want a driverless car?

    Google’s driverless cars are in the news again. This time it is a tiny two seater with no steering wheel or pedals. And the speed tops out at about 25 miles an hour. I can’t wait to get one. I am sure you must be one of the first to sign the waiting list. I cannot imagine what people will do with such a thing. It won’t even work as a golf cart. What a totally dumb idea.

    I suppose these cars are a way to show off Google’s technology and inventiveness. As for really being a practical product that people will lust after like a new Corvette, BMW, or Porsche, I just don’t see it. Is driving such a chore that people really detest it? I would think programming the car to go exactly where you want it would be more of a pain than just driving there. But what do I know?

    What I really wonder is how the driverless car handles looking for a parking space at work, a shopping center, or a large multi-tiered parking garage. Or how does it maneuver to get to the gas pump? I am assuming a hybrid here and even those gas sippers need fuel every once in a while. I bet close maneuvering situations are the downfall of such vehicles. And what do you do if you can’t park it?

    J. Wong Reply:

    The real market for driver-less cars is going to be taxis. No, most individuals won’t buy one. Instead, Uber and Lyft will buy fleets and use their existing tech (updated) to dispatch them.

    Michael Reply:

    Exactly.

    Michael Reply:

    And car share systems.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    No, the lack of a driver means Uber or Luft would hold all liability. Some third party guy might do it, but the capital costs would be so high.

    joe Reply:

    Right.

    They’re matching drivers to customers and taking a cut of the action.

    This is the salary cost per year.
    http://www.bls.gov/ooh/transportation-and-material-moving/taxi-drivers-and-chauffeurs.htm
    $22,820 per year
    $10.97 per hour

    Minimum wage salary and a highly complicated task with social queues and variety of users.

    The next step isn’t to borrow massive amounts of money to own and operate robot taxis to cut out the minimum wage driver.

    Automated vehicles will operate in controlled settings like construction sites and warehouses.

    Donk Reply:

    What about the soon-to-be too-senile-to drive baby boomer market? I would think that would be a great market for driverless cars. Think about how great it would be if the next generation of old people didn’t have to turn over their keys and lose their freedom, but instead they could just have the car drive for them.

    Additional markets – alcoholics and college students! Think about how much more fun you could have had in college if you had a driverless car. You could have been the responsible guy for being designated driver AND gotten totally shitfaced in the same night.

    Eric Reply:

    The most expensive part of operating public buses is the driver.

    With a taxi, the driver is even more expensive per passenger, since there are many fewer passengers.

    A self-driving taxi would be several times cheaper than current taxis. It would remove the need for most people to buy a car. It would remove the need for parking lots anywhere. In short, it would have dramatic effects on society.

    Derek Reply:

    Eliminate minimum parking requirements and we’ll see how many parking spaces the market decides are needed. It’s likely much, much less than what city councils think are needed.

    Eric Reply:

    A lot of the parking doesn’t seem to be based on minimum requirements.
    http://usa.streetsblog.org/2013/04/11/in-a-landslide-tulsa-wins-the-parking-madness-golden-crater-award/

    Derek Reply:

    Um, false.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    Driverless Cars – a fine sequel to Google Glass!

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    The recent cba over HS2, a high-speed rail project in the UK, recently had to be redone on these very grounds. They had to reduce the benefit applied to time saved by the trains being faster precisely because travel time is, if not a perfect substitute for being in the office, less unproductive than it was before. Saving that time is therefore less valuable than it used to be

    Huh?

    les Reply:

    hmmmm, where am I going to park my HSR seat once I arrive, oh yea I don’t need to. Yikes, I don’t think we’ll make our meeting in time…on second thought 2hrs 40mins and an hour for connections to office. Those poor souls in driverless cars gonna miss the meeting. What about the congestion created by HSR, silly me the train has its’ own dedicated tracks and we can watch those suckers in driverless cars moving at 1 mph from a window. Oh shoot, I’m out of fuel…oh but I got my cup of Joe and that’s all I need. Oh how do I get work done en route? What! WiFi on board with spacious seats to work with, image that. Yep this all sounds like a bad liberal love affair with 19th century technology to me.

    Eric Reply:

    You never need to park a driverless car. It drives itself home.

    StevieB Reply:

    The FBI is looking into the possibility of driverless carbombs.

    Eric Reply:

    Because the technology of suicide bombers is obsolete and never used anymore?

    StevieB Reply:

    Suicide bombers are time consuming to recruit and success withing the United States has been limited. Active recruitment also presents a security threat to an operation. Driverless carbombs introduce the possibility of conservation of operatives and it could be implemented by a single operative working alone which greatly diminishes chance of discovery.

  8. Gianny
    Aug 13th, 2014 at 14:29
    #8
  9. Keith Saggers
    Aug 13th, 2014 at 15:20
    #9
  10. Jos Callinet
    Aug 13th, 2014 at 20:04
    #10

    Well, guys, for those who favor alternatives to HSR or prefer that we simply live with the status-quo and build nothing – in addition to Elon Musk’s Hyperloop – has anyone thought of establishing a HIGH-SPEED STAGECOACH ROUTE from LA to SF?

    Maybe someone with good “horse sense” could put that one before CA’s voters! LOL

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    Just occurred to me that such a route would promote a “stable” economy.

  11. synonymouse
    Aug 13th, 2014 at 20:19
    #11

    http://www.railwayage.com/index.php/passenger/light-rail/county-authority-to-oversee-santa-ana-streetcar-effort.html?channel=

    “Relatively new among objectors’ arguments, however, is the assertion that the streetcar project (presumedly successful) would spur gentrification and drive up real estate prices, driving longtime residents out of their homes and businesses. The concern runs counter to earlier objections to streetcars and LRT, which argued that neigborhoods would be blighted, driving down real estate values.”

