Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Joe Biden: CA Well Positioned For HSR Stimulus

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

I'm here in Washington, DC for the week for other business, and unfortunately I wasn't invited to the big HSR confab that Joe Biden and Ray LaHood held today with state leaders. But the outcome was further evidence that California's HSR project is in line for a big windfall this year from the HSR stimulus:

Though California is in the throes of a budget crisis, Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that the state's high-speed rail project is well-positioned to compete for a significant share of the $8 billion that the Obama administration set aside in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for rail lines.

..."The reason why California is looked at so closely -- it's been a priority of your governor, it's been a priority of your Legislature, they've talked about it, a lot of planning has been done," Biden said in a conference call with reporters.

The vice president said the administration wants "to get shovel-ready projects out the door as quickly as we can. . . . So California is in the game," he said.

This reinforces Ray LaHood's previous comments that CA is going to get a ton of HSR money from the federal government. Again, we don't quite know how much, but the amount is likely to be significant.

There was some debate back in 2008 and early 2009 about whether the promised federal commitment to HSR would actually materialize. Clearly, it has. Obviously that needs to be an ongoing commitment, and that is where the battle over the 2009 Transportation Bill will become so important. But with Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Ray LaHood, we seem to have the right team in place to ensure that the feds will follow through on HSR.


Brandon in California said...

And... Biden and LaHood's laying the ground work for the California infusion is telling in more ways than what you state... It tells other would-be HSR regions to shift gears because this is the direction the administration wants them to go.

Although it is a great time to be a supporter of HSR and telling yester-year's naysayers, "I told you so," but there is still much work to be done... for CHSRA.

Environmental reviews need to be completed, final selection of alignment selected, ROW acquisition, station designs and construction initiated, track construction, selecting cars, selecting an operator, etc etc, on and on.

All good stuff.

Along that line of thought, I was alerted to the CHSRA site by another poster... a report to the Board tomorrow will discuss the LA Union Station and evaluation of 3 station ideas. Each were 6 track/3 platform designs; however, the recommendation is an elevated structure running parallel above the existing Metrolink/Amtrak platforms. The other options included a mined station with the same footprint as the aerial, but underneath everything, including the Metro Subway Station. And finally, a station near the LA River.

Anon said...

I wonder if they'll give Dirodon and Kopp the billions before or after the CHSRA audit?

This is like Enron/Madoff waiting to happen

Morris Brown said...

The amazing thing about this article from the LA Times on the Biden statement:

LA Times on Biden

is this statement from Morshed:

"Mehdi Morshed, executive director of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said two sections of the project could meet the Recovery Act criteria for high-speed rail: of having contracts awarded by 2012 and work completed by 2017. The sections would be those between L.A. and Anaheim, at a cost of $3 billion, and between San Francisco and San Jose, at a cost of $4 billion to $5 billion, he said.

Now this statement is not what he told the Authority's board at their May meeting, when his report stated, the only corridor that could quality was the LA to Anaheim corridor.

That's really going to look good to the Feds, when they see that California is trying to trick the Feds into believing the project qualifies for stimulus funds.

Eric M said...

Or maybe Morris, the planning and engineering is farther along than you realize. And this has changed his stance as well

Brandon in California said...

Morris Brown,
Oh Gosh, the Feds read papers like everyone else. Perhaps blog sites are on their reading lists too?

That said, no critically thinking person believes everything they read online or in the paper as gospel.

Elizabeth Hazzelbeck go home.

What was in the LA Times could be misquote or a minor slip... relative to the May CHSRA Board meeting and report on teh ARRA funding.

Ironically, I just scanned it.

Because I care... said...

Late news, but the 6/4 CHSRA Board meeting will be broadcast:

found at:

Clem said...

I think they may try to spend a few billion on the peninsula before the EIR/EIS is finished... if grade seps are exempted from environmental review.

Anonymous said...

Sigh. Are we there yet? Im bored. What's taking so long? I'm going to go pick out Muni's new fleet.

luis d. said...

