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From the Sunday Train

Since Gov. Brown saved the California HSR project for the second time (the first time was in 2012), I've had a look at the general issue of funding HSR with Cap and Trade, and looked at some possibilities for complementary conventional intercity rail in the Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley north of Fresno ... so I thought I might start moving south of Fresno.

And today I am going to focus on Bakersfield and a starting sketch of an idea for what I call the "Bakersfield Express Bypass." I do want to stress upfront, so its not lost in the details of talking about the Bypass, that I am not talking about "skipping Bakersfield", but rather talking about how best to plan for those LA to SF trains that will eventually be Express trains, Anaheim, LA, Burbank, Fresno, San Jose, San Francisco Transbay.

The Timing of the Bakersfield Services and Express Services Past Bakersfield

Let me orient this in the overall plan of rolling out the first phase of the California HSR ... the rail service that some have taken to calling "The Monarch", after the state butterfly:

  • (0) Before beginning to list the stages, the basic strategy in the phasing is to always make sure that every segment is immediately useful, no matter what role it plays in the finished system.
  • (1) "Initial Construction Segment": Build the cheap, fast track in the Central Valley. That can be used right away by existing Amtrak trains and gives a place to test the HSR trains in advance of starting the operating service. (
  • Need a Through Bakersfield Route Here: (2) "Close the Gap": Close the gap between Bakersfield and Palmdale, where people can catch a rail connection between the Amtrak train and a Metrolink train to LA Union Station.
  • (3) "Starter HSR Service": After closing the gap, leapfrog the slow Metrolink train by getting to Burbank Airport and start running bullet trains to a station where people can get transfer onto existing services, preferably the Surfliner from San Diego, Anaheim and LA Union Station. (2022?)
  • (4) "Bay to Basin: Get from the Central Valley line to San Jose, where people can catch connections all around the Bay Area, including downtown SF and Oakland, and to Sacremento on the Capitol Corridor. (2026?)
  • (5) Need to support Express Trains bypassing Bakersfield Station here: "Finish the Bookends": Finish the work from the San Fernando Valley to LA Union Station and Anaheim, and from San Jose to San Francisco's downtown Transbay Terminal, to get the bullet trains to downtown LA and downtown SF. (2028?)

As you can see, there is quite a long time gap before the corridor actually needs to run Express trains that bypass Bakersfield Station ... but Bakersfield Station is slated to be part of the Initial Operating Service, and the work on Bakersfield Station would normally be part of the even earlier "Close The Gap" segment. And I've put question marks after the years, because the dates as planned depend upon unlocking the current Federal funding gridlock on rail, where the President proposes a budget for upgrading intercity rail service, and the House GOP zeroes it out (in part on ideological grounds, in part just because the President proposed it).

So what has to be done when California moves from the Initial Construction Segment to the Close the Gap segment depends on what plans to be done to run California High Speed "Monarch" trains past Bakersfield for services without a Bakersfield stop.

The Challenges of the Bakersfield Through Route

So, what's the issue? Lets take a stroll through memory lane (even if most of this was never stored in the memories of most of the Sunday Train readership.

To the right you can see the 2005 version of the Bakersfield alignment alternatives. Where the existing rail corridors are labelled "UPRR", that means Union Pacific, where its labeled "BNSF" that means that its BNSF. And most of the route selected is obvious when you know that the Union Pacific has tended to demand maximum separation between freight trains and HSR. And things are sounding good for the version of the "Tuxton Station" option that is located near, but not at, the Amtrak Station, though there are "construction issues" (from the 2005 Program Level EIR/EIS (pdf), p. 6-44):

