Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Daniel Goldberg Reaches New Lows in HSR Denial

NOTE: We've moved! Visit us at the California High Speed Rail Blog.

On Monday the Ventura County Star ran a good article on high speed rail. That prompted on Daniel Goldberg, who writes a blog for the VC Star's website, to write one of the silliest pieces of HSR denial I've ever seen. Even though it's absurd on its face, it's worth deconstructing these arguments which are likely to be with us for some time, especially as contentious debates over HSR implementation continue.

Goldberg starts with:

On Monday's front page there was an article about $8 billion in stimulus funds that might be allocated to high speed rail. My initial response was "why can't we stop wasting money?" The high speed rail debate has been going on for years, I think if it really was worth it, we would have dont it by now.

Obviously Goldberg has no clue about how major infrastructure projects are designed and permitted in this country, nor is he aware that we were supposed to vote on this in 2004 but Arnold Schwarzenegger insisted on delaying the vote for HSR bonds to 2006, and then to 2008.

Yes, building the fancy train set might create some jobs, but what about the long run.

Does he assume the train will vanish after 10 years? That it's got some sort of Mission: Impossible self-destruct system? In fact the HSR system will be a central part of California's long-term economic strategy, providing jobs and savings for decades to come. One estimate was that 450,000 jobs would be created by 2030 by the system - nothing to sneeze at.

Our state is already equipped with airports in every major city. And most minor cities also have small airports.

This is more of the usual "air travel means trains aren't necessary!" nonsense we usually see from HSR deniers, people who have probably never actually used some of these small airports. Many, like San Luis Obispo airport, are seeing declining passenger levels and carriers are abandoning the small airports in droves. Of course, peak oil means that the cost of flying will continue to rise - $49 fares from SF to LA will be a thing of the past in 2018.

Furthermore, let us not forget about our current rail system. Besides the Metrolink accident that occurred late last year, the current system works. Trains run daily all over the state and in an efficient manner. This brings me to the old saying, "If its not broken, don't fix it." Lets hope the wiseguys up in Sacramento subscribe to it.

Obviously Goldberg has never actually used a passenger train in California. They run daily, and are efficient given their enormous constraints. But they are wholly inadequate to the task of meeting California's overall transportation needs in the way they can and should. It shouldn't take 12 hours to get from SF to LA via train. It shouldn't even take an hour to get to LA from Santa Ana on a train. California's passenger trains, especially the intercity trains, have attracted a lot of riders and dedicated supporters, but I doubt any of them would say that the present situation is adequate or acceptable.

Especially given the need to boost non-oil based forms of travel, for environmental, economic, and energy reasons. But then I'm guessing Goldberg doesn't believe in global warming either.

He concludes his ill-informed rant:

Back to the $8 billion at hand. I am plenty sure it can be used for a better purpose. What about all those teachers who were just laid off or buying books for students. I imagine it would be better to invest the stimulus money into education rather than on infastructure, and especially for infastructure we DO NOT NEED.

And in the actual version, the "DO NOT NEED" is in a much bigger font than the rest of the text, as if we're too stupid to understand that's his point without being shouted at.

As to the issue of other needs, like schools - we've actually discussed that very issue before, back in May 2008, and ironically based off another ill-informed bit of HSR denial that ran in the Ventura County Star.

The points are still valid today. HSR isn't taking money from schools. The state contribution comes from general obligation bonds, paid out over 30 years at what's probably going to be an annual cost of around $600 million (and that's the higher end of the estimate). Our K-12 schools, however, face a $9 billion cut this year.

If you want to fix our schools, we need to raise taxes. There's no way around it.

But the issues go deeper. Why is California's budget in a mess? For 30 years now we have had a structural revenue shortfall - in other words, for the last 30 years we have not raised enough tax revenue to pay for our basic needs. The solution to this is NOT to turn to bonds - a structural problem needs a structural solution, and bond debt isn't such a solution.

