State wins $2.25 billion for high-speed rail


The plan to build a high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles is getting a $2.25 billion boost today, Jan. 28. More than a quarter of the $8 billion in federal stimulus money earmarked for high-speed rail systems is being awarded to California's project.

The project is set to send high-speed trains down the Peninsula along the Caltrain corridor, a route that has raised objections from many local residents and elected officials, including the city councils of Atherton and Menlo Park.

"This award is fantastic news for California and for our state's high-speed rail project," said Curt Pringle, chairman of the California High Speed Rail Authority in a statement. "It is an award that will lead to the creation of tens of thousands of quality jobs in the near-term and to continued economic strength and enhance our transportation network in the long term."

Unsurprisingly, local critics of the project take a dim view of the stimulus award.

"This is not good news," said Menlo Park resident Martin Engel in an e-mail. "They are clearly making progress toward their goal of construction on the Peninsula, and we already know what that will look like."

The rail authority had requested $4.7 billion in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for high-speed intercity rail systems. Mr. Pringle said California was granted a significant portion of the stimulus funds despite "tremendous competition."

■ Bay City News story on high-speed rail grant.

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Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Mr. are fighting the only choice that out of work people have which is a very positive move for the entire country.
What I fail to understand is your quote about "the contruction on the Peninsula, and we already know what that means."
If you would like to differentiate between aesthetics and having out of work Californians doing something which will get them back on their feet, while developing a huge industry starting right here in California......I won't even comment as to how naive you are and also selfish when it comes to looking out for your Americans who would rather eat, than hear an occasional train bypass your property a few times a day.
If that were my worry, I would just move to another one of my homes and be glad California is making the first real move.
I DID say, apart from everything else, that HSR was inevitable given that the U.S. is now a failing nation economically, and the kind of mindset you have is what would ultimately sink everyone into a record depression financially. Would you rather get earplugs, a train schedule or perhaps go to your office and get out of your house once in a while?

Like this comment
Posted by HSR is doomed
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 28, 2010 at 6:17 pm

If this train is the only hope for the unemployed, we're all in trouble. Are we really sending our kids to college so that they can come out and get jobs laying track? That's a "quality job?" Nope, I think that was a waste of $200k in tuition!

This state is going down the tubes, fast, and looks like the entire country will accompany it. We are already IN a record depression, R. GORDON. Are your limo windows so heavily frosted that you can't see what's outside them? Ask your driver to stop and let you walk around, mingle with the hoi polloi.

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Posted by Mike
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 29, 2010 at 10:11 am

There is an $11Billion bond coming to the voters for infrastructure improvements to our water in California. This will also create many jobs, and will not require massive taxpayer subsidies for as long as we all live, as HSR in its present form will.

Like this comment
Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jan 29, 2010 at 10:48 am

The $8 billion stimulus package for HSR will provide $2.25 billion for California. Its purpose is to create employment for the millions of Californian who have been laid-off from work. This work program will be to build a high-speed train. There is no labor force in the US capable of building a high-speed train, which, as you can imagine, is far more technical than the laying of ballast-ties-and-track in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Furthermore, we have no manufacturing capacity in the US for high-speed rail rolling stock and all the necessary support technologies.

What does that mean? It means that much of the $2.25 federal stimulus funding aimed at California will go overseas. We will need to employ foreign, experienced, skilled rail professionals to build an enormously complex rail system, and we will need to buy proven high-speed rail hardware from Europe, Japan or China. So, who exactly are we “stimulating?”

It has been said many times, so forgive me for saying it yet one more time. California does not need a high-speed train running between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Our State needs much improved local, urban and regional public mass transit in both the greater Bay Area connecting to all the bedroom communities, and in the LA Basin and Inland Empire.

Those employment opportunities, along with repairing our decayed state infrastructure would constitute a far wiser investment of public dollars.

After all, the so-called stimulus funds won’t start stimulating for another two years when HSR construction begins. What will the unemployed do in the meantime? They can be put to work right now on many essential and real "shovel-ready" projects. Building a luxury train for the well to do shouldn’t be one of them.

Like this comment
Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 29, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Martin Engel is spot on and of course, as usual, R. Gordon is way out in left field. We need to develop more intra-city transit and leave the inter-city transit to the airlines. We can not afford this boondoggle.

