Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Closer Look at San José to Merced

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

Last night the CHSRA held a public meeting in San José to discuss the plans for what may well be the most challenging segment of the entire SF-Anaheim route: the San José to Merced segment. The battles north of here, on the Peninsula, have gotten a lot of attention, but that segment is much more straightforward - the route has already been chosen (Caltrain ROW) and it's now just a matter of how you implement it.

Further south, the situation is much more complex, additionally so because it is this segment for which the judge ruled the EIR was inadequate in Atherton v. CHSRA, specifically the matter of using UPRR ROW between San José Diridon and Gilroy.

As a result, some of the key route decisions are still very much up in the air. And here too you have NIMBYs fighting what seem to be the most commonsense solutions, including the Gardner neighborhood (which, I should correct, did actually exist before the railroad - the neighborhood was subdivided in the 1880s and again in the 1900s, whereas the SP line was built during the Depression in the mid-1930s). Down in south Santa Clara County Gilroy residents have voiced concerns about using the existing rail alignment, especially based on the factually incorrect statement that trains would run at 220mph through central Gilroy. And there is the matter of a protected grassland near Los Banos that the HSR trains are currently planned to use.

The CHSRA produced a useful document showing the alignment options along this segment, focusing on the three toughest parts: how you get from Diridon Station to either the UPRR ROW or Highway 101; how you run trains through Morgan Hill/Gilroy, and the Los Banos section.

One of our commenters, Peter, attended the San José meeting last night and had these comments, shared in the comments to yesterday's post and reproduced here:

The presenters were brutally honest regarding expected noise levels, eminent domain, frequency of trains, etc.

People definitely preferred the relatively straight tunnel at an angle to Diridon as the alignment they thought the Authority should adopt. They weren't very concerned that it meant the station would be over 100 feet underground.

They were very surprised to hear the maximum permissible noise levels for freight trains (the locomotive) at 55 mph and HSR at 150 mph are the same at 90 dba. The freight cars can apparently be even louder.

They were very upset at the planned peak level of operations of 11 tph in each direction. They were upset despite the fact that the presenter made clear that this was for 2035.

In other words, HSR through the Gardner and Willow Glen areas wouldn't be louder than the existing trains, and like their counterparts on the Peninsula, believe they have some right to dictate the operations of the train corridor (which they don't). Peter continued:

And when I say above that the presenters were "brutally honest," I mean that when they didn't have the answer yet and had not yet studied the issue in-depth enough to have an answer, they said so.

I know people are going to claim they were hiding things, but I just didn't get that impression.

The presenters stated that they were shooting to go as fast as they could between Diridon and Gilroy. It sounded like they liked the idea of the curve around Morgan Hill in order to enable them to possibly 220 mph.

There was one crazy still trying to get Altamont, and he even had a handout ("This is a better choice")with an alignment splitting in Pleasanton and one spur going south to San Jose International and another going via a Transbay Tube and ending beneath SFO.

Two San Jose Board of Supervisors members were there and they made their pitch for the "straighter" tunnel alignment that allowed the trains to go faster, and oh, by the way, would mean they would be out of sight, out of mind.

Oh, and supposedly they are now considering a Morgan Hill station instead of Gilroy....they are considering the Morgan Hill station because the City of Morgan Hill asked them to. All of the alignment alternatives raised are being considered because they have to be. I highly doubt they'll put a station in Morgan Hill, same as I think a 100 foot deep underground station at Diridon is ludicrous.

Here again I'll say the same thing I said about the Palo Alto HSR design workshop: if San José and/or Santa Clara County want a tunnel from Diridon Station southward, they need to come up with a way to pay for it. That strikes me as even less likely given that the county is already on the hook for a multibillion dollar tunnel, to bring BART to downtown San José.

As Clem noted, the CHSRA does listen to and incorporate public feedback - in this case, the "Thread the Needle" plan floated by Gardner/Willow Glen residents, which as you can see on the image below, has been incorporated by the CHSRA as an alignment option:



The simplest solution to me looks like the existing Caltrain corridor through the Gardner neighborhood. If residents want another solution, whether a costly tunnel or a costly and tightly-curved aerial structure shown in green, they'll have to find a way to pay for it. It's not government's nor the public's job to subsidize their home values.

For getting the trains out of central San José, there's the issue of what to do if the UPRR ROW along Monterey Highway is unavailable. The solution as proposed below involves using the Highway 87 and Highway 85 corridors.



I wish I had more specifics on this, because those corridors are already being used by VTA light rail. I do not believe it is either wise or desirable to sacrifice VTA light rail for HSR, and the cost of widening the ROW along both routes would be quite high. Still, if there's no federal pressure put on UPRR to come to an agreement about the ROW, this may have to be explored.

Next up is Morgan Hill, where a station is being considered at the request of the city of Morgan Hill:



As Rafael noted, a Morgan Hill station would not be optimal for those of us living in the Monterey Bay Area (and there are almost a million of us, not an inconsequential number). A Gilroy station is both ideal and still the most likely option.

Of course, the other interesting thing about this map is the possibility of following the Highway 101 corridor. I drive that corridor pretty frequently, including last Saturday, when I took a close look at the options for placing HSR tracks alongside the road. This is very doable. The east side of 101 has more space in the Morgan Hill area, and the west side has more space through San Martin. Because the 101 corridor here is straight and not built up, unlike the Peninsula, it strikes me as an appropriate place to put HSR tracks.

I'm skipping over the slide on the Pacheco Pass and moving directly to the Los Banos region, where a wide range of options are on the table:



As you can see, there are three main issues here: Can the CHSRA build through the grassland? What do you do with the wye at Chowchilla? And can you use the UPRR/Highway 99 alignment? I have no strong preferences here, although the Firebaugh alignment would seem to rule out a maintenance hub at Merced.

Obviously there's quite a lot going on here. To me the best solution is to use the existing Caltrain ROW through Gardner, use federal mediation to reach an accommodation with UPRR in the Monterey Highway area and along the Highway 99 corridor, and use the straightest and most direct route through a narrow portion of the grassland.

I would prefer the HSR trains go through central Morgan Hill and particularly central Gilroy. Those cities are under intense pressure to build urban sprawl, and an HSR station in downtown Gilroy, where the existing Caltrain station is located, would instead help channel that growth back into the existing urban center. That being said, I'm open to a 101 alignment, especially east of Morgan Hill, if that can enable trains to go at a faster speed.

131 comments:

Peter said...

The preferred alignment along Henry Miller Road would be partially elevated as it passes through the grasslands in order to allow wildlife to pass. This is shown as the white portion on the map along the road.

They are no longer planning on using the UPRR ROW for HSR. Everything they mentioned had HSR running alongside the UPRR in its own ROW, not just alongside the tracks. They mentioned they are in talks about rebuilding Monterey Highway to accommodate HSR, including at some spots taking away two lanes.

HSR will be 2 tracks, except when approaching stations, where it will split into 4 tracks for a SFFS arrangement, to allow express trains to pass by while other trains are stopped at the stations.

Also, they mentioned that if they used the 87/85 alignment, they would have to relocate VTA light rail. I forget if they were already talking with VTA about this.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Thanks for those valuable comments. The elevated alignment along Henry Miller Road strikes me as a good argument for that alignment.

Rebuilding Monterey Highway with fewer lanes to accommodate HSR might be the simplest and cheapest solution.

Good to see there are discussions about relocating VTA light rail, but we'll have to see exactly what that means. There are numerous stations built into the median along both 87 and 85. I'm not quite sure how that would work - where the light rail would go. Strikes me as more trouble than it's worth.

Peter said...

I agree regarding the light rail. I think it's one of the alternatives that they will analyze, and quickly dispose of as completely infeasible.

Clem said...

I still think it is nonsense to run HSR through downtown Morgan Hill and Gilroy. The trains should speed up as soon as they can reach areas of lower population density (i.e. very soon south of SJ). Dawdling along at 125 mph is a waste of some very expensive investment necessary to reach top speeds of 220 mph.

Morgan Hill's comments in the scoping report were all dead-set against a downtown alignment.

I suspect the Morgan Hill station option is there because one of the Pacheco alignment alternatives is a high-speed curve (in light blue) so wide that it misses Gilroy entirely. MH would replace Gilroy as the Bay Area's southern stop.

Peter said...

