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Old Posted Apr 8, 2010, 6:03 PM
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California High Speed Rail Thread - project updates & related discussion ONLY

Incredibly, I don't think a thread was ever started for CAHSR. It's past time so here it is.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cahsr_map.svg

California High Speed Rail Authority web site (many interactive features, renderings, videos and other goodies): http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/

Quote:
What is Proposition 1A?

Proposition 1A is the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act approved by voters on November 4, 2008. Voters were asked the following: “To provide Californians a safe, convenient, affordable, and reliable alternative to driving and high gas prices; to provide good-paying jobs and improve California's economy while reducing air pollution, global warming greenhouse gases, and our dependence on foreign oil, shall $9.95 billion in bonds be issued to establish a clean, efficient high-speed train service linking Southern California, the Sacramento San Joaquin Valley, and the San Francisco Bay Area, with at least 90 percent of bond funds spent for specific projects, with federal and private matching funds required, and all bond funds subject to independent audits?” . . . .

Will any Proposition 1A funds be used to improve current commuter, urban and intercity rail systems?

Yes. Proposition 1A provides for the allocation of $950 million of the total $9.95 billion in bond funds to eligible recipients for capital improvements to intercity rail ($190,000,000) and commuter rail and urban rail systems ($760,000,000). Eligible recipients are public agencies and joint powers authorities that operate commuter, light or heavy rail or cable car passenger services. The bond funds are to be used for capital improvements that provide direct connectivity to the high-speed train system, are part of the construction of the system, or that provide capacity enhancements, modernization, rehabilitation or safety improvements. Funds will be available upon appropriation by the Legislature in the annual Budget Act.

Intercity Rail - $190 M
Funds will be allocated for state-supported intercity rail lines by the California Transportation Commission (CTC) according to guidelines that the CTC will develop in consultation with the High Speed Rail Authority. Each of the state’s three intercity rail corridors (Capitol Corridor, San Joaquin Corridor, and Los Angeles-San Diego Corridor) will be allocated a minimum of 25% ($47.5 million) of the $190 million available.

Commuter and Urban Rail - $760 M
Funds will be allocated to eligible passenger rail agencies according to guidelines developed by the CTC, consistent with a statutory formula. Each recipient’s allocation will be a percentage amount based on the recipient’s share of three factors: 1) 1/3 based on the share of statewide total track miles, 2) 1/3 based on the share of statewide annual vehicle miles, and 3) 1/3 based on the share of statewide annual passenger trips. Recipients must provide a dollar-for-dollar local match and must maintain their previous annual average local expenditures for maintenance or rehabilitation of the passenger rail system so that the new funds supplement and do not replace existing funds for these purposes.
Source: http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/ne...=faqs&cat=8159

Quote:
What will it cost to build the California high-speed train system?

The most current estimated cost to build the 800-mile system is about $45 billion. Once built, the system will not require operating subsidies and will generate over $1 billion in annual profits.

Where will the financing come from?

The Authority awarded a Financial Planning contract in late 2006 to a team of financial experts. In May 2007, the Authority published the “High-Speed Train Preliminary Funding Strategy and Financing Plan”. This plan concluded that the project’s funding will likely comprise of private and public sources; however, support from local, state and federal sources will be particularly important in early development. It also concluded that the State can issue the $9.95 billion in GO debt scheduled on the November 2008 ballot, without exceeding the Administration’s current debt capacity guidelines.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority is actively pursuing a multi-track financing strategy for the planning, design and construction phases of the project, including three tiers: state and local funding, federal funding and “P3”- public-private partnerships.

State and Local Funding: $9.95 billion general obligation bond (Proposition 1A) . . . .

Federal Funding: Federal matching funds are expected to finance a significant portion of the construction cost. The targeted federal funding would come in part from existing program funding sources, but would also require the creation of new grant allocation programs designed specifically for high-speed trains. On October 30, 2007, the United States Senate passed the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2007, a multi-year piece of legislation that provides increased funding for the nation's rail system. This bill (H.R. 2095) was signed by President Bush on October 16, 2008 and creates a framework to provide a direct means of funding high-speed trains that had not existed at the federal level . . . .

(California HSR received approximately $2.5 billion of federal "stimulus" funding.)

