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-   -   California High Speed Rail Thread (https://skyscraperpage.com/forum/showthread.php?t=180558)

fflint Nov 24, 2010 10:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ElDuderino (Post 5068532)
[SIZE="4"]As a stand-alone section, the proposed segment would never be electrified and never actually carry trains....

If funding is ultimately not available, the project will be designed to accommodate connectors to existing routes used by Amtrak, allowing for improved rail service up and down the Central Valley. Terms of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funding require the project have such stand-alone utility, and money will be set aside to construct the connector lines if they are needed.

I didn't know about the stand-alone utility rule--I appreciate the foresight. I fully support immediate construction of this segment.

Yankee Nov 24, 2010 10:46 PM

Quote:

It will have a dramatic effect on the entire valley, and in fact the entire state,” Barker said. He noted economists estimate 20,000 jobs are created for every $1 billion in infrastructure spending, meaning the project could create 80,000 jobs in the Central Valley once construction begins in September 2012.
Really? They won't start building it until Sept 2012?? Cmon, what's taking so long, the funding is there isn't it? They have to start ASAP to ensure that it'll be too late for republicans to scrap the project should the worst happen in 2012.

SD_Phil Nov 24, 2010 11:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Yankee (Post 5068619)
Really? They won't start building it until Sept 2012?? Cmon, what's taking so long, the funding is there isn't it? They have to start ASAP to ensure that it'll be too late for republicans to scrap the project should the worst happen in 2012.

It's practically 2011 as it is. Given that materials must be procured, land rights managed, etc. 2012 seems about right.

DJM19 Nov 25, 2010 12:30 AM

They probably would take longer if they could, but the project has to start by a before a certain point in 2012 to qualify for the stimulus money CAHSR received.

Reminiscence Nov 26, 2010 8:10 AM

Sometimes I wonder just how smart you have to be to make decisions like this. Maybe it's just me, but building out there in the middle of nowhere seems like a bad move (no offense to any of us that may live out there), pretty much a last resort ditch. Looks like the peninsula wants no part of it for themselves, but wouldn't it be better it LA got the funds instead and at least built it in a place where more people could actually use it? I guess it's important to start this thing in the first place but they could have picked a better place to do so.

DJM19 Nov 26, 2010 9:33 AM

The last round of federal funds handed to CAHSR had strings attacked which said all federal funds given so far to the project must be used in the central valley. Pretty much made up CAHSR Authority's mind for them.

PragmaticIdealist Nov 26, 2010 5:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5065448)
Lewis takes a principled position on cutting a wide variety of projects that he believes are less valuable than their costs. The administration criticizes him for cutting funds to his own district. What could more clearly delineate the worldview and motivations of the two?

You don't know Jerry Lewis very well. Do you?

His sudden and dramatic reversal on earmarks and other federal spending is entirely due to the Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives. Only weeks ago, Jerry Lewis was the Republican at ground-breaking and ribbon-cutting ceremonies for projects all over his district that were funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

northbay Nov 26, 2010 7:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fflint (Post 5068572)
I didn't know about the stand-alone utility rule--I appreciate the foresight. I fully support immediate construction of this segment.

hopefully, that rule will be moot with the construction of the rest of the system. i too support construction of this segment for the first phase.

s.p.hansen Nov 27, 2010 7:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Reminiscence (Post 5070444)
Sometimes I wonder just how smart you have to be to make decisions like this. Maybe it's just me, but building out there in the middle of nowhere seems like a bad move (no offense to any of us that may live out there), pretty much a last resort ditch. Looks like the peninsula wants no part of it for themselves, but wouldn't it be better it LA got the funds instead and at least built it in a place where more people could actually use it? I guess it's important to start this thing in the first place but they could have picked a better place to do so.

I lived in the Central Valley for two years from 2007-2009 and trust me, this is the best way to make lemonade out of lemons (in regards to the money and time required to build the high speed rail). South of Sacramento all the way to just north of Bakersfield has suffered much greater losses in this recession than LA or the Bay Area. The housing market is in shambles and unemployment is through the roof. To add insult to injury, the Central Valley also has aging infrastructure that could really use an overhaul.

It just makes sense that if you are going to dump billions of stimulus dollars into the state to build this project that you would do it in the most depressed place. Creating jobs in a region with such high unemployment is very smart.

The rails in the central valley are used very heavily by freight as it is the bread basket of California and of much the United States (The Central Valley actually produces more dairy products than any state in the Midwest). In the worse case scenario where they just appropriate the newly built line in the the transit system (if it were to never be electrified), it would still be a much needed improvement for that area.

Building this rail in the Central Valley will be the chore of the whole CA HSR project. It's a hard sell for any reason but stimulating the economy. So it seems like the best place to start while they can use the stimulus card and cash in on the stimulus money. Once they get the capability to reach high speed from Bakersfield to Merced not only will it be easier to sell High Speed Rail to the rest of the state, but they will also have the least profitable segment safely out of the way.

