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  #81  
Old Posted Apr 7, 2012, 3:24 PM
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That money will be spent on transportation infrastructure whether high-speed rail gets built or not. Currently the flights between Northern and Southern California are ranked among the busiest routes for air traffic in the world with millions of passengers per year (link). As the population of the state increases more airport runways and facilities will need to be built unless we have HSR up and running. Freeways through heavily urbanized North-South corridors will need to be widened, such as S.F. to Gilroy or L.A. to San Diego. Thirty years from now it's possible that they will need to widen most of highway 99 as the Central Valley's population continues to grow.
Exactly right. The alternative to high speed rail isn't not spending anything. The alternative to high speed rail is spending tens of billions of dollars on highway and airport expansions. Widening I-5 in San Diego County, alone, is expected to cost between $3B - $5B. Bringing Highway 99 to interstate standards has been estimated to cost $25B.

Admittedly, high speed rail is extensive but some perspective is much-needed. Yonah Freemark of the Transport Politic, had a good post about this last year. California's GDP over the 22 years that construction of high speed rail will take will be $42 trillion dollars. High speed rail is expected to cost $70B. According to Mr. Freemark, this is 0.20 percent of the entire California economy over this period. Assuming a constant $13B annual Caltrans budget over this period, just under $300B will be spent on transportation (http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2...be-understood/). This is a little more than one-half of one percent of California's economic output over this period.
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  #82  
Old Posted Apr 7, 2012, 8:56 PM
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Under Dan Richard, the California High Speed Rail Authority has taken many steps to reduce the estimated cost to $68B from the $100B (admittedly more than the original $40B). It does this by using existing infrastructure in the Bay Area and Southern California, specifically by electrifying Caltrain track and using the Metrolink tracks in Southern California. Because of the use of this existing infrastructure, the Initial Operating System will now extend from Merced to Sylmar in the San Fernando Valley (http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_203...n-gets-support ). This can no longer be described as a train-to-nowhere in any fairness.

It is estimated that the entire Interstate Highway System cost between $400B and $500B to complete. Was all of this money available in 1956 when Eisenhower first proposed this? Of course not. The highway system was built in sections and funded as money became available through the gas tax. This gas tax is also insufficient to maintain the interstate highway system now. The federal highway trust fund is bankrupt and has needed to be bailed out by the general fund (i.e. subsidies) by $7B - $8B for each of the past four years.
you cant compare a rail system to the highway system. its apples and oranges. people love their cars, thats why people put rims and stereo systems and what not in them. a car is an extension of who they are and they will not give up their cars to ride a train. the highway system was a great investment, but a rail system doesnt serve even close to as many as a highway system. this isnt the 1800's when you could choose between riding horseback, a covered chuck wagon or the train. cars will beat train any day of the week because of convenience. a car can take you door to door. a train cant. a car can take you DIRECTLY to parks and sites, a train cant. WE ARE A LAZY COUNTRY, and thats why investing $100 BILLION or even $68 BILLION on a train system that really only benefits the central valley is too much.
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  #83  
Old Posted Apr 8, 2012, 3:54 AM
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ANAHEIM – For years, the idea of a high-speed rail system in California has been sold as a line that would whisk passengers from the San Francisco Bay Area to the resort area of Anaheim.

But now it appears that line will stop short of the Disneyland area, ending instead in Los Angeles – at least in the first phase, according to new plans released by the California High Speed Rail authority this week.

The rail agency has been looking at ways to make the $68-billion line more cost efficient and confirmed this week that new plans show the southern terminus at L.A.'s Union Station, potentially saving $6 billion.

Instead of getting to Anaheim at speeds of up to 220 mph via train, travelers would have to take slower trains to make the 30-mile trek south of Los Angeles.

That's potentially bad news for high-speed rail supporters and tourism officials counting on the line bringing millions of passengers annually directly to Anaheim, within miles of Disneyland and the surrounding resort area. The Walt Disney Co. has strongly advocated for the project.

But some Anaheim officials are quick to point out that Anaheim isn't being cut out of plans all together. And Orange County and Los Angeles transportation officials have long been talking about other options.

Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray said Anaheim is still working on getting faster trains between L.A. and Anaheim – just not the "electrified" lines that are projected to be so expensive.

"We (on the City Council) are working closely with the resort district for enhanced train service to better serve Anaheim and the region," Murray said. "We still believe that can happen with trains that travel 90 to 110 mph, just not the 220 mph of the electrified lines."

State voters approved the concept of an Anaheim-to-San Francisco line with Prop 1A in 2008. So Anaheim couldn't be left out entirely without voters weighing in again, Murray said.

Some in Orange County, including Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson, whose district includes Anaheim, think the cost-saving measure is a good idea. Nelson has said publicly for years that electrifying the system between Anaheim and L.A. isn't cost efficient.

