Friday, October 30, 2009

Does Russell Peterson Know What He's Doing?

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

In response to a recent Wired Magazine article that declared "NIMBYs won't be able to stop California HSR," one of the more prominent Peninsula NIMBYs, Russell Peterson, decided to not go gently into that dark night. He wrote an email in reply to the article that was itself posted on the Wired site this week. It's a remarkable piece of cognitive dissonance - Peterson is suing to demand that Union Pacific's rights to the Caltrain ROW be recognized as giving UPRR a veto, while at the same time calling for a tunnel to be built on the corridor. The problem with a tunnel, of course, is that it makes it difficult - not impossible, but difficult - for UPRR to continue freight service on the route.

To be clear, the lawsuit (.pdf) is the least intrusive legal action one can take. It is called “declaratory relief” and simply asks for a legal interpretation of the existing contractual rights of Union Pacific. Union Pacific did sell the right of way to the Peninsula joint powers board, but it retained permanent rights. One of those rights, exclusive development of intercity rail, and the exclusion of high-speed rail development on a portion of its right of way makes the situation unclear. And Union Pacific has written letters (.pdf), in May 2008, to the California High-Speed Rail [Authority] stating it will not allow high-speed rail on certain sections of the right of way it owns outright. To imply otherwise is a factual error and a misleading statement in the article.

The problem is that Peterson is overstating his case. Caltrain has argued that the 1991 purchase agreement gives it, and not UPRR, ultimate power, that Peterson is reading the agreement wrong, that there's no conflict and that they have a "cordial relationship" with UPRR. Clem took a look at this over at his blog in August. The key section in the agreement appears to be section 8.3:

8.3.(c) In the event that Owner demonstrates a reasonably certain need to commence construction on all or substantially all the length of the Joint Facilities (including User's Cahill/Lick Line) of a transportation system that is a significant change in the method of delivery of Commuter Service which would be incompatible with Freight Service on the Joint Facilities (other than User's Cahill/Lick Line), Owner may, at its sole cost and expense, file no sooner than nine months prior to the commencement of such construction for permission from the ICC to abandon the Freight Service over the portion of the Join Facilities (excluding User's Cahill/Lick Line) upon which the construction is to occur. User shall not object to or oppose such a filing; however, it shall be allowed to participate in the abandonment proceedings.

Of course, Caltrain and CHSRA have shown no desire to kick UPRR off the corridor. Much to the contrary - they are already in discussions with each other about accommodating existing freight rail service.

And that is going to be difficult to do with a tunnel. The tunnel would have to be high enough to allow overhead wires to give clearance room for double-stacked container cars, and would have to have adequate ventilation for diesel locomotives, since it is extremely unlikely that UPRR will use electric power for this route alone.

That would undermine Peterson's stated support for a tunnel:

Likewise, Caltrain rail experts told a civic audience on Oct. 3 that a tunnel is not even twice as expensive as current plans for elevated rail. Given that environmental and other required mitigation costs add significant expense to the elevated option, the tunneling proposal offers interesting development opportunities along the route. Besides these opportunities it seems odd to promote 21st-century high-speed rail and then proceed to plan a 1950s- and 1960s-style elevated structure. The not-so-subtle inference that opponents are NIMBY is simplistic. Boston’s “Big Dig” buried a major freeway, the Loma Prieta earthquake took out the Cypress Freeway (now a park with renewed neighborhoods, etc.) and the Embarcadero Freeway (which led to renewal of the Ferry Building and surrounding area), and Berkeley buried its rail (and only paid a 10 percent premium vs. above grade). All of these projects brought both transportation and civic value to their respective areas. Why community involvement/engagement is so readily marginalized is puzzling to me with such clear examples of revitalized communities.

