Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New Animations of Peninsula Corridor

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

A new video animation of possible HSR implementations through Palo Alto has been circulating, and a link was posted to it in the comments on yesterday's post. I thought it worth posting, as it looks quite a lot better than anything else we've seen:

That being said, I cannot imagine that the depictions of the above-grade solutions, whether the viaduct or the retained fill, will please the Peninsula NIMBYs. As Clem noted in the comments to yesterday's post, we have to unpack the term "barrier":

As a San Carlos resident, I can't agree with this at all--unless you meant a visual barrier. Visual barriers don't prevent you getting from point A to point B, which is what a physical barrier does (like the tracks in Palo Alto).

San Carlos = high visual, low physical barrier

Palo Alto = low visual, high physical barrier

The whole "division," "barrier," and "Berlin Wall" debate needs to be separated into physical and visual components before it starts to make any sense. Conflating the two is confusing and is often used to scaremongering advantage.

All of the solutions depicted in this video would create a low physical barrier. As we saw over the weekend in Palo Alto, residents also want a low visual barrier in the form of a tunnel, but it is very, very uncertain whether this is financially possible.

Further, there is a third kind of barrier that must be considered - a "mental geography" barrier. Californians have been trained to see above-grade structures as creating spatial divisions and separations within communities, between neighborhoods. An above-ground high visual barrier is usually seen as a something that causes separation and division - which is why the totally ridiculous term "Berlin Wall" used by NIMBYs to describe the above-ground solutions is able to gain any currency at all on the Peninsula. Those barriers are often permeable and people learn to adapt to them, just as Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton have apparently maintained a high quality of life with the much more obtrusive physical barrier of at-grade tracks. But these images are likely to reinforce the perception of an above-ground solution as an undesirable barrier, no matter how positive the effects are likely to be.

I don't know who produced this video, and that would be a rather important matter, especially in determining whether the depiction of the above-ground solutions are fair and realistic or not.


Anonymous said...

Yes. PLEASE circulate that video. Nothing will solidify opposition more.

The issue of barrier is visual, and always has been. The main issue of concern is NOT the view from TRAFFIC, which this video shows, but the fact that homes are within feet those concrete walls and massive concrete overpasses - which this video certainly fails to show completely. And STILL what the video shows is utterly unacceptable.

And chsra WILL pay the cost. Cost is NOT an appropriate excuse for failure to mitigate devastating impacts. If CHSRA failed to include the appropriate level of COST in their plan relative to the route they've chosen to prefer - that's THEIR problem to fix, not the effect residents.

NONIMBYS said...

NO Nimby.....YOU MOVED NEXT to a 140 year old railroad..ITS YOUR PROBLEM if you dont like living next to one! leave it at grade with underpasses unless these spoiled rotten babies pay for the tunneling!

TomW said...

Anonymous said: The issue of barrier is visual, and always has been.
If that is true, then provided the big long wall looks pretty, no-one will complain, right?

Rafael said...

At first glance, the animation looks realistic to me in its depiction of the scale and proportions of the above-grade and trench solutions. What's missing is a suitable at-grade option for Palo Alto specifically (it doesn't make sense for e.g. Menlo Park). It's a lot cheaper to build a nearly soundproof enclosure above ground than it is to dig a four-track tunnel.

There are a significant number of residential homes directly abutting the railroad right of way to the west, i.e. on the far side not shown in the video. Those homeowners would be impacted by an at-grade or an elevated solution, but also by a trench and possibly even during tunnel construction (subsidence risk). Then again, no-one held a gun to their head when they bought their properties right next to an active railroad. Caveat emptor does apply, the risk of changes to the railroad is presumed to have been factored into the purchase price.

However, if your house is 1/2-1 block or more from the tracks, the visual and perhaps even the aural impact may matter less than the improved traffic situation due to grade separation.

Note how having a busy four-lane frontage road with a 35mph speed limit apparently isn't a problem for anyone. But omg, going from two to four railroad tracks is the end of the world as we know it.