The Truxton station would have the highest connectivity of the three locations being evaluated to serve Bakersfield. The Truxton station would connect to the new Bakersfield Amtrak Station and is in the city center of Bakersfield, within walking distance of the convention center and City Hall. The Truxton station location also has good access to SR-99. The Truxton station would have high ridership potential. Intercity ridership forecasts estimate between 1.9 and 2.6 million total boardings and alightings annually by 2020. The Truxton station would have higher construction costs and construction issues than the other Bakersfield station options, and is estimated to cost $32.4 million for the Union Avenue station option, and $165 million for the Amtrak station option.
Well, lets fast forward to May 2014, and read in the Bakersfield Californian that Baksersfield City Council is suing the CHSRA:
City Manager Alan Tandy said the EIR and EIS were greatly lacking, and reemphasized the CHSRA’s lack of responsiveness to Bakersfield. “The document was deficient on its face. A terribly prepared, horribly prepared document,” Tandy said, noting that he believes the rail agency will have to restart the environmental process and do a new EIR and EIS south of 7th Standard Road through Bakersfield — with a new alignment.

The train’s current alignment would cut through significant city and private properties including McMurtrey Aquatic Center, the city’s Municipal Services Corporation Yard, Bakersfield High School, Bethel Christian School and Mill Creek. “At this point, we know the route they’ve selected is not acceptable to us whether they can tweak it or need to move it four miles or what,” Tandy said.

The problem is running a train at high speed through downtown Bakersfield relying on one or another rail corridor that was not originally laid out for high speed operation. That means a lot of elevated HSR corridor, and even though the rail corridor itself is reasonably wide, the sweeping curves required by trains traveling at a high speed means that the elevated corridor cannot stay within the airspace of the rail corridor ... leading to the expressed concerns.

The California HSR Authority have attempted to address this with an alternative alignment that reduces property impacts. This is the so-called "Bakersfield Hybrid" alignment. The problem is that it reduces property impacts by doing exactly what the earlier alignments were trying to avoid: curves that reduce the speed limit of the train. In particular, it includes two 115mph curves.

Why is that a problem? Well, for trains stopping at Bakersfield, there's no problem. For trains stopping at Bakersfield, a 90mph segment of corridor on both sides of the station would not be a problem ... because the train is coming to a stop and accelerating from a stop.

However, the 2008 Proposition 1a that passed set out a target of 2hrs, 40min LA to SF. Every five minutes that you add to the Express Route makes it harder to hit that target. And two 115mph curves that close together means that the Express train is coming down to 110mph before the first curve, running through at 110mph, and then accelerating again after passing the second curve.

Now, the Bakersfield City Manager talked about a "tweek" or an entirely new alignment, but what I am going to suggest here is a design alternative that wasn't available in 2005, and, indeed, wasn't available until 2012, when the current design process for downtown Bakersfield was already well advanced.

"Blended Operation" and Bakersfield

I don't really like "Blended Operation" to describe the CHSRA plan for running into downtown LA and downtown SF ... to me, it sounds more like a smoothie bar franchise at a mall than an operating plan for HSR. But the basic idea goes back to the way that the French planned the second major HSR corridor in the 1980's (after the Japanese bullet-trains of the 1960's). The French already had an electrified express passenger rail corridor that terminated not far from downtown Paris. So instead of build an all new corridor to connect to downtown Paris, they decided to use the existing corridor. They built the HSR corridor out in the countryside, and connected to the existing express passenger corridor into Paris to complete the system. So the the first "Blended Operation" HSR corridor was the French TGV1, from Paris to Lyon.

Now, California doesn't actually have express passenger rail corridors into downtown SF and LA, but it does have rail corridor: the Caltrain corridor from Gilroy through San Jose to downtown San Francisco, and the LOSSAN from SLO-Santa Barbara to San Diego that runs through the LA Basin. So the plan is to upgrade the Caltrain corridor from San Jose to the new SF Transbay, and the LOSSAN corridor from the Burbank Airport through to Anaheim into express passenger rail corridors, and use those for the HSR to connect downtown LA with downtown SF.

"Blended Operation" was not on the table as an option when the 2005 EIR/EIS was being prepared. And all alignment alternatives since then have assumed that its cheaper and easier to build a single alignment through Bakersfield for both All-Stations and Express trains, and so have all been looking for the single alignment that gets the stopping trains to an appropriate station, and the express trains through Bakersfield in a hurry.

