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November 28, 2010

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pat giorni

Or Madera,for that matter............
Project looks more like a fairy tale (Nov. 27)
By Chuck Doud
The Madera Tribune

The folks at the California High-Speed Rail Authority have presented us with an odd scenario: They hope to build the first leg of their railroad between a town that doesn’t exist and a town in the middle of nowhere.

The first 65 miles of track, complete with two stations (maybe) would go from what used to be Borden through Fresno, atop eight or so miles of towers up to 60 feet high. Those towers would lead to a station more or less in downtown Fresno. The track then would plow through the farmlands of Fresno and Kings counties, stopping (maybe) at Hanford for another station before ending at Corcoran.

There will be no trains on these tracks, because there will be no need for any. How many people would take a high-speed train from Borden to Corcoran?

Most curious is the northern starting point: The former Borden. That little town — about four or five square blocks at its most bustling — was a busier place than Madera at one point. It had a hotel and a railroad station. But Madera soon eclipsed it. The Borden Post Office was closed in 1907. Today, all that is left of Borden is an old cemetery. The Casa Grande Motel, built long after the Post Office closed, sits on land once occupied by Borden.

It sounds like a fairy tale at this point. A grim fairy tale. We will have to put up with a third rail bridge over the San Joaquin River. Hundreds of acres of farmland will be torn up forever. And the butt of that track will sit there, providing no benefit, for many years. If it is extended from there, it will rip up more farmlands or bifurcate our cities, perhaps both. It will set our economic development back. It will hurt our agriculture.

From the very start, we are being misused by this project, which should be routed along Interstate 5, connecting the metropolises that want it.

pat giorni

And more.......
Valley may get train to nowhere
Posted at 10:26 PM on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010
By Dan Walters / The Sacramento Bee


Read more: http://www.fresnobee.com/2010/11/28/2177257/valley-may-get-train-to-nowhere.html#ixzz16ebb4hB5

A few days before this month's election, the federal government announced that California would receive an additional $715 million in funds for its high-speed rail project, contingent on the money being quickly spent on a segment in the San Joaquin Valley.

Why? You'd have to be terminally naïve not to believe that the splashy announcement, made personally by an Obama administration official in Fresno, was to help an embattled local congressman, Democrat Jim Costa, stave off a very stiff Republican challenge.

Costa, a long-time bullet train advocate, did, in fact, eke out a narrow re-election win. And last week, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) announced plans to spend that money and some other federal and state funds, $4.3 billion in all, to build a 54-mile segment from Madera to Corcoran.

It was instructive on two fronts. It illustrated the pork barrel aspects of the scheme, with financing, routes and station sites dependent more on political pull than objective criteria. It also underscored the eagerness of bullet train boosters to turn dirt, thereby creating a moral commitment to complete the project despite its deficiencies.

So let's get this straight:

The HSRA's ridership and revenue estimates have been widely panned, including a blistering critique by the University of California's Institute for Transportation Studies, for their pie-in-the-sky unreality.

At a state Senate hearing this month, the UC researchers said the authority's ridership consultant cooked the books to create a far rosier picture than the facts warranted. Opposition is building in the Legislature, with Democratic senators publicly blasting the HSRA for clinging to an unrealistic business plan.

The state's involvement is limited to a $9.95 billion bond issue.

While the feds have committed a few billion dollars, the new GOP majority in Congress wants to block further financing. Several California congressmen have urged cancellation of money already in the pipeline. They include Bakersfield's Kevin McCarthy, who's now No. 3 in the House hierarchy.

Without a full federal commitment, there is absolutely no chance that the much-touted outside investors, either private or governmental entities such as China, will sign on. They also indicate they want revenue guarantees, i.e. subsidies, that the state bond issue bans to make up for any ridership shortfalls.

There are huge unresolved route issues, including implacable opposition on the San Francisco Peninsula to running bullet trains through their bucolic communities and environmental group criticism of the route over Pacheco Pass.

Despite this jumble of political and financial uncertainty, the HSRA plans to spend billions of dollars on a section of track out in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley.

Is that crazy or what?

Larry David

People, neighbors, countrymen.
Have we not spent more than enough time on this topic yet.
I will bet dollars to doughnuts that anyone contributing to this site about HSR, will be dead of natural causes before a single HSR spike hits the ground.
Lets put our energy behind City of Burlingame Infrastructure.
HSR is a pipe dream.
A Marijuna Pipe Dream.