@ Clem

They could still use the 101 alignment, the dark blue, ane connect it with the 101 Express/Gilroy Station alignment.

I think the light blue Morgan Hill bypass alignment will be knocked out because it involves a crapload of tunneling and cuts through a lot more wilderness than the other options.

Peter said...

I meant "Gilroy bypass alignment", not "Morgan Hill bypass alignment".

Btw, I think I recall them saying they were actually going to be east of 101 when going around Morgan Hill, not on the median.

missiondweller said...

It would indeed be sad if the alignment bypassed both Gilroy and Morgan Hill. One of the benefits of this rail project is that it can link far flung towns to job centers and alleviate what has been California's tendency to resort to suburban sprawl in developments.

The whole concept of smart growth is predicated on transit oriented development. It would be a huge lost opportunity to do otherwise.

Peter said...

And by the way, please note that for the 87/85 alignment, the transition from 87 to 85 is aerial, cutting over a high school, Gunderson, I believe. That alone will likely kill that alignment.

Rafael said...

@ Robert Cruickshank -

link to alignment option doc was broken. Fixed.

@ Clem -

the station needs to be in Gilroy, either in the downtown area or else in the 101 corridor. It needs to serve four counties, not just southern Santa Clara. That was one of arguments CHSRA made in defending its preference for Pacheco Pass.

A 101 station might be preferable due of noise issues and because passengers will be arriving from many miles around. Gilroy is like Palmdale, it will need room for both a bus terminal and parking (not free parking, mind you) to handle the extra traffic.

Martin said...

I used to live in San Martin and am surprised not to see one option for Gilroy because it would be so easy.

South of San Jose you go east of 101 like the alternate, you cross 101 at San Martin like the alternate, and then just prior to reaching Gilroy (see a google pic if needed) there is a large flood canal that runs the length of Gilroy alongside the 101. You follow that all the way to 152 where it turns east just where you would need it to.

That canal would provide 200ft of ROW to use, would allow a downtown Gilroy connection, and would be away from any NIMBYs.

Rafael said...

Btw, about those tunnels along through Pacheco Pass. CHSRA is planning to run trains through them at 200mph+.

Most rail tunnels currently in service (e.g. Loetschberg, Channel Tunnel, Seikan, Oresund east section) or under construction/late planning (St. Gotthard, Brenner, Mont d'Ambin, Koralm, Pajares) impose speed limits of 100-150mph.

The Chuo maglev from Tokyo to Osaka would support higher speeds, but that's one of the reasons for its nose-bleed cost estimate of $100 billion: you need to excavate a substantially larger cross-section to allow air to flow around the speeding train. Otherwise, the dynamic pressure build-up can cause discomfort to passengers (ears popping) and/or aerodynamic instability.

Anonymous said...

Calling all land use/ environmental lawyers:

Can alternatives eliminated during program level review be revived during project level EIRs?

Morgan Hill and 101 alternatives were eliminated in this:

http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/images/chsr/20080523145730_App%202-G_stacked.pdf (page 9,10,18)

Alon Levy said...

Rafael, the rail tunnels you mention all run mixed traffic. For example, the Channel Tunnel limits trains to 160 km/h because freight trains run at a maximum speed of 120 km/h and anything higher than 160 would decrease capacity too much.

And the Chuo Shinkansen is budgeted at $44 billion, not $100 billion. This is in line with the general cost of tunneling. The problem isn't that the tunnels have to be built to abnormal clearances; it's that Japan is so mountainous the only way to run trains at very high speed is to run almost continuously underground line from Tokyo to Nagoya.

Anonymous said...

Can alternatives eliminated during program level review be revived during project level EIRs?

If you win a lawsuit to have the program level EIR reopened, then emphatically YES!

Rafael said...

@ Martin -

are you talking about this?

I suppose an aerial could be built in there, if the base of the columns were shrouded to keep floodwaters from messing with the structure. Not sure how fast they would flow there.

Note that high speeds require large curve radii, so only the short section actually next to 101 could possibly be leveraged. However, it's right up against residential housing. If CHSRA wants express trains to run through the area at speeds well in excess of 150mph, it will need to run further east or else come up with a way to keep the noise down.

Note that the Morgan Hill to Pacheco route option (light blue line on PDF p18 of the alignment alternatives doc) is a little shorter than the others but includes a much longer tunnel. In other words, it would cost a lot more to build.

K.T. said...

Rafael,

Sanyo Shinkansen is running 300km/hr with lots and lots of tunnel. When E5 starts running on Tohoku Shinkansen, it should be able to pass tunnels at a speed of 320km/hr.

Also, we may not have to excavate a extra large cross section for 200mph+ (Tunnel cross-sectional area for Tokaido Line is 64m^2 and still manages to run train at 270km/hr). I do not have the numbers for tunnels in Sanyo and Tohoku Line, but I do not think it is as big as the standard european tunnel or Taiwan HSR (90m^2).

http://www.jrtr.net/jrtr48/pdf/f40_Shi.pdf

Nicolas said...

@ Rafael/Robert

I guess I missed this - why is a Morgan Hill station better for Monterey Bay area residents than a Gilroy station?

Ze Ace said...

Has anyone considered building a new CA-152 from 101 to 156 at the same time as they build a Gilroy to Pacheco HSR? I know that existing stretch of 152 is terrible, and Caltrans would do well to replace it, but it's hard to greenfield a new highway. But the HSR is going to be greenfield through here anyway. It would seem adding a highway beside/around it would be reasonably easy, and might help bring supporters to the project.

Even if the highway isn't built with the HSR, I think it would be wise to at least consider leaving some ROW for it in the planning.

Rafael said...

@ Nicolas -

you didn't miss it, no-one ever claimed moving the station to Morgan Hill would be preferable for Monterey Bay residents.

It belongs in Gilroy.

Rob Dawg said...

for what may well be the most challenging segment of the entire SF-Anaheim route: the San José to Merced segment.

Nope, nope, nope. San Fernando Vallley and Burbank to Union Station take that crown. There's a reason no one is talking about taking roads, houses and productive commercial rail capacity to accommodate CAHSR between the Tehachapi egress and "downtown" Los Angeles.

BTW, loved the fully electrified 4 track animation running over Churchill Ave at Alma st. with no mention of the billions of eminent domain required to condemn Mariposa Ave, Park Blvd, et al.

Martin said...

Rafael,

Yes that's the channel. Wouldn't the speed restrictions be the same if it goes through downtown? My main thought was that an arial over a channel would be prefered by Gilroy over an arial that runs the length of the City. This would also keep the train out of the city but for a small stretch for a station near 152. South of 152 you stay well east of the city. As for curve radii, i have no idea if it would work.

Anonymous said...

the billions of eminent domain required to condemn Mariposa Ave, Park Blvd

Nonsense. At $8 million per acre, the small strip that might be necessary there would run a few million at most. Small potatoes.

Arthur Dent said...

Peter, did they bring along ROW maps for Caltrain to the meeting, or any other documents which reveal the amount of useable space?

Rob Dawg said...

Nonsense. At $8 million per acre, the small strip that might be necessary there would run a few million at most. Small potatoes.

As long as you pretend that 2xHSR + 2x Caltrain "might" be necessary there's no use trying to discuss.

Say it. Say it now. There is absolutely no way to either tunnel OR take ROW. What is this so hard? Sure it busts the budget. Sure it makes mortal enemies with massive legal resources. Sure it adds years to first service but it is still the truth. Is the truth poison to HSR?

Peter said...

No, the documents that are posted on their websites were what they brought.

This was simply a discussion of general alternatives that they will be studying in more depth. They won't have the more detailed studies done until 2010, I believe, when the Draft EIR comes out, followed by the Final EIR in 2012.

They mostly didn't even go into detail about potential problems with the different alignment options, because they did not have the details yet. The main exception was the 87/85 alignment, where they said they would have to relocate VTA, as was obvious.

Peter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric said...

Why is it so important whether the railroad was there first or not? You keep bringing this up in almost every discussion, but, honestly, what's the relevance?

Anonymous said...

mortal enemies with massive legal resources

Maybe this is where the disconnect lies. Massive legal resources does not equal being above the law. When the law says the state may sieze a strip of land for the greater good, it can and will do so easily, and there is nothing that "mortal enemies" could do about it.

The bluster and sabre-rattling is just that, as events will soon demonstrate.

Peter said...