    Good show. Or is the reason Oakland cannot even get a trolley bus?

  12. jimsf
    Aug 13th, 2014 at 21:15
    #12

    I just found out that in palm springs, two story homes are not allowed. single story only.
    but god its nice there. But don’t tell anyone. and dont build a rail connection out there either.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Although Metrolink fantasizes about it, you have nothing to worry about. Even when Phoenix gets HSR, it will go through San Diego.

    jimsf Reply:

    and the leaders in the coachella valley do not want metrolink to provide such a service, they want amtrak to provide it because of a higher level of comfort.

    Of course things like that take eons to get started. Just look at the central coast.

    Luckily palm springs proper has very srict and particular rules about deveopment. Most of the new stuff is further south in the other cities.

    Joey Reply:

    I know I have rather extreme opinions on this sort of thing, but I have trouble considering one story height limits lucky for anyone.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    there’s two story buildings all over Palm Springs, it’s where they put the garages under the townhouses.

    jimsf Reply:

    Yes the single story applies to single family homes only. There is a height limit on single family homes of … I think he said 13 feet or 15 feet. This doesn’t apply to busniness or multi family building.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I like the rule on Kauai: no building taller than a palm tree…

    Joey Reply:

    This seems a bit off if you’re trying to preserve natural spaces. If you impose height limits then development is going to tend outward. That is, unless you have very strict limitations on the total amount of development which may be the case.

    jimsf Reply:

    yes palm springs is very strict and has limited growth possiblities. For one, much of the land in the city is tribal land and can only be developed if the tribe allows it, and anything built on such land is subject to fairly exhorbitant annual lease fees paid to the tribe. The city has space and plans for some infill development and there is plenty of high density in the form of condos and apartments. But the entire city is divided into neighborhood associaitions which are very active in shaping policy. ( the city is also 55 percent gay, the highest percentage in the nation but imnot sure if that has anything to do with it) I think are are some cities in california that will successfully ward off overpopulation… think of places like rancho mirage compared to neighborhing cathedral city which embraces growth.

    But the states large cities that are not la/sf/sj/sd the fresnos, sacs, bakersfields, etc in the 100k-500k range are good candidates for turning back the sprawl and foucsing on renewed downtowns ( because they all once had thriving downtowns) HSr will help that.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    It will go LA – Riverside – PSP – PHX

    Neil Shea Reply:

    PHX – San Diego traffic will change at Riverside until there is demand for some trains to turn there.

    (Eventually a Cajon pass route to LV will make Riverside a cross roads)

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The crossroad will be Anaheim. If Riverside is someone’s first impression of California, HSR is doomed.

    jimsf Reply:

    yeah but youre talking about people from phoenix. have you ever seen phoenix?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I used to live there. :)

    If we ever get coffee, I have plenty of stories for you.

    Phoenix is like any big city in that some parts are beautiful and or neat and some are utterly bland or decrepit. There just aren’t a whole lot of trees….kind of like SF or LA before the railroads arrived.

    Judge Moonbox Reply:

    I got the impression that when the government decided to revitalize the nation’s downtowns, the Phoenix leaders decided, “Great! Let’s vitalize our downtown!” They were able to build office towers and law firms and other businesses that valued centrality moved in, but they weren’t able to support much beyond the immediate needs of that community. The first time I was at the convention center, the nearest drug store was 2 miles away.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Oh no, it is way stranger than that….

    [cue violins]

    The Pulliams (local newspaper mogul family) had some sort of distaste and fear for freeways. So for a long time (into the 1980s) downtown Phoenix was not cut off from the older, upscale neighborhoods that are north of the 10 freeway today. Back then, it was a small place. Like Fresno small.

    Then Eugene Pulliam dies and his kids sell the family paper to Gannett. Suddenly, Phoenix learns that the only place in the US where the Interstate Highway system is not fully connected is their fine city. So naturally a vote happens, and carves a new freeway around downtown that is partially submerged under land.

    Carpetbag developers swoop in and buy up large swaths of downtown with the hope of redeveloping it into a big city. Towers go up, traffic rises…and then…the market goes belly up and the federal government has to buy many of the properties through the Resolution Trust Corporation.

    Decades pass. No one knows what the hell to do. A new freeway program keeps siphoning off more development to the suburbs and leaving. So eventually they cook up this new tax financing scheme that allows governments to buy land downtown and lease it to big tenants. So who ends up taking them up on the offer…hotels, big condominum projects, even the University gets in on the game….

    Meanwhile, the rest of Phoenix carries on as if it has always been and always will be. Because while other cities had a phase where the big city downtown mattered…Phoenix skipped that stage and went straight to end-renal urban failure….

    Neil Shea Reply:

    In the last couple years ASU moved several grad schools to downtown Phoenix – including Journalism, Nursing, Health Sciences – easing crowding at the large Tempe campus and bringing many thousands of students and teachers to downtown each day. U of A put their med school there, and several more towers are going up. So the downtown continues to grow in this metro area of 4.3m.

    Meanwhile their young light rail system has already passed its 2020 ridership projections, and the mayor of Phoenix just launched a campaign to extend the 0.4% sales tax to triple its mileage from 20 to 60. Of course the light rail already easily connects downtown and Tempe, with Sky Harbor airport in between, and is being incrementally extended in both directions with existing funds.

    I dont know what climate change will do over the next few decades but economically PHX is doing well now.

    Joey Reply:

    There’s no reason to try and build HSR across the mountains east of San Diego. The path through Palm Springs is much easier.