I think that since HSR has to prove itself to the U.S that the Feds must ensure that the Ca. HSR system be fully funded (on their part) & built ASAP to show that it will work. That will give us the chance to build out our system first and get the tourism and spotlight from the Nation. Everyone tries it because it's the first one built, everyone loves it making it even more successfull.

May I note that the tourism alone will be huge, and that the tourists don't deserve tunnel sight's through the Peninsula!

Andrew said...

Off topic, but I've been messing around with Google Maps again, designing a shopping concourse to connect the TTC, Embarcadero BART, and the Ferry Building: link

What do you guys think, under Fremont St. or Beale St.?

Sam said...

Andrew - My vote is Beale Street.

Why would you want to connect the Ferry Building underground?

YesonHSR said...

Sure wish that 8 billion would have been 30Billion like GMs..I hope to see some real long term funding acts in the next year or 2.

Andrew said...

@Sam: It's not near as important, but it would tie together the different modes of transit a bit better.

Sam said...

@Andrew - I guess, but you unload from ferries at ground level and enter the Ferry Building (which I don't think we should discourage). From there, it's a nice walk across a couple pedestrian plazas that are often used for markets of different types (farmer's market in front of Ferry Building, arts and crafts across the Embarcadero). Trying to remove pedestrian life from these areas would seem to repeat the disastrous effects that Embarcadero Center has had on street life around the base of their buildings (due to the overhead crossings).

Not to mention, the tunnel would be absurdly expensive, since you've already got the BART tunnel there to worry about interfering with.

Sam said...

@Andrew - also, I don't think the number of people using the direct tunnel link would be enough to support any retail within the tunnel (how many people are going to need to go directly from BART to Ferry or vice versa at any given time? Even after HSR, how many people are going to make a direct HSR to Ferry connection or vice versa? I can't imagine either being large numbers) so the tunnel would likely be desolate and dead UNLESS you actively encouraged people to use it for other reasons, thus pulling life off of the street.

Anonymous said...

Well the thing I like about the ferry building tunnel is that it would make it easier to explain to people how to get from bart to amtrak ( located next foor to the ferry building, and give them a direct way of getting there. The other two options I like too. Currently there is no funding for such a walkway but city hall is proposing various fees on transbay neighborhood developments to pay for things such as the DTX and pedestrain walkways.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a developer, if they saw enough potential, could bo a sort of narrow underground mall on beale or fremont. Osmething like this

Andrew said...

@Sam: You're probably right. The existing subway tunnel might also pose a problem for a Fremont St. tunnel, I'm not sure how deep under Market St. it is at that point. There are also water table issues to consider the closer you get to the bay.

I was inspired by the underground mall that connects Osaka Station with Higashi Umeda, Nishi Umeda, and JR Kitashinichi Stations. But I have to remind myself that San Francisco is not Osaka.

@Jim: An underground shopping mall was exactly what I had it mind. Which picture in your gallery were you referring to?

Andrew said...

P.S.- And I'm sure we can agree that connecting the TTC with Embarcadero BART/Muni is important, if not essential, especially since East Bay isn't getting it's own HSR station anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

this one the last pic in the "DX share" folder. Anyway don't over think the tunnel... it need only be a cut and cover just below the surface of fremont street. no different than the mezz level of the bart stations. It would have to connect to the mezz - (ticekting) level anyway not the platform levels. I might also add that a surface level plaza/walkway via one of the alleys ( some of them are already quite nice) that run from mish to market could be used with a minimum of open weatherproofing. - allowing people to enjoy trees grass art and air along with espresso stands and maybe an outdoor market place. go to google satellite and zoom down to Ecker Place, an alley between mish and market parallel to fremont, it runs from an existing plaza/park at stevenson to mission and it is actually one the preferred alternatives being considered by the city for such a walkway to connect tbt to market st.

spence said...

@ Cruickshank,

Next time just show up if you want to go. Just act like you are supposed to be there. I'm always a little surprised how often that works.