Monday, September 21, 2009

CHSRA Staff Recommendation for Phase 2 Stimulus Funding

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

California High Speed Rail Authority staff have released their recommendations for funding applications for the Phase 2 of the federal stimulus this fall. They focus on "design/build" in four corridors:

1. San Francisco to San José ($1.28 billion)

2. Merced to Fresno ($466 million)

3. Fresno to Bakersfield ($819 million)

4. Los Angeles to Anaheim ($2 billion)

The application also includes funding for preliminary work in all the corridors of the planned HSR route, including the Sacramento and San Diego extensions.

The four "design/build" corridors would enable actual construction of trackage to commence, though to varying levels of completion. Only the Caltrain corridor would include full electrification, and there it would also include Positive Train Control (PTC), along with the San Bruno curve and other "high-priority" grade separations. Merced to Fresno and Fresno to Bakersfield would see tracks built, but no electrification or PTC. (Merced to Fresno is to be along the UPRR/CA-99 corridor, which is obviously going to be an issue; Fresno to Bakersfield is via BNSF corridor.) LA to Anaheim would be everything except electrification (including PTC).

Given the limited possibilities of the way the stimulus is written, this is a pretty sensible approach. Getting PTC and electrification on the Caltrain corridor is an extremely high priority both for Caltrain's survival and for getting HSR seeded on the Peninsula. The trackwork in the Valley will help enable the test track, and getting LA to Anaheim mostly built means it won't take much to get genuine HSR up and running in an extremely high-profile corridor.

Notice that the Merced-Bakersfield piece has been defined as two segments. CHSRA staff are recommending that both segments be pursued in the stimulus funding application. But the possibility that only one of the two could get funded is generating some unease in the San Joaquin Valley:

On Tuesday the Tulare County Board of Supervisors will vote to intervene in contention centered on a potential high speed rail line in the San Joaquin Valley.

The supervisors will take a stand on whether or not a segment of rail should stretch from Bakersfield to Merced, or only to the halfway point in Fresno.

Federal money to design and build the rail is now available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, however some have suggested that only one of the segments should be submitted to the Federal Rail Administration for funding.

The California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley has suggested that valley officials advocate for the entire system, as voters approved a statewide high speed rail system with the passage of Proposition 1A in 2008.

A decision on how the far the rail should extend, and to what counties, is expected to be made Sept. 23 at a special meeting held by the San Joaquin Valley Policy Council.

As you can see by the staff recommendation, CHSRA is committing itself to funding BOTH segments of the Valley corridor. But that may not be enough for key players in the Valley, who want to ensure that HSR isn't built in pieces.

Overall I think this is a sound approach to the federal stimulus, given the limitations of the ARRA law. The only concern I have is that there's nothing for the construction of the mountainous segments through the Pacheco and Tehachapi Passes, but there's probably no way those plans can be "shovel ready" by September 2012, as ARRA requires.

Have at it in the comments.

102 comments:

Alon Levy said...

What about the segments that would actually be useful on their own, Los Angeles-Bakersfield and Fresno-Gilroy?

Devil's Advocate said...

While vacationing these past couple of weeks I stumbled into this interesting read:
http://www.america2050.org/pdf/Where-HSR-Works-Best.pdf

Anonymous said...

Both of those are the really hard sections. It will take years to work out technical and environmental issues. In order to qualify for stimulus construction money, you would need to be at 15% engineering by next spring. Those segments are at the 1% level, maybe 2% level.

Alon Levy said...

DA: Rafael mentioned the America 2050 study in the previous thread. It was also debated on The Transport Politic. Consensus is that the idea of coming up with a rigorous methodology to decide which HSR corridors are best is good, but some of the parameters are questionable (e.g. the parameters are discrete, so metro areas are reduced to just a few size classes, connecting transit classes, and so on).

Rafael said...

The numbers Robert gives refer to the request being made of FRA and are based on a 50/50 split with state funds. They scope reflects only the portions of the project that CHSRA is confident it can implement within the time constraints specified in the ARRA legislation.

This is a little problematic since prop 1A(2008) allocated just $9 billion in state funds for HSR (of which a maximum of $900 million for environmental studies, planning and preliminary engineering). The other $950 million is reserved for capital improvements to existing "HSR Feeder" transit services.

In last year's PRIIA act, Congress finally decided to put rail projects on an equal footing with road project by raising the maximum federal share of the capital investment from 50% to 80?.

ARRA went one step further and permitted 100% but that's a one-off situation. In practice, FRA will surely given preference to applications from states that are willing to put their money where their mouth is. However, afaik, no other states have submitted grant applications against the HSR portion of ARRA with more than 20% coming out of state coffers.

I understand that the California system is the only one pegged for express HSR speeds and therefore by far the most expensive. However, given that the Obama administration has now invested political capital in HSR and, the only "sexy" project with any legs right now is the one in the Golden State, I see no reason why CHSRA should seek only matching funds from the Feds. A 2-for-1 ratio would be cheeky but also smart politics right now.

California will have to go back to the well in the context of the next federal surface transportation bill, when ever that makes it onto the agenda. That bill will likely revert to the PRIIA rule of 80% federal funding, but by then plans for other HSR projects in other states will be further along and the economy will have recovered in part if not in full.

While there will likely be more money in the kitty, there will also be more competition for it. For example, Florida, Texas and the Midwest may by then have ramped up express HSR projects of their own and there may well be a concrete plan for upgrading the NEC.

CHSRA needs to husband its $9 billion in the prop 1A(2008) kitty so there's enough left for future applications for federal funding. Private investment in the HSR system, whether in kind or in cash, will likely materialize only in the final years of construction when the perceived risk is low enough.

Rafael said...

One a procedural point, the segments defined by AB3034 are different from the ones CHSRA's Staff Recommendation itemizes. That's ok insofar as the language of the law permits construction of "usable segments" of individual corridors.

Clearly, SF-SJ and LA-Anaheim are usable for commercial service. Merced-Fresno-Bakersfield is usable for train vendor pre-qualification as well as limited commercial service later on. The CHSRA staff recommendation acknowledges that the authority still needs to spell just how "usable" these segments really are on their own.

Note that Mehdi Morshed split the CV test track into a Merced-south Fresno and a south Fresno-north Bakersfield section for a simple reason: CHSRA's position still intends to purchase land next to the UPRR ROW through Fresno and points north. Whether it will be successful in that endeavor remains to be seen.

In any case, Tulare county can afford to relax a little: based on the text of the recommendation, BNSF is indeed willing to accommodate CHSRA on its ROW in the CV. The authority absolutely needs a test track and, Fresno-Bakersfield is the safer bet for early construction at this point. Merced county wants the maintenance facility, preferably at Castle Airport. However, that lies both north of Merced town and a few miles east of the intended route.

Even so, the towns of Hanford, Corcoran and Wasco should probably start asking CHSRA about noise emissions from test trains running at 220mph.

Rafael said...

@ Anon @ 12:19pm -

"In order to qualify for stimulus construction money, you would need to be at 15% engineering by next spring."

Do you have a reference? I'm not aware of a legal requirement to have reached a certain level of engineering maturity by spring of 2010.

The only one I know of is start of construction, which is Sept 30, 2012 for track 2 ("HSR corridor development"). This is an exception, most of the ARRA spending has to be underway a year earlier than that.

Anonymous said...

You need to have a NOD/ ROD by Sept 2011. This is in all the federal documentation and mentioned throughout the staff memo.

Working backwards, you need to have 15% engineering done 15-17 months before that.

ARRA is stimulus money. They want it spent yesterday.

jim said...

A while back I read that frenso also had some kind of "alameda corridor" plan to move and consolidate all rail operations through town in a single corridor - is that still part of the plan? I mean it would have put up.bnsf/amtrak and hsr all in one corridor or trench through the west side of town and eliminate all trains elsewhere. Seems it would benefit all players and could be part of the request.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 1:02pm -

as a practical matter, your assessment regarding the engineering maturity timeline is probably correct. Your wording just made it sound as if it were a legal requirement.