Orange County lost a strong advocate on the state's rail board last July, when former Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, who also served on the state's High Speed Rail Authority, resigned.

Anaheim is still moving forward with its transportation hub, called ARTIC, a $200-million project that will serve trains, buses and taxis in the region. An open house at the site between Angel Stadium and the Honda Center for potential contractors is planned May 2.

Some Anaheim officials said Saturday that they hadn't been contacted about any changes, including Councilwoman Lorri Galloway, who represents Anaheim on the Orange County Transportation Authority board.

"It is so in flux," Galloway said. "So to comment on what may or may not happen, I think at this point is premature. We'll have to see."
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  #84  
Old Posted Apr 10, 2012, 3:23 AM
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Congressional panel launches probe of California's high-speed rail project


A congressional committee has launched a wide-ranging examination of the California high-speed rail project, including possible conflicts of interest and how the agency overseeing it plans to spend billions of dollars in federal assistance.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), notified the California High-Speed Authority about the review Monday and ordered the agency to preserve its documents and records of past communications.

Committee members say they want to ensure that tax dollars are being spent appropriately and check for possible conflicts of interest involving rail officials and contractors. They also plan to determine whether a large government commitment to the bullet train would siphon federal tax dollars away from other important transportation projects.

"California high-speed rail was sold to voters as a grand vision for tomorrow but in practice appears to be no different than countless other pork-barrel projects — driven more by political interests and consultant spending than valid cost-benefit analysis," Issa said. "Before more taxpayer money is sent to the rail authority, questions must be answered about mismanagement, conflicts of interest, route selection, ridership and other risks."

As much as $4 billion in federal funds have either been provided or set aside so far for the 500-mile project, the estimated cost of which has fluctuated between $33 billion and $98.5 billion. The current estimate is $68 billion.

High-speed rail officials plan to pay for half the project's costs with federal funds. Republicans in Congress, however, have repeatedly opposed giving additional money to the bullet train.

The committee's notification letter says there are additional concerns about the project's compliance with Proposition 1A, the California ballot measure passed in 2008 that authorized more than $9 billion in state bonds for the project. The panel further notes that since 2010, allegations of conflict of interest have surfaced regarding authority board members at a time when the authority received and spent federal funds.

"I understand that these conflicts may have contributed to a pattern of weak oversight and mismanagement of the project," Issa wrote. "The ability of the California High-Speed Authority to evaluate properly these contractors is incredibly important for the protection of taxpayer money."

High-speed rail officials declined to comment, except to say they will cooperate with the committee and are confident that no problems will be found.

Also Monday, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), who has strongly backed the Obama administration's high-speed rail agenda, said she was "quite disappointed" by the rail authority's plan to drop the Anaheim-to-Los Angeles route out of the current $68-billion plan.

"Failure to link the high-speed rail system to Orange County negatively impacts the county's residents and our local economy, and is a disappointment for the state of California," Sanchez said. "To develop our state for the 21st century, we must embrace a transportation system that allows our commerce to run."

The decision by the rail authority, first reported by The Times on Friday, reflects the lukewarm support the project has received among Republican lawmakers in the county and local transportation officials, including board members of the Orange County Transportation Authority.
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  #85  
Old Posted Apr 10, 2012, 3:40 AM
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Congressional panel launches probe of California's high-speed rail project


A congressional committee has launched a wide-ranging examination of the California high-speed rail project, including possible conflicts of interest and how the agency overseeing it plans to spend billions of dollars in federal assistance.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), notified the California High-Speed Authority about the review Monday and ordered the agency to preserve its documents and records of past communications.

Committee members say they want to ensure that tax dollars are being spent appropriately and check for possible conflicts of interest involving rail officials and contractors. They also plan to determine whether a large government commitment to the bullet train would siphon federal tax dollars away from other important transportation projects.

"California high-speed rail was sold to voters as a grand vision for tomorrow but in practice appears to be no different than countless other pork-barrel projects — driven more by political interests and consultant spending than valid cost-benefit analysis," Issa said. "Before more taxpayer money is sent to the rail authority, questions must be answered about mismanagement, conflicts of interest, route selection, ridership and other risks."

As much as $4 billion in federal funds have either been provided or set aside so far for the 500-mile project, the estimated cost of which has fluctuated between $33 billion and $98.5 billion. The current estimate is $68 billion.

High-speed rail officials plan to pay for half the project's costs with federal funds. Republicans in Congress, however, have repeatedly opposed giving additional money to the bullet train.

The committee's notification letter says there are additional concerns about the project's compliance with Proposition 1A, the California ballot measure passed in 2008 that authorized more than $9 billion in state bonds for the project. The panel further notes that since 2010, allegations of conflict of interest have surfaced regarding authority board members at a time when the authority received and spent federal funds.

