Assemblymembers Kiley and Fong Announce Bill to Shift High-Speed Rail Dollars to Education

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FrensicPic

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“We need to seriously reevaluate High Speed Rail funding, especially when this state is asking Californians to make real sacrifices,” Assemblyman Fong said. “If Governor Newsom is threatening cuts to education, healthcare programs, and diverting road funds to address our budget deficit, while at the same time $2.4 billion is sitting in an account for a boondoggle rail project, that is unacceptable.”

 

Green Maned Lion

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I’d like to announce plans to shift California 500 miles west and leave it in the Pacific ocean where it belongs. I think my doing so would have about as much chance of success.
 

sttom

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I'm not against putting down the high speed rail project because of how poorly planned its been. But the "emerging 21st Century technologies" are frankly stupid. Automating cars isn't going to happen anytime soon. Airplanes would be the easiest for of transit to completely automate and even that hasn't happened.
 

Devil's Advocate

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I'm not against putting down the high speed rail project because of how poorly planned its been. But the "emerging 21st Century technologies" are frankly stupid. Automating cars isn't going to happen anytime soon. Airplanes would be the easiest for of transit to completely automate and even that hasn't happened.
The high speed rail project wasn't planned perfectly but the Californian government was also endlessly attacked and undermined just for daring to try. They were prevented from creating an effective carbon tax funding scheme, they were forced to fight endless legal battles for years on end, and their federal funding was revoked retroactively. Even if the program was planned with every eventuality in mind it would still be virtually unfundable with so much money and power aligned against it. If Texas was handled in the same way America treats California we'd have seceded two or three times by now.
 

Green Maned Lion

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I don’t think the project was poorly planned at all; it’s a standard Robert Moses-type planning mechanism, and those generally work quite effectively. The plan for the CHSR was really quite logical and sensible given the terrain-based issues they have to overcome.

Retroactively withdrawing funding is simply a polite way of saying “stolen back”.
 

Devil's Advocate

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The design itself isn't bad but how do you go about completing a major infrastructure project when buying a weak consensus doubles the cost, endless court delays double the cost a second time, and your initial funding plan is sabotaged to the point it can no longer cover the first estimate? This problem isn't unique to California or high speed rail and will eventually undermine every major public works project.
 
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Green Maned Lion

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You can't. I'm arguing against the asinine criticisms of the particular project, which are unjustified.

All of these problems come from a basic lack of understanding of money in ones pocket versus money expended on projects like this. That is, $1 per person per year on a 20 year project in the USA is equal to approximately $7 or 8 billion. That is to say, not a tremendous amount of money. *sighs*
 

Ziv

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I think CAHSR went a bridge too far. They should have gone with a 3-way split on the design, splitting the work into LA to Bakersfield, San Fran to Fresno and Fresno to Bakersfield sections. What they have been left with now after trying to do a 2 Phase build is the least useful section imaginable. Starting by either speeding up travel from LA to Bakersfield or San Fran to Merced or Fresno would have had a much faster return on investment and the benefits would have shown up for at least some Californians much sooner, thereby making continuing funding a slightly easier battle.
They probably should have opted for a 200 mph top speed to simplify the rolling stock issue, but that is less of an issue. I understand the implications of Proposition 1A but they are putting the cart in front of the horse. The majority of travel will be at speeds below the maximum, anyway, so reducing the max speed requirement from 220 to 200 would have had a relatively minor effect. Yeah, the 2:40 hypothetical nonstop would be a non-starter, but it probably wasn't going to happen with 220 mph cruise speeds either.
Just my 2 cents worth.

The design itself isn't bad but how do you go about completing a major infrastructure project when buying a weak consensus doubles the cost, endless court delays double the cost a second time, and your initial funding plan is sabotaged to the point it can no longer cover the first estimate? This problem isn't unique to California or high speed rail and will eventually undermine every major public works project.
 

Green Maned Lion

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Here's a lesson in civil engineering, @Ziv. The Robert Moses method of construction is when you start a project in the simplest and most easily started place (in this case, the Central Valley), with the lowest initial construction costs. That way you can get it moving. Then you let the project slowly get built, each section harder and more expensive than the last, by letting it proceed under the mass of its own bloated momentum.