The question of whether the railroad was there first is important in the "coming to the nuisance" defense. It's a factor considered in nuisance lawsuits. If the nuisance was there first, you will have a weaker case in challenging the continued operation of the nuisance.

Rob Dawg said...

Massive legal resources does not equal being above the law.

Are you sure? Look at the alignment. Palo Alto High School is one of the properties. Tell me it is a clear case that ED has precedent. And Peers Park? Not so clear but still a battle of equals. Those get expensive.

Anonymous said...

It still boggles the mind why CHSRA has intentionally picked a fight with some of the wealthiest and most influential residential property-owners in the nation. If you don't think money and connections matter in politics, you have been living under a rock.

Eric said...

@Peter - that would be relevant if we were talking about a dispute between the local residents and UPRR, but we're not, so I still don't get the relevance of what was there first.

Alon Levy said...

It still boggles the mind why CHSRA has intentionally picked a fight with some of the wealthiest and most influential residential property-owners in the nation.

It boggles the mind even more why Palo Alto intentionally picked a fight with an agency doing something which both the state and the federal governments view as a priority project.

Robert Cruickshank said...

@Eric: Peter explained it well, but I'll add my take as the guy who keeps making this point.

One of the key arguments the NIMBYs make is to see passenger rail as some kind of alien, as an intrusion on their communities, as something that doesn't belong. The Peninsula NIMBYs are particularly fond of that argument.

But the fact is that these communities grew up around the railroad. What that means is railroads and communities have coexisted for many decades - nearly 150 years in the case of the Peninsula. That, to me, shows the claims of the NIMBYs to be totally unjustified.

Passenger trains and neighborhoods can and do coexist. Especially where an existing ROW is used, neighbors aren't justified in opposing an upgrade to HSR, especially if there is little or no eminent domain to be used.

Owen E said...

I want to echo what K-T says. There are bunches of tunnels on both the Sanyo Shinkansen and no speed restrictions through them to speak of. There are even MORE tunnels on the Kyushu shinkansen, part of which was completed in 2004.

They specifically designed the noses of their trains to minimize the disturbance from trains entering and exiting tunnels. The pressure change and noise as you enter and exit tunnels is somewhat disorienting but it's no big deal - certainly less of a problem than turbulence for aircraft.

At the moment, the Seikan tunnel actually only accommodates conventional equipment since the Hokkaido Shinkansen is not built yet. Once the Shinkansen starts running through the tunnel, it is likely that the speed limits will stay in order to maintain compatibility with conventional trains and nothing else.

flowmotion said...

@Ze Ace - If they aren't talking about a new CA-152 freeway, some people certainly are thinking about it.

However this is a huge NIMBY/Enviro minefield that CAHSRA probably would rather not be dragged into. I wouldn't be surprised if the EIS activity proceeds seperately and the final result is presented as a fait accompli.

The red line ("program alternative") on the map corresponds closely to part of the proposed freeway ROW.
http://www.cahighways.org/145-152.html#152

Anonymous said...

" It's not government's nor the public's job to subsidize their home values."

What do you think the Obama Administration has been doing for the last 9 months (and the Bush Administration before that)?

By the way -- government is of the people and by the people. Rights of the few are equal to the rights of the many.

You seem to keep forgetting that.

Anonymous said...

"What that means is railroads and communities have coexisted for many decades - nearly 150 years in the case of the Peninsula. "

So, to use your tortured logic to its conclusion, since there never has been HSR (even longer than there has been rail on the peninsula), we shouldn't have it, because that's the way it has been?

What kind of idiotic nonsense is this?

Or are you saying we shouldn't have HSR? That I can agree with.

Peter said...

@ Anon 3:28

There is a potential argument to be made that the people living near Caltrain should have expected an upgrade in service, even to HSR, given that such plans have been in the works for many years.

Therefore, they should not be able to argue that none of this was expected by them and therefore should not be done.

John Plocher said...

> And here too you have NIMBYs
> fighting what seem to be the most
> commonsense solutions, including
> the Gardner neighborhood...

This strikes me as hypocritical.

Good for Palo Alto for being proactive, Boo/Hiss on Gartner for trying to do the same.

I was at the meeting last night along with Peter. I live a few blocks from the Tamien station and from the Gartner community center.

The only NIMBY (Not *that way* In My Back Yard) last night came from the fear that, as poor neighborhoods, we will be the places where budgets get balanced and rationalizations will be made. The failure mode we want to avoid is "HSR spent all its money building under Palo Alto and San Francisco and skirting that grassland preserve where nobody lives, so it doesn't have anything left to do right by San Jose".

This 2 mile segment will literally be in many people's back yards, and the residents of Gartner, Delmas, Willow Glen and other neighborhoods there last night were mostly trying to understand the various proposals. Many spoke out against individual items that they felt would have a negative impact on their neighborhood's quality of life. Others wanted to know details about how much of their neighborhoods might be lost. In my mind, that's community involvement, not NIMBYism.

Since very little detail was available, it is no surprise that residents were concerned. What was discussed isn't pretty:

The existing JPB route from Diridon to Tamien cuts right thru the middle of these residential neighborhoods. The expansion of the existing JPB ROW from 2 tracks to 4 would probably mean that Fuller park would be swallowed up along with the houses and community church on that side of the street. If other alignments were chosen, large parts of the Delmas neighborhood might be lost. The possibility of parts of our neighborhoods becoming a concrete wasteland or an intrusion-protected no-man's land was in everyone's mind.

Others were concerned about the future: Once it is built in someone's back yard, what is the impact of operations?

5 to 10 trains/hour each way means one every 3 to 6 minutes between the hours of 5am and 11pm. At least two each hour are required to be non-stop-to-SF 125MPh expresses that meet the 2:40 trip time requirement. Add in an expected operating noise level of 90db and you start getting a pretty ugly picture. As one person commented, "Thank goodness for grade separation, at least there won't be whistles every 5 minutes as well :-)"

Is it no wonder that alternate alignments and/or tunnels were foremost in people's minds?

The question isn't simply "how can we build this?", it is "how can we build this with minimal negative impact on San Jose's residential neighborhoods?"

flowmotion said...

@Robert -

It become somewhat obtuse when you are arguing about conditions a hundred years ago. That sort of ancient history does not entitle one neighborhood to more mitigation over another, nor does it win any political disputes.

As reflected in the EIRs, HSR will significantly change the type and nature of the rail service in communities, and there's no handwaving around that fact.

Rafael said...

@ Rob Dawg -

what makes you think there will be any ED at all at Palo Alto High? The railroad ROW is 85 feet wide there, all they need permanently is ~70 feet.

An elevated alignment could be built two tracks at a time, avoiding any need for shoofly tracks or associated eminent domain takings.

There are some stretches in the PCJPB right of way that are less than 70' wide, e.g. in downtown san Mateo and in parts of Menlo Park. However, your claim that CHSRA will need to exercise lost of eminent domain in Palo Alto is based on the notion that lots of homeowners will both sue for reverse condemnation and win their cases.

IANAL, but my understanding is that a paper loss - or rather, fear of one - on real estate isn't a basis for reverse condemnation. Rather, owners of abutting or nearby property would have to prove that the modifications to the ROW make their houses unfit for their purpose. That's a much higher standard of proof.

Note especially that those houses as well as Palo Alto High are exposed to vibrations and noise (horns, bells) plus noxious diesel exhaust today. You're not living in paradise and neither state nor federal taxpayers have to create one for you by digging a tunnel, no matter how much you insist they do.

Anonymous said...

"It's not government's nor the public's job to subsidize their home values."

Those people have something of value today, and its going to get taken away from them, or severely impaired in value. Robert is full of crap when he calls it 'subsidizing' to compensate them appropriately OR to avoid the destruction that HSR bring in the first place by enforcing the law that HSR must be mitigated properly.

So he's either a moron that doesn't understand the difference between stealing and subsidizing, or he's a blatant liar.

But Robert - its great to know that you have a moral objection to government subsidies. We'll keep that in mind as the CHSRA's half assed business plans emerge.

Peter said...

I doubt the curves through the Gardner neighborhood are going to allow for 125 mph operation.

Also, the 90dba mentioned by the one presenter was for 150 mph operation, not 125. 125 is going to be a lot quieter.

I don't have the expertise or tools to work out the maximum practical speed through those curves, perhaps someone else could do it, so we can figure out what we're looking at?