    Eric Reply:

    Yeah, I was going to say that too.

    Phoenix has over twice the metropolitan population of Las Vegas, is less than 50% further, and needs no mountain crossings between it and LA. Granted Las Vegas is the bigger tourist draw, but Phoenix should get much more hSR attention than it has gotten so far.

    Eric Reply:

    In fact, LA-LV HSR through Palm Springs/Morongo Valley may not be a bad idea either. 20-30 miles longer for LA-LV, 80 miles longer SF-LV (this could be eliminated with a Tejon-Barstow line), 170 miles shorter Phoenix-LV, no mountain crossings needed anywhere except Tejon and of course Pacheco/Altamont.

    LA-LV through Palm Springs/Chuckwalla might not be bad either, although I think Palm Springs/Morongo is probably better.

    Eric Reply:

    Based on a gravity ridership model (population*population/distance^2), LA-Phoenix should have 20% more ridership than Dallas-Houston which will be privately funded. The city approach will be harder in the LA region (but most of that is already part of the CAHSR project). In short this looks extremely viable.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    No, you have it backwards.

    The distance from San Diego to Phoenix is about five miles further than from Ontario to Phoenix. But the benefit to the system is that you can serve Phoenix to SD, Orange County, Las Vegas, and LA on one train. If you route things through the Coachella Valley travelers from Orange County and San Diego would have to make connections. Given the ability of leisure travelers to drive there instead of take a train…it’s important to make sure there’s a one seat ride.

    Keep in mind also that although officially more travelers go from LA County to Maricopa County than from Orange or San Diego, per capita, the reverse is true.

    Joey Reply:

    Being able to serve more destinations on a single train doesn’t justify the huge cost of building HSR through the Cuyamaca Mountains – there’s no easy route. And that’s assuming you can find a suitable route from downtown SD to the mountains, which looks like a pretty bleak prospect too.

    BTW, travelers from San Diego would not have to make connections – they can travel through Escondido and Riverside, which is the planned route to San Diego. If you wanted to cut their travel time a bit you could build a cutoff from Perris to Beaumont – it would require a ~6.5 km tunnel, though traffic levels would probably be low enough for it to be single tracked. The cost difference between building through the Cuyamaca Mountains and through the Coachella Valley is large enough to justify several such improvements. People going to the OC would have to transfer. So would a lot of other people under either scenario.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    or the train could leave Phoenix and go to San Diego through Palm Springs. Not as often as the trains to Los Angeles but it could.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Remember the words “no operating subsidy”. The French aren’t stupid. They know the key to profitability is a full train (which is the key for any transport system). The way to keep all seats is to optimize the number of cities served by a one seat ride.

    Secondly, the Cabazon -Blythe-Quartzite-Phoenix alignment has a couple other problems you may not be aware of.

    1) the ascent to Chiraco from Indio is much steeper than it looks like on a map. And then there’s the question of how to handle the rapid elevation change along the Colorado River. A viaduct would need to be 40 miles long to bypass it.

    2) Arizona’s Department of Transportation already proposed using the abandoned ROW from Yuma to Phoenix for HSR to FRA a few years ago. The UP has resisted saying they have plans to rehab the track and repair what was damaged in the 1995 Amtrak bombing. Going from Yuma to Indio is one way to solve the ascent problem, but it would add so much time that most travelers would just drive instead.

    3) UP will never allow anothe railroad to operate through Cabazon. Why do you think they secretly fight using Altamont for HSR so much?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    A shorter route to Yuma via Palm Springs is going to be too long but longer route through San Diego is going to be just peachy?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Los Angeles is farther west than San Diego. An Ontario-Blythe alignment for LA-Phoenix saves time on for passengers going all th way to LA. Those going to Orange County or SD (which are a bigger group) save time using San Diego -Yuma.

    Joey Reply:

    We can debate the travel time or service pattern merits of either route all day. I think they’re pretty minor compared to the huge constructability gap. The Coachella valley alignment is not without its challenges but it’s not unreasonable by HSR standards. If you go through San Diego you’ve got about 12 miles of suburbs followed by 50 miles of difficult mountain terrain to go through. The Coachella valley alignment has nothing even remotely comparable to that. You’re looking at cost differences in the tens of billions.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Cutting through east San Diego County is no more arduous than what will be done through between Burbank and Palmdale or any Tejon alignment.

    Joey Reply:

    No, but that’s unavoidable. In this case there’s an easy way around the mountains which still offers good service patterns.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Joey is right about construct-ability. Also Ted you seem to believe that there are more trips between Arizona and SD than to/from LA and that defies common sense.

    Yes ‘Zoni’s’ are often spotted at Mission Beach and La Jolla in the summer. But when you consider all travel for business, family, etc. or use the gravity model, metro SD only has 3.1m residents vs, 13m in metro LA PLUS 4.4m in the Inland Empire.

    Arizonans are also spotted in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, at Universal Studios and – shock – even doing business in downtown LA, Burbank and Century City. And for trips to Orange County (say Anaheim) it’s 50 miles further to go via SD than downtown LA. So Ted what you’re repeating doesn’t make much sense.

    But AZ will build a fast train betw PHX & Tucson, and when you add TUC’s 1m to metro PHX’s almost 4.4m then it does make a lot of sense to build HSR. If the Palm Springs area welcomes the convenience and additional tourist dollars of connecting to CA’s HSR, then PHX is just 250 mi further. Construction costs run lower there, so I’m guessing ~$10B could link these additional 5.4m folks into the system. AZ can fund their portion with state & federal funds, and maybe help fund the CA portion.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I appreciate your feedback, Neil. But here’s what you need to think about:

    The gravity model is worthless.