Note that ARRA requires a Corridor Program Environmental Approval (ROD/NOD): no later than Sept. 30, 2011

CHSRA actually already has that right now, though Judge Kenny will require as-yet-unknown remedial actions on Oct 9. Engineering maturity is normally only required for the project-level ROD/NOD, but we'll have to see where exactly the court will draw the dividing line.

Rafael said...

@ Jim -

no, CHSRA official plan was and still is to buy land next to UPRR's dead straight ROW through Fresno.

I'm sure the city would dearly love CHSRA to fully grade separate the BNSF ROW through town, it's been a bone of contention for over a hundred years now. Unfortunately, it's just not straight enough for high speed operation.

Note that CHSRA's preference for an I-99 alignment north of south Fresno implies HSR is not prioritizing intermodal intermodal stations with Amtrak San Joaquin stations in Modesto, Merced or Fresno.

Unfortunately, CHSRA will find it somewhat difficult to obtain enough land for two HSR tracks next to UPRR in Fresno, e.g. near the giant N Weber Ave yard. The freeway median is not available in that section.

Rafael said...

Interesting little tidbit from the CHSRA staff recommendation document:

"Proposal includes a complete, integrated Peninsula Rail Corridor electrification system that would support both Caltrain and HSR service, except for construction of the Overhead Contact System above future HSR tracks, which are not being built as part of this Program application."

In other words, 100% of the cost of Caltrain electrification - regulatory approval for 25kV AC, substations, poles, catenary wires etc. - will indeed be funded by HSR. This isn't unexpected or unreasonable, it's payment in kind for letting HSR use the PCJPB right of way.

However, it does free up about $850 million that would otherwise have had to come out of the coffers of SF, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. The latter had not yet committed its $500 million share because it is funding the BART extension to the exclusion of just about everything else. In plain English: without HSR, Caltrain won't be electrified before hell freezes over.

It would be smart if Caltrain returned the favor by choosing EMUs with a platform height and car body width similar to those expected for HSR. UIC-compliant equipment that fits the bill is already in service in Paris and Sydney.

Harmonizing platform height and car body width to HSR standards would allow Caltrain and HSR trains to use each other's platform tracks between SF and SJ, permitting better use of available capacity as well as more graceful handling of off-design conditions. Caltrain service south to Gilroy (or Salinas) would remain diesel-based, passengers would have to transfer at SJ Diridon.

Rafael said...

@ Alon Levy -

"What about the segments that would actually be useful on their own, Los Angeles-Bakersfield and Fresno-Gilroy?"

Fresno-Gilroy would be useful on its own?

LA-Bakersfield is a different matter, though Orange County has a larger - not to mention wealthier - population. CHSRA is actually in a bit of a bind: in engineering terms, tunneling through the mountains is likely to take quite long. There are almost always a few nasty surprises once the TBMs get going.

On the other hand, tunnels through the mountains have no utility at all without connecting tracks to population centers at either end. That is probably why CHSRA has decided against seeking funds for tunneling through the Tehachapis and Pacheco Pass in this initial request, even though exploratory tunneling really ought to get underway as soon as possible.

Anonymous said...

Does the 1.2 Billion for SF to SJ include the cost of eminent domain? tunneling?

AndyDuncan said...

Does the 1.2 Billion for SF to SJ include the cost of eminent domain? tunneling?

The recommendation doesn't break the costs down to that level, I don't know if the formal request needs to have that level of granularity, but it needs to be submitted by the 2nd, so we will find out shortly.

BruceMcF said...

Anonymous said...
"Does the 1.2 Billion for SF to SJ include the cost of eminent domain? tunneling?"

It would be interesting if it included cost of eminent domain - no reason it shouldn't, there is so little need for eminent domain, might as well clear that out of the way to the point of being able to say, "unless, of course, we tunnel in the Peninsula, all required eminent domain has been completed."

No reason that the funding would include costs of tunneling from SJ to SF, if local communities want to tunnel, they need to find a way to fund the incremental cost (including, of course, the substantial increase in exercise of eminent domain).

AndyDuncan said...

And remember, it's only eminent domain if they don't want to sell. Now would be a great time to make people deals they don't want to turn down.

Rob Dawg said...

Gee, can the Bakersfield to LA gorilla get any larger?

Can the political nature of the project funding get any more obvious?

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 2:39pm -

please read the CHSRA staff recommendation document for details on the scope of this initial request for federal funding. There will be additional requests against other pots of Congressional gold in the future.

Since ARRA is a stimulus bill, only component projects that are both close to turning dirt and relatively uncontroversial - such as electrification - or else exempt from the project-level EIR process - such as priority grade separations - are included for now.

There are currently no concrete plans to exercise eminent domain against anyone anywhere in the SF peninsula. It's a myth.

Indeed, CHSRA has become so paranoid about ED that it isn't even asking PCJPB to straighten the San Bruno curve before executing the grade separation project there. Alon may be quite correct, the small number of property owners that would be affected might well entertain a generous offer right around now.

If Caltrain is allowed to waste this once-in-a-lifetime chance to increase the curve radius just because its pre-HSR plans for San Bruno are "shovel ready", both its own EMUs and HSR trains will be crawling around that curve at 55mph, quite possibly with wheels squealing, for the next 100 years.

Rafael said...

@ Rob Dawg -

California politics is dominated by cities and counties. The state is relatively weak, mostly because its constitution prevents it from ever getting its financial ducks in a row.

Is it any wonder, then, that the flow of money doesn't match the engineering priorities for completing the starter line as soon as possible?

Morris Brown said...

Rafael writes:


"There are currently no concrete plans to exercise eminent domain against anyone anywhere in the SF peninsula. It's a myth."


Hardly a myth. Since even the most optimistic projection on use of the CalTrain corridor, show 75 feet needed to run the 4 tracks, in my City of Menlo Park as an example,in the commercial area, the corridor marrows down to 55 feet for just a bit. If they want that land, eminent will be needed.

Along residential sections of Menlo Park, much of the corridor is only 75 feet. There is no way, shoo fly track can be employed in such a narrow corridor.

It is not a myth; is it reality if the construction is to be above grade; more of a reality is below grade is implemented via cut and cover.

spence said...

@ anonymous 2:39pm

Does the 1.2 Billion for SF to SJ include the cost of eminent domain? tunneling?

My understanding is $1.2 billion is just a down-payment on the ultimate cost for land and infrastructure for the SJ to SF segment. The total cost for that segment will surely be much higher, even if there is very little land acquisition and no significant tunneling.

Alon Levy said...

Rafael, Fresno-Gilroy is very useful when combined with through-routing from Bakersfield and to the Bay Area. Los Angeles-Bakersfield is even more useful.

Rafael said...

@ Morris Brown -

CHSRA has not yet decided to implement quad tracking in Menlo Park as four tracks abreast.

Even if it does, 70 feet will typically be sufficient (per Dominic Spaethling of HNTB) for the four permanent tracks. Property owners approached with offers to transact the land amicably before ED is even considered. You are assuming that no-one wants to sell a strip of their parking lot / garden for a generous sum.

As for shoofly tracks, those could be avoided as follows:

(a) widen the ROW to 70 feet

(b) move one or both existing tracks to one side of the ROW

(c1) build the grade separation works plus stations with island platforms for two tracks on the other side while operating Caltrain and UPRR on the moved legacy tracks.

(c2) at stations, perhaps elsewhere, there will be ped/bike underpasses when all is said and done. Block these off in the middle of the ROW for now.

(c3) add fences/sound walls

(c4) plant landscaping features that will soften the look of the structure to some extent

(d1) cut Caltrain over to lightweight EMU rolling stock

(d2) switch Caltrain and UPRR to the new grade separated tracks

(e1) build the grade separation works for the other two tracks plus additional island platforms at stations.

