Will Texas Legislature Kill High Speed Rail?

May 21st, 2015 | Posted by

The fate of the Texas Central high speed rail project rests on “intense negotiations” now taking place in Austin:

Tucked in Page 682 of the budget passed by the Senate in April is Rider 48, a provision that would bar the Texas Department of Transportation from spending any state funds toward “subsidizing or assisting in the construction of high-speed passenger rail.”

The budget rider is one of several efforts by some Republican lawmakers to stop Texas Central Railway’s plan to build a high-speed rail line that would travel between Dallas and Houston in less than 90 minutes, reaching speeds of 205 mph.

Texas Central has vowed to not take public operating subsidies. Nonetheless, company officials say the rider would kill the train because TxDOT, as the state agency in charge of transportation, would need to play a role in the project’s construction.

“If enacted the rider would constrain TxDOT’s ability to work with Texas Central Partners to perform important public safety duties,” the company argues on a website it launched this week to rally public support against the rider.

The Texas Tribune article suggests that there is room for a compromise here, though I’m not entirely sure how you cut a deal between a side that says “build high speed rail” and a side that says “kill high speed rail.”

As a supporter of the Texas HSR project I am hopeful that a deal is struck that allows the plan to go forward. But this is another way that Texas is proving important truths about HSR opposition.

For the last six years the media has argued that high speed rail projects get into trouble when they have large budgets, or ask for lots of public money, or piss off people living near the route, or have supposedly flawed ridership projections, or have poor outreach.

The Texas example shows that the truth is much simpler. High speed rail projects get into trouble when their fate depends on a Republican legislative body.

California’s HSR project lives because Democrats control the state legislature and the governor’s office. If that was not the case, the HSR bonds would never have made it to the ballot in 2008, and a Republican Congress’s decision to cut off any new funds would have dealt a fatal blow to the project.

The future of Texas HSR depends on a bunch of Republicans in Austin. I do not envy them.

UPDATE: Good news: The Texas Legislature has removed the provision that threatened the bullet train.

  1. Eric M
    May 21st, 2015 at 09:20
    #1

    China may have edge in race to build California’s bullet train

    The South Korean government will not provide financing for the project, said a spokesman for Hyundai Rotem, the country’s sole train-maker.

    Bye, Bye HEMU-430X

    Useless Reply:

    Eric M

    That’s a misquote. Korea does provide state financing for big projects, ie $20 billion on the UAE nuclear powerplants and $10 billion on India infrastructure projects just announced. So you don’t have to worry about that one. There is no reason why California can’t get it when UAE and India could.

    john burrows Reply:

    Last year California’s exports to China totaled $25 billion which may seem like a pretty big number. But last year California’s imports from China totaled $138 billion, a really big number—which means that last year we had a trade imbalance with China of $113 billion.

    We must seem to them like the goose that lays the golden eggs, a goose that will keep laying those golden eggs for many years to come. And what to do with some of that surplus? One thing China has been doing is investing in California, and I am guessing, investing quite a lot.

    In downtown San Jose for instance Guangzhu R & F Properties has begun construction of Silvery Towers. At 643 units it will be the largest residential project ever built in downtown San Jose. And just this month Beijing Damei Investment Ltd paid $12.8 million for a downtown site where they plan to build a 20 story residential project.

    Looking at California High Speed Rail from China’s viewpoint it might be well worth while to get it built, worth while enough to offer some very favorable financing—Invest a little in high speed rail and it might turn out to be good for all those other investments they are making in California. And to the degree that high speed rail strengthens California’s future economy, so much the better because Californians will be able to buy even more stuff from China.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    And what to do with some of that surplus?

    Import manufactured goods from Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, and import oil from the countries that export oil. China’s overall trade balance isn’t as lopsided as its trade balance with the US.

  2. synonymouse
    May 21st, 2015 at 09:48
    #2

    Texas is no crazier than SF.

    http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Leap-Transit-shut-down-by-the-state-for-operating-6276298.php

    1st rule is pay off the machine bosses. Once this is done the jitneys will proceed. TWU 250A does not even have the power to fend off BART and Amalgamated stealing Geary jobs.

    beetroot Reply:

    No, the first rule is don’t remove wheelchair ramps from already-ADA-accessible buses.

  3. Alon Levy
    May 21st, 2015 at 09:51
    #3

    California’s HSR project lives, in principle. In practice, the money trickles in at such rate that the project will be fully funded in the 2040s.