    It is an artifact of a time (1950-1990) when metro areas were really uniform in the country and you had the same number of wealthy people and poor people as a percentage of the whole in a given metro area.

    That is the past, and the future is now a place where wealth and the people wealthy enough to ride HSR live in certain places and have certain demands. Pull air travel data, (as I have) and you will see Phoenix travellers hail from a metro area that is 60% white. They don’t go to the parts of Southern California where their relatives and friends don’t live: (LA County more than five miles inland, San Bernardino, Riverside county beyond Palm Springs.) The major tourist attractions also, are not in Ontario or anywhere close.

    But look, I understand where the transit planners who argue otherwise are coming from. But what matters to the operator (remember them?) who by law can’t get a subsidy(remember?) is RASM: revenue per available seat mile. Or as I said above, keeping the train/plane/bus/etc full at all times, even if it means a little inefficency.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    It would require someone like Clem with the tools to try to optimize alignments, but I would be surprised if cutting east from San Diego to Imperial Valley were not in fact harder than Santa Clarita to Tejon or Burbank to Lancaster.

    Eric Reply:

    Ted, a train that gets to Ontario faster also gets to LA faster. And there are way more rich people in the LA area than the SD area, even if the per capita income is slightly lower.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Ted you’re not seriously saying that 3 million people generate more travel than 17m because there are more wealthy white people?
    Can you cite any sources for why you want to add an extra 50mi for your nice folks headed to Laguna Beach?
    Also PHX – SD is ~350 mi, 100 mi further than PHX – PSP.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, but climbing out of the Coachella Valley is not completely trivial.

    Joey Reply:

    It’s not particularly difficult either, but yeah it would at the very least require some earthworks and tall viaducts.

  13. Reality Check
    Aug 14th, 2014 at 08:44
    #13

    GOP rep Jeff Denham: CA HSR is ‘pipe dream’

    “The California High Speed Rail Authority faces a $55 billion funding gap and has yet to demonstrate any ability to generate the funds required,” Denham said on Tuesday. “Unfortunately, they can’t work around their funding gap, and without $55 billion, the high speed rail project remains a pipe dream.”

    Denham, who faces a tough reelection race in November, said federal approval of the project wasn’t enough to complete it.

    His comments came one day after the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) authorized construction of the second leg of the high-speed rail line, which would operate between Fresno and Bakersfield.

    joe Reply:

    Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) said that if California can’t find $55 billion its high-speed rail project is a “pipe dream.”

    Rep. Jeff Denham can’t find 55 Billion as the chair of the rail sub-committee and nor can Kevin McCarthy the majority leader of the House.

    What purpose does the Representative server in the House besides a platform to criticize his State Government for not doing HIS job.

    Zorro Reply:

    Denwitt is up for reelection, last few times He squeaked in, by I think 1-2%, maybe in 2014 He’ll be shown the door.

    Zorro Reply:

    Bagger = Job Killer, just look at the South(the old defeated and mostly dead CSA), mostly White people who get Welfare, who if they had good paying jobs would not need Welfare… But of course jobs are exported cause of tax credits that make exporting jobs to foreign countries cheaper than paying people here in the USA, then there is the matter of the H1B Visa program that is a work visa for foreigners to take jobs from those in the US, that was expanded at the request of a few businesses to keep from hiring expensive American workers, since foreigners can be worked for the wages they used to get in their home country, but that’s freedom, freedom to be eternally poor…

    les Reply:

    Once again Dendumb reveals his ignorance. RRIF’s are available, future bonds, 25%+ of C&T (Keep in mind that the bookends will get more than 25% of C&T because of urban transportation’s integration to HSR), revenue from initial segment operations, private easements and other private investment. I wouldn’t be surprised if a private company steps forward to finance the SD to LA section. And besides I doubt the Republicans will hold on to both chambers past 2016. They’ll tank like they did back in 2008.

    joe Reply:

    CA State just funded HSR in 2014 while the Congressional delegation did nothing

    They continue to berated the State for stepping up and improving CA infrastructure while federal tax money goes elsewhere.

  14. Reality Check
    Aug 14th, 2014 at 08:50
    #14

    The case for high-speed rail
    Yes, it’s expensive. But it’s worth it.

    Today, California is realizing what it lost, as it prepares to revamp thousands of miles of track that are no longer fit for use [WTF does this stuff come from!?], and certainly isn’t prepared to handle high-speed trains.

    Scramjett Reply:

    Well, that’s what happens when you replace good journalists with air head pundits.

  15. Keith Saggers
    Aug 14th, 2014 at 16:11
    #15
  16. Eric M
    Aug 14th, 2014 at 18:05
    #16

    This is not my video, so I take no credit for it. This is the Siemens new Velaro for Eurostar.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ou3io-VhmlY

    Too bad it doesn’t say “Fly California” on the side instead of Eurostar. Colors work for California too.

    Eric M Reply:

    Or it testing under it’s own power:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Be_y6f8oKUo

    Again, not my video.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Funny thing: It seems that Eurotunnel didn’t need to build a “test track” itself somewhere — under the sea! and DISCONNECTED from anything else — in order to have Siemens build trains. Surely there are Unique Anglo-Saxon Cicumstances.

    Clearly they have a lot to learn from the World’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals at PBQD.

    Also, they neglected to order the trains 20 years before they’re needed, and then have them shuttle back and forth from nowhere to nowhere on the “test track” until they’re half-way rusted out.

    Again, USA USA USA can teach them a lesson or two.