This is basically an incoherent grab bag of claims. First, the elevated structure would not be "1950s- and 1960s-style," there are 21st century methods of building elevated structures in ways that fit well with the surrounding community. San Carlos hasn't exactly been destroyed by its elevated segment. The Big Dig isn't exactly an argument in his favor, and neither the Mandela Parkway nor the Embarcadero replacement projects were tunnels. Finally, Berkeley paid the extra costs of what was mostly a cut-and-cover project by taxing itself to do so. Unless Peterson believes that the mid-Peninsula cities plan to tax themselves to pay for a tunnel, then he'll be looking to the sale of air rights - a sale that won't be possible if UPRR preserves its freight service rights on the existing at-grade ROW.

Peterson's letter continues in this scattershot vein:

The implication of the story is that this project is coming, like it or not. This may be a correct conclusion based on politics and political connections but Zach makes no arguments for it. Eventually he admits opponents rightfully have concerns, then dismisses those concerns. Caltrain recently issued a letter describing the ill effects of raising a source of noise (train horns) 14 feet in the air and how it is working to correct the problem. Well, elevating the whole train to 15 feet and increasing the speed would create more noise — thus Caltrain even agrees. The environmental impact report is deficient — has anyone explored the idea that people expected environmental laws be followed when they voted “for” this project?

Of course, "this project is coming" is based on the fact that the people of California voted for it and expect the HSR project to be built, and not held up or have its costs driven up by NIMBYism. Peterson claims NIMBYs just have "concerns" and want "oversight," but they've never really shown any support for the concept of high speed rail. Instead they prefer to undermine HSR's effectiveness or even its very existence to suit their own needs, believing that their priorities are more important than those of the state as a whole.

As to train noise, this is a complex matter. But one aspect of it is quite simple: on an elevated structure, there will be no more horns, period. Further studies will demonstrate the difference between those horns and the noise made by passing electric trains, which would not be running at full speed along the Peninsula anyway.

If Peterson's goal was to show the world that Peninsula NIMBYs are a principled group of people just trying to help HSR get better, he has completely failed. Instead he has revealed Peninsula NIMBYism for what it truly is: an incoherent collection of arguments held together by a desire to place their own personal vision of urban aesthetics above the vision, the needs, and the stated preferences of millions of their fellow Californians.


Clem said...

Caltrain has argued that the 1991 purchase agreement gives it, and not UPRR, ultimate power

Caltrain has argued no such thing. Caltrain has said that the relationship with UPRR is cordial and that the trackage rights agreement will be respected.

Peterson's suit seems based on the premise that there is some sort of conflict between Caltrain and UPRR, which there is not.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what UPRR thinks of Peterson's frivolous lawsuit? If their relationship with CalTrain is cordial, then perhaps they're simply shaking their heads very, very slowly. Can you say "sore loser!"

Matt said...

That is the thing with the lawsuit. Even if he wins Caltrain and UP can just agree to construction with the condition that freight service will continue.

Rafael said...

Russell Peterson's argument hinges on the intercity passenger rights on the SF peninsula that Southern Pacific retained along with freight rights when it sold the corridor to PCJPB in 1991.

Some context here: in 1970, Congress set up the National Passenger Railroad Corporation (NPRC) that has operated trains under the Amtrak brand ever since. The purpose of the bill was to let freight rail operators divest themselves of their obligations to operate money-losing passenger trains for a pittance while appeasing those - especially those in the Northeast - who insisted on keeping passenger rail active as a public service.

One of the companies that divested itself of passenger rail operations was Union Pacific. By contrast, Southern Pacific did not.

In 1996, Union Pacific purchased Southern Pacific and with it those intercity passenger rights in the SF peninsula. The brand name Southern Pacific disappeared. Since SF-San Jose isn't considered an intercity distance and Union Pacific handed off its obligations to run passenger trains to Amtrak decades ago, the relevant clauses in the 1991 contract may have been rendered null and void by the acquisition of SP.

An additional twist is that the SP acquisition was technically a merger in which SP was designated as the "surviving entity", though its name was immediately changed to Union Pacific. Confusing, isn't it?

