« High-Cost Rail - Part 146 Newsom's Decision Time | Main | Developer Fees Coming »

February 13, 2019

Comments

Joe

When I write that there is confusion over what the Gov. meant, here is an example:

https://sf.curbed.com/2019/2/13/18223516/high-speed-rail-newsom-sf-la-canceled-california

Despite Newsom’s statements, the governor’s office insists that the SF-to-LA connection is still on. In fact, it appears that little about the high-speed rail project’s plan has changed.

After the speech, Newsom told ABC 7 that he is “fully committed to building high-speed rail between San Francisco and Los Angeles.”

San Francisco-based State Sen. Scott Wiener, however, told Kevin McCarthy to “stay in his lane” and swiftly issued a statement proclaiming, “The Bay Area and Los Angeles must be—and will be—part of California’s high-speed rail network.”

Sen. Wiener confirmed to Curbed SF that the high-speed rail project was still on, noting that, eventually, the high-speed rail will connect to the city’s troubled Transbay Transit Center.
-------------
Weiner is turning out to be as clueless about rail as he is about zoning.

Joe
Peter Garrison

Sounds reasonable.

Joe

Here are a few choices quips from today's WSJ editorial:

Like Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War, California Gov. Gavin Newsom inherited a quagmire in the state’s bullet train with no good options.

The choo-choo’s supporters vowed that the federal government and private investors would foot most of the estimated $33 billion bill, and the referendum explicitly stated there would be no subsidy. President Trump’s promise to make Mexico pay for a border wall was more believable.

The state rail authority has spent more than $5 billion acquiring and destroying hundreds of properties but not yet laid tracks.

Liberals envision that the bullet train will someday turn Fresno and Merced into Silicon Valley suburbs and ease the Bay Area’s housing shortage. But this too is a dream. As economic consultants William Grindley and Bill Warren document in a recent study, a worker who lives in Fresno would spend 10 hours and 20 minutes each day commuting to San Jose at a cost of $154 round trip—assuming no subsidies.
---------------
Good stuff. I have a copy of the Grindley-Warren analysis and may add a bit of detail to the Journal's synopsis later. The bottom line is the idea of HSR as a commuter rail is BS.

 It Don't Come Easy

I'll still be supporting anti-HSR groups until the HSR coffin is shut, nailed, and adorned with a wreath of garlic.

Jennifer Pfaff

This is a good synopsis in timeline form-
Train to nowhere? Here’s how high-speed project went off the rails:
Its budget has ballooned from $33 billion to $77 billion, with no secure financing plan.
HOW DID WE GET THERE?

1996

The Legislature creates the High Speed Rail Authority to design a plan to connect the state’s major job and residential centers with a high-speed train — an idea that had enthralled state officials since the early 1980s. Officials begin laying out business plans, but it will be more than a decade before significant funding emerges.

August 2008

The cities of Atherton and Menlo Park sue the Rail Authority over its decision to run trains over Pacheco Pass, and then up the Peninsula, instead of running them over Altamont Pass, which would have taken trains through the East Bay. The cities ultimately lose their fight to keep the proposed line off the Peninsula, but the challenge over where trains should run is one of many that will hamper progress on the project.


November 2008

Voters approve $9.95 billion of bonds for construction of an 800-mile track, with promises to whisk riders between Los Angeles and San Francisco in two hours and 40 minutes for a fare cheaper than an airline ticket. The act locks in expectations that will prove difficult to meet. It also leaves a large gap in funding that rail officials hope to fill with money from the federal and state governments.


President Barack Obama approved federal funds in 2009 for the construction of the high-speed rail, suggesting construction start in the Central Valley.

2009

California secures $3.3 billion for the rail line from the federal government’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and other grant programs. Because it’s money intended to stimulate the economy, the federal government urges the state to begin work in the Central Valley, between Madera and Bakersfield, where the rail line becomes widely criticized as a “train to nowhere.”


With federal money in hand to build the high-speed rail in California, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (second from right) samples fast-train technologies in South Korea, one of three countries he visited during an Asian trip in search of more details.

2011

Kings County and several Central Valley farmers who oppose the project sue the Rail Authority. They allege that the agency will never follow through on commitments made for the train, adding to the project’s legal snags.

Aaron Fukuda stands outside his home in Hanford (Kings County) that lies in the proposed high-speed rail route.
Photo: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

2013

Gov. Jerry Brown elevates the rail project as a priority, hardening the state’s push for the train while Republican legislators step up opposition. They call the project a waste of money, a view that eventually begins drawing Democrats.

Gov. Jerry Brown (center) surrounded by construction workers and elected officials after signing SB1029 to authorize initial construction of the high-speed rail line during a ceremony at Union Station in Los Angeles in 2012.
Photo: Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press
2013

The Rail Authority negotiates its first purchases of private property for laying the rail line, in Madera and Fresno counties. The process of acquiring more than 1,000 parcels over the next few years results in countless delays, budget overruns and postponements of construction contracts.