Dexter said...

@ anonymous 2:54

Take it easy Bill Gates! The rest of us californians could care less about your property values. The line will be built and I personally will be flipping the bird at your towns as I pass by at 125mph.

Arthur Dent said...

The railroad ROW is 85 feet wide there, all they need permanently is ~70 feet.
Rafael, do you have any credible references for that number? Has the CHSRA agreed to such a figure, or are you using it because you yourself feel it's reasonable? The figure that's corroborated through several CHSRA reps is that their engineering team has been instructed to use 90-100 feet, although they can squeeze it into "less" when necessary.

Jack said...

@ Rob Dawg

no mention of the billions of eminent domain required to condemn Mariposa Ave, Park Blvd, et al.

What in the hell are you talking about!? Where exactly has anyone suggested that HSR needs a 500 foot ROW in Southgate? It has already been thoroughly discussed time and again that the existing 80+ foot ROW will be sufficient for 4 tracks with the exception like 2 blocks where it narrows to 75 feet. So your quite dramatic leveling of Palo Alto would more realisticly be 5 feet of a couple of(otherwise quite large) backyards. Someone might loose a pool. OMG stop the presses call up the PA online!

Rafael said...

@ John Plocher -

a few observations:

(a) districts with significant minority populations enjoy special protections under Environmental Justice law. CHSRA cannot build a tunnel in e.g. Palo Alto to placate NIMBYs in that community and then claim it can't afford one for south San Jose. San Francisco is a slightly different issue in that reaching the downtown area is expected to boost ridership on the HSR network because of the much shorter distances to connecting transit. The same would not be true of a tunnel through Palo Alto.

(b) there are legal limits for the amount of noise and vibration exposure for residential neighborhoods. The actual exposure is computed according to a formula that factors in the number of noise/vibration events, their severity, duration and the time of day at which they occur.

It's a complex subject, not least because objectively measured levels and perceived nuisance aren't quite the same thing. Health effects depend on perception and vary from person to person. Unlike e.g. Palo Alto, south San Jose is currently not exposed to large numbers of trains per day, so there will be an increase in sound emissions. It will be up to CHSRA to deploy measures such as sound deflection plates right next to the rails and perhaps, sound walls at the edge of the right of way to mitigate their transmission.

Vibrations can be mitigated using appropriate damping and/or mass-spring systems. Retained fill embankments do a better job of this than all-concrete aerials.

Btw: the curve radii of the existing PCJPB right of way don't permit trains to run through the Gardner district at 125mph, though elevated speeds are possible south of Tamien.

(c) before you jump to conclusions about eminent domain takings and churches being razed, please look at the relevant PCJPB right of way maps to find out which land the railroad already owns. For four tracks side-by-side, a minumum of 70 feet width is required. As explained before, it is possible - though more expensive - to construct the grade separation works two tracks at a time.

There's a short section just south of Diridon station where it's just 50 feet today, so the adjacent business might lose some parking spaces. Otherwise, the requisite width is already available.

The PCJPB right of way ends at Lick near mile post 52, roughly 1/4mi from where the track diverge from the Monterey highway.

Rafael said...

@ Arthur Dent -

I got the 70' figure from Clem who got it from Dominic Spaethling as the the absolute rock-bottom minimum width.

Frankly, even that's a bit melodramatic. The CPUC requires minimum track spacing of 14', let's call it 15' because of the higher speeds. The minimum distance from the centerline of the outermost tracks to the edge of the ROW - a fence or sound wall - is 10'. The trains themselves are 9.5-11.5 feet wide, depending on the model.

So that's 3 * 15' + 2 * 10' = 65'. Add 5 feet for a footpath for maintenance workers, rescue access etc. Of course 10 would be nicer, then you can take maintenance vehicles to where you need them. But 70' isn't a number plucked out of thin air.

The 90-100' you may have heard includes the width for temporary shoofly tracks. If that width is available anyhow, the grade separation structure can be constructed for all four tracks at once while maintaining Caltrain/UPRR service.

If the width is not available, construction has to proceed two tracks at a time after first moving the existing at-grade tracks laterally one after the other. This approach is more difficult because there is less width for construction crews and equipment to move around in. Also, in some options (e.g. retained fill, trench), about 3 feet of additional permanent width are required and additional concrete has to be poured in the center of the right of way.

Anonymous said...

Altamont: no four-tracking anywhere between Redwood City and Santa Clara.

Altamont: no new ROW south of San Jose Cahill Street station.

Altamont: no risky, cost-plus-plus-plus new tunnels through uncertain geology over the Pacheco Pass. (ZERO tunnelling over Altamont Pass itself, combined with perfectly understood, because of parallel Hetch Hetchy tunnelling projects, geology between Dublin, Fremont and Redwood City.)

Altamont: preferred by state and federal wildlife agencies and all legitimate (ie not Rod Diridon lead) environmental groups, including the Sierra Club.

Altamont: insufficiently profitable, and so eliminated by HSR contractor-lead "environmental" "analysis".

Altamont: no 100 foot deep tunnels and stations in San Jose.

They are going to blow budgets SKY HIGH on Pacheco tunnelling and on grasslands environmental mitigation. It's guaranteed. And it will be very profitable. Sit back, enjoy the spectacle, and, if you can, position yourself to rake it it.

Alon Levy said...

Those people have something of value today, and its going to get taken away from them, or severely impaired in value.

Those people have properties with inflated values, protected by Prop 13 from paying taxes on what they have and by zoning from the middle class being able to afford living nearby. The rules drawn by the government are what gave those people their value today; there's no reason why the government shouldn't mandate new rules that take this value away and give it to people who need it.

bossyman15 said...

Rafael, i just checked out the PCJPB right of way so does that mean PCJPB owns the ROW south of Diridon? So are there any problem with HSR going that way other than part of it being 50 ft wide?

Peter said...

Technical problems, no. Just the neighbors don't want it going through there.

John Plocher said...

@Rafael
> For four tracks side-by-side,
> a minumum of 70 feet width is
> required.

48-TCCM-200-B shows that the Fuller park and community church @Delmas/Fuller are both within the ROW, and is, along with hundreds of old trees, at risk of being swallowed up.

One of the reasons for using an alternate route would be to get rid of those slow curves; one proposal would even "move" the Diridon Station HSR platform to the East of the existing Caltrain/Amtrak terminal to give a straight shot over to Tamien.

From the speakers last night, 70' is an absolute minimum, and will cause problems on a shared ROW because of the required safety separation between slow freight and fast HSR - if they can't do it in space (i.e., 100'), they are forced to use temporal separation with the associated schedule complexity or physical barriers. It is unlikely (again, from discussion last night) that they can fit 4 tracks into 70'; one alternative is a 3-track segment thru Gartner because of that. 70' is not as much of an issue down to Gilroy because the UP only has a single main there and the HSR will only need 2 tracks of their own.

HSR spokepeople reiterated several times in conversations after the QA session that the UP "permission" issue from Lick to Gilroy wasn't a concern because HSR is planning on developing their own new ROW along Monterey Hwy and will not depend at all on UP's. "Along side" was the key phrase, not "within".

BruceMcF said...

Its much cheaper to raise the light rail than the HSR, and given the heavy insistence on dead weight losses with median stations, the access can be made substantially better on one side and little worse on the other - swing the light rail across to the side of the freeway, and pull it down to put the platform directly over the access on one side, with the existing pedestrian subway used to provide access from the other side.

Where the median alignment gives zero opportunities for TOD, this stacked above the HSR alignment and swing out to the side for the platform gives a half-circle TOD option.

If they can, however, relocate the light rail to an alignment that makes full-circle TOD possible around the stations, that would be a big win for local transport.

Eric said...

@Robert - thanks for replying.

"What that means is railroads and communities have coexisted for many decades - nearly 150 years in the case of the Peninsula. "

So if that's the point, why not just say it, instead of endlessly snarking about who was there first. It kind of seems like you're saying that whoever got there first gets to do what they want - by that logic UPRR can go tell everyone else concerned to pound sand since they (or at least the railroad company they acquired) have been there before anyone else.

Anonymous said...

"owners of abutting or nearby property would have to prove that the modifications to the ROW make their houses unfit for their purpose"

along with ludicrous statements such s that the ED will be limited to tiny strips of land, or a few parking spaces.

