Thursday, October 22, 2009

DiFi: HSR Should Use Transbay Terminal

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

We've been calling for federal representatives to speak up and help resolve some of the key HSR disputes in California, and it looks like that's exactly what they're starting to do. Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote a letter to Ray LaHood calling for the feds to fund the construction of an HSR train box at Transbay Terminal, as is currently called for in the plans:

The California High Speed Rail Authority may be looking at possible alternatives to a new Transbay Terminal to bring bullet trains into San Francisco, but our former mayor and California's senior senator says the choice is clear.

Go with the proposed Transbay Transit Center.

That's the message Sen. Dianne Feinstein sent in a letter Wednesday to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in advance of the Obama administration's decision on federal stimulus funding for high speed rail projects across the country.

A new Transbay Terminal at First and Mission Streets is "an ideal destination for high speed rail" and a project where construction could begin in the first three months of next year, Feinstein wrote.

"The project represents a real downtown station in one of America's great cities, assuring that high speed rail delivers travelers to the city center without the traffic or delays that afflict other modes of travel," the senator wrote. "This project will not only put thousands of Californians back to work, but will also move the state's plans for high speed rail one step closer to reality."

Feinstein joins fellow Sen. Barbara Boxer and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in calling for federal funds to build San Francisco's high-speed rail terminus at the site of the old bus station.

"Transbay will become the 'Grand Central of the West,'" Boxer wrote to LaHood.

Feinstein and Boxer's comments come along reports I have heard that Speaker Nancy Pelosi not only prefers the Transbay Terminal to be the SF terminus, but that she has said the $400 million for the train box is all ready to go, except for CHSRA's objections.

Let's also not forget, of course, that voters approved TBT as the SF terminus when Prop 1A passed last November.

CHSRA continues to argue they are mandated to explore other alternatives, a position the California Attorney General's office supported. However, California's leading federal representatives are clearly uniting behind the Transbay Terminal project.

83 comments:

lyqwyd said...

I agree it should end at Transbay, I just don't agree the train box should be in the basement. Next to it is just fine.

Anonymous said...

This looks to be a major defeat for Quentin Kopp. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy! Ha Ha!

Eric M said...

lyqwyd,

I agree completely. Something needs to be done about the basement because it will just feel like a crampt subway stop if it is finished the way it has been proposed. Put it next door so there is ample room for Caltrain, HSR and all the people. This way it should have a basement feel to it.

jim said...

I'm not going to get into this one except to say that we should be thankful we are even getting hsr at all, and complaining about the space and decor is just being a little picky. besides, if the frequency is as frequent as they plan you wont even be in the station for more than five minutes. I think we'll live.

Peter said...

I think the discussion of TBT vs. Beale vs. 4th needs to be put to rest.

Even we end up with imperfect trainbox with TBT, at least we'll have a terminus near downtown that we can start building soon.

Any chance that TBT could later expand in its current planned location by simply placing a shorter platform for two tracks along 2nd St. perpendicular to the planned platforms? I'm solely thinking of using such platforms for shorter Caltrain EMUs, that wouldn't need 1000+ foot platforms. This would mean you would have more future capacity for HSR without reducing Caltrain capacity.

Would this interfere with the support columns in the Train Box throat? Would it interfere with BART along Mission?

Michael said...

Seriously guys, it is called an Alternative Analysis. The CHSRA is just vetting options, and still state that Transbay is the preferred alternative. Transbay is a fine place for the high-speed rail station (if it connects to BART underground). The problem with it is the DTX portion of the project, which kills operational capacity, and should be revised to eliminate two of the curves and increase the radius of the third.

Anonymous said...

Amusing development.

When's the judge supposed to rule on the remediation to be required for the program EIR?

AndyDuncan said...

@Eric/Lyqwyd: thirded. 4th/king is decidedly inferior, but the beale/main alignment has a lot of things going for it.

Did we ever figure out what exactly would be "lost", money wise, in not putting the train box in now? Are the cost savings associated with putting in the train box before the building is put on top larger than the savings of being able to dig a simpler DTX tunnel?