    There’s an external reality outside political pissing contests, and there’s a limit to how much politicians can ignore it.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    The difference is that California’s HSR project lives, whereas Texas’s project may once again be killed by Republican politicians. CA still has work to do, but the state’s Democratic government is giving the Authority the time and space they need to get there.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The failure of CAHSR due to grievous and inexcusable planning errors(of the magnitude of BART’s broken tech) will poison the well.

    Meantime electric cars with advancing degrees of auto and/or remote control are coming. Nvidia is the most recent to get into the self-driving car game.

    Travis D Reply:

    It hasn’t failed at all. So where do you get off on already explaining nonexistent failures?

    J. Wong Reply:

    @synon doesn’t expect to be alive when CAHSR starts service so he can make unsupported predictions and never have to admit he’s wrong.

    synonymouse Reply:

    CAHSR was a failed scheme from the moment they surrendered to a detoured, 3rd rate route whilst the real competition enjoys the prime alignment.

    It is just make-work consultant-contractactor-union welfare.

    J. Wong Reply:

    What competition? Oh, your imagined competition.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The automobile.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Ah syno, so immersed in your 1950s fever dream, back when they imagined the auto could solve all problems and meet all needs… ><

    IKB Reply:

    you make fun of this, but actually he’s right. The competition really is the car. There’s a reason Southwest Airlines don’t fly Fresno or Bakersfield to SFO or LA (or indeed anywhere). The others simply fly to put folks on a connecting plane to somewhere else. We’ll find out how much HSR displaces the SFO-LA flyers. Don’t really believe that 5m folks a year will take a bus SF to Merced + train to Burbank + bus to Union station in 6 hours which is what the 2014 Business Plan shows. Today 250,000 per year take the bus south of Bakersfield and it takes 8 hours to LA. A 20x increase for two hours saving? They’ll need to do a lot better than that to make a realistic business case

    Joe Reply:

    The automobile is exactly why Fresno and Bakersfield are under developed and isolated from the weak other coastal Ca. These cities are isolated.

    HSR induces trips to the CV and is a key to develop and diversify the CV economy.

    People forget the roll of government is to build infrastructure and take care of its citizens.

    swing hanger Reply:

    I think of the initial segment as a San Joaquin service on steroids. Nothing big will happen until that hump over the hills is crossed to the LA Basin (which should have been built first, but anyways…)

    Observer Reply:

    The automobile has been a disaster for Fresno; that is Fresno was designed and built for the automobile , not people. And believe me when I say driving Hwy. 99 is the pits (and getting worst), and I-5 is totally worthless to Fresno. Bring on HSR.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The older parts were built for streetcars

    http://historical.fresnobeehive.com/2010/05/fresno-street-cars/

    Observer Reply:

    Any aura of Fresno’s street cars and their impact on its older neighborhoods is long gone – smothered out by the automobile.

    ragingduck Reply:

    @IKB
    >There’s a reason Southwest Airlines don’t fly Fresno or Bakersfield to SFO or LA (or indeed anywhere).

    Yes, that reason is that they don’t have the slots to spare at SFO or LA.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Some people have a higher tolerance for discomfort than I do, I admit, but I don’t think anyone would say that driving or even being driven from S.F. to L.A. is comfortable. And that also applies to flying.

    That will be how HSR competes with the auto or airplanes. It’s a trade-off between time, cost, and comfort/convenience. Flying is faster, but cost more and loses on the comfort/convenience side. Autos are cheapest, but take longer, are less comfortable, but add back a bit for convenience. HSR is the most comfortable and splits the middle between time and cost between driving and flying, and depending on where you’re going, can be as convenient (or more so, given the state of L.A. traffic and balancing that with improved L.A. transit) as driving.

    So between flying, driving, or taking HSR, is any one a definite winner? No, like anything, it depends, but given the general trends (fuel costs will be increasing, population is increasing leading to crowding on both roads and the flights), the equation is only getting better for HSR.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Flying is faster if you don’t account for security. Driving is cheaper if you ignore allocating costs to your 800 mile drive.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Consultant-construction-Union welfare?

    Welcome to 21st century America…

    Washington is already funneling money into soft infrastructure like health care at a more rapid clip because Congress doesn’t want to acknowledge their corporate socialism/Keynesian policy by funding visible projects that would expose the hypocrisy of it all.