CHSRA simply cannot afford to give every community that wants one a tunnel, so a very large dollop of locally raised cash will be needed to make one possible. Going underground in SF allows trains to reach the downtown area, which is where the ridership is presumed to be. Going underground in Palo Alto adds zero ridership for HSR.

Btw: a trench, whether open or closed, sounds like a compromise but may not be. There are a lot of gravity-drained water conduits (creeks, storm drains, perhaps sewer mains) just below street level. Messing with those is possible (cp. culvert at Oregon Expressway underpass) but it's not always trivial. Get it wrong and there could be flooding after a winter storm.

Anonymous said...

TomW, wrong. What you see there now is houses and trees and across the street, and down the road. You see neighbors and neighborhoods, and as you pass down Alma you see Paly on the other side of the tracks, and when you drive down alma you drive through a tunnel of trees. When you walk down the street, you have a visual feel of a neighborhood. You can SEE across town. You can SEE Hoover Tower from the OTHER side of the tracks.
Not a 20foot wall, like you're driving down a freeway enclosed by soundwall.

Again, the project WILL pay the price for whatever decision they make here, and there are many shapes and forms of the term 'pay'. One that comes to mind is years beyond measure of delay via litigation, another would be politicial fallout, another would be billions in added costs for appropriate mitigations, another would be so much opposition and red tape and political fallout that the whole project is brought to failure.

But all in all, this video will do wonders to solidify the community around tunnel or nothing - so thanks very much for posting it.

Anonymous said...

Doing the right thing, and appropriately mitigating unnaccaptable negative impacts is the responsibility (not the option) of the project. So, if the authority 'cant afford' to do the project correctly, then that is ONLY an indictment of their poor planning, lies, and failure to communicate the true and complete cost of the project to voters and the legislature.

If 'chsra can't afford' to do what they're proposing to do on their 'preferred alignment', and what THEY HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO DO, which is to leave communities and property owners whole and unscathed, then some liars should lose their jobs, prop 1A should be repealed, the project should be halted, and train foamers should go peddle their high speed rail wet dreams elsewhere.

jd said...

Wow anon feeling a little entitled are we?

How do you think your neighbors in East Palo Alto are going like actually losing their homes when hwy 101 is widened due to your intransigence.

I'm sure you don't care because they are poor and you are so damn special that the state of California shall grind to a halt and the polar ice-caps will melt before anyone dare encroach on your view of Hoover tower.

How dare we suggest you make one inch of compromise for the other 36,000,000 of us.

Anonymous said...

Hey, NONIMBYs, I don't live next to the track, in fact I live miles from it. So go figure.

The town's not paying, YOU are paying, assuming you are even a Californian - although woops, actually if you live anywhere in the US actually YOU will be paying, because Obama is presumably about to send CHSRA YOUR tax dollars for this joke.

And don't kid yourselves either - California doesn't have a lousy dime, so California won't be paying the balance either. If Obama wants to ever see his precious HSR trains running in California, the feds will shortly be paying the whole 90Billion price tag (which is what it WILL cost as soon as the CHSRA is forced to stop lying about the cost of the project). Either that or at the next election Obama's going to be pointing to a bunch of failed blueprints, a long list of litigations he's paid for, and a bunch of pissed off property owners who have lost their property to eminent domain - when he's trying to prove where the money went. But he damn well won't be sitting on any high speed trains to show for those billions.

And so you'll either be buying these palo alto nimby's a tunnel, or you'll be riding the high speed rail in circles from Bakersfield to Disneyland and back - because it won't be coming anywhere near Peninsula, unless someone shows up with a cool few bil. to build a tunnel.

Dexter said...

The CHSRA has the responsibility of planning and building a proper HSR system. They are NOT responsible for paying for your luxury, and scenery. You were fools to buy a home next to active, very busy RR tracks, now deal with it.

You can walk with us to the finish line, or be dragged kicking and screaming!

Anonymous said...