(e2) open up the completed ped/bike underpasses

(e3) allow businesses to move into the spaces under the rails (if applicable)

(f) cut Caltrain and UPRR over to their final tracks

(g) begin HSR operations

---

I've glossed over some issues that are still unresolved:

- how will freight trains transfer from the grade-separated alignment to its freight spurs?

- Caltrain would have no choice but to buy EMUs with the same platform height and car body width as the HSR trains, but suitable commuter train models are readily available and there are operational benefits in San Francisco and all down the line.

- super-heavy UPRR trains could chew up the track geometry of the new (c1) HSR track before the first HSR train ever gets to run on it. UPRR may have to accept rolling stock inspections (e.g. for flat spots), reduce axle loads and train lengths and switch to much lighter locomotives between (c2) and (f).

- the other HSR track (e1) would never be used for freight in nominal operations.

Rafael said...

@ Alon Levy -

through-routing of HSR trains? You need to build the SF-Gilroy segment before there's any reason to run trains to Fresno.

Non-HSR trains will not be permitted onto the tracks through Pacheco Pass to avoid chewing up the track geometry. Since the alignment calls for 3.5% gradient, FRA behemoths would probably get stuck anyhow.

Perhaps I'm missing your point.

BruceMcF said...

@Rafeal: "Caltrain would have no choice but to buy EMUs with the same platform height and car body width as the HSR trains, but suitable commuter train models are readily available and there are operational benefits in San Francisco and all down the line."

This does not follow. An island can start as a side platform, and a temporary side platform can be placed on the other side. At the HSR station, the temporary platform can be built to one height and designed to be raised.

"super-heavy UPRR trains could chew up the track geometry of the new (c1) HSR track before the first HSR train ever gets to run on it."

As long as the layout is FSSF and the first track built is the left hand side, "FS", then the UP would run on the track to be operated with locals, not on the HSR track. They do not have so much freight that they need more than one line.

matt said...

Since Rafael brought up businesses under the tracks, it reminded me of a good recent article over at human transit about the topic.

Link

Elevated tracks can fit right into a downtown setting if done correctly. The suburban setting may be more challenging to integrate. But It can be done to not look ugly.

Anonymous said...

Is 4th and King one of the 24 HSR stations (24 per bond funding requirements)?

Anonymous said...

parallel to row is not the only property that will be impacted by the project. In fact there will be MORE ED at narrow cross streets with high value properties (for example Churchill/Palo Alto High School), where grade seps will cut off access to homes (due to widening of streets, long approaches, etc) - these will be subject to significant eminent domain impacts, plus plenty of reverse condemnation proceedings (if CHSR thinks they can get away with just buying a little strip of someones garden). No, CHSRA is signing up to "invest" in some of the most expensive "investments" in the world. Think parallel and perpendicular, and think about the resulting severely close proximity of train/speed/noise/vibration/wind impacts to buildings when you think about CHSRA true cost of buying property for this project. This 1.2b might be a bit of a down payment on a small stretch of Peninsula property.

By the way Rafael, can you give us examples anywhere in the world where high speed rail passes within feet of suburban residential neibhorhood homes and schools for miles and miles?

Anonymous said...

Anon - can you tell me of any country in the world that has suburban development of low density for miles and miles and miles besides the US?

You're wrong about eminent domain needing a lot of space perpendicular to the tracks - that land is ONLY needed if the low cost berm is not allowed. That way the tracks go OVER the roads.

Frank said...

Anon @ 7:58 - can you tell us where in California freeways pass within feet of suburban developments (housing, schools, etc) for miles and miles and miles?

(Hint - there's more than one correct answer)

Samsonian said...

@ Anon 7:46 PM

Apparently they're not limited 24 HSR stations, so 4th and King/Townsend could added as well.

@ Anon 7:58 PM

can you give us examples anywhere in the world where high speed rail passes within feet of suburban residential neibhorhood homes and schools for miles and miles?

Can you give us examples anywhere in the world where suburban development was allowed to encroach on the ROW of a 146 year old railroad?

Your town exists today because of this railroad. And yet you move right next to it, and then complain about it.

Moving on.

Did anyone else notice CHSRA also applied for federal funding the prelim engineering for the Altamont "Joint Use"/"High-Speed Commuter Overlay" Corridor?

We may just get a usable Altamont Pass yet. I'd feel more comfortable about it if they included it with the Sac extension. Or at least committed to funding its buildout like the rest of the system. Right now they're just laying the groundwork for it, but aren't committed to building it out like the starter line or the extensions.

CHSRA had better get on it though, if it's not open by the time the Sac extension opens, that'd be a lot of fail. That extension would have poor ridership without Altamont, and there's an enormous amount of vehicular traffic in that corridor that could use rail.

Existing ACE service is really inadequate from have to share UP's windy single track line, and being delayed by freight trains that can't stay on schedule to save their life.

Anonymous said...

No, CHSRA is signing up to "invest" in some of the most expensive "investments" in the world.

As was plainly described at the recent Palo Alto HSR teach-in, the property acquisition process is unlikely to be more than a minor speed bump for the project.

What appears nose-bleed expensive to an individual (e.g. buying a house on Mariposa) is small change compared to the resources about to be deployed for this project.

$8 million per acre (the going rate in Palo Alto's Southgate) will not even show up in the bottom line of the $5,000+ million budget for the peninsula corridor.

We've Got No Money for Toys said...

O yeah! Fresno to Gilroy is very useful. Haven't you ever had raisins prepared with garlic? A true delicacy. The train is the only thing missing for the next Raisins w/garlic festival. It will be an international sensation that will attract millions of tourists (and train riders) every year. I can't believe you guys see the need to have a station in these f/up places like Gilroy, Tulare and the rest of these Shitowns. Money is not even an issue for you guys.

lyqwyd said...

not to mention that reverse condemnation isn't going to be a big deal even if it has to happen. They take the whole property instead of a small portion. Take a little bit of the back yard and use it for the ROW, and then sell they remainder back on the open market, it probably wouldn't be any worse than the eminent domain itself, and might even be better in the long run if they are trying to avoid ED or reverse condemnation by giving a generous offer for a simple buyout.

mike said...

Leaving Pacheco and Tehachapi for last makes sense. Securing ROW in developed/developing areas should be their first priority, and that basically means the Central Valley plus maybe Anaheim-LA. No one is going to build in the middle of the mountain passes, so there's no harm in leaving them for later.

By the way Rafael, can you give us examples anywhere in the world where high speed rail passes within feet of suburban residential neibhorhood homes and schools for miles and miles?

Yes, but why should he? No one is proposing HSR through the Peninsula. Just fast commuter rail. That happens in urban/suburban areas throughout the world.

jim said...

Tehachapi wants a station too! happy for high speed

looking on said...

An examiner article:

Rail depot spot disputed

http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/Rail-depot-spot-disputed-60130932.html

gives more information on the fight over the SF Trans Bay Terminal.

Boy Pringle and Kopp are rally at it over this, aren't they.

Pringle's statement that the TBT remains the preferred terminus for the HSR, is rally pretty funny, when you consider that Prop 1A and AB-3034 mandate that this be the case.

jim said...

Heard that Morshed guy on kgo today. Things sound upbeat.

Talk to some germans today, they were surprised when I asked them for ID for homeland security.

"oh we aren't in germany anymore"

So I picked their brains a little on the issue of train hsr security.

Seems over there they only use it for air not trains and thus there is indeed no security delay to ride trains as there is in airports.

So between the casual pace of showing up to ride, and the far more comfortable passenger experience, and laundry list of available amenities available I predict people who continue to fly will be laughed at by everyone else. Probably be given some hip derogatory nickname.