    Meanwhile in California, the city with most to lose from opening up access through HSR is pushing the hardest for it (San Francisco), while the jurisdictions that could use more tech investment are the ones fighting it…. Welcome to the Second Gilded Age…

    synonymouse Reply:

    The one that is pushing the hardest is Palmdale due to to the enormous profits of sprawl.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    @ Joe: I’m being unkind AND unfair to you when I want to add “Cinnamon” to your “Roll of government …… ” comment. I know you meant “role”!

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    I apologize – I just couldn’t resist!

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    And, besides, I LOVE freshly-baked hot-out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls!

    joe Reply:

    Hilarious.

    Role over laughing.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Gubbermint eats pork roll

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pork_roll

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    By “detoured, 3rd rate route” I assume you must mean “the route that goes to the most paying customers.”
    There’s a big push by the “concerned” libertarian opponents to make the HSR skip the bulk of the customer base and play airline with a non-stop to the end points, but the strength of a train is the ability to serve multiple markets with a single route.
    There’s also a push by the libertarian crowd to abandon proven technology because a magic carpet technology may or may not be here in another 50 years. Let’s set the self driving cars aside, too, because they might have matter transmitters in a century or two, and your magic cars will be obsolete.

    Phantom Commuter Reply:

    Hasn’t anyone ever heard of a railroad switch ? The Express trains take the 3hr. direct route and local trains split off 1/3 of the way at Grapevine or Tracy to serve Fresno in 3 hrs. Or 2/3 of the way to serve Sacramento in 3 hrs. (from L.A.). This is how it’s done all over the world.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Democratic state government is giving the Authority everything it needs, except money.

    synonymouse Reply:

    They would rather spend that money on BART and the Brown Bros. Bridge.

    Darrell Reply:

    They have enough money for now. Initial Operating Section’s parts are moving forward: Construction Package 1 (Fresno north) is beginning heavy construction. Construction Package 2-3 was approved earlier this year, and Construction Package 4 (north of Bakersfield) will be approved later this year. That’s over 110 miles.

    Palmdale-Burbank’s environmental is underway, with Draft EIR/EIS likely out second half 2016, certification of Final not before 2017.

    J. Wong Reply:

    It’ll be more exciting when they put out the contract for rails and wires. Also still to come: Fresno, Bakersfield stations, and maybe Hanford too?

    Jerry Reply:

    That’s what I’m waiting for.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    THere is no current date or plan for wires or hsr signaling contract – right now money is in budget for railbed and tracks- just enough to run amtrak.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    or maintenance facilities or trains for that matter.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If it doesn’t get to the LA Basin, it’s not an initial operating segment; it’s just a showpiece.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The sad part is, as a show piece in BFE, it might get more riders than on the original show track- Orlando to Tampa…

    J. Wong Reply:

    Yeah? But at what point do people start to see it as an actuality? When it is just the southern mountain crossing that remains to enable an IOS. Plus this isn’t necessarily a serialized process. The plan and contracts for that will materialize before completion of the ICS.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Not quite. What the Authority really could use is higher interest rates from the Fed because then muni and state bonds for multi-year construction projects are not as attractive as investments compared to commercial paper, stocks, or Treasuries.

    Thus, by Congress turning off the spigot, we are slowly grinding toward a standstill.

  4. Useless
    May 21st, 2015 at 10:50
    #4

    Seems that both Japanese and Chinese are automatically disqualified due to their lack of high crashworthy bullet train in service since 2010.

    Technical Requirements

    • Capable of operating in revenue service at speeds up to 354 km/h (220 mph), and
    Based on a service-proven trainset in use in commercial high speed passenger service at least 300 km/h (186 mph) for a minimum of five years.

    1. Maximize competition
    2. Service-proven design
    3. FRA Tier III compliant (crashworthiness, crew/passenger safety)
    5. Operating speed (354 km/h (220 mph), subjected to large gradients)

    http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/__Agendas+and+Minutes/JPB/Board+of+Directors/Presentations/2015/2015-05-20+JPB+BOD+CHSRA+Trainsets.pdf

    Useless Reply:

    And the CHSRA has given only one year of testing between the factory roll out of first unit and the revenue service.

    This means that CHSRA wants something almost near stock, no major redesigns allowed. Normally, a totally new design must be tested for 3~5 years before it could enter revenue service.

    So how many high crashworthy high speed train model in revenue service since 2010 are out there, there aren’t that many. TGV, Velaro, KTX-II, etc.

    William Reply:

    @Useless: By your logic, none of the manufacturers are qualified since FRA Tier III has not been finalized, and I doubt FRA Tier III is exactly the same as UIC standard, so at least some modification will be needed to the trainsets.