"How dare we suggest you make one inch of compromise for the other 36,000,000 of us."

Let's be real here. It's only for a couple of thousand of people. This HSR is for an elitist few that can actually afford the *real* price for SF-LA choo choo ride.

Let's stop with this "all california will benefit" bullshit. It's all about jerking off while riding.

Like Robert -- all he wants is something close to Monterey. He is a whiny boy who doesn't want to drive an extra 30 minutes from his pad to ride his fetish.

Nicolas said...

Is this for real? They could have done a much better job with the animation. I'm sure they could make the hybrid elevated and hybrid retain fill structures much more attractive and physically permeable.

One creative solution I have seen in France: Build it above grade, enclose it in a tunnel casing, and cover it with soil. Then you plant it full of trees, and you basically have a little park on top of your tracks. A lot cheaper than tunneling, I imagine. You could certainly see Hoover tower from there!

Anonymous said...

Hey JD, Palo Alto would be as equally impacted by widening of 101 as East Palo Alto would be. Ever look at a map? And widening of 101 is happening whether HSR happens or not. If you haven't been paying attention, HSR doesn't take any local commuters off the roads, because HSR themselves promote the project for long distance travel, NOT as a replacement for commute travel, which is the main source of Peninsula freeway traffic - local commuters.

And does ruining the dead center of the neighborhoods section of town somehow make it all OK to widen 101? Some sort of quid pro quo? Why ruin ALL parts of town? HSR ONLY creates duplication of resources and ADDED desctruction. It does NOTHING to save the environement or prevent the use of local roads, or improve local traffic congestion. In fact, in a station scenario, it would exacerbate the freeway problems and be the sole cause of even more freeway widening, in addition to probably widening of a lot more than just 101 (Embarcadero, Oregon, etc). Why, because a station becomes a 'transportation hub', which will only attract thousands of drivers which are NOT already attracted in to the MIDDLE of the towns - and this will be the case in any Peninsula town which is stupid enough to rally for a station. Which is by the way, ALL the roadway access changes around stations is something CHSRA would cause, and therefore be required to pay for, which they've equally failed to account for.

So all in all, they're idiots, and the project isn't worth the toilet paper its written on.

Anonymous said...

"The CHSRA has the responsibility of planning and building a proper HSR system."

Responsiblity for planning and building a proper HSR system - Key word here is proper. Proper includes responsiblity for properly mitigating the impacts. The real fools are the CHSRA for failing to recognize (or recognizing but failing to properly account for and own up to) the fact that they've chosen 50 miles of well developed suburban neighborhoods with alot of expensive real estate, schools, businesses, trees, homes and people directly adjacent, which THEY WILL have to mitigate for.

So in fact they WILL have responsibility for paying for the luxury/views/trees (etc) that they are ruining. That's the lot they've chosen. Take it up with CHSRA if you don't like the luxury route they've chosen.

missiondweller said...

This is a great video for contrasting the options.

What I really want to know is how do the costs of each option compare?

It would seem the trench is a reasonable and visually unobtrusive option. The local cities could decide if they want to pay more to make it a tunnel as Berkley did with BART.

Can anyone provide info on cost comparisons? ie is tunneling twice the cost of trenching? Is trenching similar in cost to the elevated fill option?

Thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...

This is the video that High Speed Rail itself produced and showed at initial alternatives meeting.

Steven said...


All of your complaints are NIMBYism, pure and simple. All of your complaints reflect an attitude of "how dare they build something near my home that I don't like. What I want is much more important than the needs of anyone else".

Tens of thousands of people living near the 101 & I-280 live with massive concrete walls and structures built within feet of their homes (and many lived there BEFORE they were built) and have to live with thousands of vehicles driving within feet of their homes but do you even THINK about these people when you drive down either of these freeways? I doubt it.

If other people have to suffer to make your life easier well, too bad, right? But God forbid you should have your views blocked! Can't have that, that's for other people. My needs take priority over the needs of society. That's all I hear from complaints like yours.

dave said...

