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"It was a splendid population - for all the slow, sleepy, sluggish-brained sloths stayed at home - you never find that sort of people among pioneers - you cannot build pioneers out of that sort of material. It was that population that gave to California a name for getting up astounding enterprises and rushing them through with a magnificent dash and daring and a recklessness of cost or consequences, which she bears unto this day - and when she projects a new surprise the grave world smiles as usual and says, "Well, that is California all over."

- - - - Mark Twain (Roughing It)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Boondoggle - Opponents trash high-speed rail

“It’s like a Saturday Night Live skit”

  • Now the political hacks want to build an elevated high speed rail through the Bay Area.  The money pit spending just gets deeper and deeper.

(Silicon Valley Business Journal)  -  Some of the same Peninsula residents who rose up five years ago to block the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s plans to build an elevated railway from San Jose to San Francisco returned Tuesday night in San Mateo to oppose the alternative.

In the second of three scoping meetings beginning the two-year environmental clearance process for the 51-mile segment, the “blended service” plan with high-speed trains and Caltrain sharing the same tracks was criticized for blocking grade crossings so frequently that it will “inflict on the Peninsula the greatest traffic disaster the Peninsula has ever experienced or will ever experience."

Mike Brady, a Redwood City attorney who has led local opposition to high-speed rail, made that argument, adding, “We cannot put up with this.”

Brady’s argument – that the 20 trains per hour up and down the Peninsula during peak service periods will block most automobile traffic across the line – is a major reason why the pre-2012 business plan called for the line to be completely grade separated where it crossed streets.

Ultimately, however, the goal of many of the residents who spoke Tuesday is not to come up with an acceptable way for the new trains to reach San Francisco, a requirement of the 2008 law that authorized the system, but to stop their northbound runs at San Jose.

“I don’t see why people who want to take high-speed rail wouldn’t take Caltrain to San Jose and change there,” one woman said.

At grade, there are 42 crossings between San Jose and San Francisco where high-speed trains may – and Caltrain already does – hit vehicles and people, frequently with disastrous results.

To meet the statutory requirement that high-speed trains be capable of running nonstop from San Jose to San Francisco in no more than 30 minutes, however, the rail authority plans grade-crossing changes. It would eliminate a handful with $500 million and protect the remainder with specially designed crossing gates that are required by the Federal Railroad Administration for trains operating at 110 mph, 31 mph faster than Caltrain now runs at its fastest.

Elected officials from Peninsula communities already bombarded rail authority chair Dan Richard in March with similar grade-crossing concerns. They worried both about finding money to eliminate them all for safety’s sake at the same time they decried raising track levels – and creating long, railroad-topped walls through their cities – that grade separation would require.

Read More . . . .

Beyond Boondoggle: California High-Speed Rail Delayed 4 Years

(PJ Media)  -  California's high-speed rail project has seen its share of setbacks since President Obama included more than $2 billion in the stimulus bill for its construction.

But most of the delays have been the result of bureaucratic incompetence. And now, without having laid a single foot of track, the project has been delayed again. The first segment, 119 miles through the Central Valley, was scheduled for completion in 2018. But with only half the land purchased and funding for the project still in limbo, the completion date has been pushed back to 2022.
State and federal officials downplayed the shift in the timetable, saying it partly reflected more ambitious plans for the Central Valley work, and in any case merely ratified construction realities on the ground. Jeff Morales, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said his agency is accelerating its pace after a painfully slow start, with a half dozen construction crews now building overpasses, relocating utilities, and demolishing structures from north of Fresno down to the Bakersfield area. 
“Early on, there was a vision, but no clear sense of how to implement that vision,” Morales said. “We have that now, and we’re moving ahead aggressively.”
To be clear: The project was proposed with "no clear sense of how to implement" the vision. That's a truly remarkable statement for politicians who begged the people of California for a $9 billion bond issue."

Concerns about the project’s viability, however, extend well beyond NIMBY-ism and car-bias. The estimated price tag is now equivalent to 35 times the annual federal subsidy for Amtrak. The state’s voters approved $9 billion in bonds for high-speed rail, and Brown has diverted some revenue from California’s carbon trading program to the project, but Republicans shut off the federal spigot when they took back the House of Representatives in 2010. 

So while Morales says there’s enough money to extend the railway north to San Jose, there’s not yet a long-term funding source to finish the entire job. There is some optimism that private firms can help finance construction in anticipation of profits from running the line, but there is also widespread skepticism about the state’s rosy ridership forecasts.

Meanwhile, the choice to start in the middle, in the sparsely populated and economically depressed Central Valley rather than the dense metropolitan areas to the north and south, has been ridiculed as a recipe for a high-priced train to nowhere. The first segment is actually designed to terminate in an empty lot north of Bakersfield. And the authority recently reversed its plans for its second segment, abruptly announcing that it will head north instead of south—understandable given the engineering challenge of tunneling through mountains en route to Los Angeles, but projecting a bit of a whoopsy-daisy vibe.

“It’s like a Saturday Night Live skit,” Patterson said.

Amtrak rail lines in California.

Nothing to Steal
An intelligent person would simply connect the Amtrak line that dead ends in San Luis Obispo with the Amtrak line at San Jose.  For a tiny fraction of the cost of the insane "high speed" rail fraud most of the state from Mexico to Sacramento would be connected by rail.
Instead countless billions will be pissed away as payback to the businesses and unions that fund the campaigns of the Sacramento hacks.  All the special interests have their snouts in the trough of corruption. 

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner at Del Mar, CA
Simply connect San Jose and San Luis Obispo and you have a statewide rail system.  But easy and cheap are words the liar politicians have never heard.

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