Transbay Deal Falls Apart

Sep 24th, 2014 | Posted by

The on-again, off-again deal between developers and San Francisco over the Transbay Terminal project is off again:

An agreement between San Francisco officials and downtown developers over a proposed tax district collapsed this week, throwing into jeopardy the future of the Transbay Transit Center, the extension of Caltrain downtown and the construction of half a dozen skyscrapers, including one that’s set to be the largest on the West Coast.

That tax district is a key piece of the city’s financing plans for both the Transbay Tower and the $2.6 billion Caltrain extension into the new transit center at First and Mission streets — but it is now likely to become the subject of protracted litigation. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved the original terms of the tax district, over which developers balked and threatened to sue.

The basic issue is that in 2007 San Francisco and the Transbay developers agreed to increase height limits at the location in exchange for the developers creating a Mello-Roos tax district that would fund, among other things, train infrastructure and the downtown Caltrain/HSR extension.

Mello-Roos is a law passed in the early 1980s to deal with the devastation wrought by Proposition 13. It allows for the creation of “Community Facilities Districts” whose property tax revenues aren’t capped, getting around the Prop 13 limits. Mello-Roos fees are usually collected in suburbs (and it was suburban developers who pushed the Legislature to adopt the law) but occasionally you see these districts created in older urban cities as well.

The developers assumed that the property tax estimated in 2012, at $3.33 per square foot, would be used for the district. But now that property values have soared, the tax – uncapped under Mello-Roos – is now $5.11 per square foot. The developers want to go back to the 2012 estimate. They’re threatening to sue, but the Transbay authority and SF both believe they would prevail over the developers in court.

It’s not entirely clear why the deal announced last week suddenly fell apart. SF may have figured they had a strong hand and had no reason to fold. They may also have not wanted to set a precedent of capping Mello-Roos fees, or be seen as caving to developers.

In any case, this may well be headed to the courts, where everything else related to high speed rail has wound up over the last six years.

  1. Michael
    Sep 24th, 2014 at 15:40

    You’ve got a really big error there. The rate has stayed the same, at $0.55, but the value of the property has gone up. Here’s the math:


    The rate has stayed the same, the property value has increased, which in turn increases what they will pay per square foot of development.

    The developers are arguing for reducing their tax rate because the value of their property has increased, LOWERING the rate so their tax per square foot of development comes out the same as with the lower property values of 2012.

    From the Chronicle article-

    “It wasn’t until 2012 that the Planning Department picked up where it had left off with the rezoning and the formation of the Mello-Roos district. At that time, the city laid out a proposed tax for the district: 0.55 percent of assessed value, or, at the time $3.33 per square foot.

    But this year, the property owners — all of whom had bought their parcels after the proposed tax rate had been set — were shocked to see that their financial responsibilities had changed significantly, in part because property values skyrocketed. The tax, for example, jumped from $3.33 per square foot to $5.11.”

    Neil Shea Reply:

    So the value of their properties skyrocketed (in part no doubt due to the increasing premium on transit proximity), they’re sitting on huge gains, and now they want to lower their tax rates? Sounds like ‘overtaxed billionaires’ in general…

    Derek Reply:

    This is what happens when you tax properties according to their value instead of their burden on infrastructure.

    joe Reply:

    Calculating the burden on infrastructure is not simple and would be more controversial. You can’t just measure the length of the street frontage and apply a flat tax rate.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Good catch, edited the post.

  2. Keith Saggers
    Sep 24th, 2014 at 16:22

    KQED Update, 5 p.m. Tuesday: The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has voted unanimously to approve a special downtown tax district meant to support transportation infrastructure projects.
    The Transbay Transit Community Facilities District is designed to collect a levy from developers of high-rise projects surrounding the new Transbay Terminal. The funds collected would help pay for the terminal itself and other projects, including extending Caltrain from its current South of Market location to downtown.
    The developers agreed to the district and special levy two years ago and got city concessions in return, including permits to exceed the city’s building-height limit in the Transbay Terminal neighborhood, centered at First and Mission streets.

    But earlier this month, developers said the special levy is excessive and threatened to sue the city. That led to an unsuccessful effort to broker a deal that would modify the tax payment schedule for the developers.

    Before Tuesday’s vote, Supervisor Scott Wiener called the potential lawsuit “weak” and added, “I don’t think we should be bullied into giving up a huge amount of critical transit money because a group of developers don’t want to fulfill their obligation under this massive upzoning that the city did for these properties.”
    Chris Lehane, a longtime Democratic political consultant who has been working with the developers, said via email after board’s vote: “While we made clear time and time again our interest and desire to secure an agreement on rates that would be fair to all the parties, at the end of the day we could not reach a consensus compromise solution that would work for the consortium of developers with projects in the district.”
    The developers aren’t saying if they’ll make good on their threat to sue, but city officials say there would be consequences if they try to get out of paying the special tax

  3. synonymouse
    Sep 24th, 2014 at 16:44

    “In any case, this may well be headed to the courts, where everything else related to high speed rail has wound up over the last six years.”

    Not quite true. Palmdale exceptionalism has not been allowed to be tested in court and it sorely needs to be.

  4. Winston
    Sep 24th, 2014 at 20:18

    Maybe the better solution is to kill the new terminal and instead spend the $2b or so left on a second transbay tube. Maybe one that lands near AT&T park and travels up third St. and down Geary. This would certainly give folks from the East Bay better access to HSR and allow a better terminal configuration.

    jimsf Reply:

    The better solution is to hold the developers to the deal they made. Honestly, they are complaining because their property values have skyrocketed. The unmitigated gall.

    joe Reply:

    Developers are blacking mailing SF over the ARRA funds expiration date. The City will win but only after they run out of time and lose the ARRA 1.5 B for the TBT.

    That’s why SF needs to put something on the table such as increasing the rate or extending the period they’ll pay the rate or have city inspectors scrutinize every damn thing the developers touch in SF.

    Alan Reply:

    That makes the developers’ blackmail a toothless threat. The City could issue $1.5B in revenue bonds, and then extend the period for the tax assessment until the bonds are paid off. Or the City could countersue…

    joe Reply:

    “At the hearing, Wiener asked Rich if the city has recourse against a potential developer lawsuit, and Rich confirmed that city agencies could withhold various permits. Even if the lawsuit is struck down, it could delay Transbay transportation projects, but Wiener said developers shouldn’t feel like their “bludgeon” of a tactic will be taken lightly.

    “I think it’s very important… that we are clear that there will be consequences for developers who try to undermine this district,” said Wiener.”

    synonymouse Reply:

    Harassment, targeted retaliation, will ensure a developer victory in the courts.