Tehachapians weem excited about the new train and they want a station too.


by the way in high temps in valley, the tracks warp inducing slow orders 10mph. I mean they visible warp like crazy, even the new kind of welded rail with concrete ties.

how does hsr deal with this. I don't think it gets 110* in france or Japan.

jim said...

like I said before with the mayor and chris daly on the same side and the rabid look on the faces of the folks at city hall.... its could get very ugly.

Anonymous said...

Kopp must truly be a hated man in San Francisco now, even though he has spent his career alienating people. Way to go out, Kopp! You could never win elected office ever again -- you're toxic.

BruceMcF said...

jim said...
"by the way in high temps in valley, the tracks warp inducing slow orders 10mph. I mean they visible warp like crazy, even the new kind of welded rail with concrete ties.

how does hsr deal with this. I don't think it gets 110* in france or Japan.
"

Ask the Spanish, they'd have to deal with it.

I experienced this in the upper Hunter Valley in NSW heading toward the tunnel for the Tablelands ... creeping along over warped track at 10mph. It was on a curve and we could see the warped track out the window.

BruceMcF said...

We've Got No Money for Toys said...
"O yeah! Fresno to Gilroy is very useful."

I believe the idea there is that since, as we all know that there is already passenger service Gilroy to San Francisco, Fresno to Gilroy with a temporary junction with the existing corridor would permit Fresno to San Jose / Peninsula / San Francisco well before the HSR system itself is up and running.

"Haven't you ever had raisins prepared with garlic? A true delicacy. The train is the only thing missing for the next Raisins w/garlic festival. It will be an international sensation that will attract millions of tourists (and train riders) every year."

Oh, guess not everybody knows there is already rail service Gilroy to San Francisco. Damn, ignorance can lead you astray sometimes.

"I can't believe you guys see the need to have a station in these f/up places like Gilroy, Tulare and the rest of these Shitowns. Money is not even an issue for you guys."

Yes, we should take advice from someone who does not know that Caltrain services extend from SF to Gilroy, and should not follow the example of the other successful HSR lines around the world, all of which generate an operating surplus.

Because with a nickname like "We've Got No Money for Toys", the commentator obviously knows more about running a High Speed Rail service than the French, Spanish, German, Japanese, etc. HSR operators.

Rafael said...

@ Samsonian -

AB3034 section "2704.09. [...] (d) The total number of stations to be served by high-speed trains
for all of the corridors described in subdivision (b) of Section
2704.04 shall not exceed 24. There shall be no station between the
Gilroy station and the Merced station."

Seems fairly ironclad to me, since any amendment would almost certainly require another ballot initiative.

Piquant detail: 2704.04 includes "(G) Merced to Stockton to Oakland and San Francisco via the
Altamont Corridor."

Considering they're already up to 24 without Irvine and the politically motivated one at Hanford/Visalia/Tulare, it's not clear to me how they intend to add stations for Pleasanton/Livermore and Tracy in the overlay.

Conclusion: CHSRA's studies will recommend scoping the overlay out of the project at the earliest possible moment, just like they said the coast corridor south of Irvine should be upgraded to 110mph diesel operations and then walked away from it.

Brandon in San Diego said...

I should know this, but I don't at teh moment... could the cap at 24 stations be limited to the San Francisco to Anahiem section?

The intent of no more than 24 is clearly to minimize trip time. Other complimentary reasons are also there... such as deflecting political pressure for local stations and cost containment.

Rafael said...

@ jim -

How do you construct track so it doesn't buckle when summer temps hit 110F?

You use high-quality steel with a tight tolerance for the thermal coefficient of expansion. At the rail factory, you measure the rail temperature before cutting it to the precise length appropriate for that temperature.

At the construction site, you pre-heat the rail to slightly below the maximum expected temperature you expect the local climate to produce in life expectancy of the rail. You quickly position it such that the gap with the last already installed rail has exactly the right width for thermite welding.

Result if executed correctly: the rails will be at zero thermal stress when the outside temperature is that of the time at which they were laid. If it's higher, there will be some slight compressive stress but not enough to cause buckling. If it's lower, the rails will subjected to tensile stress. You don't want that to be too high, either.

In the case of the aforementioned curve with a speed limit of 10mph, this procedure may not have been followed precisely enough, causing the rails to experience excessive compressive stress and incipient buckling on very hot summer days.

There have been cases in which incorrect construction of continuously welded track has caused rails to fully buckle, leading to a bow where the gauge is an inch or two off the nominal value. When buckling happens, it happens suddenly. If such a condition is not recognized in time, a train approaching the location is likely to derail.

Rafael said...

@ Brandon -

I quoted from the text of the law. The 24 stations is for the total network, not the starter line.

Protecting CHSRA against political pressure to build stations in places where there isn't enough prospective ridership (e.g. Los Banos, Madera, Hanford, Tehachapi etc.) is precisely why lawmakers wrote the hard limit into the bill.

Hanford/Visalia/Tulare has tentatively been penciled in anyhow because of intense political pressure from Visalia and Tulare county. However, the BNSF track actually runs through Hanford, a town far from the others with zero aspirations for transit-oriented development. Operationally, a station in the area is a marginal proposition at best, given the target speed of 220mph for through trains.

jim said...

rafael tight tolerance for the thermal coefficient of expansion.

Oh of course, duh! The thermal coefficient thing, how cold that have slipped my mind!

Well, all in all it seems like things are actually moving ahead on this project as planned. It very frustrating how slow things move, but this is america after all, the country that prides itself on moving backwards.

It like trying to paddle upstream.

I don't sense anywhere though that there is much concern over the gnimby gnats buzzing around hsr's ears.

And the tbt fight is just a side show for entertainment purposes only.

Rafael said...

@ jim -

planning and construction takes a long time in other democracies as well. Twenty years start to finish for a major rail construction project isn't unusual.

It's only totalitarian regimes like China that can ride roughshod over the legitimate concerns - there are no objections, or else - of the populace. Extreme case in point: the Three Gorges Dam.

Anonymous said...

Rafael - is 4th and King one of the 24? Because if not, they've apparently just added it by asking to fund it with federal HSR funds and matching bond funds?

Do they not need to have planning documents, eirs, business plans etc, to back up a station decision?

Or maybe I've misunderstood the conversations here, and they've planned all along to have both TBT and 4th and King as HSR stations all along?

BruceMcF said...

Brandon in San Diego said...
"The intent of no more than 24 is clearly to minimize trip time. Other complimentary reasons are also there... such as deflecting political pressure for local stations and cost containment."

There's a station gap inside of which you lose any substantial transport benefit for going up from 125mph to 220mph. The sensible way to offer smaller station gaps is with a connecting local or regional rail service.

After all, the ideal design target for HSR is one transfer to origin stations. And then, you maximize network economies if that HSR origin station transfer has multiple transport corridors running through, so it simultaneously serves as a transfer point between a variety of local and regional transport services.

Each primarily origin HSR station should be more than just a TOD opportunity - it should be a hub for a cluster of transport corridors that provide a network of TOD opportunities.

looking on said...

Anonymous 9:27 writes:


Do they not need to have planning documents, eirs, business plans etc, to back up a station decision?


Boy you must be new to this blog and or project.

This gang does what they want pretty much. There is a law, AB-3034, that they just keep ignoring. If they get any flak, they get the Attorney General to write a long legal document saying that law really doesn't say that.

No they don't have an adequate business plan. They have no idea where they are going to get funding to complete the project. They blow around a lot of smoke about future borrowing, revenue sharing, different kinds of debt instruments. They talk about all the interest from private parties. No private party has come forward with funds. In the present financial climate, there will be no venture capital which was supposed to be 1/3 of the funding for the project.

There will be a test around the first of the year. Funding for the second half of this fiscal year has not been approved and is being held in limbo until a bona fide business plan has been produced and passed some kind of peer review. Will the political power they have thus far been able to muster, be enough to keep this monster going?