    Korean trains are also too narrow for CAHSR, so new carbody will need to be designed, and that put them in your “not proven” category.

    Useless Reply:

    William

    none of the manufacturers are qualified since FRA Tier III has not been finalized

    But high speed train vendors stand on different starting lines in terms of full Tier III compliance. For both Japanese and Chinese, it’s like asking a 1970 Honda Civic built before the crash standard law to meet the crash standard of 2015. No amount of modification will do that. For Hyundai Rotem, their current model is like a 2013 Hyundai and only minimal rework is needed for full compliance in 2015 standard, namely the crash energy absorber placed between the first car and the second car. The KTX-II already has a 5 MJ CEM in front ends along with a 600 ton/200 ton static compression load.

    So simply speaking from the perspective of minimized risk to full Tier-III compliance, nothing beats the KTX-II.

    Korean trains are also too narrow for CAHSR, so new carbody will need to be designed, and that put them in your “not proven” category.

    Loading gauge variance is not an issue. Adding 200 mm to the body is a trivial task. Heck, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry used to come in two body widths, with the Japanese models being 4 inches narrower than US market models due to Japanese tax code reasons.

    Eric M Reply:

    Again, you do not know the FRA Tier 3 requirements, so stop with citing them.

    Jon Reply:

    Adding the “must have been in service at 300 km/h for 5 years” requirement to the “must be Tier III compliant” requirement to get a “must have been in service as a Tier III compliant vehicle at 300 km/h for 5 years” requirement is probably not how the authors of that presentation intended those statements to be interpreted. If it was, they would have written that.

    Useless Reply:

    Jon

    Offered models must have been in revenue service for 5 years at the time of bid submission. This is a requirement.

    Bidders are also required to modify their existing train sets to meet the FRA Tier III crash standard, but not all vendors stand on same starting line to the end line. The stock KTX-II is the closest to the full FRA Tier-III compliance and requires the least amount of modifications. The next is TGV, followed by the Velaro. No amount of modification on Shinkansen and CRH380A will allow them to meet the FRA Tier III standard, so both Japanese and Chinese bidders must start from scratch, and even their powertrain must be redesigned and tested because the existing ones were never meant to haul heavy train sets.

    It is very clear the CHSRA wants to take the least risk and buy a train set that needs the least modification to a full FRA Tier-III compliance.

    Jon Reply:

    “No amount of modification on Shinkansen and CRH380A will allow them to meet the FRA Tier III standard.”

    In your opinion. We’ll see what actually transpires.

    Eric M Reply:

    Again, you do not know the FRA Tier 3 requirements, so stop with citing them.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They are all at the same starting line if they have to make them Tier III compliant because the regulations aren’t final yet.

    Useless Reply:

    adirondacker12800

    Clearly you have zero idea on the present day condition of each rolling stocks, and what the FRA Tier III requires. They are not starting from the same starting line, some vendors are starting a few feets away from finish line, while Chinese and Japanese are indeed starting from scratch and has virtually zero chance of a win.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Fine give a link to the regulations you seem to know so much about.

    Roland Reply:

    While we wait for the FRA to release the draft for ETF_001-03, here is how Caltrain is expected to “Develop transitional strategies for future integrated service”: http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/__Agendas+and+Minutes/JPB/Board+of+Directors/Presentations/2015/2015-05-20+JPB+BOD+EMU+Procurement.pdf (the fun stuff starts around slide #13). Metrolink, ACE, Capitol Corridor and anything else in HSR’s path better get on with the program and prepare for this ASAP: http://www.hsr.ca.gov/docs/Programs/trainsets/REOI_for_Trainsets_Final.pdf.

    William Reply:

    No, only Caltrain and HSR will share platforms, if necessary. All other passenger services will get their own platform edges, as they run on freight-heavy rail lines, so no need for the other services to be compatible with Caltrain and HSR.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Unless they decide to really “blend” from Burbank to L.A.

    Useless Reply:

    J. Wong

    It is pretty much a done deal that Burbank to LA will be blended. There is no other way.

    The question is if Palmdale to Burbank too will be blended.

    synonymouse Reply:

    20 mile tunnels will require electrified and the class ones insist on diesel.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Yeah, I’m guessing @Useless is wondering if HSR & Metro will share tracks. They’ll never share with the class 1s down there.