AndyDuncan said...

Another question: If they put the train box in now, and later decide that it is unworkable, could the train box be used by BART or MUNI in the future? It's just supposed to be an empty box, right? No tracks or platforms?

Peter said...

Not sure when the remediation measures is supposed to be released.

I wouldn't hang my hat to effect any major changes on decertifying the Program EIR, as it won't do much other than allow CHSRA solidify its arguments for Pacheco and to address the issues of dealing with UPRR and noise and vibration.

CHSRA has essentially decided how to deal with UPRR (they will essentially go around them, or share their ROW if UPRR does end up coming to its senses and smells the winds of change).

Sound and vibration are relatively easily dealt with. CHSRA simply needs to list the measures it could implement to mitigate those issues. It can simply list what measures are used around the world to address similar issues.

Anonymous said...

the DTX portion of the project [...] should be revised to eliminate two of the curves

How do you do that and still connect to the TTC basement? Or is this an implicit reference to the CHSRA's Beale alternative?

lyqwyd said...

@AndyDuncan

My understanding is that building the trainbox now will cost $400 million, vs. $500 million to do it later, so a difference of $100 million. Of course if we build it now and it is determined that that's not the right place, then whatever is spent on it is wasted. I personally contend that the train-box will require a more expensive tunnel, so overall it will cost us in the end, rather than save $100 million, but that's just my opinion.

Having said that, in response to your second question, it's possible to use the train-box for other purposes. You are correct that it's just an empty box. As far as I know, there's no plan to do so, but it is possible.

The following is purely my opinion:

I think that $400 million would be better spent on building actual HSR infrastructure that can be used for testing today (say the central valley portion), rather than a $400 million box that won't be used for 10 years at the earliest.

Ultimately I'm not going to cry if the train-box is built, I just think it's better to do a thorough study of the viable alternatives, and pick the best option based on that, rather than to just bow to political pressure and place it in the anointed train-box.

jim said...

they can design the train box in a way that keeps the columns out of the way and maybe eliminate the upper level to open it up more.

have we seen any actual architecural plans for exaclty how they are going to build it or has it just been general renderings.

Rafael said...

DiFi and Boxer are looking at this purely from the perspective of getting USDOT to approve the California application (which includes both the TBT and the CHSRA bits) to create construction jobs asap.

That's not an entirely unreasonable position, a bird in hand is after all worth ten in the air. It's just really unfortunate that in the eagerness to turn dirt, politicians forget that both SF and the rest of the state will be stuck with a very suboptimal solution for the next century.

The long walks to the nearest BART/SF Muni station(s) will hurt Caltrain and especially HSR ridership, as will will squeal in the tight curve at the train box. There will be (expensive) attempts to mitigate, but there's only so much lipstick you can put on a pig.

AndyDuncan said...

Maybe if CHSRA could get the city to agree to purchase the trainbox for use as a Muni/BART station in the event that CHSRA chooses to go with the beale/main station, then we could both build the train box now, and not have to worry about leaving it abandoned in the future.

Of course, that wont happen.

Martin said...

People need to realize that the Transbay Terminal is not just a HSR project. It is a huge redevelopment project that has gone through most approvals already. Land that an alternative HSR station would take is already spoken for or already in discussions to be sold. The land sales is what will fund most of the Terminal. Take away the land and you dont even have a bus station. Simply stated SF is too far along to change the project now. HSR should make the best of the planned terminal or they will kill not one but two major projects.

Martin said...

Also, the temporary terminal in SF is already under construction on the site that many of you want to build a HSR station. By early next year the transbay terminal will be under demolition. If the HSR is not built in the train box planned then HSR couldn't even think about starting construction until the new transbay terminal is finished. I don't want to wait that long for HSR in SF.

Peter said...

I agree with Martin.

The train box design may suck, but HSR needs to suck it up and reap what they sowed. I.e. they gave TJPA too-low-to-be-comfortable minimum turn radius numbers, they're insisting on perfectly straight platforms, etc.

Too much is at stake for CHSRA to insist on a different station at this point.

Andrew said...

