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  #1001  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 5:17 AM
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dimondpark dimondpark is offline
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Irritating. I really want this thing to back to the drawing board and done over again.

Quote:
Doubts cast on cost estimates for high-speed rail alternatives
Bullet train promoters predict it will cost $171 billion to build new airports and roads if the trains aren't completed. But experts say that figure is greatly exaggerated.

By Ralph Vartabedian and Dan Weikel, Los Angeles Times

January 17, 2012

As the price tag for California's bullet train has soared to nearly $100 billion, a central argument for forging ahead with the controversial project is an even loftier figure: the $171 billion that promoters recently estimated will be needed for new roads and airports if no high-speed rail is built.

Without a fast-rail network, they warn, the state would have to add 2,300 miles of highway and roughly the equivalent of another Los Angeles International Airport to handle a projected surge in future travel.

Now, that alternative is coming under attack by a state-appointed panel of experts, who will soon release an assessment of the rail project's business plan and cast doubt on the accuracy and validity of the $171-billion figure, The Times has learned.

Already, transportation researchers, government officials and watchdog groups are saying the $171-billion claim is based on such exaggerated estimates, misleading statements and erroneous assumptions that it is "divorced from any reality."

"There is some dishonesty in the methodology," said Samer Madanat, director of UC Berkeley's Institute of Transportation Studies, the top research center of its type in the nation. "I don't trust an estimate like this."


Until November, California High-Speed Rail Authority officials were asserting that the alternative cost of highway and airport construction would be $100 billion. Earlier predictions were billions lower. When the estimate for the bullet train project recently hit $98.5 billion, the authority ratcheted the highway and airport cost up to $171 billion.

The price of alternatives is a central part of the authority's rationale for building the high-speed rail network, along with jobs and possible environmental benefits. The bullet train is aimed at meeting future transportation needs of the state, which cannot be economically met with highways and airports, the authority says.

"If anything, we underestimated the costs of alternatives to high-speed rail," said Dan Richard, an authority board member who is in line to become the group's chairman. "Expanding freeways and then maintaining them is not a free alternative."

Outside transportation experts say, however, that rail consultant Parsons Brinkerhoff's methodology is so flawed the entire claim should be disregarded.

"The rail authority's analysis does not account for the roadway and airport work investment that will be required both with and without high speed rail," the Orange County Transportation Authority told the rail agency in a letter late last year. In November, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office questioned the study as well, saying the $171-billion estimate is not what the state would otherwise spend to address intercity transportation demand.

The city of Burlingame, which is near San Francisco International Airport, weighed in too. "The astounding figure is completely divorced from any reality over the next 50 years," city officials wrote urging the authority to stop using the number.

Madanat said the rail authority has rebuffed offers to have UC Berkeley, UC Irvine and UC Davis, which have among the top five university transportation departments in the nation, help analyze the bullet-train system.

Instead, the rail authority has relied heavily on New York-based Parsons Brinkerhoff, a contractor that helped fund the political campaign for the $9.9-billion bond measure passed by voters in 2008. Although the rail authority has more than two dozen employees, Parsons controls 108 people working on the project.

"You have a tremendous conflict of interest," said Elizabeth Goldstein Alexis, co-founder of the watchdog group Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design. "You can't see where the authority ends and the private consultants begin because they are so intertwined. It is extraordinary the institutional conflicts of interest that exist all over this project."..


ralph.vartabedian@latimes.com

dan.weikel@latimes.com

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la...,4293248.story
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  #1002  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 5:38 AM
jg6544 jg6544 is offline
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Originally Posted by Ragnar View Post
L.A. Times:

Doubts Cast On Cost Estimates For High-Speed Rail Alternatives
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la...,4293248.story

