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Failure of California high speed rail
7

Failure of California high speed rail

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

Yep - really a disaster.
Who gets the penalty for this? The poor taxpayers.

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RE: Failure of California high speed rail

Feds want their money back.

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The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which depends on a feature that isn't included in this version of Windows.

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

All that CA has to do is lay the rail. The Feds can then come and take up the rails for the wall, and the steel is recycled.

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

From what I read, the state is going to attempt to build a token length of the project in order to try to avoid having to pay the feds back. Don't know if that will succeed. It likely depends on whether the feds decide to 'play hard ball'. The feds have the regulations in place to require it back.

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

Quote (HotRod10)

build a token length

Merced to Bakersfield is well over half of the length. It just happens to be the least populated, flattest, most straight segment (compared to the original San Jose to San Diego route).

Who could have guessed that building in California with it's multiple levels of governmental review would have been difficult? Next you'll tell me that there's gambling in Rick's Café...

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

Quoting: "Merced to Bakersfield is well over half of the length"
1. Not quite true.
2. That's irrelevant. The train is supposed to move people, not cattle.

Yes, instead of San Francisco to Los Angeles, the bullet train will now be routed from tumbleweed to bushwhack.
To be fair, private businesses fail as well.
But it takes a large bureaucracy to fail spectacularly. And my home state of California is a spectacular fail. Or, you could say, a slow motion train wreck.

To tie this all back to the business of engineering, I have no doubt that several engineering firms made out well (financially) on this endeavor. Large design fees and no liability related construction.

California and the feds would have done much better work for the people - and for the engineering community - if the political energy, funding, and engineering efforts were put into water management (including dams and canals).

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

I know some of this is political, but don't make it more so.

I don't like to see my tax money wasted, so give it back. Gee.

If half is built, transporting cattle is acceptable as long as it can pay for itself. After all most public transportation treats people like cattle.
And just maybe that's why ridership is so low.

Is this a problem of open ended contracts? Or just bad assumptions.
And will these people be reelected, or retained?

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

Quote (cranky108)

And will these people be reelected, or retained?

promoted...spin2

Analog spoken here...

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

I doubt the cattlemen would care to spend exorbitant amounts of money to get their cattle to market in 3 hours instead of a couple days. They'll never build any of it. They'll just say they're going to in order to stall, in hopes everyone will forget about it, and it can sit as an unpaid balance until it can be written off without anyone noticing.

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

2
I live and work in Fresno, which is pretty much smack dab in the middle of this project. One geotech at my current firm has worked on the HSR project on-and-off for several years and some colleagues at my two previous firms had some involvement (right-of-way acquisition, coordinating utility relocations, biological monitoring, etc.). I almost got involved in the right-of-way and utility tasks early on, but thankfully other project priorities kept me away. At the time, I was neck deep in civil design for state and federal prisons.

Yesterday, one of the local talk radio hosts went through the letter hokie66 referenced and counted the number of times fail/failed/failure occurred. I think he found 12 or 13 (I haven't made my own count). As best I can tell, these failures are real and put the HSRA in breach of the agreement(s) for getting Federal funding. If so, the Trump Administration is fully justified in pulling the money and even asking for reimbursement. Time and much weeping and gnashing of teeth will tell. My hunch is that the $925M promised by the Feds but not yet delivered will never be delivered and that the $2.5B (?) already delivered and spent will be negotiated into a partial reimbursement by the State back to the Feds. While there is certainly some political tit-for-tat going on, this time it appears that the Feds have a legitimate case based on breach of contract.

IMHO, the HSR project has been a boondoggle from Day One and fully establishes Jerry Brown as one of California's worst governors. Governor Moonbeam, indeed. Early critics in and out of government claimed that the project was based on overly optimistic ridership and revenue projections, underestimated land acquisition costs, underestimated construction costs, unrealistic schedules, etc., and I think they were correct. In addition, there has been more push-back from some of the affected cities and properties owners than many people expected. Personally, I am not opposed to having HSR, but I have been critical from the start of how we were going about it and how we were paying for it.

I have no love for our new governor, Gavin Newsome, but I give him credit for recognizing that this project is a rabbit hole and for pulling the plug. He is in a no-win situation: the full project is beyond our reach (and, as I understand it, crossing the Tehachapi Mountains still hasn't been worked out), but stopping the project where it currently sits would be no better than just burning the money in a bonfire…AND, it would leave my neck of the woods with a linear Stonehenge of partially completed piers for the above-grade sections of the rail line. Thus, he decided to finish the construction that has begun and is scheduled to start soon, and abandon the rest of the project while it is still mostly on paper.

I am certain that the rump HSR route will ultimately fail financially. Not nearly enough people will want to travel between Merced and Bakersfield to make the thing pay. Maybe a northern terminus in Sacramento or Oakland would work, but probably not.