I'm getting a little tired of this "Grand Central of the West" talk. It doesn't actually mean anything, people just like the sound of it.

lyqwyd said...

Martin, the transbay project is scheduled to be complete 2014, while HSR is scheduled to be complete 2018, so even with quite a schedule slip there is no problem.

As far as transbay being so important, as I've said before, Transbay only makes even the remotest sense as a means to bring HSR & Caltrain to downtown SF, therefore the number 1 priority should be in best serving rail. Without rail it's a $4 billion dollar bus terminal.

As to the requirement of development, I have no idea why it's going to cost $4 billion, the most expensive train station in the world (Berlin Central Station) cost about $900 million and involved re-routing a river. Why is transbay $4 billion? Most of the major stations to be built for HSR are in the low hundreds of millions.

Finally, it would make much more sense to build the station in and under a large tower, which could have a shopping mall, a hotel, and offices.

Of course none my questions will be answered by the planners, and none of this will happen, I'm just saying.

Peter said...

@ lyqwyd

Did you submit your comments and questions to planners? They HAVE to respond, you know.

Joey said...

I wonder if $4b includes the adjoining 1200' skyscraper...

Martin said...

@ lyqwyd

The Transbay Terminal will be under a 1000ft tower.

http://www.transbaycenter.org/transbay/content.aspx?id=323

As for why it costs so much, that's easy, it's SF. Taking away land that they plan on using as revenue is not going to make the beast cheaper.

martin said...

@ Joey

No, they sold the rights to build the tower to a developer (Hines) for $350 million

Joey said...

To clarify, neither the terminal itself, nor the train box, will be directly under the skyscraper. It is attached to the TBT, but not above it.

Joey said...

@martin

In that case this $4b number is starting to look quite suspicious. The building itself isn't even that big and the cost doesn't include the trainbox...

Martin said...

Joey,

I agree that the price seems high but it does include a 5.4 acre park on the roof.

And it is SF with all of it's labor, earthquake, and environmental requirements.

Joey said...

Wait scratch that. $4b is for phases 1 and 2, including the DTX extension and the train box too I'm pretty sure. The building itself is only $1.2b (well, less, since that number includes the temporary terminal as well). I guess that explains a lot. Suppose it makes sense that the tunnel is the thing guzzling up all that money.

Adirondacker12800 said...

Transbay will become the 'Grand Central of the West

Nah, it's going to be the Millenium station of the West. Even lowly Newark NJ has better train service than Transbay will have. Better bus service too. It will never hope to be 30th Street in Philadelphia. Suburban or East Market in Philadelphia, maybe.

Transbay works great if you want to go to Menlo Park. Doesn't work, if you want to use rail, to go to Oakland much less the other places east, north and south of Oakland. And it doesn't get people from those places to San Francisco. A station parallel to Main and Beale could be designed to do that. BART is at or near capacity. People are going to want to go from San Francisco to Davis or Sacramento or Stockton. Can't do that with the current design.

agbodike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lyqwyd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rafael said...

@ joey -

$2.8 billion for 1.3 miles of tunnel. Things that make you go hmmm...

@ adirondacker12800 -

The priority is getting to from LA/Anaheim to San Francisco. It's not connecting San Jose to Oakland and Sacramento, since Amtrak Capitol Corridor already does an ok job of that.

Should CC be upgraded to 110mph north of Benicia? Probably.

Should the dangerous traffic situation along the Oakland Embarcadero be addressed? Yes, perhaps by putting the road underground and keeping just the rails at grade.

Should the section between San Leandro and Niles be double-tracked? Perhaps.

Should the section between Niles and San Jose Diridon be double-tracked? No, but perhaps a fraction of trains could be routed via the single track through Milpitas instead of the single track through the DENWR and Alviso. Environmental approval for constructing a second track through the salt marshes is very unlikely.

lyqwyd said...

If I remember correctly, phase 1 does not include the train box, so it's 1.2 for the temporary terminal and a bus station, ~1 billion for the tunnel, and another half billion for the train box. That still leaves a little over $2 billion unaccounted. Why we are spending $1.2 billion for a bus station I'm still not sure, but I guess you are right Martin, it's San Francisco, so we will pay about 5-10 times what it should really cost.