It's interesting that they are going to veer from the Visalia/ Tulare area (roughly 175,000 people) to Corcoran; I guess I just assumed the line would keep following the 99 down to Bakersfield.

sammyg Nov 29, 2010 4:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by s.p.hansen (Post 5071550)
It's interesting that they are going to veer from the Visalia/ Tulare area (roughly 175,000 people) to Corcoran; I guess I just assumed the line would keep following the 99 down to Bakersfield.

It looks like they're trying to follow the San Joaquins route, and that makes sense because of the statement that they'll tie the new track into existing Amtrak service if more funding doesn't come through.

202_Cyclist Nov 29, 2010 5:01 PM

Official: California high speed rail won't be de-railed by GOP plan
 
Official: California high speed rail won't be de-railed by GOP plan

By Adolfo Flores, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/28/2010
Pasadena Star-News


"Officials with the California High-Speed Rail Authority expressed concern about a plan to pull $2 billion in stimulus funds but remain optomistic the train will be built.

The Authority plans to run trains on several miles of track through the San Gabriel Valley by 2035 and hopes to have a San Francisco to Los Angeles route in place by 2020.

But the ascendancy of Republicans in the House of Representatives who oppose the Obama Administration's signature transportation initiative could quickly derail federal funding.

"We're very aware that getting additional federal funding is an ongoing challenge," authority spokeswoman Rachel Wall said. "A lot of new politicians and new elected officials are taking office and what we're eager to do is continue sitting down with more of them, we take it as an invitation to continue dialogue."

Earlier this month Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, incoming head of the House Appropriations Committee introduced the American Recovery and Reinvestment Rescission Act. The proposal seeks to pull back $12 billion in unspent stimulus funds to close the nation's $1.3 trillion budget deficit...."

http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_16728401

Yankee Nov 30, 2010 12:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SD_Phil (Post 5068666)
It's practically 2011 as it is. Given that materials must be procured, land rights managed, etc. 2012 seems about right.

Oh man... Japan will be beaming people to Mars and we'll have a space elevator and fighting off an alien invasion by the time actual trains start running. And after the aliens win they will use the trains the same way we used Germany's autobahns in World War 2. We are building a high speed rail system for our future alien overlords, great.

ElDuderino Dec 3, 2010 5:58 PM

Quote:

1st Calif. high-speed rail segment to be in valley

Michael Cabanatuan, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, December 3, 2010

(12-03) 04:00 PST Sacramento - -- California's dream of building a statewide high-speed rail system with trains zipping along at 220 mph will start to become reality with a 54-mile stretch of track deep in the Central Valley, the High-Speed Rail Authority board decided Thursday.

The board, facing a looming deadline to capture $3 billion in federal stimulus funding, voted unanimously to lay the first high-speed rails between Borden, south of Madera, through Fresno, to Corcoran, midway between Fresno and Bakersfield. Stations will be built in Fresno and in the Hanford area of Kings County.

But the $4.3 billion segment will not carry trains until it can become part of a larger system reaching toward the Bay Area or Los Angeles. The initial section will include tracks, trestles and elevated structures, but not the electrical system that powers the trains, nor the rail cars or maintenance facility.

Critics have lambasted the starting segment since it was recommended by the authority staff the day before Thanksgiving. Its location between two small towns has become a joke among opponents who have dubbed the project "the train to nowhere."

Others have argued that the first segment should link major cities in the valley. Merced officials argued that the rails should start in their city while Kern County officials said the lines should stretch south to Bakersfield.

But board members said the public should look at the initial section as a small starting point for an 800-mile system that will expand north and south as more money becomes available.

"We're in the business of connecting major metropolitan centers across our state, and we won't have a true high-speed rail system until we tie every part of this state together," said Tom Umberg, board vice chairman. "It's not one town or one region versus another; it's about connecting one region to another. "

Starting point

Umberg likened the $43 billion high-speed rail project to President Eisenhower's plan for the interstate highway system in the 1950s.

"It's a system that everyone uses today," he said. "That system started in Missouri."

California's dream of a high-speed rail system has existed since at least the 1970s, and while planners made limited progress toward defining how it could become reality, it didn't really generate momentum until voters passed a $10 billion bond in November 2008 to help fund the system's first phase from San Francisco to Southern California.

The project attracted the support of the federal government this year with the award of $2.25 billion in federal economic stimulus funds in January followed by $715 million more in October. Last month, the Federal Railroad Administration said it wanted all of that money, which must be spent on a project that's ready to build by 2011, to be used to build the first section of track somewhere in the Central Valley.

Going where support is


Rod Diridon, a board member from San Jose, said segments from San Francisco to San Jose and Los Angeles to Anaheim were passed over by federal officials because of persistent opposition in those areas.

"There was abject cooperation coming from Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield," he said. "That was the sole reason" for the federal mandate.