CHSRA Doesn't make video's!

NC3D makes video's for CHSRA, they have an agreement to do so until at least 2012. According to their website!

Spokker said...

The aerial options look good. They look way better than any freeway. I don't see what all the hubbub is about.

Spokker said...

"But God forbid you should have your views blocked!"

Blocked by a nice looking wall with vegetation and little architectural details. The horror. The hybrid retained fill at :43 looks nice.

James said...

The video is well done but I it seems to me that the animation of the overhead option shows the structure as too massive. This is much better than the hyberbolic "Berlin Wall" image of Menlo Park. There should be a minimum amount of pre-stressed concrete that can carry three light and one heavy set of tracks and I think it would be less of a visual barrier than shown in this video. I would like to know if this video of the overhead option is a w.a.g. or was it based on reasonable estimates by a civil engineer?

dave said...

@ spokker

I agree completely, the hybrid retain and fill looks the best!

Notice that connectivity of the city remains high (No more train crossings). I beleive it's all in your head that this is a barrier! It's actually a good looking structure.

Again it's all in your head. That and that people have always feared change!

Bianca said...

Can anyone provide info on cost comparisons? ie is tunneling twice the cost of trenching? Is trenching similar in cost to the elevated fill option?

At the HSR design workshop last Saturday, Bob Doty from Caltrain & CHSRA gave a very general rule of thumb regarding costs. He cautioned that this was a general rule, and not taking any of the local conditions on the Peninsula into account, so the real number may vary, but as a general rule, a tunnel is 6x what an at-grade construction would cost. A trench is 3.5x vs. at-grade, an aerial is also 3.5x more than at-grade.

Those are rough numbers but it gives you an idea of what the ballpark costs.

Eric M said...

So at grade it is!! LOL You can lower the streets to go under or raise to go over the tracks. Then the NIMBY's can see there neigbors that they didn't want to see all along across the tracks!!

On second thought, Palo Alto has been a thorn in the bay area's side for many decades. So I say raise the tracks and use a wall with no trees just to piss them off, what they have been doing to the rest of the bay area for years!!! Bunch of babies

Unknown said...

I think the retained fill option is the best looking of the two aerials. Throw some ivy on it and yeah, it's a big wall, but it's a nice looking wall. It would be especially nice if they transitioned it near the city centers to the under-track retail that people have been posting pictures of.

I think the regular concrete aerial is the worst of the options, from a community standpoint. yeah you can walk underneath it. but the underside of concrete structures like that just ends up being an unwelcome place.

Trenches suck. I'd rather have the aerial. They divide a community just as much, and they're even uglier than a big wall.

Obviously a tunnel would be the most preferable if cost wasn't an issue. Unfortunately cost is always an issue. Even if CAHSR had the money to put a tunnel in along the entire route from LA to SF, that wouldn't make it a good use of money.

And I'll bring up, again, the quote from my friends who live directly next to the metrolink tracks in anaheim and orange. As opposed to people like some of these anons who don't actually live near the tracks and are complaining about this out of some sort of abstract, transitive-property nimbyism, my friends were adamant that the only thing they cared about was the noise from the "f*cking horns", and that they thought it was a waste of their tax money to put the line underground.

David S said...

tunnel is 6x what an at-grade construction would cost. A trench is 3.5x vs. at-grade, an aerial is also 3.5x more than at-grade.

Was it mentioned if this was for cut and cover or bored tunneling? Seems like cut and cover would be only incrementally more than a trench.

Tony D. said...

"Then again, no-one held a gun to their head when they bought their properties right next to an active railroad." This also goes for the residents of northern Willow Glenn/Gardner SJ, right Rafael?

I don't think the idiotic, spoiled A$$ sentiment expressed by anon 8:08 is reflective of the greater PA, M/A populations. Based on yesterdays Palo Alto thread and the Mercury News article, it appears most citizens want to work with the CHSRA to make the best of the HSR/Caltrain ROW. They want to find solutions rather than "solidify opposition." Selling air-rights, increased property taxes, etc. to help finance their trenches and/or tunnels. Good for them!