I'm starting to think the whole argument over where the trains will go is really a strategy to distract us from the insane costs of the whole transbay terminal project.

Sigh...

lyqwyd said...

aargh, my math was wrong above.
1.2+1+0.5 = 2.7

I should have said leaves a little over 1 billion unaccounted for rather than over 2 billion. I'm sure there's a plan for the remainder, I'm just not sure what it's for.

john said...

on a non-tbt related note... don't know if anyone else mentioned it, but apparently the mayor of visalia says that the CHSRA told him that they weren't getting a stop because the authority was recommending using the BNSF row instead of the hwy99 corridor...

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/42919

jim said...

the squeal is a minor issue. its not a big deal. modern life is noisy.

look, if you don't build the train box now. Sf will proceed with the project on schedule and without the box. and when the time comes for hsr to come into sf, they will risk alternate locations not being available or approved, or they will be on the hook to figure out how to fund and construct a box under an existing completed operating structure.

does hsr want to take that chance? If they do, I can tell you what will happen. they will end up stopping at 4th until further notice.

Nicolas said...

Why don't they just build the Main/Beale station and call it Transbay? Bring both Caltrain and HSR up there, hook it up to the bus terminal with a pedestrian tunnel, and there you go.

Anonymous said...

No TBT and you'll have a lawsuit. Ergo DiFi.

Joey said...

Just widen the curves and unify platform height and at least you eliminate the most serious capacity constraints.

YESonHSR said...

The TBT will be OK as others posted its too far along now and any uproar over its not being used is not worth it for the overall project.In the future it may well be maxed out then other options will be looked at..for now..ie the next 20 years it will be fine.I dont like the design..the trains in the basement and only 3 platforms but hey as Jim stated lets be glad its on the way and hope it looks and works alot better than the images and drawings.

jim said...

they can just put some extra effort into widening the curve. it can be done.

Peter said...

Do they have to build the support columns now even if they don't build the trainbox to start with?

jim said...

One way to speed up the boarding process to handle large volumes of people on limited platform space would be to have people enter and exit through opposite sides of the train.
I can't begin to tell you how annoying it is to try to exit a muni metro train with 8 million pushy people trying to rush on and grab their spot like the train is gonna leave them or something.
Ive taken to pushing them out of the way and making loud comments but it doesnt help.

When people descend and ascend from the ticketing area above the foot traffic should be alternated using the escalators so the people can exit to one platform as people enter from the other side. This would require reconfiguring the platforms - single track-narrow platform-single track narrow platform but it would be a dream come true. does anyone else use this method?

Peter said...

@ Jim

I've only seen that be done with automated people movers at airports.

Martin said...

Everyone should also remember that Transbay held off on starting construction so that the overall project could save money by building the trainbox first. If they had rushed ahead without HSR as originally planned, the total price would have been much higher.

Of course, others may say that they were just after HSR stimulus, but it is still better then building a train box under an already built terminal and im sure a lot cheaper.

jim said...

there was no such thing as stimulus when they started.

Id like to see them do a loop like this and maybe stretch out the curves by cutting corners a and tunneling under buidings if the have to.

Personally I love to see an elevated loop so that arriving pax could get a good look at the city on approach - the city is very photogenic from this approach.

Plus it would be good visual advertsing for hsr people would look up and say.. wow whats that where does it go can we ride it

jim said...

im mean like this

Martin said...

Jim,

The decision to hold off on construction was done earlier this year, after they saw the opportunity to pay for the trainbox earlier than planned.

jim said...

oh i was thinking the project was planned originally to have the train box added later all along

Joey said...

Actually I think that the train box is part of phase 2, but their pushing for it to be done early because of the associated cost and other issues with excavating under an existing building.

無名 - wu ming said...

@jim - totally agreed on the above-ground approach.

Joey said...

Aside from the fact that SF would probably crucify anyone who tried to put an areal along The Embarcadero, could the looped areal approach even provide long enough platforms?