    Zorro Reply:

    That’s cause the Eurotunnel trains had HSR track to test on thanks to the TGV in France, CA does not have that, so false equivalence Richard Mlynarik.

    Zorro Reply:

    Oh and the test track won’t be energized until the complete HSR system from LA to at least Fresno is built according to the CHSRA, ordering trains hasn’t happened yet by CA itself, a previous order with Amtrak was cancelled due to a lack of much in common on specs of the trains. So I call that rusting away, as BS and a LIE. California and Amtrak cancel joint purchase(6/20/2014)

    The cancellation comes because the specifications of the trains needed for each agency were “just too different” for manufacturers to accommodate under a single contract, said Frank Vacca, chief program manager for the California rail program.

    joe Reply:

    In Europe local politicians don’t dogmatically oppose rail projects so we are not going to follow that model. So yes we do have unique angelo-saxon circumstances in the US. Welcome to the US of A.

    CAHSRA will build track between Madera and Bakersfield, 130 miles, with the 6 B in hand.

    CA can choose to purchase and run test trains on this segment we’ll see how adamant local congressmen are in stopping the State from connecting the CV segment to LA.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Fascinating. And that all explains PB’s “need” for a “test track” for “unique Californian conditions” … somehow.

    Somehow … it’s better — not to mention far more vastly profitable for Unique Local Consultants — to design something known not to work and require it be assembled from people who don’t know what they’re doing than it might be take the risk of buying anything could conceivably work from anybody with a clue and with QA in place.

    GilroyLogic™

    joe Reply:

    GilroyLogic™

    Middle school is over. You’re a 50 year old male and haven’t moved past the maturity stage of mocking people for trivial things like where they choose to live.

    The State could run service along a HSR CV segment for no other reason than to demonstrate the system is capable and ready for expansion to LA and Bay Area if Central Vally politicians stopped opposing the project. That political pressure to bring in billions of Fed dollars would be worth the millions to buy and test a train set.

    Joey Reply:

    So we’re building a segment of track which is mostly useless by itself because republicans?

  17. Reality Check
    Aug 14th, 2014 at 19:02
    #17

    Shoddy U.S. roads and bridges take a toll on the economy

    America’s transportation infrastructure, once an engine of mobility and productivity, has fallen into such disrepair that it’s become an economic albatross.

    Consumers shell out billions of dollars for extra car repairs every year. Insufficient and poorly maintained roads mean costly bottlenecks for businesses, which discourage expansion and hobble American companies competing in the global economy.

    Congestion on major urban highways costs the economy more than $100 billion a year in fuel and lost work time, estimates the American Society of Civil Engineers.

    [...]

    America’s transportation structures look all the more frayed next to those in advanced economies in Europe and Japan, or in China, which has been busily constructing high-speed rail and new airports.

    U.S. spending for transportation and other infrastructure accounts for 2.4% of its economy versus about 12% for China, says economist David Dollar, a former China director for the World Bank. Europe’s infrastructure spending is about 5%.

    [...]

    Some of the worst roads, however, are in sunny California. All told, about a third of the state’s public roads are in bad shape, compared with 14% nationally.

  18. Reality Check
    Aug 14th, 2014 at 19:07
    #18

    Legal wrangling means no rush to sell high-speed rail bonds

    “Even if the state wanted to go out and sell bonds tomorrow — which it does not — it couldn’t,” said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman with the California Department of Finance.

    A three-judge panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento overturned a lower-court decision that denied the request by the California High-Speed Rail Authority and Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration for a blanket validation of the bond sale. But, Palmer said, that ruling won’t become final until Aug. 30, a month after the court issued its opinion on July 31.

    On top of that, at least five organizations or individuals who sought to block the sale of Proposition 1A high-speed rail bonds are asking the 3rd District Court of Appeal to reconsider its opinion. Prop. 1A is the $9.9 billion bond measure approved by California voters in November 2008.

    On Wednesday, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the First Free Will Baptist Church in Bakersfield filed a joint motion for the 3rd District court to rehear the case. On Thursday, attorneys for Kings County farmer John Tos, Hanford homeowner Aaron Fukuda and the Kings County Board of Supervisors filed their own petition for a hearing from the appellate court. Friday is the deadline for requesting a rehearing.

    [...]

    “Assuming we prevail on all of the potential pending legal issues, the state would then only sell a portion of the bonds on an as-cash-is-needed basis for the project to continue to move forward,” Palmer said. “For this or any other bond, the state wouldn’t want to sell more bonds than needed for a given period of time. Otherwise, cash would be sitting idle and the state would incur unnecessary debt service costs.”

    In the meantime, Palmer said, the state and the high-speed rail authority have enough money — between a $250 million allocation of cap-and-trade money from the state’s greenhouse gas reduction program, a $400 million loan from last year and future cap-and-trade revenue — to meet its matching obligations for more than $3 billion in federal high-speed rail grants and move forward with construction in the Valley.

    joe Reply:

    1) Legal Wrangling == The losers of a unanimous decision are asking the justices, who undertook the case on request of the supreme court, to reconsider their decision.

    2) This is a reminder that CA has billions to spend by 2017. The political harping we are short money to finish the phase one system obscures the fact the project is well funded for the work planned and under review.

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    So…the Supreme Court reviews appellant decisions in only 3% of civil cases.
    Encouraging.

    Trentbridge Reply:

    also:
    From CA Secretary of State:

    Initiative and Referendum Qualification Status as of August 13, 2014

    1652. (14-0004) High-Speed Rail. No Issuance or Sale of Future Bonds. Termination of Project. Initiative Statute.

    Initiative Failed to Qualify.

