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Interesting diary. Thanks. Local politics is always more interesting to me than national politics, and I know California quite well - except for the Monterey Peninsula!! ;-)

Americans were in love with railroads before they were in love with cars. Rail is more social. I hope you Proposal 1a passes - it IS a no brainer.

One question though. What are the risks in the Central valley for earthquakes? Even small shifts can be dangerous to the tracks, I assume?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 01:56:09 PM EST
The Central Valley doesn't have many faults that run through it and the region generally doesn't suffer from earthquake damage.

The problem is instead entering and exiting the Valley. The HSR line will cross the Calaveras Fault when going through the Pacheco Pass (between Gilroy and Merced), the seismically active Tehachapi Mountains between Bakersfield and Palmdale, and the San Andreas Fault between Palmdale and LA. The San Andreas also runs parallel to the tracks between San Francisco and Gilroy, at a distance of 10-15 miles to the west.

California's urban geography evolved around the rails, something you can still see when riding the passenger trains here in the state. It would not take a great deal of effort to expand rail here in California - it just requires money and the political will to spend it.

Even we here in Monterey evolved as a railroad town. Founded by the Spanish as the capital of California, our fishery and tourism industries emerged after the 1870s when the railroad from SF reached here. Passenger rail service ended in 1971, but the ROW and even the station here in town have been preserved and are now publicly owned. Monterey County is studying a light rail plan to connect to the UP Coast Line at Castroville, where it will meet with a Caltrain extension to Salinas.

Prop 1A contains $950 million for non-HSR passenger rail that connects to the HSR system, which could well help restore more robust passenger rail to Monterey County. The Gilroy HSR station would be less than an hour away by car or train...

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 02:52:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In addition to Montereyan, I note the Shinkansen lines in Japan are exposed to a stronger risk of Earthquakes than CHSR will be. They have warning systems that stop trains -- which worked, see Kobe earthquake and a recent one on the Western coast -- and they just do the repairs on earthquake-damaged superstrucure.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 04:46:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's true, although the California HSR line is going to cross some very seismically active areas. The middle section of the San Andreas, in the vicinity of the Tehachapis, has produced some massive quakes, including the 1857  Fort Tejon quake and potentially a magnitude 8+ in 1812. The Hayward-Calaveras Fault in the East Bay is expected to produce a large quake sometime in the next 30-40 years as well.

Japanese expertise on engineering HSR structures in seismically active areas will be crucial to our project's success.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 05:32:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No matter what you try and build in California people will say "but what about earthquakes?"  The bigger the project, the louder their dismissals.  

This is of course based on pure ignorance.  The bigger a project the more likely it will have the most state-of-the-art earthquake safeguards, which are tremendous.  Earthquakes are simply not a concern for a project like this.  If a quake occurs and the tracks spread there will be immediate breaks put on all running trains.  After the quake you fix the tracks.  It's not really a huge deal.

Tall buildings, for the record, are built with counter-weighting and shock absorption that makes them far safer in an earthquake than your new McMansion.

by paving on Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 at 02:36:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep, and curiously, the same people forget to say "but what about the hurricanes?" when spending public money on the South Eastern coast or "what about flooding?" in the Mississippi basin.

California deserves louder dismissals when the money is spent by Dems I guess...

by Bernard on Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 at 04:22:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was just a little innocent question from someone parked on top of very old and unyielding rock ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Nov 4th, 2008 at 10:49:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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