However, IANAL. In California, UPRR has trackage agreements with PCJPB, ACE, SMART and SCRRA in addition to those with NPRC, CCJPA and Caltrans Division of Rail. Clearly, divesting itself of obligations to operate passenger trains does not mean Amtrak is the only organization UPRR can sell passenger rail trackage rights to.

So what does all this mean for those mythical intercity rail passenger rights Russell Petersen is hanging his hat on? Well, either UP forfeited those in the context of the SP acquisition or else, someone is going to have to buy them - possibly pro forma. That someone might well be PCJPB, since it may well end up acting as the HSR infrastructure operator in the SF peninsula. As long as there are baby bullet trains ducking and weaving between the tracks, you really want just one organization (i.e. Caltrain) to have maintenance responsibility and dispatch authority for the entire right of way. Therefore, it is actually appropriate at this stage for CHSRA to let PCJPB handle negotiations with UPPR regarding intercity passenger rights in the SF peninsula on its behalf.

UPRR's statements and actions indicate it has no interest in getting back into the passenger rail business, it just want to keep running freight service in the SF peninsula and for CHSRA to otherwise stay out of its hair, i.e. to acquire the rights of way it needs statewide from someone else.

It's true that the 1991 contract gives PCJPB the "nuclear option" of unilaterally terminating freight service in the even that planned changes to commuter service make a continuation of the present arrangement impossible. The clause was probably intended to leave open the option of converting the corridor to broad gauge for BART service, though that is not spelled out.

Putting stations in tunnels might also qualify until and unless UPRR cleans up its diesel emissions (EPA Tier 3/4 is coming anyhow). Grade separations that involve gradient too steep for freight trains to negotiate might also qualify.

However, neither the intercity passenger rail rights nor the "nuclear option" matter one whit as long as PCJPB and UPRR are negotiating in good faith with the intention of preserving heavy freight rail operations in the SF peninsula, possibly even enabling AAR plate H operations.

I really don't think UPRR needs busybodies like Russell Peterson to negotiate, let alone litigate, on its behalf.

Clem said...

It bears pointing out that these "intercity passenger rights" are not some unused future clause that may or may not be invoked for HSR.

The clause exists for a reason. UPRR exercises these rights every day and has exercised them every day since the 1996 merger with SP, by allowing intercity passenger trains to operate on the PCJPB's property between Lick and Santa Clara. Those are the Capitol Corridor trains (Amtrak California) as well as Amtrak's long-distance Coast Starlight.

You don't have to be a lawyer to understand the practical intent of the clause.

Bianca said...

This is basically an incoherent grab bag of claims.

Exactly. In the local Menlo Park/Palo Alto papers, the stated desire was to put Caltrain and HSR in a tunnel, and leave freight running at grade, which is a complete non-starter. Asking for the expense of a tunnel without getting rid of the annoyance of active rail crossings is a thinly veiled attempt to kill the project altogether.

neroden@gmail said...

I'm pretty sure UPRR could be talked into using electric engines for the Peninsula corridor, for the following reason:
(1) They're cheaper to operate and maintain.
(2) The cost of electrification is in the infrastructure, which they would be piggybacking on for free.
(3) They're *already* switching all cars for the Peninsula at railyards near the south end. If they were running through trains, they would want to keep the diesel power on, but since they're not, there's no reason for them not to use a custom set of locomotives for the locals and switchers.

neroden@gmail said...

"The clause exists for a reason. UPRR exercises these rights every day and has exercised them every day since the 1996 merger with SP, by allowing intercity passenger trains to operate on the PCJPB's property between Lick and Santa Clara."

I guess what UPRR gets from that is that they get the Amtrak track usage payments rather than PCJPB getting the Amtrak track usage payments? Anyway, the rights still appear to be unused north of San Jose.