Bonds are properly used to build long-term infrastructure. To pay for ongoing costs like education, we need more tax revenue.

Further, the economic crisis - what I believe to be a Depression, but what many are now calling the Great Recession - is sending tax revenues into the tank. That economic crisis is largely due to the effects of high oil prices on an economy based on sprawl and automobile commuting. If we want to recover from this crisis, grow the economy, generate new tax revenues, and pay for schools, then we need to get off of oil NOW. High speed rail helps get us there.

Unfortunately, HSR deniers refuse to acknowledge any of this, and that means they and their silly arguments will be with us for many years to come.

46 comments:

Rafael said...

Perhaps Mr. Goldberg might wants to re-read a little tidbit from April 2008:

GAO Blasts Weapons Budget - Cost overruns hit $295 billion

Mind you, that's just what the Pentagon managed to lose between the cushions in during the eight years of the Bush administration. Shock, yes. Awe, not so much. Your children thank you for taking on the extra debt.

Alon Levy said...

Is there any way of writing a fake article dating to 1959 saying that there's no need to build any Shinkansen lines because the trains already take you from Tokyo to Osaka in 6 hours?

On another note: the financial crisis had nothing to do with oil, and everything to do with shadow banking. That's why Canada, which is as oil-addicted as the US but has ample banking regulations, is mostly unaffected, while Britain, which has fairly low oil consumption but the same financial system as the US, is in similar trouble.

Andrew Bogan said...

"Our state is already equipped with airports in every major city. And most minor cities also have small airports."

Do these anti-HSR people actually think that Japan and France do not have airports? HSR is a much better way to travel on inter-city (like Bay Area to LA) and even longer regional routes (like SF to SJ).

I encourage all opponents of HSR to leave the United States--just long enough to ride a HSR train in Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, or the EU. HSR is a fantastic way to travel.

Maybe we should start a collection to send some of these folks to Tokyo for a week . . .

jim said...

I'm still trying to figure out when california went from being a world leader, a place where anything is possible, and the most innovative place in america, to being a state full of people who's response to everything is "no we can't" It's like the state has a bad infection.

Rafael said...

@ jim -

glad to see you're brushing up on your French. As for opposition, did you really think that in a state of 37 million, everyone would be in favor of HSR? There are always some who think differently.

Consider the facts: even after Lehman Bros was allowed to go belly-up, triggering a rapid worsening of the already-nosediving state economy, California voters still approved prop 1A.

Voters in LA, Santa Clara, Marin and Sonoma approved local propositions to raise their sales taxes for 30 years to pay for new local/regional rail transit services.

By and large, the wisdom of the crowds concept is still alive and kicking, it's just that Robert has a tendency to zero in on "HSR deniers" regardless of how relevant - or otherwise - their opinion is at the state level. He has a hard time just ignoring them.

Alon Levy said...

Jim: California is a world leader in the private sector, not the public sector. As early as the 1950s, John Galbraith contrasted private wealth and public squalor in the US to the opposite situation in Europe.

Eric said...

Is there any way of writing a fake article dating to 1959 saying that there's no need to build any Shinkansen lines because the trains already take you from Tokyo to Osaka in 6 hours?

Actually at the time the government's initial position favored four-tracking the existing line instead of building a whole new railway (keep in mind that air travel was still expensive, not nearly as safe as it is today, and relatively uncommon, a 6 hour trip was considered acceptable for ordinary travelers) - JNR's management held out for the high speed train and eventually persuaded the government and the Japanese people.

When you travel around Europe and Asia, don't forget that those lines weren't built without the same kind of delays and controversy and technical problems that HSR runs into in this country.

For example, it took 13 years after the Chunnel was completed to get a 67 mile High Speed link into London, only after the government agreed to build 12 miles of tunnelling to placate East London NIMBYs. The Paris Link was completed on time, but that has a lot to do with the fact that it mostly runs through flat farmland alongside major highways - the last 10 miles into Paris run on an existing, ordinary rail line, at commuter train speeds.