Authority engineers considered three basic routes for funding: Merced to Fresno, Fresno to Bakersfield and the segment they ended up recommending. Hans Van Winkle, the project manager, said federal requirements that the segment could connect to existing passenger rail lines if the high-speed project fails, the limited amount of funding, and the ability to extend tracks north and south made the Borden to Corcoran stretch preferable.

But board member Lynn Schenk said she feared that selecting the recommended route would subject the statewide project to further ridicule and make it difficult to obtain more federal funding and needed private investment.

"I'm concerned this staff recommendation makes engineering sense," she said, "but not common sense."
source: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...MNN61GL54K.DTL

fflint Dec 4, 2010 5:59 AM

The first segment is getting slagged, but having it connect smoothly on both ends to existing railroads is a very good idea. Worst case scenario, Amtrak gets dedicated rail trackage instead of sharing it with cargo lines. It's incremental, but it is definitely progress--if they'd pushed to double-track for Amtrak, they would have had to settle for even less. Intra-city passenger rail wins in the best and worst case scenarios.

hammersklavier Dec 4, 2010 6:22 AM

The French lignes à grande vitesse are normally rural constructions. As are their Italian and German counterparts. This is a highly efficient way of installing HSR for the rather obvious reason that it utilizes existing infrastructure where it's most expensive to build new infrastructure (the cities). As such, building the more rural parts of the run first is a good idea. After all, the first superhighway built in the United States was between Carlisle, PA, and Irwin, PA--hardly towns anyone's ever heard of.

JDRCRASH Dec 4, 2010 6:36 AM

First it was San Francisco & Sacramento - Los Angeles & San Diego
Then, they said it would be San Francisco - Anaheim
After that, it was Merced - Bakersfield
And now, it's Borden - Corcoran

......UMMMM.....AM I THE ONLY ONE NOTICING A PATTERN HERE?

DJM19 Dec 4, 2010 8:22 AM

SF/SAC - LA/San Diego is the whole line.

SF-LA (or SF-Anaheim...not sure) is the first phase.

Merced-Bakerfield is the general area where the feds said it HAS to begin construction on the condition that the HSR Authority has accepted its grant money.

Borden-Corcoran is the specific area within that federal-demanded area, within the first phase that was selected to begin construction. Nothing will operate until the first phase is complete and ready. Other sections within the first phase will be constructed concurrent to the Borden-Corcoran section. I dont think many people understand those last two parts...It has to start somewhere.

202_Cyclist Dec 4, 2010 1:13 PM

Peer report calls for 'thorough reassessment' of high-speed rail project
 
Peer report calls for 'thorough reassessment' of high-speed rail project

BY JOHN COX
Friday, Dec 03 2010 08:34 PM
Bakersfield Californian

"Another bucket of cold water doused the California High-Speed Rail Authority Friday with the public release of a peer-review report that calls for a "thorough reassessment" of issues ranging from the multibillion-dollar project's business model to its questionable funding sources and revenue projections.

Most if not all of the criticisms raised in the state-ordered report of the authority's 2009 Report to the Legislature have been discussed publicly before, and the document itself is essentially an advisory that carries no enforcement weight.

Even so, the report carries unique significance in that it assembles observations by transportation industry people and presents them in a focused, urgent manner likely to fuel growing dissatisfaction with the project's progress..."

http://www.bakersfield.com/news/loca...d-rail-project

202_Cyclist Dec 5, 2010 3:18 PM

Plan B: High-speed track could be used by conventional trains
 
Plan B: High-speed track could be used by conventional trains

BY JOHN COX
Bakersfield Californian
Saturday, Dec 04 2010

"Just in case the skeptics are right and high-speed rail never fully materializes in California, project officials are discussing a back-up plan with Amtrak, BNSF Railway Co. and Caltrans that would still attempt to shorten passenger train travel times along the initial, 65-mile Central Valley segment approved Thursday.

The federally required back-up plan would tie the new route's northern and southern ends to BNSF lines already used by Amtrak's San Joaquin service, allowing passenger trains to go 105 mph or more over at least 54 miles of new high-speed track.

That's a little less than half the speed true high-speed rail can achieve, but it's about a third faster than the 79 mph Amtrak's Central Valley service is limited to now because it shares the route with freight trains..."

http://www.bakersfield.com/news/loca...ntional-trains

llamaorama Dec 5, 2010 9:42 PM

You know, honestly, if they are going to compromise this much why even do the project at all? Its not the project that will have the same benefits the people of California voted yes on prop 1A(I think that was it?) for.

This whole thing sucks. Do it right the first time please. It would be a lot of money to spend to build a sort of fast line through podunk places that nobody will ride, only for everyone to be dissatisfied and want to try the bullet train idea again.

JDRCRASH Dec 5, 2010 10:10 PM

In the long run, I wouldn't be surprised if building it in phases would make it more expensive, with the NIMBYs having more time to derail the project.

afiggatt Dec 5, 2010 10:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by llamaorama (Post 5081838)
You know, honestly, if they are going to compromise this much why even do the project at all? Its not the project that will have the same benefits the people of California voted yes on prop 1A(I think that was it?) for.