Public-Private Partnerships “P3” Funding: The Authority’s finance team anticipates that the commitment of state and federal dollars will attract private sector funding. The Authority’s finance team has identified a broad array of public-private partnership opportunities, including project debt financing, vendor financing, system operations and private ownership.
In March 2008, the Authority announced the release of a Request for Expressions of Interest (REFI) for Private Participation in the Development of a High-Speed Train System in California. Through the responses to the REFI, the Authority gained a better understanding of how the Project and State can benefit from private sector participation while also garnering an appreciation for key considerations that may encourage or dissuade private sector participation, such as phasing, timing and risk. The Authority sought input from respondents as to potential interest in participating in the development aspects of a high-speed train system, including perspectives on project delivery methods and private project financing.
Source: http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/ne...=faqs&cat=8173
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Old Posted Apr 8, 2010, 6:09 PM
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Quote:
April 7, 2010
China Offers High-Speed Rail to California
By KEITH BRADSHER

BEIJING — Nearly 150 years after American railroads brought in thousands of Chinese laborers to build rail lines across the West, China is poised once again to play a role in American rail construction. But this time, it would be an entirely different role: supplying the technology, equipment and engineers to build high-speed rail lines.

The Chinese government has signed cooperation agreements with the State of California and General Electric to help build such lines. The agreements, both of which are preliminary, show China’s desire to become a big exporter and licensor of bullet trains traveling 215 miles an hour . . . .

China is offering not just to build a railroad in California but also to help finance its construction, and Chinese officials have already been shuttling between Beijing and Sacramento to make presentations, Mr. Crane said in a telephone interview.

China is not the only country interested in selling high-speed rail equipment to the United States. Japan, Germany, South Korea, Spain, France and Italy have also approached California’s High Speed Rail Authority.

The agency has made no decisions on whose technology to choose . . . .

According to G.E., the agreement calls for at least 80 percent of the components of any locomotives and system control gear to come from American suppliers, and labor-intensive final assembly would be done in the United States for the American market. China would license its technology and supply engineers as well as up to 20 percent of the components . . . .

The California rail authority plans to spend $43 billion to build a 465-mile route from San Francisco to Los Angeles and on to Anaheim that is supposed to open in 2020. The authority was awarded $2.25 billion in January in federal economic stimulus money to work on the project.

The authority’s plans call for $10 billion to $12 billion in private financing. Mr. Crane said China could provide much of that, with federal, state and local jurisdictions providing the rest. Mr. Zheng declined to discuss financial details . . ..

Toyota is shutting a big assembly plant in Fremont, Calif., that it once operated as a joint venture with General Motors, and one idea under discussion is converting the factory to the assembly of high-speed rail equipment, said Mr. Crane, who is also a member of the state’s Economic Development Commission.

Rail parts from China would then come through the nearby port of Oakland, in place of auto parts from Japan . . . .
Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/08/bu...al/08rail.html
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Old Posted Apr 8, 2010, 6:27 PM
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Lots of issues here.

But focusing on the Chinese "financing", the last I heard the Chinese were demanding federal guarantees before putting a nickel in which makes it US taxpayer financing. I would be very favorably impressed if they really put their own money in since this means that they believe the system might make economic sense. Otherwise, they are in it for the construction related profits and will let others take the risk.
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Old Posted Apr 8, 2010, 6:35 PM
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really there's no thread? just in the local section? i guess we spend too much time hating on las vegas and florida. now we all can hate on cali too.

i saw that article in the times. i know china has tons of money lying around and would LOVE to invest it in something like this, but id rather ride a japanese or french train than a chinese one. im not sure if jr or sncf have 12 billion dollars lying around though.
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Old Posted Apr 8, 2010, 6:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pesto View Post
Lots of issues here.

But focusing on the Chinese "financing", the last I heard the Chinese were demanding federal guarantees before putting a nickel in which makes it US taxpayer financing. I would be very favorably impressed if they really put their own money in since this means that they believe the system might make economic sense. Otherwise, they are in it for the construction related profits and will let others take the risk.
wasnt that only related to funding a line to las vegas?
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Old Posted Apr 8, 2010, 8:35 PM
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Northbay: you're right, my mistake. It could be the same terms, but that was a different proposal.
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Old Posted Apr 8, 2010, 10:15 PM
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the california high speed rail authority came out with some long awaited press releases today:

"Press Release: Alternatives outlined for key segments of high-speed rail. Public helps shape San Francisco-San Jose, Fresno-Merced project."
http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/ne...inal-40810.pdf