Bakersfield to LA is the most useful section of the project; it is also the most ungodly expensive. Building that first would have had a sticker shock so high, it would have never even gotten started. This project has been managed nearly perfectly, according to the Robert Moses model; that model work. Fifty or sixty years from now, California will probably have a high speed line between San Francisco and Los Angeles through the Central Valley. The bloated expenses, the delays, the general mess? That was all anticipated, which is why the Robert Moses methodology was used. Eventually, although possibly not in our lifetime, the project will in fact conclude as originally intended.
 

sttom

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Also under the Moses Method, we can also do a lot of "urban renewal" while we are at it. Why else would we build a noisy train line through the middle of cities with poor economic prospects? "Urban renewal" in this sense is just a synonym for classism and racism. Which if you plow a wide swath through a poor area, that will be done really successfully, just like a lot of interstate highways were.
 

Ziv

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I hear you GML, but we are going to end up with a nearly useless billion dollar boondoggle instead of at least one section of very expensive but highly useful of high speed rail. The first 60 miles, from SF to Gilroy or LA to Palmdale, were going to be the hardest to build but they are also the most useful.
Horses for courses, but Moses is the wrong approach in California. Moses was a man of a growing society in a region that was booming both in population and wealth. Todays USA is in slow decline and his methods are not going to work nearly as well now as they did back then. The masses need their "wine and circuses", so a long term plan will be a bit too esoteric for them. Being able to see their neighbors "flying" along at speeds of 80 mph up to 200 mph on the way to Bakersfield, along stretches of track (much of which had been limited to 35 mph not that many years before) will give the project enough perceived worth to make the funding battle reach a successful goal. Especially since most cars will be traveling slower and slower.
Again, just my 2 cents worth.

Here's a lesson in civil engineering, @Ziv. The Robert Moses method of construction is when you start a project in the simplest and most easily started place (in this case, the Central Valley), with the lowest initial construction costs. That way you can get it moving. Then you let the project slowly get built, each section harder and more expensive than the last, by letting it proceed under the mass of its own bloated momentum.

Bakersfield to LA is the most useful section of the project; it is also the most ungodly expensive. Building that first would have had a sticker shock so high, it would have never even gotten started. This project has been managed nearly perfectly, according to the Robert Moses model; that model work. Fifty or sixty years from now, California will probably have a high speed line between San Francisco and Los Angeles through the Central Valley. The bloated expenses, the delays, the general mess? That was all anticipated, which is why the Robert Moses methodology was used. Eventually, although possibly not in our lifetime, the project will in fact conclude as originally intended.
 

MARC Rider

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If these guys think high speed rail is too expensive, why are they studying "emerging technologies," which, even if they work, will be even more expensive?

And what are the chances that this proposal will pass the legislature?

And while I might see a reason to cut back the project for a couple of years if the overall funding situation is a dire as they claim, I can't see totally suspending it. They could still partially fund it -- say, some land acquisition, engineering and environmental studies, and some practical steps to speed up the current Amtrak California service and integrate into the section that's already been built.
 

Green Maned Lion

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Emerging technologies is another way of saying “Snail-darter”. I know all about killing mega projects; I was a minor part of killing a rather large one.

Robert Moses was part, primarily, of a dying city he basically almost killed himself. He is not a man I like; but his methodology for forcing the construction of unpopular, poorly designed, and socially stunting projects That no reasonable objective board would ever agree to is still the basic instruction manual for building highly opposed project. Westway was one of the few projects that it failed, to tie in my snail-darter reference.
 

Steve4031

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GML. Your description of the Robert Moses model is informative. It basically describes how the interstate system was built. Think of Interstate 70 through Glenwood canyon. That was one of the last segments to get built. I witnesses personally in Illinois with the Interstate 57 bridge over the Mississippi river being the last segment to be built. Until that was done, on our family trips to our house in Arkansas, we drove over this narrow two lane bridge to Missouri before joining 57 again.
 
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