The TGV was actually designed as a gas turbine and the project had to totally shift gears once the 1970s oil crisis hit.

HR said...

Hear, hear! Love the work you guys do.

futureman said...

Actually Goldberg has got much of it right. This project is not and never has been about moving people; it always been about money; money for developers, contractors, speculators etc. Its has been driven by politics since Diridon and Kopp hijacked the process.

Yes, Prop 1A did pass; but it certainly didn't pass on it merits as a rail project; it passed as a measure to create jobs and needed a $2 million radio campaign funded mostly by the Alliance for Jobs lobby to get the needed votes.

This blog keeps talking about what we need for our future.

Well why should we be building this train with what is really obsolete, foreign made technology.

The Japanese are doing real research into the future, and that is what we should be doing as well

Japan Rail Future

the whole concept is miss-guided and hopefully before a whole lot more money is wasted, it will be stopped.

Andrew Bogan said...

Central Japan Railway's magnetic levitation train project is a far worse mess than anything we have seen out of CHSRA. The Japanese government decided not to help fund its construction last year and JR Central (a private company) has seen its share price collapse since then as investors have fled fearing cost overruns on a project that currently plans to put nearly the entire Tokyo to Nagoya line underground. I am all for modern technologies, but maglev is not a very good example.

Claiming that the HSR project is not about moving people is simply inaccurate, go look up the ridership figures on HSR trains in Asia and Europe (most are on Wikipedia). They move tens of millions of people each year nearly everyone they have built one.

Alon Levy said...

Eric: I'll add to your examples that the idea of the Shinkansen is far older than 1964. The Japanese military government wanted to build new lines in the 1930s; it had finished a few mountain tunnels before WW2 ground the project to a halt. The Channel Tunnel took decades to come to fruition as well - I first read about the plans for it in a 1974 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Andrew Bogan said...

Also note that the reason JR Central is still theoretically in a position to independently fund a massively expensive maglev construction project is because they have the sole operating concession for the Tokaido shinkansen from Osaka to Tokyo, which is very profitable.

It is odd that most HSR opponents insist that HSR cannot be operated profitably in California when there are already several examples of privately operated, profitable HSR lines around the world.

Alon Levy said...

Andrew, the Chuo Shinkansen's projected cost isn't much higher than CAHSR's - it's 44 billion versus 40. The Chuo Shinkansen will cover a shorter distance, however. It may not go all the way into Tokyo, either, in which case it's likely to flop. I've read that JR Central plans on terminating the line at Shinagawa, because it's too expensive to secure ROW through to Tokyo Station. Shinagawa Station isn't Longyang Road, and I think there will still be service to Shinjuku, but it's still a pretty bad place to put in an intercity terminus.

r. motorist said...

This project is not and never has been about moving people

This may not be true, but can we really be surprised that people keep saying this, given the leadership involved.

Also, it looks like NIMBYs are not necessarily 100% white after all...

tinyurl.com/ce2g64

yeson1a said...

If the Nimbys from Menlo Park think it a great article then you KNOW its pure BS

Spokker said...

Fight to the death, with a rail as your pillow.

Eric said...

@Alon - true, there were grand plans for tunnels to Korea and China - I guess if WWII had gone differently, they would have had brutal military despotism, but on the upside, really cool trains! Interestingly, the name "bullet train" is a literal translation of an informal pre-war name for the project. In postwar Japanese culture, though, that was seen as unacceptably militaristic and the neutral name "Shinkansen" was chosen. But the Western press found the much more evocative title "bullet train" to be irresistible.

One thing that's worth noting is that both Japan and France, when they built their original high speed lines, had nationalized or largely state-controlled railway networks, with charismatic, politically connected leaders. Without that, it's not inconceivable that they could have jumped on the happy motoring bandwagon and abandoned their passenger trains in favor of freeways. The fact that, unlike the US, both countries have to import virtually all of their oil probably had something to do with it as well.