Rafael: I'd like to see some evidence that SP didn't divest itself of its intercity passenger service obligation by joining in Amtrak. It was not on the list of railroads which stayed out of Amtrak (South Shore Line in Indiana, Denver & Rio Grande Western, and Chicago Rock Island and Pacific). The Southern Railway also stayed out for a while but eventually joined.

Note that lines deemed to be "too short" to be intercity still carried passenger service obligations until 1983, which I think included the Peninsula Line on SP, but also included a mass of lines in the Northeast (then run by Conrail, now by Metro-North, SEPTA and so forth).

I"m not sure exactly what the rules were after 1983 because in all the cases I know (in the east) the lines were sold to the passenger authority and the former operator retained only freight rights.

Anonymous said...

Of course you are going to have to leave freight running at grade for as long as freight service lasts in Palo Alto. If BART were to cut and cover a tunnel to replace Caltrain in Palo Alto the UP would be left on the surface until it withers away.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how UP would be the least bit interested in this lawsuit when they are completely capable of working with caltrain and chsra.

dave said...

I agree with nerogen@gmail's first point in that UPRR should consider purchasing a few electric locomotives for exclusive use on the peninsula and then swich power to diesel where possible around and after San Jose or even Gilroy.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Thanks for the clarification in the first comment, Clem. Didn't intend to make it sound like Caltrain was exercising a power play on UPRR, and my original wording confused the point.

Anonymous said...

Peninsula sapce constraints solution.

Anonymous said...

Truly amazing what the commentators here, who are on the outside, seem to think they understand.

Just like when the first lawsuit was started, and it was dismissed... amazing how that action has resulted in de-certification of the EIR and created perhaps a major obstacle for the project, since right now they have no route to the central valley.

In the end, it doesn't matter one bit, about what is written in tie blog, only what the courts decide.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 2:17,
For the umpteenth time! The EIR was NOT, repeat, NOT decertified and no major obstacle for the project was created (at least not on this planet). Why is it so difficult for some to acknowledge the facts?

For anyone. If CalTrain/PCJPB has such a "trackage rights agreement" with UPRR on the Peninsula, and their relationship is reported to be "cordial," why can't this arrangement simply be extended from Lick/SJ to Gilroy?

I've read so much about UPRR not wanting to deal with CHSRA on their ROW from SJ to Gilroy. Yet magically go north of Lick/SJ, and the relationship is fine. Perhaps more freight is transported on the line between SJ and Gilroy, but it's not much more than on the Peninsula, and UPRR will never need more than two-tracks in that segment.

Simply put: make ROW agreement between Lick/SJ and Gilroy the exact same as Caltrain/PCJPB from SJ to SF.

dave said...

@ anon 2:17

You know what is amazing, that you type something on this blog and expect it to be true, wich it is not.

Then you claim that this blog doesn't matter? Well why are you here?

That arguement of the EIR being de-certified is the only leg you have to stand on when it comes to your opposition and guess what, It's being kicked out from under you and you'll be left on your a$$ crying that nobody cares about your lame arguements.

Anonymous said...

Happy Halloween. Its extra gorgeous in the City today with the bay bridge still closed! Imagine it couyld be like this everyday with folks slipping quietly in and out of town via high speed rail. No honking and yelling and congestion. Just calm civility. The bay has adapted very well without the bridge. hsr, some additional ferries, and bart improvements and we could have saved billions by not rebuilding.

Peter said...

Amen, Jim.

Just use that same money on upgrading the BART fleet, and we'd be golden.

Unknown said...

@Jim/Peter. What I thought was interesting was that the number of commuters crossing the bay bridge (including busses), was roughly equal to those coming via BART.

I think there still needs to be a bridge there, but future expansion via rail seems like a no-brainer.

What would the cost of a new 10-lane bridge be versus the cost of a new transbay tube? Half the bridge is currently at, what? $6B?

Peter said...

