Wednesday, December 01, 2010

High speed pork to Fresno

Randal O'Toole

The federal government’s most recent $900 million grant to the California High-Speed Rail Authority came with a string attached: most of the money had to be spent, not in Los Angeles or San Francisco where most potential rail patrons are located, but in the central valley. Handed out just before the election, the grant was a blatant attempt to help the re-election effort of U.S. Representative Jim Costa. It might have made a difference, for despite the fact that Costa’s district leans heavily Democrat, he won over an unknown Republican candidate by a mere 3,000 votes.

But now California has to deal with the fact that it only has enough funds to build a high-speed train to nowhere. The authority expects to vote tomorrow on whether to start construction from Borden to Corcoran. To be fair, the route would go through Fresno, but it wouldn’t take anyone in Fresno to anywhere they might want to go at a high speed: Borden is barely a dot on the map, while Corcoran is the home of Charles Manson and his fellow prisoners.

Fiscal conservatives hope to derail this project before so much money is spent that Congress will feel obligated to come up with another $20 or $30 billion just to finish the project. Surprisingly, one of the critics is Democratic Congressman Dennis Cardoza, who represents Merced. In a letter to Secretary of Immobility Ray LaHood, Cardoza called the plan a “gross misuse” of taxpayer funds.

Of course, rail advocates think that anyone who questions this project is a right-wing ideologue. What does that make them?



At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

umm... the High Speed tracks can be used for that section by the lower speed rail already running on that corridor... so you could take the San Joaquin line from Emeryville to the end, in less time...

It's not like they are just building a track from a hole in the wall to a spot in the desert.

At 10:23 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Emeryville to the Central Valley is the transportation equivalent to a train to nowhere.

At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sacramento to Fresno?

At 7:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all Fresno is as "heavily Democrat" as Alabama. That statement alone is outrageous enough to derail the entire argument.

Second, complaining about the initial track is like complaining that your contractor did not build the roof of your new home first, but instead started with the foundation.

What use is the foundation if it doesn't provide shelter?

Why does it matter that the line connects "nowhere" to "nowhere" if at no point will the segment open as a stand-alone line?

Another example, it's like complaining that a new airport has the terminal built before the runway. What use is the terminal if planes have no where to land? Or the other way, what use is a runway if there is no terminal?

Complaining that an under construction system is not finished yet is idiotic.

At 8:49 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The high-speed rail concept in California is bullshit if it doesn't connect LA to the Bay Area. The Feds gave the money to the Central Valley because the system is being rejected by counties on the coast. It's a dumb way to spend money that would be better spent elsewhere. For example, every transportation system in the Bay Area is in the red. The progressive obsession with trains is almost as bad as its obsession with bicycles, except the high-speed rail project is way more expensive, whereas the bike bullshit only screws up traffic.

At 10:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob, how exactly do you connect LA to the bay area without building track in the valley....? Some kind of portal system.

100% of the track needs to be built. Why does it matter which 10% gets built first?

At 11:06 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

It doesn't "need" to be built, and it shouldn't be built. Those billions should be spent on existing bus systems in the state, not on an overpriced rail system that will never carry enough passengers to justify all the public money required to build it and then to operate it if/when it's built.

At 12:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

repeat after me: buses are for poor people. Trains are for rich people. Rich people pay the taxes. Spend the money on trains. If you want a bus, make some moeny, pay some taxes.

At 12:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like the "train to nowhere" will now link two of California's largest cities. The rail line is now fully funded to go from Bakersfield to north of Fresno.


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