California High Speed Rail

It’s California High Speed Rail. New Update came out today (not a big one) and I realized we didn’t have a topic for it.

Here are important links for this.

And here is that update I was talking about.

https://hsr.ca.gov/2022/03/11/news-r…uction-update/

NEWS RELEASE: High-Speed Rail Releases Spring 2022 Construction Update
March 11, 2022

FRESNO, Calif. – Today, in recognition of Women in Construction Week, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) released its Spring 2022 Construction Update and recognized women who are contributing to the nation’s first high-speed rail project. With continued winter construction progress, highlights include last month’s completion of the South Avenue Grade Separation in Fresno County, updates on the Cedar Viaduct’s dual span of arches and installation of pre-cast concrete girders at the Conejo Viaduct.

Since the start of construction, the project has created more than 7,500 construction jobs. There is currently 119 miles under construction in the Central Valley with more than 30 active construction sites.

For more information about ongoing construction, visit: www.buildhsr.comExternal Link

Spring 2022 Construction Update Title Card From VideoExternal Link

View Spring 2022 Construction Update in:
EnglishExternal Link | SpanishExternal Link

The following link contains recent video, animations, photography, press center resources and latest renderings: https://hsra.box.com/s/vyvjv9hckwl1d…fir2q8External Link (Apparently this link doesn’t lead anywhere, sorry about that it was just with what I copied. Maybe it works on the article page?)

These files are all available for free use, courtesy of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

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From NT Times -
FRESNO, Calif. — On an average day, 1,000 workers head to dozens of construction sites spread over 119 miles across California’s vast Central Valley.

Their task is monumental: Build the bridges and crossings designed to carry bullet trains that will form the backbone of a $105 billion, 500-mile, high-speed rail system whose scale has drawn comparisons to the construction of the interstate highway system.

Of course, 14 years after voters approved a nearly $10 billion bond to start building the rail system that would whisk riders from Los Angeles to San Francisco at speeds of more than 200 miles per hour, many California residents have long since lost track of what is being built where, and when or if it will ever be completed.

But if, as President Biden said in his State of the Union address, the nation is now entering an “infrastructure decade,” there is no more dramatic testing ground — or more cautionary spectacle — than California’s high-speed rail plan.

In 2008, when the bond measure passed, the project symbolized the state’s ambition to build and think big. But in the years since then, the project has become something else: an alarming vision of a nation that seems incapable of completing the transformative projects necessary to confront 21st century challenges. The rail’s planned route and scope have changed as a result of ballooning costs, political squabbles and legal challenges.

“We just have a fundamental problem in the United States of building large projects,” said Yonah Freemark, a researcher with the Urban Institute who has been following the rail plan for more than a decade. “And California’s high-speed rail is the largest of the projects.”

Never have the cases for and against the effort been so divergent.

On an average day, 1,000 workers head to dozens of construction sites spread over 119 miles across California’s vast Central Valley.

ImageOn an average day, 1,000 workers head to dozens of construction sites spread over 119 miles across California’s vast Central Valley.

On an average day, 1,000 workers head to dozens of construction sites spread over 119 miles across California’s vast Central Valley. Credit…Ryan Young for The New York Times

Fourteen years after voters approved a nearly $10 billion bond to start building the rail system from Los Angeles to San Francisco, many California residents have lost track of what is being built where, and when or if it will ever be finished.

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Fourteen years after voters approved a nearly $10 billion bond to start building the rail system from Los Angeles to San Francisco, many California residents have lost track of what is being built where, and when or if it will ever be finished.

Fourteen years after voters approved a nearly $10 billion bond to start building the rail system from Los Angeles to San Francisco, many California residents have lost track of what is being built where, and when or if it will ever be finished.Credit…Ryan Young for The New York Times

The passage of Mr. Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure package, astronomical gas prices and California’s insistence that the state lead the nation in addressing climate change make the moment seem perfect for providing oxygen to the plan.

But an eye-popping price tag and fundamental questions about political support are creating a critical juncture for either achieving the project’s full vision or leaving it in an expensive limbo.