Like this comment
Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2010 at 1:36 pm

HSR...not a good response.The laying of track will assuredly fall into the hands of the white unemployed, skilled workers, because the Chinese who built our railway system to the West Coast are now the owners of most of our industries while blacks and unschooled and underprivileged whites (NOT Y0UR'S)will undoubtededly be the ones along with the thousands of working class mixed races who will be getting a steady paycheck until not JUST California but the millions of miles of highway will eventually have America join the 21st C.just like the rest of the world who have been WAY ahead of us for decades and not polluted our atmosphere like the U.S. has.
Incidentally, it would behoove you to check out the enrollment now in most of the "favored" Universities and Colleges and do a breakdown on the ethnicity.........almost 3/4 are non Caucasian. Start next door to you at Stanford. They are the ones ahead of your kids in admissions to graduate business schools, and almost every college on campus which was formerly predominately U.S. citizens, are inhabited by the more talented multi racial students.
Perhaps you do not know of the lack of talent and competition these foreign students have since our bankers and investors did not spend a drop in the bucket on education in the past 10 years.
Your kids might get some muscle by laying track, and if overweight, even get toned up for learning.
I don't want to hear that foreigners are getting better deals because of government subsidies....that would be too predictable.

Like this comment
Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2010 at 1:56 pm

You types like Engel, and Lawrence and HSR is doomed, surely can't believe the plan for SF to LA is going to end there?
THAT is just such a woosie escape political ploy to have people think the reason for its construction is to sun bathe in Malibu, or San Diego beaches while having drinks in the club cars?
Your twisted logic and scare tactics only work on legislators and people who want to run for local offices and make money the old fashion BANKING and TESLA electric cars and freeway construction..........pure fraud and misdirection and embarrassingly bad acting and form.
We are a FAILED NATION gentlemen, with the wars, banking scandals,and using GREEN ideas to self promote and pocket a LOT of bucks by having your compatriots enter local offices and make corrupt decisions which has people just juggling around in order to get to Sacramento.
As I mentioned before, Atherton, and that entire area was once a place where real diamond studded gangsters did business and built big homes which eventually attracted the new "nice corrupt philanthropy" and inverstment brokers who are just as dirty as the gangster were, but they, at least, were a LOT more giving to the community and their kids are the ones who got to Stanford and did an Owens Valley number on the real estate in Palo Alto. The difference is that they were up front about it, and bought football jerseys for the teams to get their kids enrolled. Today, it is BIG BUCKS which always comes off as money from the dozens of cake sales, your gilded wives have to keep the community safe, American as crepe Suzettes, and you ALL LOVE your cars and boy, are you going to be unhappy when you realize that where you live does not give you any more character or more sensitive ears.

Like this comment
Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 29, 2010 at 2:16 pm

R. Gordon

Oregon has legalized assisted suicide. Have you thought about relocating there? We could take up a collection to help you with your expenses.

Like this comment
Posted by KJ
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 29, 2010 at 9:16 pm

The high speed train is "just plain wrong" ! I did not BUY a home in Menlo to have its value decrease because some moronic clan wants a high speed rail system here. All you [portion removed; disrespectful language] who want it can have it. I am moving to a sane Las Vegas, NEV. At least I know how to possibly "win" down there.

Like this comment
Posted by C'mon Almanac
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 29, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Almanac Blog Administrator - Is there any way to discontinue R.Gordon's postings? This is getting to the point of ridiculous. Has ever added anything to any of the posts? Constant name calling, bashing of everything and going on tangents that make no comprehensible sense!

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Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Jan 30, 2010 at 3:00 pm

I don't just bash, I address the ordinary people who depend on the scraps thrown by the rich and selfish.
This AREA is NOT the only one in California. It just happens to be built in a SMALL portion of where the HSR might come near, and that alone makes you all have tantrums when discussing getting employment back with the ONLY viable plan which would employ THOUSANDS.
Menlo Park is the most outraged of any of these communities which owe their wealth to banking and Silicon Valley enterprises and you thought you had the right to descriminate against anyone including me who may be worth 10 times what you have, but am anxious to see some sort of recovery for everyone. I cannot possibly spend what I have in my lifetime and owe the country and the people who put me here, a big favor by helping them out of losing their homes this month.
The first HSR is going to begin laying plans before it is completed for connections reaching across the country while you sweat out the fact your property will lose value.
That is not only un American in its thinking,like Hank "Henry" Lawrence, you do not have to suggest I kill myself in Oregon. I might add that it would be a place you might find peaceful and will not have a HSR for another 5 years.
You just do not understand the meaning of progress, or you have a problem in wanting to show off your privates at airport xray machines while your stomach grumbles in first class without a meal or you cannot have your "Jim Beam" brought to you anymore while you read the WSJ.
This is not about your kind. This is about Californians, and ultimately ALL of the U.S. population which is living on coupons and food stamps.

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 30, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Do any of you really believe there will ever be a high speed rail between San Francisco and San Diego? Ever?

This project is just an incredible boondoggle. Amtrak, which, in one form or another has been around for more than a century, covers the most densely populated part of our country (even conveniently arranged linearly), is cheap and advertises like crazy... has an average daily ridership of just 70,000 people! Not even enough to fill a decent sized football stadium.

