Transportation headlines, Tuesday, July 26

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog.

Suggestions for a stripped-down high-speed rail project (Bakersfield Californian)

With the state’s bullet train project still trying to secure funds for the $43-billion route between Anaheim and San Francisco, some new ideas are emerging to overhaul the project to make it less expensive and more likely to actually get built. The Bay Area Council, a regional chamber of commerce, is proposing running the tracks mostly along existing freeways — specifically the 580 in the Bay Area and the 5 the rest of the way — to shorten the route and to prevent the expense of having to build new tracks through rich farmland on the eastern side of the San Joaquin Valley. With funding a big problem for the California High-Speed Rail Authority, it’s likely that more proposals will come forth about rewriting state law concerning the bond. Of course, such a rewrite may also require going back to voters for re-approval of the bond that passed with a slim majority in 2008.

Deep below Park Avenue, a monster at rest (New York Times)

The giant cutter end of the tunnel boring machine used to dig new Long Island Railroad tunnels to Grand Central Station in New York won’t be seeing the light of day again. The Spanish contractor who did the work has decided it’s cheaper and more practical to leave the giant cutter — it created the new 22-foot diameter tunnels — entombed in concrete, 14 stories below Park Avenue. It will be interesting to see what the apes, or the humans running from them, do with it when they discover it one day in the future.

Interview with Zev Yaroslavsky (L.A. Streetsblog)

A thorough two-part interview on transpo issues with the long-time county supervisor and Metro Board member that is well worth reading. A few interesting points:

•Yaroslavsky says that he believes that rail is the most appropriate form of transit for the Sepulveda Pass project to connect the San Fernando Valley to the Westside that is partially funded by Measure R. Note: Metro’s planning for the project has yet to begin.

•He also says that should the Westside Subway Extension need to tunnel under Beverly Hills High School property, Metro officials can accommodate future building plans for the school — but that school officials have yet to provide any such plans to Metro.

•I also thought it interesting to hear Yaroslavsky talk about the need in the future for some transit projects that were not included in the Measure R plan. Among those: a subway through West Hollywood, which I also think would be a tremendous project with high ridership.

Here’s the link to part two of the interview.

6 replies

  1. In Zev Yaroslavsky’s interview, he mentions the potential for a West Hollywood subway spur under Santa Monica Blvd. as well as a line from Hollywood to Silver Lake. Has Metro ever considered a light rail subway from West Hollywood to Union Station, under Santa Monica/Sunset/Cesar Chavez?

  2. Yeah, the Central Valley segment is ALREADY the easiest and cheapest part to build, and now they’re talking about cutting it down slightly more by bypassing Fresno and Bakersfield? Doesn’t sound like a good idea to me.

  3. An I-5 route makes no sense. You would be bypassing thousands of potential customers in the Central Valley (450,000 in Fresno, 350,000 in Bakersfield), thousands more in Antelope Valley.

    If your ultimate destination is Hawaii, New York or Tokyo, high speed rail would be useless to people living near LAX; it would be very useful for people starting international journeys from the middle of the state.

  4. Leaving the tunneling machine at the end of the line is pretty common practice in urban areas where giant open pit to raise the machine is not practical.

  5. The Bay Area Council did not call for building high speed rail tracks along freeways. That was an idea presented by the blogger Michael Setty. The Council called for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which coordinates transit planning in the Bay Area, to take the lead on a compromise along the peninsula to get rail built between San Francisco and San Jose.

  6. For high speed rail, obviously we have to start looking for alternative to cut down on costs, but definitely not at the expense of safety like the Chinese train disaster that occurred last week.

    There are plenty of existing infrastructures that can be used instead of spending more money to build new aerials, underpasses and overpasses just for a train. If high speed intercity rail is supposed to become Interstate 2.0 to get people off cars, it makes sense to use portions of the existing freeway infrastructure instead of building it anew.

    Sure it might be difficult for trains to handle some of the curves, but there are just as many straight sections of the freeway that can be used in conjunction with rail to save a bundle on construction costs; just knock off a lane in each direction and run a dedicated track through them.