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High Speed Rail: VanArk response to Simitian/Eshoo/Gordon plan: “Take your plan and shove it”

Original post made by morris brown, Menlo Park: Park Forest, on Apr 23, 2011

High Speed Rail: VanArk response to the Simitian/Eshoo/Gordon plan:: "Take your plan and shove it."

On Monday (4-18-2011), Senator Simitian /Rep. Eshoo and Assemblyman Gordon made a public announcement regarding High Speed Rail and the Cities on the Peninsula.

Their proposal called for a "blended" approach, whereby, only 2 tracks would be needed on the CalTrain corridor, the tracks would be upgraded and electrified, and the Authority would give up on 4 tracks, there would be no aerials, and would stop work on the EIR which is being prepared for the route from SF to San Jose and replaced.

The idea was the Authority wouldn't need to build a second system, would save money, would save homes from be taken by eminent domain, and be able to use the same two tracks (upgraded) as Caltrain and UPRR do presently.

Well the answer from the Authority (vanArk) came back pretty swiftly and essentially says --this doesn't work – sorry.

VanArk said

1. we will not abandon work on the EIR
2. we will not eliminate the 4 track option
3. we will not focus only on a 2 track option
4. we will not eliminate aerials.

Please see:

Web Link

The answer was predictable.

So now what?

The Simitian proposal did not even mention looking at the fundamental question of whether the project should be allowed to continue at all. Indeed Rep. Eshoo made quite clear it was her responsibility to secure as many funds for the project from the FRA as possible. Is she going to change her position now seeing that how the money will be spent, is hardly being spent wisely?

This project is a boondoggle, pure and simple. It was sold to the public as costing $32 billion, within 1 year the cost escalated to $43 billion by their estimates, and independent analysis has shown the true cost will be at least $65 billion.

The original ridership estimates were as high as 120 million passengers per year, which has now dropped to around 40 million passengers per year, and the Authority has stonewalled producing a new business plan and ridership estimates until at least next year.

So Senator Simitian, Rep Eshoo, Assemblyman Gordon, please face reality.. Time to use your positions to stop this project, which is currently spending about $1 million per day; money which is so dearly needed in so many other ways.


(videos of the announcement can be seen on YouTube at:

HSR-SIMITIAN-4-18-2011.FLV  (video of the announcement by Simitian:

Web Link

-------
Simitian-Eshoo-comments-4-18-2011.flv    (video of comments from Eshoo/Simitian:

Web Link

-----------
Eshoo Gordon comments 4 18 2011   (video of further comments from Eshoo/Gordon)

Web Link

Morris brown
Stone Pine lane
MP.






Comments (30)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by J. Wong
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2011 at 11:16 am

HSR is coming to the Peninsula and California, you can either help to get the best solution for the community or waste your time trying to get the project killed. All your arguments against it are self-serving and false based simply on your desire to not have HSR at all.

The reality: Caltrain has and is continuing to pursue grade separation, which means berms and aerials independent of HSR. Caltrain already has 4 tracks in some areas and will expand it where the existing ROW allows it. Aerials have the least intrusive footprint and would reduce the amount of property required to expand for HSR. And lastly, people will ride it including you and it will be a success especially with gas prices approaching $5 a gallon and airfares soon to follow.

Look to the future, not the past.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 23, 2011 at 11:25 am

J. Wong -

Just one problem. We don't have any money.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2011 at 11:38 am

No to High Speed Rail.......

"The original ridership estimates were as high as 120 million passengers per year." Right.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Eric
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 23, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Michael G. Stogner said:

""The original ridership estimates were as high as 120 million passengers per year." Right."

Why is that so hard to believe? BART, which runs in the bay area only, has annual ridership of 110+ million passengers a year!! Wake up!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by J. Wong
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2011 at 12:33 pm

@POGO: A company that doesn't have money to invest in the future is soon a defunct company.

