Wednesday Open Thread

Aug 19th, 2015 | Posted by

Continue the discussion here. A quiet HSR summer, unless you’re actually working on the project out in the Fresno heat.

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  1. Davey
    Aug 19th, 2015 at 14:12
    #1

    Can anyone give me an unbiased as possible status update on the pace of land acquisitions?

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    http://hsr.ca.gov/docs/brdmeetings/2015/brdmtg_080415_FA_28_CHSRA_ROW_Weekly_Report_071715v2.pdf

    Davey Reply:

    Thanks Elizabeth. Forgive me I m a total layman. But does the second page mean that all stages of land acquisition are pretty much on pace with what they had planned, and that they are not falling behind?

    Peter Reply:

    Slightly behind on CP 1, but ahead on CP 2-3.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Uh… not really.

    CP 1 was rebaselined in December. According to the original schedule they should have bought everything. See http://www.calhsr.com/uncategorized/land-purchases-for-initial-construction-way-behind-schedule/

    Look at page 7 of this http://hsr.ca.gov/docs/brdmeetings/2015/brdmtg_080415_FA_Operations_Report_201508_v11_Aug.pdf

    to see how they have fallen behind even the new schedule which would have been based on actual purchases through about February this year, based on pipeline in December.

    If you look at planned vs actual since rebaselining, there is a large gap. Some of this is railroad properties, but it does look like they have bought less than half of planned properties since the baselining.

    Tutor has signaled that the large change order to compensate him for ROW delays will be finalized in September. It is hard to believe that someone is not losing their job – the Authority signed the contract committing to a ROW schedule which was out of date.

    Anything things will heat up soon…

    Davey Reply:

    thanks!

    Mattie F. Reply:

    “It is hard to believe that someone is not losing their job”

    ‘Cuz nothing is better at getting things done right than firing someone!

    -1950s Neanderthal management practices

    synonymouse Reply:

    And Van Ark is still heading up PB-CHSRA.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And Kopp is still on board.

  2. Reality Check
    Aug 19th, 2015 at 14:39
    #2

    America’s Finest Transportation Professionals offer only excuses for still> failing to provide WiFi:
    Wi-Fi remains hit or miss on Bay Area transit

    Since Muni started shutting down its Metro subway lines every night at the end of July to upgrade communications systems, many riders have been asking the same question.

    Can we get Wi-Fi with that? […] The answer, alas, is no. Not this time.

    During the six-month closure, Muni is replacing its radio system and the emergency phones in its tunnels but has no plans to install Wi-Fi, which is becoming increasingly ubiquitous elsewhere.

    […]

    Citing the cost, neither Muni nor BART or Caltrain provide the perk — though the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority does.

    “Free passenger Wi-Fi continues to be the most requested amenity when we survey our riders,” said Stacey Hendler Ross, a spokeswoman for the VTA, which offers Wi-Fi on all light-rail trains and is installing it on all buses.

    “Our riders wanted it,” she said, “and they use it.”

    […]

    Caltrain officials, who field frequent requests to install Wi-Fi, have said they would prefer to spend their limited funding on increasing and improving service.

    But the persistence of their tech-savvy ridership prompted them to take another look. Their conclusion, said agency spokeswoman Tasha Bartholomew, was that the price tag was so high that the agency would need a partner — or donor — to help out.

    “It’s extremely expensive and technically difficult,” she said. “It’s really not that easy to install Wi-Fi technology on steel trains that run through an assortment of tunnels over a 55-mile right-of-way.”

    Bartholomew declined to disclose cost estimates.

    […]

    William Reply:

    I think the importance of onboard wifi is much diminished in these days of 4G LTE. From my experience, the semi-public AT&T, Xfinity hotspots, are slower and difficult to connect comparing to LTE connections, much less the free hotspots. Also, as most professionals aware, public hotspots are not secure and doing any work with public hotspots would be equate to open your devices for hacking, jeopardizing one’s company secret.

    So I think effort should be put on eliminating blindspots of LTE on transit systems, such as in tunnels, instead of providing free wifi onboard.

    Roland Reply:

    ACE: http://www.acerail.com/Getting-You-There/FAQ/Do-the-trains-have-WiFi

    Capitol Corridor: http://www.capitolcorridor.org/on_board/wifi.php

    Michigan: http://www.mlive.com/business/index.ssf/2014/02/michigan_amtrak_trains_now_hav.html

    Annual cost of VTA Wi-Fi service: $150K.

    SamTrans (AKA America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals)
    http://tinyurl.com/pbd8hcr (cost: $800K)

  3. Randall
    Aug 19th, 2015 at 14:39
    #3

    Any thoughts on the deal HSR is trying to strike with the Bob Hope Airport and cities on land near the Burbank station?

    http://www.burbankleader.com/news/tn-blr-state-eyes-land-owned-by-bob-hope-airport-for-high-speed-rail-project-20150818,0,597117.story

    Burbank Leader

    State eyes land owned by Bob Hope Airport for high-speed rail project

    Airport commissioner balks at hazy details in initial presentation.

    By Chad Garland, chad.garland@latimes.com

    8:00 PM PDT, August 18, 2015

    California High-Speed Rail Authority officials said this week they plan to propose to Bob Hope Airport officials that the state agency purchase the nearly 60-acre “B6 parcel” — also known as the “Opportunity Site” — north of the airfield’s terminal, an area which is already being marketed for sale.

    “You are sitting on something that is an amazing public and private benefit to the future,” said Michelle Boehm, the rail authority’s Southern California regional director. She said transit officials don’t want to lose the “once-in-a-generation opportunity to make something really great — not just great times one, but great times 10.”

    Boehm’s pitch capped off an informational presentation in which she updated members of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority on the rail project and touted the promised benefits of high-speed rail, including relief of congestion on the state’s roads, rails and short-haul commuter flight routes throughout California.

    However, airport commissioners asked her to be a bit more explicit.

    “What’s the ask?” said Terry Tornek, one of Pasadena’s commissioners. “Are you asking us to halt our disposition process? Are you asking us to reserve [two proposed station locations]?”

    Transportation officials would like the airport authority to change its sales process and enter into an agreement with an option to purchase, Boehm said, in order to accommodate a multiagency planning process that would look at what part of the property could be used for a bullet-train station, as well as other potential public and private uses, such as extension of the Metro Red Line.

    “It’s a big ask,” Tornek said.

    In her presentation, Boehm noted that the Burbank airport is the only location in Southern California right now with “fairly good air-rail connectivity,” which she said will be getting better. She said the rail authority is seeking to create such “multimodal transportation hubs.”

    “The nucleus, if you will, of a thriving economic wave that could roll out across the area 3 miles away from that location, 5 miles away from that location,” Boehm said of the hubs. “A rising tide that can lift all boats here in the northeast part of the San Fernando Valley, as well as in locations like Palmdale and Anaheim.”

    Tornek asked if Boehm thought the proposed partnership and the potential sale of portions of the B6 parcel to public agencies would provide comparable proceeds as what might be expected if the airport were to sell the property to a private developer.

    The property is next to a roughly 49-acre parcel where city and airport officials say a replacement terminal should be built, and officials hope to use proceeds from the sale to fund the terminal project.

    “We could realize potentially more value from the property in the future than the value as it stands right now,” she said.

    Boehm suggested that a nine-month “comprehensive planning process” could include discussions with the city of Burbank on zoning and entitlement issues. She also indicated the city of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County and other agencies may also be interested in purchasing portions of the B6 property.

    Several airport officials expressed their doubts about the proposal. Tornek said it had been “something of a challenge” for the airport authority to work with just the city of Burbank on the future of the airport. Officials had sought to rezone the B6 parcel in hopes of increasing its value prior to selling it, but they abandoned that proposal earlier this year after it met resistance from the city.

    Out of courtesy, Tornek said, officials should probably wait to receive the high-speed rail authority’s proposal in writing, but he expressed concerns that what Boehm was outlining would take longer than nine months — perhaps as long as a decade.

    Tornek said the rail authority’s proposal was “inspirational … or aspirational,” but he added that “it’s also terrifying, frankly, for me.”

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    HSR planners seeking “multimodal transportation hubs” should look at where BART crosses over the UP track used by Capitol Corridor, San Joaquin, and Amtrak trains in Oakland. (I-880/7th Street close to the Bay Bridge.) BART now runs 16 trains per hour each way in 6 minutes to downtown San Francisco’s BART/Muni Embarcadero Station. Emergency closure of either the BART tube or the Bay Bridge would leave the region with an alternative crossing of the Bay.

    Upgrade the UP/Amtrak route from San Jose to Sacramento. No need for a costly new rail tunnel under San Francisco Bay for HSR, or for the “bookend” projects on Caltlrain to give San Francisco a “one-seat ride”.

    Such a rail and road hub with superb access also to the SF Bay Bridge and East-Bay freeways would be close to San Francisco and Oakland high rise and offer unparalleled opportunity for regional government and commercial office development serving the entire region. HSR to the Bay Area should initially end at San Jose, with good links there to Caltrain, BART, VTA light rail, and other transit lines. This “Multimodal Transportation Hub” would dramatically improve transportation and land use for the entire Bay Area.

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    Here you go again… You want to dump hundreds more passengers on BART at its most crowded point. How will BART handle this? How will current BART customers like all the extra crowds?

    No need for” bookend“ projects… So you want Caltrain to remain a crappy infrequent service till BART can take over and convert it to BART, even more costly than upgrading the bookends.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Yeah. The operational impacts of stopping the trains there would slow down travel for everyone considerably. You could justify it only if you rip the West Oakland station out and even then, there are better locations near Jack London square for the purpose….

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Thank you Randall for reporting on the single most important transaction the CHSRA is trying to do this year. Unfortunately it’s south of San Jose so won’t get much attention on this blog. It’s a gutsy move by Michelle Boehm, and noteworthy that it was introduced to the meeting as a response to a question and not part of the presentation. Makes me think that it was done on the fly and is definitely a challenge to the Airport Authority. They had already put up the “do not disturb” signs.

    Joe Reply:

    this was discussed when we had a blog post on the alignments to Burbank.

    What’s missing in the story above is the airport is willfully not planning for HSR. they are taking a one at a time approach and treating the station as totally independent.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    joe, it wasn’t discussed because it only happened Monday morning.

    joe Reply:

    paul

    airport officals stated thier postion in a previous story. I posted some related quotes here.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Yes, but not CHSRA, that’s the story.

    joe Reply:

    found it.

    I did post thus this noting the airport wants nothing to do with HSR.

    http://www.burbankleader.com/news/tn-blr-bob-hope-airports-connection-to-high-speed-railway-is-still-in-the-air-20150619,0,7057479.story

    ad Garland, chad.garland@latimes.com
    June 20, 2015 | 10:00 a.m.
    If the state’s bullet train is going to have a station near Bob Hope Airport, the two transportation facilities should connect, airport Executive Director Dan Feger said this week. However, first things first — the airport and the city need to hash out the details of a proposed 14-gate replacement terminal at the airfield, he added.