Which of course puts peoples backyards and businesses directly abutting trains squeezed into 70 feet row (ie: trains directly up against outer edges), traveling at 125 mph once every three minutes.

Yes, Robert - it should be VERY hard to prove that everything within 50 yards of the rail line isn't vast waste land. (riiiiggght). You are high if you think CHSRA is buying anything less than two city blocks of width around the tracks in all residential areas, AND probably paying to relocate Palo Alto Highschool and every other school, city park, and church that it will be adjacent to. Just a heads up, all the tea in China won't buy you this row.

And speaking of China, here's a rich quote from a guy who thinks this IS China, or maybe from a guy who wishes he lived in China:

Alon Levy: "The rules drawn by the government are what gave those people their value today; there's no reason why the government shouldn't mandate new rules that take this value away and give it to people who need it."

This in fact is such a beautiful quote, I think I'll send the link to Obama.

Joey said...

@Anon 4:39 PM

Altamont: no four-tracking anywhere between Redwood City and Santa Clara.

But still requires a multi-track ROW through eastern Menlo Park and the East Bay.

Altamont: no new ROW south of San Jose Cahill Street station.

If I'm not mistaken, most, if not all, of the East Bay and Altamont ROW is currently owned by UPRR, so a new one would have to be constructed anyway.

Altamont: no risky, cost-plus-plus-plus new tunnels through uncertain geology over the Pacheco Pass. (ZERO tunnelling over Altamont Pass itself, combined with perfectly understood, because of parallel Hetch Hetchy tunnelling projects, geology between Dublin, Fremont and Redwood City.)

I'm not quite sure I understand you here. Altamont would require plenty of tunneling in its own right. Between Niles Canyon and the Altamont Pass itself (in which CHSRA's OWN ANIMATIONS show new tunneling), I would be willing to bet that the amount of tunneling is about the same as the Pacheco Pass.

Altamont: preferred by state and federal wildlife agencies and all legitimate (ie not Rod Diridon lead) environmental groups, including the Sierra Club.

Could you cite your source? Altamont would incur substantial impacts to the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge, and not really any less than would occur in the Central Valley wetlands.

Altamont: no 100 foot deep tunnels and stations in San Jose.

That's not set in stone yet; don't claim that it is.

Alon Levy said...

Yes, Robert - it should be VERY hard to prove that everything within 50 yards of the rail line isn't vast waste land.

Indeed, the schools in Fairfield County, Connecticut lodged right up against the Metro-North tracks are all blighted.

Anonymous said...

You are high if you think CHSRA is buying anything less than two city blocks of width around the tracks in all residential areas, AND probably paying to relocate Palo Alto Highschool and every other school, city park, and church that it will be adjacent to. Just a heads up, all the tea in China won't buy you this row.

Man, I have got to get me some weed from Palo Alto - must be really good stuff if it makes you believe such nonsense as this.

Joey said...

@Anon at 6:57 PM

along with ludicrous statements such s that the ED will be limited to tiny strips of land, or a few parking spaces.

Ludicrous? How do you figure? Unless shoofly tracks need to be constructed (which, as has been discussed, can be avoided in most areas), very little land is required to bring the ROW to the necessary width.

Which of course puts peoples backyards and businesses directly abutting trains squeezed into 70 feet row (ie: trains directly up against outer edges), traveling at 125 mph once every three minutes.

If the currently planned SFFS configuration is used, only the slower commuter and freight trains will be right up against the edges of the ROW. And claiming that high speed trains will have headways of 3 minutes is ridiculous. Maybe if you combine the number of trains for both HSR and CalTrain, DURING commute hours, then, maybe you'll get a number like that, but claiming a 125MPH train every three minutes has no backing whatsoever.

Yes, Robert - it should be VERY hard to prove that everything within 50 yards of the rail line isn't vast waste land. (riiiiggght). You are high if you think CHSRA is buying anything less than two city blocks of width around the tracks in all residential areas, AND probably paying to relocate Palo Alto Highschool and every other school, city park, and church that it will be adjacent to. Just a heads up, all the tea in China won't buy you this row.

The assumption that CHSRA will take huge swaths of land on either side of the right-of-way has no backing whatsoever. Unless shoofly tracks need to be constructed (and again, they DON'T in most places, except for instance at new tunnel portals), the tracks will fit within the current ROW in all but a small number of locations. And CHSRA's own animations of the peninsula corridor show that none of the surrounding land will be directly affected by the four-track configuration.

Tony D. said...

anon 2:54,
CHSRA isn't picking a fight with wealthy/influential property-owners. They're simply exerting the will of the people. You see, last November we here in America held this event that we call an election. And the majority of California voters, and a vast majority of Bay Area/San Mateo Co. voters, said YES to high-speed rail. They voted yes knowing that HSR would use the existing CalTrain ROW, as well as upgrading CalTrain itself. Sorry that our Democracy is causing an inconvenience for yah.

anon 4:39,
Your Altamont arguments are soooo early 2008. In other words...TO LATE!

Now we're talking: reconstructing Monterey Hwy/SR 82 south of Lick to accomodate HSR. More than enough room east of UPRR for this purpose.

Robert, how about a Gilroy station at one of these locations: 1) in the 101 median just south of Leavesley Rd. elevated above the freeway with parking east/adjacent to the existing Gilroy Outlets. Or 2) just east of the Outlets themselves; I know at one time a mixed-use development with shops, restaurants and housing was planned for this area. Just thinking outside the box with these two scenarios.

James said...

Lots of room in the Gardner neighborhood along
Fuller_Avenue

John Plocher said...

@Joey

> And claiming that high speed trains
> will have headways of 3 minutes is
> ridiculous. ... claiming a 125MPH
> train every three minutes has no
> backing whatsoever.

2030 peak time projections show the system "maxed out" at 10 trains per hour each way. You are correct, that is a 6 minute headway, but from an observer next to the tracks, a train would go by, either northbound or southbound, every 3 minutes - at least statistically.

Off peak projections allow for 6 to 8 trains per hour, each way, giving a ~10 minute headway and a ~5 minute interval between trains going by.

By the terms of 1A, at least 2 of those trains (1 northbound, 1 south) would be higher speed express nonstop trains from SF to LA, while the rest would presumably stop at some mix of local stations.

At this point, nobody knows what the speed difference (if any) will be between HSR-express and HSR-local while on the shared-with-Caltrain tracks on the peninsula, except for the assumption that they will be "as fast as possible".

mike said...

An elevated alignment could be built two tracks at a time, avoiding any need for shoofly tracks or associated eminent domain takings.

FWIW, that is exactly the proposed construction staging for the San Bruno grade seps, which is also an area where the ROW gets as narrow as 70' (e.g., both north and south of Angus Ave.). Technically there are still shoofly tracks, but they are built within the available ROW, and the permanent tracks are raised two at a time.

Those people have something of value today, and its going to get taken away from them, or severely impaired in value.

The market will be the judge of that.

Of course, if adding train frequencies to the Peninsula Corridor will decrease housing prices by $X, then removing trains entirely (i.e., the tunnel) should increase housing values by at least $X, if not more.

In other words, if you think CHSRA should pay $X/household in compensation for an at-grade alignment, then logic dictates that Palo Alto et al should pay CHSRA at least $X/household in compensation if it builds a trench or tunnel. Liability for losses implies sharing for gains. Or do you just subscribe to the Wall St investment banking philosophy: "Socialize the losses and privatize the gains!"

Joey said...

as Clem notes, CHSRA's ridership and headway projections are a bit inflated, to say the least. HSR ridership levels will not reach 10-12TPH for a very long time, if ever. Given that this is based on CHSR's own projections, maybe I was wrong to say that the claim has no backing, but rather that it turns out to be false. It is worth noting that, as suggested in the Bay Area Program EIR/EIS, some CalTrain express services will use the HSR tracks on the peninsula at presumably elevated speeds (around or greater than 100 MPH), which will increase the number of trains traveling at high speeds on the peninsula, though primarily just during commute hours.

Anonymous said...

As it turns out the voters didn't have any idea what they were voting for because the EIR was garbage, and in fact faster than they can put the crap on paper, they are upping the cost estimates rerouting, and denying the TBT is a requirement. So no, the voters did not approve this plan, and when the voters are presented with the opportunity to vote on the truth, we'll see how far the california high speed rail goes - my guess be nowhere fast. When you lie blatantly to voters - hardly democracy (see China).