We _do_ have the money, and contrary to what the Republicans want, we must invest in the future.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Why do all of the people who represent the very few OLDER land owners along the corridor hate this project? Because the money that got them elected told them to say so.
California MUST think of the future of the younger and diversified people and not just those who think an HSR is ugly, hideous and gross is not an argument...It is whiney and it does not come out of any pocketbooks locally. The work that begins in California will begin all over the country and get it all working again.
This is not a beauty contest. And YES, some homes will be taken over by eminent domain just as they were when all railways were built.
Airlines are disintigrating in stages, DAILY, airline travel is going to become a luxury instead of a pain in the ass and the amount of people who work just getting passengers on a plane, will be working for the HSR's.
LOGIC is one thing NONE of the elected officials of SAN MATEO COUNTY ever deal with. It is disgraceful and oddly insular and corrupt.
None of the BILLIONAIRES are fighting it.
Sacaramento and people like Scwarzenneger and even Newsom and all of the YOUNGER and not the COOLIES to the "middle rich" stand a chance going back a YEAR now.
The President approves it according to rumor and it would be a great thing for the PEOPLE, not the fat cats who will be in their 70's and 80's by the time this happpens. Elect new, fresh, representatives for California.Get rid of special interest groups.They are all victims of the bank failures and that must NEVER happen again.
PROGRESS...HSR. Forget that monster old delapidated system which rattles these foagies' petunias or pansies.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Right on, J.Wong!
You obviously see through it as easily as most people who do not want to live like second class citizens and want the future to be what it should have been 20 years ago in America.
These are conservative, and stubborn old thinkes who oppose HSR.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 23, 2011 at 2:08 pm

@ J. Wong -

First, if you think we really have the money then you are living in fantasy land. You may have missed it but there's this thing called "the deficit" and it seems like our government has borrowing an awful lot of money. I'm not aware of a single elected offical from either party who believes that "we__do__have the money."

And a company that spends more money than it earns will be defunct a lot quicker than a company that just doesn't invest.

Again, when we can't figure out how to pay for teachers, fire fighters and police, building a really fast train (especially when we have $39 flights leaving every 15 minutes) may not be such a great idea.

HSR was among the first victims of the budget cuts and, if my memory serves, as many Democrats voted for the deal as Republicans.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 23, 2011 at 2:10 pm

J. Wong -

Be careful when you find yourself on the same side of an issue as R. Gordon!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by show me the money
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 23, 2011 at 4:32 pm

If you think there is money, please show it to us. It does not exist!!!

I DO want to invest in our future, and that means we fund education and our existing infrastructure. Our state has gone to the bottom of the heap. Our kids can't get into California higher education and when they do, they can't get the classes they need. Our roads are falling apart. Every dollar not spent now on the infrastructure we have will be more dollars in the future when more work will be needed when they are in even worse shape. Fixing our regional transit into a cohesive system is vital before we try to look at alternative ways to get from one end of the state to another. Most of the traffic is local and regional!
Ruining existing communities for HSR isn't necessary, but that's what would happen if the current plans are implemented.
BTW - I am not old, Republican, or near the tracks.


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Posted by Truth
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 23, 2011 at 4:44 pm

I wish R.Gordon would use his/her full name to distinguish it from politician Rich Gordon.

Should we assume it is?


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Posted by Thomas (Sharon Heights)
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 23, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Thomas (Sharon Heights) is a registered user.

[Post removed. We have the problem of two registrations under the same name. We are recognizing the first registration, based on IP address. ]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 23, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Thomas:

if you think tickets on HSR aren't going to cost $200 you are deluded. The only way they won't cost that much is if the fares are subsidized, meaning we, the taxpayers help pay for your trip to Disneyland or it ain't going to happen. My money's on the latter. this state simply does not have the money to subsidize this boondoggle. Going forward we have a huge structural deficits with the public employee retirements. Where pray tell will this money come from. You want HSR? I hope you don't mind driving on dirt roads.


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Posted by Thomas (Sharon Heights)
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 23, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Thomas (Sharon Heights) is a registered user.

