High Speed Rail Authority Addresses Alignment Concerns in SF

HSR_alignment_options_for_SF.jpgPossible high speed rail alignment options for San Francisco. Image: HSRA.

Peninsula communities have made all the news with their public outcry against the alignment of the California High Speed Rail train, but today some San Franciscans got into the mix. Now that details have emerged about a possible alignment choice through the eastern portion of Potrero, some community members aren’t so thrilled with the prospect.

A number of residents in the Potrero, Dogpatch, and Showplace triangle neighborhoods addressed representatives of the High Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) today during an informational briefing of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA), decrying an option under consideration that would keep the trains at grade and would depress 16th street in a short tunnel under the tracks.

District 10 Supervisor Sophie Maxwell started off by saying she was concerned that dropping 16th under the tracks would "essentially create a freeway, creating unsafe conditions for cyclists and
pedestrians and creating a breeding ground for graffiti." She said 16th Street was the only significant connection linking the Mission, Potrero and Showplace Triangle neighborhoods with the eastern waterfront.

She clarified she didn’t want her comments to be construed as obstructionist or hindering "this huge, wonderful project," but she asked the authority to consider options that wouldn’t divide neighborhoods further.

Dick Millet, Vice President of the Potrero Boosters neighborhood group, started a wave of public comment voicing similar concerns as Maxwell, arguing the HSRA hadn’t brought detailed drawings to the limited meetings with the neighborhood, nor had they seriously considered the detrimental impact of the at-grade option.

"We’re concerned about the rail crossing at 16th Street, the only major road for two and a half miles to get to the east side," he said. "We’re separated by the 101, the 280, and now we’re going to create another one."

Josh Smith of Walden Development, which has properties near the proposed alignment, said while he is an avid supporter of High Speed Rail, he was concerned that it would be a "huge mistake" to depress 16th Street and argued that engineers have said it would be feasible to bury the rails, so it should be done. "They haven’t come to community meetings with detailed drawings. The devil is in the details, we all know that," he said.

Most of the testimony from the community suggested the best options would be to elevate the trains with aerial tracks or bury them in tunnels, both significantly more expensive than keeping the alignment at grade along existing Caltrain right-of-way.

Robert Doty of the HSRA told Streetsblog after the meeting the agency was considering various options, but warned that placing the rail lines under ground, whether in trenches or deep tunnels, would be very expensive. As a rule of thumb, the HSRA assumed that every dollar spent on at-grade construction would be seven dollars for a deep tunnel, three-to-four dollars for trenches.

Ultimately, the actual cost could be dramatically different depending on the geology constraints, though specific cost analysis wouldn’t be available for the various alignments until environmental review was further along, likely in December.

Various San Francisco departments are preparing a memo of goals and expectations to be delivered to the HSRA tomorrow, according to SFCTA Executive Director Jose Luis Moscovich. Though Moscovich didn’t provide too many specifics about the memo, he said the city family was collaborating to deal with some of the complex issues relating to the alignment of the trains.

"There’s a lot of moving parts here," he said. "I think we need to let the High
Speed Rail Authority understand our preferences for how you get from A
to B and then let them come up with the construction techniques and let
them come up with the solutions they think are going to be the most cost
effective."

Despite his assertion that he wanted to the HSRA to analyze numerous solutions, Moscovich came down on the side of the neighbors by telling Streetsblog the at-grade track alignment option through the city along Caltrain right-of-way was a non-starter.

"I don’t see a way that we should have at-grade high speed rail trains crossing the city. It doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to divide the city with rail infrastructure at this late stage," he said.

While Moscovich said vibration and noise issues from the high-volume high speed rail trains were not good for residential neighborhoods, in the end the HSRA would make the final decisions.

"Everything else is going to be more of a question of how High Speed Rail is going to be able to penetrate San Francisco with the least impact and so that we have both full use of Caltrain and its stations and the 4th and King yards, that the assets the city’s transportation system already has are preserved and enhanced."

  • Marcos seems not to realize that spending seven times as much by putting the trains underground would not only make the project much more politically difficult to make a reality, but would take away money that could be used for other good purposes as well. He’s looking at this one project in isolation, financially, which is not wise. Putting the whole thing in a tunnel would be ideal, but the money saved by not doing so could fund a host of other infrastructure improvements, resulting in more total gain for the given amount of spending.