Turning to another country with HSR, the approach in Italy is normally to run HSR on a bypass around a city, and connect into a local rail corridor for trains stopping in that city. And before Blended Operation, this would have been a clearly more expensive alternative for Bakersfield, since both the bypass and the local through alignment would have to be dedicated HSR corridor.

But now that Blended Operation is allowed, if there was an Express Bypass, only the Express Bypass has to be a dedicated HSR corridor. The local through alignment can be a general express passenger rail corridor. Indeed, since the most speed-sensitive train is on the bypass, and the stopping train is stopping, it could be a Class V track with a 90mph speed limit. It would still have elevated sections where required for grade separation with traffic or freight rail tracks, but it could be at grade for much of the corridor, or elevated on a less expensive filled-wall embankment.

But Where Would a Bakersfield Express Bypass Go?

Ah, but where can such a bypass go?

Well, googling around, there was one potential alignment that struck me. This is the Seven Standard Road at the north edge of Bakersfield, which runs in very close to a straight line from the BNSF rail corridor from Fresno (to the north and west) that will have the new HSR rail corridor built next to it, through the to UPRR rail corridor that connects down to the area where the HSR train will be leaving Bakersfield bound for the LA Basin. One viaduct with a broad sweeping curve to bring the HSR onto a Seven Std. Rd alignment, and a second one to bring the HSR corridor on the other side, and then a fairly straight median road alignment in between.

I've also circled on this snapshot from Google Maps the two curves that make the existing rail corridor so problematic for High Speed Rail.

Now, as I do not have the staff resources of the California HSR Authority, this is not a detailed alignment ... but you get the basic idea.

One of the advantages of Seven Standard Road is that being on the northern edge of town, there is substantially less development. While the western end is more developed, there are sections of Seven Std. Rd that look like this:

This suggests there may be an opportunity to "expand the median". This would be like a road widening project, except it doesn't end up in actually widening any asphalt. Rather, after widening the road on the outside, it takes over space on the inside for a wider median. If it was possible to build the HSR corridor on a walled filled embankment, that would make for a shorter rise required to clear intersections, while still being less expensive to build than the kind of viaducts that are presently being planned for the corridor.

Meanwhile, back in downtown Bakersfield

Now, without having to allow for a 220mph Express Train (slated to be braked down to 110mph), we have much more flexibility in downtown Bakersfield. One opportunity that arises is the opportunity to operate a local rail service on the corridor, with stations along the Blended Operation corridor in Bakersfield and extending out as far as Shafter and Wasco.

Wasco is the next stop up the line on the San Joaquin service. Unlike Bakersfield it is not a station with sufficient demand to justify receiving an HSR station. It would be an upgrade rather than a downgrade to receive a local rail service with higher frequencies to Bakersfield, and connecting to the HSR through to Fresno and Hanford in the region, and SF and LA when the HSR corridor is finished.

And without having to accommodate an Express HSR running through, the Bakersfield Station gains substantially more flexibility in both placement and in integration with the existing Amtrak station.

Conclusions & Conversations

The Sunday Train only really begins when you hop and board and join the conversation, and so that is where I want to turn it over to you.

Given that in the long-term livable case, we will find a way to achieve a "policy unlock" on all kinds of sustainable transport technologies, including electric High Speed Rail powered by sustainably generated electricity ...
... what kind of High Speed Rail would you like to see in your neck of the woods, and how would you like it to connect to the downtowns that you have an interest in?

Originally posted to Sunday Train on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 08:50 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Hawks, Central Valley Kossacks, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I've been preparing a diary on CAHSR... (8+ / 0-)

      ...or really, a series of diaries, from a professional civil engineer's viewpoint, on the engineering of HSR and CAHSR, but can't find the time to finish. Thank you for posting on this.