    They’ll just put a bond issue on the ballot to make up the shortfall. SF voters always vote as they are told by the unions on tax issues.

    joe Reply:

    Of course not.
    Developers can sue the city for harassment in a separate case. My guess is these wealthy developers will no long get preferential treatment and wait in the line all the other people who wait in for permit.

    Expedite this.

    Michael Reply:

    Joe, you don’t get this.

    Most of the developers were all part of a selection process to bid on the land around the TTT. They competed to get this property. There is a fat document that guides development. They knew that $0.55 was the cost. Now they balk, after winning the right to PURCHASE and DEVELOP the land, to the specs they KNEW ABOUT and FOUGHT TO AGREE TO.

    I don’t care about wealth, profit, or whatever. I care that they are fighting to change the agreement that they agreed to. It’s not like remodeling a kitchen, where one waits in line for a permit.

    joe Reply:

    The harassment lawsuit would be a joke. My point is they can’t drag that whine about harassment into their rate lawsuit.

    I also think they get special treatment with permits and inspections because of their high cost due to delays. I’d treat them the same as any bozo and let the costs rack up. 1-2 days waiting is expensive.

    The City also has to be aggressive with a tax hike or extension and let them litigate with something at risk. These developers would then have something to explain to their financiers.

    Finally any one taking these bozos on would be a hero. This is obviously crap and residents know it.

    synonymouse Reply:

    At least two governing principles have been recognized and practiced at CHSRA:

    1. PB infallibility
    2. Rich rule

    Under axion 2 come the following:

    a. Tejon Ranch gets its way
    b. PAMPA gets its way.
    c. TBT developers get their way.

    Alon Levy Reply:

  5. jimsf
    Sep 24th, 2014 at 21:35
  6. Joel
    Sep 24th, 2014 at 23:41

    Meanwhile… another $400M and an additional 4 years until the DTX materializes:

    I’m curious as to how they plan on extending the train box and what exactly “future grade separation” refers to (tunnel to 16th St?)

    Clem Reply:

    We just broke the $2 billion/mile barrier! A veritable underground Bay Bridge in the making.

  7. Reality Check
    Sep 25th, 2014 at 09:07

    On KQED Radio FM 88.5 now (9am, Thursday, Sept. 25:
    Dispute Derails SF’s Transbay Terminal Project

    he future of San Francisco’s new Transbay Transit Center and its $2.6 billion Caltrain extension are in question after a deal between developers and the city fell through. The city had planned to use a special tax district to help finance the project, but developers said the tax rate was too high. We get an update on the situation, and whether the project will be delayed by possible litigation.

    Host: Michael Krasny

    Marisa Lagos, political reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle
    Ken Rich, director of development for the SF Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development
    More info:
    San Francisco Officials on Collision Course With Developers Over Tax

    synonymouse Reply:

    There are some powerful figures in SF politics who have always opposed the TBT: Kopp, Hemminger, Willie Brown for starters. That the latter is hired by the developers should tell you something.

    If they have to come up with a lot more money straightaway, Lee and others might default to the MTC favored plan for 4th & Townsend as the downtown station. BART would be most pleased.

    synonymouse Reply:

    TBT tunnel

  8. Keith Saggers
    Sep 25th, 2014 at 10:37

    Eric Reply:

    When this is all done, there will be 4:30 travel times from STL to Chicago. Instead of 5:30. You still won’t be able to do a day trip. It will still be no faster than driving (unless your source/destination is right next to Chicago Union Station). So what exactly is the money being spent for?

  9. Reality Check
    Sep 25th, 2014 at 13:12

    SF Transbay Transit Center deal’s collapse threatens Caltrain extension


    “What’s really threatened is not Transbay, it’s the Caltrain extension,” said Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of the urban think tank SPUR. “There is no point to having built the Transbay terminal if we don’t get Caltrain there. … The good news, if you could call it that, is that there is still time to work it out.”


    The long-simmering dispute has its roots in a series of agreements between City Hall and developers to allow construction of much taller buildings in a roughly seven-by-three-block zone around the former Transbay Terminal bus station. In exchange for the added height, which greatly adds to a project’s profit potential, developers had to agree to the extra tax to fund public improvements in the area, particularly the new Transbay Transit Center, which is designed for regional buses, Caltrain and high-speed rail.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Hype from the pro development Chron/Willie Brown sub committee seeing $ signs again, when is that guy ever going to retire.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    meant pro developer

    synonymouse Reply:

    When is Hemminger going to retire?

    When is Antonovich going to retire? When he is termed out he can become a lobbyist, for the Tejon Ranch Co. Follow in Willie’s footsteps.

  10. Alan
    Sep 25th, 2014 at 14:39

    So let the developers sue. They got the concessions they wanted, and now they have to live with the deal they made. If they’re smart they won’t go through with the suit. Sooner or later, the developers are going to want more gimme’s from the City–and there are people in City Hall and the media with very long memories…

    joe Reply:

    Revoke the concessions.

    If Developers go to court they have to put something at risk. Extend the tax to pay for the additional costs of the delay.

    Inspect all their developments in SF for compliance.

  11. RubberToe
    Sep 25th, 2014 at 15:18

    Here is the kind of thing we really need to spending taxpayer money on instead of wasting it on HSR: Operating F-22’s at a cost of $62,000 per hour, to drop $30,000 bombs on $250,000 Humvee’s that we gave to the Iraqi army, which they ran away from when the bad guys told them to. And this is expected to go on for years, per the government. And like the story says, at some point in time we are going to be giving them more $250,000 Humvees.


    Anybody care to speculate when the cost of this new “war”, or whatever it is, exceeds the money required to build CAHSR?

    Come on, lets start a poll!

    Reality Check Reply:

    As of 2012, the US Iraq war cost was already put at $2 trillion (with $4T more to come):
    The Iraq War Could Cost More Than $6 Trillion

    By Michael B Kelley and Geoffrey Ingersoll

    MAR. 14, 2013 — The Iraq war has cost the U.S. more than $2 trillion so far and with interest could swell to more than $6 trillion, according to a study released Thursday.

    The study, part of the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, drew from actual expenditures from the U.S. Treasury and future commitments.

    That $2 trillion figure comes from $1.7 trillion in war expenses and an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans.

    An extra $4 trillion factors in to pay interest through 2053. The study notes that because the Iraq War appropriations “were not funded with new taxes, but by borrowing, it is important to keep in mind the interest costs already paid, and future interest costs.”

    The study raises the total cost of the Iraq war from the $1.7 trillion cost (without interest) estimated in a 2011 Watson Institute report.

