California HSR EIR/EIS approved

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

DSS&A

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 21, 2015
Messages
403
The EIR/EIS for the section from Bakersfield to Palmdale is now fully APPROVED!! :)



This means that work can start on this segment of the railroad as funding is secured. Initially, land acquisition and utility relocations can begin.



While limited engineering work was accomplished as a part of the EIR/EIS work, does anyone have more information about the status of design engineering/architecture work for this segment?
 

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
8,658
Location
Ithaca, NY
The EIR/EIS for the section from Bakersfield to Palmdale is now fully APPROVED!! :)



This means that work can start on this segment of the railroad as funding is secured. Initially, land acquisition and utility relocations can begin.



While limited engineering work was accomplished as a part of the EIR/EIS work, does anyone have more information about the status of design engineering/architecture work for this segment?
It is essentially done.

Because this is the steep mountainy bit, they did a lot of technical analysis early. A bunch of short tunnels and a bunch of short bridges and overpasses; probably a fairly large number of causeways/berms between the bridges/overpasses. From what I've heard the Palmdale station design is still somewhat in flux, but the track from there to Bakersfield is pretty much determined, with the only questions being what sort of decorative surface treatments they'll use on the concrete and exactly how some of the things will be constructed.

In the EIR/EIS -- Volume 3 has complete and very detailed alignment maps (they're really essentially finished engineering diagrams), while Volume 2 is loaded with other details.
 

George Harris

Engineer
Joined
Apr 6, 2006
Messages
5,128
Location
now in California
By the time the EIR/EIS reports are done and approved all the basic engineering as it relates to alignment, both horizontal and vertical, plus general structural types and limits are done. They are necessary parts of it. Any changes to any of these beyond the most minor would constitute a revision of the report. You can probably get away with changing span lengths and such, but if you want to convert bridge to fill or visa versa beyond a few feet that could easily be considered as requiring a revision to the report. Likewise tunnel to cut or cut to tunnel. Maybe you can bump the profile up or down a few feet, but not much, but as to changing horizontal alignment, you can fairly well forget it.
 

George Harris

Engineer
Joined
Apr 6, 2006
Messages
5,128
Location
now in California
As to those claiming the line should follow I-5: Not so good. The I-5 and predecessor US 99 was not nicknamed the grapevine for nothing. Getting a fast alignment here would be difficult. An additional most important consideration in any alignment through this area is that, the entire Tehachapi area is loaded with fault lines. You do NOT want to cross a fault in a tunnel. Even on a bridge is not really a good idea.
 

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
8,658
Location
Ithaca, NY
As to those claiming the line should follow I-5: Not so good. The I-5 and predecessor US 99 was not nicknamed the grapevine for nothing. Getting a fast alignment here would be difficult. An additional most important consideration in any alignment through this area is that, the entire Tehachapi area is loaded with fault lines. You do NOT want to cross a fault in a tunnel. Even on a bridge is not really a good idea.
I remember reading that after trying thousands of routes there was only ONE route through the Grapevine which was high speed and crossed every fault at grade; it ran through a basin prone to flooding and required the property of a particularly recalcitrant and hostile property owner. On top of that, both Palmdale and Lancaster wanted service and the Vegas rail project (currently Brightline West) wanted to connect to it. The choice of Tehachapi was clear.

The thing which still bugs me about the California HSR planning is that the initial study said the optimal route was to run straight from Bakersfield to Sacramento, then swing west approximately following the Capitol Corridor with more tunnels (following BART east of Oakland) and go from Oakland to San Fransisco via a new Bay Tube. It could be made faster than any other route despite the detour and had the simplest operational profile, thus being financially soundest. It was rejected on the grounds that a new Bay Tube was very expensive. (That is the only reason given in the study for rejecting it.) Of course they are now planning to build a New Bay Tube anyway, rendering those grounds moot. :sigh: Forget Pacheco and Altamont, swing through Sacramento on the way to San Fransisco.
 

George Harris

Engineer
Joined
Apr 6, 2006
Messages
5,128
Location
now in California
The thing which still bugs me about the California HSR planning is that the initial study said the optimal route was to run straight from Bakersfield to Sacramento, then swing west approximately following the Capitol Corridor with more tunnels (following BART east of Oakland) and go from Oakland to San Francisco via a new Bay Tube. It could be made faster than any other route despite the detour and had the simplest operational profile, thus being financially soundest. It was rejected on the grounds that a new Bay Tube was very expensive. (That is the only reason given in the study for rejecting it.) Of course they are now planning to build a New Bay Tube anyway, rendering those grounds moot. :sigh: Forget Pacheco and Altamont, swing through Sacramento on the way to San Francisco.
I spent 5+ years working on this project and never heard of that one. The length of the dogleg simply screams via Sacramento is illogical. The current plan through San Jose makes more sense, although the way SJ to SF is being handled does not. Too much to explain in a couple of sentences. (I can fairly freely give my opinion since I am no longer working on this or much of anything else.) Suffice to say, that regardless of route, San Francisco seems to want to treat the HSR like an unwanted step-child. It is also worth while mentioning that San Jose itself is a major market and more likely to expand than that of severely geographically and otherwise constrained San Francisco. A factor is also the San Francisco mindset of "Don't build anything anywhere mindset," when it comes to any new transportation facilities. I will believe "planning to build a new bay tube" will ever turn into building a new bay tube when I see it happening. Many plans and studies appear to amount to little more than some government agency telling the proponents thereof, "hey lookie, lookie, we are doing something.

By the way, you are dead on concerning following I-5. Unfortunately the continual holding this out as an example of "what should have been" only proves that few things have the durability of a bad idea.
 
Last edited:

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
8,658
Location
Ithaca, NY
I spent 5+ years working on this project and never heard of that one.
Probably before your time at the project. It was during the Clinton administration -- VERY early, a "top level 10,000-foot view" study. I believe they put very strong emphasis on being able to run all the trains on a single end-to-end route for operational optimization. It helps the financials a lot.
 
Top