      ODS results in Obama's amazing ability to humiliate his biggest critics, on the right and the left.

      by NoFortunateSon on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 09:03:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  it would be interesting to learn ... (4+ / 0-)

        ... from a civil engineer's point of view, whether the California HSR Authority has got any smarter in its engineering planning since Judge Quentin Kopp stepped down as Chair of the Board. Judge Quentin Kopp seemed to me to be a "throw more concrete at it" kind of guy in answer to any problem.

        All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

        by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 09:54:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Weren't the Zephyrs approaching 115 mph (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee, BruceMcF

      back in the mid-1930s?

      •  The Zephyers were faster than the ... (14+ / 0-)

        ... the first Japanese bullet trains ...

        ... as far as the American obsession with top speed goes ...

        ... but the bullet trains got to their destination faster because the corridor was designed to allow them to stay close to their top speed for the majority of their trip.

        That's how the relatively slow Acela was passed off as a HSR system, based on its top speed of 150mph, when it is speed limited by the corridor ~ either turns, slow sections, inability to tilt in Connecticut because the track spacing is too tight, or electrification that limits top speed to more like 130mph, and even that is not attained for big chunks of the corridor.

        90mph Class 5 track or 110mph Class 6 track is what I have been calling "Rapid Rail" ~

        ~ its not what most of the world would consider as HSR, which is normally 125mph and above and with investment in allowing the train to maintain high rates of speed for the majority of the corridor ~

        ~ but its way better than our conventional rail intercity trains which with a top speed of 79 mph often have a transit speed of from 30mph to 45mph.

        In this case, in a section where the train is stopping anyway, its going to have to bring its speed down anyway, so the limit doesn't limit it very much.

        By contrast, slowing a 220mph train down to 110mph for the bottleneck section of corridor through Bakersfield can lose 5min of travel time ... and 5min here and 5min there and you start missing the 2:40 target express trip time.

        All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

        by BruceMcF on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 10:13:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I greatly admire your dedication to this. (10+ / 0-)

    Play on!

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

    by Greyhound on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 09:18:59 PM PDT

  •  I like your plan (8+ / 0-)

    It solves the need for a good station for Bakersfield with good access to the main city and connectivity to the existing network, while also allowing for a fast through train (or perhaps even some day a second station on the fast alignment if it was needed or useful). Best of all, you could add the express portion later as a speed upgrade for LA - SF while you concentrated on the rest of the project, keeping the priority as making it possible to make that trip completely using trains.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 10:55:39 PM PDT

  •  These are wonderful posts! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevenaxelrod, eeff, spacecadet1, BruceMcF

    Thank you so much for all of the great information and your thoughtful ideas on how to make this happen. I REALLY hope we can get a successful HSR project going in this country. We do need it so badly. California is definitely the best place to try to make this happen and to show that it can be successful. The first one just has to be successful, too. If it isn't, all of the opponents will just point and say - see, we told you so. That was billions wasted so no more.

    I worry about some of the other ones that are trying. It is such a carrot and egg proposition, it seems. People won't use a line unless it terminates where there are good transit alternatives that they need once they get there. That isn't always the case for some of them. I've lost track of where the Florida project is, but I was always worried about it. I think Tampa - Orlando was the first phase and I just never saw the necessary ridership for that to make it successful without lots of continued subsidies which would become immediate targets for the naysayers.

    I have a very good friend who works at a university in Ohio. He was very involved with their effort to put in a pseudo high rail system. I guess it was just an update so trains could go faster between Columbus and Cleveland. He worked hard for it cause he wanted it to be HSR, but I guess they only got enough money to do improvements. It apparently got cut by the governor's office. In hindsight, he said that was probably a good thing because the ridership estimates that were being touted were way too high. He said he felt the state would be on the hook for subsidies for years and that that might well kill any hope for HSR in that state for the future.

    It seems like the only way to make this happen successfully is to do a big end to end HSR project that links various extremely dense population centers. That's what California seems to be poised to do. I hope it is successful. I don't see any other project in the near term that has such a good chance.