    That was the position Feger outlined during a presentation to the Burbank City Council on Tuesday. Council members had asked what the airport was doing to collaborate with officials from the California High-Speed Rail Authority regarding a possible station on the rail segment that will run from Palmdale to Burbank.

    “It would be our hope that we can find common ground for an agreement to build a replacement terminal building,” Feger said. “That’s the first step — we need that step — and with that step behind us, then I think we should be having these kinds of discussions [about high-speed rail].”

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Later Feger backed off that. He claimed at a subsequent joint Authority/City Council meeting that TSA would have jurisdiction over a joint terminal which would mean that TSA would have to be present at ALL HSR stations. As a result CHSRA had “backed off”. Quite how he dreamt that I don’t know. Like saying that all BART stations should have TSA because they have a station at SFO. Anyway joe, you can’t seem to get it that CHSRA as of Monday threw their hat in the ring to purchase a 58 acre undeveloped parcel adjacent to the airport that the Airport Authority is required to sell. As you can imagine there are many (at least 8 I am told) developers circling around, many of whom had reps at Monday’s meeting. If I were her I’d start checking under my car.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Developer corruption coming back to bite PB.

    joe Reply:

    You commented that this blog didnt folow Socal / Burbank. It does. Also the jun meeting was posted here at least by me in comments in June.
    BUR is acting short sighted IMHO.

    Every station will be circled by developers. Im looking for work with Catalyst Corporation.

    synonymouse Reply:

    My interpretation, quite possibly incorrect, was that a number of real estate exploiters wanted the property for reasons totally unconnected to any hsr scheme.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    syn, quite right.
    joe, you cannot report in June what happened in August.
    There was a comment about BUR which went unremarked, followed by about 120 comments about other matters. Most contributors here are out of touch with the project, they just keep repeating the same posts.
    Anyway, the even more out of touch host may be interested to know that we’ve formed a So Cal support group and we’re taking the battle to the NIMBYs. Friends for High Speed rail Southern California is fighting back.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Are you prepared to take on the Dark Lord of NIMBY’s?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    He needs a copy of your secret decoder ring and some of the special headgear you use.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    syn, send a donation and you’ll find out.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Has it occurred to anyone that CHSRA is a direct potentially existential competitive threat to a regional airport like Burbank? I’m not saying that is a bad thing but…

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    I’m pretty sure you’re the first, Elizabeth. Well done.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Seriously Paul – I don’t understand the planning going on in Burbank. Burbank is exactly the type of airport that ends up in serious financial trouble when hsr comes in town.

    Some of the worst performing HSR stations (with only a handful of exceptions that prove the point) are those at airports.

    From hsr’s perspective, it would seem to me imperative that a hsr station locate itself south of the junction, as well as be part of a redevelopment near the downtown.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Elizabeth, there is no planning going on at Burbank. South of the Junction is off the show as far as the City is concerned, too narrow a site with I-5 etc. Giant IKEA and two hotels under construction.
    At some point the City and the Airport need to start to cooperate but right now that isn’t happening. That is why B-6 is for sale and that’s why CHSRA jumped in to try and preempt a deal before the site goes away. The Airport won’t get into serious financial trouble if it retains it’s revenue streams, i.e. parking and rental cars. Landing fees are I am told the lowest in the country for commercial flights.

    Peter Reply:

    And BUR has just over 50 flights a day on average, anyway. Lower landing fees obviously aren’t enough of a draw.

    Nathanael Reply:

    If Burbank has HSR and rental cars onsite, it’ll be a very popular station, and the airport authority will get gobs of money from the rental car franchises. I can’t count the number of times I’ve wanted to arrive by rail in the LA area and rent a car, and found it very difficult.

    Anandakos Reply:

    CHSRA should just condemn the hotels. That would get the attention of cities throughout the state.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Putting it out at the airport keeps the parking garages and the car rentals out of downtown.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    You put a station downtown, located on all major regional rail lines, so that you don’t need a fraction of the parking garages and car rentals otherwise required.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    The car rentals and parking are already there at the Airport. Take a more careful look. Where exactly “downtown”?

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    HSR will not be done in the next 20 years – any built structure will be rebuilt by then.

    Downtown would be west side of 5, just north of the existing station — connect underground to the mall on the east side, japanese style.

    By far the most important design feature is trying to get across the platform transfers between ventura line and this main line.

    You can have shuttle buses to long term parking at airport.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Palmdale – Burbank is slated for construction from 2017 onwards, not 20 years hence.
    An airport station north south alongside Hollywood Way would be close to the VC line station. The City doesn’t want an airport and a station on two different sites.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Lets talk offline

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Have the regional trains and the intercity trains share platforms and the people who want to do that downtown can do that downtown. The people who want to drive can do that out at the airport. Without a shuttle bus stuck in traffic.

    joe Reply:

    uh HSR is always seen as a threat to air travel within CA.

    Today BUR is a regional airport which is the basis for Elizabeth’s comment however there are serious capacity problems in SoCal hampering capacity for the region. There is air traffic congestion into and out of LAX which cannot be fixed adding runways – the airspace has a fixed capacity. With demand forecasts for passenger growth, the cost effective solution is to use other airports like BUR.

    What the plan is for BUR is to push added demand off LAX on to BUR. There’s also the co-location of services like rental cars at BUR.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    joe, they may well plan to add flights at BUR to relieve LAX but recently the airlines have decided quite the opposite. Man supposes, God disposes.

    Joe Reply:

    SoCal has been trying to push air traffic traffic out of lax. Airline Consolidation and the economic downturn has been working the other way and reducing options at the secondary airports.

    There are still LAX air capacity limits and projections that cannot be accommodated by the one airport.

    They either start planning now or hit a wall without a solution. I think you’d appreciate planning for the future with a rail/HSR connection at BUR.

  4. Jerry
    Aug 19th, 2015 at 15:01
    #4

    J. Wong Aug 19th, 2015 at 12:44 Carry Forward
    O.T. in a not “news flash”: Blended will meet both 2’40” (L.A.) and 30″ (San Jose) time limits
    The reference has good nuggets in it.
    SJ to SF in 30 minutes “becomes feasible” by stopping at 4th & King.
    And it saves billions. Bring on the lawsuits.

    J. Wong Reply:

    All the lawsuits seem predicated by the interpretation that what Prop 1a specifies must erupt fully formed as is, which is clearly ridiculous. Instead, the Authority plans an interim “blend” that over time will be upgraded to true separate track as demand and resources increase.

    I just don’t get why people are so dead-set against HSR?

    Zorro Reply:

    Cause the GOP does not want a sitting President, the GOP votes NO a lot, who has black skin, from getting any credit for HSR in California..

    Reality Check Reply:

    @J. Wong: NIMBY explains a huge reason why people are so dead-set against all sorts of projects.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Besides the other reasons mentioned, I think much of it is simply tribal…. “Real americans drive! Trains are for those people…” etc. I suspect much of this is helped along and encouraged (that is, it wouldn’t express itself naturally in many cases) by money and media campaigns by usual suspects (Reason Foundation, Koch Bros, right-wing pundits, etc)…. ><

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    Because Prop 1A premised “Safe, Reliable” HSR. 79 mph Caltrain track is vulnerable to accidents, suicides, and malicious mischief, yet HSR planners talk of running at 110 or 125 mph. Never mind the lesson of Bourbonnais, Illinois, where Amtrak on 79 mph track hit a heavy truck and derailed two locomotives and 11 of 13 passenger cars. HSR needs to be grade separated and securely fenced.

    Michael Reply:

    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/BART-service-stopped-through-downtown-San-6204185.php

    http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_27836543/victims-identified-train-deaths-at-el-cerrito-richmond

    http://patch.com/california/pleasanton/west-dublinpleasanton-bart-station-reopens-after-death-bart-tracks-0

    BART is immune from death on the tracks? Should I post the story about your broken rails and derailments, too? This one…

    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/BART-trains-on-time-crash-site-to-be-cleared-3252143.php

    Please, unfortunate things happen to all rail providers. BART isn’t magic.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Er, I think Robert’s single-mindedness can be annoying too, but are you seriously suggesting grade-separation doesn’t really matter when it comes to reducing rail-associated fatality rates…?

    Michael Reply:

    No. Pointing out that BART also suffers “accidents, suicides, and malicious mischief” and has even had two trains collide at a junction (with luckily few injuries). BART isn’t magic.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Mr. Allen constantly going on about “safe & reliable” has me wondering …

    BART’s had suicides, derailments, fires, train vs. train crashes, fatal train vs. employee collisions, major strikes, etc.

    Apart from suicides, I can’t recall Caltrain suffering from any of those — even once.

    The worst Caltrain incidents I can think of have been relatively rare train vs. vehicle crashes — none of which hurt or killed riders.

    Joe Reply:

    Allen annoys but Menlo Park ravenswood crossing is unsafe and the site of a recent death. Palo Alto Charleston had a accidental death with train car accident. Both are fixable far less cosy than putting in BART. Also as Clem points out, BART can only function when all crossing are separated. Caltrain can be separated as it operates.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Ravenswood or Charleston are not particularly unsafer, than say, Whipple or Broadway. The lady that obliviously and completely avoidably/needlessly got herself killed a Ravenswood recently could’ve easily pulled the same dumb and deadly stunt at almost any crossing.

    Joe Reply:

    Unsafe and needlessly so.
    12 year old girl on bike died at charleston when I was a nearby resident. Flowers left at her death site.
    Sickening. Recent out of town visitor died at charleston in car hit by train. Sickening to think its acceptable and excusable.

    Some of America’s wealthiest towns that are too scared to buck the nimby and fix these intersections.

    Reality Check Reply:

    You can say the same about some intersections too. People kill with and get killed by cars and trucks on our roads all the time and in far greater numbers without a train is sight. But train deaths really get far more and disproportionate attention even though the train (its engineer) is almost never at fault.

    Joe Reply:

    The ravenswood and charlston crossing are confusing and dangerous.

    I would not say the same thing for intersections or automobiles since they continually increase safety standards for vehicles and have better designed interesections than the above crossings.

    Both crossings are politically difficult to fix becuase it impacts the wealthy residents who would rather do nothing.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Pointing out that BART also suffers “accidents, suicides, and malicious mischief” and has even had two trains collide at a junction (with luckily few injuries). BART isn’t magic.

    Obviously no system is magic or perfect, and nobody’s certainly suggesting BART is.