Bharat Patel, owner of the Del-Mar Motel in Fresno, is among the dozens of property owners whose businesses are in the path of California’s proposed high-speed rail project.
Photo: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press 2013
2015

The first shovels hit the ground in Fresno, almost three years behind schedule. Crews start construction on a 119-mile segment from Madera to Bakersfield, clearing homes and businesses for the rail line, building bridges over rivers and relocating a 2-mile stretch of Highway 99.


Gov. Jerry Brown (center) and his wife, Anne Gust Brown, sign a portion of a rail at the 2015 groundbreaking event in Fresno.
Photo: Gary Kazanjian / Associated Press 2015
2016

The Rail Authority faces one of its biggest engineering and environmental quandaries: whether to bore a 14-mile tunnel for the rail line through the Diablo mountain range. It will cost substantially more than a track that runs over the mountains, and require workers to confront rocky, undulating terrain. But the tunnel, which remains under environmental review, will allow the train to bypass the San Luis Reservoir, an area teeming with fish and wildlife. The railway faces similar geologic challenges in the Tehachapi and San Gabriel mountains.

2017

Brown helps fund the cash-strapped project by getting the Legislature to extend the state’s cap-and-trade program to 2030. The program, which forces industry to buy permits to pollute, provides revenue that keeps the rail project moving forward as other sources of money prove difficult to come by.

Gov. Jerry Brown waits to speak a rally to urge lawmakers to approve SB1, a $5 billion-a-year tax and fee road repair measure before the Legislature in 2017.
Photo: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press 2017
June 2018

The Rail Authority releases a new business plan that pushes the completion date to 2033, 13 years behind schedule, and raises the cost of the project to $77.3 billion, roughly twice the 2008 estimate. It’s the latest in a series of reports that show cost overruns and delays.

Anthony Garcia and his crew work on an elevated section of tracks in Fresno in 2017. By 2018, it was announced that completion of the high-speed rail was 13 years behind schedule and the cost had grown to more than twice the original estimate.

November 2018

A new 50-mile route from Palmdale (Los Angeles County) to Burbank is in the works, a trade of economic costs for social costs. Instead of snaking along State Route 14 and Interstate 5 through the San Fernando Valley, the Rail Authority opts for a more expensive tunnel beneath the San Gabriel Mountains. The original plan would have displaced 8,000 homes and businesses around the San Fernando Valley.

State Auditor Elaine Howle tells lawmakers that it would take her office six to nine months to audit the state’s high-speed rail project during her appearance before the Joint Legislative Audit Committee in Sacramento in 2018. The audit was approved by the committee. At left is Democratic Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, who represents part of Fresno, where some of the current construction for the project is taking place.

The California State Auditor’s office releases a report criticizing the Rail Authority for “flawed decision making” and “poor contract management” that have led to billions of dollars of cost overruns. The agency has faced criticism before for its lack of technical expertise and questionable contractor oversight.

December 2018

A poll by the Public Policy Institute of California indicates that only 19 percent of state residents believe that high-speed rail is a priority.

February 2019

Newsom says that he will now focus on the Central Valley portion of rail, a 165-mile stretch between Merced and Bakersfield, that’s already under construction. His remarks leave the rest of the project in doubt, though he says he still wants to complete it.

Rachel Swan and Kurtis Alexander are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. Email: rswan@sfchronicle.com, kalexander@sfchronicle.com

Jennifer Pfaff

Forgot to Credit the source--This article appears in Sunday's Chron, February 17th, with photos. Also online, if you can dig through all the ads, first...
https://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/Train-to-nowhere-Here-s-how-high-speed-project-13621347.php?t=8453b5f481

Joe

The fun quips just keep coming:

SF Comicle editorial today:

"Newsom's first state of the state address and subsequent elaboration revealed that his position on the project is what it's always been: incomprehensible."

"Trump may be our schoolyard bully in chief, but Newsom doesn't have to wave his lunch money in front of him."

From Dan Walters at CALmatters on the Feds getting their money back:

"However, if a Republican still occupies the White House in 2022 and the San Joaquin portion is still incomplete, as the State Audit suggests, the stat could, indeed, be on the legal hook to repay the grant." (Could??????)

Fox and Hounds' Richard Rubin:

But when voters over a decade ago approved the $10 billion bond issue that jump-started this project they did not have a model railroad in mind.
--------------------
But that is what we will get unless he just kills this boondoggle now!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

About the Voice

  • The Burlingame Voice is dedicated to informing and empowering the Burlingame community. Our blog is a public forum for the discussion of issues that relate to Burlingame, California. On it you can read and comment on important city issues.

    Note: Opinions posted on the Burlingame Voice Blog are those of the poster and not necessarily the opinion of the editorial board of the Burlingame Voice. See Terms of Use

Contributing to the Voice

  • If you would like more information on the Burlingame Voice, send an email to editor@burlingamevoice.com with your request or question. We appreciate your interest.

    Authors may login here.

    For help posting to the Voice, see our tutorial.