Posted by Roobs on July 10, 2012
During much of the debate leading up to and even during last week’s vote to fund HSR, many legislators and critics of HSR either implicitly or outright insult the Central Valley as a poor place to begin construction of the nation’s most ambitious infrastructure project. After the years of listening and responding to HSR critics’ arguments, I really am simply and unquestionably irritated and downright tired their statements on the Central Valley. I have to force myself at times not to just go off on many of these individuals who fancy themselves experts on planning issues – many the most outspoken are those who have no background in the subject at all. But specifically regarding the Central Valley, I think they just need to stop. Just stop talking. As native son of California’s (and arguably the country’s) most productive agricultural region, catchphrases like “train to nowhere”, the Norcal-Socal centric statements that “no one will ride it between Madera and Bakersfield”, and that it should go along Interstate 5 as opposed to State Route 99, are just downright offensive to all residents of the Central Valley. There are many reasons why the Central Valley is an excellent place to begin construction. Here are just a few. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Politics, Urban Planning | Tagged: bakersfield, California, Central Valley, Fresno, High Speed Rail, Los Angeles, San Francisco, train to nowhere | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Roobs on November 29, 2011
It’s high time we explore the dubious nature of how exactly we pay to both construct and maintain our beloved highways and their true costs.
[Updated: Following the release of the draft 2012 Business Plan for the California High-Speed Rail project, I have come back to this post to update the numbers. The overall argument is still the same and very valid.]
Critics tend to fancy themselves experts in all things sociological and economic when it comes to high-speed rail in California. They argue the technology will not work –people won’t ride it – and/or that it is simply too expensive of a project to undertake during this time of economic contraction and we simply shouldn’t build it to save the money. However, as I pointed out in a recent post, the cost of NOT building the California High-Speed Rail Project has never been zero. In fact, it would cost
$100 billion $170 billion to build new highways and air travel facilities to meet future transportation demand as opposed to the $45-$60 billion $98 billion for HSR. Even with this fact critics point out that it’s also the operating costs, not just capital costs that make HSR too expensive to build. But while critics spend their time attacking the cost and financing of HSR, they neglect to check the financing of their favorite alternative to HSR: roads. It’s high time we explore the dubious nature of how exactly we pay to both construct and maintain our beloved roads and highways and their true costs.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Economic Development, Politics, Urban Planning | Tagged: California, California High Speed Rail, Cost, High Speed Rail, HSR, NIMBY, Sacramento, True cost of roads | 1 Comment »
Posted by Roobs on September 23, 2011
Photo Courtesy of AviationMentor
I spent eighteen years of my life growing up in the Central Valley in the City of Visalia, located midway between Bakersfield and Fresno. I was never a farm boy. I grew up in a suburban style two-story house in a cul-de-sac. Though I didn’t grow up on a farm, I developed an appreciation and understanding (especially as I got older) of those who lived and worked in some of the nation’s most productive agricultural regions. It’s an understanding of, not simply a lifestyle but a life devoted to the cultivation of essential crops and resources. But over the course of the debate on high-speed rail (HSR) over the first leg of construction from Bakersfield to Fresno, I hate to see these local communities being pushed and misled by local city officials and executives who would throw hardworking famers under the proverbial bus because of their own intransigence. Here are four basic questions and answers on the “why” for the Fresno-Bakersfield segment of the California High-Speed Rail project.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Politics, Urban Planning | Tagged: CAHSR, California, Farmers, Hanford, High Speed Rail, HSR, Visalia | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Roobs on July 1, 2010
As you will learn quickly if you continue to read my blog, I am a huge fan and proponent of California’s high-speed rail project. In a previous post, i am always excited to see money coming into our state to help move the project forward to eventual groundbreaking and operation. And one of the groups that is right there as a big supporter of HSR is CALPIRG (California Public Interest Research Group).
I just wanted to post a quick excerpt on this great research done by CALPIRG on the benefits of high-speed rail and what that means to California. You can and should read the full report here: Next Stop: California. Benefits of High-Speed Rail Around the World and What’s in Store for California.
As California moves toward construction of a new high-speed rail network, the state has much to learn from experiences abroad. High-speed rail lines have operated for more than 45 years in Japan and for three decades in Europe, providing a wealth of information about what California can expect from high-speed rail and how the state can receive the greatest possible benefits from its investment. Indeed, the experience of high-speed rail lines abroad suggests that California can expect great benefits from investing in a high-speed passenger rail system, particularly if it makes wise choices in designing the system.