For the record, I'm a Mexican-American who was brought up low-income in East SJ. I still remember at the age of 3 the tractors, bulldozers and dust when I-280 was built right across the street from our studio apartment. We decided to move and life went on.

The greater good people!

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't there be another above ground option they're not showing -ariel sructures about 60 feet in the air - well out of visual impairment line of site. That would solve the issues of tunneling and provide clear visual and physical lines for the community, even possiblities for parks or whatever under the structure. No visual or physical barriers at all (except for big columns - but how far apart would those need to be - and how big?) What about that?

For the HSR supporters that are complaining that doing it appropriately along this corridor is too expensive - that seems to be an issue to take up with CHSRA for failing to properly cost out this route. That should have all been factored into their 'preferred' route decisions.

dave said...

@ anonymous 8:08 AM

I think you will be dissapointed to find out that this video will not drive up opposition, but will releive the fears of many in PA who support the idea of HSR but are scared of what it will look like. It is in fact the opposite because the Ugly, animated rendering of the "Berlin Wall" came first and now we have something that is very reasonable and in my opinion, very nice looking! The Retain and fill option.

Bianca said...

@ David S: According to Bob Doty, it's roughly the same for both bored tunnels and cut& cover. A tunnel requires ventilation shafts, emergency evacuation exits, and underground stations regardless of how the tunnel itself was created. Note that if Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton were to get a tunnel, all of the Caltrain stations would have to move underground as well.

Cut & cover creates a lot more surface disruption, requires a much larger construction area on the sides of the cut as it is being made.

dave said...

If the wall is somehow still in the way, why not put two of these together, side by side and your "View" and "Town connectivity" is unaffected. You would still see through the supports and cross under them, no problem.

Peter said...

Why are they using headspans in the animation? Are they actually looking at using headspans on the Caltrain corridor?

Were the headspans added in to make it look worse (or better)?

NONIMBYS said...

Yes Anno..I or shall we say "Parent" Pa Marcher ..NIDIA
ect ect I live here..NO you are going to pay for this nimby plan that YOU have been crying and whinning about for the last year in the Media..SO stop hidding behind the Anno name and your no stop arrogant demands .

Devil's Advocate said...

I wonder what the cost difference per mile would be among the various options:
1- retained wall/embankment
2- aerial structure
3- Tunnel
4- Full trench
Maybe the full trench would be a feasible option, certainly cheaper than tunneling, and it wouldn't create the divisive visual effects of a wall.

Anonymous said...

anon And chsra WILL pay the cost. Cost is NOT an appropriate excuse for failure to mitigate devastating impacts

devastating? please. Take a midol.

Rafael said...

@ Tony D. -

"This also goes for the residents of northern Willow Glenn/Gardner SJ, right Rafael?"

Yes it does. Ditto for residents of the 50' wide stretch in Anaheim.

However, if there is a viable above-ground alternative route with lower environmental impacts, it should be considered. In the peninsula, there isn't: the 101 median is not available there. In Anaheim, the I-5 median is not available. In south San Jose, the 280 and 101 medians are available.

BruceMcF said...

Devil's Advocate said...

"I wonder what the cost difference per mile would be among the various options:
1- retained wall/embankment
2- aerial structure
3- Tunnel
4- Full trench
Maybe the full trench would be a feasible option, certainly cheaper than tunneling, and it wouldn't create the divisive visual effects of a wall.

Note however that they are not mutually exclusive options. It is entirely possible to have a largely at grade alignment (say, with a cap providing a linear park and bikeway), that provides one grade separation with a retained wall behind retail big and medium box stores and a tree and grass planted embankment facing suburban residents, another grade separation descending into a trench, and a third grade separation that is an aerial with the heavy supports of a central pair of SS tracks hidden behind the lighter visual impact of a roman colonnade supporting the lighter FF tracks.