    EJ Reply:

    It’s amazing how many things you know for certain, when the Authority is still undecided about them.

    les Reply:

    Maybe the Authority releases the RFP at a later date. This could change the dynamics considerably.

    Useless Reply:

    les

    The FRA Tier-III compliance is non-negotiable. You cannot negotiate it away like the Texas HSR project because of blended traffic and at grade rail crossings.

    This is why CHSRA really has only three models to choose from based on its 5-year minimum revenue service requirement and the FRA Tier-III regulation, KTX-II, TGV, and Velaro.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Requirements in california govt rfps are made to be ignored. There is always some clause that says proposers can propose a change to the proposal…

    Useless Reply:

    Elizabeth Alexis

    A proposal to do away with the FRA Tier III regulation is not possible because this is a federally funded project.

    To do away with the FRA rolling stock requirements, the project must not take any federal funding and be confined within single state. But the CHSRA took federal money, so..

    Peter Reply:

    You’re referring to Buy America rules (use federal funds, must build in U.S. without showing favoritism to in-state manufacturers), which do not affect whether the trains have to meet other federal requirements, even if no federal funds are used.

    FRA regs can be waived. See Caltrain’s rolling stock waiver.

    Joe Reply:

    The reference to the ignoring RFPs is meant to imply there are no rules and the usual CARRD criticisms.

    les Reply:

    i’m not saying it is negotiable, I’m saying the longer the authority waits, the possibility of a manufacturer meeting the reqs increases.

    les Reply:

    Given the pace of construction a RFP in the fall might be a tad bit premature.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    For revenue service in 2022 that means it has to be in service by 2017.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    It is physically impossible for the Authority to have train service from Merced to Burbank in service in 2022. This would require by 2020 having new high voltage power lines through inaccessible regions of the Tehachapis and a 20 mile tunnel completed for a route that is inexplicably just at the beginning of the planning phase. Not gonna happen. The only question is when the Authority acknowledges this.

    Jon Reply:

    The ridership memo that was released a while back hinted that we may see SJ – SF and LA – Palmdale revenue service in 2022. That’s also going to be challenging, but not impossible.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    LA – Palmdale HSR revenue service in 2022

    Also impossible (see 20 mile tunnel that is still at the “twinkle in an eye” phase). It would make the Shanghai maglev project seem like it has a purpose in comparison.

    Joe Reply:

    “…and a 20 mile tunnel completed for a route that is inexplicably just at the beginning of the planning phase.”

    “Inexplicably” is an interesting word.

    This is not inexplicable at all.

    CAHSR is working with local communities and elected representatives to resolve the alignment.
    Peninsula critics demanded community comment.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That’s how it works. Screech that there hasn’t been enough community outreach. Then screech that the community outreach is costing too much or isn’t through enough. Then screech that it’s not what the community wanted. Delay it enough so that there can be loud wailing that the environmental studies are outdated. And demand that more planning be done. Rinse repeat.

    Joe Reply:

    Palo Alto highway metering lights took years to turn on after installation because of community resistance to local traffic backing up on residential streets. Only after taxpayers added a merge lane on 101 did the metering take effect.

    Inexplicably this delay in improving 101 traffic flow was welcomed.

    William Reply:

    @Elizabeth Alexis: If you were or knew any engineer, you would understand project delays are a norm. It is better to set an aggressive but meetable schedule under good conditions, then to set a later but more relaxed schedule. This way, even some delays to the aggressive schedule is acceptable.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Engineers only know how to plan projects subject to the laws of nature; financial planners aren’t bound to such mortal limitations like gravity…

    What goes up in physics must come down; what goes up in high finance never comes down…

    Eric Reply:

    It’s even better to set a hopelessly optimistic schedule, get people to fund you based on that dishonest schedule, then be “surprised” by the delays that keep arising.

    William Reply:

    Have you ever heard of “self fulfilling prophesy”?

    Either one can sit back and complain about the schedule being unrealistic, or work to remove the obstacles and uncertainties that are risks to the schedule. I prefer to do the latter.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It will be acknowledged just after Jerry Brown leaves office.