“The cost of indecision on these projects is enormous,” said Eric Eidlin, a scholar with the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University who has consulted on station planning efforts for the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

Proponents say the project has always been much more than a train. If completed, they say, the system would be an economic super charger connecting two of the nation’s biggest population centers and a desperately needed alternative to choked freeways and jammed airports as climate change becomes an ever urgent challenge.

“We are the fifth largest economy in the world, and therefore I think we have to figure out how to do it,” said Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who as governor championed the 2008 bond measure. “Failure’s not an option here.”

Bent Flyvbjerg, a professor at Oxford University and the IT University of Copenhagen who has studied high-speed rail projects around the world, said that such projects nearly always cost much more and take much longer to build than initially projected.

The difference between high-speed rail projects that limp along for decades and those that start running trains isn’t money, he said. It’s political energy.

“The money will be found if the political will is there,” he said.

But political will within California has ebbed as patience among leaders has worn thin. The most significant turning point was the announcement three years ago by Gov. Gavin Newsom in his first State of the State address that California would start operating a truncated section of the route that would run from Bakersfield to Merced in the state’s largely rural Central Valley.

Concrete arcs under construction in Fresno.

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Concrete arcs under construction in Fresno.

Concrete arcs under construction in Fresno. Credit…Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

Construction crews placing concrete at a viaduct in Selma, Calif.

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Construction crews placing concrete at a viaduct in Selma, Calif.

Construction crews placing concrete at a viaduct in Selma, Calif. Credit…Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

That stunned supporters and fueled critics who believed he was publicly announcing the full project’s demise, although Mr. Newsom later said the change in priority wasn’t meant to preclude finishing the full route.

Some state lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats alike, now say the effort has become flawed and unwieldy, perhaps beyond saving. Critics say that rail officials are seeking a blank check from state coffers, and that their timeline for completion is stretching unaccountably into the future.

“The project is by all objective measures in distress,” said Anthony Rendon, California Assembly Speaker, a Democrat. “Connecting the two largest urban areas in the state is the best thing we can do from an environmental standpoint and an economic development standpoint. To link two cities in the Central Valley would doom the project.”

Instead of dedicating $4.2 billion of bond money in this year’s budget to, as Mr. Newsom put it, “finish the job in the Central Valley,” Mr. Rendon said he has asked the governor to withhold funds from the project and spend more on improving existing transit systems, particularly in the Los Angeles area, which includes his district.

“What we’re focused on is building ridership for an eventual high-speed rail project, and the way you do that is by working on the bookends,” he said.

In a recent interview, Mr. Newsom said his decision to prioritize the Central Valley segment was based on the calculation that the prospects for the full project were best if some part of it were operating.

“The pivot was never to abandon the vision,” he said. “The long term is still there.”

He added that this year’s budget proposal includes money to continue environmental and design work for the extensions beyond the Central Valley. “But it requires federal resources — not exclusively, but primarily,” he said.

The Infrastructure Bill at a Glance

Card 1 of 5

The bill receives final approval. The House passed the $1 trillion bill on Nov. 5 to rebuild the country’s aging public works system. The proposal is a central plank of President Biden’s economic agenda, which he signed into law on Nov. 15. Here’s what’s inside the bill:

Transportation. The proposal would see tens of billions of dollars in new federal spending going to roads, bridges and transportation programs. Amtrak would see its biggest infusion of money since its inception, and funds would be allocated to programs intended to provide safe commutes for pedestrians.

Climate. Funding would be provided to better prepare the country to face global warming. The Forest Service would get billions of dollars to reduce the effects of wildfires. The bill includes $73 billion to modernize the nation’s electricity grid to allow it to carry renewable energy.

Resources for underserved communities. A new $2 billion grant program is expected to expand transportation projects in rural areas. The bill would also increase support for Native American communities, allotting $216 million to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for climate-resilience and adaptation efforts.

