Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Cal High-Speed Rail Authority Hosts Official Groundbreaking Ceremony January 6, 2015

FRESNO Cal High-Speed Rail Authority yesterday and Governor Brown joined hundreds of supporters broke t ground on the nation’s first high-speed rail system. In addition to the support of federal, state and local dignitaries, there was strong backing from Central Valley and California-based construction crews, small businesses, and local students who were eager to highlight how high-speed rail is positively affecting California today and will continue to into the future. This construction faze is set for the next five years in the Central Valley. There was a tour of nearby construction activity, which is being done by local and statewide businesses. They also note in their press release finalization of project designs, ongoing right-of-way purchases, and workforce training. This will be a 29 mile stretch of land from Ave 17 in Madera County to East American Ave in Fresno County. The construction will include 12 grade separations, two viaducts, a tunnel, and a bridge over the San Joaquin River. It will be undertaken by California-based Tutor Perini Zachry/Parsons (TPZP) who will be designing and building this first phase of the project. Many at the ceremony were talking about the electric train taking cars off the road and renewable energy, and it potential low cost of $90 from SF to LA in the time it takes a plane to do the same. It will take some time to complete the SF to LA leg for sure. It will likely cost more than $90 once it is accomplished if it is ever accomplished. Authorities say they need to speed up the eminent domain process, since only 100 of the 500 land parcels needed for the rails and stations have been purchased. Californians approved a nearly $10 billion bond for the train in 2008, and in 2012 the Obama administration dedicated $3.3 billion in stimulus funds. Part of the greenhouse gas fees to be collected under the state's cap-and-trade program also will go to the train. There is a lot of capital both political and economic invested in this plan. We will keep you abreast of its progress.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Hyperloop Plan Potentially from San Francisco To Los Angeles is Still in the Loop

Elon Mush forwarded a plan that would replace the Cal High Speed Rail. In this new version the plan would be to move vehicles and people 700 mile per house via a tube system above of below ground. UCLA Students have taken up the challenge with funding from JumpStartFund a crowd funding organization. Their main objective is to bring the Hyperloop from concept to reality, and then see which state or country would like to incorporate it in their plans. This may or may not be California. The UCLA/JumpStartFund concept is to have "bubbles" stacked on top of each other going opposite directions on air compressors so as to maintain the low pressure. The cost is projected to be $6 to $10 billion which can undertake a 400 mile stretch. They are in the feasibility phase and they are trying to prove it out. They think this can be done within a decade. The proposed price tag is much much less than the CalHighSpeed Rail plan which is in the 10’s of billions. The Rail plan is underway and is currently partially funded, and partially planned. If the Hyperloop feasibility study proves out can it leap frog the Train? There is a lot of political and financial capital behind the train, and no politician is backing the Hyperloop, but if it can be done for 1/10th the cost of the rail and it incorporates vehicles instead of just people then I think the Loop should win out. Think about it if you could drive your car into a tube that will get you from LA to San Francisco in 45 minutes then it will change the entire means of human long hall transportation. How about Sacramento to San Francisco in 10 minutes? You could live in low priced housing in Sacramento and work in the Bay Area. They could run it on or above the current rail lines. A big thing Americans embrace is freedom of transportation. You can build multiple car pool lanes, but most people still drive alone, because they have to or want to. We think if this can be a proven alternative to the CalHighSpeedRail then the rail is doomed, even though it is already underway. This innovation will even effect short hall flights that Southwest Airlines is famous for.