Frank said...

I am confused here. DiFi is asking for $400M to build the train box, but where is this money coming from? I just double checked the CA request for stimulus money, and the only money for SF was:

"$980 million for San Francisco to San Jose, including station improvements, grade separations, electrification and safety state-of-the-art "positive train control" in an upgraded, shared alignment with Caltrain."

So is she asking to take $400M from this number, is she addingin $400M onto the total, is this money coming from the earlier request, or is this coming from some other non-HSR source?

Adirondacker12800 said...

while one can argue that there are flaws.....

Anything less than Star Trek transporter technology has flaws. Even then people will be competing to closer to the transporter station.

Should the section between Niles and San Jose Diridon be double-tracked?

Three would probably be better if not four. There's people in Stockton who want to go to Fremont. There's people in Livermore who want to get to San Jose. There's people in Calistoga who want to get to Oakland. San Jose along with San Francisco may think they are the navel of the universe. They aren't. There might even be people in Santa Rosa who when they aren't headed to San Francisco may want to get to, imagine this, Fresno or Los Angeles. I bet they would be willing to use a High Speed Train to do that. Or the five million people not on the Peninsula can sit in traffic.

Environmental approval for constructing a second track through the salt marshes is very unlikely.

Other people, Amtrak included, manage to do it. 20,000 people decided to show up Meadowlands, it got a bit crowded.
For some reason they didn't buy round trip tickets and overwhelmed the TVMs in Secaucus on their way home after overwhelming the TVMs in Penn Station on their way to the concert ( passengers changing trains need to go through turnstiles to change between the levels.) The upper level serves the NEC. It's a bit busy, Portal Bridge is inadequate. They, Amtrak, NJTransit and the Port Authority, are busy building 5 new tracks and two bridges. There will be seven tracks for a short while until the remove the current two tracks and old bridge.


This would require reconfiguring the platforms - single track-narrow platform-single track narrow platform but it would be a dream come true. does anyone else use this method?

Yes it's called the Spanish Solution or the Barcelona Solution. Used all over the world for over a century.

Frank said...

...if it comes out ouf "station improvements" there is no money left for anything else...

YESonHSR said...

It was not submitted by CAHSR. It was submitted by the transit commision..and speaking of money wondering if that yet unknow amount
(1.2-4billion) will also be announced and to whom at the time of the ARRA funds? sure would be nice to add the 4billion to the pot as we very well could get all the money we asked for and enough left over for the other good projects

YESonHSR said...

Speaking of the cost of TBT it might the bus ramps that run on the upper levels and will connect to the Bay Bridge that is making it pricey..yes the buses will get a beautiful view of the city..thou there is supposed to be a large light well that will reach down to the rail level..And I love that new Berlin station..beautiful

Joey said...

There is a light well, but the amount of the station platforms that will have any effect on is tiny. Most of it will just be a subway station. Though they could add some spaciousness pretty easily by removing sections of the mezzanine for higher ceilings.

jim said...

ultimately the only thing the public will care about is if the trains run on time. No cares what the bart stations look like as long as the trains show up.

YESonHSR said...

@Jim ..your a city boy! ITS the art of train travel to arrive/leave from a beautiful station and not a tube!! kinda like Gare Du Nord vs Penn Station
now what is nicer? thou I think LAUS with its glass train shed will look better at the platform than TBT by far.

jim said...

yes but sf isn't paris and we haven't the luxury of time, money and political will to dither on such things. Otherwise we'll be here until the cows come home.

jim said...

by the way moving the station to beale or main would still give you a basic subway station with a street on top. The only place in town with room for a gare d'Austerlitz is at 4th.

lyqwyd said...

@Martin

Doing the train-box now saves $100 million, and probably because of all the other design flaws that have yet to be answered, and the fact that the station has been designed with HSR and Caltrain as an afterthought, will probably in fact cost us more money when they realize they totally screwed something up.

$100 million is 2.5% of the total project cost, and if we are willing to spend 4-5 times more on a train station than has ever been spent on a train station before, then I'm willing to spend an extra 2.5% to get the "train" part of the station right.