    The new study concluded that both the war and the subsequent $212 billion reconstruction effort were failures as the war “reinvigorated radical Islamist militants in the region, set back women’s rights, and weakened an already precarious health care system” while “most of [the reconstruction] money was spent on security or lost to waste and fraud,” according to Daniel Trotta of Reuters reports.

    RubberToe Reply:

    And then you have this guy Lawrence Lindsey, who was fired by Bush in 2002 for suggesting that the war might cost as much as $200 billion. Rummy was saying it would only cost $50 billion. Unbelievable:

    Reality Check Reply:

    For a second there, I absentmindedly wondered “now why would Bush fire someone for wildly understating the cost of his war!?” … and then the sad truth hit me, unlike Rummy who was understating the true eventual cost by a loyal/patriotic/sycophantic/delusional factor of 1,200, Bush-traitor Lindsey was only traitorously understating by a paltry factor of 30!

    joe Reply:

    Maintenance costs of the F-35 are 70% higher than the legacy fleet including the Super Hornet.
    11B a year becomes 20B a year.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Those costs will go down, it’s normal for a new aircraft that’s not even fully operational yet to have higher than normal costs per flight hour. There’s also one-off costs involved in standing up a new fighter that the GOP may have included in their costs which would tar the F-35 misleadingly.

    joe Reply:

    The GAO knows how to calculate the cost correctly. Nothing is being tarred incorrectly. The assessment is for the life of the air craft.

    These are very complex aircraft and incorporate stealth technology.

    Units in service be high as it is a multi purpose platform so the costs will be amortized over a large number of craft. They factor all of this into the estimate.

    Michael Reply:

    …And offer us unquestionable Freedom and Liberty.

    joe Reply:

    When the group of Raptors crossed over the [international date line] IDL, multiple computer systems crashed on the planes. Everything from fuel subsystems, to navigation and partial communications were completely taken offline. Numerous attempts were made to “reboot” the systems to no avail.

    Luckily for the Raptors, there were no weather issues that day so visibility was not a problem. Also, the Raptors had their refueling tankers as guide dogs to “carry” them back to safety. “They needed help. Had they gotten separated from their tankers or had the weather been bad, they had no attitude reference. They had no communications or navigation,” said Retired Air Force Major General Don Shepperd. “They would have turned around and probably could have found the Hawaiian Islands. But if the weather had been bad on approach, there could have been real trouble.”

    Joey Reply:

    The F-22 is a pretty capable fighter otherwise. Not that pretty capable fighters are very useful these days…

  12. jimsf
    Sep 25th, 2014 at 20:22

    useless media at it again. why does it feel like todays media outlets employee a bunch of mindless inbred thanksgiving turkeys who run and around going gobble gobble gobble with their heads up there asses.

    hsr demolition uses water to keep dust down

    really. wow. now that is news. you mean just like the slough of highway 50 project segments I drive through every night with the big bad water trucks spraying thousands of gallons! oh noes!

    Stay tuned tomorrow when local press reveals that trees are dropping their leaves this fall and that sunrise will bring higher temperatures.

  13. Robert S. Allen
    Sep 25th, 2014 at 21:45

    Let’s speculate. Convert Caltrain north of SFO/Millbrae to a Muni airport express line. South of Millbrae, grade separate and convert it to BART, linking up with planned SV-BART at Santa Clara. Abra-cabra, there’s BART around the Bay, an integrated 5-County rapid transit network serving the six million residents and plethora of Bay Area jobs. Run HSR north from San Jose along an up-graded UP/Amtrak route via Mulford to Oakland and Sacramento. From a transfer station at the BART overhead in Oakland, San Francisco’s downtown Embarcadero Station is 6 minutes away, with at least 16 trains per hour. That would be better, safer, more reliable, and far cheaper than what is being planned. Balance it among the five counties and let the people vote on approving and funding.

    Joey Reply:

    UP will now allow HSR on any portion of their ROW. Surely you of all people would know that.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    I have worked 30 years in engineering and operations on three railroads now part of UP (C&NW, D&RGW, and SP) and never heard such nonsense.

    Joey Reply:

    Then you haven’t been following the HSR project. They’ve stated this position multiple times. Here is a 2012 agreement which states this position:

    Except as provided in this Section, no high-speed rail facilities will be built on and no high-speed rail trains will operate on rights of way that UPRR owns. UPRR will work in good faith with CHRSA with respect to any reasonable request by CHSRA to acquire the rights necessary to cross UPRR property above or below grade. All CHSRA facilities that may cross above or below UPRR right of way must clear-span the UPRR property and be constructed sufficient distance away to permit UPRR’s full utilization of its property for railroad purposes, provided that the CHSRA may request, but UPRR has no obligation to approve, a variance from this requirement. Each party reserves all rights and defenses that it may have in relation to any eminent domain action involving property that UPRR owns or on which it has rights to operate.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Joey, you wrote “UP will now allow” — a big typo if you meant “not“.

    Alan Reply:

    I think it’s a little of both, actually. UP has agreed to do what’s necessary for HSR to cross its property, and that’s important–I seem to recall a time when UP wasn’t even willing to allow that much. What they’re not willing to do is allow HSR trackage on UP property which parallels UP main tracks. But we’ve known that for ages–that’s one reason why the EIR was revised as to the section between SJ and Gilroy.

    But realistically, what chance is there of UP developing new carload freight business between SJ and Gilroy? The big Class I’s haven’t really solicited that business in ages. It’s entirely understandable that UP wants to protect itself, but at what point is the line drawn?

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    Joey had said “UP will now allow HSR”. Quite obviously that is nonsense and not the UP position. I suspect UP would be happy with a roughly parallel HSR line if it helped grade separate their freight line, did not block them from adding drill or spur tracks to present or potential industries, and did not otherwise impair their operations. Railroads of necessity must preserve their rights of way from being degraded.

    Joey Reply:

    Yes, that was a typo. The language of that agreement strongly implies that they won’t allow HSR even with improvements to their line, otherwise such elaborate measures to avoid them wouldn’t be necessary elsewhere. I’ll give you an example – in order to avoid UP’s ROW along the Monterey Highway (south of San Jose) a viaduct in the median of the road has been proposed. UP really isn’t friendly to HSR.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Refer to the pointedly critical letters from both UP and BNSF to PB-CAHSR.

    Alan Reply:

    A few observations:

    1) The PAMPA crowd would object to BART aerials or embankments just as surely as they would object to those things for HSR–maybe even more so. Trenching or tunnelling BART all the way from Millbrae to Santa Clara still doesn’t seem to be practical on either an economic or engineering basis.

    2) Mr. Allen’s proposal would effectively end UP’s freight service on the Peninsula. Realistically, that day probably isn’t too far in the future in any event. Aside from bulk commodities, what’s left?