"I understand that these conflicts may have contributed to a pattern of weak oversight and mismanagement of the project," Issa wrote. "The ability of the California High-Speed Authority to evaluate properly these contractors is incredibly important for the protection of taxpayer money."

High-speed rail officials declined to comment, except to say they will cooperate with the committee and are confident that no problems will be found.

Also Monday, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), who has strongly backed the Obama administration's high-speed rail agenda, said she was "quite disappointed" by the rail authority's plan to drop the Anaheim-to-Los Angeles route out of the current $68-billion plan.

"Failure to link the high-speed rail system to Orange County negatively impacts the county's residents and our local economy, and is a disappointment for the state of California," Sanchez said. "To develop our state for the 21st century, we must embrace a transportation system that allows our commerce to run."

The decision by the rail authority, first reported by The Times on Friday, reflects the lukewarm support the project has received among Republican lawmakers in the county and local transportation officials, including board members of the Orange County Transportation Authority.
ISSA is the biggest hypocrite alive. Oh and hes a crook too.
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  #86  
Old Posted Apr 10, 2012, 4:13 AM
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ISSA is the biggest hypocrite alive. Oh and hes a crook too.
doesnt matter now. jerry brown is asking the legislature to approve 2 billion for high speed rail so it can get started right away. with a congressional investigation about to take place, there no way the legislature will approve any funds until the investigation is complete and the CHSRA has been found to be free and clear, which isnt going to happen because there is a conflict of interest which is why the investigation was opened.
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  #87  
Old Posted Apr 10, 2012, 7:12 PM
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doesnt matter now. jerry brown is asking the legislature to approve 2 billion for high speed rail so it can get started right away. with a congressional investigation about to take place, there no way the legislature will approve any funds until the investigation is complete and the CHSRA has been found to be free and clear, which isnt going to happen because there is a conflict of interest which is why the investigation was opened.
Darrell Issa is one of the most partisan members of Congress and has very little credibility.

A Businessman in Congress Helps His District and Himself
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/us...pagewanted=all
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  #88  
Old Posted Apr 10, 2012, 7:19 PM
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ANAHEIM – For years, the idea of a high-speed rail system in California has been sold as a line that would whisk passengers from the San Francisco Bay Area to the resort area of Anaheim.

But now it appears that line will stop short of the Disneyland area, ending instead in Los Angeles – at least in the first phase, according to new plans released by the California High Speed Rail authority this week.
As noted on another blog, the per mile cost of extending high speed rail from LA to Orange County will be less than widening I-5 next to the LA/Orange County border, which will cost $228M per mile.

Caltrans Begins I-5 Widening in Santa Fe Springs
http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/Publica...ory.php?id=676

This is occurring at a time when vehicle miles traveled (VMT) has decreaesd every year for the past 4-5 years, yet you don't hear the high speed rail critics and Ayn Rand-disciples suggesting that investing in freeways is a boondoggle.
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  #89  
Old Posted Apr 10, 2012, 9:09 PM
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Darrell Issa is one of the most partisan members of Congress and has very little credibility.

A Businessman in Congress Helps His District and Himself
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/us...pagewanted=all
the difference is that everyone in Darrell Issa's district knows who he is , what he is about and they vote for him anyway and he is not the one who is trying to spend TENS of billions of tax dollars on a single project. right now, overall fiscal responsibility is rewarded, unlike the old days when politicians used to be called out for not bringing home the bacon. serving himself is something that is expected from ALL politicians, dem or repub
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  #90  
Old Posted Apr 10, 2012, 9:16 PM
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As noted on another blog, the per mile cost of extending high speed rail from LA to Orange County will be less than widening I-5 next to the LA/Orange County border, which will cost $228M per mile.

Caltrans Begins I-5 Widening in Santa Fe Springs
http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/Publica...ory.php?id=676

This is occurring at a time when vehicle miles traveled (VMT) has decreaesd every year for the past 4-5 years, yet you don't hear the high speed rail critics and Ayn Rand-disciples suggesting that investing in freeways is a boondoggle.
decreased VMT in santa fe springs?? lol!!!! I-5 through santa fe springs is super packed. you obviously have no idea what its like to drive that stretch do you? never been caught in the traffic headed north from OC to LA? there is no decrease on any stretch of I-5 through LA or any freeway for that matter. widening a stretch of super used freeway is a good investment. tens of thousands of cars per day, perhaps more using that stretch. your argument doesnt have much merit there.
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  #91  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2012, 4:53 AM
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"Investment"? What's the rate of return for a freeway?
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  #92  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2012, 10:59 AM
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Exactly, how much profit has I-5 earned CA residents? As the Ayn Rand-disiciples like to say, if California's highways were profitable, why is government operating them?