    Useless Reply:

    Elizabeth Alexis

    I believe Merced – Palmdale corridor should be ready for service by 2022.

    synonymouse Reply:

    As a bus line.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    that requires a new high voltage line between palmdale and bakersfield

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I hear there will be railroad ROW. Maybe they can use that.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    A lot of it will be tunneled – tehachapi mountains are very inaccessible – fire access roads for high speed rail line estimated at $200 million. This is an entirely new and different EIR – and since route isn’t even close to being chosen…

    http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/NR/rdonlyres/BF95706A-50B5-46CD-877F-BFDA85F6DC89/0/BCP_6ElectricalInfrastructurePlanngforHSRInitiative.pdf

    synonymouse Reply:

    Elizabeth –

    I’d venture that PB has chosen the route; now it has to ram it down the throats of the unlucky in the path. So if that does not “fly” then I guess it will be un-chosen and back to boosting something else.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s 2015. High voltage lines can be put in tunnels.

    William Reply:

    Wasn’t a side benefit of CAHSR to create another North-South link in the California electricity grid?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    ….if the train set doesn’t have a diesel-electric hybrid engine…

  5. swing hanger
    May 21st, 2015 at 22:34
    #5
  6. IKB
    May 21st, 2015 at 22:47
    #6

    we seem to have run out of space on item#3 just as it was getting interesting

    The automobile is exactly why Fresno and Bakersfield are under developed and isolated from the weak other coastal Ca. These cities are isolated.
    HSR induces trips to the CV and is a key to develop and diversify the CV economy.
    People forget the roll of government is to build infrastructure and take care of I

    Please share with us all how you expect the HSR customers to get to the station, and perhaps your thoughts on who may subsidize the service for those who do

    Joe Reply:

    Explain what you mean using the loaded word “subsidize”.

    Here is an example of the kinds of benefits HSR offers a city like Fresno.
    http://www.gilroyhighspeedtrain.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Vision_Report_Final_web.pdf

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The same way they get to the airport?

    swing hanger Reply:

    Also, railway stations tend to be in towns, rather than the outskirts. Some may even walk or ride a bicycle to catch a train. Weird but true.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    … and the town will tend to be the focus of whatever local transport exists (pathetic may it be in some cases), whatever local transport gets built in the future (maybe helped along by the presence of HSR!), and any higher density housing that gets built (something that even places like Fresno seem to be flirting with, even if the local government is still firmly in the sprawl-developers’ pockets).

    HSR is as much an attempt to influence future development as it is a way to cater to what exists now. Places like Fresno are a sad sight, but on the other hand, they have little direction to go but up…

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I once heard a lobbyist for a cattleman’s association say, “rather than bring water to the people, bring people to the water…”

    Fresno and Bakersfield are the “undiscovered country” of California’s economy in the 21st century. They have water to support housing, they have land, what they lack is rapid access to the major ports on the coast. That’s why Brown discarded the idea Denis Douty proposed to use the I-5 instead. He knows the Central Valley holds the balance of power politically between North and South and wants to make sure that HSR is not seen as a transportation project that only benefits a small segment of the state. Brown knows that is what killed the project in 1982 and does not want to repeat his mistake.

    Useless Reply:

    Ted Judah

    They have water to support housing

    No they don’t, especially Fresno.

    But that’s a separate issue and Fresno will have to find its source of water somehow.

    Observer Reply:

    Fresno will have water to support future growth. The city council just passed a $429million water infrastructure plan. Fresno also has water rights from Millerton and PineFlat Lakes; even this year it managed to obtain water from both sources. It has a good aquifer (overused, but it has one). The water infrastructure includes a second water treatment plant to treat water from Millerton and Pineflat lakes so the the aquifer will get a chance to recharge. The plan will include infrastructure to recycle and use wastewater from its sewage plant. In other words while still suffering the effects of the drought, Fresno is in a better position than many other California cities. You assume a bit too much.

    datacruncher Reply:

    According to the Fresno Bee, in 2014 the city of Fresno used 127,914 acre feet most of it from the aquifer.

    But the city has entitlements to 180,000 acre feet from the San Joaquin and Kings Rivers, the city just lacks surface water treatment plant capacity to use the river water directly.

    Additionally the Bee reports the city is building new wastewater treatment facilities that will produce 25,000 acre feet of reusable water each year.
    http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/city-beat/article21299124.html

    Joe Reply:

    80% of California’s water is used to produce 2% of the state’s GDP.

    Lawns are a waste and people need to conserve however a long term drought will force CA to revisit our archaic water rights. No reason to grow Alfalfa in the CV and export it yet we do just that.

    Eric Reply:

    There’s no such thing as a water shortage in CA in the medium-long term. Even with alfalfa. This is because desalination is cheap enough to be affordable. Countries poorer on average than California, including Australia, Israel, and Oman, already use desalination for a substantial part of their water supply. California could just as well.