    3) Suburban commuter service is not MUNI’s role. Does SFMTA even have legal authority to operate such a service? Of course, they could always call it the 40 line…

    4) The proposal would essentially render useless the “train box” at Transbay, and waste the $400 million or so that’s being spent on it.

    5) There’s no way that the proposal complies with Prop 1A.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Prop 1a looks to be inoperative, effectively tossed out.

    The principle of PB infallibility is being established. Thru any and every manner of casuistry, cover story and disinformation every proviso of Prop 1a can be distorted, delayed, deleted. “Trust us” equates to carte blanche.

    The Cheerleaders have not yet picked up on the ramifications of this judicial apathy. So long as the politics remain the same the Cheerleader scheme is on board. But the triumph of the Blend shows how political intervention can change doctrine and fast too.

    Pampa crowd? How about the Sta. Clarita crowd? Once the ritchie riches there grasp there is no mercy at the court level(PB infallibility)they will understand they need to put up one hell of a political fight. AFAIK as there is no alternative that does not hurt some rich folks it should be a donnybrook. Serves Antonovich right.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    Re Alan’s observations:
    1) For most of its length BART would remain at grade. About 10 roads would have over- or under-crossings. BART requires 13 1/2 feet clearance above top of rail, far less than the 22 1/2 feet of 26D.
    2) SP long preserved right of way for three tracks. Clearances (catenary, 26D, etc.) could require freight on a third track, whether the double track is BART or Caltrain.
    3) What better than a City-owned rail transit line to the City-owned airport?
    4) A super-sized swimming pool for the Olympics!
    5) Blended rail is neither safe nor reliable, and thus fails Prop 1A’s very title.

    Turn the rascals out and start afresh!

    Alan Reply:

    Turn the rascals out and start afresh!

    And waste the better part of a billion dollars, between the Transbay train box and the HSR planning to date? Not likely.

  14. Robert S. Allen
    Sep 25th, 2014 at 22:35

    Slight revision:

    Let’s speculate. Convert Caltrain north of SFO/Millbrae to a Muni airport express line. South of Millbrae, grade separate and convert it to BART, linking up with planned SV-BART at Santa Clara. Abra-cabra, there’s BART around the Bay, an integrated 5-County rapid transit network serving the six million residents and the many Bay Area jobs.

    Run HSR north from San Jose along an up-graded UP/Amtrak route via Mulford to Oakland and Sacramento. From a transfer station at the BART overhead in Oakland, San Francisco’s downtown Embarcadero Station is 6 minutes away, with at least 16 trains per hour.

    That would be better, safer, more reliable, and far cheaper than what is being planned. Add BART to the Golden Gate and Carquinas Bridges, Brentwood, and over the Altamont, and bring a balanced five-county plan to the voters for approval and funding.

    Jon Reply:


    Joey Reply:

    Presumably it’s some ritual involving a goat…

    Joey Reply:

    Pretty sure the East Bay line is less grade separated than the CalTrain line. Also pretty sure that BART trains can’t accommodate any additional passengers at rush hour.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    SP’s Mulford line used by Amtrak bisects fewer and smaller communities than does Caltrain. Fewer, less costly grade separations would be needed to secure this route for the “Safe, Secure” High Speed Rail which the public voted in Prop 1A. (2008). It has no crowded commuter station platforms. It has no tunnels or ventilation problems for on-board power units.

    Some BART trains are very crowded, but BART doesn.t need pushers to crowd people onto trains. BART’s new car fleet, even with slightly fewer seats per car, should reduce the crowding on trains.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    So we’ll employ Crowd Pushers now to help perpetuate and extend Indian Broad Gauge?

    Robert — if you would stipulate that it makes sense to utilize standard gauge rail on most new projects going forward (like eBART) then we could find a lot more common ground on sequencing of projects — and perhaps even a unified Bay Area Transit management agency replacing BART and including more counties.

    But if your position is ‘BART non-standard, proprietary, expensive 1960’s technology or Bust’ then you can understand why so many of us say its a bust.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    BART, with multiple stations in its core cities (e.g., four along Market Street in San Francisco), can best serve the region’s high rise job centers. Clustered employment centers removed much of the pain that comes with changing employers. BART’s secure rail greatly enhances the safety and reliability of its operations: fenced and no grade crossings. With its new car fleet, BART will have proved 21st century technology.

    An integrated 5-county rail rapid transit network would serve the Bay Region well. MTC’s Regional Rail Plan just doesn’t cut it. For the sake of our six million residents, out political leadership needs to come with something better, and let the public vote on its approval and funding. Creating BART half a century ago showed a path to follow today.

    joe Reply:

    “BART, with multiple stations in its core cities ”

    What core cities? You mean core city.

    That’s the problem – BART is a system to commute workers to SF Market Street. That’s all you guys ever did with BART. Shame on you and those park and rides at the BART core cites.

    Joey Reply:

    There are stations without parking in Oakland and Berkeley too. Travel between stations with no parking is a reasonable chunk of BART’s ridership.

    Clem Reply:

    The biggest issue with your plan is the slow trip time from SF to Silicon Valley, with the long detour around San Bruno mountain. The SP must really have been onto something way back in 1907.

    I would split the BART line at 24th, run a new tunnel under Bernal Hill, and join the ex-Caltrain ROW in the vicinity of tunnel 3. Then run BART peninsula express service non-stop from 24th to Millbrae along the Bayshore Cutoff, enabling an express train to overtake the local train (the latter dawdling around Daly City) by one full 15-minute headway interval. Failing this, BART simply can’t compete with a diesel Baby Bullet or even the 1957 SP steam expresses; pick up an old timetable sometime.

    Finally, start an organic mushroom farm in that cavernous basement. Name it the Transbay Mushroom Company.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    Clem, I like your idea. It’s sure worth exploring. Is it feasible? I don’t know.

    joe Reply:

    You misspelled fea$ible.

    Paul Dyson Reply:


    EJ Reply:

    If only there were technology to electrify and add automatic train control to existing passenger trains!

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    Clem, are you out of your mind?

    Do you know that astronomical cost of such a proposal?

    In the past, you have criticized the cost of BART on the peninsula. You have criticized the cost of Caltrain improvements like CBOSS, electrification, consultant costs, etc.

    You are correct that the SP (Caltrain) line provided fast express and local service since the steam era. SP gave up on the detour around the mountain back in the early 1900’s with the Bayshore cutoff.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    I think Clem was speaking hypothetically, in the case of BART actually taking over Caltrain, and indulging Robert Allen for a little bit. And I don’t think he’s being serious.