@kryptos: nowhere did I say vehicle miles traveled was decreasing on this section of I-5 but it has been decreasing nationally every year for the past 4-5 years.

http://www.ssti.us/2012/02/motor-veh...trend-in-2011/

http://dc.streetsblog.org/2011/07/08...lical-decline/
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  #93  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2012, 3:56 PM
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Exactly, how much profit has I-5 earned CA residents? As the Ayn Rand-disiciples like to say, if California's highways were profitable, why is government operating them?

@kryptos: nowhere did I say vehicle miles traveled was decreasing on this section of I-5 but it has been decreasing nationally every year for the past 4-5 years.

http://www.ssti.us/2012/02/motor-veh...trend-in-2011/

http://dc.streetsblog.org/2011/07/08...lical-decline/
thats my point. you were talking about overall VMT decreasing, but then pointed out widening of I-5 in santa fe springs


and are you joking? I-5 brings jobs and commerce to the entire nation. from bringing in and exporting goods at both borders with mexico and canada and agriculture from dates in palm springs to washington red apples and everything inbetween. hundreds of billions of dollars, thousands of jobs and all because of I-5 and all of of those trucks on it carrying goods which equal money which equal jobs which equal employees circulating their wages back into the community which creates or sustains other jobs and has both a sales and income tax going back into public safety and parks and even your projects like your beloved train

on a separate note, Dianne Feinstein yesterday said she supports Brown and the HSR, but said HSR will only run in the central part of the state (fresno, merced), it will not be in either SF bay or LA population centers. sounds like a violation of prop 1A, which means the 9 billion in bonds cannot be spent if they go forward with a central valley only HSR. federal support depends on GOP support and at current, it doesnt have it. why should we spend any money until we know its fully funded? do we really want a HSR track running from merced to chowchilla before the money runs out?
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  #94  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2012, 7:17 PM
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This reminds me of gun-control debates where any firearm below a certain size is a "concealable pocket rocket" and any firearm above that size is a "deadly assault weapon." Basically, when the HSR plan is big and comprehensive, the critics say it's too big and expensive. When it is scaled back in response to criticism, the critics say it's too small and doesn't fit the specifications of the bill. There is no happy medium for the anti-train folks.

Infrastructure investment does produce returns--but the types of places created by those investments vary. Rail-based infrastructure tends to promote more vertical, compact development--when the United States had the best railroad system in the world, we built compact cities and invented the skyscraper to address the need for better use of space. Road/highway based infrastructure tends to promote more horizontal, broad development over wider areas due to the space requirements of the car. When we built the best highway system in the world, cities sprawled horizontally and we invented the shopping mall and the big-box store, surrounded by huge parking lots, to address the need for automobiles to park everywhere. So we traded skyscrapers for "landscrapers"--and HSR represents the transportation infrastructure we will need to trade back!
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  #95  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 12:35 AM
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This reminds me of gun-control debates where any firearm below a certain size is a "concealable pocket rocket" and any firearm above that size is a "deadly assault weapon." Basically, when the HSR plan is big and comprehensive, the critics say it's too big and expensive. When it is scaled back in response to criticism, the critics say it's too small and doesn't fit the specifications of the bill. There is no happy medium for the anti-train folks.

Infrastructure investment does produce returns--but the types of places created by those investments vary. Rail-based infrastructure tends to promote more vertical, compact development--when the United States had the best railroad system in the world, we built compact cities and invented the skyscraper to address the need for better use of space. Road/highway based infrastructure tends to promote more horizontal, broad development over wider areas due to the space requirements of the car. When we built the best highway system in the world, cities sprawled horizontally and we invented the shopping mall and the big-box store, surrounded by huge parking lots, to address the need for automobiles to park everywhere. So we traded skyscrapers for "landscrapers"--and HSR represents the transportation infrastructure we will need to trade back!
HSR IS A NEW HIGHWAY SYSTEM. look at it on a map. seeing that we already have a highway system, what difference will it make? will goods be getting hauled on HSR? nope, its not even in discussion. will it be profitable? nope. if it had possibility of profit, private business would be interested in it but they are not. and if HSR comes online, its already guaranteed to have a high ticket price meaning the poor and middle class wont ride it, it is in its current blended form longer transportation time than a plane from LA to SF, the first phase only goes from L.A. to merced...who the hell in glamour capital L.A. is just waiting to see the country towns of the san joaquin valley and the high desert and ag fields along the way? so seriously, what difference will it make in the grand scheme of things? and just for future reference, I am not anti-train, Im anti-goverment waste in all forms, and i believe the train is a form of it. IF IT WAS PRIVATE MONEY funding this, i would be in total support of it
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