    So the mere existence of accidents/collisions/fatalities/etc on (any) system isn’t really interesting or useful, what’s really interesting is the number of accidents (scaled reasonably, per passenger-km or something) on different types of systems.

    My impression is that grade-crossings are a signficant cause of collisions, which would imply that systems with grade crossings would have a significantly higher number of “associated” (as opposed to e.g. “passenger”) fatalities. [And thus grade separation has benefits beyond just reduced interference with traffic etc.]

    I don’t know if you’re arguing that isn’t true or not; if you are, it’d be interesting to hear…

    Reality Check Reply:

    Nit-pick: unprotected grade crossings cannot “cause” collisions. Unless they are malfunctioning, protected grade crossings cannot “cause” collisions either.

    Improper or unlawful use of grade crossings can cause collisions. And of course, wherever they exist (or are eliminated), there is an increased (decreased) risk of collisions. And so?

    Here’s a query of the FRA database query for PCJX (Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board) grade crossing data. Have fun.

    Joe Reply:

    The crossing design at ravenswood causes cars to stop on the tracks.
    It causes the collision. There have been vehicles clipped and now a death.

    The actual design in operation under normal circumstances is at fault.
    This flaw was not caught in design testing.

    System must be safe and consider normal human behavior. A person who is unwillingly killed following the crossing cab be given a ticket. The city will be given a lawsuit.

    Joe Reply:

    “MENLO PARK, Calif. (KTVU) — New information surfaced Tuesday about how a driver who was stuck in traffic and trapped on railroad tracks was hit and killed by an oncoming Caltrain in Menlo Park early Monday evening.
    Late Tuesday afternoon, KTVU received new video from a viewer that was taken just moments after the fatal crash happened.

    The woman who was killed was boxed in and had no way to go to get out of the train’s path.

    Work crews spent much of Tuesday replacing the gate and fixing damaged poles at the Ravenswood Avenue Caltrain crossing in Menlo Park where a Caltrain struck a car stuck on the tracks just before 5 p.m. Monday evening.

    The car flew 40 feet upon impact. The driver, described as a 35-year-old woman, was taken to Stanford Hospital where she later died.

    On Tuesday night, Caltrain released the name of the woman killed in Menlo Park Monday when her SUV got stuck on the tracks was hit by a train.

    The woman was identified as 35-year-old Jennifer Jahyun of East Palo Alto.

    KTVU spoke with accident witness Jennifer Jones, who was stopped at the crossing facing Jahyun. She said the victim seemed trapped on the tracks with nowhere to go.

    Jones said the woman was looking down and appeared not to realize a train was coming.

    “I was about to get out and wave my arms to get her attention, but it was too late,” Jones said.

    People who work near the train crossings say the intersection is often crowded and confusing.

    “Many times I have tried to get through the intersection and it’s like, ‘Can I go? No. Is it safe? I’ve been sitting here for five minutes almost,'” said Sandy Gregory, who works nearby.

    “When the train comes, cars are already nervous. Trying to stay off the tracks or get to the other side. A pedestrian will get in the way. There is just too much going on,” said another woman who declined to give her name.

    But changes are likely coming to the crosswalk. The Menlo Park Public Works Director told KTVU the city has received funding to design a different crossing, one that most likely will have the street run underneath the tracks.”

    synonymouse Reply:

    SMART grade crossings will likely have similar issues. Streetcars should be able to brake faster than doodlebugs. But you cannot tell the insiders and the connected anything. The freight has to go first. Yuppification will take care of that as ag disappears.

    Reality Check Reply:

    I know Ravenswood well. I grew up in Menlo Park. I later lived nearby. I also spoke to eyewitnesses to the recent crash. The lady was negligent. Pulled onto the track. Was looking down (as if texting or whatever) into her lap while the train approached. Was not “trapped”. Caltrain has video, as the FRA incident report shows. Dunno why they didn’t release it, but I noticed all recent grade-crossing incidents in the FRA database seem to have the video box checked off. Not sure why Caltrain doesn’t release video … probably saving it for fending off lawsuits or for court.

    Ravenswood is no more dangerous than a bunch of other crossings. Just like at Whipple, where a guy got killed in exactly the same way, you have to both violate CVC 22525(d) and then obliviously fail to move your vehicle or self out of harm’s way in order to get hurt or killed.

    joe Reply:

    That intersection and crossing have been changed. It would nice to read about the actual comments of today’s residents and city about the problem created when they changed the crossing.

    It’s dangerous and why NIMBY Menlo Park changed their opposition to crossing changes is working to fix the crossing.

    People who work near the train crossings say the intersection is often crowded and confusing.

    What would they know?

    Late Tuesday afternoon, KTVU received new video from a viewer that was taken just moments after the fatal crash happened.

    The woman who was killed was boxed in and had no way to go to get out of the train’s path.

    You say otherwise ….

    “I think the one in Menlo Park is an accident waiting to happen,” said Menlo Park resident and Caltrain rider Jill Jessup.

    Jessup lives near the Ravenswood crossing. Although Caltrain says the crash on Monday night was the first fatal car collision there, people who use it as a commuter route tell us it’s dangerous. Busy El Camino is only one block away, cars back up all the time when the signal turns red, and it’s also a pedestrian crossing.

    “Right when you get across the tracks, the cars have to stop for a pedestrian,” Jessup said. “So even on a green light, you could be caught on these tracks.”

    And historically….

    From 1992 to 2015, there have been eight fatal accidents at the Ravenswood crossing. Most of these accidents resulted from traffic at the nearby El Camino intersection. There have also been several minor accidents, some involving students here at M-A.

    eight fatalities.

    This accident isn’t a fatality but ….

    This past November, senior Carolyn Watson witnessed a train colliding with the rear end of a car, slicing the trunk off completely. Fortunately, the driver was left unharmed, and the cars in the vicinity were not affected.

    and another

    Another M-A student described a more serious accident on the Caltrain train tracks at Ravenswood. Their family member was caught in heavy traffic, and midway across the tracks, the light suddenly turned red. With nowhere to go, the back end of the car was struck by the train.

    So is the interestion and crossing broken yes.

    Tasked to find out why vehicles have gotten trapped on the tracks, staff determined that backups in the eastbound direction were caused by three things, Nagaya said.

    1) The first is a pedestrian crossing at Ravenswood Avenue,”
    2) “The second is a pedestrian crossing on the south side of Alma Street where a vehicle trying to turn right yields for a pedestrian in the crosswalk and the cars behind it get stuck on the track.”
    3) vehicles turning from Alma to Ravenswood make it partially across the intersection before “getting stuck and blocking oncoming traffic,”

    Reality Check Reply:

    Hearsay. What is the source of the “eight fatals”?

    FRA accident report for Ravenswood only shows 2 deaths: 1) the oblivious lady who made no attempt to drive off the crossing into the empty lane to the left of the one she was stopped in, or to back up, or to exit the vehicle, or to even look around and realize she was in the path of an oncoming train — let alone a non-stopping bullet, and 2) a pedestrian killed in 2012 by a NB train moving at 35 mph (almost certainly a suicide).

    I’m telling you, Ravenswood — hearsay and shoddy TV news “reporter” accounts notwithstanding — is not especially or inherently dangerous.

    Yes, of course, it — like many other crossings — ought to be grade separated sooner or later. But just because there was a recent totally and easily-avoidable spectacular and graphic driver-negligence caused fatality there … leading to lots of community outrage and handwringing and breathless media reports … doesn’t make it any more dangerous than a half-dozen other busy crossings.

    joe Reply:

    Fascinating that FRA records start in 1999. That’s a 150 year old ROW and the first incident was in 1999.

    Excuses for deaths, ignore local residents concerns and the city’s plan to fix the problem. breathless media, community hand wringing.

    What a callous disrespect for life.

    Reality Check Reply:

    One presumable accidental death in 16 years. Ohhhhhh. So dangerous. Cry me a river baby!

    Joe Reply:

    8 car train deaths since 1992.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Source needed.

    I doubt it since there were only two in the last 16 years … and I lived two blocks away and a daily Caltrain commuter from Menlo in the 90s, and then, as now, totally dialed into any and all Caltrain news. I think I’d remember if there were 6 train vs. car deaths there between 92 and 99.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Never mind Joe, you blow hard.

    Query on the FRA database for <a href="SMCo. grade crossing fatalities Jan 1975 – May 2015.

    Ravenswood (crossing ID 754991G) had a total of 2 for that period.

    So zero fatalities from January 1975 until the March 9, 2012, suicide of Eric Salvatierra, 39, a PayPal vice president who “lost his battle with mental illness” and stood in the path of a northbound train at around 9:30 on that Friday morning.

    So what was your “source” for your “6 deaths” at Ravenswood since 1992?

    I suggest you be more careful about repeating hearsay so stridently as fact.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Oops, <a href="here’s that FRA query result showing the first 25 crossings with the most fatalities. Note Ravenswood (crossing ID 754991G) only has 2 since 1975.

    joe Reply:

    I’m looking at that same safety site and tried a query — Even if the site says data go back to a certain time, typically on line databases are not complete for 20th century records, at least in the earth sciences.

    I did a broad search to test my use of the search engine and the holdings — the system tells me the data for our area of interest start in 1997.

    Try a search 1975 to 1995. DO you get anything?

    I’ll try to find a counter example to see if that query gives a false negative.

    Reality Check Reply:

    I checked adjacent Oak Grove (ID 754990A). It seems to check out back to 1975. They had the schoolgirl (Sandra Tossetti), who I remember was killed trying to beat the train on her bike in 1978 (I was nearby when it happened) — just like the girl killed more recently at Charleston. Also incidents in 1979 and 2001.

    I remember doing this sort of crossing data research with a colleague in the late 90s.

    The upshot then — as now — is that there just isn’t anywhere near the level or frequency of grade crossing carnage to match public’s (mis)perception of it.

    Robert Benson Reply:

    SF to SJ time is a bit problematic. First, the law requires SF Transbay as one end, so you can’t shorten the route. Second, the Authority says length is 51 miles, but I get more when I add up the route segments. At 110 mph, it’s about right for 51 miles, for 57 miles it’s 1:30 too long. I think it’s close enough that it can be fudged to work, though.

    Anandakos Reply:

    There is simply no way that HSR can AVERAGE 110 miles per hour with a stop through the cities of the Peninsula without full grade separation. And to think it can is egregious misrepresentation on the part of the Authority.

    Given the pedestrian density near the stations, “full grade separation” does NOT mean that every cross-street would have an overpass or underpass, while the trains run “at-grade”. No; it means a berm for every mile south of South San Francisco.

    The residents of the Peninsula cities will be out in overwhelming force, complete with torches and effigies to hang.