The voters by the way did not approave any crazy ass plan the CHSRA could come up with - they approved $10B, which wont buy them a pot to piss in.

I 'figure' because its NOT the amount of land that is required to bring the ROW to required width - its the impact on the adjacent property, and the surrounding neighborhood that will have to be compensated. You don't have to believe me. Just hope the next california state attorney (and the next 10 after him) is a communist, because he'll be spending alot of time in court defending the chsra - so he'll need to buy in to their philosophy (and in fact their required prerequisite operating assumption in order to make event he simplest of chsra construction plans fly), that all property is fair game (and better off for greater good) owned by the state.

Anonymous said...

Mike, how about leave the peninsula row alone, leave Caltrain to be as Caltrain (which Peninsula can worry about improving, electrifying or not, according to their own terms), and terminate HSR in SJ with a very simple connecting between Caltrain and HSR at Diridon. Save billions all around.

And how do you figure "the market" will be the judge of property values, when its the state that is siezing the land and the CHSRA board that is making the decisions on what will be siezed and how much will be compensated? How is that "the market?" In fact, if you want to let "the market" decide, YES, by all means, lets let 'the market' build us some new railroads. I'm all for that (because you and I know damn well hell will freeze over before 'the market' finds railroads to be a rational investment) The real question Mike appears to be - Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

So no, I don't buy in to your twisted barnum and baily logic.

Adirondacker12800 said...

Of course 10 would be nicer, then you can take maintenance vehicles to where you need them.

Railroads will maintain an automobile road in places, maintenance of way vehicles tend to travel on the tracks, including things like pickup trucks. The machines they use to grind track and renew ballast etc are on the rails.

jim said...

Anonymous said...
It still boggles the mind why CHSRA has intentionally picked a fight with some of the wealthiest and most influential residential property-owners in the nation.

LOL since when are they running the train through Rancho Mirage?

Rafael said...

@ John Plocher -

buildings and trees on railroad property can be removed if necessary, though CHSRA would surely seek to avoid razing a church if at all possible. Just because the railroad has tolerated someone's trespassing for a long time doesn't mean they have to going forward.

This also applies to e.g. Alma Street at the University Street underpass in Palo Alto. There are no concrete plans to eliminate the chicane in the rail alignment at present, but PCJPB would be entitled to insist on it even though the present situation has been in place for 70 years or so.

The "straight shot" option for SJ Diridon would involve a very deep tunnel and a station 100 feet below ground, which is why I suspect it will be eliminated from further consideration before long.

I still think cutting across to 101 via 280 would be the best option, even though it introduces tighter curves (i.e. lower speeds than CHSRA wants).

BruceMcF said...

Anonymous said...
"Mike, how about leave the peninsula row alone, leave Caltrain to be as Caltrain (which Peninsula can worry about improving, electrifying or not, according to their own terms), and terminate HSR in SJ with a very simple connecting between Caltrain and HSR at Diridon. Save billions all around."

Turning half an hour from boarding in SF to the HSR pulling out of San Jose, or from the train pulling into San Jose to the train pulling into SF, into an hour, will cost net billions more in lost patronage than it "saves" in construction costs.

And any savings in construction cost is simultaneously going to be at the cost of the main opportunity to get something other than utilitarian retaining walls, since the grade separations done by the three countries alone are, clearly, going to be have to be done on a budget much tighter than the current project.

"(which Peninsula can worry about improving, electrifying or not, according to their own terms)"

This assumes that the two-thirds of the board from San Francisco and San Jose will simply go along with whatever the Peninsula wants, no matter how detached from reality.

BruceMcF said...

Rob Dawg said...
"Are you sure? Look at the alignment. Palo Alto High School is one of the properties."

Take a closer look at the alignment there - there is no need for eminent domain at PA High School. If Palo Altans believe that a structure or an embankment rising behind the away bleacher of the PA HS football stadium is a massive threat to the quality of the education at PA HS ...

... they should get advise from the students of the HS. If the quality of the education is as high as claimed, the students ought to be able to explain to them why the argument consists of massive hysterical hyperventilating based on a foundation of BS.

Peter said...

@ Anon 10:14

I didn't know that China had voters.

looking on said...

BruceMcF posts:

"If the quality of the education is as high as claimed, the students ought to be able to explain to them why the argument consists of massive hysterical hyperventilating based on a foundation of BS."

Generally the foundation of BS spews forth from you and others here.

Nothing seems to dent your opinions. The Authority is incompetent -- how can and others you not see that?

The project designed by politicians for their own particular interests. It keeps popping up again and again.

Look at the stimulus applications. $50 million for Diridon station? Funding for studies on Anaheim to San Diego --- a route not even in phase one.

Pringle becomes chairman, who gets the most dollars in funding requests? You got it -- Anaheim, where he is mayor.

Costs now becoming obviously low ball propaganda. LA to Anaheim doubled in cost.

Time for all of California to wake up and kill of this monster. Hopefully some of the Republican candidates for Governor will try and stop this disaster.

Peter said...

"Funding for studies Anaheim to San Diego"

You have to get the funds for the studies from somewhere...

I really don't see why THIS, of all things, is an issue for you.

Anonymous said...

All infrastructure projects are political. Should we kill the Caldecott Tunnel fourth bore because of the politics involved? Should we have never widened 101 in Marin and Sonoma because of the politics involved?

Anonymous said...

Kill the Caldecott fourth bore!
Kill highway widenings!
Kill CHSRA!

Stop all this public waste!

jim said...

Anonymous said...
Kill the Caldecott fourth bore!
Kill highway widenings!
Kill CHSRA!

Stop all this public waste!


Its only waste when it's something you don't like, but you are not the only Californian.

Anonymous said...

"They're simply exerting the will of the people."

Yep. We keep saying that about Prop 8, but look at all the efforts to try to to overturn it.

Anonymous said...

The "straight shot" option for SJ Diridon would involve a very deep tunnel

Or a much more sensible elevated.

Anonymous said...

Altho the majority of posters on this site wouldn't agree there should be another vote on the hsr now that the dust has settled and the gritty details of the plan are becoming clear.

But it is doubtful that will happen as it looks like Bechtel, CofC et al have even gotten to the Jarvis crowd and squelched the opposition.

What is more likely is that construction will start and the money will run out. Then the question will be to abandon or stretch the work out over decades. Once the magnititude of the Techachapis mistake is grasped private capital will avoid the hsr like the plague.

jim said...

Anon, let me explain something to you. When Californians voted for High Speed Rail, they did so in spite of the details. People know that there are issues with construction projects but they still decided that it would be a good idea. No one voted for prop 1a with any delusions of a painless planning and construction process. What voters said was "we want this, let's get started" and that's all they said. No one was tricked. Californians simply both recognized the need for new options and were excited about the prospects of this technology.

That's the way it works here. You are welcome to keep fighting it but all the forces are against you.

What you can't do is keep pretending that anyone was tricked into this.

Personally I don't think
California is the place for you. There are too many issues about the way things are done here that will keep you from ever being satisfied.

jim said...

Here's a good article and I have to say I agree with the premise. phx-lax is in fact one of the busiest short air corridors in the country and there are strong ties between the two.

BruceMcF said...

Anonymous said...
"
"It's not government's nor the public's job to subsidize their home values."

Those people have something of value today, and its going to get taken away from them, or severely impaired in value.
"

The action that will severely impaired their property value is if they succeed in killing the project to grade separate and electrify Caltrain and face coming oil price shocks with the same limited alternatives to automobile transport as they have today.

dave said...

@ anonymous 10:27 AM

The reason Prop. 8 passed was because of mis-info.

Everyone I know voted Yes, on Prop. 8 because they were afraid of their kids being taught about gay's marying. Not because they wanted to ban it. At least 6 people I know did that. They are not against gays or taking their rights.

Simply promise to NOT put that in our schools, put it back on the polls and Prop 8 (In it's new form) will fail.

dave said...

@ anonymous 10:33 AM

Actually, if you put HSR up to vote, It would WIN even more than it did back in Nov. 08.

One big difference is that back then we voted yes on something with a very big price tag knowing that we might not EVER get Federal funding. Which by they way is a major funding source according to the CHSRA's Business Plan. Now that their is more knowledge on the subject and the Federal Backing, private funding is the only funding we will need. Once construction starts, you might as well forget fighting. It will be built.