I'd argue for Dumbarton Rail, BART trains with higher capacity, and run BART trains more frequently under the Bay before we build a second Transbay Tube.

The leaner 'seat' option on the new BART trains is definitely worth looking at in order to increase capacity. BART may be imperfect, but it's what we have.

Anonymous said...

The more standee/fewer seat option is not a popular idea with current riders but may be the only solution for the rush hour crunch for now. I say use the bench seats like they do back east running the length of the car leaving room for standees bikes and other stuff.

I wonder if since the hold up is at the downtown stations, what if every other inbound train skipped two stops.
train 1 passes embarcadero and only serves montgomery, skips powell and serves civic then train2 would stop at emb and powell but skip monte and civic?
would the net result speed things up or am I missing something.

Peter said...

Upgrading the BART fleet and starting up Dumbarton Rail would be a lot cheaper than building a second Transbay Tube, I think.

And yes, I do understand that BART is basically at capacity in the Tube, but that's a problem that can be solved.

Off-the-shelf PTC equipment, maybe from a subway in Europe... How would it be so much different than BART?

Unknown said...

More seat capacity and even shorter headways (they're already pretty short through the tunnel aren't they?) are of course must-haves, but those bandaids aren't going to provide the necessary capacity to handle the coming population growth.

I'd really rather not have Oshiya on BART.

Rafael said...

@ Peter -

is BART at capacity in both directions? How about the Bay and Golden Gate bridges?

The problem here isn't lack of transportation capacity, it's that everyone and their grandmother is forced to commute into downtown SF to begin with.

Companies need incentives to set up shop in the North and East Bay, at least for back office operations. Land use needs to follow existing transportation capacity, not vice versa.

Anonymous said...

Those crazy asians have an answer for everything.

FAct is, BART fully intends to build another tube and as we know what bart wants to do, bart eventually does. They simply never give up. The plan is for a four track tube ( bart and conventional rail) to be built around 20 years from now or so. So they have to manage until then.

Frankly I dont see what the problem is now. The travel times are acceptable. and yes the trains are crowded. All subways are crowded. Bay areans are just very wispy people ( I love them, but its true) Everything here has to be extra special. People here still want a lounge car on the train. I mean come on. Its a 40 minute ride home. Just deal with it. Not only that, but its the passengers themselves who make it unpleasant not bart.
Its the passengers who can't behave, who make a mess, who cant grasp the "don't block the door" concept, and the list goes on. They cause their own mess and no amount of billion dollar tunneling and tubing can turn animals into humans. So just leave em be. Maybe they'll figure it out on their own.

I will say though that when HSR starts running in CA. I want to see some strict social policy implemented. People who can't conduct themselves like proper ladies and gentlemen will be removed and denied passage. Period.

Anonymous said...

The simplest answer to rush hour is flex time. problem solved.

political_incorrectness said...

I wonder if it'd be easier to build another tunnel in DT SF to utilize the Transbay Tube more. Capacity should be able to allow trains to run every 2 minutes but because of many passengers getting off in downtown, there needs to be another tunnel in downtown San Francisco to allow every 2 minutes in the Tube.

Anonymous said...

no where to put it unless / until they decide to go out geary. but like I said they already have a plan. for another tube.

Adirondacker12800 said...

The plan is for a four track tube ( bart and conventional rail) to be built around 20 years from now or so. So they have to manage until then.

NYC has one them there doohickeys. Runs between Queens and Manhattan. They started to talk about it in the 40s ( or even earlier if you count the second phase of the IND subway which was never built ). They started to dig holes for it in the 1969 then ran out of money. Actually completed it in 1989. First subway train ran through it in soon afterward but didn't connect to the rest of the subway in Queens until 2001. The conventional trains should start running through it in 2015. The Second Avenue subway was part of the plan. That should open just under a century after they started to talk about it and 50 years after they first turned dirt or in NYC's case, jackhammered asphalt. NJTransit opened the Kearney Connection 1996. They use it for Midtown Direct service. It was astoundingly successful. ... as in "goodness me we have to build that tunnel we have been talking about for decades much sooner than we planned on" Standing room only as far out as Summit and Metropark isn't unusual. The new tunnels should open in 2017. If BART has the same kind of schedule they should have been digging holes in 1983.