    No million plus signatures turned in? I thought the majority of Californian voters were opposed to this boondoggle?

  19. Reality Check
    Aug 14th, 2014 at 19:20
    #19

    Lack of land slows work on California bullet train project

    [...] the state has yet to start full-blown, sustained construction of permanent structures — including bridges, tracks and train stations — at least partly because it lacks most of the Central Valley land needed for an initial 29-mile segment that will pass through Fresno. The state has acquired 71 of 526 parcels needed for the segment, about 13% of the total, according to figures provided by the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

    The start of heavy construction is not only symbolically important but could help weaken political and legal opposition to the project. However, slow progress could threaten the state’s ability to meet funding deadlines.

    [...]

    The authority, after missing earlier targets as far back as December 2012 to begin construction, is reluctant to say when full-scale work will start.

    [...]

    The start of major construction on a large public works project marks the crossing of a key political threshold. Martin Wachs, a UCLA professor emeritus of urban planning, recalled that legendary New York City construction czar Robert Moses once said that after the first stake enters the ground, it can never be pulled up.

    That dynamic is at work here, Wachs said. “Once the project is under construction, it has a different political cast,” he said. “The longer they wait, the more opportunity there is for people to try to block it.”

    [...]

    In highway construction, all the property required is often in hand before the start of major construction, but experts say that those projects typically provide the building contractor with a completed design. The bullet train will be built under a method known as “design build,” in which a single contractor team designs and builds a project simultaneously.

    [...]

    [...]

    Two freight railroads with lines close to the bullet train route have not yet agreed to give up any property the state is seeking or provide permission for high-speed train structures to cross over their tracks. In formal comments on the authority’s business and environmental plans, they have said the project may interfere with their business. Burlington Northern Santa Fe in May described the rail authority’s plans to relocate its right of way as “notably deficient.”

    [...]

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Morales said the risks are manageable. “Claiming construction has been delayed is misleading and misses the point, which is that we are on schedule for completion,”

    Morales said the authority is attempting to work cooperatively with the railroads but ultimately has the legal power to take their land through condemnation, if necessary.

    Jerry Reply:

    Wasn’t Caltrans supposed to be used to acquire the right of way land for CAHSR?

  20. Reality Check
    Aug 14th, 2014 at 19:42
    #20

    Why Can’t the United States Build a High-Speed Rail System?
    The problem isn’t geography, demographics, or money — it’s federal will.

    [...]

    What’s missing is a federal commitment to a well-funded national rail plan. Instead, we have a political system in which the federal government, having devolved virtually all decision-making power to states, cannot prioritize one project over another in the national interest. We have a funding system that encourages study after study of unfundable or unbuildable projects in places that refuse to commit their own resources. And we have a bureaucracy that, having never operated or constructed modern intercity rail, doesn’t understand what it takes. This helter-skelter approach to transportation improvements is fundamentally incapable of supporting large-expenditure, long-range projects like high-speed rail.

    This wasn’t always the case. In 1956, Congress approved a significant increase in the federal gas tax, and with it a national plan for interstate highways. That plan, which included a steady stream of funding and a clear map of national priorities, was mostly completed over the next three decades. Though implemented by states, highway alignments were chosen at the national level, with the intention of connecting the largest cities, regardless of political boundaries. Funding came almost entirely (90 percent) from the national government and was guaranteed as long as a route was on the national map. Physical requirements for roadways were mandated at the national level and universally applied. And construction was completed by state departments of transportation that were technically knowledgeable, accustomed to building such public works, and able to make decisions about how to move forward.

    The result was a system of roadways that most Americans rely on, often daily. The interstate system is unquestionably the nation’s transportation lifeblood.

    Yet Americans do not have the same perspective on the role of the federal government that they had when this highway system was initially funded. Trust in Washington has declined from more than 70 percent during the 1950s to less than 20 percent today. So while President Dwight Eisenhower declared in 1955 that the federal government should “assume principal responsibility” for the highway system, its approach to a high-speed rail network has reflected this change in public thinking about Washington’s place in transportation planning. The response has been to reduce the federal government’s ability to commit to a long-term plan and associated funding.

    [...]

    The planning and funding of the interstate highway system was premised on the fact that the travel needs of Americans occur irrespective of state lines. Indeed, the 50 largest metropolitan areas, representing more than half of the country’s population, are located in 31 separate states and 15 of them actually straddle state borders. Given this reality, it would be ridiculous to plan an intercity transportation system at the state level. California’s high-speed rail progress—its proposed San Francisco-to-Los Angeles line remains the only truly fast train project in the country—is the exception that proves the rule; that state’s size makes it no example for the rest of the nation.

    It’s time for the United States to commit to national planning, funding, coordination, and prioritization of rail investment. Intercity transportation systems require active federal engagement to guarantee the development of routes that reflect national needs and national priorities. Yet without political consensus on the need to develop national goals and focus investments, high-speed rail will remain a pipe-dream for decades to come.

  21. Reality Check
    Aug 14th, 2014 at 19:52
    #21

    One year later, Hyperloop remains a fantasy

    Elon Musk’s tube transport concept unveiled a year ago remains just that: a concept. It also proves that even when the Internet falls in love, radical ideas rarely exit the realm of fiction.

    Musk pulled a group of engineers from Tesla Motors, his electric car company, and SpaceX, his rocket-making orbital transport outfit, and assigned them to work on the “alpha” design, as they called it. Think of it as a brainstorming session — similar to a late-night college cram fest — whose goal was not to pass a test but to embarrass the state of California into action.