If you don't like it, then move somewhere, where they cannot build anything anywhere near you. Maybe consider moving to the moon, sell your high priced house and book a one-way with NASA.

jim said...

DAve - if anon moves to the moon he will still be upset because they are wasting money to shoot missles at it and it will be too noisy.

BruceMcF said...

John Plocher said...
"2030 peak time projections show the system "maxed out" at 10 trains per hour each way. You are correct, that is a 6 minute headway, but from an observer next to the tracks, a train would go by, either northbound or southbound, every 3 minutes - at least statistically."

And of course, in the SFFS layout, the "other" one is one track further away, in the FSSF layout, its the opposite side of the corridor.

"By the terms of 1A, at least 2 of those trains (1 northbound, 1 south) would be higher speed express nonstop trains from SF to LA, while the rest would presumably stop at some mix of local stations.

At this point, nobody knows what the speed difference (if any) will be between HSR-express and HSR-local while on the shared-with-Caltrain tracks on the peninsula, except for the assumption that they will be "as fast as possible".
"

Since they will all be stopping at San Jose, then for the segment in question, "as fast as possible" seems certain to be the same speed for all HSR services - they will all traverse the segment south of the San Jose HSR platform as fast as possible.

Peter said...

@ BruceMcF

From what I understood, SFFS is not the configuration they're shooting for south of Diridon. They're looking at FFSS next to the existing tracks.

Anonymous said...

The hsr would be walloped in a second vote - that is why it won't happen.

They will start construction and run out of money. The supplementary bond issues will fail.

Rafael said...

@ anon @10:27pm, dave -

discussion of prop 1A(2008) is germaine here. If you want to talk about the merits or otherwise of prop 8(2008), you may want to have that conversation on another forum. Thx.

Rafael said...

@ Peter -

FFSS would imply HSR track west of UPRR in the Monterey Hwy corridor.

SSFF would put the HSR tracks east of UPRR there.

Which one is being planned?

jim said...

I think the hsr should use the 101 row south to gilroy with the station in the area near the outlets and or the intersection of 152.

dave said...

@ anon 12:06

I'm pretty sure the Fed's won't let our system fail when it comes to funding. California's HSR Project is always in the "Spotlight" when it comes to real High Speed Rail in the U.S. It's in their best interest that California's system is fully built start to finish if they want to convince the public that what they said about HSR will work. I'm not expecting Cal. to get hand-outs left and right from the Fed. But once started, you might as well call it quits.

If you say that building projects and infrastructure are politically driven, I would agree. This is the way our world works and now it's in the HSR proponents favor. Because politicians would like fresh new ideas to keep them in office, HSR seems like a common word everywhere today. Trends are also common in politics, HSR is getting there. That's what assures me that HSR will get built.

Too bad for you! It's better you get used to it now and not lose your hair or lose sleep over it. Just ride it out.

dave said...

@ Rafael

I beleive this is a Blog, not a technical blog for CHSRA's contractors to get tips.

If that's the case then open up a second blog for strictly those discussions.

Clems blog seems more suited for those conversations. Which is why I'm not commenting on Prop. 1A over there.

Peter said...

@ Rafael

I believe they are looking at the HSR tracks east of the current tracks. Sorry for the confusion.

Although, wouldn't FFSS be the same as SSFF if you change the way you're looking at it? Unless there's some convention I'm unaware of.

Peter said...

And has anyone been able to work out how fast a train could go on the reverse curve through Gardner?

Anonymous said...

Deficit spending is becoming a political hot potato. Remember they tried to balance the budget in the middle of the Depression.

When the true cost of the hsr becomes apparent I suspect public opinion will drift strongly to the negative.

Anonymous said...

"The reason Prop. 8 passed was because of mis-info."

Sounds a lot like Prop 1A, eh?

Peter said...

@ Diverse (or the same) Anons

HSR is just a tool to employ more illegal aliens from Mexico.

HSR is being built to satisfy the Taleban's objective of having us waste all our money on trains instead of using it to fight them.

See, I can make up random, unsubstantiated statements, too.

BruceMcF said...

Anonymous said...
"Deficit spending is becoming a political hot potato. Remember they tried to balance the budget in the middle of the Depression."

And remember that reality intervened and demonstrated that it was a serious mistake, via the Roosevelt Recession.

Are you arguing that we should repeat the same mistake because it proved to be such a disaster that time?

john said...

@ anon-in-the-same

And don't forget the tired trope that the New Deal didn't end the depression; the Second World War and government spending at 40% of GDP did. We are currently at less that 5% i believe.

P.S. What Prop 1A misinformation exactly? You obviously know how to use a computer and the internet... Why could I look into the project as far back as 2004 and you somehow couldn't? Just because you were too lazy/didn't care to educate yourself is hardly misinformation or the nefarious organized conspiracy of deception that you imply.

Spokker said...

I would trade Prop 1A passing for Prop 8 being defeated.

Peter said...

@ Spokker

Ah, but there's a better chance of getting the passage of Prop 8 overturned by the courts than getting the defeat of Prop 1A overturned.

dave said...

@ Spokker

I can't ride fast and efficiently to L.A on the backs of newly married gays.

Prop. 1A all the way!

Rafael said...

@ Peter, John Plocher -

"And has anyone been able to work out how fast a train could go on the reverse curve through Gardner?"

There are actually three curves in the Gardner district. The middle one near Jerome St. is the tightest one at ~1480 feet (estimate based on Google Maps and some jerry-rigged middle school geometry).

Assuming 5" track cant and 6" cant deficiency (implying no more than ~1m/s^2 = ~0.1g uncompensated lateral acceleration), the math works out to a speed limit of 64mph.

Given the limited accuracy of Google Maps, the actual value could be a few mph above or below this theoretical speed limit. For planning purposes, figure 60mph tops.

HSR trains aren't going to thunder through the Gardner chicane at 125mph, never mind 220mph.

Peter said...

@ Rafael

Right. That's what I thought. So the trains will be quieter than they are right now.

I wish that HSRA had been able to make those statements at the meeting. But, I also understand that they are not going to make anything at this point that people may interpret as a promise.

Rafael said...

@ Peter -

those consultants love to play games with the level of engineering maturity. Right now, it's supposedly at 2-4%. Evidently, that means they mustn't actually use a pocket calculator yet.

Even if they can get FRA to permit more than 11" of effective track cant, it wouldn't have been much of a giveaway to promise speeds of less than 80mph. Train operators don't want to be in the business of scraping their customer's lunch off the windows.

mike said...

And how do you figure "the market" will be the judge of property values

Um, because the market is where properties are bought and sold? If the visual impacts are truly as horrifyingly bad as you believe they will be, then it will show up in (a sharp drop in) property values after the ROW is improved. How much simpler can it get?

(And technically, if you believe in rational expectations - as many economists do - then you should already have seen a massive drop in property values near the Caltrain ROW over the past year, relative to other properties in the Palo Alto/Menlo Park area.)

So no, I don't buy in to your twisted barnum and baily logic.

Yes, I feared that the usage of words longer than 4 letters would leave you dazed and confused. Unfortunately I was right.

BruceMcF said...

mike said...
"(And technically, if you believe in rational expectations - as many economists do - then you should already have seen a massive drop in property values near the Caltrain ROW over the past year, relative to other properties in the Palo Alto/Menlo Park area.)"

The idea languished from being first proposed in a microeconomic paper until some macroeconomist picked it up and it became a fashion to use it in some macro models to include "expectations" by acting as if all the consumers had the same model in their head.

However in this case, clearly, the RatEx model inside people's heads told them that after a reprieve caused by a massive recession that they could have made a fortune on if the RatEx model in their head had told them to go short at the right time in August 2008, there will be a series of oil price shocks, except thanks to the failure of the NIMBY efforts that they are engaging in anyway, Caltrain will gain electrification far earlier than if it had to fight for the necessary funds on its own, and the Peninsula will be among the lucky suburban type areas with an electric regional rail service running through it which will help save it from what would have been a crash in property values if the NIMBY effort was going to succeed.

Actually, that's part of the problem with the RatEx gimmick - whatever model you have in your head is the model you put into people's heads. In other fields of social science, that is known as "projection", and is seen as a flaw to be avoided.

Alon Levy said...

Rafael, the FRA was ready to grant 14" to the Acela.