Not surprising that it appears the cost estimates for building HSR alternatives have been severely exagerrated by HSR proponents.
This story read like a put-up job. The article blithely talks about building more airports or enlarging LAX without mentioning that attempts to build another international airport in Palmdale or wherever have been rejected overwhelmingly. They also don't mention that Burbank and Long Beach have refused to enlarge their airports. As for increasing LAX's capacity, where? And how are they going to get passengers to the airport or park their cars once they get there?
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  #1003  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 7:28 AM
DJM19 DJM19 is offline
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Another note about LAX is that the airport is very careful not to call their construction an expansion. The neighborhood would throw a fit. Airport expansion is very unpopular in california. We tend to forget this when discussing HSR, as if HSR is the first project to hit a wall of shit from a town.
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  #1004  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 4:03 PM
Ragnar Ragnar is offline
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So why not allow the UC schools to evaluate this issue? Why should we trust the unvalidated figures from the lead construction contractor?

And a side note: LAX could handle many millions of additional annual travelers without a single additional penny spent for construction.
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  #1005  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 4:50 PM
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dimondpark dimondpark is offline
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Originally Posted by Ragnar View Post
So why not allow the UC schools to evaluate this issue? Why should we trust the unvalidated figures from the lead construction contractor?
This is a new wrinkle in this ongoing saga which is just now coming to light that really, really irks me.

Enough for me to call my state legislative representatives in the assembly and senate today and give them(or whomever answers their phone) an earful.

UC experts are used around the world for these types of projects specifically because of their expertise on the subject, but they were not here in California? Give me a break.

The arrogance of the CA High Speed Rail Authority is just astounding.


Quote:
And a side note: LAX could handle many millions of additional annual travelers without a single additional penny spent for construction.
Well, expansion will undoubtedly be needed to keep up with the times, but we dont need to be lied to about the amount it will cost to keep the state's transportation infrastructure viable.

The CAHSR authority relied solely on the dire predictions made by a transportation contractor, probably because those dire predictions presented the most serious scenario possible-and now actual experts are calling that contractor's predictions for the BS that it probably is.
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  #1006  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 7:39 PM
jg6544 jg6544 is offline
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Originally Posted by Ragnar View Post

And a side note: LAX could handle many millions of additional annual travelers without a single additional penny spent for construction.
Oh really? Getting to or from LAX is difficult at best and nightmarish if traffic backs up, which it usually does; parking is getting more and more difficult to find and more and more expensive (unless you want to park at a remote lot, adding an hour onto each departure or arrival). The neighborhood erupts every time anyone even whispers about enlarging the airport. And nobody else in CA wants a damned airport in their back yard either. I don't know what planet you live on, but if you live anywhere near California, you must stay under a rock.
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  #1007  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 7:58 PM
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Originally Posted by 202_Cyclist View Post
Spain's high-speed rail system offers lessons for California

By Tim Sheehan
Sacramento Bee
Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012

"MADRID – It's 8 a.m. at the Puerto de Atocha train station in central Madrid. Business travelers armed with cellphones and laptops, and pleasure travelers toting cameras and carry-on bags, make their way through security to board the high-speed trains that connect Spain's capital to cities across the nation.

The sprawling station, which dates to the 1890s, serves not only the AVE, or Alta Velocidad Española (Spanish high-speed) trains, but also the city's metro subway and commuter trains. It sits amid a bustling district of offices, museums, hotels and other businesses.

This is the vision shared by backers of California's proposed, but controversial, high-speed rail system – and there are lessons that California can learn from Spain's 20-year history with high-speed trains.."

http://www.sacbee.com/2012/01/15/418...te-offers.html


Image courtesy of the Sacramento Bee.
This has been torn apart so many times it seems hardly worth going over. Spain is a marginally 3rd world country, with about 2/3 the per capita income of Ca (before the full economic implosion; lower now). Car ownership is very low; gasoline is extremely expensive; road systems are bad (compared to California); the tax burden is very high. This results in low expendable income and makes driving unaffordable.