The people over at Calitics also wrote an excellent analysis of CALPIRG’s report, which you can read here.
I’m all ready to buy my first HSR ticket. Are you?
Posted in Economic Development, Urban Planning | Tagged: California, CALPIRG, High Speed Rail, HSR | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Roobs on June 1, 2010
In late January of this year, The White House announced that California would recieve $2.35 billion for for rail related projects. Specifically, $2.25 billion for high speed rail construction, wich included $400 million reserved for construction of the San Francisco Transbay Terminal Station, and $1 billion for Amtrak corridor improvements including things like, terminal and rail improvements for Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor line (San Jose – Oakland – Sacramento). Last week, the Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, announced the first allotment of these funds, which included $6.2 million to begin improvements on the Capitol Corridor system.
I am a huge supporter of high speed rail in California, and all over the US for that matter. I have wanted to see a high speed rail in our state since i was a little kid and have been following the development of such a project for almost as long. I am not writing this particular post to go over the specific political and planning aspects of the project. I would rather address those in specific posts of their own. Instead, this is just how i feel about the project overall.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Economic Development, Urban Planning | Tagged: Amtrak, California, Economy, High Speed Rail, HSR, Jobs, Obama, Ray LaHood, White House | 1 Comment »
Posted by Roobs on July 8, 2009
Back in 2003, Orange County completely blew its chance to create its own Light Rail Train (LRT) system connecting its downtown business core with the county’s major airport: John Wayne Airport, due to strong opposition from residents. Coincidently, after reading a San Francisco Examiner article, a friend and I discussed how we see the exact same arguments the residents of Orange County are being made by the residents of the Peninsula area of the San Francisco Bay with regard to the proposed California High Speed Rail (CHSR).
What brings me to this subject today are recent events with California’s current budget mess. Not in my backyard (NIMBY) protesting residents of the Peninsula and their legislative allies have thrown language into proposed budget deals forcing the CHSR Authority to run costly alternate route study. Luckily, the language being part of the greater budget fiasco in Sacramento has all but guaranteed the proposed bill and its HSR language to be vetoed by the Governator. But I feel the need to briefly go over this issue in writing.
Back in November of 2008, over 60% of Peninsula residents voted yes on Prop 1A, which allocated over $10 billion in bond funds for the creation of a HSR connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles. Now, residents of cities such as Palo Alto and Mountain View have stepped up their criticism of the proposed route through their towns to the point where there is now litigation between cities and the state.
Some say they don’t want a large train whizzing by and separating their towns with lower grade canals or unsightly elevated tracks. Others fear the threat of eminent domain in areas where the right of way is too narrow to allow both the existing Caltrain and CHSR to run side by side, forcing the state to buy up adjacent land or create those elevated tracks to stack over the exiting lines. Residents also argue that the creation of an HSR through their towns and near their homes would be a nuisance and negatively impact their property values. Most of these arguments are all echoes from OC residents’ revolt against LRT’s.
As possible solutions, the opponents have asked that the CHSR Authority (Authority) run an alternate route study. A possible example would be a route through the Altamont Pass reaching San Francisco through Oakland via a submerged tunnel in the Bay as BART currently does. Another option would be to completely leave San Francisco out of the CHSR picture and end the line in San Jose, leaving the rest of the commute to San Francisco via BART and Caltrain.
First let’s ignore the fact that that these Peninsula residents are opposing something that they approved but a few months earlier, and that they are the cities who lobbied the Authority for a route through the Peninsula vs. the East Bay, and the fact that East Bay cities such as Oakland and Livermore said they would prefer a route through the Peninsula, and the fact that the Authority spent the past decade studying alternate routes, and the fact that suggesting an end of the line at San Jose vs. San Francisco violates the spirit of Prop 1A on a legal level… [Breathe]
Let us look at some of the arguments made by both Orange County residents in the past as well as Peninsula residents in the present.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Economic Development, Politics, Urban Planning | Tagged: Centerline, High Speed Rail, HSR, Ira Ruskin, Joe Simitian, Oakland, Orange County, Palo Alto, San Francisco | 1 Comment »