  • 0101!

    @james, i agree. a lot of posters on here do not seem to realize the real life efforts and money necessary to make these “ideal” changes. thanks for backing me up on how much the project will cost, because this is a much more expensive and complicated project than most people realize. half of the west coast is working on it right now

  • Gillian Gillett

    Isn’t the current proposal to keep Caltrain at grade and deep tunnel HSR under 280, since 280 is built in the Caltrain right-of-way? Maybe we should look at modifying 280 to see how modifying it compare$ to tunneling under it. It would be really something if bringing HSR also removed some of the isolation 280 causes. I live close enough to Chavez dipping under 101 to wonder about the merits of doing something like that again.

  • Andy Chow

    Who isn’t a train expert prefer to have all the trains underground? Who doesn’t want all the benefits with rail but want everything else as is?

    Even underground construction would have significant impacts (Just look at Market Street south of Powell).

  • Undergrounding in San Francisco would cost incrementally more

    A vast, huge, increment.

    but not exponentially more.

    Well, now, that depends what your exponent is, eh?

    The fact is, it would cost more than 3 times as much to underground it. Probably in the range of 6 or more times as much. Pretending it would only cost marginally more may be good rhetoric, but it ain’t truth.

  • marcos

    C’mon, @James, words have meaning.

    If the San Francisco leg of HSR ended up costing $5b, and the cost to underground the vulnerable parts of the line ended up costing $500m, then that is an increment of 10%.

    If the SF leg of HSR was $5b, and the cost of undergrounding it was $20b, then that would be a geometric increase.

    I failed math once or twice and I can still distinguish between an incremental, arithmetic and an exponential, geometric rate of increase.

    Would love to see you try to count bus fare.

    -marc

  • 0101!

    @marcos, give it up, youre wrong. the bottom line is that it won’t cost 500m more. it will cost a billion, maybe two more, in construction alone (not including the plethora of other cost incurred). thats what 6 times the cost means. your argument has been reduced to nitpicking words.

  • marcos

    @0101!, we don’t know because those options have not been studied. It appears now that they might be studied.

    Even still, words have meanings.

    $1b out of $5b is still an increment, a 20% increment.

    There ain’t no free lunch, you’ve got to invest money to make money.

    -marc

  • Marcos,

    You can “win” any argument when you just make up the numbers. But the real numbers show something different from your pulled-from-thin-air “10%” difference.

    From Wikipedia’s “Light Rail” entry.

    “A survey of North American light rail projects[23] shows that costs of most LRT systems range from $15 million per mile to over $100 million per mile. Seattle’s new light rail system is by far the most expensive in the U.S. at $179 million per mile, since it includes extensive tunneling in poor soil conditions, elevated sections, and stations as deep as 180 feet (55 m) below ground level

    And from a news story on HSR in California.

    The state authority says…underground options can cost four to five times as much as grade level construction.

    Hmm, a rail line can be laid for as low as $15 million per mile (street grade) or $100 million or more (when having to tunnel). That’s not a mere increment. And 4-5 times as much? That’s not an increment; it’s a multiple.

    Feel free to continue to engage in argument by insult instead of providing any real data. It’s no skin off my nose, because the data shows that you are flat wrong.

  • Kurt

    There will be a cost regardless – whether it’s to the HSR in building the tunnel or the cost in lost development, lower property values and loss tax revenue that an at-grade HSR crossing or depressed 16th intersection would create. There’s been so much work done already to make the surrounding neighborhoods more livable, and now we’re going to let HSR throw our neighborhoods backward 30 years? Those neighborhoods aren’t industrial wastelands – they’re an incredible mix of uses. 16th is a major access route to the Dogpatch, the Mission Bay and all the planned improvements along the Central Waterfront.

    I’m a huge proponent of HSR, but building a Ceasar Chavez style gauntlet is not the answer and I’ll be damned if Peninsula residents are going to have all their NIMBY fears calmed when we have the density and the ridership to justify a well-designed solution.

    I want to see the same level of thought put into the SF crossings that the Peninsula got – where are our drawings and 3D fly throughs?