    MY family loves to take the train whenever we can. My wife and I took a train on our honeymoon. It was wonderful! We have been hooked ever since! My daughter is headed to orientation for the start of her college career in the next few weeks. I was looking at airfares because her school is about 10 hours away by car. She told me that she had gotten Amtrak tickets for us weeks ago!!! The Amtrak station in her city is only about 5 blocks from her dorm.

    •  The Florida train was cut by the Gov. of FL ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gooderservice, BYw, KenBee

      ... but they had two private consortiums bidding on the basis of operate the corridor and at least one of them was willing to guarantee to cover any losses, so the private companies didn't see to think there was a high risk of it requiring subsidy ... that was just the excuse the Gov. gave for cutting it.

      This notion about there having to be transit for it to be a success is getting factors that help drive patronage with pre-requisites for patronage. There are a number of factors that can help drive patronage. If you have enough of them, you are OK, and its OK if one corridor has one set, while the other has another set.

      In Tampa/Orlando, you have the big generator of transport demand in Disney World and the other tourist destinations in the area, and the frequently congested Interstate corridor between Tampa and Orlando. And you had the major benefit of a corridor already set aside by the state Dept. of Transportation in the Interstate median, leading to substantially lower construction costs and faster construction times. So there was a reason it was the fully funded Express HSR corridor ~ it was the Express HSR that could be fully funded with very strong prospects for success.

      And given the state had an available private company that though the risk of the corridor requiring a subsidy was low enough that it was willing to guarantee to cover any operating losses, its impossible to see the FL Gov.'s "fear of losses" (based on a report from a "Libertarian" propaganda mill that was more full of holes than a block of Swiss Cheese) as anything more than a pretext.

      But that money was essentially given to California to extend the corridor they could build from the original "test track" north of Fresno to south of Fresno into the more useful section from north of Fresno to just north of Bakersfield.

      And while the Ohio project was axed by the newly elected GOP governor as a political favor to the road building lobby, it was going to be a conventional rail service to restore the Cleveland / Columbus / Cincinnati service cut in the 70's, and lay the foundation for a Rapid Rail service on that corridor in a follow-up project. The Rapid Rail project that was axed was in Wisconsin (for similar reasons).

      But the projects to improve conventional rail and lay the foundation for Rapid Rail continue in the Pacific Northwest and Virginia, and the projects to offer 110mph Rapid Rail service from Chicago to St. Louis and from Chicago to Michigan are continuing ... some of them using the same money that was handed back by the Gov's of OH and WI.

      So the handing of money back by three GOP governors didn't actually eliminate miles of rail corridor getting improvements, they just shuffled around where in the country those improvements were taking place.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 06:26:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Typo: is getting factors that help drive ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BYw, KenBee

        "is getting factors that help drive patronage with pre-requisites for patronage"

        should be: "is getting factors that help drive patronage confused with pre-requisites for patronage"

        Note that on the part of some opponents to HSR anywhere, no matter where, that confusion is fostered deliberately. You take whatever useful driving factor the corridor in question doesn't happen to have, and claim, "it doesn't have this, so it won't work" ...
        ... and even though the argument relies on leaving all the driving factors that are present unstated and ignored, so the claim is patent nonsense, it makes it sound to someone following the argument like "whether or not it will work without operating subsidies is a matter of controversy".

        All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

        by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 09:52:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  What I've often wondered while driving the valley (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF, spacecadet1

    ....what the heck happened to Standard Roads 1 thru 6?

    "Seventh Standard Road"..... who names these roads?

    "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

    by leftykook on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 04:59:52 AM PDT

    •  I beleive they wanted to name it in ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      leftykook, spacecadet1

      ... such a way that it would be later impossible to google for the history of the name, once the internet and google was invented.

      Try googling for "Seven Standard" ... the listicles totally drown out any historical references.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 06:31:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Try Googling for '"Seventh Standard Road" name' (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      leftykook, Randomfactor, BYw, BruceMcF

      http://www.bakersfield.com/...

