California High Speed Rail Soap Opera [Consumer]

by on August 28, 2010

in consumer

High Speed Rail TrainThe Califnornia High Speed Rail Soap…

  • -The plan: Electric Bullet Trains connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco
  • – State voters approved the $10 billion bond in November of 2008. (In reality, $42B) (First mistake… voters did not thoroughly read it through)
  • – The project received a $2.5 billion pot from the feds in May.
  • – Estimated cost is now at more than 2x CA state deficit, at $42 billion.
  • – Recent estimates are that the HSRA already has $11B in subsidy funds.
  • – 31 states are eligible or will get part of a $31 billion pot to invest in and build high-speed rail, connecting all major cities. [Obama Admin Awards High Speed Rail Funds]

Then Why are Peninsula residents of Northern California fighting it?

It’s how the local consumers, Peninsula residents, are being treated. We’ve been told what’s going to happen from day one. Not asked. Told. As Diana Diamond reported in the August 9th Daily Post Opinion section [pg 8] in an article titled “Rail plan was a ‘done deal’ from the start

She notes that18 months previous to her report that Rod Diridon told Menlo Park and Palo Alto city councils that the high speed rail configuration for the peninsula was a “done deal.” She went on to detail how Diridon went on saying at that time that HSRA didn’t need any input from local cities because the board had already decided how the tracks will run through Peninsula cities.

It’s been clearly demonstrated that the High Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) could give a crap about what we think or how we feel about some small thing like high speed rail platforms that will be 40 feet high and as wide as 6 highway lanes. But then again, the HSRA is also looking at NOT developing grade separation or underground tunnels, but running the trains through towns at street level. I wonder if they’ve thought out the dozen or so ‘suicide by train’ events each year?

For those who think this project is a great idea… I get it. It does sound like a great idea. But seeing how many homes and businesses will be taken from people to build the project is scary. To see how the HSRA ignores each plea from different cities to bury the tracks is disheartening. To have lawsuits flying through the air and despite all that, having Quentin Kopp blatantly dismiss the lawsuits and telling people yet again, that the project that is going to tear through the Peninsula, is a “done deal,” [High Speed Rail a Done Deal].† Again, that pretty much drives to the heart of the matter of how the HSRA cares about it’s potential customers.

Back in January of 2010, the HSRA had already plotted a route through the Peninsula region that would not include tunnels.† They confirmed this in an August stud.† It would seem they never even batted an eye in consideration of going underground. [Mercury News]

= = =

At this point, it is not clear when the rail authority will make a final decision on trenching vs. the elevated berm or viaduct design. Mr. Cline’s nightmare would be a four-track, 80-foot-wide system running through the Midpeninsula on a 45-foot-high berm or viaduct.

The width of the right-of-way is also a concern for residents or businesses along some sections where the rail right-of-way narrows to as little as 65 feet, 15 feet shy of the 80-foot minimum called for by the staff report.

[ Almanac News]

= = =

Everyone has been kept in the dark about the route details for a long time until recent weeks, and yet I still read about cities that are still wondering what their own rail stations would look like.

Seriously, the list of confrontational issues between the HSRA and the different cities can go on and on and each time I read an article dealing with any of these challenges, all I see is the school yard bully telling the kids in the sand box to get the hell out of their way because they’re setting up there NOW, whether the little kids like it or not. It feels like all they care about is getting that huge subsidy that could be better spent else where, like keeping teachers employed and schools properly supplied.

Do I even talk about back in July when the HSRA sponsored their own study that says that 76% of Californians want the high speed rail?† The study has been attacked for poor selection of demographics and sampling techniques, but that’s to be expected.† [High Speed Rail Authority touts survey]

As I see it, I’m not sure who the HSRA is hoping will ride their train.† Will it take longer than a commuter hop in an aircraft?† Will it cost more than a commuter hop between L.A. and S.F.?† What business commuters? We won’t have any while schools continue to loose money, teachers and supplies.

And the schedule for the project? An environmental impact report must be completed by Sept. 30, 2011, construction of the track – it doesn’t have to be electrified – must be done by 2017 and trains need to run by 2020.

Sure California, shut down the national parks, lay off school teachers, law enforcement officers, have mass lay offs of fire departments and make your entire staff of state employees take 1 day a month (or is it a week?) off, no pay, so you can make ends meet. But don’t worry, the HSRA will create jobs for the state with their $42 billion project.† Maybe the HSRA can hire all the state and city employees getting the short end of this terrible economy.

Personally, I’d rather see the state deficit be dealt with first. Let’s get our T’s crossed and I’s dotted.

I doubt this is even doable, but put the rail over Highway 101 and other existent high speed transit lanes that won’t require taking homes or disturbing cities. You’re going to have to build the rail anyway, so why not do it where it won’t steal homes and businesses from hard working people.† I’m just saying.† Oh wait, the HSRA isn’t listening and never has.† What am I thinking.

Thanks for putting up with my rant.

Links… lots of links on both sides of the issue.

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