Speaking of curves and cants, what are the curve radii for the preferred Gilroy-Pacheco curve and the alternative Morgan Hill-Pacheco curve?

Rafael said...

@ Alon Levy -

is that 14" including or excluding the active tilt angle? Eight inches of track cant sounds pretty steep and passenger comfort considerations limit the scope for residual lateral acceleration.

As for the Gilroy curve, I haven't measured it. CHSRA was looking for up to 200mph through there. At 11" effective cant, the minimum radius would be ~2.7 miles, at 14" it would be ~2.1 miles.

John Plocher said...

@ BruceMcF
> Since they will all be stopping
> at San Jose

Maybe, maybe not. The deciding factor is how long the SF-LA run takes. If they can squeeze in a SJ stop AND still meet the mandated 2>40 total trip time, then you are right, all trains will stop in SJ. If they can't, then these hourly express trains will bypass SJ at speed.

@ Rafael
FFSS ... HSR west of UPRR
SSFF ... HSR east of UPRR

From Lick south, HSR intends to run on the East of UP. They also have to run East of (or under...) Tamien, so they will probably stay East the whole way.

@Peter
> how fast a train could go on
> the reverse curve through Gardner?

I believe I head "60" in several conversations, though I'm not sure I believe it, as the current Caltrain speed is 35 thru the area.

@Rafael
> radius would be ~2.7 miles,
> at 14" it would be ~2.1 miles.

At the Gartner meeting we were told that the Pacheco alignment was being designed with 8 mile radius curves.

Peter said...

I heard the 8 mile curve radius number too. I think that that number was the preferred radius for full speed, but not required.

Rafael said...

@ John Plocher -

I was talking about the maximum feasible speeds and the minimum feasible curve radii. Acceptable lateral acceleration is just one of several criteria in setting a speed limit.

If Caltrain is running at 35mph through Gardner, that may be a choice or it may be that the existing tracks have little or no track cant. Either way, it has no relevance for HSR operators.

HSR trains running on continuously welded tracks at 60mph aren't horribly noisy (nowhere near 90dB). However, the increased volume of traffic will inevitably increase noise exposure for residents in the immediate proximity of the railroad ROW, which is 100 feet wide there. CHSRA will have to prove the end result will be a daytime noise exposure level below the threshold the law says must be tolerated in a residential neighborhood.

The curve radius in Gilroy may well be much larger than the minimum required. That actually minimizes the amount of land required in that particular context.

Alon Levy said...

is that 14" including or excluding the active tilt angle?

Including. Excluding active tilt, it'd be 10".

Alon Levy said...

On another note: I'm not sure which is stupider - CAHSR's insistence on curve radii of 12.8 km, or the simulations that show trains will have to be restricted to 220 km/h through Pacheco Pass as a result. At standard HSR cants and cant deficiencies, 12.8 km radius corresponds to a top speed of 540 km/h. At tilt train cant deficiencies, make it 700 km/h.

Peter said...

Would those numbers be appropriate for zero cant?

Rafael said...

@ Peter -

you need some cant to make it through the curve at 220mph at all. A curve radius of 12.8km corresponds to an effective cant of 115mm (4.5").

If the effective cant is all track cant, then there is no cant deficiency. Passengers - and their stuff - would not experience any lateral acceleration at all.

BruceMcF said...

John Plocher said...
"@ BruceMcF
"Since they will all be stopping at San Jose"

Maybe, maybe not. The deciding factor is how long the SF-LA run takes. If they can squeeze in a SJ stop AND still meet the mandated 2>40 total trip time, then you are right, all trains will stop in SJ. If they can't, then these hourly express trains will bypass SJ at speed.
"

OK, if the stop at SJ pushes it beyond 2:40, they might have ONE service each day each way that doesn't stop. But San Jose is the primary aggregator for the whole south Bay region, so even for the non-stop to the LA-Basin, there is no commercial basis for skipping San Jose.

If they do it to meet a formal requirement, it will be the minimum required to meet that formal requirement.

Adirondacker12800 said...

there is no commercial basis for skipping San Jose.

...with single class service. When they get up to 4 or 5 trains an hour there might be demand for one of those trains to be an all business/first class express between SF and LA. That way, even though it only saves a few minutes over a train that serves only SF, SJ, Burbank and LA they can advertise it as "fastest most luxurious way to get from SF to LA.." ..Four trainsets operated by Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits... The whole experience, leather seats, entertainment center build into the back of the seat ahead, hot towels on the drink trolley, fax machine in the business center maybe even an office assistant to accept FedEx and UPS packages and have a pens, staplers etc. available. Too bad there won't be room in Transbay for a first class lounge. They could charge higher fares like..... Acela.

Rafael said...

@ BruceMcF -

AB3034 only requires that a non-stop time of 2h40m must be achieved for SF-LA. It is an acceptance test criterion.

The law does not require that non-stop service must actually be offered in commercial operation.

Alon Levy said...

Adirondacker: if the Tokaido Shinkansen, with its 13 tph, forces every train to make 4 intermediate stops, then CAHSR can make every train stop at San Jose.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Gardner District. Fuller Park and the Church on Delmas at Fuller. The Santa Clara County Assessor map clearly shows the property lines of the JPB ROW. Both the park and church are outside the ROW. If the HSR acquired Fuller Park, they are obliged to acquire comparable parkland within walking distance of the neighborhood.

The HHSRA folks estimated 60 mph for the Gardner curves.

Gardner soil is subject to compaction and vibration; it is former marshland. This will impact construction choices and width of ROW.

Adirondacker12800 said...

if the Tokaido Shinkansen, with its 13 tph, forces every train to make 4 intermediate stops, then CAHSR can make every train stop at San Jose.

Yes they could force every private operator, as a condition of using the tracks, to make a stop in San Jose.

If someone wants to go out and buy 4 trainsets and rent time on the tracks to run deluxe express service that bypasses hoi polloi in San Jose that's a commercial consideration. Requiring every train to stop in San Jose is a political consideration.

..... it would probably be a really really stupid decision. There's lots of rich people in and around San Jose, stopping the train for a few passengers doesn't take long. But it would be a commercial decision.

Alon Levy said...

Yes they could force every private operator, as a condition of using the tracks, to make a stop in San Jose.

Or they could just operate the trains themselves, like in every other country that currently has HSR.

Requiring every train to stop in San Jose is a political consideration.

Not necessarily. If every train is expected to stop at SJ, then there's no need to ease curves near the station or build bypass tracks, which reduces construction costs.

Adirondacker12800 said...

Or they could just operate the trains themselves, like in every other country that currently has HSR

But operating the trains themselves doesn't imply that all trains will make all stops. It isn't BART after all.

Not necessarily. If every train is expected to stop at SJ, then there's no need to ease curves near the station or build bypass tracks, which reduces construction costs

Nor do they need to ease curves or build bypass tracks to express through a station. Trains do it all over the world all the time. I think you live in Manhattan. May I suggest the Metro North station on 125th? Or maybe Secaucus, much more Diridon like, at least in it's grandiosity. Interesting how they manage to pump 23 trains an hour through the upper level with only 4 tracks. Jamaica or Woodside might be interesting too....

..or the unending supply of videos from foamers who go to Kingston RI to stand inches away from a train going through the station at 150 MPH. Or the videos of Secaucus if you don't want to go to Secaucus. Or the ones of trains expressing through Woodside, on the bypass tracks and on the tracks at the platforms...

Alon Levy said...

Yes, I live in Manhattan. But none of the stations you mention is supposed to support high speeds. Even then, sometimes they build special bypasses for express tracks, like on the Queens Boulevard line.

Adirondacker12800 said...

But none of the stations you mention is supposed to support high speeds.

High speed trains can go really really fast, hence the adjective high speed. They can go really really slow too.

The thing that makes an express train an express is the not-stopping part. The train blazes through at 190 MPH it's fast. If it moseys through at 20 it's slow. Both of them are still express trains. Both of them still get to the terminal faster than the the train that made the stop.

Straightened curves and bypass tracks might be nice to have. They are not a requirement for express trains.

Anonymous said...

Three questions about the 85/87 Alternative Alignment:
-Is this the only proposed urban alignment that's not along an existing heavy rail line?
-Is it the only alignment planed to go up a residential street?
-Is this the only proposed alignment to cut across an existing High School?

I think the answer to all three is yes (at least for north of LA). but can anyone confirm?