This is an open thread, but I thought I'd offer a conversation starter. In the spirit of the what's wrong with this picture puzzles of old, how many things are wrong with Michael Mahoney's odd anti-HSR op-ed published in Thursday's San Francisco Chronicle?
When the United States created the interstate highway system 50 years ago, the decision was made to run the superhighways into the heart of each city. The freeways smashed through the heart of urban areas, cutting neighborhoods apart, and inflicting noise and air pollution on the citizens. Finally, the citizens rebelled and the highway builders had to retreat.
They're back, now, only they're building a railroad to smash through the heart of the Central Valley's urban areas. By the time the citizens of Merced realize what harm has been done, it will be too late.
Unfortunately for Mahoney's argument, the rails came first. Merced, Modesto, Fresno, Bakersfield - they are ALL railroad towns. They were built around and in some cases because of the railroads. Their original street grids were laid out to match the alignment of the trains, and trains have been a regular feature of life in those cities for well over 100 years. HSR would in fact improve the situation in these cities with retaining walls and grade separations. Fresno is looking to use HSR to join the city's existing rail tracks in a single central corridor, reducing the impact on other neighborhoods. So Mahoney's argument here makes no sense.
There are many other glaring flaws with Mahoney's argument - I'll give you a hint for one of them: look between San Francisco and San José...