Eric said...

Fight to the death, with a rail as your pillow.

This is the best thing. Someone more artistic than me please make a flag or coat of arms with this as the motto.

Spokker said...

Eric, I'm probably going get a detail or two wrong, but that phrase was the motto of JR for a period of time before the bullet train was built. The CEO enjoyed saying it to new employees.

Speaking of the bullet train, it was considered a radical idea back then. The people at JR who supported the idea were thought of as crazy, and when the thing was finally built, those that opposed the project changed their tune and pretended they were supporters all along.

I will have to check out the book I learned this stuff from again and brush up on my history of Japan Rail, their breakup and privatization and all that.

Brandon in San Diego said...

Spokker,
Were you the one that recommended "The Great Society Subway; A History of the Washington Metro" to me?

Spokker said...

Brandon, wasn't me.

Andrew Bogan said...

@Alon Levy

"the Chuo Shinkansen's projected cost isn't much higher than CAHSR's - it's 44 billion versus 40"

Although in the case of CAHSR they are talking about 1/3 state bond funding, 1/3 federal infrastructure funding, and 1/3 private investment (presumably in a build-operate-transfer PPP model). For the Tokyo to Nagoya maglev, JR Central is now looking at footing the entire bill themselves!

Many of their right of way issues in central Tokyo and elsewhere are significantly complicated by a lack of government support since they have no eminent domain authority as a private company. Not to mention the new line would compete directly with their existing (cash cow) Tokaido shinkansen service--not an obvious business case.

Your points about termini in Tokyo are excellent. I used to work right next to the shinkansen tracks in Shinagawa and it's not exactly Tokyo Station down there on the edge of town. Shinjuku would be a fine choice, though, since it is significantly busier than Tokyo's "main" station these days (over 1 million rail passengers per day, if memory serves).

The far greater problem with the current phase 1 plan for the JR Central maglev is on the other end. Nagoya is just not an appealing western terminus, since it is well short of both Kyoto and Osaka.

Eric said...

Spokker, that's even better - I thought that was a spoof of some old communist or French revolution slogan.

While we're on the subject of the Shinkansen, I think it's interesting to note the extent to which it wasn't brand new. The Germans had run electric test trains, with passengers, at 130 mph, way back in 1903. One reason the shinkansen adopted standard gauge, instead of broad gauge (after all, if you're building a high-speed railroad to a gauge that's completely non-standard to your country, and you're an island nation, why not just go for the widest practical gauge for maximum stability?) was that they could directly borrow technology from Europe and the US; from what I remember reading the shinkansen 0 series bogies are largely based on a 1930s Milwaukee Road design. Of course, the level of automated train control was completely unique and world-beating at the time, but in many cases what the original shinkansen represented was not so much a clean-slate design but an astoundingly brilliant integration of technology that was right under the rest of the world's noses.

It would surely be a shame if CA can't similarly leverage all the R&D that Japan and Europe have subsequently put into HSR over the last several decades, learn from their successes and mistakes, and build a great system from the get-go.

BruceMcF said...

Yes, I use the simple, memorable phrase even though technically "bullet train" is out-dated ... the original theory was to lay the track "as straight as the path of a bullet", which actual experience with bullet trains has shown to be not strictly necessary.

Using "bullet train" avoids confusion between the Rest of the World use of the term High Speed Rail and the US Legislation meaning both absolutely High Speed Rail and the "relatively Higher speed" Rapid Rail systems that most parts of the country will be pursuing first ...

... which is, of course, California's best guarantee of continued Federal funding for "High Speed Rail", since as the Rapid Rail systems start rolling out, they will quickly prove addicting to state governments.

Spokker said...

It's not just about attaining higher speeds, it's also about maintaining those speeds. A 110 MPH train does nobody any good when it must slow down for curves or freight trains. Even if trains could maintain 79 MPH for the duration of their route with the exception of stops, that would improve their competitiveness with other forms of transportation immensely.