Internet access. The bill includes $65 billion meant to connect hard-to-reach rural communities and low-income city dwellers to high-speed internet. Other provisions seek to stoke competition and transparency among service providers.

A report by the California legislative analyst’s office notes that while the state’s legislature could decide to extend funding for the project — including a portion of cap-and-trade revenues through 2030 — it’s unclear where the money will come from to build beyond the Central Valley segment.

Experts say that the fragmented nature of transportation planning in the country has made the federal government hesitant to bet big on new projects rather than on fixing existing systems. That’s layered over a national political environment in which the appearance of California boosterism can be a liability, even for Democrats like the president.

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Reinforcement bars at the construction site in Wasco, Calif.Credit…Ryan Young for The New York Times

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A completed concrete section in Madera, Calif.Credit…Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

California’s high-speed rail will “get some federal funding now that there’s a Democratic administration in place and the infrastructure bill is done,” said Jeff Davis, a senior fellow with the Eno Center for Transportation, a nonpartisan research organization. “But the federal government is not in the business of creating massive infrastructure programs that disproportionately benefit one state.”

Mr. Davis estimated that of a $36 billion “mother lode” of money in the infrastructure law for states with intercity passenger rail, more than half will go to the Northeast, leaving what’s left to be divvied up among projects in other states. He said that if California’s project also competes for funding from smaller pots of money in the law, like one designated for rail safety, California could get $4 billion or $5 billion — “maybe.”

Still, proponents say that the idea of scraping together as much as $105 billion should be stacked against the costs of expanding highways and air service an equivalent amount. The rail authority recently put that number at close to $200 billion, not including the escalating costs of dealing with climate change, like fighting wildfires.

In states such as Texas and Florida, private businesses have attempted to capitalize on the need for faster, greener rail systems in the United States.

But nothing approaches the magnitude of the California plan. Longtime supporters like former Gov. Jerry Brown describe high-speed rail as by far the best climate-friendly transportation option. They point with frustration and embarrassment to successes in countries around the globe — particularly China, which has built more than 20,000 miles of high-speed rail in about two decades.

For Brian P. Kelly, who took over as chief executive of the rail authority in early 2018, the only way to get the project done is to trudge forward, whatever the political weather.

Brian P. Kelly, chief executive of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said the project needs to proceed, whatever the political winds.

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Brian P. Kelly, chief executive of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said the project needs to proceed, whatever the political winds.

Brian P. Kelly, chief executive of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said the project needs to proceed, whatever the political winds. Credit…Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

A completed concrete arc in Madera. The overall project needs as much as $105 billion in funding.

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A completed concrete arc in Madera. The overall project needs as much as $105 billion in funding.

A completed concrete arc in Madera. The overall project needs as much as $105 billion in funding. Credit…Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

He rattled off his tasks ahead as if he were describing a day of errands: Get trains running on the 170-mile Central Valley section. (Mr. Kelly said he expects that to happen by the end of the decade.) Continue with preparations for the extensions and finish improvements on either end of the line. Then find the money to build the rest.

In the meantime, the Central Valley — the implied “nowhere” when critics deride the project as “a train to nowhere” — is changing rapidly. The region’s major industries, like farming, are facing generational shifts. And families priced out of coastal cities are arriving in pursuit of relatively affordable housing, driving up costs and pushing out poorer residents as part of an increasingly familiar cycle.

The train was always going to have to pass through the Central Valley. So while some local leaders have over the years vocally opposed the project, many believe the region should grab the opportunities the train could bring.

“We’re teetering on the edge,” said Ashley Swearengin, a former mayor of Fresno who now leads the Central Valley Community Foundation. “We could get it right.”

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"To link two cities in the Central Valley would doom the project.” - Anthony Rendon.
No, it wouldn’t. Why would you ever think that? You have to do that anyway in the larger scope of the plan. The only thing that has changed is now rail service will start earlier in those areas. That’s it. They were always going to be connected as part of the bigger project.
These people get on my nerves.