These conventional trains you speak of...Would it be the kind where passengers from Walnut Creek would have to make every stop in Berkeley and Oakland like they do on BART or the kind where they don't? Or maybe even passengers from, I know they have been talking about this since the Gold Rush... Sacramento!? Even Stockton Where are they going to get off the train?

...How about the second BART line deep under the combined HSR/commuter station between Main and Beale? BART could have it's southern entrances along the concourse for the other trains and it's northern entrances on Market Street..... go out Geary maybe,....

Its the passengers who can't behave....

Pesky passengers. Just think of how fast the train could make it from Millbrae to Fremont if it didn't have to stop for passengers. But seeing how the whole reason for BART is to move passengers it would be kind of silly to run empty trains back and forth wouldn't it?

flowmotion said...

@ Rafeal -

Companies need incentives to set up shop in the North and East Bay, at least for back office operations. Land use needs to follow existing transportation capacity, not vice versa.

This has already largely happened, and it has encouraged a ton of automotbile-oriented sprawl. (Companies with significant "back-office" operations, like Chevron or PacBell/AT&T moved out of SF years ago.)

The problem here isn't lack of transportation capacity, it's that everyone and their grandmother is forced to commute into downtown SF to begin with.

As a practical matter, no parts of the East or North bay have good transit capacity, except for downtown Oakland & Berkeley.

If the goal is "transit-oriented development", downtown SF is the foremost place one will see significant and meaningful results. Look at the Transbay area development plan as just the beginning of the real-world improvements of improving transit capacity into San Francisco.

Sometimes one needs to step back and look at the forest from the trees.

Anonymous said...

Anon: 7:23 AM

Now assuming you can read, which is maybe a assumption that should not be made, here is the language from the write of Mandate.....

1. On the First Cause of Action, Petitioners and Plaintiffs TOWN OF ATHERTON,
RAIL FOUNDATION, and BAYRAIL ALLIANCE shall have judgment against Respondent and
Defendant CALIFORNIA HIGH-SPEED RAIL AUTHORITY. A Peremptory Writ of Mandate
10 shall issue under seal of the Court, ordering Respondent and Defendant CALIFORNIA HIGH-

to rescind and set aside its determinations to certify the Final
12 Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Study ("EIR/EIS") for the Bay Area to
13 Central Valley High-Speed Rail Project, and to approve said Project.

Respondent and Defendant
14 CALIFORNIA HIGH SPEED RAIL AUTHORITY shall file a written return to said writ
15 demonstrating its compliance on or before the seventieth day following service of the writ upon
16 the Respondent.
17 2. On

Now I have in bold so you can read, if you can, see where the EIR/EIR has been de-certified...

the Authority has not challenged this --- they have accepted this -- what more is to be said.

flowmotion said...

@jim - BART passengers are the model of good behavior when compared the thundering herds on Muni Metro. :)

dave said...

@ Jim, Peter

I think it would be way cheaper to just hire some more BART employees to do this all day and problem solved, lol. No need for a second transbay tube.

But seriously, it will be unavoidable to build a second tube.

Peter said...

@ Anon 5:30

Yes, the route has been decertified. Theoretically, the plaintiffs could appeal the ruling and try and get continuing planning stopped, but I don't think they're going to be able to win on their argument in favor of that.

Joey said...

My understanding of this is that the project level EIR must be amended and re-submitted, but program level work may continue.

"The Court concludes that under the circumstances of this case, staying project-level activities is not appropriate pursuant to Public Resources Code section 21168.9(a)(2) and pertinent case law."