      Seventh Standard Road lies on the Seventh Standard Parallel. Standard Parallels are the method used in surveying to compensate for the curvature of the Earth's surface and the convergence of the lines of longitude. These Standard Parallels are generally 24 miles apart.

      warning: snark probably above

      by NE2 on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 08:38:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That actually makes sense.... (0+ / 0-)

        A little like "Baseline" ....

        "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

        by leftykook on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 08:46:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  That would explain why its so straight ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KenBee

        ... I don't care why it is so much, but the fact that it runs pretty much straight across between two rail corridors that cross it at about 135 degree angles is quite convenient as far as keeping the Express HSR ~ maybe the "SuperMonarch" ~ moving at a steady high rate of speed toward its stop in Fresno HSR or Bob Hope HSR.

        All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

        by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 12:12:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  most roads in the Central Valley are straight (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BruceMcF

          And even where they're discontinuous, the lines between farm lots are not. You can thank the PLSS for that.

          I think about 1.5 miles north of 7th Standard, between Renfro and Burbank, would work better, since sprawl hasn't reached that far so fewer bridges are required. The parallel canals just to the north probably limit potential crossings.

          warning: snark probably above

          by NE2 on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 01:50:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If they find a straight alignment ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            KenBee

            ... running that way, that's lovely ~ the people that do the Alternatives Analysis having multiple alternatives to analyse is great, since it makes it more likely that a problem with one alignment is not a deal breaker ... the 7StdRd has a median that a viaduct can be put on, in areas where a median alignment in a walled filled embankment takes too much space, so its less likely to require takings.

            All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

            by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 04:58:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Is Sierra Club-California still maintaining (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF

    their previous unhelpful position on CA high speed rail?

    •  I presume so ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LakeSuperior, KenBee

      ... since they didn't win the fight on the Cap and Trade funding (given that Gov. Brown had more chips to trade than the Sierra Club had), it may not be all that relevant for the construction of the ICS, which should be the focus of the project and the CA HSR Authority for the next several years.

      Bakersfield Station is not part of the Initial Construction Segment, but its part of the EIS/EIR that covers the southern part of the ICS, and so its important to get that EIS/EIR past legal challenge by the time that the work on the northern part of the ICS is done, so work can proceed directly to the Fresno to Bakersfield section without delay.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 09:47:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I live in Bakersfield (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF, elfling, hankmeister, KenBee

    ...and there's a lot of uneducated opposition to HSR in total (in some cases, because it's Obama's fault.)  There's pressure on the City Council that I believe is aimed at trying to kill the whole process, and at least one of the councilmembers is essentially non compos mentis.

    Be aware that part of the local effort is suing on behalf of a local church--so I kid you not, it would not surprise me to see Hobby Lobby invoked.

    I fear for the republic.

    America, we can do better than this...

    by Randomfactor on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 09:08:53 AM PDT

    •  One possible benefit of the strategy here ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BYw, KenBee, Calamity Jean

      ... may be the opportunity to catch the opposition flat-footed.

      Its possible to say, "OK, a complete list of demands, and we'll see if we can 'tweek' it" ... and then come back, "OK, here are all of those demands met."

      Or do it in the court case itself ... "We've done this revision of the alignment into a through Bakersfield corridor for stopping trains only and an Express Bypass, which answers every point raised in the suit. Given that there are no remaining claims still relevant to this version, we are asking for the suit to be dismissed as no longer relevant to the project corridor."

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 09:44:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here's hoping you get your wish (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF, KenBee, Calamity Jean

    I used to commute back and forth from Lake County to Marin County and often expressed my wishes for high speed rail. "Bu t Elise, the fare for  that would cost you x amount of dollars," a friend would point out.

    I didn't have the heart to remind this person that not all of us drive Priuses, and the big gas guzzling thing I drive costs me more than that amount. (It's not used much, and it is all I can afford.) I did point out that many here make this commute in order to see doctors, and nothing is worse than driving for 2 hours, on hilly and switch back-style roads, when you are not feeling good.