  • marcos

    @James, there is already rail infrastructure in place, much of it already partially trenched south of 16th Street. The entire line is going to have to be secured, especially in San Francisco, and that is going to already cost a chunk of change.

    The question is going to be over what improvements are already going to need to be be made to what infrastructure already exists, and what extra costs would be involved for other options.

    Again, between $1b and $5b, the exponent remains the same, 10, although it is a geometric increase, it is not exponential.

    Are we supposed to believe that you’re surprised when you put infrastructure into an already built out context, complexities arise and costs increase?

    HSR says underground options can cost 4-5 times that of surface, that’s wonderful, study them up and give us a price tag on what the various options will cost.

    Amortized over the life of the project, you’re arguing over chump change.

    -marc

  • marcos

    I would not need to be guesstimating numbers if HSR had taken the pulse of the communities and studied what they asked for.

    This one should have been a no-brainer.

    -marc

  • rzagza

    marcos, give it up, seriously. youre trolling now

  • samedude

    last time i checked, billions of dollars is not chump change

  • Kurt,

    I think it’s doubtful that a well-designed grade level train would harm development that much. But it certainly is a cost to be considered, and you certainly argue much more sensibly than than Marcos. So while I’m not quite persuaded by your argument, I certainly respect it and the way you made it.

    And personally I think there’s probably room for some balancing. I doubt it makes sense to put the whole thing underground, but for particular areas the increased cost for a 1/2 mile, mile, or so, may make sense. I don’t want to come across as making an argument specifically about what they should do at 16th Street.

  • This one should have been a no-brainer.

    No, it could not possibly be. The particular answer you like may seem obvious to you, but anytime you’re dealing with a policy issue that involves large numbers of people, the preferences found among those people are so varied that it’s never a no-brainer to decide what to do. Satisfying you would just piss of one group of people, while satisfying them would piss off some other group, while satisfying them would piss of you and those who agree with you.

    That in itself isn’t an argument that your proposal is wrong. But even if your proposal is best from some standard, it will still be unsatisfactory to a large group of others. (OK, I’ll reveal myself now: I’m a professor of political science, political economy, and public policy–the difficulties of satisfying everyone in policymaking; the impossibility of any solution to a complex issue being a no-brainer; these are the things I know.)

    One thing you haven’t considered is who’s going to pay for this project. Why should those who aren’t going to be benefiting from the project–say people up in Yreka, or the little old ladies in Iowa, have to pay for the primo project, instead of one that’s good enough? Because the unavoidable fact is, people who will never use this rail system, will never travel freeways that have fewer traffic because of it, will never live anywhere near it, they’ll have to pay for it, too. What is your justification for demanding that they chuck out top dollar for your benefit?

  • 0101!

    @James:
    “One thing you haven’t considered is who’s going to pay for this project. Why should those who aren’t going to be benefiting from the project–say people up in Yreka, or the little old ladies in Iowa, have to pay for the primo project, instead of one that’s good enough? Because the unavoidable fact is, people who will never use this rail system, will never travel freeways that have fewer traffic because of it, will never live anywhere near it, they’ll have to pay for it, too. What is your justification for demanding that they chuck out top dollar for your benefit?”

    THANK YOU FOR THIS.

  • Al

    Well, what’s the justification for my taxes paying for a bridge in Alaska? I’m not totally opposed to it, but– cost/benefit, bla bla bla. I do think the government should invest in infrastructure if the case is there, and I do think the case for CAHSR is very good.

    If the additional undergrounding is to happen I think the city has to pay the extra cost, and recoup some of the money by selling development rights of the now-empty land.

  • Tommy

    James is correct. It costs a disproportionate and excessive amount to put the tracks underground. (Unless they are going underground anyway to serve downtown, which apparently nobody is suggesting).

    And that part of SE San Francisco is hopelessly messed up anyway with 280 and the existing tracks, so the incremental damage done by HSR is minimal.

    If I were a taxpayer in Peoria, I wouldn’t want to spend a billion just to placate a few hundred people of one tiny corner of a city. There’s a bigger picture here.