This whole thing sucks. Do it right the first time please. It would be a lot of money to spend to build a sort of fast line through podunk places that nobody will ride, only for everyone to be dissatisfied and want to try the bullet train idea again.

Fresno, CA is a podunk place? The city has a population of 500,000 and the metropolitan area has a population of around 922,000. They don't have quite enough funding at this point to build Fresno to Bakersfield, so they are building the first segment pretty much centered on Fresno. Have to start the building of the HSR system someplace. In the middle makes sense to me, because then they can build north and south from there. Better than starting it in the SF to San Jose segment where the entire project could get bogged down for years before any serious construction starts. It is worth remembering that the CA HSR didn't have any federal funding a year ago. Going to be tough to get more federal funding in the next several years, but I would not rule it out.

Looking at the funding numbers for the 1st segment, there is a large reserve of around 20% added on top of the earlier already padded (in case they run into problems) cost estimates. If they manage to keep the project close to on budget, they may be able to eventually put around $800 million of this $4 billion towards the next segment.

Kingofthehill Dec 6, 2010 3:50 AM

^ That doesn't negate the fact that Fresno is still a podunk place :haha:

DJM19 Dec 6, 2010 4:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by llamaorama (Post 5081838)
You know, honestly, if they are going to compromise this much why even do the project at all? Its not the project that will have the same benefits the people of California voted yes on prop 1A(I think that was it?) for.

This whole thing sucks. Do it right the first time please. It would be a lot of money to spend to build a sort of fast line through podunk places that nobody will ride, only for everyone to be dissatisfied and want to try the bullet train idea again.

What exactly are you upset about? The project is still as it was when voted on. This section they are building is part of the whole line and the line would not open without it.

zilfondel Dec 6, 2010 7:17 AM

Gotta start somewhere.

JDRCRASH Dec 6, 2010 10:56 AM

Dude, don't you guys get it? When members of a certain political party inevitably see this, do you really think they're going to see this the same way we do? They WILL classify this as "waste", and they WILL try and stop it from happening. It's already happening. And guess what? Nobody's going to be there to lecture them, because the other political party is too chicken to fight.

Also, the media is not on their side (640 John&Ken show already is whining about it). Which means that, eventually, when more bad news comes out - and I have a feeling there's more to come - the public won't be either.

glowrock Dec 6, 2010 2:00 PM

Gotta start somewhere, so I'm totally fine with this. Makes sense to tie in both ends with the current freight/Amtrak line as well. Hell, even just a full Fresno-Bakersfield line would be a nice thing, and probably COULD be opened while construction continues from Bakersfield-L.A. Basin and Fresno to the Bay Area/SF/Sac...

Starting construction in the Central Valley is cheaper and faster than in the urban areas, and thus makes the most sense from a "bang for your buck" standpoint as well. Also it helps politically, as the Central Valley tends to be more right-wing, more prone to be against rail to begin with. Start the project there, and you eliminate a lot of political issues.

Aaron (Glowrock)

pesto Dec 6, 2010 8:55 PM

Well, suppose I invested my money in a company to build a railroad and the board decided they didn't have enough money or source of money to build 3/4of it but decided to take my money and build-out Corcoran. Would I (and the other shareholders) applaud their boldness or sue them for gross mishandling of a trust? No response needed.

And, yes, the vote is a complete PR disaster. It's hard to imagine the average voter, the GOP controlled House or any of the groups that are looking for mitiagation in their neighborhoods not using this as an example of government power run amok. If you give it to them they will spend it. Shamelessly.

btw, Fresno has a lot of people but 95 percent plus live in spread out single story suburbs or unwalkable 2 story apartment neighborhoods. Its need for transit of this sort is approximately zero. And meanwhile LA and the Bay are choking with traffic and people who want and need mass transit. That's why California is viewed as "broken".

DJM19 Dec 6, 2010 10:20 PM

There is no stop in Corcoran. Fresno is the only solid stop in this segment (they are considering Hanford, but that would have to replace another station somewhere else).

People are making wild assumptions and being very ridiculous about this. You might as well predict a 5-train pileup and start condemning the HSRA now for this tragic event that you thought of in your head.

This portion of the line is part of the first phase of the project. It is NECESSARY for the first phase of the project. The project will not open with it, and it will not open until the rest of the first phase is done.

There is no connection to Amtrak, that is just a distant and unlikely plan B, should no other funding materialize (keep in mind they aren't even using half of the existing funding yet).

Some politicians have made moves to take funding from CAHSR, but if you actually look at it with any scrutiny, they cant. Obama would not sign a bill that defunds his own pride and joy stimulus. The next transportation committee head is a republican that supports HSR.

JDRCRASH Dec 6, 2010 11:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DJM19 (Post 5083082)
People are making wild assumptions and being very ridiculous about this. You might as well predict a 5-train pileup and start condemning the HSRA now for this tragic event that you thought of in your head.