    The right thing to do is what was mentioned up-thread: switch to a BART connection in Oakland. It’s closer to the population density center of the region.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Turns out there are sections where HSR can exceed 110 mph. So average 110 doesn’t seem much like a stretch. In practice, however, if they start operations with the blend, they won’t meet the 30′ time constraint in Prop 1a except under ideal conditions, but Prop 1a does not specify 30′ operationally from the start.

    Also, sections south of South San Francisco are already berm separated (San Bruno, Belmont, San Carlos). And Caltrain independent of HSR is already planning further grade separations using berms as necessary (also note that berms are not required everywhere). Given a choice between the impacts of grade crossings versus safety and convenience, most Peninsula residents will end up choosing the latter with its grade separations.

    Also, fyi there are numerous grade crossings getting to Oakland from Altamont.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Also, per Clem’s post, 110 maximum mph is sufficient to make SF (4th & King) to San Jose 30 minutues.

    J. Wong Reply:

    The original Caltrain HSR Compatibility blog posting: Peninsula HSR Take 2.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Grade separation at Broadway in Burlingame will be welcomed by Peninsula residents at least those who have to use that crossing. Burlingame would like to resist grade separation further south starting at Oak Grove, but HSR will cross each bridge individually as necessary, and Burlingame is going to find it very schizophrenic when faced with the reality.

    Clem Reply:

    The egregious misrepresentation is all yours when you say that berms will be required everywhere south of SSF.

    Anandakos Reply:

    Wow, SF to LA in two minutes forty seconds! Read it and WEEP Elon!

    [ed. note] the apostrophe is the widely accepted symbol for MINUTES not hours and the quotation mark for SECONDS not minutes.]

  5. Lee
    Aug 19th, 2015 at 16:05
    #5

    This not where CHSRA originally planned to put the station. But I think it has real merit. Burbank Commissioners on the other hand will not like it. They are planning to sell to private developers and fund the new terminal with it. Burbank groups opposing the new passenger terminal might get behind this a a means of slowing it development.

  6. J. Wong
    Aug 19th, 2015 at 16:07
    #6

    Various posters are throwing the term “base tunnel” around. For example, in referring to the Angeles Forest alignment. But is what is proposed really a “base tunnel”? It does run from a base in the San Fernando Valley, but unlike every other example of a base tunnel that I can find, it includes an elevation change of over 2000′. I thought the whole point of a base tunnel is to avoid such a major elevation change?

    Mattie F. Reply:

    I would imagine as long as it emerges at the base on both sides of a mountain / range, that the base on one end is higher than the other does not affect the validity of the terminology. An elevation gain is a rather unavoidable fact when connecting two areas at different elevations.

    Zorro Reply:

    Yep, couldn’t have said that better Myself, Mattie F.

    J. Wong Reply:

    I wouldn’t call where it is planned to emerge near Palmdale as a base on the other side of the mountain range. More like it emerges near the top of the mountains around Palmdale.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Or not. I guess it emerges in the Antelope Valley, which is 2000′ higher than the San Fernando Valley although the San Gabriels there crest out only 2000′ higher at 4000′.

    Clem Reply:

    No. It emerges near the center of the universe, once known as just Palmdale.

    Joe Reply:

    “..the Nevada Legislature sent Senate Bill 457 to Gov. Brian Sandoval to establish the Nevada High-Speed Rail Authority, which would choose a firm to construct and operate the high-speed train. The bill passed both houses of the Nevada legislature with only one nay vote.”

    “The bill says the train must have a speed of at least 150 mph on trips between Victorville, Calif., and Las Vegas.”

    “California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Jeff Morales wrote a letter in June 2014 that a connection to Las Vegas ‘would provide tremendous benefits for the (Los Angeles) region, both in terms of travel and (greenhouse gas) reductions.’ “

    Joey Reply:

    Why would they write Victorville in to the legislation. It hardly makes sense to even pass through it now that XpressWest is gone.

    And noting again that Tejon does not preclude a connection to Las Vegas.

    joe Reply:

    Victorville because thats been the plan.

    Joey Reply:

    It’s completely arbitrary though. Codifying it will almost certainly hamper the project going forward, unless access to the LA basin is done via the Cajon pass.

    joe Reply:

    Nevada’s codifying and funding a HSR effort does not hamper the project going forward unless your goal is to not do anything.

    Cajon Pass – OMG. Here we go.

    Nevada’s plan comes with funding and is complete consistent with the XPresswest Plan to go to Victorville CA and negotiate a connection with the CAHSR system.

    Joey Reply:

    Funding doesn’t require choosing a specific California endpoint though – Victorville isn’t anywhere near the planned CAHSR route. It makes sense as a temporary terminus under XpressWest’s private scheme with a temporary terminus. Once that goes out the window (and it has, by all reasonable measures), Victorville no longer makes sense – even assuming the Tehachapi alignment for CAHSR, the most logical routing for a Las Vegas connection is Mojave-Barstow-Las Vegas, since it minimizes NorCal-Vegas travel time and has a negligible effect on SoCal-Las Vegas travel time.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There’s a lot more people in Southern California. Negligible effects work both ways.

    Joe Reply:

    Now you want to argue over nevada adopting xpresswest’s plan and lecture all over what’s logical.

    It’s “gone out the window” except it hasn’t. nevada just leglislated that alignment.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Nevada’s just trying to speed things up by reusing the existing DesertXPress / XPressWest plan.

    By the way, there’s already a conceptual design for the Palmdale/Victorville rail connection as part of the High Desert Corridor highway project. I see why nobody wants to reinvent the wheel.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    any train between LAS and LA via the high desert should have stops in the high desert communites that are between LAS and LA.

    trentbridge Reply:

    There’s Barstow, 23,000 residents and then what? Baker? It has less than 800 residents..
    I have driven this I15 route many times and can’t remember missing a high-speed-train-worthy burgh on the way.

    Zorro Reply:

    I noticed there are a few communities surrounding Barstow, like Newberry Springs, Yermo and Lenwood, though on the map Lenwood I think has been mostly annexed to Barstow, plus there are two Marine bases and of course there is the Army base @ Fort Irwin, so it’s not like no one lives in the area, LVHSR should have a stop in Barstow or LVHSR should not have any connection to Los Angeles thru the CAHSR system.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There aren’t enough people in metro Barstow to spend 50 million dollars to build a station.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    vegas-primm-barstow-victorville-palmdale.

    it wouldnt cost 50 million dollars for a concrete platform and a ticket machine.

    EJ Reply:

    it wouldnt cost 50 million dollars for a concrete platform and a ticket machine.

    You need more than that for a HSR station. Passing loops, for one thing. Platforms on either side and access between them. This isn’t one of those single platforms out in the middle of the desert that Amtrak has. I’m sure if it makes economic sense to serve Barstow and Primm, they will. Seems a bit doubtful, though.

    Joey Reply:

    Requena-Utiel Station is a good example of a small rural station. At Spanish construction costs, which are some of the lowest, anywhere, it cost 12.5 million euros to build (opening in 2010).

    EJ Reply:

    According to wiki, that area has a population of 39K. So MAYBE Barstow could support a station – pretty marginal though.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Barstow is probably going to have a station, and without “pull-aside” tracks. The tracks will go right through Barstow, at ground level, but with sharpish curves at either end which will limit the track speed to speeds acceptable for platform-facing tracks. The result is that adding a station will not be that expensive, and the population is large enough. The entire situation with using the I-15 median means that the whole corridor already has overpasses which can be used for access.

    Primm is waaay too small.

    Joey Reply:

    Barstow is pretty compact, and there’s a whole lot of nothing just south of it. Hard to find a reason to run the tracks through it.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I think cities along hsr lines in california should have the option to opt in at a future date if they choose do so. The goal is transportation for californians. connecting as many californians to each other as possible with the greatest number of possible city pairs and system that serves allthe taxpayers of california. So maybe not right away, but the option for future growth.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    there’s 5000 people less in lovely Barstow than there are in the city of Ithaca. 3000 more than in the town of Ithaca. It’s that’s small. Or Cortland and the village but not the town of Homer. It would be barely worth it to have a TVM and patch of asphalt. Unfortunately you can’t do that these days and you need level boarding and ramps to get up to the level boarding and at least a bus shelter. There aren’t enough people there. There’s barely enough for on-demand door to door airport shuttle style service to Victorville. The ones with cars will drive because the parking will be cheaper than calling the shuttle.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Unless they are as rich as Atherton or the Tejon Ranch Co. they have no option. A commute station will be rammed down their throat.

    Anandakos Reply:

    “Hard to find as reason to run the tracks through it”.

    Um, er, this IS a railroad we’re discussing here, not a HyperLoop. It’s steel wheel on steel rail which means it’s somewhat limited in the topography through which it can pass. Barstow is on the Santa Fe line because there are pretty steep hills to the north and south of it. It’s the best “pass” between the relatively flat areas to the east and west of the town.

    Anandakos Reply:

    And so far as a station, this is HSR we’re talking about. More stations mean longer travel times. And this particular project is NOT “travel for Californians”. The Nevada legislature is considering funding it. So “Californians” are not germane.

    Robert Benson Reply:

    I’d say that since the tunnel would be at the base of both sides of the mountain range, ‘base tunnel’ would be the appropriate terminology, regardless of how the elevation changes.

    Anandakos Reply:

    Given your definition, the only possible “base tunnel” is from the north end of the San Fernando Valley to the transition between the floor of the San Joaquin Valley south of Bakersfield and “The Grapevine” on the order of 40-45 miles depending on . That would be the longest rail tunnel in the world by about twenty percent. I believe it was rejected because of the possibility of collapse in a large San Andreas event.

  7. morris brown
    Aug 19th, 2015 at 19:52
    #7

    A video tour of the Trans Bay Terminal, including a look at the “train box” can be seen at

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

    (5 minutes)

    Joey Reply:

    Gotta appreciate all those permanent columns in the wrong places…

    Clem Reply:

    Notice he says they can’t be moved anymore…

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    what is the big deal about having columns down the middle of the platform? Bart platforms in DTSF have double rows of columns. doesnt seem to be an issue.
    you can’t put the columns on the tracks, and you can’t just leave them out.

    Joey Reply:

    Having columns on the platforms is fine, but they need to be placed so as to maximize the width of escalators/stairs. This is particularly true at Transbay where there will be a capacity crunch perhaps from day one and dwell times need to be minimized.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    do they plan to use escalators that are too narrow?

    Joey Reply:

    Yes, basically the escalators/stairs need to be wide enough that a full train’s worth of people can ascend as fast as they can exit the train, and still leave some space for people to descend onto the platform as well. Note that there are a lot fewer escalators/stairs than there are doors on a train.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    but this is a width used everywhere. wide enough for two people side by side. if you make it any wider a person has nothing to hold on to.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    isnt the problem not enough escalators rather than column placement?