  • AL,

    Well, fortunately that bridge to nowhere in Alaska isn’t going to be built (last I head anyway). And I say fortunately, because you’re right, there was no justification for asking taxpayers to pay for something that had such a ridiculously low benefit-cost ratio.

    Off-topic, but related story. My college received half a million from the federal gov’t for our science building. The college pres reported wanted to spend it all on the lobby, but was ultimately persuaded to spend it on classroom renovations. One could make a case that the taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for my private college’s science classroom renovations, but I think most people would see that an acceptable use of $500,000 in tax revenue. But a $500,000 lobby? I don’t think you’d find 1 taxpayer in a million who’d agree their taxes should be used that way.

    Relating that to this issue, I think most taxpayers (ultra-conservatives and libertarians excepted) would find spending on high speed transit for California acceptable, but only if it’s reasonably priced. They don’t have to agree to the highest-priced version.

    High-speed rail is equivalent to the science classroom. Tunneling is probably more equivalent to the bridge to nowhere and the half million dollar lobby.

  • marcos

    None of this prattle matters much, as the City has presented a unified front to HSR requesting that they study options for under grounding–just like they did for the Peninsula–and we’ll see what the response or real numbers look like. My understanding is that the HSR planning was more complicated at all of the proposed stations in the central valley as well.

    The difference, of course, is that HSR is a system that in order to run safely must be made wholly secure because damage to track can damage rolling stock. At HSR speeds, the margin for error is thin and minor damage can result in major tragedy. In the urban context of San Francisco, it is very expensive to make surface facilities wholly secure.

    How horrific that those people alive in the 1960s and now dead paid to build the BART system, some of whom never got to use it, and that I benefit having moved here 20 years ago, paying nothing for the original infrastructure.

    Knee jerk support for staff proposals such as this is a particular case of how single issue focus blinds transit activists to anything resembling a big picture.

    Here’s the ontology: support what staff recommends or you 1) oppose the project in concept, 2) are trying to sabotage the project or 3) or a NIMBY.

    @James Hanley:

    I don’t think that the Federalist Society tax whining rant is going to play in San Francisco. We generate so much more in state and federal taxes than we get back that we have this coming and then some.

    As a political scientist participating in local politics (elections, policy [transportation, land use, ethics, policing], advocacy) in San Francisco for the past 10 years, I’ve learned that the range of politically acceptable policy options differs from the range of what appears at first glance to be optimal policy options and for good reason. Policy makers must satisfy the most people with the best deal that can meet those needs as well as the policy goal. It is possible, after the numbers are run, that under grounding the line south of 16th Street along the existing ROW will meet political and policy goals and be paid for. Staff will always present a 2 dimensional proposal, it is up to policy makers to introduce political legitimacy to such technocratic plans with third and fourth dimensions to breath life into the final product.

    Asserting that staff proposal is the only viable one, a priori, absent any hard data about more politically palatable (and desired) options is simply not political science, that’s boosterism.

    -marc

  • Marcos,

    I’m a political scientist, too. PhD Oregon 2000. And you? You remind me of grad school colleagues who went into political science because they cared about issues. But as my old grad advisor used to say, there are some folks who don’t understand the difference between advocacy and analysis. Most of those who didn’t, who went into it because they just cared about issues, didn’t complete the PhD, but usually ended up with just the MA. You remind me of one of them. I recognize I’m just making inferences, though, and I’m open to correction.

    But that’s all beside the point, because now you’re moving the goalposts. Having lost on your original claim, you’re sliding off to different claims, hoping nobody notices that you’ve given up on defending the original ones. That’s a classic political trick, but it’s not something a well-educated person claiming to be a political scientist ought to do.

    As to your claim that San Francisco pays more in taxes than it receives in federal funds, I know this is true for some places. I don’t know whether it is true for SF or not, but I’d be curious to know for sure. Do you have actual evidence to support that, or am I just supposed to take your word for it? California as a whole is (cite here, (that’s how you do it, if you have any professional standards as a political scientist)), so I wouldn’t be surprised if SF is. But I’d like something more than your word.

  • marcos

    @James, B.A. “Government,” Texas@Austin, 1989. I’ve worked for the past ten years in the real political world electing candidates and contesting ballot measures. I am more than familiar with the sausage making process which is what is at issue here.