There are a million bad faith arguments against CAHSR, but I do believe it was a mistake to build the Central Valley section before sections serving the economic mega-regions. Intra-regional travel is more important than inter-regional – commuters and super-commuters make up the vast majority of CAHSR’s potential ridership.

An HSR system connecting SF, San Jose, Merced and Sacramento or an HSR system connecting Los Angeles, Anaheim, Bakersfield, the Antelope Valley, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego would have been an important proof of concept to get taxpayers and voters re-invested, and created a financial base to draw from for future expansion.

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The only logic I can guess is they were trying a similar tactic from the 2nd Ave subway, build just part of it to force the hand to complete it.

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Number one expense of any project like this is Republicans trying to bottle neck things so they can drive up costs and yell about how wasteful it is.

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Its all those lawsuits from farmers and other people in the rural areas that are holding this thing up.

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Per 202_Cyclist:

Bullet-train route OK’d from San Joaquin Valley to Bay Area. How are wildlife, farms affected?

By Tim Sheehan
April 28, 2022
Fresno Bee

"A proposed route between the San Joaquin Valley and the Bay Area for California’s bullet-train system received final approval Thursday from the California High Speed Rail Authority.

The agency’s board of directors, meeting in Sacramento, voted to certify a massive four-volume report of environmental and social impacts that the route would have on communities, farms, parks and wildlife habitats along the 89-mile stretch of the line from San Jose through Gilroy into Merced County.

That vote set the stage for a second action that formally approved the preferred route, filtered out over a years-long process from among four options involving crossing the Diablo Range via Pacheco Pass west of Los Banos."

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Per Homebucket

Among key features of the route are plans for a 13.5-mile tunnel through the mountains north and east of the San Luis Reservoir, and about 15 miles of elevated tracks to carry the high-speed trains above highways on the San Francisco Peninsula and over canals and environmentally sensitive wetlands in the San Joaquin Valley.

Between Gilroy and San Jose, the trains will largely operate on tracks shared with the existing Caltrain commuter rail system.

One unique feature proposed for the route in western Merced County is a 3-mile stretch of low-profile viaduct as the tracks cross through the Grasslands Ecological Area north of Los Banos. That segment would also include some form of enclosure to not only reduce the prospect of noise from trains startling birds and other wildlife as they pass, but also to protect birds from electrocution by alighting on the overhead electrical lines that power the trains.

Among four major alternatives identified by planners since 2009, the chosen option involves the fewest displacements of homes, businesses and farm structures, and would permanently take about 1,033 acres of “important farmland” out of production, mostly in the San Joaquin Valley.

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Per 202_Cyclist:

High speed rail to provide $423 million for LA Union Station project
Plan will create through tracks at currently stub-ended terminal

Apr. 28, 2022

"LOS ANGELES — The California High-Speed Rail Authority will provide more than $400 million for the project to improve Los Angeles Union Station, a project which will see through tracks for commuter and intercity rail operations created at the current stub-ended station in downtown L.A.

The authority’s board on Wednesday approved the agreement with LA Metro to provide $423.3 million for Phase A of the “Link Union Station” project, with the money coming from Proposition 1A funds approved by voters for the high speed rail system. In a press release, Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins called the agreement “a key funding milestone for the [high speed rail] bookend project here in Southern California.”

The project will include construction of a two-track viaduct over U.S. Highway 101 adjacent to the station, providing a mainline link to allow through north-south operations [see “Metrolink set to begin work on LA Union Station project,” Trains News Wire, May 1, 2020]. The initial work, modernizing the five-track throat into the station, is targeted for completion in 2023…"

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Getting this segment approved is a massive step. It’s arguably the second-most technically challenging segment, behind only Palmdale to Burbank. We’re moving quickly from building the “train to nowhere” (a pejorative I hate), to having the entire LA to SF alignment under construction at once. The first time I see those tunnels or a viaduct coming out of the mountains above Burbank, I really might cry.

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All these people ragging on California are gonna be in for a shock when they see how much economic activity this project brings to the state. You have to spend money if you want to compete.

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Here is the official news report

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