Watching our state spend $50 to $100 billion dollars on this thing when we can fly to these cities for $99 round ROUNDTRIP in half the time, is a total waste of resources.

Like this comment
Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2010 at 8:49 am

R.GORDON is a registered user.

POGO.........Just to awaken the entrepreneurs and capitalists...there is NO room to make money in the INEVITABLE solution to Americas unemployment problem, which would begin immediately.
NOT until the next election, at which time bankers, investors and venture capitalists will EVER be able to play the banks again.
The banks are doing a circus act to maintain customers and in the process, their red noses are falling off, and their canine teeth are now becoming exposed. They are walking a tight rope.
HSR is as good as done. 100%.
To those of you in this area who cannot "venture" when this happens,
I suggest you get rid of the upstairs maids and start thinking about that dream you once had to own your own business.
Finally, about the only thing you are right about is that the HSR is going to be subsidized by foreign money in CA. and its success will guarantee the building nationwide.
Get over the fear. It IS happening.

Like this comment
Posted by Rob Tanner
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 1, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Trying to "de-rail" an entire project (excuse the pun), just because you don't want it going through our community is the epitome of NIMBY (I'm talking to you, KJ). You are proposing to stop a project that will benefit the entire state only because you don't want to have a little noise (no proof it will be louder than current trains). I for one am a strong proponent of a high speed rail, which is the only long term solution to our transportation needs. Flying airliners back and forth is great for now but is inefficient and has a much larger carbon footprint. I encourage you to move to Las Vegas, where you can watch your home value decrease when we finally drain the Colorado River for good.

Like this comment
Posted by HSR is doomed
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 1, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal about the HSR grants. Specifically:

"High-speed rail does little to unsnarl traffic jams because most highway congestion is within urban areas, not between them. It also has negligible impact on airport congestion. The world's strongest high-speed rail market, Tokyo to Osaka, is also one of the world's largest airline markets. Even with high-speed rail, there is still frequent air-shuttle service between Paris and Marseille."

So much for the arguments about "inefficient airliners <sic>" -- if HSR goes through, we're still going to need our airports, and we will have to increase their capacity too!

You can read the entire piece at Web Link

More and more analysts are wiping the snake oil off their glasses and realizing that HSR is puffery without substance. The wheels are indeed coming off the shiny fast mirage that is HSR in California and the printing press that's been spitting out dollars is about to crumble

Like this comment
Posted by Orange County Register
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2010 at 8:47 am

California's implausible, unneeded and increasingly costly high-speed rail project will be injected with $2.25 billion of taxpayer money by the Obama administration.

This money is as likely to be squandered as the $9 billion in bonds voters narrowly approved in 2008 for the project. There's scarcely a comparable rail system on the planet operating profitably, as proponents claim this train will. It's easy to understand why. Even proponents now concede it will cost riders about the same to take the train from Anaheim to San Francisco as to fly, and the train ride will take a lot longer. As trains go, this one's a good advertisement for air travel.

If all the bonds eventually are sold, when proceeds are combined with the federal handout, the sum would represent barely a fourth of what's needed to complete the first phase, from Orange County to the Bay Area. That's giving the benefit of the doubt. Some estimate final costs will be closer to $100 billion. Ever optimistic, rail proponents expect private investors to jump on board this nowhere train to the tune of about $12 billion. We're hard-pressed to imagine why anyone would.

The Obama administration's $2.25 billion handout just about covers two years' worth of cost escalations since the project was first penciled out in 2006. As with so many government programs, real costs arrive long after campaign rhetoric is forgotten.

Proponents once claimed the price tag would be merely $33.6 billion. In December that fiction was exposed. The revised estimate is $42.6 billion, reflecting inflation through 2020, when construction is to finish on the basic Anaheim-San Francisco line. There will be more and substantial costs as way stations in Bakersfield and Merced and other not-quite-metropolises are added. We wonder if those initial estimates will include inflation, or if that will be added later, again.

Wendell Cox, a senior fellow at the Heartland Institute and three-term Los Angeles County Transportation Commission member, says overly optimistic ridership estimates are based on rail systems in other countries with much more densely populated areas where lines don't span nearly as many miles. Moreover, foreign rail systems that allegedly break even, he says, don't use generally accepted accounting principles. For one thing, they identify government subsidies as "revenue."

Unfortunately, proponents are likely to use the relatively puny Washington funding as justification to spend more. Expect to hear the plaintive cry: "We already spent (fill in the billions of) dollars. We can't turn back now!"

But turn back they should before squandering billions on a bad idea. The High-Speed Rail Authority can choose not to sell its bonds. It can even return Washington's handout. Yes, that's unlikely.

But if make-work jobs is what is intended, they may as well hire a thousand laborers, give them shovels and have them dig a ditch from Pacoima to Carlsbad, then hire another crew to follow behind and fill the ditch in.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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