For me, the only saving grace to HSR--if I'm alive to see it--is that I will be able to get from Fresno to Hanford in 37 seconds so I can get ice cream at Superior Dairy's store on Douty Street. That and the nice upgrades to Highway 99 that have already been completed.

Fred

==========
"Is it the only lesson of history that mankind is unteachable?"
--Winston S. Churchill

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

Elon should take it over. Blow some smoke and mirrors and turn it into an internet darling.

----------------------------------------

The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which depends on a feature that isn't included in this version of Windows.

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

You may be right, fel3; they could go ahead and finish the sections they have started on, despite the fact they will always operate in the red. It would be far better to not spend one more cent on this boondoggle, other than the cost to demo the structures in any areas that have other immediate uses, but it's California, so they'll probably continue to throw money at it for a few more decades to prove how bad an idea it is.

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

I agree Hot. Stop it now. Not another cent.

It was our (Brown's) lame idea from the get-go and idiot CA voters who seem to vote yes for almost every boondoggle that got us into this, so give the money back to the feds.

I still can't vaguely conceive of why we ever needed the thing. I'd never bother going to LA from SF. Look at how many people fly that route. You could do the ridership calcs in a day (maybe a 1000 people?) as to whether this thing could ever pay for itself. It couldn't.

Keith Cress
kcress - http://www.flaminsystems.com

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

JAE said: "Who gets the penalty for this? The poor taxpayers."

True. The rich ones pay nothing.

Mike McCann, PE, SE (WA)


RE: Failure of California high speed rail

At noon today, I heard one of our local assemblymen on the radio talking about HSR (Jim Patterson, for those who know CA politics; BTW, he is related by marriage to my older son-in-law).

Patterson said that the Federal Rail Authority has been hounding the HSRA for SIX years to provide better documentation of how and where federal money was being spent, etc. That's back into the middle of Obama's eight years in office, which gives lie to Newsome's claim that this is all about political retribution.

Patterson also said that a State auditor found that the HSRA was spending Federal money contrary to the funding agreement(s), which includes missing scheduled obligations for use of funds (i.e. HSR was/is way behind schedule) and moving ahead with portions of the work prior to obtaining the land rights. Next, a Federal audit is underway and should be completed in a couple months.

This train wreck would be a lot more fun to watch if my and your tax dollars hadn't been wasted.

==========
"Is it the only lesson of history that mankind is unteachable?"
--Winston S. Churchill

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

There's a local trail spot used by mountain bikers. Out there in the woods are some old bois d'arc timbers and a little bit of embankment still visible. I understand that was part of an interurban line that was built, but never operated, back in the day. The moral is, the railroad industry has always been awash with boondoggles and people going broke. So the California high speed rail may be the latest and biggest and best example, but it's nothing new, either. Come to think of it, I wonder how our Texas high speed rail is coming. I don't have high hopes for it.

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

If I'm reading this correctly, they're extending their high speed rail network by about 3 km PER DAY.

Presented merely as an interesting factoid.

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

“We're not going to build a $2 billion bus station under my watch.” - San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom,
(Now California Governor Newsom). They built a $2.2 billion bus station instead and it broke 6 weeks after opening.

Indeed, the Federal Government has ample grounds to sue the City of San Francisco. Most of the funds acquired to build the Salesforce Transit Center are either Federal Grants (over $400M so far) & loans (another $200M) and state contributions, including donating the land the transit center was built on and adjacent parcels and the money generated by the sale of those parcels for towers. The Transbay Joint Powers Board has failed to bring rail to downtown San Francisco. Mostly due to incompetence by San Francisco City & County officials. ($400M ARRA-FRA earmarked from a larger $2.35B ARRA California High Speed Rail grant)

It would not be surprising to discover that the City of San Francisco, the main beneficiary of the Transbay Transit Center; is the smallest dollar contributor to the Transbay Transit Center/DTX (Downtown Train Extension). It is possible that the cost of the screw ups by the City & County of San Francisco completely offset any monetary contribution they have made to the Transit Center Project.

The Transbay Joint Powers Board (TJPA) is weighted with San Francisco board members and the City maintains the right to serve as Legal Council, which is why the TJPA is up to their eyeballs in the Millennium Tower fiasco. It doesn't help that the City of San Francisco Department of Building Inspection doesn't have any geo-technical qualified staff to apply those chapters of the building code.

Here is where it gets ugly for the TJPA. They LIED to the Federal Government on the $400M grant filing, when they said the would save $100 million dollars by building the Train Box in Phase 1, instead of Phase 2, as planned.


Months before they submitted their application, they already knew, they would spend almost half of the $100M savings building the Buttress Wall for the Millennium Tower. Arup was presenting the buttress wall to the TJPA in February of 2009, 8 months before the ARRA Grant filing.