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    YEah, I kind of think he is being facetious…

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Of course he does. Clem’s suggestion is effectively what CAHSR wants to do on the Peninsula. BART has no such illusions, but it’s preoccupied with expanding into San Jose from the east for now….

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    “Abra-cabra” there goes $15-$20 billion cut off San Francisco and the peninsula from conventional rail service.

    What advantage is there in replacing Caltrain with BART?

    Interesting that you use the word: “integrated.” An integrated system would take advantage of multiple systems instead of just relying on one system such as BART.

    This is an only in the Bay Area disorder

    Is WAMTA advocating replacing VTA or MARC rail service?

    Is CTA “EL” advocating replacing METRA rail service?

    Is LA Metro-Rail advocating replacing Metrolink?

    IS NYC MTA subway advocating replacing Metro North, LIRR, PATH, NJ Transit?

    The idea of replacing Caltrain with BART is a disservice to customers of BOTH systems.

    More crowds would get on BART earlier in the trip, leaving much less room for current BART customers.

    More wear and tear on the core BART system.

    Caltrain customers would be faced with:

    NO monthly pass.

    NO more express/baby bullet service, loss of express service throughout the peninsula.

    NO service to ATT Park.

    NO service in the Bayshore corridor.

    Fewer seats, more would be forced to stand.

    Less room for bikes.

    Lower per vehicle capacity, a 5-car Caltrain provides as many seats as a 10-car BART train.

    Makes BART even more crowded than it already is.

    Loss of local service in the Bayshore corridor, SSF, Brisbane/Bayshore, 22nd, possible Oakdale station, Mission Bay.

    Doesn’t it make much more sense to improve/upgrade/electrify Caltrain so that Caltrain can provide an alternative to very expensive BART extensions?

    And BART can focus on acquiring new rail vehicles and maintaining the existing core system in a state of good repair?

    Why should we throw all our resources into just one basket? And a very expensive gold-plated one at that?

  15. Trentbridge
    Sep 26th, 2014 at 06:35

    And what sayeth Salesforce?

    Cloud computing juggernaut signed what could be the biggest office lease in San Francisco’s history, taking 714,000 square feet in the tallest office building west of Chicago, the 1,070 foot Transbay Tower now under construction at 415 Mission St., which will be renamed Salesforce Tower.

    Does anyone seriously believe that this isn’t a storm in a teacup? If the economy was tanking and developers were looking for an excuse to get out of the deal then it would make sense to balk. With Salesforce as a future tenant right in the heart of this development, they want to keep building – they can’t get the building up fast enough. There will be a deal – because it’s about pennies on the dollar in extra taxes in a real estate economy (in SF) that’s spewing dollars..and no-one walks away from profits..

    synonymouse Reply:

    The deal is that SF taxpayers will pay the difference. When in doubt go with Willie Brown’s side.

    Joey Reply:

    Willie Brown was hired by the developers to try and lobby the city to lower the rate. Obviously it’s still an ongoing issue, but fundamentally he failed – the rates weren’t lowered. He was also hired by AnsaldoBreda to try and put them back in the bidding for Muni’s new LRV order, also unsuccessfully. I think the days of his influence are over.

  16. Reality Check
    Sep 26th, 2014 at 13:54

    O/T, but interesting story on key piece of dilapidated NEC infrastructure:
    104-Year-Old Portal Bridge Presents $900 Million Problem for Rail Commuters
    The Portal Bridge, over which 450 trains carry more than 150,000 riders a day, is in desperate need of replacement. The cost of replacing the bridge, which is blamed for frequent delays, is estimated at $900 million, none of which has been lined up.

    It carries more passenger trains than any other railroad bridge in the Western Hemisphere, yet few people beyond those who rely on it have heard of it. It goes largely unnoticed, unless something goes wrong, which happens with irritating frequency. After all, the bridge is 104 years old.

    Every time it swings open to let a boat pass is a test of early-20th-century technology that can snarl train travel from Boston to Washington, the nation’s busiest rail corridor. And over the years, because it is partially made out of wood, it also has proved to be quite flammable.

    To the tens of thousands of commuters on the hundreds of trains that cross it going to or coming from New York City, the Portal Bridge is infamous.

    Since the start of last year, the bridge has been blamed for about 250 delays on the rails, according to New Jersey Transit, which is its heaviest user.

    Even in an era when so much of the nation’s infrastructure is in a state of disrepair, the Portal Bridge stands out. Everyone agrees that it is in desperate need of replacement, but no one has come up with the money for a new crossing. Two recent significant delays caused by the bridge have focused attention on Amtrak’s stalled effort to obtain the nearly $1 billion needed to replace the creaky bridge.


    Within Amtrak, which owns and operates it, the Portal is known as the “Achilles’ heel of the Northeast Corridor,” said Drew Galloway, assistant vice president for planning and development. “There are maintenance crews there around the clock. But you can only do so much to a century-old swing bridge.”


    joe Reply:

    With BART we blame the PB Contractor for delayed system maintenance.

    Assign this work to a well connected defense contractor. They’ll sub contract the work out to 30 firms in 25 States, manage the funds, bill on time and collect a hefty fee. The bridge would be fixed.

    We’re the richest nation ever and can wage endless war across the globe. We can afford to do this repair without charging a user’s fee.

    Jerry Reply:

    Good idea. But someone still has to pay. Fees, taxes, whatever.

    Jerry Reply:

    Tolls, bonds, borrow money from China, whatever.

    joe Reply:

    First we might reconsider the current defense spending amounts and if that’s to hard politically then enrich the contractors by building things stateside.

    Second, the top have had their taxes cut repeatedly. We’ve lowered tax rates on investments income below taxes on labor income. Equalize them. Not one investor is going to stop investing money because they pay the same tax rate you and I pay.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Oh yeah.

    Jerry Reply:

    Fix the rods – Up the tolls.
    But hey, if the rods have been sitting in water that long, could they have been designed to be encased in oil, and sitting in oil all that time to prevent rust??

    synonymouse Reply:

    I believe the tolls are maxed and the projected revenues therefrom are already committed.

    Perhaps epoxies might work but the solution is way beyond my job description. Clearly they should have built a simpler design bridge; pass on the iconic and add at the very least dedicated bus lanes, if not rail capacity.

    It is time to forget iconic and go with form follows function, all the while eschewing the intentional ugly of Brutalism.