Joey said...

BTW that was posted two days ago (Go to and search 34-2008-8000022. It's the first result).

Anonymous said...

@dave video

Thats just unreal. I love how they have proper uniforms and gloves and all. so civilized yet uncivilized at the same time. Still, notice the passenger are well behaved unlike americans who revel in bad behavior.

The trains would be far more pleasant without the passengers just as the city would be far more pleasant without the people.

unfortunately, people and passengers though are a necessary evil.

as for people living and working and where, one great benefit of hsr will be that it will even out the job/housing/population mix throughout the state so that everyone want be traveling from a to b, but from b to a b to b and a to a as well.
Why is it that people have a habit of clumping up together. Notice they drive that way, all together in a clump instead of spreading out.

and wow its nice here today with the bridge closed,. you should see it. its a dream. we've got to make this permanent. or at least start putting people in nevada instead.

If we don't, then they are gonna ruin hsr too. We will build it, then they will ruin it. we need to build it, then close the gate.

James said...


They weren't just talking about Sacramento or Stockton Walnut Creek since the gold rush, they were
and before all the lines and bridges were completed, there were
intermodal connections.
It will take a few years to replace the rail transportation system in the western states. It will also take the cooperation of politicians over decades. The same politicians who get distracted on a weekly basis.

James said...

HSR critics in California question the construction cost and operating ability to pay its way, where a modern HSR is being added to a disconnected and limited existing rail patchwork greatly in need of upgrade and modernization.

Yet the same questioning is going on regarding
HSR_in_the_UK where a true HSR line is to be the crowning piece on an otherwise extensively interconnected rail transportation system of systems. Both HSR being added at opposite ends of the rail transport spectrum, yet it seems both have merit and should be built. Once the UK HSR is connected to existing lines it will be an immediate full system. Meanwhile the California system will hopefully serve as an inspiration for governments to fill in the missing pieces.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 5:30,
anon "Can't read" here. OK, OK, you're right on all counts: the EIR was decertified, the NIMBY lawsuit has thrown a serious obstacle in front of the HSR project, and there is no route from the Bay Area to Central Valley. There, are you happy now?!!

Hopefully I'll become literate by the time HSR is up and running on the Peninsula...HAHH!

FWIW, an EIR being amended and re-submitted (which is what's happening on this planet) is completely different from a complete decertification. Oh well, it's your world.

(idiocy at its finest!)

Clem said...

What has opponents salivating is the prospect of filing more CEQA lawsuits outside the narrow scope of the judge's findings against the CHSRA, under the pretext that the "entire" EIR has been decertified. It's not at all clear that the rest of the EIR will be opened to legal challenge.

The UP ROW issue is a red herring, in my opinion, because that right of way is not in a desirable location. Running 200 mph trains through downtown Morgan Hill and Gilroy is an idea that will eventually be discredited. For now, the transit oriented gobbledygook is drowning out common sense. Common sense is slowly emerging in the new alignment alternatives along 101 and east of Gilroy.

Joey said...


Just a technical point, the business plan shows that they won't be running trains past 150mph until they are south of Gilroy.

In fact, the only place in the entire system where they plan to run above 200mph is in the Central Valley, between Stockton, Bakersfield, and the Pacheco Pass.

Anonymous said...

Clem @ 946,
What the hell are you talking about?!
The UPRR through MH/Gilroy isn't undesirable; it makes as much sense as running HSR down the Caltrain corridor or various Metrolink routes of SoCal.
And you of all people should know that HSR never planned on running 200 mph through MH/Gilroy.
Still venting are we of the authority's choice of Pacheco Pass?
Oh well.

Anonymous said...

Clem, the UP ROW isn't a red herring if that was the route CHSRA was assuming for the program EIR. Or is the entire program EIR full of red herrings subject to sudden change??? Until CHSRA finds another route, the EIR remains de-certified despite whatever spin you can try to kick up.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, Clem, you had to know that CHSRA never had any intention of going 200mph in the Coyote Valley (Gilroy/MH).