Tomorrow's Board meeting (Sept 23rd), will be interesting. Will the board rubber stamp the recommendations of Morshed, or will such plums, like the 150 million for Diridon station be eliminated from stimulus funding request.

Bay Area Resident said...

OK, since the Caltrain route descends down to the SJ->merced corridor, and if they are going to upgrade the SJ->SF corridor with electrification, does that mean Caltrain now terminates at Diridon to the south?

jet said...

Where is this 24 stations thing from? The route map at the website already shows 25 stations not counting tulare.
01 SFC
02 SFO
03 RWC
04 SJC
05 GIL
06 SAC
07 SKN
08 MOD
09 MCD
10 FNO
11 BFD
12 PMD
13 SYL
14 BUR
15 LAX
16 NOR
17 ANA
18 IRV
19 COI
20 ONA
21 RIV
22 MUR
23 ESC
24 UCD
25 SAN
(26 VIS)
(27 4th)

BruceMcF said...

Like he said, they were already at 24 before Irvine. That would imply 25 including Irvine.

On the map, University City would be on the firing line, but that depends on part on whether San Diego is in a multi-model station at the Airport, which has good freeway connections as well as a trolley line - on projected boardings per day, Norwalk would be on the firing line.

The grey type face "Visulia/Tulare/Hanford" has to kill off two of the black type face stations to get onto the list.

BE HAPPY said...

O "Looking On" is life not a bitch when you are an angry old Nimby from PaloAlto/MenloPark/Atherton??
Cheer up HSR will be here and it will be SWEET!!!!

Morris Brown said...

@Jet

from AB-3034...

Section 2704.09
(d)

(d) The total number of stations to be served by high-speed trains
for all of the corridors described in subdivision (b) of Section
2704.04 shall not exceed 24.

That's where the 24 limit comes from.

This is also the section where the statement

"There shall be no station between the Gilroy station and the Merced station."

is noted. This was inserted to gain support of the Sierra Club and was to quiet opposition. A NY Times article pointed out what was going on here, with a disclosure that a planned bedroom community for San Jose was expected to arise in this rather pristine open area.

BruceMcF said...

Bay Area Resident said...
"OK, since the Caltrain route descends down to the SJ->merced corridor, and if they are going to upgrade the SJ->SF corridor with electrification, does that mean Caltrain now terminates at Diridon to the south?"

It does not imply that - of course, Gilroy services would be restricted to the local lines and would have to terminate at 4th and King, but diesels can run under the wires - they just can't run to underground stations.

Of course, if some city in the Peninsula ponies up for a tunnel and underground station, that would push any Gilroy service onto the railway line left on the surface for the freight operations. Oddly enough, the only fleshed out tunnel design I saw neglected to include the retention of a bi-directional surface line for freight.

dave said...

It seems to me that 4th and King will not be a stop for HSR but an "overflow" station in any case the TBT reaches capacity, or does so at peak hours. Does not count as a HSR stop, although it can and probably will.

In any case, the station needs upgrading to accomidate HSR and will remain primarily a Caltrain station with a remodal.

Altamont Overlay is a seperate project, which probably makes it exempt from the 24 station max requirment, but needed for HSR use as a shortcut from Sac to SF. Primarily for use for ACE train and probably looked as a commuter line instead of the actual HSR starter line.

BruceMcF said...

Anonymous said...
"Rafael - is 4th and King one of the 24? Because if not, they've apparently just added it by asking to fund it with federal HSR funds and matching bond funds?"

The 4th and King "Phase 1" improvements does not refer to an HSR station, so they do not fall into the station limit. No matter whether the HSR services terminate at the TBT Terminal basement or next door, they have to run in a tunnel underneath the current 4th and King station.

jim said...

This is great

more here: cityscape

In San Diego said...

At 2 Billion the LA to Aneheim segement is the most expensive??? Yikes. They should skip that and divert the money to the LA to Riverside and Sacramento extensions.

BruceMcF said...

dave said...
"It seems to me that 4th and King will not be a stop for HSR but an "overflow" station in any case the TBT reaches capacity, or does so at peak hours. Does not count as a HSR stop, although it can and probably will."

If they design the TBT Terminal so that HSR services can overflow, it seems like it'd be easy to challenge the use of the bond funds for that - that'd imply it does not really offer 5 minute headways to the HSR services. So the overflow would be Caltrain, not HSR.

But the present Caltrain corridor ends at 4th and King, so no matter how the HSR terminates, work will be required at 4th and King.

jet said...

Are there any conceptual drawings anywhere of what will happen at 4th? I know they plan to put the caltrain station underground ( under townsend) but what about the acres of rail yard? the air rights? the prime real estate?

It could either be turned into a real HSR station or
it will be sold for other use? or it will remain as is?

YESonHSR said...

At one time I remember seeing a Caltrain image of the rebuilt 4th and king station and it was a 6 or 7 story brick design that matches the ballparks style.

Anonymous said...

The number for LA - Anaheim is $4 billion, NOT including electrification, HSR systems elements and a maintenance facility. $2 billion is just the amount we want from Feds.

In Nov 2008, the all-in cost for this segment was $1.994 billion.

If this number was a joke, what other surprises are waiting?

jim said...

SPUR ( the bane of all san franciscans) seem to propose using air rights for condos.

jim said...

so this is how they were gonna fund the dtx prior to hsr:The Planning Department has received funding from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority to produce a study and concept plan for air-rights development of the 4th/King railyards, including explorations of how increased development value can help fund public improvements, including additional funding for completing the Caltrain Extension to downtown.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 9:27am -

the staff recommendation documents is just that, a recommendation to the CHSRA board. The authority won't be filing its request for ARRA track 2 funding until Oct 2 so there's still a few days to make some edits.

The wording currently says:

"Only limited additional funding is being requested by [CHSRA] under Track 2 for Transbay Terminal Rail Platform Extensions"

Caltrain commuter trains will never need dead straight platforms that are 1320' (1/4 mile) long. The extension refers to platform tracks 23-26, which are nominally reserved for HSR use. Those tracks were initially supposed to terminate at Beale. TJPA increased the curve radii immediately west of the TTC as much as it could in response to complaints, so these platform tracks will now be extended to Main. The impacts on the building complex at 201 Mission are unclear, perhaps they can just skirt the footprint of the tall tower.

"Includes both Diridon Station (Phase 1) and 4th & King Station (Phase 1) improvements."

It does not specify those improvements. For example, track work is needed there to prepare for the future construction of the DTX tunnel and using 4th & King to park trains overnight.

There's no basis for interpreting this one bullet point to mean that CHSRA has decided to use 4th & King as the SF HSR station.

CHSRA selected the TTC as its preferred SF station in the BA2CV final program EIS/EIR (chapter 8, PDF pp20). It also received a comment from one Duane Morris during the related scoping period asking CHSRA to evaluate a site between Beale and Main. However, since that program EIS/EIR has been certified with a preference for the TTC, they must already have responded to this comment with reasons for rejecting the suggestion.

In addition, AB3034 point blank mandates the TTC as the SF station for HSR. IANAL, but it seems the only wiggle room CHSRA has left is the very definition of "TTC".

---

My personal reading of the tea leaves is that it's all about the moolah and who controls it. Here's a key sentence in the BA2CVFP EIS/EIR:

"The capital costs needed for the HST component of the Transbay Transit Center (including the
1.3-mile extension) is estimated to be similar to the estimated costs for the 4th and King option."

Considering that 4th & King has 12 platform tracks at grade and would not require any tunneling at all, this is a rather surprising assessment.

Apparently, CHSRA believed at the time that it would be piggy-backing off a city/county-level effort already underway at very little cost to the HSR project.

Now, the bill for the tunnel/throat plus the interior of the train box has reportedly reached nose-bleed levels of around $2.8b and, the HSR project is supposed to shoulder far more of that than CHSRA had ever bargained for.

I cannot say if TJPA really did pull a bait-and-switch or if CHSRA was just being hopelessly naive.