I point to the Surfliner, which can hit 90 MPH between San Clemente and Oceanside, but is crippled by slow running just before San Diego and single trackage on some of the route.

Spokker said...

"Spokker, that's even better - I thought that was a spoof of some old communist or French revolution slogan."

It was derived from some old saying, but it's been a while since I checked out that book. I will be sure to check it out again on Friday and I'll type up and post some good passages here.

Spokker said...

Goddamn.

I came.

BruceMcF said...

Spokker said... "It's not just about attaining higher speeds, it's also about maintaining those speeds. A 110 MPH train does nobody any good when it must slow down for curves or freight trains."

Yes, that is the point of the design of the Rapid Rail systems ... not to have impressive top speeds, but to continue operating near the top speed for as many segments of the line as possible. Thus the new track in parts of the ROW with heavy freight traffic, 10 miles in 50 miles passing track in area with light freight traffic, 60mph freight line which tilt trains can take at 110mph, all crossings upgraded to 110mph class crossings, grade separations to avoid grade crossings that will cause delays, etc.

Spokker said...

Good. I was wondering if there would be an Acela situation where it can hit 150MPH*









*In Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

jim said...

i do think that the existing tech is the right tech. I think the route is the right route. I am happy with the overall project design and goals. I certainly support the expenditure of money to create good (union) jobs on construction, and operations. What I don't like is the fact that I no longer feel that californians are californians anymore. the influx of foreigners, and the ideological rift between the left and the right fueled by demagoguery, Its just a state full of people who want to fight with each other. In other words, I have a certain pride about being a californian, just like the french have about being french, and the brits have about being brits, ( and note, the healthy competition between, the european rail tech companies and the national pride they each have about their own trainsets) I thought we use to have that here. The universities, the central valley project, the aqueduct, the bridges, the agriculture, the techm the wine and on and on but somewhere on the last couple of decades that has eroded into a very unfocused unaware, self involved, feeling permeating everything. Its not the california dream anymore. its just a big junky place full of junky people who can't be bothered. I don't like it. I blame young people and washed up baby boomers. Young people because they can't take the ipods out fo there ears long enoughlearn how to read a map and can't ffind their way out of a paper bag, and crusty baby boomers, who have always been all about themselves, even while they were pretending to save the world. Where is the "we are california" bandwagon? why don't we celebrate it anymore? I mean I can't believe everyone isn't totally psyched about this train. Where are our movie stars? Where is the hollywood machine to light a fire? come on people. snap out of it. this states getting dull. may I please have my french citizenship now? at least they know how to strike and take hostages. Now that's cool.

jim said...

sorry about the diatribe, I peak at night. some one get me a bulldozer and some concrete Ill build it myself. I'd like to ride it before I qualify for a senior discount.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Alon Levy, the shadow banking system was the ultimate cause of the crisis - the dry brush, if you will.

The ultimate cause - the spark that set everything aflame - was rising oil prices in a sprawlconomy dependent on oil.

Eventually the housing bubble would have peaked and crashed. But it happened at a specific time - summer 2006 - and for a specific cause, and that was gas prices broke $3/gal around that time.

Rising gas prices meant that many American mortgage borrowers, who were linchpin of the entire global financial system, were no longer able to make ends meet. Even though many of them were not yet facing ballooning monthly payments.

The continued price spikes in 2007 and 2008 helped push more borrowers and consumers over the edge, bringing down the whole house of cards around them.

It's not the case that oil dependence was the sole reason for the crisis. But I do quite strongly believe it was the reason it happened when it did, as it did.

And if we do not break that dependence, economic recovery is going to be a very long and slow process. If we try and recover while relying on the same sprawlconomy, oil prices will come back up as soon as we have the increased consumption of oil that comes with recovery - and that price increase could well strangle a fragile recovery.

