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April 03, 2021



Here is a perfect specimen of the blind leading the blind:

Pete Buttigieg: I want the United States to be leading the world in high speed rail

From the guy who couldn't fix the potholes in South Bend, Indiana.


Mayor Pete was spinning a tall tale about how many jobs the infrastructure bill would create. Got caught on live TV and had to admit he was spinning.


He also got caught faking a bike ride to work.


Yes, MBGA, that would be funny if it weren't so fake and sad. Maybe Secretary Pete should be forced to ride his bike all the way from home everyday as penance for his scam.

Meantime, back at the ranch, I have it on Very Good Authority that the Millbrae city council was warned years ago that they would get screwed by HSR. And now here we are:

A decision clearing the way for development at the Millbrae train station seemingly resolved one issue with a regional transit agency, while raising another problem with a separate entity.

City officials lauded BART officials ratifying a deal returning parcels at the Millbrae train station which will clear the path for construction of a sweeping mixed-use project proposed at the transit hub.

To allow for Serra Station’s development west of the train station, city officials urged authority representatives to build the planned Millbrae station underground.
But a state official contends an underground station is not possible.

---Laughing out loud about building a major HSR station underground after they cut the deal to share the Union Pacific-Caltrain tracks---

Recognizing the city’s desire to accommodate development interest at the site, Lipkin said his organization is willing to have discussions in search of a compromise meeting the needs of both parties.

“We have wanted the city to work with us on it, but so far we have had more comments back and forth than productive conversations on the subject,” he said.

Click through to read the rest of the story about this cluster:



It is easy to forget that the high-speed boondoggle continues. CalMatters' Dan Walters has a piece about keeping failed projects alive due to human nature and ego:

California’s recent history is replete with examples of programs and projects that deserved merciful deaths but have continued to soak up billions of dollars in taxpayer money.

The woebegone bullet train project is the most spectacular. Voters were promised a statewide network of high-speed trains when they passed a $9.95 billion bond issue in 2008. Thirteen years later, we have only a few concrete structures in the Fresno area — no track, no trains and no certain date when even a relatively short segment will be operative despite the many billions of dollars spent, or wasted, so far.



Sigh.....double sigh....the train wreck continues:

SACRAMENTO - Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the State of California finalized settlement negotiations to restore nearly a billion dollars in federal grant funding to California’s High-Speed Rail project. The action comes after months of negotiations to restore funding that was previously rescinded by the Trump Administration in 2019.

“The Biden Administration’s restoration of nearly $1 billion for California’s high-speed rail is great news for our state and our nation. This vote of confidence and restored close working relationship between the Department and the Authority will keep this transformative project moving down the track – ensuring California can continue to lead the way forward in creating jobs, promoting commerce, connecting communities, and protecting our planet."

“This development was made possible because of the strong commitment of the Biden Administration to ambitious, jobs-creating investments in infrastructure, and to state, local and labor leaders across California.

Feeding at the trough.

Jennifer Pfaff

Oh boy....


Being a former Trough Feeder, if not us-Educators, Police Fireman, Politicians, Water, Sewage, Road Maintenance all Public Works People, if not us doing the "work" that few people comprehend than who?
If you can Flush a Toilet, and take a Shower, a Public Employee keeps it working. If either of those "take for granted services break down, 24/07/365 a Public Works Employee will come and repair it.
You folks-BV, have Great Ideas from time to time.
However complaining about anything, without a viable solution only makes people angry.
Angry People have a difficult time being Rational. It happens to me once in a while.
Public Employees should be allowed to make as much money as possible. For example, the Highest paid City of Burlingame Public Employees receive a "monthly stipend" to afford to live in Burlingame.($2-5000.00 per month) Look it up.
It is difficult for even City of Burlingame "Management" who make $2-300,00.00 a year to live here. What about a School Teacher who has to spend 3-4 hours a day in traffic. Don't they deserve a "Stipend?"
June is Gay Pride Month. Will there be a Celebration/Parade on Burlingame Ave.this year? Big Party at Washington Park?
Have a good weekend all.


@hollyroller, I'm sorry but I have to put your comment into the "nice landing, wrong airport" file. Did you notice the names of the three giant contractors on HSR? Read the original post again, please:

Tutor Perini

How you got to teachers and firefighters from there is anyone's guess.