  17. Jerry
    Sep 26th, 2014 at 14:45

    Reality Check – Good Article

    At 150,000 riders a day a 50 cent fee per rider equals $75,000 per day

    $900 million divided by $75K equals 12,000 days

    5 riding days per week, times 52 per year, equals 260 days per year

    12,000 days, divided by 260, equals 46 years

    New Portal Bridge paid off in 46 years

    PS Motorcycles alone pay an $8 fee to use the Holland Tunnel

  18. Emmanuel
    Sep 26th, 2014 at 17:44

    Well, I hope the deal will fall through. Transbay Terminal as a whole was one massive cluster**** throwing money straight out of the window. This price hike is just icing to the cake. How can a station cost $5 billion? In what universe would that sum make sense? With that sum, heck you could make the HSR go in a loop around the bay. What a waste of money.

    So if you ask me, yes. The deal should fall through. There is plenty of time to start from scratch.

    Clem Reply:

    Get real. For $5 billion you can almost build a bridge halfway across the Bay.

    Eric Reply:

    For $5 billion you can almost build a 10 lane bridge halfway across the Bay.
    A 2 track bridge should be cheaper.

    jimsf Reply:

    get used to it cuz its never going to change.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Downtown Extension
    A team led by Parsons Transportation Group has substantially completed work on preliminary engineering of Phase 2. The DTX is scheduled for completion in 2019; however, work is on hold due to a significant funding gap. In 2012, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) identified DTX as only one of two new regional priorities for New Starts funds in Plan Bay Area, the Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy that MTC adopted in July 2013. The regional endorsement of DTX helps to position the project well to receive federal funding in the highly competitive federal New Starts program.
    TJPA is exploring the feasibility of alternative project delivery options, including Public Private Partnership (P3) as means to reduce cost and accelerate delivery. Authority staff will continue to work closely with TJPA, the City, and other funding partners to support delivery of Phase 1 and to advance strategies to close the funding gap for Phase 2.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    In New York there’s a station for $4 billion (tracks not included – they preexist). San Francisco doesn’t want to be inferior in that regard.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Well they are getting a shopping mall and a pedestrian passageway to the river side of West Street out of it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    And a stegosaurus sculpture!

  19. jimsf
    Sep 26th, 2014 at 18:33

    Titus seeks support to revive Amtrak in Vegas

    read the comments that follow and tell me there is any hope for anything intellegent to ever happen anywhere in america, ever again.

    This is where we are and where we will stay.

    Howard Reply:

    Demographic changes, reflected in the post year 2020 census redistricting, will change the political landscape (at the federal, state and local governments) and make investment in infrastructure, like high speed rail possible. But it will not happen until then because of the post 2010 census redistricting jerymandering. The demographic changes will be to big to subvert by jerymandering in 2020. There is hope, you just have to wait six years or more (the Senate will take six years to fix after 2020 because of six year terms). I expect better public policy in 12 years (in the year 2026). The best investment reformers can make now is redistricting reform in more states by initiative or referendum, to prevent jerymandering after the 2020 census.

    jimsf Reply:

    No because big business will make sure to dumb down the new demographic just in time. Everyone is plugged in and easily programmable. In fact they relish it. Isn’t it ironic that the people who have the most access to information ever in human history, know the least of whats important? Do you know that most people don’t even know where they are?

    No it does not look promising.

    Howard Reply:

    I think the younger generation of business leaders are getting fed up with this dysfunctional Congress, and it’s fiscal cliff antics. They do not want to be worried about the debt ceiling every year for the rest of their working life. They want focus on competing with China. The Chambers of Commerce are now funding moderate Republicans to defeat the crazy Tea Party Republicans. Silicon Valley is starting to get politically active. Things are changing but it will take years to see results.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Great quote from third para in Las Vegas story: “where government-subsidized rail makes money”. Journalists!!

    joe Reply:

    The government subsidy is more than recovered by operating revenue. Paradox solved.

    A research university has the same kind of accounting. They support departments and departments bring in research $$ to pay for overhead.

    A well run university (my opinion) will direct some % of the overhead back to the originating Dept. to expand and to recruit faculty.

    FWIW, In the early to mid 80’s U of MT didn’t. Every dollar went into the State’s Educational fund for whatever – not even to academic programs. Since then MT has begun to use their research overhead to improve their most competitive research departments and programs.

  20. morris brown
    Sep 27th, 2014 at 16:41

    High-speed rail faces tough climb over Tehachapis

    Saturday, Sep 27 2014 03:00 PM
    High-speed rail faces tough climb over Tehachapis

    Nothing deters the Authority and its optimism. This might well be a deal breaker, and it certainly has been kept quiet until now.

    This should make synonymouse’s day (maybe even his year)

    (… BTW, nothing seems to escalate costs anymore either)

    Joe Reply:

    Same old lawyers repeating the same old line.

    “If the agency continues to push for a route over the Tehachapis, it may violate the terms of a bond measure state voters approved to fund high-speed rail in 2008, said Mike Brady, the lead attorney in a lawsuit headed to trial as soon as this year.”

    And of course everyone pushing Tejon was cautioning about the wind farm, cement plant and wetlands.


    The city of Tehachapi, and later Kern County, asked the rail authority to find a new route when it was discovered the proposed alignment would take out two major installations in the Tehachapi area: a large wind farm and a cement plant operated by Lehigh Southwest Cement Co.

    It would also lay tracks through Lake Thompson, a wetlands in the Mojave Desert.

    …building a high-speed rail through the wetlands would require environmental remediation work costing about $100,000 per acre.

    Howard Reply:

    Why not a Tejon Creek alignment?

    Alan Reply:

    Sounds like Brady is trolling for potential plaintiffs.

    Alan Reply:

    OK…I’ve spent a few hours learning more about this segment, and I’m still convinced that it’s nothing more than Brady trolling for clients, using the same old tired argument about 2:40 that’s about to be shot down in the Tos case. Once Tos and the inevitable appeals are put to rest, Brady will have to come up with some new snake oil to sell the suckers–otherwise, he and Flashman may have to go and build legitimate law practices.

    These “new” year-old reports cited in the article don’t seem to be available on the Authority’s websites, but if the alignments therein aren’t that much different from the Supplemental Alternatives Analysis, I can’t see what the fuss is about, at least going past Edwards. Between Mojave and Palmdale, all of the options in the Supplemental AA seem to stay pretty close to the UP and SR 14 alignments, and off of DOD property. If someone has better information, please share a link.

    I’ve been looking at the USGS topos, can’t seem to find a “Lake Thompson” in the vicinity of the SR 14/UP corridors. Anyone?

    Anyway, the dry lake beds can’t be all that big a deal, since NASA and the Air Force used one as a space shuttle landing strip for all these years. Still sounds like Mike Brady fearmongering people who don’t have access to all the project documents.

    Alan Reply:

    I’ve been looking at the USGS topos, can’t seem to find a “Lake Thompson” in the vicinity of the SR 14/UP corridors. Anyone?