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    is this enough

    Joey Reply:

    Try this.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Joey,
    Columns plonked right at the foot of the stairs? I don’t see how that is better.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    Who takes the stairs?

    Michael Reply:

    Those columns are a pretty generous distance from the stairs, which are wide, and flanked on each side by escalators. Also, what isn’t obvious, is that the columns are steel, which allows them to be much narrower than if they were concrete.

    The lower level at Berlin hbf is about as wide open as an multi-track underground station comes. I was unfortunate enough to be down there, not initially knowing the late-September, midday-Friday afternoon train I was taking to Leipzig had Munich as its destination. The majority of the crowd was on its way to Oktoberfest. The platform handled the crowd well- the train, no so much. Standing room only ICE train, even in first class, where I was.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    so by width you mean with stairs in the middle, not the width of the actual escalator?
    Where is a diagram of the platform design, are they putting up and down side by side, or two ups at one end and two downs at the other end of the platform ( which might flow better – having everyone descend at one end and board from that direction, from the left while poeple exiting the train go in the other direction to the other end and up.

    Joey Reply:

    Up and down both need to be distributed throughout the platform – it’s not wide enough to accommodate a full train’s worth of people walking along its length. I’d argue that up capacity matters more than down, since people getting on the train won’t all arrive at once, but that’s a minor point. I’m not really worrying about whether it’s escalators or stairs – escalators can be parallel in any case.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I think people will work it out. There will be elvators too right?

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    There was a diagram somewhere.

    Joey Reply:

    The current plans for Transbay show most of the vertical circulation being a single escalator or staircase. Elevators will of course exist but there will be few of them.

    The issue here isn’t for passengers necessarily, though obviously crowding isn’t particularly comfortable. The issue is that the longer it takes to empty out and load the train, the longer the dwell time will be, and longer dwell times means fewer trains are able to use the station. Transbay is a location that may be operating near capacity from day one, so capacity is really critical here.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    looks like plenty of escalators

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    will there ever really be a need for more than a train every 15 minutes or so? Can trains hold up to 1000 people each? 15 minutes to empty and fill a trainset should be plenty. arrive, let poeple out, sit for 10 minutes while a crew fluffs up the interior and bathrooms, open the doors let the new people on and go.

    Joey Reply:

    That diagram is very old – the loop has since been eliminated. It also doesn’t show the column locations. From the latest information I saw, most of the escalators and stairs will be single banks. This diagram is slightly more up-to-date, though perhaps not 100%.

    Peter Reply:

    Yeah, haven’t they since reallocated the northern platform to Caltrain? Of course that’s less important if they have the same boarding heights, but still.

    Joey Reply:

    will there ever really be a need for more than a train every 15 minutes or so?

    For HSR, probably not. But this station is shared by Caltrain. Caltrain runs 6×6 car trains per hour currently, but needs more capacity, and will close to double its job access once the DTX is completed. 8×8 car TPH in the not too distant future is very plausible, and more than that may very will be necessary. Fortunately, Caltrain trains will require a lot less servicing than HSR trains, but you’re still dealing with a sizable number of trains here. Combine limits on platform throughput with a poorly designed, conflict-prone station throat, and severe scheduling constraints down the Peninsula (as a result of shared operations), and you quickly end up with a situation where every minute counts.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    well then, as unpopualr as it might be, the riding public is going to have to figure out to navigate in a quick, civilized, efficient fashion. Just as with freeways, the problem isn’t always design or even traffic volume, its people who can’t follow written and unwritten rules of the road. I mean everyday you get on an escalator and everyone knows…. walk to the left, stand to the right… yet everyday you see some clueless oblivious person who isn’t paying attention who stands there and blocks the walkers on the left and youre like.. really?

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    maybe they should have elemintated the mezzanine level and made it a train level. caltrain on top, hsr underneath just like bart and muni in sf

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Once the exalted Altamont is built there’s going to be at least 4 an hour to Stockton and all those trains to Sacramento.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    @JimInPollockPines
    Mezzanines are super duper useful though, if there’s any kind of passenger volume at all, since they take much of the load off the platforms themselves, eliminate bottlenecks, and make things more flexible for the passengers (as a mezzanine, unlike the platforms, can be quite wide, and isn’t forced to be linear, it can distribute all platforms to all exits).

    Mattie F. Reply:

    @JimInPollockPines: “I mean everyday you get on an escalator and everyone knows…. walk to the left, stand to the right…”

    I feel like in parts of California other than the Bay area, we do not encounter enough escalators for that rule to exist.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    a far as I know most escalators are wide enough to “walk to the left/ stand to the right”

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Both “single” (only wide enough for a single person) and “double” escalators seem pretty common, but yeah, obviously in high volume locations you’re going to want the double-width kind if it’s at all possible.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You can put the columns between the tracks.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    right but if you put the columns between the tracks you have to allow for more space between the tracks and with limited space, you’d have to make the platforms narrower instead, so you lose the amount of room on the platforms

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    then don’t put your train station and bus terminal in such a lousy location.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    downtown san francisco is probably a good place to put a train station.

    Domayv Reply:

    then it would be better if they expanded the trainbox to include more tracks because 6 won’t cut it (It’ll get clogged very quickly), especially taking into account the possibility of a second Transbay tube, which would include heavy rail services going northward to Sacramento. It would also help if they make the HSR arrive at TTC from an underground ROW paralleling US-101 from South San Francisco.

    Domayv Reply:

    as shown right here: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zWLI5V544xAc.kps6PIgTbaaI

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    is someone here an actual architect familiar with the project who can explain where the colums should be? Or are we just complaining because we hate everything everyone on this project does?

    Travis D Reply:

    I find the dichotomy funny. The Trans Bay Terminal is supposedly dumb in conception because no one will use it but also simultaneously designed wrong because it will be overcrowded.

    EJ Reply:

    Who’s saying no one will use it?

    Travis D Reply:

    I can’t remember who it was that said it. But I do remember someone saying that.

    john burrows Reply:

    Can someone enlighten me as to when a high speed train might actually make it to this “train box”?

    Reality Check Reply:

    That depends a number of unknowns … such as if and when the funding for both HSR to/from SF and for Transbay Terminal Phase 2 is identified & received. And whether SF manages to completely change the rail alignment in connection with the I-280 cut-back along the 3rd St. corridor south of Mission Creek. And, and, and …

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals.

    Up against the wall.

  8. NFA
    Aug 19th, 2015 at 20:30
    #8

    Is it me or after hearing the explanation in the video of the eventual platform height, does the ceiling height in the video of the construction site look much lower than what the animation suggests?

  9. john burrows
    Aug 20th, 2015 at 00:20
    #9

    In case this hasn’t been covered before—

    On Aug. 11, the Authority sent out a letter answering frequently asked questions regarding the “Request For Expression Of Interest, (RFEI) for the purpose of designing, building, financing, and maintaining (DBFM) an initial operating segment, (IOS). The letter includes some information that I was not aware of—

    The Authority’s objective is to build a high speed rail system and to begin operations as soon as possible. Either IOS North or IOS South would be fine or any other segment that could operate high speed rail service and not require a subsidy.

    Cost estimates made in 2014 for IOS North and IOS South in year of expenditure (in billions of dollars) were—

    IOS South:
    Planning, Environmental, and ROW————4.57
    Stations and rolling stock————————2.51
    Civil works—————————————–20.40
    Infrastructure————————————–5.05
    Contingency—————————————-1.05
    TOTAL————————————————33.58 billion

    For IOS North–
    Planning, environmental and ROW————-4.82
    Stations and rolling stock———————–2.92
    Civil works—————————————-18.08
    Infrastructure————————————-4.16
    Contingency—————————————1.09
    TOTAL———————————————–31.07 billion

    FUNDING for CAHSR in billions, (Available and predicted)—
    Committed—————————————–3.2 Feds
    Committed—————————————–5.9 Prop 1-A
    Potentially available—————————–4.1 (Balance Prop 1-A)
    Committed—————————————–0.65 (Cap-and-trade, fiscal years 2014-2016
    Expected——————————————17.5 (Cap-and trade, 2015-2050)

    Total———————————————–31.35 billion. Not all of this is available for the IOS. Funding for the Bookends, “The Box” etc would have to be subtracted from this total (somewhere around $3 billion).

    I was a little surprised that CAHSRA was projecting Cap-and-trade revenues all the way out to 2050. but they are specific and state—“For purposes of the the RFEI (Request For Expressions of Interest), respondents should assume that the Authority receives $500M through FY2050. The Authority welcomes feedback on its long-term funding sources and the ability to raise the necessary financing to complete an IOS and begin high-speed passenger service in California”. This anticipation of Cap-and-trade revenue through 2050 would tie in with the hoped for Design-Build-Finance-Maintain (DBFM) contract which the Authority anticipates will be for a duration of 30 years or more.

    Time for a couple of predictions—

    1. The quiet HSR summer will not last long.
    2. I may see some big-time activity across the street at Diridon Station sooner rather than later.

    Travis D Reply:

    I can’t help but wonder if there are not working behind the scenes to leverage that Cap and Trade money into a loan so they can get construction going faster.

    webster Reply:

    That’s been my hunch, as well…

    joe Reply:

    Not before 2018.

    The Authority has all the money it can use in the foreseeable future with ARRA and matching funds.

    To spend this money, the project has to staff up so they can do the project’s work (such as buy land) conduct over sight on contractors so the more work they conduct, the more staff they need.
    Here’s the job openings.
    http://www.hsr.ca.gov/About/Careers/current_job_openings.html

    Critics have set a non-realistic funding standard – what they insist is needed to show the project is viable wasn’t required or possible when we built out the nation’s highways or CA’s water/irrigation infrastructure.

    Zorro Reply:

    Agreed joe, even a Judge found that argument rather lacking, since He/She(I don’t know which, sorry) said the CA Water Project didn’t know where all the money was going to come from either, so another one bites the dust..

    joe Reply:

    Anyone here able show the money in hand or commitments to pay off their 10-15-30 year mortgage?

    BTW for the tranit nerds:

    Hoped
    As I’ve written before, some transit nerds cheered a bit when Christie killed the tunnel plan because they didn’t think it was a good plan. And, ok, fine, but it’s hopey thinking to expect that after destroying a plan that took years to devise and potentially fund that a new and better plan would materialize anytime soon. It’s 2015. There’s no plan, no funding, and two governors who don’t give a shit.

    Hopey doesn’t bring you changey.

    While it’s my neck of the woods, I don’t even go to NYC that often and when I do I usually take the bus. I just know how much this would screw the region
    http://www.eschatonblog.com/2015/08/hoped.html

    Joey Reply:

    So, just because it’s a plan that exists we should accept Amtrak’s not even close to worth the price scheme?