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    And we should be cleaning waste water to purple pipe standards and pumping it up to the upper reservoirs rather than dumping it at sea.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Pour it on the lawn. Flush the toilets with it.

    Phantom Commuter Reply:

    The sensible I-5 plan would have served the San Joaquin Valley cities with blended service. It’s only 2 hrs. from Fresno to Bakersfield or Stockton on the existing 79mph BNSF tracks. One hour on the I-5HSR line into L.A. or S.F. connect Fresno with either end in 3 hrs. Added benefit is L.A. to Sacramento in 3 hrs. with blended service from the I-5 line at Stockton. Express service from L.A. to S.F. would also take 3 hrs. on the I-5 alignment. All for much less cost. Win-Win-Win.

  7. trentbridge
    May 22nd, 2015 at 08:58
    #7

    California is a big state where people dream big and turn those dreams into reality – celebrating 60 years of Disneyland, and Facebook, Tesla, Spacex, Google, Twitter, Apple, and many, many more.
    Texas is a bigger state where people talk big and drive big trucks and … well nothing much else happens – besides football, cattle, and oil – and the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

    California is 95% reality in HSR and Texas is about 5% reality in HSR. I and about ten to twenty million more will ride any IOS segment of over 50 miles length in the CV just like millions go to Disneyland (to ride a train that truly goes nowhere among other attractions..) It’s the future and we want to experience it. Heck, we’ll even drive to Fresno to try it out!

  8. Eric M
    May 22nd, 2015 at 09:15
    #8

    Bill sets up Nevada High-Speed Rail Authority

    A bill aimed at accelerating the process of establishing a high-speed train between Las Vegas and Southern California is on its way to the desk of Gov. Brian Sandoval.

    The Assembly voted 40-1 on Wednesday for SB457, which sets up the Nevada High-Speed Rail Authority. The authority will select a company by Oct. 15 to go forward with the project, estimated to cost $5.5 billion.

    A high-speed train has been talked about for 20 years. Backers of the train told the Legislature that XpressWest, a private company, has secured environmental clearance from the federal government.

    The project envisions a route between Las Vegas and Victorville, Calif., with fares of $100 or less for a round trip. The system would connect with other trains in Southern California.

    The lone no vote was cast by Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno.

    The governor will appoint the five members to the authority.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Howabout the Nevada Monorail Authority?

    les Reply:

    Can you name one person that served on the Monorail Authority that is on the NHSRA? I didn’t think so.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There really is one? I just made it up. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So you are admitting that all your rants about the Las Vegas Monorail are just cobwebs in the windmills of your mind?

    synonymouse Reply:

    You really think the Vegas monorail was the most practical scheme for the town?

    Peter Reply:

    Probably not, but what does that have to do with connecting Las Vegas to Los Angeles by high speed rail?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It started out as a private shuttle between the MGM Grand and Bally’s. Since private enterprise can do no wrong it was the perfect choice.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The ill-conceived monorail foreshadows the ill-conceived hsr scheme. The usual suspects.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No. The party line is that private enterprise can do no wrong. Bally’s picked it, it must be the bestest ever. Or was it Harrah’s. Whoever owned the casinos when the decision was made to go with Bombardier.

    EJ Reply:

    The ill-conceived monorail foreshadows the ill-conceived hsr scheme. The usual suspects.

    Who? How so? Are you actually going to make an argument or just your usual aimless smears?

    les Reply:

    HSR to Vegas implies a connection from Vville to Pdale. Perish the thought Pdale becomes more valid a stop. Mindless rants is all Syno is left with.

    Joe Reply:

    The was a near unanimous vote to establish NV High Speed Rail Authority.

    NV has a republican governor, republican state assembly leader and republican senate leader.

    Surely they will step in and kill any HSR project to connect Nevada to Southern California via the CA HSR system.

    les Reply:

    “The Assembly voted 40-1 on Wednesday for SB457”. 40 out of 42 sounds pretty overwhelming to me.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Nevada is desperate. Northern Nevada is pretty quiet during the week. The loss of the gambling monopoly killed the business model wherein the gambling profits subsidized a lot of cheapies.

    I wonder how long the “everybody loses” casino business model(Graton!)will fare over the years. The gambling is considerably tighter than 20 years ago. Question are there that many people that stupid to fill these places? Maybe.