Madrid and Barcelona are dense cities, with people close to central rail stations. LA and the Bay are 100 mile expanses of cities and suburbs, with low density; central train stations are not convenient or accessible from most areas. But airports are (6 in SoCal; 4 in NorCal).
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  #1008  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 8:07 PM
pesto pesto is offline
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"Brown is under pressure from unions, engineering firms, big-city mayors and the Obama administration to stabilize and press ahead on a nearly $100-billion project..."

That's it for supporters of HSR; just them and the SF real estate developers. A collection of self-interested fat cats and their hired hands. But, hey, pigeons are for plucking, right?

I mean seriously, friggin' Berkeley is calling HSR supporters liars and frauds (in political speak).
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  #1009  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 8:37 PM
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Originally Posted by pesto View Post
Car ownership is very low; gasoline is extremely expensive; road systems are bad (compared to California); the tax burden is very high. This results in low expendable income and makes driving unaffordable.
If driving is unaffordable, how did over 40% of people make the drive before HSR? And if they can't afford to drive, then how would 40% of folks be able to fly? Isn't flying more expensive?

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Originally Posted by pesto View Post
Madrid and Barcelona are dense cities, with people close to central rail stations. LA and the Bay are 100 mile expanses of cities and suburbs, with low density; central train stations are not convenient or accessible from most areas. But airports are (6 in SoCal; 4 in NorCal).
Madrid and Barcelona have suburbs too. San Francisco is an incredibly dense city. This just isn't true, if downtown Los Angeles isn't accessible from most locations, how do people get to work every day? Your response is just an opinion, the chart above are factual statistics.
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  #1010  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 9:51 PM
DJM19 DJM19 is offline
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But there are going to be about 6 rail lines (red, purple, expo, both gold lines, blue) that lead directly to union station from all directions. That's just whats currently going to be built this decade. And HSR will also stop in Sylmar and Burbank (and in Anaheim and Irvine if we are talking about our hundred mile suburb).
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  #1011  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2012, 10:57 PM
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202_Cyclist 202_Cyclist is offline
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DJM19:
Quote:
But there are going to be about 6 rail lines (red, purple, expo, both gold lines, blue) that lead directly to union station from all directions. That's just whats currently going to be built this decade. And HSR will also stop in Sylmar and Burbank (and in Anaheim and Irvine if we are talking about our hundred mile suburb).
Don't forget the nation's largest bus system and Metrolink commuter rail as well.
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  #1012  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2012, 12:39 AM
Ragnar Ragnar is offline
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Originally Posted by jg6544 View Post
Oh really? Getting to or from LAX is difficult at best and nightmarish if traffic backs up, which it usually does; parking is getting more and more difficult to find and more and more expensive (unless you want to park at a remote lot, adding an hour onto each departure or arrival). The neighborhood erupts every time anyone even whispers about enlarging the airport. And nobody else in CA wants a damned airport in their back yard either. I don't know what planet you live on, but if you live anywhere near California, you must stay under a rock.
Actually, I am very well versed in the airport.

Take a look at the actual FACTS:
http://www.lawa.org/welcome_LAX.aspx?id=800

In 2000, LAX handled 67.3M passengers.
In 2010, LAX handled 59M passengers.

My statement is based in fact -- LAX could handle millions of additional passengers TODAY without moving a single piece of dirt. Fortunately LAX is undergoing modernization that will provide new terminals, redone terminals, and (probably) a link to public transportation via the Crenshaw Line.

In addition, Ontario is so underutilized they are talking about completely closing one of the two terminals to save money.

And again, why not utilize the UC system to validate the numbers? Why does it seem like they are trying to hide something? After all, it would be great if an INDEPENDENT 3rd party could validate the costs of the alternatives to HSR, rather than relying on the figures of the lead construction contractor.

No, I'm not living under a rock. It's the HSR supporters who attack anyone that dares question the costs or benefits of this project that could use some eye-opening.