    Travis D Reply:

    Imperfect plans, implemented, are better than vaporware “perfect” plans.

    Joey Reply:

    Not at any price.

    Joe Reply:

    It’s not proposed at any price.
    The failure of the tunnel impacts 400,000 people.

    Bdawe Reply:

    400,000 people? NJT ridership into Penn is less than a quarter of that. More people arrive in Manhattan by bus.

    This is a valuable project that should be built, but that does not justify a blank cheque towards supporting outrageous New York public construction costs

    Joey Reply:

    It’s proposed at somewhere between $16b and $25b, depending on whose numbers you use. Even if you double ridership (87,000 per direction per weekday for NJT), it’s very hard to justify the cost per rider at those prices.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Private construction costs in Manhattan aren’t very much different.

    joe Reply:

    no blank check. just exaggerations by critics.

    not worth the money to joey. he’s got better plans.

    Joey Reply:

    Fine joe, go explain to New York why funding this should take priority over lower cost per rider but highly valuable projects like the next three phases of SAS and Utica.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Explain to Senators in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine why they can’t have more trains to New York and instead there’s going to be better subway service in parts of Brooklyn they’ve never heard of.

    Joey Reply:

    Because other projects are more cost effective than Amtrak’s tunnel proposal.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So? How much extra are you willing to pay for everything you buy because the Hudson River crossings are gridlocked and truck drivers get paid by the hour?

    joe Reply:

    Fine joe, go explain to New York why funding this should take priority over lower cost per rider but highly valuable projects like the next three phases of SAS and Utica.

    Because other projects are more cost effective than Amtrak’s tunnel proposal.

    Sure. More cost effective. I see bright future for you managing a McDonald’s.

    NYTimes editorial.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/17/opinion/build-a-new-hudson-river-tunnel.html?_r=0

    Thank god CA beat back the opposition and transit nerds from destroying the CA project.

    Better to let them wrote blog posts about the perfect system CA didn’t build and watch NY/NJ try to get a new project started from scratch – more expensive than ARC because the urgency and difficulty in building consensus.

    Joey Reply:

    So then you do think that New York should hold off on trying to fund other transit projects in order to prioritize funding the tunnel?

    Joe Reply:

    Who said NY had to make that choice and only that choice? Joey.

    Reality is you don’t get a bucket of money. Recall ARC money all disappeared when they canceled the project.

    NY-NJ propose the gateway and seek federal funds. If they fund the project then they built. Cancel it and the money disappears.
    No repurposing funds.
    Those are the rulz.

    Joey Reply:

    No money disappears because the project isn’t even partially funded yet. There isn’t even an EIS. If the project is funded by federal grants then it is absolutely in competition with other transit projects in the region, and across the country too – planners and politicians will have to decide what projects to submit applications for. This doesn’t apply to earmarks of course but given the current budget I doubt it will be funded 100% by earmarks.

    Joe Reply:

    You’re evading the obvious. NY/NJ isn’t given a block grant. They can have multiple projectsmfunded basedmon need and urgency. Then state of NY and NJ are using the national importance of the project to draw more federal funds so they can fund more projects.

    Joey Reply:

    If need and urgency are taken into account then the tunnel shouldn’t get priority unless Amtrak can figure out how the control the cost. The cost per rider is way too high to say, apply for the tunnel over SAS in a particular grant program. If it’s “attracting” federal funds then that’s earmarks, but I really don’t think that’ll go 100% of the way.

    Joey Reply:

    And it still doesn’t really support your argument that delaying the project would sacrifice any funding. Not that the particular most important design change (eliminating the station box which requires leveling an entire city block) would delay that much.

    joe Reply:

    So then you do think that New York should hold off on trying to fund other transit projects in order to prioritize funding the tunnel?

    No.

    If need and urgency are taken into account then the tunnel shouldn’t get priority unless Amtrak can figure out how the control the cost.

    The adjectives urgent and needed, indicate project has been prioritized.

    And it still doesn’t really support your argument that delaying the project would sacrifice any funding

    My argument is that canceling a project doesn’t necessarily mean the funds can all be spent elsewhere. Also the consensus to fund a project isn’t transferable to a project-alternative that’s “better”.

    I think it’s too late to advert a problem and we’re going to see a tunnel fail and the resulting economic impact on NJ clearly and NY.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It effects the world economy.
    Ya wanna get from Boston to Washington DC in three hours something has to be done about Manhattan. Ya wanna get from Boston to Toronto in four hours something has to be done about Manhattan.
    Ya wanna get from Cleveland to Pittsburgh something needs to be done about Manhattan.
    Richmond to Philadelphia. Hartford to Baltimore….

    Joey Reply:

    I think it’s too late to advert a problem and we’re going to see a tunnel fail and the resulting economic impact on NJ clearly and NY

    There isn’t even an a draft EIS yet, let alone a final EIS which will be required for funding to be committed. Plenty of time to make changes.

    My argument is that canceling a project doesn’t necessarily mean the funds can all be spent elsewhere

    For grant programs it does, since they can just submit an application for another project. If you want to talk about earmarks we can talk about earmarks.

    Also the consensus to fund a project isn’t transferable to a project-alternative that’s “better”.

    The consensus is that someone else should pay for it. Cuomo doesn’t seem willing to commit a penny of state funding, and I don’t think Christie is any better, particularly with his presidential bid happening right now.

    omething has to be done

    Yes, but “something” doesn’t have to be leveling an entire city block with the associated costs.

    joe Reply:

    One might get off their cost per seat and calculate value in lost economic activity and taxes due to the impact in GDP. Of course that isn’t transit so oh hum.

    My direct experience with grants is that number of successes is proportional to the number of submissions. I don’t know how you get your grants funded but putting in one doesn’t increase the changes of success. That is mistakenly thinking there’s block funding or an ear mark as I think you mean.

    “ear marked” (you need to describe what the means to you).

    I’m glad CA is implementing CAHSRA and not delaying the project to fix it or optimize the project.

    Opponents all talk about doing HSR right and making it better as a way to kill the project – it’s pretty evident to any reasonable person which is why HSR is not stopped by the public, legislature, courts or executive branch and pushes ahead.

    You can observe a lot just by watching.

    Joey Reply:

    One might get off their cost per seat and calculate value in lost economic activity and taxes due to the impact in GDP. Of course that isn’t transit so oh hum.

    The project doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If the same amount of money (or even half of it, by current estimates) were spent on other projects, it would serve more riders generating more economic activity.

    “ear marked” (you need to describe what the means to you).

    Ear marked as in funding set aside for a particular project in a funding bill. Compare to, say, the federal HSR funding which California has gotten, where qualified projects submit applications and are allocated some amount of a fixed amount of available funding.

    I’m glad CA is implementing CAHSRA and not delaying the project to fix it or optimize the project.

    I will argue the finer points of California’s project to no end, but there’s an important difference here: California has completed (and published) EIR/EIS materials for several project sections (and at larger statewide and regional levels). Whether or not I agree with the decisions outlined in those materials, the studies are completed, design choices have been justified, and redoing that would take time. Amtrak has nothing published so far, so either they’re still in the process, in which case changes can and should be made, or they think they’re exempt from environmental review, in which case they shouldn’t be allowed to build anything.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The consensus is that someone else should pay for it.

    People in the Northeast pay Federal taxes. It’s their own money being spent, for a change, on them.

    Joey Reply:

    Majority federal funding would make sense. What concerns me is the unwillingness to put any state or local funding into it.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    If for some reason both of the twin rail tunnels under the Hudson River connecting Penn Station, New York City, with New Jersey, built by the Pennsylvania Railroad a century ago, were to fail tomorrow, the cheapest and fastest solution might be to forget about replacing them, and instead simply and far more cheaply reinstate ferry-boat service across the Hudson. This would force passengers wishing to take the train from New York City to Washington, D.C. and beyond to schlep themselves and their luggage onto the ferry – but at least they would be able to continue their journey. Amtrak could build a new terminal on the Jersey shore of the Hudson River – and that would be that. Sometimes the easiest solution is the hardest to implement. Since neither New York State nor New Jersey give a damn about the ancient tunnels, I say – abandon them and restore cross-Hudson ferry service instead.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    Additionally, NJ Transit has their Hoboken Terminal, which still has its ferry landings – all they need is a fleet of boats. That way both Amtrak and NJ Transit can manage just fine w/0 having to rely on maintaining, repairing and/or replacing the former Pennsylvania Railroad’s tunnels, which are now life-expired.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    What’s the lead time at the shipyard for 3,000 passenger ferries? You need ten or fifteen of them. And docks on both sides of the river for them. Most people aren’t destined for 12th Avenue. Scaring up a bus fleet to shuttle them to the rest of Manhattan might be possible if you scavenge every spare bus east of Chicago.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Jones act could be a problem.

    EJ Reply:

    Not unless they use foreign-flagged ships as ferries…

    les Reply:

    I also think cities will work more locally to finish connections once the spine is complete. if Jerry can get Palmdale to Merced completed before he leaves then Mayors will be much more drawn to connect.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Interesting that they didn’t book a value for the money from land sales that the Authority gets from land acquired by eminent domain or more federal cash or a private investment…

    Also interesting that they confirmed Clem’s assertion that the IOS can’t just be any old usable segment.

    Bdawe Reply:

    If, for instance, Amtrak California is paying trackage fees to CHSRA to run San Joaquins over the high speed line, presumably the subsidies for Amtrak California do not count as subsidies to CHSRA?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    No, but the State is overhauling the San Joaquin’s soon anyway because the Feds stuck it to them on the rates the state pays Amtrak as a contractor. Now if the Starlight moved…hypothetically that would work except the rate would be pretty low since I don’t think UP charges much to use the Coast Line…

    Bdawe Reply:

    The IOS would have to gone over tehachapi and thus initially operating by the time it could be of use to the Starlight. And by that time I would hope that the CHSRA would have the good sense to not allow any 100 mile per hour 74 ton superliners over their their high speed trackage.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Exactly.

    Another subsidy that could work is if the Post Office ran trains on the HSR track and paid to use them.

    synonymouse Reply:

    RGS Galloping Geese

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    The French are in the process of decommissioning their HSR Post office sets.

    Bdawe Reply:

    The economics of a California postal set might be a bit better, since the Bay Area and Los Angeles are much more balanced than Paris and anywhere-in-France. A more full mail train going both ways

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    By the time you transload it from the trucks to the train and from the train to the trucks it could have just gone there by truck.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Not really. Nowadays a *local* letter goes to a “sorting center” 200 miles away, and then back. A non-local letter goes post office – sorting center – sorting center – post office.