[Post removed. We have the problem of two registrations under the same name. We are recognizing the first registration, based on IP address. ]


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Posted by English Teacher
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Apr 23, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Thomas, without getting into the validity of your opinions (I can only say that the fact government spending helped the economy recover in isolated instances in the past does not imply it will continue to do so as there is simply too small a sample to draw conclusions from), Menlo Voter's use of the word "deluded" is certainly not correct. He was stating you were deluded, or deceived, about the benefits of high speed rail. Delusional has mental health implications associated with it and would not be an appropriate choice of word by Menlo Voter unless he was implying you are mentally ill, and his posts in general have been much more civil than to assume he would be. I would check with your dictionary before you criticize another's use of the English language.


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Posted by English Teacher
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Apr 23, 2011 at 9:30 pm

(meant to say "certainly not INCORRECT" above).


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Posted by Thomas (Sharon Heights)
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 23, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Thomas (Sharon Heights) is a registered user.

[Post removed. We have the problem of two registrations under the same name. We are recognizing the first registration, based on IP address. ]


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Posted by English Teacher
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Apr 23, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Thomas, "deluded" is not a participle so Menlo Voter did not end his sentence with a dangling one. I think perhaps you need the refresher course on grammar, not I.

Anyway, I'll stop correcting your grammar as long as you stop trying (and failing) to correct others'.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 23, 2011 at 11:36 pm

Thomas (or whoever is using that registration) -

I travel to Santa Monica about once a month, usually for the day and my airfare is usually about $200 round trip. Yes, it is difficult to find $39 fares these days (all airfares are high these days), but occasionally there are special fares offered. Just a couple of months ago, my round trip airfare to LAX was $100. Round trip.

HSR fare projections will probably prove to be as accurate as the estimates to build the system. My guess is that this service will cost $200 or more each way - but the truth is that no one knows right now. And that $400+ round trip will take longer (even including getting through security at the airport) and because it arrives in downtown LA, it will be far less convenient.

And what makes you think there won't be a security check at the rail station that won't add time to train trips? It doesn't take a stretch to see that is in our future.

But there is one other point that you conveniently ignore - not everyone wants to go from downtown San Francisco to downtown Los Angeles! People travel from all over the Bay Area to lots of locations in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego Counties. If you want to travel to Burbank, Long Beach, Irvine, Santa Monica or Ontario - as many business travelers do - what do you suggest we do when we arrive at Union Station in downtown LA? It's a 30 minute, $60 cab ride to Santa Monica from Union Station.

And that family that wants to go to Disneyland for the weekend? How do you propose they get there? Disneyland is 30 minutes from Union Station and it's not in a particularly convenient location for a train stop. This was your example, not mine....

But the most important point is that we have no money. Even Governor Brown acknowledges a $20 billion shortfall. The very thought of having to fund a $100 billion project is making politicians cringe.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Paid distractors
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 23, 2011 at 11:42 pm

[Portion removed. Please don't attack other posters. In this case, there is more than poster using the name.] By spending one hundred billion on high speed rail, police unions can argue that their costs are modest in comparison. [Portion deleted.] Don't fall for it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Thomas Paine
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 24, 2011 at 10:51 am

High Speed Rail is worth every penny and there are many, many creative ways to fund it. Remember when Rolf Van Ark talked about a "final solution?" He was actually talking about his innovative long-term plan to build a 40 ft. high berm through Palo Alto. If you think about the berm as a mausoleum project, each mile could contain 10,000 tombs, which at a market price of $20,000 each would generate a quarter billion dollars per mile. The engineering would be trivial. And given the demographics of aging boomers, it is an idea whose time is coming!

Alternatively, we could find the money for HSR by just closing all of our community colleges and the state university system. We're already spending $300 million per year on HSR and that money comes directly from the general fund and K-12 education. That means fewer high school grads down the road which in turn will result in less demand for college. Once HSR really gets going it will consume $2-3 billion per year from the general fund so cutting colleges now looks like a great place to start.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 24, 2011 at 1:12 pm

It would be better to print 40 billion dollars and give it directly to the unions and developers and not build the train. That is what this project is really all about.