    “Because the $60 billion bullet train they’re proposing in California would be the slowest bullet train in the world at the highest cost per mile. They’re going for records in all the wrong ways,” Musk added back in 2012. When he introduced the Hyperloop concept, Musk said it could be done within the decade for as little as $6 billion.

    One year later, California’s high-speed rail project is overcoming funding roadblocks and beginning construction. On the other hand, the Hyperloop remains a pipe dream. Despite many attempts by Internet communities and crowdfunding platforms to turn it into a reality, the idea remains in the realm of sci-fi concept.

    Tesla and SpaceX representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

    [...]

    How does the Hyperloop work, again?

    [...]

    Sounds complicated? That’s because it is. [...] The remaining hurdles are still many [...]

    [...]

    “Building regular off-the-shelf high-speed rail is a big deal,” Kunz said, comparing the progress of California’s rail project and the Hyperloop. “Imagine building a tech that hasn’t even been invented yet?”

  22. joe
    Aug 14th, 2014 at 20:17
    #22

    If disgruntled farmers Tos et al win their HSR bond challenge on appeal, then this water bond initiative, if passed, can be tied up in the courts by a disgruntled hippie.

    California water bond clears Legislature, Brown signs off
    http://www.mercurynews.com/california/ci_26330978/state-water-bond-money-grows-last-minute-tussle

  23. les
    Aug 15th, 2014 at 10:13
    #23

    Hypothetically speaking, assuming the bond money gets tied up for another year or two (i doubt this very much but just assuming so), with 3 billion from feds and 3 billion of matching funds from various sources in hand I’m curious what 6 billion will buy? Fresno to Bakersfield and some work on the Burbank to Palmdale segment? if each year another billion from C&T then maybe Burbank to Palmdale segment will continue to inch along unless a fed loan becomes available. But given the time it takes to acquire land maybe this construction time is appropriate.

    joe Reply:

    Imagine they’ll have a Fresno to Bakersfield segment finished. The local Congressmen may rethink their opposition to connecting the segment to LA and the Bay Area. Up north, Caltrain will be electrified for HSR from San Jose to SF so the CV will need to build from Fresno to San Jose.

    joe Reply:

    6 Billion buys 130 miles
    https://goo.gl/maps/Rn5m1
    “The authority is planning to complete 130 miles of track from Madera to Bakersfield for about $6 billion. It must spend $2 billion in federal money, matched with an equal amount of state funds, by 2017 under the terms of a grant.”
    http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-bullet-train-land-20140814-story.html#page=1

    StevieB Reply:

    The bonds can be tied in appeals to the California Supreme Court until December if the court decides not to take the case. Bonds would most likely not be sold until next year.

    California typically offers general obligation bonds for sale in the spring and fall, and the next sales are scheduled for September. Because the appeals schedule could push a final decision by the state Supreme Court until November or December, the state would likely have to wait until next spring to begin selling bonds for the high-speed rail project if the court rules in its favor.

    The High-Speed Rail Authority has enough money to match $3 billion in federal grants and can start construction according to H.D. Palmer, a spokesman with the California Department of Finance.

    “Assuming we prevail on all of the potential pending legal issues, the state would then only sell a portion of the bonds on an as-cash-is-needed basis for the project to continue to move forward,” Palmer said. “For this or any other bond, the state wouldn’t want to sell more bonds than needed for a given period of time. Otherwise, cash would be sitting idle and the state would incur unnecessary debt service costs.”

    Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/08/14/4070611/legal-wrangling-means-no-rush.html?sp=/99/406/263/#storylink=cpy

    Resident Reply:

    No, the article says they have between 250M and 400M – enough to “move forward”

    “between a $250 million allocation of cap-and-trade money from the state’s greenhouse gas reduction program, a $400 million loan from last year and future cap-and-trade revenue”

    They don’t have entire $3B to match the entire $3B Federal, that would take just a few more years of $250M’s from C&T.

    So, where did they get 3B for matching?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “Between $250m from this source and $400m from that source” is not “$250m<X<$400m", its $650m now with ongoing revenue into the future.

    If that makes $2.35b outstanding, then depending on the discount at which it sells, $250m/yr could well be sufficient for $2.35m in matching.

  24. les
    Aug 15th, 2014 at 11:27
    #24

    So bonds will mostly be for future segments Fresno-San Jose and Bakersfield-Palmdale. Even if opponents stall the bonds Kenny has never demanded stop of construction of Fresno-Bakersfield but only demands CHSR get ducks in a row. Seems to me court cases are all about blocking Fresno to Bakersfield which is already a slam dunk and won’t be delayed until 2017 and hence not a risk to fed grant.

  25. jimsf
    Aug 15th, 2014 at 11:49
    #25

    With things moving forward as planned, in spite of challenges and criticisms, its clear that the projected will be completed using pacheco and tehachapi. It would be helpful and informative if the technicals who post here would, instead of arguing about things that won’t change, would instead discuss how to best mitigate issues with the chosen route. Instead of coming up with tejon alignements that are never going to be used, please focus on the best techachpi alignment and enlighten us in that way.

    If bakersfield wants and will get a downtown station, come up with the best way to do it.

    That would provide more interesting and relevant reading. Otherwise the blog gets boring with all the arguing about “but what if the moon was made of green cheese, then what”

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    agree

    Observer Reply:

    I agree also.

    les Reply:

    maybe a new thread needs to be created or maybe you need to create your own site.

    Zorro Reply:

    Agreed jimsf.

    Though some will object to mitigations(alleviating a problem) being done, like when a property is bisected by either a highway or by rail of any sort, so an underpass road link would be required, so a farmer(an example) can get to the other half of the farm.

