Transportation headlines, Monday, Nov. 28

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.

California bullet train advances amid cries of ‘boondoggle’ (New York Times)

The top of the story says it best: “With a brashness and ambition that evoke a California of a generation ago, state leaders — starting with Gov. Jerry Brown — have rallied around a plan to build a 520-mile high-speed rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco, cutting the trip from a six-hour drive to a train ride of two hours and 38 minutes. And they are doing it in the face of what might seem like insurmountable political and fiscal obstacles.” And nowhere in the article do any of the politicians quoted offer real ideas for a funding plan.

Planning for future Gold Line station, La Verne limits industrial land (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

The idea is to preserve space for future commercial and residential use near the station. Problem is, the story says it’s at least five years until the train arrives. That’s technically correct. But the article should have noted that any extension of the Gold Line beyond Azusa (scheduled to open in 2015) is at this time not funded.

From "The Grapes of Wrath:" The Joads crossing the Colorado River into California, once considered the promised land. And now considered what? I still like it!

Leaving California (L.A. Times)

Again last year, more people left California to live in other states than moved to California from other parts of the U.S. This trend has been ongoing for several years now and the percentage of Californians born elsewhere in the U.S. reached a new low last year. What does this mean for California? Hard to say, although a couple people in the story say it’s a reflection of high real estate prices and the decline of good jobs in the state. It’s worth noting that the overall population still went up between 2000 and 2010 — from about 33.9 million to 37.2 million.

The death of the fringe suburb (New York Times)

The Baby Boomers are now empty nesters stuck with homes larger than they need — and what they increasingly want are walkable city neighborhoods where there are things to do. The same goes with the Milleniels who grew up in the suburbs and have rejected them. In the view of Christopher Leinberger, a Brookings Institution fellow, that likely means less money will be invested into the distant suburbs in metro areas. Excerpt:

The cities and inner-ring suburbs that will be the foundation of the recovery require significant investment at a time of government retrenchment. Bus and light-rail systems, bike lanes and pedestrian improvements — what traffic engineers dismissively call “alternative transportation” — are vital. So is the repair of infrastructure like roads and bridges. Places as diverse as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Charlotte, Denver and Washington have recently voted to pay for “alternative transportation,” mindful of the dividends to be reaped. As Congress works to reauthorize highway and transit legislation, it must give metropolitan areas greater flexibility for financing transportation, rather than mandating that the vast bulk of the money can be used only for roads.

For too long, we over-invested in the wrong places. Those retail centers and subdivisions will never be worth what they cost to build. We have to stop throwing good money after bad. It is time to instead build what the market wants: mixed-income, walkable cities and suburbs that will support the knowledge economy, promote environmental sustainability and create jobs.


6 replies

  1. Have you ever spent a lot of time thinking about the best way to implement something? Doing study after study to make sure you do everything just right? Listening to pros and cons from everyone even those who are not involved, only to find out by the time you got around to actually doing anything everything has changed and you are worse off than if you just went ahead and implemented whatever it is in the first place based on a few pointed assumptions and tested information? (By the way this happens to me at work all the time). That is High Speed Rail in America. Just build it. I will pay an additional 4%-8% in taxes for funding to provide a viable alternative to air travel any day of the week.

  2. Sell the rare earth deposits that are sitting there in Mountain Pass to Japan in exchange for billions of yen to fund the HSR project. That stuff is worth BILLIONS and it’s just sitting there.

    It’ll be a win-win for both Japan and California not only economically, but ecologically as well. Japan gets to free itself from the Chinese rare earth monopoly and they get to build more environmentally friendly hybrid vehicles, while CA will get billions in strong Japanese yen and gets the funding needed to build environmentally friendly HSR.

  3. Something has gone horribly wrong with America when we no longer have the will to build big, important projects because they may be difficult or expensive.

    The only thing wrong with HSR is, we’ve been letting people with private jets and limo drivers set our tax and transportation policies.

  4. maybe hsr – of faster existing rail – will entice people back into the fringes….housing prices there will likely be reasonable by then.

  5. The most prudent and useful thing to do is increasing speeds on existing rail lines to be comparable to the Acela corridor. The money just isn’t there for HSR, and the political will in this country to jumpstart massive infrastructure projects is a relic of a bygone era.