The TJPA already had preliminary cost of $35M to $70M for an earlier possible buttress wall for another tower, 80 Natoma.


The truth is that the SF city planning department screwed up and allowed Millennium to change the design of the Tower, so it was no longer copacetic to the future Transit Center. In fact, the design changed duplicated the exact same hazards that precipitated an eminent domain seizure of 80 Natoma. They did this in violation of a 70% voter passed referendum that instructed all City Departments & employees, to do nothing that would endanger or cause great additional expense to the Transit Center/DTX project. The Buttress Wall ended up costing $58M. Between the Buttress Wall & the eminent domain purchase of 80 Natoma for another $58M, these two San Francisco fiascos add up to 5% of the $2.2B project costs. Likewise the Building Dept. & the Millennium Developer failed to coordinate with the TJPA, even though the language of the entitling Planning Motion called for "Joint Use" of the Millennium project site.

The City of San Francisco & the TJPA have failed to meet almost every deadline they have given their neighboring TJPA Board Member Agencies, repeatedly. Alameda-Contra Costa County's Transit and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission have had to come to the rescue of the TJPA & the City of San Francisco's incompetence repeatedly. A-C Transit will be the largest tenant, who along with other bus, train and bridge users, will ultimately pay for the increased costs, while San Francisco moans as if it was their money.

Because of failure by the SF City Planning Dept & the SF Dept. of Building Inspection, regarding Millennium Tower, the TJPA found itself in danger of not being able to ever build the Transit Center, unless they secured Federal Dollars to build the Train Box in Phase 1; so they LIED to the Federal Government on the ARRA Grant application, to the tune of $100 Million.

Gavin Newsom was infamous for raiding various city department coffers to fund his own agenda, while mayor of San Francisco. The real problem is California voters are the ones who decided to build the High Speed Rail and now the governor is failing to honor the will of the people. Less than two months in office and he is already violating his oath of office. Same way the City of San Francisco failed to respect Propostion "H" protecting the Transbay Center while under his watch.

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

Our tax dollars at play.

Brad Waybright

It's all okay as long as it's okay.

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

Newsom is a total joke. If you want to hear him get torn apart, search on YouTube "Adam Carolla Gavin Newsom".

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

Are these estimates developed by engineers?

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

What I've observed from the mega projects I've been involved in is that the financial factors can change dramatically between conception/estimating and construction, since that can be a length period of time. Fluctuations in finance rates, unit costs, etc and the overall lack of stability and predictability in the economy makes it pretty hard to control project costs, even with well thought out engineering estimates.

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

Quote (Spartan5)

Are these estimates developed by engineers?

If you are asking about the TJPA, yes & no. The Butress Wall concept was originally proposed by Prof. Yousef Hashash for 80 Natoma, the Units were determined by TJPA Chief Engineer, Liz Wiecha and the work costed out by Riato Geotechnical Constructors. Parsons/Arup working for Caltrain, then prepared the report for the TJPA.

Here are the bids for the 301 Mission Buttress wall.


Quote (itSmoked)

But... You're not bitter.
I'm one of the people that voted for High Speed Rail but bureaucrats have done nothing but suck money from the project. As far as the TJPA and Millennium, I went looking for what went wrong and where it went wrong. When the cracked steel beams of the Transit Center occurred, there were questions, elsewhere whether it had anything to do with the Millennium Tower. It doesn't but, I decided to gather as much information about the buttress wall as was available, only to discover the planning for the original Phase 1 was done in complete ignorance of a project (Millennium) occurring right under their noses. When they did become aware of it, the TJPA appear to have taken pains to keep the magnitude of the problem in-house and fabricate a non-existent cost savings as the main pitch for building the Train Box, when in fact there was no way forward without the Train Box. There is no way they could have built the Transit Center Grand Hall first and then come back and built the buttress wall underneath the Grand Hall. The 80 Natoma Geotechnical consultants had already determined ground failure was a very likely outcome from such a sequence of work. Since I live in the A-C Transit district and we will be the main source of project funds over the long haul, have lived in the South bay and ridden Caltrain to work on the peninsula; the fact that San Francisco was allowed to be in the drivers seat for a regional transportation project, that they are solely responsible for having made a mess of, makes me more than bitter.

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

epoxybot…

Re: “We're not going to build a $2 billion bus station under my watch.” - San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom,

He was correct. It wasn't a $2B bus station. It was more. nosmiley

Fred

==========
"Is it the only lesson of history that mankind is unteachable?"
--Winston S. Churchill

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

How over budget is the project?

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

Quote:

How over budget is the project?
Around $50B. More than double the original price.

Best comic yet:


Keith Cress
kcress - http://www.flaminsystems.com

RE: Failure of California high speed rail

I realize that this is totally not fair, but when I was young, a subway under the Bay from the East County was argued just like the HSR is now.

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