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May 10, 2022


Rob Adams

I can see it now… a speciality cocktail at the French Laundry called “The Newsom” tall glass, no ice (water shortage), no booze (train to nowhere) and you have to share it with no less than four others (housing push). $10…wait, just went up to $14.

Peter Garrison

Funny Rob!


You might want to check out on youtube:

"The Tallest Bridge In The World Cost $147 Million".


Just to put the billions in perspective, the US government is spending $33 billion to arm the Ukrainians as they try to fend off the Russian Army and in the process, save Western Europe from any further aggression. California will be spending $105 billion, conservatively, to build a rail system that is years behind schedule and will never operate at a profit. While it's an apples to oranges comparison, can't help but marvel that trying to save democracy (in terms of dollars only) is costing about a third as much as HSR. Rebuilding Ukraine, whoever pays for it, is of course a far different calculation.


It’s cheaper to fight the Russians in Ukraine than the Democratic Machine in Sacramento.


That's an interesting bridge in China. I guess the point of putting it here is that our incompetents couldn't even get the drawings for such bridge done for $147 million.


This spoof piece by Joe Mathews in the Chronicle is really good up until the close:


Then he quotes the recent poll I noted in the original post--my original assessment stands. If someone reads his spoof and still is in favor of this boondoggle, they are clueless.


This should be entertaining. I love the "just move it underground" request--like we didn't go through all of this 15 years ago. Cost. Complexity. And what's known as "porpoising" when a train going 120mph (about half the supposed speed) on the Peninsula goes up and down in a short space. The Authority is going to "porpoise" all over this:

An ongoing dispute involving a proposed 488-unit apartment project in Millbrae and the state’s high-speed rail plans took a turn last week, with the Millbrae City Council initiating proceedings to acquire a portion of land that could move the housing forward but throw a wrench in the bullet train plans.

But Millbrae officials, pointing to myriad disruptions the train could cause locally, plus other uses for the prime downtown real estate, have requested the tracks and station be built underground.

The City Council this week approved a resolution of necessity, the first step in eminent domain court proceedings, which could allow the city to acquire the thin strip of land in question.

The resolution states the housing development is a “more necessary public use,” than the bullet train, something the city may need to prove to take control of the parcel. It also questions if the train will ever come to fruition given a lack of funding for the Bay Area stretch.

“It’s going to be many, many decades before high-speed rail comes this way,” City Manager Tom Williams said, who pointed to the housing emergency declared by Gov. Gavin Newsom.



For the "Nice landing, wrong airport" file, Millbrae has sued the CHSRA....somebody had to do it, but Millbrae's reasoning is all wrong since they have built plenty+ of housing already:

As promised, Millbrae is taking the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Caltrain and BART to court in an effort to gain control of a thin strip of land near the train station.

The parcel is needed to facilitate a stop for the state’s high-speed rail project — the bullet train planned to one day link San Francisco to Los Angeles, per plans recently released by the rail authority.

Envisioned by the authority is an expansion to Millbrae’s existing train station to serve the line, which would share Caltrain tracks through the Peninsula.

But, in a lawsuit filed this month, the city maintains it needs the 11,000-square-foot plot instead for a road to serve an apartment and office building planned to be built adjacent to the tracks.



Alec Regimbal, a writer at SFGate.com, has profiled the High-speed boondoggle in a revealing but ultimately clueless piece. At least he tried. He should spend an hour reading the background on the Voice.


Experts who study high-speed rail projects, too, have questioned the logic of establishing a rural line detached from the state’s major coastal hubs. Bent Flyvbjerg, a professor at Oxford University and the IT University of Copenhagen, said rail officials should have done the opposite, focusing on the state’s urban areas before breaking ground in the Central Valley.

“They’re building the easiest part first, and that’s exactly what you don’t do,” he told SFGATE. “If you think about it tactically, you would build the most difficult parts first because, once they are there, it would be meaningless not to finish.”

To date, the Rail Authority has bought 2,115 parcels of land between Bakersfield and Merced, representing 91% of the land it needs to complete the 171-mile segment between Bakersfield and Merced. That’s caused problems for some residents whose homes are near active construction sites. Noisy bulldozers trundle by their houses daily, shooting plumes of exhaust into their front yards; crops planted on land purchased by the state have been left to wither, creating eyesores infested by insects and rodents.

To date, land purchases account for about 14% of the project’s total expenditures. That percentage is likely to increase, though, as rail officials move out of the Central Valley and into the pricey coastal areas.

The Merced to San Jose line is set to run west, from a high-speed rail junction in Merced County, through Pacheco Pass, then north into downtown Gilroy before cutting northwest through San Jose and into Santa Clara. The second segment would continue due north, up the peninsula from Santa Clara, before coming to a stop at the Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco.

Between Merced and San Francisco, the Rail Authority anticipates having to buy more than 200 structures, including 82 residential units and 156 businesses. Both lines are expected to be operational by 2033.
Ouch. The chances of that happening are ZERO. There won't even be a new bridge over the San Francisquito Creek by then:



This is something I had not heard before about the Boooondoooogle:

California progressives tried to build a European-style high-speed-rail network and alienated the French in the process.

A big New York Times piece on the rail project reports that the French, who wanted to work with California, decided the state was simply too dysfunctional and departed to help complete a high-speed line in Morocco instead.



Here's another bong hit about the NY Times piece with more quotes. Wannabe President Newsom should just kill this thing now otherwise he will be hearing it on the campaign trail for decades:

The New York Times includes a particularly illustrative anecdote in its recent analysis of California’s overrun-plagued and overall disastrous effort to build a high-speed rail line connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco. It involves efforts by the French national railroad, SCNF, to participate in the project.

“SNCF was very angry,” a company project manager told the newspaper. “They told the state they were leaving for North Africa, which was less politically dysfunctional. They went to Morocco and helped them build a rail system.” In 2018, Morocco launched a bullet train that takes riders 210 miles from Casablanca to Tangier in 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Initiatives aren’t like politicians. Their promises are supposed to be sacrosanct, given that they are fully formed legislative proposals. Yet, it quickly became clear that the bullet train’s details — regarding routing, construction deadlines, travel times, private investment, and costs — came right out of fantasyland. No surprise, but the courts let it proceed anyway.

The rail authority never secured the promised private investment. Its proposal to use a blended line, which borrows slow-moving commuter tracks, meant that it couldn’t possibly meet promised travel times. Even though the current alignment doesn’t resemble the initiative’s promises, the state allowed the agency to sell bonds in 2014. In 2020, the Los Angeles Times reported that the rail line “could end up needing subsidies, despite promises to voters.”

It indeed quickly became a “too big to fail” project. Its initial $33 billion cost estimate has ballooned to $113 billion, and that’s probably far too low. Former California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, writing in 2013 about San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal, explained: “In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment.… Start digging a hole and make it so big, there’s no alternative to coming up with the money to fill it in.”
I miss Willie Brown's column in the Sunday Comicle. The joke that replaced him is unreadable. And the finisher:
Californians who want to ride a bullet train might be better off taking a vacation in Africa.


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