    Between a pair of sorting centers, the mail’s already being transloaded. Basically, sending the mail by train between the sorting centers would save USPS a bundle. Unfortunately, they’ve located a lot of their sorting centers in really dumb places…

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Remember, US Mail used to travel by train until the Post Office decided to help out the fledgling airline industry in 1967 requiring them to carry a set amount of mail on each flight.

    Now you are probably thinking, how was that beneficial to the airlines, and the answer is because it helped along the case for deregulation a decade later….

    synonymouse Reply:

    If the PO survives it will be thru political mailers and other advertising and small parcels generated by internet shopping which cost a lot less to mail than via UPS.

    People who pay by check, like me, are a dying breed.

    les Reply:

    Hopefully the IOS is south. The Palmdale to LA segment along with the HDC will be a much bigger private draw, most significantly from Vegas interest.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    I’d hope for South as well, mainly because it can link into conventional rail on the north-end for a statewide system; whereas a North IOS is still cut off from LA south of Bakersfield.

    morris brown Reply:

    @john burrows

    Thanks for this compilation of the data included in the Authority’s letter of Aug 11.

    original document at:

    http://www.hsr.ca.gov/docs/about/doing_business/HSR15_02_RFEI_NOTIFICATION_FAQ.pdf

    So here we see the Authority projecting out 35 years to augment as much as possible available funding, and see even by 2050, there is only enough funding (using their own and very very questionable numbers), to build either IOS north or IOS south, but not both. Hardly meeting the requirements of Prop 1A, which was at least for Phase 1 is a system from SF to LA (Anaheim)

    Those thinking this will get this done faster by using the Cap and Trade income stream to support a revenue bond just remember the revenue stream must pay for interest on any such bond. Net result of a 35 year revenue bond, means net funding for the project will not be of the order of $31 billion to $33 billion, but must less the 1/2 of those amounts, since interest will eat up more than 1/2 of the revenue stream.

    joe Reply:

    First off pay attention:
    :

    The Authority sent out a letter answering frequently asked questions regarding the ““Request For Expression Of Interest, (RFEI) for the purpose of designing, building, financing, and maintaining (DBFM) an initial operating segment, (IOS).”

    Morris:

    So here we see the Authority projecting out 35 years to augment as much as possible available funding, and see even by 2050, there is only enough funding (using their own and very very questionable numbers), to build either IOS north or IOS south, but not both.

    Secondly, Plantiff’s lawyer Mr. Flashman tried your “they don’t have all the money” argument in the Appellate court. The Judges noted the State didn’t have all the money identified when they started the CA Water Project. It isn’t a rational argument.

    Zorro Reply:

    The plaintiffs are so pwned by the Judge.

    Joe Reply:

    So was Judge Kenney. He was overturned and humiliated by their ruling which ridiculed his creation of new law and violation of constitutional separation of powers.

    Kenny is hearing the case on travel time and prop1a compliance.

    synonymouse Reply:

    What humiliation is there in being overturned by puppets? Jerry’s prostituted higher judges humiliated themselves.

    agb5 Reply:

    Perhaps if they can finance the buildout by leveraging cap and trade, they will never need to issue bonds with all of their pesky restrictions on how the bond money can be spent only on usable segments etc.

    Zorro Reply:

    Exactly what I’ve been saying agb5.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Uh … you can’t just add up funding sources that are arriving in different years. You need to discount back to today. The cap and trade money is $7-8 billion in current funds. This is a total of $12 billion – not even close, especially considering inflation over last 2 years has been much than Authority projects.

    Zorro Reply:

    The $17.5 Bn is future funds, not current and CnT is only giving 1/4 to HSR as agreed. As AB32 is being extended until 2050, by the bill known as SB32 in the Assembly, SB32 already passed the State Senate, once the bill is out of the Assembly by a 41 vote majority, Governor Brown will I’m very sure sign it into law, nothing can stop this from happening, nothing.

    The Nimbys have lost, especially on the funding argument, so they may as well run the White Flag of Surrender up the flagpole…

    Soon hopefully the office for Transportation Oversight will be filled, it was a Republican idea, the Democratic officials adopted it, now lets see what happens, popcorn anyone?

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    What?

    I’m not trying to anything more complicated than math. I am assuming that the cashflow stream exists. I am just doing basic finance to show that if you want to use an IOU for money you don’t get until 2045 to pay for a bill that comes due in 2020, there is a substantial discounting that goes on.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    I would actually say that this proves the case that the Authority is making up stuff when they say they have the money but in actual fact are going out to ask people if there is any way in hell this can get done.

    Zorro Reply:

    Well I think this post says it all about funding.. Not all funding has to be identified immediately and a Judge said so. And I agree, the argument that ‘have to have all funding in place’ is not and I repeat, not a rational argument.. Only ignorant people think that way.

    joe Reply:
    August 20th, 2015 at 9:24 am

    First off pay attention:
    :

    The Authority sent out a letter answering frequently asked questions regarding the ““Request For Expression Of Interest, (RFEI) for the purpose of designing, building, financing, and maintaining (DBFM) an initial operating segment, (IOS).”

    Morris:

    So here we see the Authority projecting out 35 years to augment as much as possible available funding, and see even by 2050, there is only enough funding (using their own and very very questionable numbers), to build either IOS north or IOS south, but not both.

    Secondly, Plantiff’s lawyer Mr. Flashman tried your “they don’t have all the money” argument in the Appellate court. The Judges noted the State didn’t have all the money identified when they started the CA Water Project. It isn’t a rational argument.

    joe Reply:

    and this

    History Of The California State Water Project
    The Burns-Porter Act, formally known as the California Water Resources Development Bond Act, was placed on the November 1960 ballot.
    The San Francisco Chronicle was among the Project’s strongest opponents and urged its readers to vote down the bond issue.
    On November 8, the Burns-Porter Act was narrowly approved by the slim margin of 173,944 votes from about 5.8 million ballots counted. Only one northern county supported the proposition–Butte County, site of Oroville Dam.
    http://www.water.ca.gov/swp/history.cfm

    HSR is far more popular.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Uh…

    there are actually two versions of the funding plan required. The first one has slightly squishy language (“part c”). The second has less squishy (“part d”)

    The sources of all funds to be invested in the corridor, or
    usable segment thereof, and the anticipated time of receipt of those
    funds based on expected commitments, authorizations, agreements,
    allocations, or other means.

    vs

    identifies the sources of all funds to be used and
    anticipates time of receipt thereof based on offered commitments by
    private parties, and authorizations, allocations, or other assurances
    received from governmental agencies,

    The Authority is getting ready to issue the part D funding plan, and trying to hire someone who will promise the plan is just peachy (another requirement for part D)

    http://hsr.ca.gov/docs/about/doing_business/HSR14_65_RFP_Addendum1.pdf

    It will be interesting to see who is willing to do this business.

    Zorro Reply:

    The Prop1a bonds are not needed anymore, Existing Federal funding, plus CnT and borrowing are outside of Prop1a, though HSR is allowed explicitly to get funds from any source, so the Nimbys can lock the stupid Prop1a bonds up and argue about the funding plan to hell and back, they’ve LOST. HSR won’t be blocked or killed, HSR will be built and there is nothing they can do, if some don’t like that, too bad, I know they’ll whine like babies, who need their diapers changed…

    Joe Reply:

    Oh Arthur Andersen or AIG or any large private financial institution.

    Seriously, you think there’s some shady deal CAHSR has to work out because reputable financial institutions will balk at long range planning for a public infrastructure project.

    synonymouse Reply:

    a public infrastructure project that demands constant subsidy but is way under utilized and has a terrible cost-benefit ratio.

    joe Reply:

    I see proof that the Authority gets criticized either way.

    The Authority is issuing a request and made some assumptions for the request. They’re making estimates and asking for the responders to provide feedback on the estimates, finance and likely funding sources – not take them at face value.

    The Authority welcomes feedback on its long-term funding sources and the ability to raise the necessary financing to complete an IOS and begin high-speed passenger service in California”.

    This is basic RFEI.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Joe,

    Wasn’t the time to do this before you decided on a funding plan and went down a path of what appears to be a management nightmare by dividing things up into odd pieces?

    Joe Reply:

    What nightmare?

    You just gave up several billion dollars of federal money trying it your way. I think your financial partners just bailed.
    Sweet.

    Meanwhile in May 2015 Nevada’s republican legislature passed a bill to help establish HSR no slower than 150 MPH between Las Vegas and Victorville. It was one vote short of unanimous passing. The republican Govenor signed the bill.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    Nevada knows what butters their bread: So-cal weekenders, and anything that might bring more of them in, well, it would be stupid to say no.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Show us the Nevada money forthcoming to build a line to California.

    All you have to do is legalize real gambling here. Video poker and slots with a decent player return. Forget about Vegas, unless you want to get away from California nanny laws.

    EJ Reply:

    But syn, we’re all real dumb down here in SoCal, like you keep saying. We’re not smart, like you. We like to go to Vegas and look at the blinky lights.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I thought they had blinky lights in Disneyland and Hollywood.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Not quite. The State is basically saying they half the funding they need or can get half by securitizing the cap and trade money.

    They are trying to pit LA and SF against each because that tactic usually works in transportation battles in Sacramento. But again without redevelopment as bait, that’s probably not gonna work.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    btw when you securitize money, you only get the discounted value

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Presumably, that’s factored in because most investment banks offer the proposal to States, the State staff won’t do it themselves….

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If the state tried to do it itself the free market fetishists would be up in arms. So would the people who like to buy tax free bonds.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Speaking as someone who has actually securitized something, the cap and trade money is at best $7-$8 billion of money. Even that would probably require some kind of guarantee which would then create other issues.

    Isn’t anyone else concerned that you are still basically at the cocktail napkin planning phase while knocking buildings in Fresno?

    At the state public works meeting on monday, http://spwb.ca.gov/includes/documents/8_15_10Agneda_W_Analysispdf.pdf

    CHSRA added 67 new parcels to CP1. Some of these are because they apparently just decided to change the route near the San Joaquin river and some appear to be BNSF ROW.

    Where is the public notification of a change to the plan that wipes out another small, poor neighborhood?

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    For anyone who wants to understand why cap and trade will not pay for either of the current IOS’s on table, go read a little bit about tobacco bonds.

    Look at the ratio of proceeds to tax revenue, look at current yields and think about lessons investors may take from taxes on bad things over long, long time periods (hint substitute carbon for tobacco).

    synonymouse Reply:

    You lay out your route by locating the poorest demographic. That’s what happening chez Sta Clarita.

    joe Reply:

    Cap and Trade isn’t supposed to pay for the entire IOS. It’s a dedicated funding source, not The Funding source. What it does do however is provide a basis for planning.