"Press Release: California High-Speed Rail Authority approves further study of shared track alternative for Los Angeles to Anaheim section"
http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/ne...Release-LA.pdf

these documents were taken from the ca hsra website: http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/

so will this satisfy people in the oc and on the pennisula? many were expecting a final decision (to elevate or dig?) to be made today, but i don't think that's coming till fall at the earliest.
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Old Posted Apr 8, 2010, 11:20 PM
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^One great piece of news today was officially discarding the Beale St. option for the SF terminus. Never saw how that would fly with all the property that would require eminent domain and demolition.
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Old Posted Apr 9, 2010, 3:29 AM
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more news on the norcal segments everyone is so worked up about:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mountain View Voice
Published Thursday, April 8, 2010, by the Mountain View Voice

HSR may cut into Central Expressway
Rail Authority: there will be no berms or "Berlin Wall" in Mountain View

By Jocelyn Dong and Daniel DeBolt
Mountain View Voice Staff

Should high-speed rail come to Mountain View, it will not sit atop a massive Berlin Wall, as some rail opponents have feared. But it may mean the loss of two
lanes on Central Expressway, according to a report released Thursday by the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

Though a berm may not happen, the 125-mph trains still could zip along on an aerial viaduct, in an underground tunnel, through an open trench or at street level, according to the report.

The Authority's report <http://tinyurl.com/HSRA-SF-SJ-AA-report>, a "preliminary alternatives analysis", identifies ways that the 48 miles of tracks between San Jose and San Francisco could be configured. It also eliminates options it deemed unfeasible due to factors such as geology, various cities' regulations, negative
effects on traffic, the need to protect natural resources and more.

Some methods will be significantly costlier than others. In Mountain View, theRail Authority reports a cost of $155 million for at grade tracks, $344 million
for an aerial viaduct, $615 million for an open trench and $1.4 billion for a covered trench. Yet the Rail Authority did not eliminate any option solely on
cost, according to the report.

The report also notes that the width of at grade and below grade alternatives may require a loss of two lanes on Central Expressway north of Rengstorff
Avenue. An option for an aerial platform is narrower, but would require that San Antonio Road overpass be removed and the road rebuilt at grade level across the
Caltrain right of way.

Between San Antonio Road and Castro Street, the report notes that "the berm option does not enhance connectivity and mobility as well as an aerial viaduct
option or trench or tunnel option. The aerial viaduct, at grade, and open trench options may result in the loss of two traffic lanes on Central Expressway north
of Rengstorff Avenue. A stacked configuration (2 tracks over 2 tracks) couldminimize right-of-way requirements and possible relocation of the VTA (light
rail). The aerial viaduct option requires converting the San Antonio Road and Shoreline Boulevard overpasses to at grade configurations."

Between Whisman Road and the Sunnyvale Caltrain station, the report points out a similar problem. "The aerial viaduct, at grade, and open trench options may
result in loss of one to two traffic lanes on Central Expressway or Evelyn Avenue. A stacked configuration (2 tracks over 2 tracks) could minimize right-of-way requirements."

The overall rail line, which would stretch from Los Angeles to San Francisco, received voters' approval for $9.95 billion in funding in November 2008.

Since then, rancorous debate and considerable grass-roots activism has occurred in some peninsula cities, along with city-organized lawsuits and lobbying.
Opponents, some protesting the rail line altogether and others advocating for a plan that will not harm residents' quality of life, have questioned the state agency's processes, calculations and receptivity to public input.

But holding fast to its prior plans, the Authority states that its analysis "reconfirms that four-track, grade-separated, shared Caltrain and High-Speed
Train system is feasible and the preferred ... alternative between San Francisco and San Jose on the Peninsula."

....
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/44789
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Last edited by northbay; Apr 9, 2010 at 3:42 AM.
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  #10  
Old Posted Apr 9, 2010, 5:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pesto View Post
Northbay: you're right, my mistake. It could be the same terms, but that was a different proposal.
Yeah. The chinese said they were willing to dump $7 Billion into the maglev project.
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Old Posted Apr 12, 2010, 4:17 PM
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Quote:
State's high-speed rail plan is up in the air
Phillip Matier,Andrew Ross
Monday, April 12, 2010

Is it a high-speed rail ride to the future or a Bay Bridge boondoggle times 10? That's what lawmakers are wondering as more and more questions arise about the plan to build a multibillion-dollar bullet train between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

"I'm all for high-speed rail, but I want it to be high-speed rail done right," says state Sen. Joe Simitian.

