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April 30, 2013



This is a good one.

In reaction to the LA Times' and Fresno Bee's coverage of the quiet change in procurement rules to favor a lesser technically qualified bidder, the High-cost rail Authority guys are attacking the papers' journalists. One guy who follows this closely describes it as:

The idea that rail authority honchos Jeff Morales and Dan Richard think they have the stature to lecture state journalists on the problems with their coverage is absurd. It's like Tony Soprano complaining about the crime coverage in the Newark Star-Ledger.


Yesterday's earthquake reminded me of something:

Thursday’s quake struck about 8:47 p.m. about 150 miles northeast of Sacramento; its epicenter was about 27 miles southwest of the town of Susanville and seven miles west northwest of Greenville.

I was in Manhattan earlier this week and was talking to my driver about high-speed rail. Within 2 minutes of me mentioning it, this guy says "Why would they build that in earthquake country?" Unbelievable--so obvious!

The bridge accident in Washington State today also got me thinking because the news is reminding us that "By mid-August 2007, however, the combined number of structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges had decreased to 25.6 percent of all bridges " The solution is, of course, to build a $100B railroad......


Here's an interesting article that makes the case for the train eventually costing $1T...with a T



Dan Walters at the Bee has found an Oxford prof who has a full paper on the same topic as the comment right about this one:

"There are some phenomena that have no cultural bounds such as maternal love and a healthy fear of large predators," Flyvbjerg writes.
"We can add to this list the fact that, across the globe, large infrastructure projects almost invariably arrive late, over-budget and fail to perform up to expectations."
However, Flyvbjerg does much more than describe the syndrome; he also seeks to understand its origins and offer ways to avoid its pitfalls.
The underlying reasons, he says, are delusions born of ignorance, deceptions to make projects sound more feasible than they truly are, and bad luck.
The Bay Bridge project, which was supposed to cost about $1.5 billion and take 10 years, but wound up costing more than $6 billion and is a decade overdue, fits that pattern.
It's important to view the bridge project against Flyvbjerg's thesis not only to pinpoint, for history, the reasons it became an embarrassing fiasco, but because it's only the first and smallest of three huge infrastructure projects.
State officials plan to begin work later this year on a bullet train line linking California's northern and southern regions whose present price tag is $68 billion but is bound to grow by many billions more. And a big water project, including twin tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, is in the works with a price tag of at least $25 billion in taxpayer and water user funds.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/07/28/5602376/dan-walters-is-bay-bridge-fiasco.html#storylink=cpy

Pete Garrison

Don't forget the OPM syndrome; the tendency to spend Other People's Money.

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