    Then there is water rights, developers buy this along with any land being bought, highway departments and the CHSRA do not buy water rights, water rights I’ve read can be lucrative, there is no solution here, either the owner of record will sell the strip of land or eminent domain must be started and a check issued.

    Travis D Reply:

    This!

    I personally loved the Altamont route but it isn’t going to happen so I don’t bother bringing it up. Instead I focus on how to make the chosen routes the best they can be.

    jimsf Reply:

    At least altamont will still be getting imporved service and there is nothing to prohibit additional full hsr lines there or anywhere else in california. I just wonder what the blog posts will look like once concrete is being poured for viaducts between bakersfield and palmdale.

    Clem Reply:

    Circle jerk anyone?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Part of it, Jim, is that the blogosphere has changed since 2004. Polarization is now the norm and expected. Progressives like Robert no longer need the Internet to mobilize people and counteract conservative domination of talk radio or cable news.

    Now the most valuable roles that blogs play is to disseminate information in a very consolidated and shrunken media landscape. When Robert rehashes the same talking point, over, and over, and over, and over, and over again…it diminishes the power that this blog can have. The technicals, by contrast, are responding to new alternatives and other suggestions created by the Board. The broken clock is right twice a day.

    Going forward, I would like to see more stories (and I bet Robert is going to ask me to write some) about the other components of high speed rail in California outside of the standard fare. Posts about the State’s progress with AB 32 and SB 375 are great. But so are posts about all the other state policy considerations involved.

    Given that we are probably seven years away from more vigorous federal funding for HSR, I think it’s time the blog turn a little more inward and focus on what has to happen in Sacramento to keep the momentum going long enough to survive until 2021.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    People far more talented than “the technicals” here are working on it. Why bother? It’s far more fun to argue theoreticals – and then you don’t face the cognitive dissonance of having to deal with how far off the mark you are.

  26. Mike Brow
    Aug 15th, 2014 at 16:24
    #26

    Clem Said:
    August 12th, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    “All Caltrain capital projects cost about three times more than their equivalents in other first-world countries. For a recent and instructive comparison, see Auckland New Zealand. It shouldn’t cost a quarter billion to re-signal 50 miles of two-track railway, or $800 million to electrify it.”

    If this is the case, then why don’t Clem or Mlynarik get off their dead rear ends and do something about it?

    What good is it to rant about it here?

    How much mainstream coverage comes out of these blogs?

    The local major TV news organizations are always soliciting for investigative stories of government agency waste. Please take your case to them, NBC 11 has investigated Samtrans for alleged fraud and has led to the DA investigating Samtrans. NBC 11 has investigated VTA on another occasion, don’t remember exact subject though. Lets get to the bottom of CalTrain waste. There are also government watchdog agencies such as the GAO, CA State Attorney General, Legislative Analyst, County Civil Grand Jury.

    Caltrain must not gold-plate their capital projects, electrification, CBOSS, etc. we are not reinventing the wheel. Caltrain should go with global “off the shelf” standards for the capital upgrades of the peninsula rail system.

    synonymouse Reply:

    They can hardly get any investigation of the Bayconic Bridge. Heminger is like a demigod – untouchable. The BART Empire will alone protect him as he is their creature.

    Forget about the environment of the Valley or anywhere else as phoney liberals cum developers are firmly in control. They will sprawl the high desert. Guangdong’s 100 million in SoCal shortly. Welcome to Cairo.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The delicious irony in your comments is that William Mills proposed agriculture and tenant farming as a solution to the Southern Pacific to deal with the environmental degradation caused by hydraulic mining. Compared to the early days, sprawl is green.

  27. Reality Check
    Aug 15th, 2014 at 17:15
    #27

    Fresno tops CA EPA cap+trade list of most disadvantaged areas

    A statewide survey released Thursday ranks Fresno and other Central Valley communities as the most disadvantaged areas in California when it comes to challenges ranging from polluted water to joblessness.

    The ranking by the California Environmental Protection Agency earmarks those and other areas hardest-hit by environmental, economic and health problems for a greater share of the more than $800 million in funds from the state’s cap-and-trade program. The program penalizes companies and other entities that emit the most climate-changing carbon.

    The agency assessed 19 criteria such as percentage of people with asthma, quality of drinking water and air, prevalence of pesticide contamination, and nearness to toxic-waste cleanup sites.

    Fresno neighborhoods dominated the ranking, with Bakersfield, Los Angeles El Monte, San Bernardino and Ontario also making the top 20.

    “When people think of pollution” and other environmental and economic challenges, “they often think of inner-city neighborhoods,” said Sam Delson, a spokesman for the state environmental agency. “What our data has shown is that these challenges are not limited to urban neighborhoods.”

    The state’s cap-and-trade program mandates that 25 percent of its proceeds go to the state’s most-disadvantaged communities.

    No San Francisco Bay Area communities made the top tier of the list, meaning the region will get little or none of those funds.

    San Francisco Bay Area public agencies and cities have complained that changes in the survey since the first year in 2013 — including a switch to analyzing U.S. census districts instead of using Zip codes — helped unfairly shut out Oakland, Richmond and other less-affluent communities.

    jimsf Reply:

    The valley is more isolated from the states economy and needs more help being brought into the fold. Oakland and Richmond are smack in the middle of an almost perptually robust economic region and should have been able by now, to fiugre out how to benefit from their golden locations.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    It’s more complicated than that. Richmond, as an example, dervies a boatload of tax revenue from the Chevron oil refinery which never wanted competing businesses in town to mess with it.

    Oakland’s white population meanwhile is doing fine. It’s people of color who are getting left behind more and more. The causes are numerous, but California is fast returning to a state of both racial and economic segregation.

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