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Rail chief pitches new high-speed plan

Original post made on Mar 14, 2012

Leaders of the California High Speed Rail Authority said a new business plan will include fewer tracks on the Peninsula and a lower price tag for the controversial project. A state Senate hearing on high-speed rail packed the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday night. Photo by Michelle Le.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012, 10:43 AM

Comments (17)

Posted by Ed, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 14, 2012 at 10:46 am

All I see here is four old white guys behind the biggest scam of the century designed to rip off the taxpayers while making a few connected people very wealthy.

Posted by Old Ben, a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 14, 2012 at 11:10 am

Umberg and Van Ark took the money and ran. Now we've got Dan Richard, who comes to the HSR scam from that corporate pillar of the community, PG&E.

This is like a Mel Brooks movie: SPRINGTIME FOR HSR. These people have no shame.

Posted by Christopher Parkinson, a resident of Willowgate
on Mar 14, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Christopher Parkinson is a registered user.

Old Ben and everyone else. If you are so against this and see the rationale for all of this to stop, lets get a referendum on the ballot to stop Prop 1A this year. If you want to stop CalTrain, lets put a ballot initiative up to delete their board and to give the corridor over to BART.

BART is a success where CalTrain is a killer, an asthma driven mass transit system for the few, and a failure. BART has a fabulous safety record, keeps on time, and is willing to put the train in a trench and can.

The electrification of CalTrain is merely a go around to the CHSRA and its EIR requirements. Shame on those politicians who huckster this "blended system". It is nothing but the status quo of lack of safety; there will be many more deaths along the corridor as frequency goes up. BART has no deaths because it mitigates the safety very well. It is just a matter of time when a car gets into an accident and careens onto the tracks below just like what happened in Germany recently. A covered trench design mitigates that.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 14, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Mr. Parkinson,

Since several years of construction would be required to extend BART from Millbrae to Diridon Station, I assume you would want either Caltrain to keep running in the interim or its 40,000 daily trips to join the traffic on 101, either way, not much better than HSR construction impacts.

Also, in addition to granting the right of way, BART would require additional compensation similar to that on the Berryessa and Millbrae extensions since San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties have never had to pay BART property taxes. Combining the "buy in" with typical BART construction costs based on the latest Berryessa estimates, now all we have to do is convince statewide voters that we are so special that their $9.9Billion in Prop 1A bonds should go to help Silicon Valley correct an error made by our predecessors in the Valley of Hearts Delight when they decided without a public vote not to join BART fifty years ago. When you get a high-profile former elected to sign on to that effort as spokesperson, let me know where to send my $50 contribution.

Posted by gcoladon, a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 14, 2012 at 2:33 pm

gcoladon is a registered user.

Is "$98.5 million estimate" supposed to read "$98.5 billion estimate"?

Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow, a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I voted for proposition 1A. Since then the cost has tripled, the timeline has been extended dramatically, the projected passenger load has decreased, and the projected ticket price has increased. I want a revote!

A rational, but not political, person would start the construction with a Bakersfield to Palmdale link between Amtrak and Metrolink. That would provide train service from San Francisco and Sacramento to Los Angeles.

Two predictions: first, political pressure from Washington will force construction of the 130 miles in the central valley. Second, your grandchildren will someday visit the California Railroad Museum in Sacramento and see a display of a platinum spike with a placard stating that it was the spike from the Obama 300 mile railroad in central California.

Posted by steve, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 14, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Another example of CA voters voting for something new and shiny and then realizing that govt cannot deliver anything on time or on budget. This is followed by massive outrage and handwringing until the next shiny new project is put on the ballot. Rinse, repeat

Posted by Steve, a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 14, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Hey Voice and Weekly!

Be careful with those millions and billions tossed around wantonly in the story. Your spell checker cannot help you with political math. I found at least two mis-uses of the two words.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 14, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Mr. Sosnow,

On October 17, 2013, 24 years after the Loma Prieta earthquake we might have a new eastern span Bay Bridge to drive on. We would already have a boring looking San Mateo Bridge style viaduct in operation if Caltrans had been allowed to build their original design.

Why are the mayors Brown (Willie and Jerry) entitled to a better bridge when the rest of us are not entitled to a better HSR? The costs and time have gone up precisely because those of us on the Peninsula who voted for the measure have made it so much more expensive to implement than what the limited planning staff of the authority before the bond vote envisioned. Planning and design also costs money (whether done well or badly), and those funds were not available until Prop 1A passed. We've argued for so long that the economic benefits of construction will be nominal, and costs may further increase.