Joe

By Dan Walters / The Sacramento Bee

A few days before this month's election, the federal government announced that California would receive an additional $715 million in funds for its high-speed rail project, contingent on the money being quickly spent on a segment in the San Joaquin Valley.

Why? You'd have to be terminally naïve not to believe that the splashy announcement, made personally by an Obama administration official in Fresno, was to help an embattled local congressman, Democrat Jim Costa, stave off a very stiff Republican challenge.

Costa, a long-time bullet train advocate, did, in fact, eke out a narrow re-election win. And last week, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) announced plans to spend that money and some other federal and state funds, $4.3 billion in all, to build a 54-mile segment from Madera to Corcoran.

It was instructive on two fronts. It illustrated the pork barrel aspects of the scheme, with financing, routes and station sites dependent more on political pull than objective criteria. It also underscored the eagerness of bullet train boosters to turn dirt, thereby creating a moral commitment to complete the project despite its deficiencies.

So let's get this straight:

The HSRA's ridership and revenue estimates have been widely panned, including a blistering critique by the University of California's Institute for Transportation Studies, for their pie-in-the-sky unreality.

At a state Senate hearing this month, the UC researchers said the authority's ridership consultant cooked the books to create a far rosier picture than the facts warranted. Opposition is building in the Legislature, with Democratic senators publicly blasting the HSRA for clinging to an unrealistic business plan.

The state's involvement is limited to a $9.95 billion bond issue.

While the feds have committed a few billion dollars, the new GOP majority in Congress wants to block further financing. Several California congressmen have urged cancellation of money already in the pipeline. They include Bakersfield's Kevin McCarthy, who's now No. 3 in the House hierarchy.

Without a full federal commitment, there is absolutely no chance that the much-touted outside investors, either private or governmental entities such as China, will sign on.

They also indicate they want revenue guarantees, i.e. subsidies, that the state bond issue bans to make up for any ridership shortfalls.

There are huge unresolved route issues, including implacable opposition on the San Francisco Peninsula to running bullet trains through their bucolic communities and environmental group criticism of the route over Pacheco Pass.

Despite this jumble of political and financial uncertainty, the HSRA plans to spend billions of dollars on a section of track out in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley.

Is that crazy or what?

(Thanks, Dan Walters, and yes it is crazy)

Larry David

PS
Can anyone justify the cost to the City of Burlingame regarding the installation, and removal of lights put on the tree at City Hall?
Why do it at all?
If one council member could share with us the labor cost, the equipment cost, and of all the Departments involved, I bet we could get ONE THOUSAND FEET OF SIDEWALK REMOVED AND REPLACED due to the damage caused by trees.

Joe

The Chinese government has just fired its rail minister--a very high-ranking official. The New York Times notes:

A person with ties to the ministry said that the concrete bases for the system’s tracks were so cheaply made, with inadequate use of chemical hardening agents, that trains would be unable to maintain their current speeds of about 217 miles per hour for more than a few years. In as little as five years, lower speeds, possibly below about 186 miles per hour, could be required as the rails become less straight, the expert said.

My main interest in this is the comparisons to California. Even if we built our High-cost Rail with top-notch standards, nothing can prevent the land underneath it from shifting enough in an earthquake to also cause the rails to become "less straight".

jennifer

February 11, 2011
The Love Train

We normally confine ourselves to commentary about water issues in California, but High-Speed Rail is so intrusive to ag land, irrigation and water that we feel compelled to respond. If just 1/10th of this money were spent on California's water infrastructure, think what it would do for the economy...

Since those concerned about the impacts of HSR on our existing economic valley infrastructures and communities have been continually dismissed as naysayers, Nimbys (not in my backyard), and Neanderthals, we pass on a positive suggestion made by a local water official. The first route selected by HSR is from Borden to Corcoran, and has been labeled the ‘The Train to Nowhere”. A slight modification of the route could give the route a more PR friendly, ‘The Love Train’.

The current route could be slightly extended a few miles to the Chowchilla Women’s Prison, and a station opened at the Corcoran Men’s Prison. By allowing conjugal visits, the ridership numbers would exponentially increase. We hate turning the whole High Speed Train into a sarcastic joke, but the feds can't seem to find money to solve a water crisis which is going to cost the state billions in lost income and tax revenues; but they can spend billions for a train that will, in the end, only move unemployed Californians from one end of the state to the other in record time.