Energy independence is one of the necessities to recovery. And that includes high speed rail, as President Obama rightly recognizes.

jim said...

good news - jet packs now on sale maybe we dont deen hsr after all.
http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/transportation/4217989.html

jim said...

@robertEnergy independence is one of the necessities to recovery. And that includes high speed rail, as President Obama rightly recognize" AND nuclear power which is the single most important thing we could do to dump the arabs.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen this yet?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14abZE2syno

BruceMcF said...

Spokker said... "Good. I was wondering if there would be an Acela situation where it can hit 150MPH*"
{* in RI and MA}

Unlike the NEC, there are ample rights of way in the Great Lakes with enough room in existing right of way to lay new track ... and freight railroads happy to trim their property tax liabilities by selling unused ROW. Given far more existing level crossings to cope with, the the common target of both networks (Midwest Hub and Ohio Hub) is getting to 100mph-110mph for 80%+ of the corridors

And even though politics mean that the Triple-C is originally built for 79mph services, its being built off a plan with 79mph and 110mph options, so there are not big "gotchas" being built in that will interfere with the upgrade to 110mph.

Andrew Bogan said...

@Anonymous 8:12am

First, please choose a name, either the one you already have, or some pseudonym to avoid confusion with other comments.

I have seen this twice now, first when it was originally shown at Palo Alto City Hall a few weeks ago and then again this morning on YouTube. I commend my fellow Palo Altan who took the time and applied his architectural talents to make this video.

It is really a matter of taste and perspective as to whether the structure shown is awful, ugly, or just attractively functional. I personally found it less offensive looking than many of the other audience members at City Hall. There are definitely some negative impacts to the houses along the right of way in Southgate, but no major state-wide infrastructure project is without its costs.

The rendering is of only one possible alignment (elevated over the Churchill crossing) and that may not be the alignment that gets chosen for many reasons. If it is, I could live with it, but I respect that some other residents might feel differently.

One aspect of the drawings and renderings used to oppose HSR that is a bit questionable is the inclusion of details like school busses, pedestrians, cars, and green grass on the playing fields, but not a single planting --no trees, no flowers, no climbing vines, anywhere near the elevated train structure drawings. I encourage my fellow Palo Altans to go up to San Carlos or Belmont for lunch sometime and see just how attractive some of their landscaped train overpasses look.

Robert has previously posted a number of lovely photos of elevated structures in Europe on this blog as well. Elevated need not mean ugly.

I am an outspoken proponent of studying tuneel options for the mid-Peninsula, but I am also realistic about the implied costs and do not think it is the only viable solution for HSR in this area.

Finally, thanks for posting this link and thanks again to the architect who did this rendering for his concern, effort, and talent. Visualizing alternatives is an important part of the process. I would love to see an updated version with trees, flowers, and vines (since I am an avid gardener).

Clem said...

That's an impressive video, although it has a few minor errors.

(1) the video shows a 21-foot elevated embankment with Churchill remaining at the current grade. The CHSRA was tentatively planning something 6 feet lower, by correspondingly lowering the Churchill/Alma intersection. Today, there is a significant dip after you cross the tracks onto Alma.

Also, the number of electrification poles is excessive. Span lengths are typically 50 meters.

Finally, the electrification is too low. Caltrain and CHSRA are planning headspans with 43 foot height to accommodate excess-height freight trains. Which is insane, given the neighborhood sensitivities.

jim said...

look what they did with elevated in paris: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://bp3.blogger.com/_D5kx0bUGx_c/SHzIDk8b0pI/AAAAAAAAAb8/zEvKjgYM7jk/s400/viaduct-elevated%2Btrain-paris.jpg&imgrefurl=http://carfreeinbigd.blogspot.com/2008/07/sunday-dmn-was-full-of-articles.html&usg=__yj66hryw5-2wv7Y7J25owoUZmsw=&h=300&w=400&sz=40&hl=en&start=326&sig2=k_qR32RQN9fkpoE42eqt9Q&um=1&tbnid=tBF6oek-DqcoKM:&tbnh=93&tbnw=124&prev=/images%3Fq%3Delevated%2Bhigh%2Bspeed%2Brail%2B%2Bpics%26ndsp%3D21%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26start%3D315%26um%3D1&ei=wMfLSeXQJIm0sAPzm4y7Bg

BruceMcF said...

