High Speed Rail Advocate – September 2012 Issue

 

 

 

Message from Executive Director

High-speed rail and the future of California realized a huge victory on July 6th, as the state legislature finally committed to releasing Proposition 1A funds to match billions of dollars of federal HSR grants. I want to personally thank all our members and other supporters who have contributed to our efforts to make this a reality. Without your support, our organization would not have been able to contribute to this victory.

While Californians For High Speed Rail (CA4HSR) has been relatively quiet publicly since the dramatic victory for HSR at the State Capitol on July 6th, we have been very busy strengthening the organization’s capacity so we can continue to increase our influence. We recently completed an expansion of our board of directors (see article below), and currently are reformulating our mission as we enter the next phase of the HSR project. Emerging priorities include closing the rail gap between Bakersfield and Palmdale (as part of the construction of the initial operating segment), monitoring project implementation in the Central Valley and urban bookends, and preserving our victory in the face of a blizzard of lawsuits. Now that we have done some internal work, you will be hearing much more from us in the coming weeks and months.

HSR is being used a fodder by Howard Jarvis Tax Payers Association and others to attack Jerry Brown’s tax measure to fund schools. Their argument is that HSR is competing with schools for funding. Of course this is way off the mark. See my recent op-ed titled “High-speed rail will bolster the economy” and CA4HSR Vice-President Dennis Lytton’s op-ed “High-speed rail boosts the economy.” We will continue to combat the myth of HSR vs. schools in the coming weeks.

And finally, a must-see video (start at 16:24): Governor Brown’s provides an excellent defense of HSR generally and in relation to schools. He also mentions how HSR will help make land-use more efficient in the Central Valley.

Daniel Krause

Executive Director, Californians For High Speed Rail

 

CA4HSR Welcomes New Board of Directors, Elects New Officers, Forms a New Board of Advisors

We are excited to announce and welcome several new board members, which not only increases the energy of our leadership, but also deepens the partnership we have developed with the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP). Three out of the five new board members are also leaders within NARP.

The new board members are: George Chilson, former Chairman of NARP; Larry Scott, who is currently serving as assistant to NARP’s Chairman; Dennis Lytton, a council member of NARP; Troy Hightower, owner of a renewable energy and transportation company; and Andy Likuski, who currently works with Calthorpe Associates on the Vision California project. Please refer to our board members webpage for bios of each member.

CA4HSR also elected a new set of officers as follows:

  • George Chilson – Chairman
  • Daniel Krause – President (will continue to serve as Executive Director)
  • Dennis Lytton – Vice-President (Dennis is also serving as an official Spokesperson)
  • Ryan Stern – Treasurer
  • Bianca Walser – remains Secretary

CA4HSR also formed a new board of advisors, which is being headed up by Paola Stuff. Paola has a long history of building non-profits from the ground up, and we are grateful she has taken a strong interest in CA4HSR.  Former board member and chairman Robert Cruickshank has also joined the board of advisors.  We will be working to expand the number of advisors in the coming months.

 

TransForm White Paper Provides Excellent Summary of HSR Business Plan

Still confused about what the new business plan for the HSR really means? Please read TransForm’s recent white paper “Moving Head with High Speed Rail.” It contains an excellent summary and synthesis of the phased implementation plan for California’s HSR project. The report was also very helpful in the run up to the vote in the legislature, as it demonstrated to state senators that benefits of the HSR project would be realized throughout the state in the short-term as well as the long-term.
 
 
Bay Area Report
 

San Francisco’s Transit Center District Plan to Generate over $400 million for Caltrain/HSR Extension

The San Francisco Transit Center District Plan, which will govern the creation of a high-density neighborhood around the new Transbay Transit Center (currently under construction), was recently approved by San Francisco’s city council and Mayor Ed Lee. Up to $420 million will be generated to extend Caltrain and HSR from the 4th and King station to the new Transbay Transit Center. For details of the plan, please read  SPUR’s blog post on the topic.

While this is great news, more funds are needed to complete the rail extension. Fortunately, San Francisco is committed to pursuing additional funds. One potential source of funds could be federal transit “new starts” funds. Transit funds could be used because Caltrain is eligible for new starts funding. Suffice to say, San Francisco continues to be a true leader of HSR. The city has single-handedly jump started construction of the first HSR station in the face of years of resistance and is continuing to demonstrate their leadership by providing a significant amount of seed money for the rail extension from the Transit Center District Plan. Kudos are in order for San Francisco’s continued leadership.

 

Central Valley Report

With the funding approved and the release of two significant environmental documents, California’s HSR project is finally moving forward in the Central Valley.

 

Final EIR/EIS Released for the Merced-Fresno Section

CA4HSR is generally supportive of the preferred hybrid alignment contained in Final EIR/EIS for the Merced-Fresno section, an alignment we proposed in 2010. The hybrid alignment runs along the UP corridor north of the wye (the junction where the Bay Area branch splits off from Central Valley leg) and swings around the city of Madera south of the wye. Not surprisingly, several lawsuits are in the works or have already been filed.

Interestingly, the wye structure, which was originally in Merced-Fresno section, was moved into the San Jose-Merced section to allow for more time to pinpoint where to place it. Consequently, to complete the design of Merced to Fresno alignment, the San Jose-Merced EIR/EIS will need to be completed first. That said, construction can begin and is slated for commencement in early 2013 in the Fresno area.

 

Revised Draft EIR/EIS Released for the Fresno-Bakersfield Section

The Authority has finally released the “revised draft” of the EIR/EIS for the Fresno-Bakersfield section. The two key design/alignment changes contained in this draft are:

  • Addition of new Hanford West Bypass alternative – for a detailed description see Paul Herman’s article “Viewpoints: The Hanford Alignment Compromise” from the March 2012 edition of The High-Speed Rail Advocate.
  • A hybrid alignment through downtown Bakersfield, which avoids impacting many structures by tweaking the alignment (express trains will now have to run slower through Bakersfield as a result). The hybrid alignment also shifts the platforms of the downtown Bakersfield station farther east to near Union Street. CA4HSR believes this shift positions the station in a way that is bad for transit-oriented development because is less central the core of TOD area which lies farther west.

Comments are due on October 19th.

 

About The High-Speed Rail Advocate

The High-Speed Rail Advocate is the official e-newsletter of Californians For High Speed Rail (CA4HSR).

Contributors to this E-Newsletter: Daniel Krause

Editor: Daniel Krause

About Californians For High Speed Rail 

Californians For HighSpeedRail (CA4HSR) is a grassroots, statewide coalition of HSR supporters advocating for the HSR project approved by California voters in November 2008. Founded in 2005, we exist to educate, inform, and organize Californians about ways they can help make high-speedrail a reality in the Golden State.

As a non-profit group united by our passion to bring high-speed rail to California, we rely on the help of like-minded volunteers to carry out our mission. We welcome article ideas, submissions and donations from our members and supporters. Contact Sharon Sim-Krause at sharon@ca4hsr.org or 415.658.5322 on ways you can make a difference.

 

Become a Member of CA4HSR today!

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Californians For High Speed Rail
http://www.ca4hsr.org
(415) 658-5322