Newsflash: We aren't Spain with an unlimited European checkbook to fund this thing. In case you haven't noticed, unbridled spending on massive projects has pushed many of those European countries to the brink of default.
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  #1013  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2012, 2:20 AM
jg6544 jg6544 is offline
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And how are we going to get these millions of additional passengers TO LAX and where are we going to put their cars when they get there. FYI, I live in Brentwood, just a few miles north of LAX (half-an-hour drive if there is any traffic at all) and I've actually timed it out. Figuring in drive time to LAX, parking the car, getting past the security Nazis, waiting for the inevitable flight delays, and getting into San Francisco from SFO after the plane has landed, it is only about 1 1/2 hours quicker to fly than it is to drive. Serious delays in the flight schedules can easily push the flight time longer than the drive time. Serious delays in the Grapevine or on the 5 can turn the trip into a genuine driving nightmare.

But nah, we don't need HSR in California.

PS. Since airlines treat their passengers considerably worse than livestock haulers treat livestock, I try to avoid airlines and airplanes. Lived in DC for twenty years and always took Amtrak to NY, even before the Metroliner. It was just more comfortable and hassle-free.
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  #1014  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2012, 2:21 AM
jg6544 jg6544 is offline
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PPS: Ontario is wonderful if you live in Riverside. If you live west of downtown LA, not so much.
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  #1015  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2012, 3:03 AM
Ragnar Ragnar is offline
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Originally Posted by jg6544 View Post
But nah, we don't need HSR in California.
Not at the price we'd have to pay.

And AGAIN: WHY NOT HAVE THE UC SCHOOLS VALIDATE THE COSTS AND BENEFITS?

You are studiously avoiding answering that question.
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  #1016  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2012, 3:30 AM
JDRCRASH JDRCRASH is offline
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Spain is a marginally 3rd world country,
You're not serious, are you? Spain is the 14th largest economy in the world even if you include California.

http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/first_world.htm

Seriously, this probably ranks as one of your most inaccurate comments thus far on this forum.

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Originally Posted by Ragnar View Post
Newsflash: We aren't Spain with an unlimited European checkbook to fund this thing. In case you haven't noticed, unbridled spending on massive projects has pushed many of those European countries to the brink of default.
Wrong, it's not infrastructure.

http://gulzar05.blogspot.com/2011/12...eign-debt.html
http://english.ruvr.ru/2012/01/12/63720328.html
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  #1017  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2012, 3:37 AM
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  #1018  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2012, 4:06 AM
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Originally Posted by pesto View Post
This has been torn apart so many times it seems hardly worth going over. Spain is a marginally 3rd world country, with about 2/3 the per capita income of Ca (before the full economic implosion; lower now). Car ownership is very low; gasoline is extremely expensive; road systems are bad (compared to California); the tax burden is very high. This results in low expendable income and makes driving unaffordable.

Madrid and Barcelona are dense cities, with people close to central rail stations. LA and the Bay are 100 mile expanses of cities and suburbs, with low density; central train stations are not convenient or accessible from most areas. But airports are (6 in SoCal; 4 in NorCal).

Marginally third world? Perhaps your thinking of Portugal.

I'll tell you what's third world - coming back from Tokyo to LAX, and that was last May, in the thick of all the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear reactor mess. The Japanese profoundly impressed me with their dedication to a high quality society - even at one of their worst points in recent history. Then, I had to come back and be reminded of the in-denial decaying state that is the U.S., exemplified by LAX.
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  #1019  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2012, 6:09 AM
jg6544 jg6544 is offline
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Originally Posted by Ragnar View Post
Not at the price we'd have to pay.

And AGAIN: WHY NOT HAVE THE UC SCHOOLS VALIDATE THE COSTS AND BENEFITS?

You are studiously avoiding answering that question.
Fine by me. And while we're at it, let's subject spending on the 5, the airports, and the air traffic control system to the same analysis. I wonder how much of a profit the 5 shows.
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  #1020  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2012, 6:11 AM
jg6544 jg6544 is offline
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Then, I had to come back and be reminded of the in-denial decaying state that is the U.S., exemplified by LAX.
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