One size fits all very rarely fits everyone very well at all.

missiondweller said...

Thanks Bianca,

That's what I was looking for.

Owen Evans said...

What I think people are most concerned about is the visual impact. They'll mention things like noise and connectivity and vibration to bolster their claims, but it all boils down to is what it looks like and that's really just about it.

If people could previously see across to the trees and buildings on the other side of the tracks, and whatever gets built blocks that view, then to them, that's tantamount to building a Berlin Wall through the middle of the town. I guess the even if there are just as many streets as before crossing the ROW, an elevated alignment is a visual barrier and therefore a psychological barrier.

I think that if Palo Alto wants to avoid this psychological barrier, then they should pay the incremental costs.

Rafael said...

@ Owen E -

"I think that if Palo Alto wants to avoid this psychological barrier, then they should pay the incremental costs."

... or they should try to keep the tracks at grade as much as possible. A vitrine that fully encloses the tracks, with double/triple glazing panes between the latticework on the side and a linear park on top, would be a tunnel above ground - much cheaper than the real deal.

It would massively reduce noise yet still permit views across to the other side while creating urban green space. It would minimize disruption during the construction period.

The remaining grade crossings could be converted to deep underpasses, though a split grade or full elevated solution (graceful viaduct) might be preferable at Churchill Ave due to the natural slope of the terrain (h/t to Clem's Focus on Palo Alto).

It should be pointed out that tunneling under Palo Alto might well require the sale of air rights above the tracks, i.e. the construction of a number of multi-story buildings. Those won't exactly be see-through at street level, now will they?

Unknown said...

Those videos were produced by NC3D under contract from the CHSRA. They are not based on specific plans for the location, per-say, but are an adaptation of the corridor-wide specifications to the location as envisioned by the graphic artists (and therefore do not represent any concrete engineering at this point).

looking on said...

Rafael notes:

"It should be pointed out that tunneling under Palo Alto might well require the sale of air rights above the tracks, i.e. the construction of a number of multi-story buildings."

I hope you realize this whole workshop was to showcase a pro development group in Palo Alto wanting to showcase extreme high density in Palo Alto. They formed quite a while ago, to promote tunneling wit the express vision that the City would have to pay for the tunnel, and they could sell air-rights to help pay the tab.

Palo Alto will not embrace such development --- just wait and see. If the Authority insists on using the CalTrain corridor, they are going to fighting Palo Alto and lots of other cities on the peninsula.

Against this backdrop is the political ambitions of Yoriko Kishimoto, who was a strong advocate for HSR until the crap started to hit the fan. Now she is still in favor, but trying to work both ends. She will shortly exit from the chair of the PCC, and that goups should be come much more effective.

Rafael said...

@ looking on -

yes, I'm quite aware the tunnel concept, workshop etc. are all being pushed by folks who want to develop the land above the rails.

My point is that the N3CD the video implies no such development, leaving Palo Alto residents with the false impression that they could get an at-grade linear park courtesy of state and federal taxpayers.


Tony D. said...

"If the authority insists on using the CalTrain Corridor, they are going to be fighting Palo Alto and lots of other cities on the peninsula."

Much like the initial idiocy expressed by anon 8:08, I think Looking on speaks for only the extreme, elitist NIMBY-ism that exists on the Peninsula. Again, beating a dead horse, a vast majority of Peninsula/San Mateo Co. residents support HSR/Caltrain ROW improvements. And, again, based on yesterdays thread and recent news out of Palo Alto, it appears that the majority are now looking for solutions rather than opposition/fighting.

But go ahead and "fight" on! This train has left the station, and soon we'll all be "looking on" over the Peninsula at 125 mph!

Tony D. said...

By the way Looking on, I'll take Obama, Boxer, Feinstein, Pelosi, Newsom, Reed, Guardino and the powerful SVLG any day over Yoriko Kishimoto.

Anonymous said...