Paloma Ave

Joe - Love that comment "nice landing, wrong airport".

My favorite comment is, "Once I thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken".

And to all, "Good evening!"


Thank you Joe. I will do that. I will also use the "nice landing, wrong airport" phrase some where, sometime.

Barking Dog


"Although I work in Chicago, I have spent the last few months laser focused in California..."


State Treasurer Fiona Ma finally weighing in with Congress about the boondoggle:

California State Treasurer Fiona Ma warned leaders of the House and Senate Transportation committees to not engage in repeat efforts undertaken by the Obama administration and eschew bulky government-dominated operations such as the Golden State’s sputtering high-speed rail project.

In a letter, sent to the committees on Monday, Ma engaged in a tale of two states – Florida and California – to underscore the degrees of success and failure in tackling the bullet train.

Florida, which launched the Brightline rail line – a largely privately-financed, inter-city high-speed rail line between Miami and West Palm Beach – in 2018 took merely six years to construct.

Brightline, which currently is working on a Victorville-to-Las Vegas route in the west, utilized pre-existing rights of way along with building along existing Florida highways to reduce costs.

“[M]eanwhile our trains in California have yet to leave the station after we have waited twice as long,” Ma said in her letter.

Ma noted that, no matter the political will to spend billions on an ambitious project such as nationwide bullet trains, the realities are far starker.

“While the sky seems to be the limit in terms of the amount Congress is willing to spend, I fear failure remains a real possibility,” Ma wrote. “Scores of billions may seem like a lot of money, but we know from our experience in California that actual construction ends up costing multitudes more than estimates anticipate.”

She pointed to the Obama administration’s issuance of $10.5 billion in funds for high-speed rail projects that netted no ridership from new rail lines a decade later.

“To be clear, a repeat effort that spends billions without getting any new lines operational after another decade will be the death of high-speed rail in America,” Ma wrote.

“There is simply no way the public will continue to support such an agenda without seeing tangible results—and after two hugely expensive bites at the apple, could you really blame them?”

In her letter she said pressed Congressional leaders to consider private-public partnerships (such as Brightline) as better paths to realizing functioning bullet trains, allow projects to use government grants to pay the credit-risk premiums for Federal railroad loans to lower the barrier to entry in obtaining financing (as billions in railroad loan funds go unused), and tripling the volume cap on private activity bonds to enable private actors to access greater capital tor realize projects.



From the Santa Clarita Signal:

Jerry Brown’s bullet train was supposed to be fully operable across its entire length, from San Diego through Los Angeles, connecting San Francisco, then ending in Sacramento, by 2020. We’re now the middle of 2021, and the project is struggling to finish a 171-mile stretch between Bakersfield and Merced, “two places,” Chapman University fellow in urban studies Joel Kotkin tells Reason, “that don’t have any particular relationship with each other.”

But the impracticality goes well beyond a train linking a pair of cities that aren’t traditionally knit together.

“You have to get a car once you get to the station” in both cities, Kotkin added, since Merced and Bakersfield wouldn’t be final destinations for most travelers, as San Diego, Los Angeles and Sacramento would be. Neither are they job centers “that anyone is going to commute” to and from the other city.

That particular stretch, which has been called a starter system, won’t be offering even interim service until 2029 (and its cost will be more than 60% of the initial estimates for the entire 800-mile system). Once completed, it will remain an orphan until 2033, when the Los Angeles/Anaheim-San Francisco segment is finally open. In the meantime, drivers and passengers will continue to use beaten, battered and jammed roads while billions in transportation funds are misallocated.


If you ever wonder why I call the SF Chronicle the Comicle, here is one example. The Comicle’s editorial page editor is Matthew Fleischer, so a key provider of nonsense like this:

Construction woes and political wrangling have turned California rail into something of a national joke. But I think I can safely speak for most Californians when I say that it’s not high-speed rail we’re sick of. ((That is just another baseless opinion from a guy who has NO IDEA what "most Californians" think.)) Our ire is reserved for state leaders who cannot or will not bring this project home.

