Last week the California High Speed Rail Authority took its scoping meeting roadshow to Tehachapi, and judging by this report in the Tehachapi news the locals are excited and supportive - but they'd also like a stop:
“I believe in alternative transportation,” said architect Alex Kosich at the Sept. 16 meeting at the Stallion Springs Community Center. “I rode my bike six miles to this meeting.
“I think it's great. I think it's wonderful. It's a big engineering task. We have to start somewhere.”
Kosich said he and his wife Laila, who is French, are accustomed to riding the high-speed trains from Paris to Lyon.
“Why isn't there one here?” Kosich said. “What are we waiting for?”
The article includes some critical voices, including one guy who voted against the train out of financial concerns.
One of the main concerns raised was the possible impact of the train on a new hospital being built in Tehachapi, though project managers said that the tracks would be sited in such a way to avoid negative impacts. And this being Tehachapi, the article included a brief discussion of the famous Tehachapi Loop, one of the reasons there is currently no passenger rail service between Bakersfield and Los Angeles:
While the rail line in the Tehachapi Pass will follow the BNSF line, there will be no loop similar to the famous Tehachapi Loop at Keene that has been in use since it was built in 1876 and draws railfans from around the world.
With better technology, railroads do not need to adhere to the 2.2 percent grade restriction dictated by Abraham Lincoln's Pacific Railway Act of 1864.
“We can go steeper, to 3 and one-half percent,” said Roworth, the engineer.
In any case, he said after a moment of calculation, at 220 miles an hour, the train would need a circle 16 miles in diameter to make a loop.
Of course, whenever the Tehachapi Pass/Palmdale alignment comes up, we get commenters coming out of the woodwork to argue that this alignment is flawed, too costly, a sop to developers, etc. Never mind the fact that 500,000 people live in the area, a number projected to rise to 1 million by 2020 with or without HSR. The key factor in picking the Tehachapi alignment over I-5 is that, as anyone who has actually driven I-5 through the Grapevine knows, the I-5 route is very mountainous, whereas the Tehachapi Pass is much less so. The CHSRA reached that conclusion over 5 years ago when it eliminated the I-5 route as too challenging and costly for the significant amount of tunneling that would be required to serve that route - a route that wouldn't include any new riders.