Simitian has plenty of reasons to be concerned. Not only will the rail line go right through his Peninsula district, but also he chairs the Senate budget subcommittee that oversees the $9 billion in voter-approved bonds for the project.

In addition to worries about how many backyards will be torn up for the line, he and other key legislators are asking question's about the High Speed Rail Authority's business plan - which remains murky at best.

For example, no sooner had voters approved the bond package than the initial $33.6 billion price estimate jumped to $42.6 billion because the authority had failed to account for inflation. And that cost could climb even higher if the rail goes underground through the Peninsula, as many communities are now requesting.

Then there is the estimated ticket price for a trip from L.A. to San Francisco, which has jumped to $105 one way - making the line much less competitive with the price of an airline ticket.

There are also questions being raised about the bullet train's ridership projections . . . .
Source: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...SF3I.DTL&tsp=1

Lot of second guessing going on.
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Old Posted Apr 12, 2010, 4:38 PM
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PR for the CHSRA has been a disaster so far ("so far" being 10+ years now).

The Authority didn't "fail to account for inflation." The $33.6 billion number is year of bond passage dollars (2008). The $42.6 is year of expenditure dollars (with amounts spent from 2008-2020 or so). Neither is more honest or dishonest than the other, they're simply different numbers. The only reason that year of expenditure dollars were released was that it was a requirement for receiving stimulus dollars. The fact that the Authority has never come out and fully explained this themselves is ridiculous.

Along the same lines, the $105 ticket is nothing more than an estimate of where airline ticket prices will be at the start of operation. The REAL PRICES being discussed are percentages - HSR prices will be set based upon a set percentage of air prices. Of course, this could change, but under the way that the business plan is written now, there is no chance at all that HSR will be priced higher than airlines - but the prices could be $30 or $300 depending on where plane tickets are.
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Old Posted Apr 16, 2010, 4:25 PM
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Quote:
Friday, April 16, 2010
Bullet train’s business study aims to get project on track
San Francisco Business Times - by Eric Young

Amid criticism from state officials and Peninsula residents, California’s high-speed rail planners will amend their business plan to better estimate ridership and revenue on the planned $42.6 billion project.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority said last week it hired consultants at Cambridge Systematics and transportation researchers at University of California, Davis, to produce new ridership and revenue estimates.

Additionally the rail authority said the Institute of Transportation Studies at University of California, Berkeley, will review the authority’s existing ridership forecasts. Their work will be done by the end of the year . . . .

The bullet train’s rider and revenue plan, submitted to state lawmakers four months ago, is imporant. If the system can show substantial ridership and revenue numbers, it will have an easier time attracting private investors and other government support . . . .
Source: http://sanfrancisco.bizjournals.com/...19/story5.html
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Old Posted Apr 16, 2010, 6:03 PM
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The reviews are important because it's hard to take their estimates seriously any more. I don't know the specifics of who's reviewing, but the institutions involved strike me as potentially having conflicts of interest. Somewhere out of state and with no past connections would be ideal.

I notice also that Buena Park has joined the list of cities looking for re-routing and mitigation. Apparently eminent domain was an issue there as it was on the Peninsula.
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Old Posted Apr 19, 2010, 11:55 PM
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Quote:
Atherton, Menlo Park, Palo Alto draft letters slamming high-speed rail project
By Jessica Bernstein-Wax
Daily News Staff Writer
Posted: 04/16/2010 09:17:11 PM PDT
Updated: 04/17/2010 01:17:50 AM PDT

Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto next week will consider approving letters that tell the California High-Speed Rail Authority they still have major problems with its proposal to run bullet trains up the Peninsula even after the agency revised a draft environmental impact report on the project.

The rail authority had to change sections of the draft report after Atherton, Menlo Park and several environmental groups filed a lawsuit challenging the agency's selection of the Pacheco Pass route that would take the trains through the Peninsula, instead of through the East Bay.

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny ruled last August that the draft report failed to provide an adequate description of the project or include proper land-use analysis. He also said the rail authority should have recirculated the documents after Union Pacific Railroad Co. stated it didn't want to share its tracks with bullet trains.

Atherton has drafted a letter — which the town council will discuss Wednesday night — that roundly criticizes the revised environmental document, saying it failed to respond to Kenny's ruling or comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, known as CEQA.