    •  how far north does the current train go now? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BruceMcF

      and is it at all helpful?

      I can't remember that it isn't just freight, I thought there might have been a commuter train aspect to it...

      This machine kills Fascists.

      by KenBee on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 06:56:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  According to google maps, from Lake County ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KenBee

        ... the current train goes the other way from ... from Sacramento rather than Marin County.

        Phase 2 of the SMART is going to be going as far north as Cloverdale, but as far as getting to Cloverdale from Lake County, I don't know what the transport options are. It may be that Lake Country Transit will offer a connection once its possible to catch the train at Cloverdale ... maybe they'll extend the Ukiah bus to keep running from Lakeport to Cloverdale.

        All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

        by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 07:39:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  the north coast rr company? (0+ / 0-)

          carp, I can't remember the exact  name, they operate the remnant track from somewhere San Francisco way north to Sonoma county iirc...where the track is stopped because of the 1989 Eel River Slide..I can't remember if they carry freight only but my few dimming brain cells think..'commuter' so...elfling might know, I'd also start looking thru the North Coast Journal issues for more about the line..and the machinations of the directors....if there was a test tomorrow.

          the bus goes from Eureka to San Francisco bus terminal now...i think...then to the Starlight express track maybe in SJ.

          This machine kills Fascists.

          by KenBee on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 10:35:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  North Coast Railroad Authority ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            KenBee

            ... route map, history ... was established in 1989 to try to restore freight service, after freight service ended on the line in 2001 due to deferred, never completed maintenance.

            The section between Cloverdale and Larkspur IS the SMART alignment ~ that's why it says  "out of service, held for transit" between Ignacio and the ferry on the route map.

            On that route map you can see why the SMART Phase 2 North ends at Cloverdale ... just north of Cloverdale is the ... errr ... that rail tunnel.

            But Cloverdale is not far from Lakeport, where the Lake County buses meet, and if one of the Lake County buses running into Lakeport from the north were to be extended to meet the SMART in Cloverport after SMART Phase 2 is completed, that would be an appreciable improvement in regional common carrier access from the area ... not just to Marin County, but since the SMART Phase 2 South extends to the ferry, to SF as well.

            All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

            by BruceMcF on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 07:40:13 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I too live in Bakersfield... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF, Simplify

    Q1) How many people get off the train in Bakersfield and do not transfer to a bus? Or get on a train having transferred directly from an Amtrak bus?
    I strongly believe that an audit of boardings at Bakersfield is justified.

    I agree with you that a route approximately parallel to the Southern Pacific/Union Pacific tracks would be substantially easier except where SR 178 goes overhead of the  tracks at Q Street near Golden State Ave. Getting over or under the 178 Crosstown freeway would be interesting.

    My  other question is why does the route have to go through Shafter/Wasco/Hanford ?

    IF the route were to shadow the SP/UP line through Bakersfield it seems to me that it would be logical to extend the HSR along the SR 65 Corridor towards Porterville. The land along the eastern side of the valley in the Kern County portion of the SR 65 corridor is primarily hilly, unimproved grazing land. There should be more than enough dirt to do cut and fill for a 3000'+ curve. to join a PLSS section line.
    Additionally, the intersection of SR 43 & Seventh Standard road is the "ITTC"-  Intermodal Trade and Transporation Center,  which is a federally designated "FTZ" - Foreign Trade Zone.   Running passenger HSR near the ITCC needs to be seriously re-thought out.

    P.S.
    The correct spelling of the street name is TRUXTUN. That is with two U's.
    If they are naming the station after Truxton Beale then  use the O.

    •  2nd question first ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee

      ... because the route that parallels the UPRR alignment ... parallels the UPRR alignment, and BNSF placed fewer excessive and unreasonable demands on CHSRA.