    Anyone who thinks CA is going it alone fiscally should read the NV legislature’s commitment to build a HSR connection to CA. This from a Republican lead Legislature (with only one opposing vote) and a Republican Governor. CA isn’t paying for that extension but our state system will the reap benefits.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And Nevada is going to finance this CalNeva HSR by seizing a portion of the fortunes of Mssrs. Adelson and Wynn?

    john burrows Reply:

    We may get more of an idea as to how in hell this project is to get done by the end of next month when hopefully a number of interested parties will have responded to the RFEI.

    As of now the Authority is obviously way short of having enough money to do either IOS South or IOS North, but they do have more than $12 billion potentially available.

    One more time—-
    Federal and state money committed to the IOS————–About $6 billion
    Balance of Prop 1-A bonds—————————————About $4 billion
    Cap-and-trade funds available through 2018—————-About $2 billion

    On top of this $12 billion we can add what we night expect to receive if we borrow against expected Cap-and-trade proceeds from 2019 to 2050 which the Authority is assuming to be $500 million per year or $16 billion.

    An FRA loan with a repayment period of up to 35 years and an interest rate equal to the cost of borrowing to the government would potentially be available. A $9.5 billion loan at 3.75%, amortized over 30 years, would take $16 billion to pay off—An amount equal to the expected C&T proceeds through 2050.

    Altogether we end up with somewhere around $21.5 billion, a $10 billion shortfall if we do IOS North and costs don’t change. I am sure that there will be much better ways to address this shortfall but we will have to wait another month to find out.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Expect IOS South to be done. The balance of costs will be guaranteed by LA, most likely…

    Clem Reply:

    Should we then discount the $68 billion YOE back to today as well?

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Sure –

    they have the numbers in 2013$ for the IOS. The issue is that they are not that different than YOE because they have assumed low inflation and that most of the IOS is done in the next couple of years.

    In reality, it probably will be 2050 by the time the base tunnels and whatnot are done, but then you are talking about a much, much higher construction price.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Yeah but that goes back to the discounting of cap and trade security bond. Given the new Business Plan is coming out next year, this RFP is ammunition to the Joe Simitan doctrine of building the stranded asset and having the State rescue it.

    But…this is why the Authority should have played it safe and done Merced to Fresno…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Essentially that is what Van Ark proposed, I wonder if somewhat in jest, with Borden to Corcoran. Where is the subsidy for Merced to Fresno coming from?

    Zorro Reply:

    Nice find, of course the $17.5 Billion number is a conservative or low ball number, since like I’ve said, it’s based on what has already been generated per year, the number could be greater, how much is anyones guess, unless someone has real time machine, ala H.G. Wells.

    Eric M Reply:

    I haven’t seen people mention RRIF (Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing) lately.

  10. keith saggers
    Aug 20th, 2015 at 12:27
    #10
  11. Reality Check
    Aug 20th, 2015 at 13:12
    #11

    Report: California plans to take up to 300 farms by eminent domain for delta water tunnel project

    Reality Check Reply:

    Not surprisingly, the same story on Breitbart.com has a more sensational tone:
    California to seize farms for Jerry Brown’s water tunnels

    Mattie F. Reply:

    Heh, the ironic thing is, I think you’d do far more to “restore the delta” to a pre-Western status by no longer using it as a water conveyance. Before the California water project, the Delta turned salty every summer/fall, between when the snows finished melting until the rains started falling.

  12. Reality Check
    Aug 20th, 2015 at 13:37
    #12

    More property in HSR’s path targeted for condemnation

    Twelve more pieces of property adding up to about 53 acres in the path of high-speed rail are potential targets for condemnation in the central San Joaquin Valley.

    The State Public Works Board, meeting earlier this week in Sacramento, approved resolutions authorizing the use of eminent domain to acquire the properties in Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties. The sites range in size from less than a quarter-acre to almost 10 acres

    […]

  13. JimInPollockPines
    Aug 20th, 2015 at 16:48
    #13

    OT- California’s Central Valley sinking due to groundwater pumping
    Im sure eveyone has heard..

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    wow you have to read the comments at the bottom. kookooland.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    I have the javascript widgets of the most common ‘comments sections’ tools blocked, so that I am not exposed to the unparalleled ‘kookooness’ of news comments.

  14. Scramjett
    Aug 20th, 2015 at 17:11
    #14

    Any pics of the construction in Fresno?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The place to watch is actually the viaduct in Madera County.

    Scramjett Reply:

    Ah, apologies. I’m a bit fuzzy on where the construction is starting. Any pics of the viaduct construction?

  15. JimInPollockPines
    Aug 20th, 2015 at 18:10
    #15

    salesforce tower has a very nice site and video including construction cam

  16. James M. in Irvine
    Aug 21st, 2015 at 06:17
    #16

    Thanks for the open thread. I have tried searching with no luck, can anyone point me to the link that had a map of either CA or US rail routes? I seem to remember it showed all the CALTRAIN , METROLINK, etc, and AMTRAK stations, looked like art.

    Upon further reflection, didn’t the creator of the map also try to start a modern game, similar to “Ticket 2 Ride”? How did that work out?

    Thanks,
    Jim

    joe Reply:

    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2013/02/a-national-high-speed-rail-route-map/

    James M. in Irvine Reply:

    Thanks, Joe!

    Well, I just searched again, and found it…
    http://www.californiarailmap.com
    Mr. Twu is the one I was thinking of, don’t know why
    the computer didn’t find it earlier.

    Have a good day, everyone…
    Jim

    Scramjett Reply:

    The map joe posted is from the website you found. Just an FYI.

    James M. in Irvine Reply:

    Thanks!

    Jim

  17. les
    Aug 21st, 2015 at 08:27
    #17

    So if I die and quit breathing do my wife and kid get an C&T offset credit?

    “She has a point. Brubaker admits he was going to purchase the digester with or without the cash from the California offset credits.”

    http://www.planetizen.com/node/80440/california-cap-and-trade-surprise-cash-flows-out-state-reduce-emissions

    Scramjett Reply:

    No, because humans emit net zero carbon. We breathe it out but we consume it in our food too. Those of us who drink soda also take in carbon and then belch it out again. Also, as your corpse rots, you release quite a bit of carbon in the process. Same as if you’re incinerated. You’re like a tree basically.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Unless you have yourself buried deep in a peat bog or something, to sequester your carbon!

  18. synonymouse
    Aug 21st, 2015 at 10:35
    #18

    I wish Newsom would come on out and recommend putting Prop 1a back on the ballot.

    It would appear that Kumbaya could be going into economic doldrums at the least and regressive taxes will have to be lowered to put more money in the hands of the masses, whose income has been steadily eroding.

    Regressive taxes being ones mostly affecting the 99% and subventing daft scheme like DogLegRail. Even capital gains tax on retirees selling off houses. What is ironic and pathetic is that the most wealthy can most comfortably handle taxation and yet they have the most and best means of avoiding taxation.

    les Reply:

    What they need are Facebook lookups, video downloads and 16 oz Starbucks whip-creamed drink taxes. Everybody needs transportation, other frivolous items, not so much.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Transport boondoggles needed? Slap a tax on all equities sales and purchases on the NYSE.

    les Reply:

    A boondoggle is in the eye of the beholder. Too bad for cataracts!

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Palmdale-Mojave DeTour reeks of boondoggle.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Another way to put money in the hands of the 99% is to fund infrastructure projects like CA HSR!

    synonymouse Reply:

    PB-Tutor-Bombardier is hardly the 99%.

    J. Wong Reply:

    No but their employees are, and believe it, most the costs are labor.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Why would he do that? It doesn’t get him anything to push a revote. Instead he can be against it w/o having to really do anything to stop it that lack of funding will do for him.

    Actually you should be more worried that if he is elected, he decides to save HSR and cine up with a plan to make it happen. I know you’d hope that means Tejon but maybe not. We’d see who has more power: Tejon Ranch & LA-Palmdale or Santa Clarita.

    J. Wong Reply:

    I meant “and Santa Clarita or Newsom.”

    synonymouse Reply:

    It seems Sta. Clarita has not figured out what it wants and needs in re CAHSR. They never tried for a consensus other than dumping it on Palmdale-Tehachapi would get it out of their hair. That did not pan out and you have to wonder how they could be so obtuse.

    I suggest support for PB in Palmdale-Lancaster is much less than the Cheerleaders count on and the opposition to a mitigated Tejon route thru Sta. Clarita has been overstated. Remember PB has never really tried to reach out to the stakeholders on the Tejon route, has never engineered an optimum alignment, and consequently has never investigated how to minimize its impact or disruption.

  19. Emmanuel
    Aug 21st, 2015 at 12:39
    #19

    And yes, more news on the Hyperloop from the oh so reliable semi-tabloid, MSN:
    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/a-company-that-wants-to-build-a-real-hyperloop-just-revealed-details-about-its-next-big-move/ar-BBlVime?ocid=ansmsnnews11

    Here is their Twitter account full of nice looking pics https://twitter.com/HyperloopTech

    Btw, this has nothing to do with Musk. Musk has been a proponent for the Hyperloop but he is not funding this particular project. I still have massive doubts on how this is supposed to even compete with

    Miles Bader Reply:

    The only real question here is: is this company (1) full of well-intentioned but hopelessly clueless fanboys, or (2) a scam.

    A polished presentation suggests (2).

  20. synonymouse
    Aug 21st, 2015 at 12:55
    #20

    Kumbaya lays an egg:

    http://www.cnbc.com/2015/08/21/us-markets-global-growth.html

    Time for an agonizing reappraisal of JerryRail.

    J. Wong Reply:

    So if the economy tanks, it’s bad for HSR?

    Scramjett Reply:

    Given that California’s revenue relies heavily on regressive taxation, yes. If the progressive left weren’t such a fractured, incoherent mess focused on their own little pet projects and compromising on every g-damn thing, then we might actually have a progressive tax worth a damn.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is bad for Jerry’s revisionist CAHSR, downgraded to regional commute. A sputtering economy will not produce the funding nor the will to subsidize marginal rr ops.

    California is the best test bed for new hsr in the US but the optimal design is requisite, not gratuitous detours that slow things down and cost more to construct, maintain. and operate.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    “Optimal” design is not “requisite”, because no real-world design for something so complex is ever really “optimal.”

    There are too many factors, and too many unknowns.

    If you ever hope to get anything done, you just shoot for something that fits a reasonable set of criteria, and then push hard to implement it.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There is no rhyme nor reason to PB’s execrable plan other than pandering to developers.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s a passenger railroad. it goes where the passengers are.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    So if the economy tanks, it’s bad for HSR?

    I recall that Arnie had the right idea: HSR is an investment in the long term, and the financing should be long term, so the present state of the economy is not particularly relevant….

    synonymouse Reply:

    California does not have a long term.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Speak for yourself, Viejo!

    Scramjett Reply:

    The whole country doesn’t have a long term.

Comments are closed.