    Never mind, I was finally able to get Elizabeth’s link below to work. For some reason, it hadn’t worked over the weekend.

    That said, given that highways and railroads are built in the same area, what’s the big deal?

    Joe Reply:

    It’s a big deal. Small projects and encroachment are hard to stop but a large project triggers CEQA and mitigation.

    Alan Reply:

    Joe, I understand all that, of course. When I say “big deal”, I’m thinking of the deal-breaker, Mike Brady’s fantasy-come-true, an issue that would stop the project altogether, or at least long enough for L&H to rack up a lot of billable hours. I still don’t see that, particularly given the existing man-made environment. Space shuttles are not exactly kind to small desert creatures.

    There are issues all up and down the alignment, but so far there haven’t been any issues involved with the ICS that are preventing the appropriate agencies from signing off on the permits–and the ICS also crosses wetland areas.

    I understand your concerns, but the newspaper article, to me, still stinks of Brady preying on the uninformed.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “Alley, the project spokeswoman, dismissed the notion that a 3.5 percent incline would stop the project, noting high-speed rail in Germany crosses 4 percent grades.”

    Translation: we don’t give a shit whether it fails or not.

    Clem, please investigate whether there is any truth to this story or not. Heretofore they were talking gradients on the Detour at 3%, with the 3.5% at Tejon being a drawback. Now, putatively, the gradients of the two are equally steep, but Tejon much, much shorter.

    Don’t expect any advice from the judges; they are pleading stupidity – it’s too much work for them to investigate and evaluate. PB infallibility and judicial undocumented no-show.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    LGV standards are 3.5%.

    Eric Reply:

    “It would also lay tracks through Lake Thompson, a wetlands in the Mojave Desert.”

    Gotta love those wetlands in the middle of the desert.

    Anyway, I’m glad that a non-technical-railfan publication has effectively come out as supporting Tejon.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Can’t find any reference on high speed rail website to it which is a little odd since study done by Army Corps of Engineers who has been partner on this partner.

    joe Reply:

    I look at the ACoE’s site since they wrote the report.

    Here’s the wetland.
    Lake Thompson, Mojave Desert, California: The late Pleistocene lake system and its Holocene desiccation
    Lake Thompson, developed in the late Pleistocene, when it covered as much as 950 km2 and rose to at least 710 m above sea level. During Holocene time, the lake desiccated, and is now represented by Rogers, Rosamond, and Buckhorn dry lakes, which may flood up to 200 km2 during unusually wet phases.

    Flood-Prone Areas and Waterways, Edwards Air Force Base, California

    Figure 4. Map showing boundaries of flood-prone areas on Edwards Air Force Base, California

    Figure 5. Photograph showing flooded areas near Rosamond Lake looking north

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:


    pdf page 89

    I think this is the lily of concern

    joe Reply:

    The threats

    “[1] Seasonally moist alkaline habitat is a critical limiting factor in the occurrence of this species. The greatest threat to this habitat is the lowering of water tables.
    [2] The next greatest threat to this species is probably urbanization in the Lancaster area where the largest populations are concentrated.
    [3] An additional threat is trampling and grazing by cattle, which may severely reduce its reproductive capacity.”

    All three threats are increasing in severity.

    joe Reply:

    If this is supporting Tejon, I missed it. One alignment is being planned, the other is hypothetical. Hypothetical is always easier.

    Eric Reply:

    They’re both hypothetical.

    Joe Reply:

    And unequal.
    One is undergoing extensuve planning.

    synonymouse Reply:

    In scientific terms Tehachapi is Creationism.

    Tejon is Evolution.

    Eric M Reply:

    Lakes in one form or another have characterized the western Mojave Desert since at least Miocene time. The most recent of these, Lake Thompson, developed in the late Pleistocene, when it covered as much as 950 km2 and rose to at least 710 m above sea level. During Holocene time, the lake desiccated, and is now represented by Rogers, Rosamond, and Buckhorn dry lakes, which may flood up to 200 km2 during unusually wet phases. The spatial dimensions of the former lake are defined by modest geomorphic and lithostratigraphic units, mostly exposed lake beds and beach ridges interbedded with and later mantled by fluvial and eolian deposits. The lake’s temporal devolution is revealed by four cores, and ages are constrained by accelerator mass spectrometry 14C dating of organic sediment. These cores show a deep perennial lake from before 36 ka to at least 34 ka, a shallow but variable perennial lake from before 26 ka to 21 ka, followed by lowering and at least partial exposure of the lake floor to deflation and alluviation. A shallow perennial lake returned during the terminal Pleistocene, from around 16.2 ka to at least 12.6 ka, forming distinctive beach ridges beyond the margins of the present dry lakes, and it may have reappeared in the early Holocene. During subsequent Holocene desiccation, lake segmentation occurred as waves and currents generated lower sequences of beach ridges around contracting lakes. These ridges became mantled with eolian sand, but, as fluvial sediment inputs diminished with increasing aridity, these dunes were degraded, and their roots survive today as indurated yardangs.

    Eric M Reply:

    That was an Asbstract by Antony R. Orme

    Eric Reply:

    OK, but I don’t see why it’s such a great ecological tragedy to build a rail line throgh land that used to be a lake, and now maybe floods on rare occasions.

    Alan Reply:

    I don’t see any problem with it either, with the caveat that the rail line be engineered in a way that would allow relatively normal flows on the rare occasions that the lake does flood. It woudn’t take much, just some appropriately-located culverts and such. Creating a miles-long dike that would restrain the floodwater on one side of the ROW probably isn’t a good idea…

    datacruncher Reply:

    The issue will likely not be flood waters but seasonal low areas that saturate with water and then support plants or other life for a few weeks. In some cases it might mean endangered species.

    It looks like info is also is more likely to use the modern area names of Rogers Lake or Rosamond Lake instead of Lake Thompson.

    I found this study of the Lake Thompson area that surveyed seasonal wetlands for fairy, tadpole and clam shrimp. I know some species are considered endangered but I do not know if any of the species found in this area are on the list.

    Also, the area is part of the Pacific Flyway. What are called the Piute Ponds on the southwest edge of Edwards AFB attract migratory birds. The ponds themselves would likely not be a concern.

    None of this is my field so someone else will have to look into and discuss it further.

    joe Reply:

    There are endangered species involved. Also at the Dumbarton Bridge west side for those altamont alignment advocates.

    The large DOE and DOD facilities are often unintentional nature preserves. Edwards AFB is no exception.

    Relief comes from reducing ground water extraction (we just passed a law), urbanization (create a preserve possibly and limit grazing). Under the current drying conditions and projected reduced snowpack in the S Sierras, it’s not looking good.