"And most of all, it still does not adequately respond to the concerns of the people most affected," the letter states. "The public controversy over the alignments selected in the months since the court ruling should have resulted in a reevaluationof other alternatives, either another way to run the train up the Peninsula, and/or another route not on the Peninsula."

The draft letter goes on to criticize the authority for not analyzing what property it may need to seize in Atherton and other Peninsula municipalities to build the tracks and for neglecting to study vibration impacts, as the court requested.

In its letter, Palo Alto objects to "the failure of the California High-Speed Rail Authority ... to solicit comments from communities along the Peninsula" during the scoping process and the original and revised environmental report public review, as required by CEQA. The Palo Alto City Council will decide whether to approve the letter at a meeting Monday night.

Menlo Park's proposed letter, which the council will discuss at a meeting Tuesday night, asks the authority to further study stopping high-speed rail in San Jose or Union City and connecting it to BART or Caltrain there.

"This analysis should include the possibility of sending some (high-speed trains) all the way to San Francisco on shared tracks with Caltrain," the letter says. "These trains (sic) sets could run at speeds similar to the current trains run by Caltrain and on the same number of tracks as Caltrain."

California voters in November 2008 approved Proposition 1A, a measure authorizing the sale of $9.9 billion in bonds to help finance the $45 billion San Francisco-to-Los Angeles high-speed rail line.

Rail authority Deputy Director Jeff Barker said Friday that attorneys have determined the agency can't legally consider stopping the trains in San Jose because the already approved measure "says San Francisco is the northern terminus" . . . .
Source: http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-...nclick_check=1
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Old Posted Apr 20, 2010, 12:07 AM
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This reeks of NIMBYism, and the stench is overwhelming...

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Old Posted Apr 20, 2010, 12:19 AM
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Originally Posted by glowrock View Post
This reeks of NIMBYism, and the stench is overwhelming...

Aaron (Glowrock)
That's exactly what it is. You can't even consider calling it anything else. But the folks in those 3 cities have no shame and really don't care what the rest of us call it. They are rich, entitled and they want what they want, the rest of the state be d*mned. The real question is, can they successfully use the legal system to get what they want. I sure hope not, but I'm worried. It's California, after all, where single individuals and small fish or snakes have been known to stop mighty projects in their tracks (as they say).
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Old Posted Apr 20, 2010, 12:22 AM
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^Pretty terrible reporting too. Including statements like this:

Quote:
"And most of all, it still does not adequately respond to the concerns of the people most affected," the letter states. "The public controversy over the alignments selected in the months since the court ruling should have resulted in a reevaluation of other alternatives, either another way to run the train up the Peninsula, and/or another route not on the Peninsula."

The draft letter goes on to criticize the authority for not analyzing what property it may need to seize in Atherton and other Peninsula municipalities to build the tracks and for neglecting to study vibration impacts, as the court requested.
Why does the author neglect to state anywhere in the article that the judgment in the lawsuit last summer specifically upheld that the authority was in the right with ALL of their dealings on the peninsula? The court didn't request anything more be done with the Menlo Park and Atherton segments - only some parts of the segments in San Jose.

"Should have resulted in a reevaluation of other alternatives" - ???? Why, exactly? Because the dude she interviewed says so? She couldn't interview the other side or possibly look at what the court said last summer when all of the requests for other alternatives were clearly thrown out, and perhaps mention that?
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Old Posted Apr 20, 2010, 1:29 AM
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I think you're being a little harsh. The article is just reporting about these letters the Peninsula cities are sending. The "Should have resulted in a reevaluation of other alternatives" bit is what one of the letters says. It's not up to the reporter to explain the logic (or lack of logic) of the city.
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Old Posted Apr 20, 2010, 2:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BTinSF View Post
I think you're being a little harsh. The article is just reporting about these letters the Peninsula cities are sending. The "Should have resulted in a reevaluation of other alternatives" bit is what one of the letters says. It's not up to the reporter to explain the logic (or lack of logic) of the city.
I suppose that maybe I was a little harsh, but I still think it's pretty sloppy journalism to not even mention when something is blatantly false. Maybe at least include a link to one of the past stories that her own paper has done? If you're just going to state exactly what the letter says without adding any context or commenting on whether the facts are correct, why not simply reprint the letter verbatim?

She does go into a little bit of detail with other parts, but completely leaves out the fact that the judge dismissed every single one of the complaints regarding the peninsula section of track. If I were reading the article without knowing more, I would certainly assume that part of the EIR being revised dealt with the peninsula section.
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