California Dreaming page 14

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1 California Dreaming page 14 Conclusion and recommendations The three brief route segment analyses in this paper should give the reader some inkling of the challenges that have already been met by the California High Speed Rail Authority and its consultants in the scoping work to date. The agency is to be commended for the thoroughness of its approach to this preliminary program-level environmental review of the statewide project. With publication of the Final Scoping Report, the basic shape of alternatives to be discussed in the draft EIS/EIR is apparent. Now is the time to start a second-tier analysis of the specific interests, issues, and planning considerations that will shape the debate (or lack of it) around the state. Each one of the counties, regional transit organizations, and municipalities as well as enviros and special interest groups such as the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation and the Train Riders Association of California will likely engage the CHSRA in entirely solipsistic discussion of its concerns. The Authority will do well both to anticipate these concerns in its planning for EIR/EIS review, and to demonstrate its willingness to listen for and seriously consider new ideas and approaches. Unlike other EIR/EIS processes concerned with major land use decisions, final approval of the program-level analysis will come from the proposing agencies themselves, and not from municipal planners or elected officials. The lack of a potentially adversarial relationship between the proposer and the approver can lead to less than critical acceptance of one s own ideas. The Authority needs to remain flexible and ready to amend its proposals when a good idea comes along (like David Solow s suggestion that the Antelope Valley v. Grapevine decision accommodate future development of the path not chosen [Solow, 2001b]). Most important of all, the CHSRA should also give intense and single-minded consideration to implications for smart or not-so-smart growth in California, in its own proposals and in the comments it will receive. It is a truism that transport infrastructure shapes development. This largest transit infrastructure project in the U.S. s most populous state has the potential to shape the future.

2 References California High-Speed Rail Authority (2000), Building a High-Speed Train System for California: Final Business Plan, June [Internet] Available from: < CHSRA (2001a), Final Program Environmental Process, 17 January [Internet} Available from < 00.pdf> CHSRA (2001b), Draft Preliminary Purpose and Need, 22 March [Internet] Available from < CHSRA (2001c), Revised Draft Los Angeles to San Diego via Orange County, High Speed Train Alignments/Stations Screening Evaluation, 25 July [Internet} Available from < CHSRA (2001d), Draft Bay Area to Merced High-speed Train Alignments/Stations Screening Evaluation Summary, 6 August [Internet} Available from < CHSRA (2001e), Draft Sacramento to Bakersfield High Speed Train Alignments/Stations Screening Evaluation Summary, 19 September [Internet] Available from < CHSRA (2002a), Screening Report, April [Internet} Available from < CHSRA (2002b), What s New? [Internet} Available from < [Accessed 5 May 2002] California Air Resources Board (2002), Area Designations Maps/State and National, 25 April [Internet] Available from < Campbell, Paul R. (2001), State Population Projections, U.S, Census Bureau, 18 January [Internet] Available from < Hill, John (2002), Plan to fund fast trains proposed. Ventura County Star, 13 March, p. D01. Leavitt, Dan [Deputy Director, California High Speed Rail Authority] (2002a), telephone conversation with author, 11 April. Leavitt, Dan (2002b), correspondence with author, 11 April Liu, Caitlin (2002), Gridlock Looms in Antelope Valley. Los Angeles Times Valley Edition, 10 March, California Metro (Part 2), p. 3. Nolan William L. (2001), Urban Growth: Too much of a good thing? Better Homes and Gardens, 79 (4) April, p.86. Obra, Joan (2002), Kings County rail interest picks up speed. Fresno Bee, 7 March, p. B4. Parness, Mike (2001), letter to Mehdi Morshed, 25 October. [Internet] Available from < /LA-OC-SD_Comments.pdf> Solow, David (2001a), letter to David Valentain and John Barna, 15 May. [Internet} Available from < /LA-OC-SD_Comments.pdf> Solow, David (2001b), letter to Dan Leavitt, 18 October. [Internet] Available from < /LA-OC-SD_Comments.pdf>