However, if the HSR project will end up funding most of the underground infrastructure for the TTC, it's not unreasonable for CHSRA to demand that it have a large say in the definition of "TTC". It's not ok for SF to deliver an incredibly expensive, technically suboptimal solution and simply expect CHSRA to pay for all of it because of timing issues.

Rafael said...

@ jim -

my preferred solution:

(a) Caltrain chooses high platforms for its UIC-compliant EMUs such that its rolling stock can use any of the platforms in the TTC and any HSR platforms between SF and SJ

(b) Caltrain runs EMU-based locals between SF and SJ only. Limited service down to Gilroy (Salinas) is provided using a small fleet of FRA-compliant diesels or preferably, delivered by Amtrak Capitol Corridor (incl. remapping of operating subsidies).

(c) Amtrak Coast Daylight, if any, runs from Emeryville to LAUS.

(d) With no diesels at all at 4th & King, air rights above the yard are used for real estate development. Condos would make sense for those who want to live in SF but work in Silicon Valley. Office space would work for commuters in the other direction.

(e) use proceeds from air rights to help fund DTX tunnel

(f) eliminate tail tracks from TTC design, stretch platform tracks 21+22 to Main Street

(g) add 1000' pedestrian passage between Embarcadero BART/SF Muni and the six full-length platforms featuring to TTC phase 2 scope. Include bright lighting, moving walkways and security staff.

(h) modify DTX tunnel design to include switches and diamonds to a dead end at 2nd and Howard, just north of where the tracks veer east into the TTC.

If the six TTC platform tracks prove insufficient in terms of capacity or ability to generate HSR ridership, a new and separate EIS/EIR (TTC phase 3) for an "auxiliary terminal" could then be kicked off some point in the future.

The auxiliary terminal would consist of two dead straight, full-length platform tracks at level -2, a wide island platform from Market to just south of Howard and pedestrian exits at the surface (no concourse level). An above-ground pedestrian passage, e.g. along Minna Street, should also be included in the scope.

jim said...

@rafael - time for work- but ill get back to you on all that. maybe we can make a deal. lol

Anonymous said...

The SFCityscape route diagram is a nice find, Jim.

I love how it clearly indicates that Visalia is at the heart of the whole system. As sprawled-out Hoovervilles, Fresno and Bakersfield also can't justify this level of service -- 4 service routes, more than anywhere else! Fresno, Visalia, and Bakersfield have next to no transit, and the potential for TOD is nil.

The diagram clearly indicates what is wrong with the system plan.

BruceMcF said...

jet said...
"Are there any conceptual drawings anywhere of what will happen at 4th? I know they plan to put the caltrain station underground ( under townsend) but what about the acres of rail yard? the air rights? the prime real estate?"

Since the claim is only Caltrain locals will run to the TBT Terminal Station, they still need 4th and King for the Expresses.

It would be silly to rebuild the thing and not allow for additional uses. Since the original plans were drawn up a decade back, it would not be startling if the use they were proposing was condos.

BruceMcF said...

Anonymous said...
"The SFCityscape route diagram is a nice find, Jim.

I love how it clearly indicates that Visalia is at the heart of the whole system. As sprawled-out Hoovervilles, Fresno and Bakersfield also can't justify this level of service -- 4 service routes, more than anywhere else! Fresno, Visalia, and Bakersfield have next to no transit, and the potential for TOD is nil.
"

You shouldn't post while drinking. The four routes are Anaheim/San Francisco, Anaheim/Sacramento, San Diego / San Francisco, and San Diego / Sacramento.

The only question is whether you actually misread the map as saying all trains stopped as Visalia, or whether you knew perfectly well it says no such thing but were hoping to con someone else into believing it.

Either a fool or a con-man - no wonder you avoided using a pseudonym, whatever you had used would have been useless.

Bianca said...


I love how it clearly indicates that Visalia is at the heart of the whole system.


Ummm, no. What it clearly indicates is that Visalia is somewhere in between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Anyone with any passing familiarity with route maps knows that those maps are not precisely to scale, and just because a stop is in the middle of the line doesn't make it the "heart" of anything.

Otherwise, this map would clearly indicate that San Carlos is the "heart" of the Peninsula, since it is roughly in between SF and SJ-Diridon.

Just because a town has a station doesn't mean every train stops there. But if the town doesn't have a station, that's a guarantee the no trains will stop there.

This is a statewide project, funded in parts by bonds approved by the voters of the entire state. So it makes sense that the line should at least be able to serve more of the state than just SF and LA.

Samsonian said...

@ Rafael

Re Station #s:

I didn't know that, but assumed that more stations was alright as the Deputy AG said it was ok. Seems kind of shady, sort of like Bush Admin lawyers writing legal memos to justify torture.

Like Jet said we're already at 25 stations if not 26 or 27. Are they in violation of the law?

As a practical matter, the stations seem to be far enough apart, and if they have 4 track station areas, there shouldn't be any operational problems (i.e. reduction of capacity/throughput).

Hell, HSR looks like super commuter rail in the LA Basin and SD with the number of stops.

Re Altamont:

Now that you bring it up, I think station count and the closeness of some of the Altamont line stations, may have pushed CHSRA to make that project nominally independent.

They formed a working group/partnership with ACE and San Joaquin governments to pursue it. CHSRA has already awarded a $45M contract for prelim engineering to AECOM, and has applied for $22.5M in ARRA money for that corridor as well.

I seriously doubt they will "scope it out" like that, what would be the point of even going this far? They haven't actually committed to funding and building it yet, which is my main concern about it.

There will be fallout if Altamont doesn't happen though. You've seen the damage from the Altamont vs Pacheco debate, and it's not going away until Altamont is built. It has to, you can see the geography on the map, there needs to be a connection to provide access to Oakland and to enable Bay Area - Sacramento trains. Anyone who has driven on I-680/I-580/I-205 knows there needs to be an alternative to that madness.

They decided Altamont would be that alignment because there's more people living there, 2 connections to BART to provide East Bay access, better connection to the Peninsula (which is going to be rebuilt), and a fledgling, locally run, commuter/regional rail line already plying that corridor (Altamont Commuter Express (ACE)).

The Delta alignment you proposed earlier, while easier to build, doesn't really do all of those things. The Capitol Corridor is a different corridor, and it's also weighed down by UP. Although I think it's possible to do a "high speed overlay" there as well; if we built a transbay link at Vallejo and use the branch/short line there, much of the congested areas of UP's line can be avoided, Oakland (particularly Jack London) would still be a conundrum.

In any case, if you think CalTrain would wither on the vine without upgrades, ACE will get there even faster.

Here's some documents on Altamont:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/20076792
http://www.scribd.com/doc/20078258
http://www.scribd.com/doc/20078261
http://www.scribd.com/doc/20078263

Re LOSSAN:

Scoping that out was probably a wise move for the time being. The line is heavily used, single tracked, ROW constrained, and has been encroached upon in some areas. Fixing it would expensive, time consuming, require special coastal/environmental approval (despite being an existing railroad!), and ignite wealthy elite NIMBYs that make PA, MP, Atherton NIMBYs look tame.

http://www.coastal.ca.gov/meetings/coming.html
http://web.me.com/richardstowe/Site/RailTEC_archive/Entries/2002/8/13_The_2002_Double_Track_Controversy.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surf_Line (look at the beachfront property encroachment!)

Despite this, I think CHSRA could and should come back to this corridor eventually. If the Altamont Joint Use/Overlay works out, I think they can do something similar for this corridor as well.

Serving LA - SD direct via the coast would be a huge boon for that region, and would be much faster than the round-about Inland Empire route. Not to mention the existing Amtrak/Metrolink/Coaster service in LOSSAN. There's certainly enough people and traffic to justify both.

OC and N. SD people might come around when they're the only people in that area not served.

Anonymous said...