I am not making up wild assumptions and tragic events. The backlash against HSR is real, and it's already beginning to take out the less important projects like those in Ohio and Wisconsin.

Quote:

This portion of the line is part of the first phase of the project. It is NECESSARY for the first phase of the project. The project will not open with it, and it will not open until the rest of the first phase is done.
So how long will the track sit there unused?

glowrock Dec 6, 2010 11:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5082955)
Well, suppose I invested my money in a company to build a railroad and the board decided they didn't have enough money or source of money to build 3/4of it but decided to take my money and build-out Corcoran. Would I (and the other shareholders) applaud their boldness or sue them for gross mishandling of a trust? No response needed.

And, yes, the vote is a complete PR disaster. It's hard to imagine the average voter, the GOP controlled House or any of the groups that are looking for mitiagation in their neighborhoods not using this as an example of government power run amok. If you give it to them they will spend it. Shamelessly.

btw, Fresno has a lot of people but 95 percent plus live in spread out single story suburbs or unwalkable 2 story apartment neighborhoods. Its need for transit of this sort is approximately zero. And meanwhile LA and the Bay are choking with traffic and people who want and need mass transit. That's why California is viewed as "broken".

I'd say you're jumping to about a million conclusions long before any worrying is necessary, pesto.

HSR isn't going to do a damn thing for intra-city transit anyhow, so the traffic choking in the Bay Area and the L.A. Basin's not really going to change. HSR is more competition for airlines than cars, anyhow! Or did you suddenly expect a big drop in traffic in those regions when HSR stops will only be every 20 miles or so?

Aaron (Glowrock)

fflint Dec 7, 2010 12:07 AM

Did people really think the entire 500 mile system would get built all at the same time?

zilfondel Dec 7, 2010 2:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fflint (Post 5083232)
Did people really think the entire 500 mile system would get built all at the same time?

Apparently about half of them. Problem is, you'd need to hire about 10 million workers, and the costs would be about $5 trillion to build it in one month.

Train tracks are typically built in segments, from one end to the other. Heck, our new Portland streetcar line has been under construction for about a year now, and they've only laid half the track. They do it one block at a time...

Busy Bee Dec 7, 2010 3:49 AM

Rhetoric my friend, rhetoric.

DJM19 Dec 7, 2010 8:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JDRCRASH (Post 5083157)
I am not making up wild assumptions and tragic events. The backlash against HSR is real, and it's already beginning to take out the less important projects like those in Ohio and Wisconsin.



So how long will the track sit there unused?

Those states are not suffering at a federal level though. Scott Walker, the new governor of Wisconsin, is so anti rail it doesnt stand a chance. Jerry Brown has been in support of HSR for decades. California has the support of both state and federal leadership.

Nobody poses a threat to the California's HSR funding. The governor, the president, California's senators, the new head of the transportation committee. They all support HSR, especially in California.


The track being built will be in use whenever the first phase finishes. Those other parts of phase one will not wait for this section to be finished. Another section will be begin construction while this part recently announced is still being constructed...and another piece...and another piece. There will be work going on all along the line at some point, in various levels of completeness.

jamesinclair Dec 7, 2010 8:41 AM

Hey guys, major problem here.

I'm having a new home built, and the contractor insists on starting with the foundation.

WTF?

It's a multi-year project and he's starting with a useless part. I mean, I'm having carpet put in so people won't even see it! It's the concrete to nowjere!
There won't even be shelter! What use is a home if it doesn't even protect you from the rain!

I demand he either start with the roof or build the entire thing at once.

This is madness!




Seriously, how do people not understand that a project under construction is not useful until it is done....?

Busy Bee Dec 7, 2010 4:21 PM

Because they are motivated to look for any reason to attack it.

ElDuderino Dec 7, 2010 5:33 PM

Quote:

High-speed rail agency urged to rethink planning

Michael Cabanatuan, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

California's nascent high-speed rail program "needs a thorough reassessment" of how it is being planned and managed, a peer review group has concluded.

The eight-person group, created after voters approved the $10 billion high-speed rail bond measure in 2008, includes experts in high-speed rail, transportation, finance and planning. It is headed by former Caltrans Director Will Kempton, now executive director of the Orange County Transportation Authority.

The group, which is assigned with analyzing the feasibility of the high-speed train plan, concluded that the California High-Speed Rail Authority lacks sufficient staffing; a clear financial plan; a business model dictating who will plan, build, own and operate the system and how; as well as a plan to manage inevitable cost increases.

The authority also needs to acknowledge that it could have problems with obtaining access to rights-of-way from other railroads, and needs to determine how much of the system will be built using tunnels and elevated structures to accurately estimate costs, the report concluded.

"We appreciate the peer review group's feedback to the authority and the Legislature, including its clear call to lawmakers to support the project by providing the authority the resources necessary to create the nation's first high-speed rail system," said Jeff Barker, authority deputy director.

