>Speaker: Dan Leavitt
>Topic: Moving Californians into the Future
>Dan Leavitt is Deputy Director with the California High-Speed Rail
>Authority, a nine member body created by the state Legislature in
>1996 to develop a plan for the construction, operation and financing
>of a statewide, intercity high-speed passenger rail system.
>Based on the best data available, a high-speed train system will
>return twice as many benefits to the state's citizens as it costs.
>In 20 years, the system is projected to carry 32 million intercity
>passengers annually, transport another 10 million commuters,
>generate nearly $900 million in revenues, and return a surplus to
>the state of more than $300 million. Moreover, research indicates
>nearly two-thirds of Californians already endorse building a
>high-speed train system and would be willing to pay for its
>Dan will describe the plan for and the current status of the 700 mile
>long high-speed train system capable of speeds in excess of 200 miles
>per hour on dedicated, fully grade separated tracks with state-of-the-
>art safety, signaling and automated train control systems, and serving
>the major metropolitan centers of California in 2020.
Dan began his talk by explaining that because of California's growing population and travel demand, the need for more high speed capacity between California's major cities is certain to grow. He showed us a chart that projected that there will be 40 million Californians in 2010, and 59 million of us by 2040. Because of this, intercity trips in California can be expected to go from 154.6 million per year in 1998 to 209.3, according to one study. Since all of our major airports are already operating at capacity, high speed rail is the best way to accommodate demand.
The High Speed Rail (HSR) project is currently late in the early stages of development. They have identified many of the routes that make sense, and have also decided that steel wheel on steel rail technology is the way to go. Over the next year or so they will be preparing the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). They hope to have the Draft Program EIR/EIS ready for public review by June of 2003. After that they will get into the nitty gritty of building the project.
The routes for the proposed system include San Jose to Los Angeles, Bakersfield to Sacramento, and Los Angeles to San Diego. The current project to upgrade the CalTrain tracks on the peninsula will make it possible to use the tracks for high speed rail, connecting San Jose to San Francisco as part of the system. The backbone of the route network will run through the Central Valley along the Route-99 corridor. There are two possible routes between the Santa Clara Valley and Merced, where the San Francisco and Sacramento routes would merge. One of them runs along Route 152 and the other is about thirty miles north of that. There are also two possibly routes into the LA Basin from Bakersfield, one through the Tehacapi Pass, and the other through Antelope Valley. Between LA and San Diego the possible routes follow I-5 and I-15. Dan had much detailed information about why these routes were better than the ones not discussed. Final route selection will come from the political process for which input is still being gathered.
The first part of the network that they plan to build is the one between the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. It is expected that travel time between these places would be about two and a half hours, not much more than flying. To get us excited about the project, Dan asked us to visualize going to San Jose Diridon Station on CalTrain, change trains and then sit down for a comfortable ride on a modern high speed train to Los Angeles. Once you get down to Union Station, you can connect to a similar network of local trains, getting very close to your destination without leaving the ground.
In a message dated 07/23/02 08:32:42 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
>I couldn't afford to take 2-2.5 hours out of a busy work schedule
>to attend the lunch today, but I hope someone challenged the cost
>estimates that were advertised. There was a good op-ed piece in
>Mercury-News about that topic recently. Also, the members should
>recall that the approx. 12-mile BART extension to Pleasanton cost
>almost $100M per mile, and that was just for laying tracks and
>building stations - all utility relocation and virtually all grading
>had been done years earlier as part of prior freeway construction.
>Given that any major north-south high-speed rail lines would involve
>massive grading (and probably tunnelling) going thru mountains and
>massive utility and local road relocations in developed areas, the
>per-mile cost would have to be several times what the BART extension
>cost, making the advertised cost estimates nothing but self-serving
>exercises in pure fantasy on the part of a bureaucracy intent on
>building its empire.
>J. R. Bertram