One thing's for sure: the ever-replenishing underclass of illegally-documented farmworkers won't be riding HSR. They'll share cars or take communal vans, but the licenses they are using may actually be in your name.

Bianca said...

Looks like Uncle Walter has gone off his meds again...

BruceMcF said...

Samsonian said...
"there needs to be a connection to provide access to Oakland and to enable Bay Area - Sacramento trains.
...
The Capitol Corridor is a different corridor, and it's also weighed down by UP.
"

But so is Altamont. And the Capital Corridor has existing services, so if a 125mph Regional HSR corridor is pursued as a series of incremental upgrades, each upgrade improves performance or reduces trip speed. Once it hits 125mph, it'll be under an hour Sacramento to Oakland.

Rafael said...

@ Samsonian -

"like Bush Admin lawyers writing legal memos to justify torture"

I don't think there's any moral equivalence here. Legally, an opinion by the California AG is not at all the same thing as a ruling by a judge.

"[Is CHSRA] in violation of the law?"

Only if they actually build more than 24 stations.

Notice how they never mention Irvine these days? Hanford/Visalia/Tulare may get canned. City of Industry is uncertain. CHSRA has kept open the option of no station at all between Millbrae and San Jose.

Re Altamont: CHSRA can't ignore it because AB3034 specifies it as a potential HSR corridor. However, the sale of state bonds for construction can only be authorized if at least matching non-state funds are secured.

Neither the federal government nor private investors are going to pay for two mountain crossings out of the Bay Area, so expect CHSRA to let Altamont wither on the vine if it secures a right of way between San Jose and Gilroy.

Without a viable right of way for dedicated HSR tracks between Union City/Fremont and San Jose Diridon, this will become a separate project to upgrade the Altamont Commuter Express, which is based on FRA-compliant diesel equipment. full grade separation and higher top speed aren't essential, lower line haul times are. So are improved punctuality and increased frequency.

Anonymous said...

Gilroy to Fresno is indeed useless -- now, and in the future.

San Jose to Stockton would have been *incredibly* useful, which is why Kopp and his corrupt buddies killed it off.

More cost, less result. It's not just a bad idea, it's the law.

Samsonian said...

@ BruceMcF

Altamont and Capitol Corridor have a different set of circumstances.

A new Altamont alignment would only have to share ROW with UP inside Tracy, Livermore, Pleasanton. There appears to be enough room to lay down 2 dedicated tracks, the rest of the ROW would probably be new.

Capitol Corridor is quite a bit harder to improve. The State has spent several hundred million in improvements for UP's corridor, but there's only so much we can improve by sharing tracks with heavy freight trains. The speed mismatch prevents 125 MPH rapid rail.

A new rail crossing across the Carquinez Straight to Vallejo, and re-joining the main line to Sacramento, with dedicated tracks could alleviate quite a bit of congestion. Most areas of the line could be expanded if we have the will to do it, the problem is in Oakland.

Specifically the ROW through Oakland's waterfront and Jack London Square area is so narrow and encroached upon, there's no room to expand beyond the 2 tracks there and condemning would have too much impact. Heck they haven't even grade separated, probably because of the "community impact." Nevermind the impacts of constant horn blasting.

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=110844227969377274200.000474329e6b514cdc4c1&ll=37.795831,-122.279098&spn=0.012039,0.021179&z=16
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=110844227969377274200.00047432d6f96d50ea805&ll=37.793915,-122.274249&spn=0,359.978821&z=16&layer=c&cbll=37.795394,-122.276732&panoid=yyJVWIjtTZ8MP-mbcCB8sw&cbp=12,242.85,,0,5.27

Fixing this would require shutting that area down, and do cut and cover to add more tracks and underground them. Or a new alignment/bypass in/along I-880/I-980 might work as well. Either way, this area is a showstopper to improving this corridor.

@ Rafael

Re legal memos:

Of course they're not the same thing. I never meant to imply that, but the comparison, of using legal memos to justify what might not be allowed/authorized under the law, is apt.

Re Stations:

If more than 24 really isn't permitted, then they're doing some bait-and-switch nonsense. That's pretty lame. They shouldn't say cities getting a station when they can't under the law right now. It's possible to add them later on as in-fill stations, if the law is revised.

Re Altamont:

This is why people are angry over the selection of Pacheco. Altamont is a necessity for Bay Area - Sacramento HSR. It would be dumb to route them through Pacheco. And there's enormous amounts of traffic between these regions that could be served. Simply "upgrading ACE" doesn't mean much, when your dependent on a windy, single track, heavy freight line.

A real line requires dedicated, electrified, grade sep'd 2 track, and probably some decent tunnel sections in this area. CHSRA basically said they'd do both Altamont and Pacheco as a compromise.

If that's just lip service or they fail to deliver, Bay Area and Sac would rightly be angry. It would be pathetic if at full build out and tens of billions spent, people couldn't take a direct HST between those 2 regions. It'd be faster to get from Downtown SF to Downtown LA. That's just sad. Despite their earlier endorsement, SNCF wouldn't have done this.

You're right that Fremont/UC - SJ is a tough segment to do, what with BART to SJ foreclosing on one ROW, and Alviso line being in wetlands and special permissions likely needed to expand that. Worst case scenario could be aerials down I-880, assuming we're serious about HSR in the East Bay.

But, it seems the CHSRA is really in the business of selling lip service, not meeting the needs of the state.

Alon Levy said...

This is why people are angry over the selection of Pacheco. Altamont is a necessity for Bay Area - Sacramento HSR.

But Bay Area-Sacramento traffic demand is dwarfed by LA-Bay Area and LA-Sacramento demand.

Fred Martin said...

Alon, you have it backwards.

Actually, Bay Area-Sacramento traffic demand dwarves Bay Area-LA and Sacramento-LA demand. LA is big, but it is far away from both the Bay Area and Sacramento. Just look at the width of the roads between the regions...

This is why Altamont is so important. Another critical strategic mistake by CHSRA.

Bay Area Resident said...

Palo Alto and Atherton whiners- Even I, an ardent HSR naysayer and REALLY SICK of your incessant whining about Altamont.

Face it, you were naive and chose an alternate strategy that almost nobody supported except 3 rinky dink towns. Altamont does nothing for San Mateo, Burlingame, Willow Glen or anybody south of Palo Alto. It is not wanted and thats why you got no traction with your derail efforts. Grow up

Alon Levy said...

Actually, Bay Area-Sacramento traffic demand dwarves Bay Area-LA and Sacramento-LA demand. LA is big, but it is far away from both the Bay Area and Sacramento. Just look at the width of the roads between the regions...

Are you including air traffic?

Anyway, for HSR ridership modeling, the ridership seems to be proportional to (p_a)^0.9 * (p_b)^0.9 / c^2, where p_a and p_b are the metro populations served and c is the cost of travel, which is somewhat less than linear in distance.

BruceMcF said...

Fred Martin said...
"Actually, Bay Area-Sacramento traffic demand dwarves Bay Area-LA and Sacramento-LA demand. LA is big, but it is far away from both the Bay Area and Sacramento. Just look at the width of the roads between the regions...

This is why Altamont is so important. Another critical strategic mistake by CHSRA.
"

Yes, because as everyone knows, where 220mph HSR offers a mode shift over 125mph HSR is not routes that are 5 hours by 125mph HSR and 3 hours or less by Express HSR, but rather routes that are under 1 hour by 125mph HSR.

Why, that reduction from 45 minutes to 35 minutes will double or treble total rail passenger ridership between the Bay and Sacramento.

And, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?

Fred Martin said...

The entire air market between SFO/OAK/SJC and LAX/BUR/LGB/ONT/SNA only involves 20 million annual passengers. CHSRA was hyping 117 million annual passengers, so even if they captured 100% of the Bay Area-SoCal air market (50-60% would be optimistic), a huge shortfall is apparent.