What kind of multi-story buildings are built on a 75foot wide strip of land? - with no below ground foundation besides. Having a hard time figuring out how they think they're going to build residences, commercial, or anything else on this narrow strip of land.

Owen E said...

I think the idea of an above ground but enclosed right of way is not a good one. It's no less obtrusive than an elevated as it takes up the same physical space.

Any ground level option should be open. Sound walls can be constructed to dampen the wheel noise.

san franciscan dude said...

well first all i wish they would please stop talking about a tunnel its not going to happen. well number one, the video lacked to show more of the tracks and what was built it was focused more on the cars driving down the street. the ideas were good i liked the hybrid and the retained fill,i like the hybrid on a structure, and i kinda liked the trench to its just the cost of the trench and how long it would take to build. the tunnel option is just out of the question these towns run around showing off the idea but they never show the money for the idea.i do not understand that these towns with less than 100,000 people are complaining about something that will help their town grow. another thing is that the people are worried about there views and how the towns look, change has got to happen sooner or later. i meen come on now you have caltrain baby bullet trains and caltrains express trains going through these towns at 79mph with grade crossing bell, horns, traffic backed up, and other noises. would they rather keep that than having a world class grade separated clean quite bullet train and a new and quieter caltrain electric line with no backed up traffic or anything??? i meen just ugh these peninsula cities just dont know what to do with themselves and they just keep on in every meeting bringing up that tunnel idea like its just going to magically appear underground like that ugh. i cant believe a couple of small tiny peninsula towns are trying stop california high speed rail from coming up the peninsula they messing it up for the rest of the state.

Anonymous said...

101 is available - you just have to spend the money to raise the overpasses. Which they will do anyway when they have to doubledeck the sucker.

dave said...

FRA status on HSR applications:


“We have received numerous applications from states and groups of states for the development of high-speed and intercity passenger rail programs for grant funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These include 45 applications from 24 states totaling approximately $50 billion to advance high-speed rail corridor programs. We also received 214 applications from 34 states totaling $7 billion for corridor planning and smaller projects.

Due to the overwhelming response and our desire to lay the groundwork for a truly national high-speed and intercity passenger rail program, we will be announcing all awards this winter. Our selections will be merit-based and will reflect President Obama’s vision to remake America’s transportation landscape. We look forward to further evaluating these proposals and spurring economic development while providing Americans with clean, energy-efficient transportation choices in the years and decades to come.”

dave said...

Here's a good one for those who propose we keep building more roads, adding more freeway lanes, etc.

Tip: Look at the cost.

Life Cycle of a Highway.

Alon Levy said...

101 is available - you just have to spend the money to raise the overpasses. Which they will do anyway when they have to doubledeck the sucker.

Is it your position that having HSR occasionally run elevated on the Caltrain corridor will split the community, but double-decking the 101 will not?

Anonymous said...

101 is available - you just have to spend the money to raise the overpasses. Which they will do anyway when they have to doubledeck the sucker.

I hope your talking about 101 after SJ Diridon towards Gilroy, in which case I would agree. If your talking about 101 on the Peninsula, forget it!

Steven said...

* 101 is available - you just have to spend the money to raise the overpasses. Which they will do anyway when they have to doubledeck the sucker.

NIMBYism, pure and simple. Double deck the 101 to make his life and commute easier with no concern at all for the people who live near the 101 and will have to look look at the concrete walls and elevated roadways double-decking will entail, but interfere with his views by building HSR, nope, can't have that...

The hypocrisy is amazing, but that's a NIMBY for you.

Anonymous said...

OT but interesting...

Gilroy to Merced Alternatives


Clem said...

Gilroy to Merced Alternatives

Interesting stuff... they are showing new alternatives that correct two major problems: 220 mph trains through downtown Morgan Hill and Gilroy (insane!), and annoyingly tight curves.

Also, the community-submitted "Thread the Needle" route is on their radar. Who says they don't listen to constructive criticism?

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 10:47pm -

your URL was incomplete. The SJ-Gilroy document is here.