3 United States Census Bureau (2000), Resident Population of the 50 States, The District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico: Census 2000 [internet] Available from: < r_name=dec_2000_sf1_u_dp1> [Accessed 5 May 2002] U.S. Census Bureau (n.d.), Projections of the Total Population of States: 1995 to 2025 [internet] Available from [Accessed 5 May 2002] U.S. Geological Survey National Wetlands Research Center (1999), INSAR and Water Management in Antelope Valley, Ca., 23 March. [Internet} Available from < [Accessed 5 May 2002] Wilson, Thomas W. (2001), letter to Mehdi Morshed, 12 October. [Internet] Available from < /LA-OC-SD_Comments.pdf>

4 Appendix I: Major documents released by CHSRA (as of May 2002) Final Business Plan, June This included market characterisation, ridership, and revenue projections as well as two conceptual funding plans. The first, for full funding of the system by a statewide quarter-cent sales tax to be instituted during 2000 (in time for sufficient accumulation of funds to jump-start construction at the end of the environmental review process), was required by the governor and rejected by him at the request of the Authority (Leavitt, 2002). The second is a rather vague call for combination funding by government, bonding, and private sector participation. Program Environmental Process description, January 17, Lays out the rationale for conceptual ( program-level ) environmental documents. Draft Preliminary Purpose and Need statement, March 22, Quantifies projected travel demand in California according to projected population growth, future demand for air and intercity highway (auto) travel within the state, travel time (increasing with congestion), and air quality. Preliminary screening evaluations for the five state study regions, August and September Revisions to Mountain Crossing Recommendations, January 18, A tunnelling conference summit (no pun intended, one presumes) was held to determine which routes in specific regions would keep grades to 3.5 percent maximum slope, allow crossing earthquake faults at grade, minimize tunnels through soft, sandy, or fractured-rock geography (which require more time-consuming and therefore more costly tunnelling technology), and also require minimal construction of tunnels longer than 6 miles (because longer tunnels require an additional ventilation/evacuation boring). Summit recommendations apply especially to the San Jose Merced reach and Bakersfield Los Angeles. Final Screening Report, April This summary and report describes staff s pre-eir/eis recommendations for routes and station stops in all five regions, plus recommendations to proceed only with steel-wheel-on-steel-rail technology. (The Authority decided against further consideration of the controversial and largely untested magnetic-levitation technology [maglev] due to the need to share track with existing service on the important San Jose San Francisco section, and to serve the Los Angeles San Diego (LOSSAN) corridor by incrementally upgrading existing CalTrans and Amtrak Coaster service.) All documents are available on the Authority s web site,

5 Appendix II: Cost estimates and funding strategies Broad estimates for total system construction cost hover around the $25 billion mark. The Authority has seen a variety of funding schemes come and go over the past five years (including a $23 billion bond issue, a 5-cent per gallon gasoline tax, and a quarter-cent state-wide sales tax); meanwhile the payroll for its skeleton staff of four in Sacramento has sometimes seemed in jeopardy. Hopes at the moment focus on An $8.46 million state budget appropriation proposed by the governor for the budget (CHSRA, 2002b) A $1.25 million budget request for from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which would require a 50 percent match from California (The environmental review process incorporates federal guidelines so that if federal funding becomes available the project will be eligible.) A bond issue of an unspecified amount under discussion for the November 2002 ballot (Senate Bill 1856; see Appendix IIa, following; and ) Language in the bonding legislation implies that this type of funding would pay for the initial high-speed train network linking the Bay Area to Southern California (,) the backbone of what will become an extensive 700-mile system that will link all of the state s major population centers, including Sacramento, the Bay Area, the Central Valley, Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, Orange County, and San Diego, and address the needs of the state. The high-speed passenger train bond funds are intended to encourage the federal government and the private sector to make a significant contribution toward the construction of the high-speed train network. After the initial investment from the state, operating revenues from the initial segments and funds from the federal government and the private sector will be used to pay for expansion of the system. (See Appendix IIa, following, for full amended text of the legislation.) Either the state budget appropriation or the bond issue would see the Authority through the first round of federal and state environmental review, during which the critical decisions about routes and station locations are scheduled to be made. A final funding plan, hinted at in current documents but generally assumed to include a combination of federal and state funds, bond funding, and significant private participation, will not be designed until the environmental review is complete, in late 2003 early Current funding includes a $1 million appropriation from the state legislature and $2.5 million from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for study, by CHSRA s consultants, of incremental upgrade options for existing rail facilities along the coastal Los Angeles San Diego (LOSSAN) corridor. Right-of-way purchase costs The following right-of-way segments are owned by the state Department of Transportation (Caltrans) or a regional transit authority, and may b: SF-Gilroy (Caltrain Joint Powers Board) Sylmar-LA Union Station (Southern California Regional Rail Authority [SCRRA])) Fullerton-San Diego (SCRRA/North County Transit District/Metropolitan Transportation Development Board; latter two are San Diego County agencies) Riverside-Escondido, I-15 (Caltrans) Escondido-UTC (Miramar Road) or Escondido-Qualcomm, I-15 (Caltrans) In other areas the Authority would probably need to purchase either freight right-of-way or easements to the public right-of-way; in many central city areas land must be acquired for station expansion, construction, or parking (Leavitt, 2002b).