    Eric Reply:

    Species naturally go extinct. That’s part of nature. If you want to minimize the number of additional species that go extinct due to human activities, the best way is to not promote a HSR routing that will encourage millions of people to move to new sprawling subdivisions in the Mojave Desert.

    Joey Reply:

    There aren’t a lot of endangered species down where the water tunnels are.

    Joe Reply:

    ignorance is bliss.

    Joey Reply:

    Ignorance of what? There will be some disruption near the TBM launch and recovery sites but not much. There is some life that lives deep underground but to my knowledge no endangered species. The cost difference between a tunnel and a high bridge was estimated at $400m by the CHSRA in 2008. The completion of the water tunnels demonstrates that this can be done for a reasonable cost without going over budget, and means that the geology is known further reducing tunneling costs.

    Joe Reply:

    I don’t know.
    Taught biology and studied aquatic ecology 2 years in grad school. Published too.

    It’s easy to say Endangeted species are not an issue because of the assumptions. You will also have disgruntled nbys who will go after any bay crossing.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Water doesn’t need sophisticated signal systems, life and safety systems, fire suppression or ventilation.

    Joey Reply:

    No, but the bulk of the cost and overruns is in the tunnel boring itself, not in those systems.

    Eric Reply:

    You often need extra/wider tunnels to accommodate those systems, right?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, of course. But the point is that the geology and environment are well-understood because of previous work done for the water tunnel.

    Also, re the “there are NIMBYs everywhere,” who cares? The reason to switch to Altamont is not that PAMPA is populated by assholes, but that the construction costs are lower and SF-Sac service is vastly better.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I am missing the railfan publication connection?

    Does anybody have inside info about what is really being proposed here? It is difficult to grasp why they would shoot themselves in the foot violating their own a priori guidelines? How do you prioritize no-no’s? The San Gabriel “base tunnel” already ignores the rule to cross faults at grade.

    My question to the Cheerleaders(all 2 or 3 of you there are left)is how far are you willing to go for the Palmdale primacy crusade. How many fatuous compromises are you willing to endorse? Pretty soon you are looking at 3:40.

    Anybody have a notion at how many billions we are looking at here, Antonovich base tunnel included? $20-50bil?

    Eric Reply:

    We are the railfans/technicals. We support Tejon, it’s good to see this awareness reach the mainstream of society.

    agb5 Reply:

    By “taking out” a Wind Farm them must mean taking it out for a romantic dinner followed by a warm embrace as depicted in the graphic at the top of the article.

  21. synonymouse
    Sep 28th, 2014 at 19:34

    Nice link to a very interesting piece on seismic Tehachapi thanks to “TomL” on the Altamont site:

    4 feet of vertical movement, PB.

    joe Reply:

    Tejon ranked #2 for the Win!!

    Its notoriety is due to the fact that movement along this fault was the cause of the 7.7 magnitude 1952 Bakersfield Earthquake, which most consider to be the third largest historic quake</b? in California, after the 1857 Tejon and 1906 San Francisco quakes.

    Eric M Reply:

    Yup. The 1857 Fort Tejon earthquake is right behind the 1906 earthquake at #2. Tejon! Tejon!

    synonymouse Reply:

    Not much is known about the 1857 Ft. Tejon quake as there weren’t many witnesses in the area. No Loop line yet.

    PB has tried to ignore the White Wolf fault in its campaign to whitewash Tehachapi for the Tejon Ranch Co.. Note the 5.8 aftershock in 1952. Quite possibly the 1952 and 1857 quakes were quite close in overall movement and intensity.

    datacruncher Reply:

    The same web site you referenced above says this about the Tejon earthquake:

    Nonetheless, the quake left a surface rupture of 225 miles, which is shown below, with up to 30 feet of vertical displacement. This and other changes to the landscape were more extensive and impressive than those associated with the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, leading most seismolgists to consider the Tejon quake to be the larger of the two.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Don’t confuse him with facts.

    synonymouse Reply:

    This is controversial:

    Was Ft. Tejon felt in NorCal? 1906 was felt in LA.. Some report it was 75 seconds long with very large horizontal displacement in the OLema area. If 1906 was a 7.9 I guess you would rate Ft. Tejon an 8.0, supposedly roughly the largest California can experience.

    Germane question is how much damage did 1857 cause at Tehachapi. PB is trying to hide the 7.7 of 1952.

    Tehachapi is like twice as long as Tejon with a much larger window of opportunity of bad things happening.

    One thing for sure for the dwindling Cheerleaders is that your vaunted DogLeg is getting more effed-up as time passes and much more expensive.

    BTW: there is the slightest chance someone actually experienced both 1857 and 1906 at close hand. 49 years apart.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Are we to the point where running maglev at grade would be cheaper than the DogLeg, even over Tehachapi?

    Jerry Reply:

    Go MagLev. We could levitate over those hills and fault lines.

    Joe Reply:

    Tejon interests created massive earthquake to stop HSR. There is no end to the corruption.
    [Party bosses, Union no shows and racial icky stuff.]

    Max Wyss Reply:

    I guess this is a rhetorical question… look at the cost of JR Central’s Maglev line… and also see what they are doing about earthquakes.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Japan has experienced some very serious temblors.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Info I’ve seen indicates the Tejon quake was felt in Northern California.

    This article by Dr. Kerry Sieh from Caltech took a look at newspaper articles published at the time plus letters and diaries. He found mentions of people feeling the shock up and down the coast. He includes reports from San Francisco papers of local incidents.

    Parts of a weakened Santa Cruz mission supposedly collapsed in the Tejon quake. “During the tenure of Fr. Benito de Capdevilla in 1857, the front portion of the mission church collapsed following a very wet winter, an unprecedented frost, and the Ft. Tejon earthquake and its aftershocks.

    synonymouse Reply:

    This report pegs the 1857 Ft. Tejon quake at 8.3. Others say 7.9.

    This northern barbarian did learn something about SoCal: Palmdale sits right atop the San Andreas.

    he he he

    bixnix Reply:

    So it looks like the epicenter of this ’52 earthquake was right at the base of the Tejon pass.

    synonymouse Reply:

    But the damage at Tehachapi.

    wdobner Reply:

    Mostly because there was nothing on Tejon to be damaged. Even Espee knew to stay far, far away from Tejon, because Tehachapi is the natural choice.

    synonymouse Reply:

    1. Espee wanted gradients limited to the 2% range.

    2. Espee wanted the link east to the transcom at Mojave.

    3. La Ciudad de Neuestra Senora de los Angeles was no city in 1870 but a sleepy village.

    synonymouse Reply:


    synonymouse Reply:

    and Nuestra

Comments are closed.