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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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High-speed rail finally may be wrecked

Uploaded: Nov 26, 2013

State Senator Mark DeSaulnier brought experts together earlier this fall to discuss ways to avoid repeating the fiscal and approval fiasco of the Bay Bridge. The replacement eastern span opened in September nearly 24 years after a section of the bridge fell in the Loma Prieta earthquake.

The bridge took nearly 10 years longer to complete and cost $6.4 billion, more than five times original estimates.

DeSaulnier is rightfully concerned with the state moving ahead with the absurd high-speed rail project that supposedly will connect San Francisco with Los Angeles. The first phase was planned to go from nowhere to nowhere in the San Joaquin Valley. Gov. Brown scaled the project back once costs were soaring from the original $40 billion to nearly $100 billion. The current plan is $68 billion.

Fortunately, this week, a Sacramento judge ruled that the authority could not spend any additional money of the $8 billion in bonds that voters approved with significant conditions until those requirements were met. Most important was to demonstrate that funding was in place for the huge costs to complete the first segment (tens of billions). The wise decision should stall the train wreck project and put it in the pile of absurd ideas that were sold to voters with little basis in reality.

For the next examples of political sales speech just remember "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan."

Looking at past practice—the Big Dig tunnel in Boston cost $15 billion after an original estimate at $2.5 billion—a true high-speed rail could be hundreds of billions.

Then, there's the dual conveyances planned under the Delta to reliably deliver water to the Livermore Valley (it's 80 percent of our supply), the South Bay, San Joaquin Valley farms and Southern California.

The experts told DeSaulnier that megaprojects routinely exceed plans because proponents are biased toward doing the project and often misrepresent challenges and miss on how long they will take.

DeSaulnier is hoping to use the information he gathers to design legislation to greatly improve oversight and management of the huge projects. Here is wishing him good luck.

And, if he really wants to focus on a real problem, it's the movement of goods—not people—that needs solutions. Trucks jam freeways from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach moving containers to sorting warehouses in San Bernadino. Take those trucks off the road and move them instead on traditional rail, let alone high-speed rail, then you will have accomplished something for the environment and the economy.

In the Bay Area, what would it look like if there was viable rail or barges up the Delta that would shift containers off of Interstate 580. The afternoon commute would be tough, but nowhere near as ugly as it is today.

Focusing on moving goods efficiently—from both a transportation and an economic standpoint—will benefit the East Bay and California. Wake up Jerry.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by member, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 26, 2013 at 11:49 pm

If the cost turns out to be $100B, which is usually the way these projects end up, that means it will cost $2,600 for every man, woman and child in California! Of which, %14 are in poverty. We don\'t need a train going 200 miles per hour over earthquake prone country, vulnerable to terrorists, way too expensive, disruptive to every community it crosses, and all to where? LA-SF eventually? I would never use it. I would never want to use it but I have to pay for it...It\'s just a waste of money..STOP IT NOW!!!

Posted by Avid Reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 27, 2013 at 12:14 am

It's an absurd rail project, an absurd idea I tell you. Did you get that? It's absurd, completely absurd. The rail project, and the idea that it might work. Absurd I tell you.

It would be better to move truck containers via rail. What? There isn't any rail now for doing that? What? You mean digging through a high-speed rail system would have adjoining tracks for traditional trains moving truck containers? You're kidding me! Well what would I have to complain about then? Oh, that's right, the proponents of this absurd -- absolutely absurd high speed project -- are liars, and probably communists to boot, who want to tax California tax payers to death so the state can take over all our lives, entirely. Just like our Founding Fathers predicted, because they were for liberty, liberty to have slaves, liberty to exploit child labor, you know, and lots of other liberties as well, like liberty to not have an absurd rail system go in to transfer truck containers, which I want, but gawd the absurdity of it all.

And, you know, if a bridge in Oakland and an interstate project in Boston went in over cost, then obviously with the liars we have Sacramento -- liars who support this absurd project -- there'd have to be the same cost overruns or worse, probably a lot worse because Sacramento is filled with mostly Democrats (communists) who are liars and want public high speed rail projects because they want make us all like the communists in France. If you want my opinion, it's all absurd. And about that traditional rail transport system adjacent to the high speed rail system? Preposterous, I mean, I've never heard anything so absurd in my life. Those Democrats in Sacramento are obviously spreading more lies. Because that's what communists do. It's all very logical. And absurd.

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