Kempton, in a letter submitting the report to the Legislature, said the group "appreciates the challenge the state faces in planning and managing a project of such immense complexity and long time horizon." The authority is charged with building an 800-mile statewide system with a first phase from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The estimated cost is $43 billion.

Many of the issues identified in the report have been raised earlier by critics and overseers. But the peer panel focuses much attention on the importance of a business model. It lays out five models that range from running the system like BART, with the authority handling all planning, construction and operation, to simply buying the right-of-way and turning over all responsibilities for construction and operation to a private entity.

Elizabeth Alexis, a member of Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design, a Peninsula group that has been critical of the authority, said the report sends a strong message to the authority.

"The message isn't that different" from other critical reports, she said, "but the messenger is. The High-Speed Rail Authority would be well-advised to heed their recommendations."
source: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...MN0B.DTL&tsp=1

llamaorama Dec 8, 2010 1:05 AM

Quote:

Hey guys, major problem here.

I'm having a new home built, and the contractor insists on starting with the foundation.

WTF?
That's a shitty analogy and you know it.

Here's how I think and I want you to prove me wrong.

I don't know, it just seems like a gamble. What will happen is that money gets spent to build a high speed line in the Central Valley. Then, HSR dies forever because of politics and that line gets used by a handful of crappy conventional Amtrak trains which may or may not even be able to go all the way to LA. Actually, the part about going to LA seems like the biggest deal to me, after all the reason why no passenger services continue south going that way is because freight has clogged the famous railfan photo spot loopy loop route through the mountains at Tehachapi pass. A tunnel from there to Sylmar would cost 823 gazillion dollars and take 20 years because the environmentalists want to save the mountain lions or something, then fuck it all, am I right?

My question is whether or not it is worth it to tie up a couple billion on something like this, if it was at all possible to take that money and fund something elsewhere. On the East Coast where results would be immediate and would show how HSR could work, and fix the political problem.

Planning anything is a long term thing that is not for the impatient, as I have heard before. But politics change rapidly, elections every couple years and public opinion comes and goes. Attempting a megaproject in the good ol' USA of 2010 seems like an enormous waste of effort.

glowrock Dec 8, 2010 2:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by llamaorama (Post 5084638)
That's a shitty analogy and you know it.

Here's how I think and I want you to prove me wrong.

I don't know, it just seems like a gamble. What will happen is that money gets spent to build a high speed line in the Central Valley. Then, HSR dies forever because of politics and that line gets used by a handful of crappy conventional Amtrak trains which may or may not even be able to go all the way to LA. Actually, the part about going to LA seems like the biggest deal to me, after all the reason why no passenger services continue south going that way is because freight has clogged the famous railfan photo spot loopy loop route through the mountains at Tehachapi pass. A tunnel from there to Sylmar would cost 823 gazillion dollars and take 20 years because the environmentalists want to save the mountain lions or something, then fuck it all, am I right?

My question is whether or not it is worth it to tie up a couple billion on something like this, if it was at all possible to take that money and fund something elsewhere. On the East Coast where results would be immediate and would show how HSR could work, and fix the political problem.

Planning anything is a long term thing that is not for the impatient, as I have heard before. But politics change rapidly, elections every couple years and public opinion comes and goes. Attempting a megaproject in the good ol' USA of 2010 seems like an enormous waste of effort.

I think your pessimism is well-founded, but out of place in this situation, llamaorama. While yes, elections are every few years, political winds shift directions and all that jazz, planning for high speed rail is something that needed to be done decades ago, and at least is going pretty well in California. I think it's important to start with the "easier" sections first, especially given that the Central Valley is in such dire economic straits right now, the thousands of construction and engineering jobs will be a godsend for places like Fresno, Bakersfield, Corcoran, Hanford, Visalia, Tulare, etc... Obviously the biggest challenges are connecting the Central Valley with Southern California as well as the Bay Area, but plans are in place, and funding is coming together, albeit slowly.

This is NOT a waste of effort, my friend. Give it time, things will turn out. After all, who the hell thought that the L.A. Basin would have so many transit projects either being constructed or planned at this time? Patience, young grasshopper. Patience.

Aaron (Glowrock)

DJM19 Dec 8, 2010 5:14 AM

The main point of this line is to get from LA to SF. That sort of the genesis of why it was considered in the first place. No matter where is starts in that area, it will be pretty useless if not completed. I suppose a train from LA to Bakersfield could be cool, but not what we desire to build.

If you are complaining that it might not ever finish, it doesnt matter where it starts. An unfinished line wont achieve its top goal by far of connecting LA to SF.

Then consider it HAS to start in the central valley. Thats federal mandate.

JDRCRASH Dec 8, 2010 6:50 AM

I have no problem with it starting in the central valley. A commute from Fresno to Bakersfield where it's top speed (220 Mph) will be easily achieved, sounds pretty awesome.