The train-box was never intended to be part of the initial station until the stimulus money fell from the sky.

Robert Cruickshank said...

@John: As I understand it, it was always the plan to follow the BNSF ROW from Fresno to Bakersfield. CHSRA wants to follow the UPRR ROW from Merced to Fresno, which is along Highway 99.

lyqwyd said...

@jim

I totally agree, building the station with the possibility of having entrance and exit on different sides of the train is a great idea. Which is another reason I'm opposed to the current train box: It is impossible. They can barely fit the existing platforms, much less a platform on each side of each track.

The train part of the station should be designed for the best operation of the train.

The current plan is to build a big expensive station, and maybe someday we'll think about putting trains in it.

I understand people want to get as much stimulus money to CA, but since we already have far more request than will be funded, I'd rather see the money spent on building the actual rail network and start getting trains tested, than save a little money on a poorly designed empty box.

Anonymous said...

by the way moving the station to beale or main

The proposed alternative is not beale OR main, it's BETWEEN beale and main.

jim said...

Anonymous said...
"by the way moving the station to beale or main

The proposed alternative is not beale OR main, it's BETWEEN beale and main"


Anon, you can't build it between beale and main because that real estate is being developed. At best you might be able to build it underneath one of the towers but youd stil end up with a subway box, not a grand station.

and whats been discussed on this blog by rafael and others is butting it up against the embarcadero bart station by putting it under beal or main for a direct bart transfer. -- either way you get the same basement subway box station.eht only place any where in town that there is room for a grand HSR station is at 4th. So those are the choices. A downtown box or a grand terminal at 4th. take your pick

yoyo said...

what's wrong with having the train in the basement? we're talking about a downtown where space is at a premium.

Taiwan High Speed Rail's terminus is currently at Taipei Main station , and all trains are in the basement. it works just fine, and looks great. The station itself is a historic landmark and it's nice to be able to connect to other transits inside the station. I don't see how having the train above ground adds any more glamor.

jim said...

This is one of the projects that is going in smack between main and beale:
"An enormous high-end condo project at one of San Francisco’s highest profile downtown sites has been approved -- for the second time this decade.
The San Francisco Planning Commission voted unanimously Thursday to provide development company Tishman Speyer with an extra three years to begin construction at the site, which takes half of the block bounded by Main, Folsom and Beale streets.
The commission originally approved the 176-unit project, which will consist of towers reaching 350 feet and 400 feet, in September 2003.
But construction has not begun, despite a six-year construction deadline imposed by commissioners in September 2003.
“We clearly need time for the market conditions to improve,” Tishman Speyer Regional Director Carl Shannon told commissioners Thursday. “The construction loan would be in the range of $450 million.”
Construction of the 201 Folsom Street project is expected to cost $700 million, Shannon said."

Peter said...

Screw the "Grand Station" concept. Build something practical and efficient that isn't butt-ugly and the passengers will come. That's what matters.

jim said...

Id agree just put it in the basement and be done with it.

In fact. knowing how things work around these parts, im 99.9 percent sure thats where its gonna go. They make sure it does.

Adirondacker12800 said...

You can't build it between beale and main because that real estate is being developed. At best you might be able to build it underneath one of the towers but youd stil end up with a subway box, not a grand station.

"Being" is the operative word, they haven't built it yet. If the images on Google satellite are reasonably current it's about half parking lot right now. It doesn't cost much to dig up parking lots. Apparently they have been dithering for 6 years and still don't think the market is right for building. They might just be amenable to a buy out offer.

Someday when the tracks to Sacramento get improved so that you have speeds as fast as the creaky old NEC it might be worth it to have a place in San Francisco to send the trains. Along with the trains that originate in Stockton and Calistoga and Cloverdale and San Jose via the East Bay. Or they can build the Grand Central of the West in Oakland and everybody who wants to get to San Francisco can get on a bus and get stuck in traffic on the Bay Bridge. They won't be able to get on BART because BART is already at capacity. . . ya think having fast - same speed as commuter trains in the Northeast and around Chicago, ones that express through all the places outside of downtown Oakland where BART stops - might attract a few riders?