Not building the train will at least avoid indefinite operating subsidies into the future.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rayofsunshine
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Apr 24, 2011 at 7:43 pm

After the meeting last Monday 4/18 at the MP Train Stain, the paper reported that Van Ark was open to their ideas and actually compared them as similar; followed by (a new trigger word) stating it was going to be "phased implementation", etc. What happened to (what appeared to be) his (Van Ark) SEMI-NEUTRAL attitude? Did I misunderstand what the paper was reporting? If not, what has transpired to shift this Van Ark attitude? Also, a few months ago, I heard from some friends in SO CAL that HSR were going to start building in the Central Valley/had already started building down there. What's the status of that?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by morris brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 24, 2011 at 8:15 pm

@Rayofsunshine:

VanArk apparently made some short comments following the announcement which seemed to indicate support of the proposal.

However, in the closed door meeting held in San Mateo the true picture emerged and notes taken and printed on the CAARD website revealed the true picture.

see:

Web Link

vanArk's position from that meeting is:

we will not abandon work on the EIR
we will not eliminate the 4 track option
we will not focus only on a 2 track option
we will not eliminate aerials.

The Authority's current plan is to start construction in the Central Vally. Work would start by 4th quarter of 2012. No construction activity has been approved or started to date.





 +   Like this comment
Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 24, 2011 at 8:23 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

Insanity is doing what you have always done and expecting a different outcome.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 25, 2011 at 8:04 am

Amtrak already as the infrastructure in place. The actual operating losses for 2010 were 1 Billion Two Hundred Forty Nine Million 500 Thousand Dollars. This took out the State Supported Train Revenues (State Taxyer contributions).

The Amtrak projected losses for 2011 are 1 Billion Four Hundred Seventy Four Million Dollars and for 2012 are over 1 Billion 500 Million Dollars.

California has not even built the HSR infrastructure! The Amtrak losses are operating losses including depreciation expense. This does not include money for paying off bonds and loans.

HSR will hemorrhage money. If Califonia had a robust economy with annual tax revenue surpluses it would be one thing. But essential services such as schools, sewers and streets will be put on the sacrificial altar for a nice to have but not exigent item.

We need to get our priorities straight and with Califonia's abysmal P&L statement we can not afford to be reckless with our money. HSR must be deferred or California's bond rating will be so low that no one in their right minds would even consider purchasing this worthless paper.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Observer
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2011 at 10:06 pm

It certainly is high time that Simitan, Eshoo, Gordon and everyone else recognize that this isn't a fight over trains. This is a fight over redevelopment. OF COURSE the CHSRA immediately dismissed these demands for 'doing hsr right'. Ludicrous! The demands represent a fundamental and ameteurish lack of understanding of the underlying driving force behind this effort.

Minimizing disruption along the Peninsula is the absolute antithesis of what the backers movers shakers of this project are driving this for. MAXIMIZING disruption of the real estate along the Caltrain row jars open 50-100 miles of the most valuable real estate in the country for massive redevelopment. The more ruin, the better. They get to swoop in on bargain basement prices and pack in high rise development. In real estate that otherwise is NOT voluntarily opening up. Why was Altamont shut down? Comparative economics of the redevelopment potential - period.

Let that knowledge drive Simitian Eshoo Gordon and others to the kind of efforts in this fight that will protect the Peninsula.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ArnoldNewsom
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2011 at 7:18 pm

This is a silly idea.
Why not build a football stadium or a baseball park....
No....too garish.
Do any of you remember Brooke Astor? She was like what most of you never aspire to be.
She was my godmother by her own words........she also did not care about ostentation for its own sake. She just happened to have invented it unknowingly...not like what writer's called "nouveaux" by osmosis.......this will not disturb the "try hards".
Those who have raised thoroughbreds know instinctively when they have been outclassed.
You who seek identitities might be opening a lot of dirty laundry which is well on its way to the cleaners with names and pasts and all kinds of reasons this has become an issue.
It does not deal with the keenest of any of your above perceptions.
Government has never come so near a groups neighborhood in the history of America. That is the only clue I have to offer that I can even vaguely claim has truth. However, instinct tells me there are less Lady Astors than pool house sharks (by comparison).


 +   Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 26, 2011 at 7:28 pm

ArnoldNewsom -

The Almanac took down the "Smoking Marijuana Causes Global Warming" thread you were looking for.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 27, 2011 at 7:23 am

POGO:

Arnold is R. Gordon


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