    I wonder how long the Cal-Neva in Reno will last. It has some relatively ok video poker machines. And $5.99 prime rib. Enjoy it while you can.

    les Reply:

    And yet the number of visitors keeps growing and growing “The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority confirmed Friday what it had already been anticipating: 41.1 million visitors, up 3.7 percent from 39.7 million in 2013, stayed overnight at the destination in 2014. The total visitor volume is the most the destination has ever seen in one year.” And just think of all the Nanny’s taking the kids to Disneyland to boot.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/30/number-of-las-vegas-visitors-in-2014-climbs-to-411/

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But nobody in Silicon Valley would be interested in going to the Consumer Electronics Show when they can go to the Indian casino down the road. And nobody in California would be interested in the Specialty Equipment Market Association Show because they can get all the information they need on car parts at the Indian Casino…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Maybe it is time to really start slapping some direct substantial taxes on conventions.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Taxes bad two feet good!

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    The Vega Monorail had a lot to offer. Enough length to be practical transportation wasn’t one of the advantages.
    Without any current patronage I don’t think it will be expanded enough to attract any customers.

    Phantom Commuter Reply:

    Extend Las Vegas-Victorville HSR on the proposed High-Desert Corridor to I-5 alignment at Hwy. 138 and you have 3 hr. service from Las Vegas to L.A. and S.F. Solves the Palmdale problem too.

  9. EJ
    May 22nd, 2015 at 13:36
    #9

    As a supporter of the Texas HSR project

    Oh really? Is that why you only ever mention it when you want to throw shade at it?

    les Reply:

    He is just got to keep it second fiddle; don’t want it upstaging CHSR.

  10. Jos Callinet
    May 23rd, 2015 at 18:27
    #10

    We shouldn’t fiddle around with Texas HSR whilst first violin CAHSR burns?

  11. Jos Callinet
    May 23rd, 2015 at 19:19
    #11

    We don’t want to “second-fiddle” around with Texas HSR whilst “first violin” CAHSR burns, do we?

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    To do so might “orchestrate” a revolt!

    Zorro Reply:

    Not like that will happen in CA, the naysayers won’t win, the LOSERS would need an army to get rid of HSR and they don’t have one.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Oh the naysayers will lose, but they’re going to go down whining… ><

    synonymouse Reply:

    Zorro, did it take an army to sell off Conrail, or cut down brand new catenary on the NdeM?

    When FailRail starts bleeding red ink who is going to get the subsidy money – BART or Mojave? It is all politix and that the winds of public opinion can change overnite. HSR is more fad than you grasp.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    all it took to sell off Conrail was a few free market zealots.

    synonymouse Reply:

    ditto for PalmdaleRail. In all scenarios lack of business due to poor routing leads to systematic downgrade.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Conrail was making money and growing it’s business when it dismembered. It still makes money and is growing it’s business. It’s still in business and carries a lot of freight.

    synonymouse Reply:

    In all PBRail scenarios

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    After 50 years of success, the Japanese will lose interest in the toy any day now.

  12. Robert S. Allen
    May 23rd, 2015 at 21:30
    #12

    Why did Steve Glazer, a small-town mayor, trounce Assemblymember Susan Bonilla 54-46 in last week’s 7th Senate District special election runoff? Both were dedicated Democrats, and Bonilla was backed by the California Democratic Party and labor unions. One key difference: in his ballot pamphlet candidate statement, Glazer opposed High Speed Rail as proposed; Bonilla voted for and supported HSR, and starting it in the Central Valley.

    Glazer had run Governor Brown’s gubernatorial campaign, but showed his independence of the political machine pushing the governor’s ill-planned and ill-funded HSR. The voters made their choice and backed a candidate openly opposing the planned HSR. Will others learn?

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    Democrats comprise nearly 44 percent of the registered voters in the 7th Senate District. Glazer led in both the Primary and the run-off election with the same declaration in both voter pamphlets opposing HSR as proposed.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Will he take a sharp whip to Heminger?

    Zorro Reply:

    Ah yes, a stupid Cyno clone, this time in politics, HSR isn’t ill-planned, building first in the bookends and only in the bookends is foolish and is a dead argument, since the federal money would leave California, just like Republicans want. HSR for the moment has plenty of funding, so ill-funded? Go croak.

    Zorro Reply:

    foolish.. And a dead argument, since the federal money would leave California, just like Republicans want.

  13. Robert S. Allen
    May 23rd, 2015 at 23:31
    #13

    Oh for another Larry Dahms at MTC. I’d like to see Steve G take on Steve H. MTC needs a shake-up, but Steve G has a bigger task in the Senate.

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