Monday, January 21, 2019

The Healdsburg traffic circle

Photo: Paul Kuroda

Traffic circles are all the rage now in planning circles, but are they really helpful with traffic? Not clear at all, even here in Progressive Land where bike lanes and other such fads dominate the discussion about the "improvements" City Hall imposes on its citizens.

A traffic circle the city created at the Steiner/McCallister intersection had to be removed recently after it worked so poorly locals objected. 

The one at McAllister and Lyon is still there, apparently permanent without those fatal flaws, though it surely has a minimal affect on traffic at a not-very-busy intersection. (And the pathetic plants in the middle of the circle look unlikely to survive much longer.)

The huge new traffic circle in downtown Healdsburg is much too big to ever be eliminated, but its impact on local businesses during construction has been significant (see also this).

Hard to know if that project was really necessary, though pre-circle it always seemed easy to get downtown Healdsburg to patronize that fine bakery on the town square. 

Like many such city departments---including San Francisco's---whatever Healdsburg's Planning Dept. does to city streets is by definition an "improvement"!

The Sunday SF Chronicle's travel section, devoted entirely to Healdsburg, has a happy-talk account of the circle---all's well that ends well! Except for the small businesses that didn't survive during its construction. 

The same writer, a local resident, contributes an approving account of Healdsburg's tweeness during its relentless gentrification: What’s up with the fairy doors all around Healdsburg? 

Alas, this cutesy curse has also infected San Francisco. Do nauseating tweeness and gentrification go together? We need an ordinance to stop this crap.

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The "costliest infrastructure project in human history"

Financial analyst William Grindley presented his latest study to the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) board at its January 15, 2019 meeting. 

On behalf of the people of California and the United States, he argues yet again that this project---the costliest infrastructure project in human history---is a waste of money and needs to be terminated immediately.

The new study is If You Build It, They Will Not Come...It debunks the claims of the California High-Speed Rail Authority about future ridership and future revenue.

Mr. Grindley (with coauthor William Warren) makes a reasonable assumption that the Authority chooses to ignore: Californians (even California state legislators) will continue to drive or fly between California cities rather than taking high-speed rail if driving or flying takes less time and costs less, which it does on the vast majority of high-speed rail routes.

Using CHSRA data and mathematical formulas, Grindley and Warren analyzed three-fourths of all travel routes possible on the future rail system for the first operational segment (140 routes) and possible for Phase 1 (an additional 180 routes). 

Their calculations show that only one of those high-speed rail routes would have total travel time and total travel cost less than flying or driving: the route between Gilroy and Palmdale. 

Based on these results, Mr. Grindley concludes that the Authority’s estimates for ridership are five times higher than what would be expected if people make rational transportation decisions based on the time and cost of travel.

They also consider the claims of Silicon Valley high-speed rail promoters that people will use the bullet train to commute between homes in the Central Valley and workplaces in Silicon Valley. 

Mr. Grindley calculates travel times and concludes the proposed high-speed rail link is absurd and connecting the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) train with high-speed rail at Merced is even more absurd.

What we’ll get for $100 billion are higher fares, longer travel times, and government subsidies for a few riders for a poorly thought out travel mode.

Best source of analysis of the project: The Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail.

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Thanks to Daily Kos.

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