Kenny Hoyle is "Cut from a different cloth…

By: | Tuesday, August 4, 2009 //

The latest installments in Altamont’s “Cut from a different cloth…” web clips, filmed by Altamont

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  • Juberlita

    Saw your comment on A cpolue of things you may want to consider:a) cities and counties in California depend on property and sales tax revenue to fund local services like schools, roads, transit etc. I suspect the real reason behind the preference for Pacheco is that communities in the SF peninsula want people who work there to also live there, to protect realty values and their tax base.High speed rail service for the East Bay, Livermore Valley and part of the Central Valley could encourage even more Silicon Valley worker bees to move to Alameda, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties. The term often used to refer to this is sprawl , but that actually refers to the unbridled expansion of low-rise construction in a single city. HSR is really about exurbanization , i.e. people living near the center of one city and working near the center of another, far away.In France, the TGV network has greatly increased the attractiveness of this new form of long-distance commuting. That’s fine by them, Paris is an old city with very little room for residential growth. No-one complains that SNCF is offering sweet deals for people who ride the TGV every day. In stark contrast to California, local authorities in France get their funding from the central government.Ergo, while running HSR over Altamont would indeed benefit a larger number of existing communities, people paying mortgages in Silicon Valley mostly prefer Pacheco. The risk of long-distance commuters moving to Gilroy is much smaller, because San Jose made sure long ago that residential development in southern Santa Clara county is highly restricted. For various reasons, there are also no passenger rail services to Hollister, Watsonville, Monterey or Salinas. For good measure, the Sierra Club even got the Assembly to explicitly prohibit the construction of a station in Los Banos.At a state level, Altamont does make more sense. It’s just that someone needs to assure Silicon Valley residents that it is in their best interest, as well.b) A new Dumbarton rail bridge isn’t going to happen, ever. Period. It would cost upward of $2 billion, far too much unless it is used for HSR and perhaps even then. Construction would inevitably stir up Bay mud laced with methyl mercury still leaching from tailings dumped into San Jose creeks during the Gold Rush. In a National Wildlife Refuge, that is not acceptable.More importantly, you want to pick the HSR technology that offers the greatest safety in the event of an accident, e.g. a derailment due to an earthquake. That means a design with an articulated frame, in which the wheelsets are located in-between rather than underneath the cars. The downside of this concept is that you can’t easily reconfigure the trainsets, which typically provide 300-500 seats each. The best you can do is combine two trainsets into a long single train.Splitting and recombining trainsets serving SF and SJ, respectively, at either Redwood City or Fremont would cost valuable time. Alternating single trainsets to these destinations would cut the service frequency to each in half. Ridership per trainset would also be lower than if every train served both ends of the SF peninsula.Of course, there is an obvious alignment that would do just that, avoid the construction of a new rail bridge and still serve secondary stations with non-express trains. Note that CHSRA did not even include it in its list of variations on the Altamont option quite possibly on purpose. One of the downsides is that the SF-LA line haul time would probably be ~20 minutes longer than via Pacheco, because of lower speed limits. At the time, it was believed that short-hop flights would be the primary competition for HSR only later did it become apparent that it’s really the car. UPRR’s idle Southern Pacific Milpitas Line (SPML) branches off the peninsula corridor south of Santa Clara station and runs through north San Jose and up the East Bay to Niles and beyond. North of Milpitas, the SPML is adjacent to the separate Western Pacific Milpitas Line (WPML), a ROW that Santa Clara county bought for the planned BART extension to Santa Clara.Construction of an HSR alignment along the narrow SPML ROW would surely face ferocious opposition from nearby condo owners, even if the tracks are placed underground possibly on top of one another and the street level is ultimately converted to a linear park. Moving the VTA light rail line up to street level would be a hassle, but there are also more daunting technical issues: a high water table and, tunneling under the 101 freeway.Moreover, the solution implies that San Jose Diridon would *not* be served by HSR trains. If the planned BART extension ever gets built, that would be survivable. However, its costs have escalated to a staggering $300 million/mile, well beyond all rhyme or reason.