ProTram Dec 8, 2010 3:39 PM

Agreed, and they need a place where they will be able to let the train flex its proverbial muscles. Plus the Central Valley is probably where they are going to get the most bang for their buck, and I feel that once the immediate effects of its construction shows itself(jobs, economic surge, etc), then I think that more funding should become available a little easier.

jamesinclair Dec 9, 2010 5:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by llamaorama (Post 5084638)
That's a shitty analogy and you know it.

Here's how I think and I want you to prove me wrong.

I don't know, it just seems like a gamble. What will happen is that money gets spent to build a high speed line in the Central Valley. Then, HSR dies forever because of politics and that line gets used by a handful of crappy conventional Amtrak trains which may or may not even be able to go all the way to LA. Actually, the part about going to LA seems like the biggest deal to me, after all the reason why no passenger services continue south going that way is because freight has clogged the famous railfan photo spot loopy loop route through the mountains at Tehachapi pass. A tunnel from there to Sylmar would cost 823 gazillion dollars and take 20 years because the environmentalists want to save the mountain lions or something, then fuck it all, am I right?

My question is whether or not it is worth it to tie up a couple billion on something like this, if it was at all possible to take that money and fund something elsewhere. On the East Coast where results would be immediate and would show how HSR could work, and fix the political problem.

Planning anything is a long term thing that is not for the impatient, as I have heard before. But politics change rapidly, elections every couple years and public opinion comes and goes. Attempting a megaproject in the good ol' USA of 2010 seems like an enormous waste of effort.


I think it's a great analogy.

As others have mentioned, to finish the system, we need every bit of track built. The goal is not a half-finishes system, it's 100%.

California has been working on this since the 1970's. Complaining at every step of the way that "it will never happen" is easy but counterproductive.

I don't understand how the east coast is even relevant, considering California voters put up 10 billion, something no one else has done.

You also say:
"On the East Coast where results would be immediate "

False. The east coast didnt even get money because they weren't prepared. Building rail is far from immediate, it takes years of planning.

I agree that I would have preferred phase 1 to be between Bakersfield and Palmdale. But it wasn't even considered because that section isn't ready, the studies haven't been finished.

Here are the reasons why it was a good choice:

-Every portion of the system needs to be built, might as well start where you get the longest track for your dollar.
-The Valley has an unemployment rate of 18%, 26% when you include underemployment.
-Very little resistance. The counties are on board, the mayors are on board, the people are on board.
-Worst case scenario, amtrak can use it.


You say:
" line gets used by a handful of crappy conventional Amtrak trains "

These "crappy" trains are the number 5 most popular amtrak line in the country. 12 trains a day (6 each way).

100,000 people a month ride the San Joaquin.

For a place where "nobody" rides transit, that's a lot of people.

Even if HSR fails, we get:

Speed increase from 79 to 125mph
Double tracking
Dedicated ROW, no freight, no intersections

=Faster speeds, less delays, ability to schedule more trains a day.

That's pretty much the investment getting thrown at Ohio, upper New York state, georgia etc. Take conventional trains and make them better.


Note: If money allows, Amtrak/Caltrans plan on adding a round trip in 2012 and another in 2013 to the San Joaquin line, for 16 trains a day.

northbay Dec 10, 2010 1:40 AM

one state's loss is california's gain:

Quote:

CA HSR to get up to $624m from other states' rejected HSR cash
Published Thursday, December 9, 2010, by the New York Times

More U.S. Rail Funds for 13 States as 2 Reject Aid

By Michael Cooper

Ohio and Wisconsin's loss of $1.2 billion in federal stimulus money for rail
projects will be California, Florida and 11 other states' gains, federal
officials said on Thursday.

Ohio and Wisconsin were among the biggest winners of federal stimulus money this
year to build new rail lines in their states; officials in both states had
lobbied aggressively for the money in the hopes that it would create thousands
of jobs and improve their transportation systems.

But that all changed last month when both states elected Republican governors
who vowed to kill the train projects, arguing that they were boondoggles that
would leave their states on the hook for subsidies each year to operate the
trains.

Now both states, which have been hit hard by the economic downturn, are losing
the money. The federal Department of Transportation announced Thursday that it
was taking back the $810 million that had been awarded to Wisconsin to build a
train line from Milwaukee to Madison, and the $385 million that was awarded to
Ohio to build a train line linking Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland. The money
will be redistributed to 12 other states, with the biggest winners being
California and Florida, which are building high-speed trains.

"High-speed rail will modernize America's valuable transportation network, while
reinvigorating the manufacturing sector and putting people back to work in
good-paying jobs," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement
announcing the redistribution of the rail money. "I am pleased that so many
other states are enthusiastic about the additional support they are receiving to
help bring America's high-speed rail network to life."

Neither Ohio nor Wisconsin were getting high-speed trains. They were simply
getting new train routes that the federal government hoped would form the basis
of a new national network of trains, which could eventually be upgraded to
high-speed rail. But the new governors-elect questioned who would ride the new,
not-terribly-fast trains.

...