Peter said...

Well, they may be able to if they picked the 101/Express alignment they talked about in the San Jose-Merced meetings.

Joey said...

The UPRR/Monterey Highway alignment is preferable, but 101 remains a viable option. Note that the UPRR corridor doesn't NECESSARILY depend on UP sharing it's right-of-way, though their unwillingness to cooperate makes it a bit more difficult to construct (because a new ROW will have to be built). This corridor will certainly require some creative thinking, but it is not, by any means, impossible.

@anon 10:59
Until CHSRA finds another route, the EIR remains de-certified despite whatever spin you can try to kick up.

Really? The route itself is fine, all CHSRA has to do is avoid the UPRR ROW (by constructing a new one adjacent to UP or by using the 101 corridor which they have not eliminated at this point). Also it's not like they have to redo the whole EIR, they just have to amend the sections deemed inadequate and resubmit it. And it has been explicitly stated that regardless, program level work may continue.

Clem said...

the business plan shows that they won't be running trains past 150mph until they are south of Gilroy.

you of all people should know that HSR never planned on running 200 mph through MH/Gilroy.

you had to know that CHSRA never had any intention of going 200mph in the Coyote Valley (Gilroy/MH).

You're all mistaken.

Please refer to slide 13 of this presentation. What is shown in the green curve along the top is 217 mph (350 km/h) through Gilroy and Morgan Hill. To get yourselves oriented, the Gilroy HSR station is located at km point 595.16, and San Jose at 643.70

It makes sense to go as fast as possible as soon as the train leaves dense metro areas. Dawdling along at 125 mph from San Jose to downtown Gilroy (via grade separations galore along Monterey Highway) is a waste of precious time, time that must be made up at extreme capital expense (wider curves, faster and more powerful trains) over the rest of the journey.

If value to the taxpayer counts for anything, the train should accelerate to maximum speed as soon as it leaves San Jose, and the tracks should run through sparsely settled agricultural land in the Coyote Valley... i.e. in the vicinity of or east of 101. And no, Gilroy would not get a "transit oriented village" within walking distance of Thunder Alley, or any other such enviro-crackpot idea.

Again, the UP ROW is a red herring... a cooked up controversy with which to keep the opposition busy while the real engineering gets done.

Tony D. said...

Clem Brah!

"Grade separations galore along Monterey Highway"?

You obviously don't know the section south of Lick/SJ that well. Capitol Expwy, Blossom Hill Rd., Bernal Road and Bailey Ave. through South SJ are already grade separated over UPRR/Monterey. Branham Ln. and Chynoweth Ave. may need grade separations, but through South SJ to Coyote Valley, that's basically it! From Coyote Valley to Gilroy, you're talking rural and lightly developed. Grade separations "galore?" Hardly.

Alas, HSR WILL run either parallel of current UPRR ROW down a rebuilt Monterey Hwy. and/or east down the 101. As a SJ native and current resident of Gilroy, I'll take either.

Joey 11:53,
You nailed it! Anyone else stating otherwise regarding the EIR is just flat out lying!

Clem said...

Tony Brah!


Tony D. said...

That "this" is the intersection of Monterey Hwy and Main Ave. in MH (haven't been to the El Toro Brewpub yet, maybe I'll try it tomorrow). HSR would never go through there. You need to scan over to the northeast a few blocks just past Depot St. to find the lightly used UPRR/Caltrain ROW. You can do HSR aerial, at-grade, or trench through this portion of MH. Will some grade separations be necessary through this stretch? Of course, but that's what the entire system is all about, right. Grade separations shouldn't be viewed as some sort of deal breaker in MH/Gilroy (or anywhere).

But again, I'll take HSR down the UPRR ROW or east along the 101; just as long as we get it.