None of that stopped the original bridges, the new Eastern Span, the State and Federal water projects, or the construction of our UC universities. This is another milestone project that might define our State for the next fifty years (unless we chicken out).

Posted by gcoladon, a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 14, 2012 at 4:27 pm

gcoladon is a registered user.

Dear Editors,

Is "$2.7 million in Prop 1A bonds" supposed to read "$2.7 billion in Prop 1A bonds".

No wonder Americans are innumerate, if journalists and editors are too.


Posted by Christopher Parkinson, a resident of Willowgate
on Mar 14, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Christopher Parkinson is a registered user.

Steve, The cost for electrifying CalTrain is $1.5 billion (from last nights meeting). The cost for the Berryesa BART link is under $1 billion. So the reality is either is comparable but BART is the better choice because of safety mitigation. What I think we need here is the Joint Powers Board to commission a proposal from both BART and CalTrain and do so with public input. Either way the disruption is the same. The benefit of BART is for Mountain View is the covered trench design that can mitigate the traffic impacts at the Castro-CalTrain intersection and provide form more retail or food related organizations.

The MTC is funding the $1.5 billion from gas taxes it is required of them to create and RFP with BART being an alternative. They not doing that and keeping the funding where they push it to is a violation of public money dispersant of funds over $25,000 have to go to bid. That is a RICO violation as well and is a felony. As well there are other criminal liabilities that have to be addressed. We should all call on the MTC to either but out or to offer BART to submit their own proposal.

The trench at Castro means a 3000 foot run and a 15 foot drop. That is only 5% grade and I believe. CalTrain cannot do that and would have to tunnel under the creek. Dumb.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Mr. Parkinson:

BART to Berryessa is 2.1 billion for 10 miles. See fact sheet Web Link

The last little bit under San Jose is estimated at another 4 billion.

You can imagine the very large cost for removing nearly 40 grade crossings for peninsula BART, something that is required before the first train can run. It would most assuredly run into the billions. A blended and inter-compatible Caltrain / HSR system, on the other hand, can pursue these grade separations gradually and on a case-by-case basis tailored to the needs of each community.

You might not know this, but the Caltrain electrification EIS (under federal law) is already approved, and the EIR is complete and awaits only a final decision by the Caltrain board. This decision is currently on hold to resolve a threat of litigation, but could come to pass quite quickly and 100% legally.

Posted by Bigger highways, a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 15, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Just like our veins and arteries grow as we mature, so must our highways, and freeways. Peoples love affair with cars will never end Period. The future will probably be electric cars, so if we are going to build more and more apartments, we must increase the sizes of our highways so that there will be no need for toll lanes. Oh wait, the government wouldn't want that, otherwise they won't get there free money from the wealthy and the rule breakers, that's why they will never do anything to help expand highways.

The logical solution is to Expand our existing road ways. Our highways are choking, causing people to use city streets instead. All the money from the gas tax should go to that.

Posted by Christopher Parkinson, a resident of Willowgate
on Mar 16, 2012 at 9:44 am

Christopher Parkinson is a registered user.

Anonymous: Thank you for straightening out the costs of BART. Still all things being equal BART has a safety record where CalTrain has killed 100 people over the past ten years. This is a moral imperative. If CalTrain would promise to clean up its killing act I would buy into it. Safety costs money and anyone who proposes that we continue in the vain of the status quo as we have is a sociopath.

CalTrain is that sociopath, BART mitigates the moral imperative. Calculate the costs associated with the murders of these people who desire to take their own life. Anyone who says the cost is nothing is a monster. Anyone who realizes this cost can rationalize that CalTrain is much more expensive than BART. Its all a matter if you value human life or not.

Posted by Bruno, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 16, 2012 at 11:03 am

Mr. Parkinson,

Is it suicide or murder? They aren't the same by any means.

Just start building the thing already! The more debate the higher the cost, which is what I think many opponents want. If the citizens of this state had acted this way 100 years ago we'd probably have no Golden Gate Bridge or airports.

Posted by tommygee54, a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 16, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Yes, I agree; just start building HSR already and get it here as fast as possible. And perhaps we can get BART futher than downtown San Jose, even beyond the Diridon station...

Posted by Martin Luht, a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 16, 2012 at 8:46 pm provides a petition one can print
out, sign and mail in.
Join me in eliminating the HSR Authority.

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