      3rd question: why would running the HSR near the ITCC be problematic? You reckon its a bombing target?

      4th question: that blockquote is copy and paste, so its on the CHSRA how they spell it. Whether that means that its named after Truxton Beale or that means that they tried to name if after the street and failed, I couldn't say.

      1st question last ~ both the ridership through Bakersfield and the ridership from and to Bakersfield on the HSR will be a dramatic change to what happens with the 45mph (transit speed) San Joaquin with a limited number of service per day. An urbanized area of 500,000+ without a larger urbanized area in its immediate vicinity would normally get a station with service from the all-stations HSR train, but not necessarily from every express service running through, and that lines up with what the CHSRA is planning.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 05:10:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  ITTC (0+ / 0-)

        The problem that I see has more to do with the volume of freight in and out, the possibility of tangling with freight traffic and the expense of obtaining the land.

        •  There's no tangling with freight traffic ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... and, after all, the HSR already goes right by there, right next to those tracks carrying that freight ...

          ... because the HSR is entirely grade separated from road and rail traffic, so it doesn't cross a freight rail corridor at grade with crossing tracks, it crosses in an overpass or viaduct.

          Given the alignment in that area, it would likely be in a viaduct anyway for a part of the western side of a 7StdRd alignment. The reference to widening the median to allow it to run on a walled filled embankment with overpasses over intersections is to the eastern part of the corridor, since that is likely less expensive than a viaduct.

          All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

          by BruceMcF on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 07:51:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  an excellent piece and good read as always (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF

       I look forward to your Sunday Train all week. I do have a question but waited to post it because I didn't want to diary hijack.
        It appears to me that France can plan and build--not just rail lines, but highways and other public works--not only faster than us but more cheaply as well. Now this could easily be mere ignorance on my part, the "grass is greener" mentality. But if what I perceive is real, I am puzzled as to why. China, of course, as a despotic command state, can merely override local opposition and force projects through in indifference to cost. But France, like us, is a democracy. And French construction wages are as high or higher than ours, and surely in a long-settled nation the cost of condemning and acquiring property must on average be higher than in the more sparsely settled U.S. So this strikes me as a paradox worthy of explanation.
        The only possible answer I have come up with is that French engineers are an elite and highly trained corps of civil servants, and the state tightly oversees any project it does not itself run. But that doesn't seem very satisfying as an answer. In some future diary, could you examine the whole question of transportation construction costs and how they compare across nations and why? Thanks!

    "Something has gone very wrong with America, not just its economy, but its ability to function as a democratic nation. And it’s hard to see when or how that wrongness will get fixed." Paul Krugman and Robin Wells

    by Reston history guy on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 08:00:57 AM PDT

    •  When I can get a handle on it myself, ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Reston history guy

      ... certainly ... but while I have come across a variety of answers to the question, I get the impression I am in the blind men describing an elephant story, and I don't yet have a clear picture of the elephant.

      Part of it is that Americans are not used to handling big intercity rail projects like we are accustomed to handling big interstate highway projects, and there is some degree of inefficiency built into the way that we only build intercity rail in fits and starts ... we climb up the learning curve a ways, then by the time the next project comes along its been a while, and/or its in another state, and we do a lot of starting over.

      There's also issue of design lock in based on the way we do environmental protection through a system of getting a project approved and then the regulatory mechanism is that people bring lawsuits. I would venture to guess that it would be harder to get approval from the French Department of the Environment than to get an EIR/EIS approved ... but also much harder to sue once that approval has been given.

      A big factor is the one you touched on, that we have no substantial number of permanent civil servants engaged in these developing and managing these projects, the way we do highways, so that we turn to private consultants to do quite a bit which would be done in-company in France, or in-government in Germany.

      One of the advantage of getting the no-brainer HSR projects under construction is that as they begin to be operated, we'll start to look at the project benefits are not so open and shut unless the project can be brought in more efficiently, and that is the setting where solutions to inflated costs can get serious political weight thrown behind them.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 07:38:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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