"I encourage my fellow Palo Altans to go up to San Carlos or Belmont for lunch sometime and see just how attractive some of their landscaped train overpasses look."

This is a big issue. One of the factors supporting the insane idea of ripping out the CBD rail line in Newcastle, Australia, is that the corridor is so damn ugly. But on the same system you can go to train stations in ritzier suburbs on Sydney's North Shore, with flower beds and trees and well tended grass, and the greenery substantially reduces the impact.

Indeed, installing a living wall on one of those 21 foot fully elevated in-fill walls, and planting some trees in front of the wall, and the "in your face" aspect drops considerably. Indeed, because of the ability of greenery to absorb high frequency sound, it might not even be necessary to build the noise barrier wall as high, and so with the same elevation, it could be a lower wall with an fence and a living wall latticework.

Alon Levy said...

Andrew: JR Central wants to extend the Chuo Shinkansen to Osaka, eventually. The idea is to build to Osaka first, and then extend, Nagoya using operating profits from Phase 1. Nagoya is a large city, with a metro area about as large as the Bay Area's, so there will be plenty of traffic. Since the Tokaido Shinkansen is at capacity, the Chuo Shinkansen isn't supposed to reduce its revenue.

The idea is to either increase the Tokyo/Nagoya market by shrinking the trip length to under an hour, or to get more people out of their cars. There's no air market between Tokyo and Nagoya, but apparently (see page 21), the auto market is larger than the rail market.

Bruce: do you know if the rapid rail proposals include high-speed switches? If the trains need to slow to 50 km/h to take every switch, there's not much point in upgrading the line.

Bianca said...

Andrew Bogan makes a really good point about how harsh that video rendering looks without any vegetation. The not-so-subtle implication is that building HSR would sterilize the entire area, which is ridiculous. That video would look a lot less stark with the addition of those existing trees that would not be impacted by construction. (For example, in real life there is a very large tree on the corner of Churchill and Mariposa, and lots of trees lining the south side of Churchill along the periphery of Paly. The rendering also has a sidewalk running adjacent to the elevated structure on the west side of Alma- there is no sidewalk there now, for good reason, and that space would be better used for vegetation.

On preview, I see others are making the same point. It's an important one, because HSR opponents stir the pot with unduly harsh renderings, and we need to have a counter to that.

jim said...

Someone with the skills should make a prper rendering of what the area could look like based on the san carlos and belmont sections which are very attractive

Bay Area Resident said...

San Carlos is NOT attractive. San Carlos is what they used to create that "HSR do it right" website. San Carlos is a dense concrete wall that is only appropriate because the San Carlos section where Caltrain is has a commercial portion bracketed by 2 McDonalds and a 7-11.

Seriously if the San Carlos Grade Separation is what you intend to put forth to the peninsula residential neighborhoods- forget it. San Carlos is WORSE than McFalls mockup.

Andrew Bogan said...

@BAR

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think that several of the nicely landscaped elevated Caltrain overpasses in San Mateo County are very attractive and look much better than some of the very dangerous at grade crossings here in Palo Alto. Not everyone thinks infrastructure is ugly: the Golden Gate Bridge is one of America's most photographed sites. Personally, I think the Golden Gate was more beautiful without the bridge, but I can live with the bridge and I often benefit from being able to cross it.

If your only contribution is to say that no above ground solution will ever be acceptable for HSR, why not just state that once and be done with it?

jim said...

SAn Carlos and is very attractive. Whats wrong with you.