Rafael said...

@ Clem -

what's your source for the 220mph speed through southern Santa Clara county?

My understanding was that speeds in excess of 200mph would not be reached until east of Gilroy, but things may have changed.

Rafael said...

@ Clem -

The map on PDF p7 of the 2008 Business Plan shows the following speeds:

SF-Gilroy: 100-150mph
Gilroy-first Pacheco tunnel: 150-200mph
first Pacheco tunnel-Bakersfield: 200mph+

At the Gilroy station, CHSRA's speed target for express trains appears to be 150mph.

It is fair to argue that 200mph+ through any town in the Central Valley is "aspirational" without massive noise mitigation measures. The same speed through tunnels in Pacheco Pass implies single-track, very large diameter bores, i.e. extremely expensive designs. For reference, most tunnels currently being dug in Europe are designed for top speeds of 200-250km/h (125-155mph).

Anonymous said...

Yep, Palo Altans will really like the overpasses that allow the homeless to camp out.

Ain't gonna happen. Help the peninsula cities work towards tunneling, and you'll get your jizz-toy.

dave said...

@ anonymous 7:36 AM

As if the Homeless are going to migrate to Palo Alto from all over the Bay Area just to take shelter under your new overpasses.

They might as well come to your development and trails above your tunnels too, who's stopping them?

Peter said...

Comments from the Alternatives Analysis meeting last night in San Jose.

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.

Devil's Advocate said...

If the estimates I read above are correct, tunneling is very unlikely to happen. However if the cost of an above ground line is indeed similar to the cost of a full trench, then the full trench could be preferable since it doesn't obstruct any views and in some short stretches it could also be covered at a not so prohibitive cost (unlike deep tunneling). I agree that the elevated structures are an eyesore, especially because houses are very close to the tracks in some areas. But I wonder if it wouldn't be even wiser to have the entire line at grade (like Caltrain) and simply eliminate all grade crossing and have those streets cross the line with over/underpasses. That could be the cheaper option of all, and maybe the only one that would permit Caltrain to operate without interruption during construction.

Peter said...

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.

Rafael said...

@ Peter -

"It sounded like they liked the idea of the curve around Morgan Hill in order to enable them to possibly 220 mph."

220mph through anyone's downtown isn't going to be accepted without massive noise mitigation measures. Not Gilroy, not Merced, not Fresno nor anywhere else.

"Oh, and supposedly they are now considering a Morgan Hill station instead of Gilroy."

Santa Clara county is up to its old tricks again, artificially propping up residential real estate prices in Silicon Valley by making employers there hard to reach for anyone else.

The HSR station belongs in Gilroy so it can serve southern Santa Clara county plus northern San Benito, northern Monterey and southern Santa Cruz counties. That was one of the flimsy excuses for choosing Pacheco, now CHSRA needs to stick to that.

Peter said...

Well, yes, 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.

Anonymous said...

The Morgan Hill station would not be through downtown. It would be more of 101 station.

This was eliminated during the program level EIR but they may use the lawsuit to go back and change this part of the program level EIR.

The program level EIR with the Morgan Hill East alternative will then get recirculated.

You will have your chance to complain then.

You will then be ignored (the sum total response to your comments will be "we disagree").

Then you will have 30 days after the final Program EIR is rubberstamped by the board to file suit.

By this time of course, they will have finished the PROJECT EIR and begun construction.

Welcome to my world.

Robert Cruickshank said...

You all wanna hold off on more posts on SJ to Merced for a few minutes while I whip up a new post on that topic? I'd prefer to have that discussion go in-depth on that specific post, instead of buried here on the Peninsula video post. Thanks to all the comments on it so far.

Peter said...


Anonymous said...

this article has a nice chart that shows the compititionchart

Anonymous said...

"They might as well come to your development and trails above your tunnels too, who's stopping them?"

Weather, duh. There's a reason why areas under I-80 in San Francisco are fenced off -- to keep the homeless out.