So HSR will be competing with car traffic primarily, but HSR isn't going where the car traffic densities are the highest. Smart people design systems where the people are going.

HSR will never reach 220mph going along the SR99 corridor, a posterchild for low-density sprawl yet with NIMBYs.

Alon Levy said...

So HSR will be competing with car traffic primarily, but HSR isn't going where the car traffic densities are the highest. Smart people design systems where the people are going.

HSR is going where car traffic is the easiest to divert. Between SF and Sac, the time bonus for HSR isn't high enough, especially since HSR would go through Dumbarton and Altamont and cars go through Bay Bridge and the Delta; HSR would take 156 miles versus 432 for SF-LA, whereas cars do 88 miles versus 381 miles for LA.

The time bonus for HSR is even lower for people whose starting point in the Bay Area is not SF but the East Bay, which would not be well-served without a station in a large population center (i.e. Oakland, which would require a second Transbay Tube).

For SF-LA traffic, those issues go the other way. People who live in the East Bay have access to SF via BART going orthogonally rather than in the opposite direction; people who live in the South Bay have access to HSR via SJ. Furthermore, car traffic is worse since LA is more congested than both SF and Sac, and the time bonus HSR has over driving is larger because the distance is larger.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, in a gravity model, the "Cost" value is door to door cost + value of time*door to door travel time

For biz travelers, use a number like $50/hr.

Fred Martin said...

Alon, you miss the point (again). Intra-regional traffic is far more significant and dense/heavy than inter-regional traffic. Long-distance traffic is a very small share of total traffic. Long-distance car traffic is marginal and a speck compared to urban and regional car traffic.

Just as the air market is limited, there's not that much car traffic on the I-5 in the Central Valley to be diverted to HSR. In comparison, the wider I-80 between the Bay Area and Sacramento and the wider I-580 across the Altamont Pass carry vastly more traffic. Furthermore, CA-152 across the Pacheco Pass doesn't carry much car traffic at all.

I-5 in the Central Valley is typically free-flowing at 80mph. Congestion is very rare. The only congestion that occurs on the I-5 in the Central Valley is due to the lumbering truck traffic or if an accident shuts down one or both of the two lanes. Compare that to the frequently severe congestion on the I-80 and I-580 between the Bay Area and the Central Valley/Sacramento. CHSRA has misunderstood the problem of traffic.

jim said...

1) The Sac-Bay market is served by capitol corridor thats why its ok to send HSRhsr via Pacheco.

2) Few people ride the entire 3 hour length. It serves people in parts in a reasonable time - there's and ARN-SAC crowd, there's a SAC-MTZ-EMY crowd and there's an Eastbay-SJC crowd. None of those trips require high speed.

3) Anon - there's a lot of service planned for what you call Hoovervilles because the majority of the state's new population growth will be in those places.

4) rafael - per your solutions posted earlier I agree with 99 percent of it as the perfect solution with one additional deal,

per the coast daylight, give me, i mean amtrak, the hsr operating contract, and I'll scratch the daylight idea altogether, and instead give gilroy to CCJPA as you suggested, take it all the way down to SNS, and bring one Surfliner per day up to SNS with a timed connection eliminating the need for the Daylight....

then use the tbt with the brightly lit, moving sidewalk tunnels etc, and knock yourself out with condos and such at 4th to get the cash.

...and I'll give you the greens and the yellows for Park Place and the Railroads....

its the perfect compromise---Im in.

( as much i oppose SF growth - I don't mind it when its funneled to the proper places and keeps the new people over there instead of trying to destroy our existing neighborhoods... so I can get behind rafaels plan. Its a reasonable compromise. good work. lets get it done.

--per the comments about the illegals and "toys" previous raisin garlic comments.

That is why the Fresno-Gilroy IS useful, because you can get the farm workers to pick the grapes and the garlic on the same day via HSR, and if they put an Obamacare hospital train in service they can get free high speed health care on board en route to save time and then add a Wells Fargo Car and you can very quickly take the tax money from the PA Nimby's directly to the IRS building in downtown Fresno while destroying the Nimby's azaleas at the same time! See it all works out.

jim said...

@fred martin - it doesnt matter how free flowing the traffic is on I-5, it takes too long to drive to socal. period and its exhausting. why would any one drive when they can be kicking back luxuriating on comfy train having cocktails and nosh.

hey will their be a spa car? there should be a spa car.

You could get new do and some fresh botox and arrive in Hollywood fresh and ready for the Oscars.

this will be a big hit. me can has spa car please?

jim said...

and massage!

Alon Levy said...

Alon, you miss the point (again). Intra-regional traffic is far more significant and dense/heavy than inter-regional traffic.

HSR doesn't do a good job serving that traffic. The Tokaido Shinkansen is mostly used for getting from Tokyo to Osaka, not from Tokyo to Yokohama or Osaka to Kyoto.

Rafael said...

@ jim -

the point of the Coast Daylight is to provide an stopgap service between the Bay Area and LA until HSR goes live and, to improve rail service for towns along the coast corridor. It's still going to be dog-slow but it'll have a fighting chance of being at least vaguely punctual. Still we're talking about one train per day here.

Giving Amtrak California a very lucrative long-term contract to operate HSR might make sense if the state wants to cross-subsidize the existing standard-speed services, but we have to get the system built first. The plan of record calls for private investors and for them, cross subsidies are unpalatable.

Btw, if you want a spa car, you have to go to India.

jim said...

do what you want. Im moving to india.

Morris Brown said...

The Authority board meeting just concluded. The stimulus funding proposal passed unanimously with no changes.

Anonymous said...

The stimulus package list was hashed out politically in the backroom. The decision had already been worked out. Rarely does a public meeting involve actual debate and open discussion.

neroden@gmail said...

- Fresno downtown is painfully controversial. I guess they're putting it in the northern half. Hope they can resolve those design problems fast.

- Merced and Bakersfield seem not nearly as picky and the problem of "tying in" the greenfields segments on either side isn't so bad. Bakersfield-Fresno looks like it will be the test track and be in place first. Given its location along the BNSF ROW, it will probably get to host a few San Joaquins too!

- Bakersfield-LA should really be absolute top priority. They've already worked out a speculative route for the tunnels. However, I suppose it doesn't fit into phase 2 ARRA and would also be very very expensive, so more than they're likely to get.

- LA-Bakersfield should be subdivided: LA Union Station (which will probably be built as part of LA-Anaheim), the Metrolink corridor which will have four tracks up past Burbank, and the part with all the tunnels. Since the Metrolink corridor is pretty much settled in design, this is a sensible way to break it up.

- In order to make the darn thing useful, that Metrolink corridor should be finished first. Satisfying the requirements of Metrolink, freight, and HSR in one trench is a bit of work, but would give immediate safety benefits, and speed benefits to Metrolink, so it's a great target for early impelementation.
- Design-build may not be appropriate for the Bakersfield-Burbank section, and it will involve serious ROW acquisition. I hope they're continuing to work on the EIS for this in detail.

neroden@gmail said...

Rafael wrote:

"Considering they're already up to 24 without Irvine and the politically motivated one at Hanford/Visalia/Tulare, it's not clear to me how they intend to add stations for Pleasanton/Livermore and Tracy in the overlay."

Those stations won't be served by high-speed trains. Simple! Read your legislation more carefully! They can have as many stations as they like which are *not* served by high-speed trains, I think! :-)

neroden@gmail said...

Rafael:
"Only if they actually build more than 24 stations.

Notice how they never mention Irvine these days? Hanford/Visalia/Tulare may get canned. City of Industry is uncertain. CHSRA has kept open the option of no station at all between Millbrae and San Jose."

I'd recommend canning City of Industry and Norwalk, both of which can be served comfortably by local commuter trains *from stations at either side of them*. In other words you can change trains with no back-tracking. That puts the number down to 24 (since Altamont stations are not served by "high speed trains").