6 Appendix IIa: Text of S.B An act to add Chapter 20 (commencing with Section 2704) to Division 3 of the Streets and Highways Code, relating to financing a high-speed passenger train system by providing the funds necessary therefore through the issuance and sale of bonds of the State of California and by providing for the handling and disposition of those funds, and declaring the urgency thereof, to take effect immediately.

7 Appendix III: Routing Alternatives and Scoping-phase Decisions Following a series of meetings with local officials and members of the public from around the state, the Authority issued a Final Scoping Report on the five designated project study areas: Bay Area Merced, including routes from San Francisco to San Jose; Oakland to San Jose; and San Jose to Merced on the western side of the Central Valley Sacramento Bakersfield, including seven routing segments connecting Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto, Merced, Fresno, Tulare, Bakersfield, and Los Angeles Bakersfield Los Angeles, including two routing options between Bakersfield and Sylmar, at the northern edge of the Los Angeles Basin; and two between Sylmar and Los Angeles Union Station Los Angeles San Diego via the Inland Empire, with two options for the Union Station San Bernardino County/Riverside reach and two options for entering San Diego from the east. Los Angeles San Diego through Orange County, including LA Union Station to Los Angeles International Airport; two routes from Union Station through northern Orange County to Anaheim; two routing variations along the sensitive Orange County coastline north of Oceanside; and options for entering San Diego from the north The Scoping Report describes routes and station stops in each segment to be evaluated in the EIR/EIS; and also enumerates routes and station stops eliminated by the application of fiscal, social, and engineering criteria. These criteria include: Ridership/revenue potential Intermodal connectivity and accessibility, including parking Operating and capital costs, including avoidance of aerial construction wherever possible, and avoidance of tunnels more than 6 miles long since longer tunnels are generally deeper require an additional ventilation/evacuation bore Compatibility with existing and planned development, respecting smart growth policies where they are in place Impacts to natural resources including wetlands, parklands, view corridors, and endangered species habitats Impacts to social and economic resources, taking into account environmental justice considerations Impacts to cultural resources such as Native American sites and other areas of archaeological interest Avoidance of areas with geological and soils constraints, including earthquake faults (which should be crossed at grade, not in tunnels); required grades exceeding 3.5 percent; and loose rock or soft soils that require more time-consuming and therefore more costly drilling/boring methods Avoidance of areas with potential hazardous materials issues Within each study area the report recommends evaluation of five types of service using the high-speed rail infrastructure. Choices among these are sure to be highly contentious in a number of areas. Express, connecting Sacramento to Los Angeles and San Diego; and San Francisco/San Jose to Los Angeles and San Diego without intermediate stops (anticipating running speeds of up to 200 miles per hour Semi-Express, with some intermediate stops (such as Stockton, Bakersfield, and Fresno) along Express routes Suburban Express, stopping within major metropolitan regions Long-Distance Commute, with stops within extended regions (e.g. that long Bay Area commute from the Central Valley)

8 Local Service, stopping at every station Finally, the report eliminates further consideration of controversial (and largely commercially untested magnetic-levitation (maglev) technology as an alternative to the steel-wheel-on-steel-rails technology. The reason given is that maglev would make it impossible to share track with Caltrain on the important San José San Francisco route, where the existing right-of-way and surrounding astronomical property values render moot the consideration of adding track of any kind. Maglev would also force the new system onto dedicated track throughout the state (although transfer to conventional service south of Irvine in Orange County would probably be necessary due to different constraints), thus eliminating much of the intercity and commute service that may sell the project to politicians and voters in many areas of the state.