The latest rail saboteur is Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, who fired off a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg last week asking for permission to forgo overhead electrification on large portions of the route. Rendon argued that battery technology would render these investments obsolete in the coming years.

Except that’s not how high-speed trains work. Now or in the future. ((He has no idea how HSR will evolve in the future)).

Rendon and other L.A. officials are just trying to siphon off funds for pet rail projects in their districts — and are willing to compromise the efficacy of the entire system to do so. ((Please never use "efficiency" and HSR in the same sentence)).

Abandoning the billions in investments that have already been made is absurd. ((No, that is called good governance and sound fiscal discipline--not pouring massive amounts of good money after bad)).



Here is your chance to hear the Court proceedings on one aspect of the high-speed boondoggle machinations:

CC-HSR invites you to listen to the arguments in our lawsuit.

Next Monday, October 25th, at 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon, the Third District Court of Appeal is going to hear oral arguments in a lawsuit against the California High-Speed Rail Authority. You can listen in to the court proceedings. You can even watch! Instructions are below.

What lawsuit are we talking about?

CC-HSR, along with former State Senator Quentin Kopp, the Town of Atherton, the California Rail Foundation, the Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund, and others, filed a lawsuit in 2016, challenging a State law that claims that the State doesn’t actually have to spend High-Speed Rail Bond Act money on high speed rail, even though the voters were promised that their Bond Act funds would be spent exclusively on projects that were “suitable and ready” for the high speed rail system that was promised to California voters, and that has never been delivered.

The bailiff will open up the computer and phone line a half hour before the session begins.

WATCH THE PROCEEDINGS ON YOUR WEB BROWSER: Click the following link: https://primetime.bluejeans.com/a2m/live-event/ecdkyvbe

LISTEN IN ON THE PHONE: Dial one of the following numbers, enter the participant PIN followed by # to confirm:

o Primary: +1 (415) 466-7000 (US) PIN: 6694521 #
o Secondary: +1 (760) 699-0393 (US) PIN: 1370034721 #


Quentin Kopp is back with another slap at high-cost rail in the Daily Journal. He's latched onto the term "boondoggle" as well!

A Bay Area column by Andy Kunz and Ezra Silk condemning Elon Musk’s promise to make “a useful humanoid robot as quickly as possible” and then condemning Musk’s 2013 proposed Hyperloop train system to transport passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco at 760 mph falsely claimed California’s high-speed rail project was “under construction ... and at a fraction of the cost.” Kunz is president and Silk is political director of the U.S. High Speed Rail Coalition, a trade group promoting high-speed rail unsuccessfully in the United States for 26 or more years. They, like other promoters, disregard the failure in our nation to develop a high-speed rail system. The California High-Speed Rail Authority, for example, has not laid any of its proposed diesel tracks for Merced to Bakersfield service unless you consider bridges and viaducts as “tracks.”

In 2008, the governing board plan contemplated federal, regional and private equity financing and construction of a test electrified train in the Central Valley. After my term on the governing board as a state Senate appointee ended, the project collapsed. No private investment or regional funding occurred. Then President Obama and Congress donated approximately $3.5 billion of federal money in 2009-10, but later the U.S. House of Representatives forbade additional federal financing.

Instead of test track in the Central Valley, the authority governing board authorized Merced to Bakersfield as the first segment of 171 miles, not electrified (because of lack of funds), but diesel. Theoretically, if built, the train would compete with Amtrak’s parallel Central Valley service — without government subsidy! It’s fanciful.
Fun word: fanciful. Q-ball ends with this:

"My personal dream has vanished. The authority spends $1.8 million per day and even its engineering projections show incompletion in this century.

The high-speed rail project now lies, as one wag proclaimed, in the graveyard of boondoggles. I am complicit."
Sounds like a confession and request for penance, doesn't it?


Jennifer Pfaff

VIDEO RELEASE: San Jose State Summer Program High School Students Tour California High-Speed Rail Construction:

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) today released a video highlighting a recent construction tour with high school students from the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) summer program at San Jose State University. The tour of high-speed rail construction sites in the Central Valley was part of an intensive three-week program that focused on transportation and environmental curriculum with presentations from California transit leaders and project site visits.

[Shouldn't this high school course instead be called: Boondoggles of the Modern Era and how not create more of them??]

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