As for building it under tall buildings if it wants to be the Grand Central of the West it needs a few tall buildings over it. The tracks for Grand Central start to spread out under the sidewalk at 57th Street. They occupy most of Park Ave and then spread out under the tall buildings north of the station. The station itself only covers a small part of the tracks and platforms.

jim said...

well ok adirondack

Im just sayin' good luck tring to get all that worked out with the city - the city that will not be happy with you for taking the train out of the tbt to begin with.

I think you are being a little naive to think all that can be worked out. Unless you have until kingdom come to get it built.

I men I don't care where they put it, Im just providing a dose of reality.


Its not likely to happen.

jim said...

The maor and the board of supervisors are on the same page with having the train box in the tbt. and the next mayor, will be even more on the same page with the BOS and they are all friends of Di Fi and Boxer and them, you know how it works.

Sf is not likely to be pushed around by "outiders" and the train is going in the basement or Ill eat liver and onions. (ewww now I really hope Im right)

lyqwyd said...

I'm not so concerned with where the trains finally go. I think it will be an opportunity lost if it's under the transbay terminal, but not the end of the world.

What I am concerned about is spending $400 million on a box that's not going to be used for at least 10 years, rather than spending it on the actual rails today, which can be used for testing, or building grade separations for caltrain or another existing rail system, which can also be used today.

Unless we get every penny we asked for, almost every other project should be prioritized before the transbay train-box.

jim said...

@lyqwd

well, yes i'd like to see the test track up and running asap as a top priority so that folks can get a look at what it can really do. itll really boost public support.

無名 - wu ming said...

as a 4th generation northern californian, it pains me to say this, but now that i think of it, the west already has a grand central station:

los angeles union station. both in terms of having a ton of systems connect to it, and having that sort of soaring architecture.

SF needs to build a good intermodal transit center for itself. because of SF's geography, it won't ever really be a standalone regional transit hub, and that's OK.

jim said...

fine with me. I hate all this "we have to be world class" nonsense anyway.

Peter said...

@ Wu Ming

I thought San Jose Diridon was the Grand Central of the West...

Historic station, multi-modal, we've got it all.

Or, the only reason it's historic is that no one tore the building down to make room for a practical station.

Hehe

無名 - wu ming said...

SF is world-class, jim. has been for ages, since the gold rush opera house and the barbary coast. that's why the world comes to visit, and that's why any huckster saying SF should try to do something else to be world-class should be thrown in the bay forthwith.

we had a regent selling us the same sort of line at UCD for years, said she wanted to do all this crap "put UC davis on the map." the university/city was like "um, we're already on the map. we do good research and are known for it in the field. go pad your resume somewhere else." now she's at hawaii, i think.

hey, davis has a nice old train station, maybe we can be the grand central of the west (sacramento valley).

jim said...

Lat night I watched a great program on kqed on early san francisco with a focus on architecture. Sin Fire and Gold and it really shed light on why San Franciscans are so adamant about saving everything. Our history was not that long ago, only a few generations, and is still very evident. It may also be a much more significant and dramatic history than that many other cities. It was a really enjoyable program.

Adirondacker12800 said...

it really shed light on why San Franciscans are so adamant about saving everything.

It's too bad they passed on the chance to build a grand station after the fire... oh.. wait... they did... then someone tore it down for a freeway that never got built...

downtownsfer said...

@ Jim said: "Apparently they have been dithering for 6 years and still don't think the market is right for building" in relation to Tishman Speyer's progress at 201 Folsom (the site that would get taken in the Beale Street Alternative).

You should be aware that Tishman Speyer also built The Infinity and got both the Infinity (650 units of housing) and 201 Folsom (725 units of housing) approved at the same time and the City looked at both projects together as a multi-phase project. The developer then started building the towers closest to the Bay and worked back. They just got another three years on their approval and I bet they plan to build 201 as soon as housing prices show signs of strengthening (remember it took them 3 years of physical construction at the Infinity).

I wonder what happens if they start construction before CHSRA figures out where the terminal will be...