Copyright (C) 2011 Families Protecting The Valley All rights reserved.

jennifer

Fresno Meeting and Crossing the Line:
by Kathy Hamilton

In the last several days, pressure has been building in anticipation of tomorrow’s meeting in Fresno where Representative John Mica will be discussing the topic of transportation. Mica, who chairs the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is seen as a lynchpin in the California high speed rail project and top leaders in the Obama Administration are trying to get his support.

In an email that has gone viral, High Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) CEO Roelof Van Ark has been quietly working with his outreach team, lobbyists and consultants to ensure that the Fresno meeting is well attended and that labor and industry show up to “drown out any negative contributors.” The email, which surfaced Friday, begins with CEO Van Ark updating the HSR board on his recent meetings with Vice President Biden and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. Mr. Van Ark tells the board that they have requested that there be a good turn out at Rep. Mica’s meeting.

Bryn Forhan, a Fresno lobbyist, then emails Mr. Van Ark and assures him that they are organizing between “300-400 supporters” at the event and plan to “have signs supporting HSR and Congressman Denham and demonstrate to Mica that there is a tremendous amount of support.” She then goes on to tell Mr. Van Ark that if he sees Karen Rae (Deputy Director of the Federal Railroad Administration) he should let her know of the efforts underway since “she asked to turn people out for this hearing.”

Mr. Van Ark then forwards the email detailing Forhan’s astroroots efforts (as opposed to grassroots), to Jo Linda Thompson, a lobbyist representing a group called the Association of California High Speed Trains. Van Ark goes on to write one of the most jaw dropping lines: “Trust that you are also helping to ensure that the industry and labor are out in full force to flood any negative contributors.”

Just days ago, high speed rail supporter Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D) (Budget Subcommittee on Resources) gave Mr. Van Ark clear direction to stop all PR work and focus on the financial plan, the business plan, and answering the Legislature’s longstanding questions. Huffman said, “Your first call after this hearing should be to whoever has the PR contract and you should not spend another cent on public relations.” Clearly, Van Ark isn’t listening.

Thompson then forwards this email to her clients, which includes a who’s who list of the consultants currently working on the HSR project including T.Y.Lin. You may recall that T.Y.Lin is the engineering firm that has been hired to provide oversight over the main project management contract held by Parsons Brinkerhoff....

...Even local legislators are helping get the word out. Fiona Ma recently sent out an invitation to the Fresno event calling it a “Pro-HSR rally.” All of this means one thing: the project is in clear need of support and they are pulling it out all the stops.

These emails provide a glimpse into how California’s high speed rail project has become a huge pawn in the national political arena. The Vice President and Secretary LaHood are encouraging Mr. Van Ark to ensure Rep. Mica sees there is support for the project; however the emails show Mr. Van Ark is more interested in drowning out “negative contributors” and “neighsayers” (sic) than in actually dealing with the public’s concerns and garnering true support. For Peninsula residents, this is merely the continuation of a pattern, very much reminiscent of when Board member Rod Diridon referred to concerned citizens as “rotten apples.” The Authority seems to continue to ignore all concerns, whether from the legislators, the LAO or the public, and instead continues on with their plan to get a stake in the ground.

These emails lead to a number of questions: Are the consultants being paid to show up on at the event? Is it appropriate to use public money to drown out the public’s concerns? Why is the company hired to provide independent oversight (T.Y. Lin) participating in lobbying efforts? Isn’t the leader of a public agency supposed to be even handed, especially when the project is in a period of Environmental Review? And where is Governor Brown in all of this? Van Ark’s email refers to Biden and La Hood asking for confirmation of the “corrective support of the Governor’s Office” – what does that mean? ....

-full article:
http://www.examiner.com/transportation-policy-in-san-francisco/california-high-speed-rail-consultants-for-high-speed-rail

jennifer

Channel 30 & Channel 47 Fresno

http://clipsyndicate.com/video/playlist/21500/2235318?wpid=9598

Holyroller

I thought I read somewhere that the Govenor of Florida just stopped the entire HSR project between Tampa and Orlando due to cost and the fact that it was not needed or wanted.

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