Mr. Walker worried that the new $810 million train route would leave the state
with subsidies of $7 million to $10 million a year to run the trains.
Exasperated train supporters, who saw a lucrative jobs project and an
environmentally friendly way to travel, complained that Mr. Walker's position
was analogous to turning down a free new car, simply because it would cost money
for gas and insurance.

John Kasich, the governor-elect of Ohio, declared "this train is dead" after
being elected, and mocked the slow speeds the train was expected to travel.

Both men expressed interest in using the stimulus money to fix and maintain
highways and roads in their states instead. But the money was part of $8 billion
in the stimulus bill that was directed for building trains and paving the way
for high-speed rail in the United States.

Now they are about to find out if the electorate that supported their antirail
platforms will still support them, now that it has cost their states $1.2
billion.

This fall, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican, killed a
long-planned commuter train tunnel under the Hudson River that had received
pledges of $3 billion from the federal government. He cited concerns about the
strapped state's share of the project's rising costs. Now the federal government
is weighing how to redistribute that money to other transit projects, and has
asked New Jersey to return the approximately $271 million already spent on the
project.

The biggest winners of Ohio and Wisconsin's money were California, which will
receive another $624 million on top of the nearly $3 billion it has received so
far toward the construction of a high-speed train from Los Angeles to San
Francisco
, and Florida, which will get another $342 million on top of the
roughly $2 billion it has received to build a high-speed train between Orlando
and Tampa.

Florida's governor-elect, Rick Scott, a Republican, has said he would take
another look at the numbers to see if that train is still viable -- at only 84
miles, the route is not considered long enough by many rail experts to be
optimally served by high-speed rail.

The other states that will get Ohio and Wisconsin's money will be Washington,
which will get up to $161 million; Illinois, which will get $42.3 million; and
Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oregon
and Vermont, which will all get less than $10 million.

Wisconsin will be able to keep about $2 million for work on its Hiawatha line,
which Governor-elect Walker has said he supports.
source: http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/newr...reply&t=180558

ocman Dec 12, 2010 1:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DJM19 (Post 5084982)
The main point of this line is to get from LA to SF. That sort of the genesis of why it was considered in the first place. No matter where is starts in that area, it will be pretty useless if not completed. I suppose a train from LA to Bakersfield could be cool, but not what we desire to build.

If you are complaining that it might not ever finish, it doesnt matter where it starts. An unfinished line wont achieve its top goal by far of connecting LA to SF.

Then consider it HAS to start in the central valley. Thats federal mandate.


If you wanted a starting route that would function right off the bat, it would be SD-LA. It would have the highest ridership of any other starting route, but the problem is that it would be costly and untimely and politically difficult to dig through such a highly urbanized area. There would be inevitable cost overruns. You don't want backlash or give ammo to opposition when you've barely started. And it's outside of the main SF-LA route, so sensitive Norcal would throw a political fit.



So the Central Valley is a logical place to start. It's still within the LA-SF route, (which SD-LA isn't) yet it's politically neutral with much less local opposition then you'd get in SoNorCal. And it's mostly cows (which you can move) and large swaths of lands, so you can get more rail for your time and buck, and politically, the project will give the appearance of being less expensive than it will eventually be when it gets the ends of the full route.

DJM19 Dec 12, 2010 3:05 AM

Its logical and its mandated by the federal government that their money be spent there. Kind of made it easy for the rail authority to decide.

Now that California just got more money, this initial segment may go to Bakersfield, thus covering the two big central valley cities.

fflint Dec 12, 2010 3:11 AM

Fresno to Bakersfield is a big deal for grade-separate double-trackage. It will improve passenger rail service no matter what ultimately gets run on the rails there.

202_Cyclist Dec 13, 2010 12:20 PM

At Start of Rail Project, a Tussle Over Where to Begin (WSJ 12/13/2010)
 
At Start of Rail Project, a Tussle Over Where to Begin

By JOSH MITCHELL
Wall Street Journal
12/13/10

"California's plan for high-speed rail service envisions bullet trains zooming from Sacramento to San Diego. To start off, the state intends to spend $4.3 billion to build a 65-mile stretch of track and stations linking two small towns in rural Central Valley.

Proponents of high speed rail say building this portion of track is a good way to launch a multiyear building program. Critics call the project the "train to nowhere" and are using it to fuel a broader attack on the Obama administration's rail strategy.

http://sg.wsj.net/public/resources/i...1212192418.gif

"It defies logic and common sense to have the train start and stop in remote areas that have no hope of attaining the ridership needed to justify the cost of the project," U.S. Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D., Calif.) wrote in a Nov. 30 letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood..."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...825514428.html

JDRCRASH Dec 13, 2010 10:01 PM

^ Don't build anything north of Fresno, and instead use the money to extend the first segment's southern end to Bakersfield. Common sense, really.

Quote:

Originally Posted by 202_Cyclist (Post 5090971)
Critics call the project the "train to nowhere" and are using it to fuel a broader attack on the Obama administration's rail strategy.

I knew it.....


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