    California pays more in federal taxes than it receives back:

    http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/show/266.html

    San Francisco pays more in state taxes than it receives back:

    http://www.mercurynews.com/politics-government/ci_15340236

    Eyeballing it, the relative sizes of the economies between urban and rural counties and the fixed cost of administering state programs over vast underpopulated areas make this a no brainer.

    Now, if we’re going to make the we get what we pay for argument, then there should be tin shacks in the mostly rural central valley for those stations with sleek subways for the moneybags urban areas.

    Perhaps you’ve remained in school for a reason?

    -marc

  • marcos

    Of the top four revenue providing counties: Marin (1), San Mateo (2), San Francisco (3) and Santa Clara (4), three of them are on the peninsula and would benefit from under grounding of HSR.

    Of those three top revenue generating counties with HSR, they get pennies on the dollar back from the state for our tax revenue: San Mateo ($0.15:$1), Santa Clara ($0.24:$1) and San Francisco ($0.32:$1).

    Further, these counties are amongst the densest populated in California: #1 San Francisco 8,714/sq mi, #5 San Mateo 1355/sq mi, #7 Santa Clara 1332/sq mi.

    I guess in a “democracy” it takes “independent” politicians to make the “hard decisions” to ignore net tax contributions and demographic density data at the behest of a technocratic staff. Safety anyone?

    -marc

  • Marcos,

    Source? Citation? You know, that technique you learned in high school? Because I honestly don’t know if you are citing reliable statistics or making things up. And I’m more interested in the net federal payments/returns, since it won’t just be California taxpayers paying for this.

    Again, I’m of the belief that SF very likely is a net payer, rather than a net recipient, of federal taxes. But your failure to provide anything more than mere assertions makes it hard to treat you as a reliable source.

  • Marcos,

    Woops, please excuse my last post. I saw only your last post, and not the one preceding it. Thank you for the citation. If data on SF’s federal net isn’t available, I can understand that.

    I like the little smugness of “I really work in it.” I’ve come across that often. I’ve often seen that people who are deeply immersed in it are wholly issue-driven, and incapable of looking at it from a broader perspective. Sure, if someone wants to know how to get their issue successfully implemented, they’d do better to talk to you than to me. But if they want to discuss questions of legitimacy of certain types of policies, and anything beyond mere issue-interest, I’ll flatter myself that I have a superior understanding of that.

    After all, though you may not realize it, political science != politics. If you think a political science education is only about learning how to engage in politics, then you had a poor education. Given that you went to UTA, which has a great poli sci department, I can only surmise that you must have kept your eyes and ears shut a good deal of the time. And I hope your former profs don’t get wind of the contempt you have for those who “stayed in school” and taught you the little bit you do know.

    Because in the end, to bring this back to the original issue, even though California does deserve a larger share of the federal outlays, that has no direct bearing on whether it makes sense to devote a large portion of the share it does get to tunneling the HSR in SF, rather than devoting that extra cost to other important issues. And this is what I mean by being issue-driven, rather than being able to see the bigger picture.

    (As for your efforts at being condescending to me, they’re pretty amateurish. Believe me, I’ve had plenty of practice jawing with anti-education conservatives; an anti-education liberal isn’t going to be much of a challenge.)

    But to reiterate, because it’s only right to do so, I apologize for missing the comment where you did link to sources. I do wish I had noticed that before writing my prior comment.

  • marcos

    My education was in comparative politics, focus on how popular movements within Latin America and the state interact. The “government” department at Texas had undergone a purge right before I switched from computer science to political science/latin american studies, progressives cleansed, the only interesting classes were colisted with the Institute of Latin American Studies, which was at the time (might still be) preeminent in the US.

    I specifically ignored any of the practica dealing with internships as administrative, legislative of campaigns. A four hour bus ride to the border with a network of affordable bus and rail at hand, the “laboratory” subjects of my studies were close at hand. I’d traveled overland through most of Mexico through Central America during wartime.

    Only after I tired of protesting did I turn my attentions to working within the system. Over the past ten years as part of a progressive coalition, we’ve seen some significant wins and many losses.

    Now this is a blog not an academic journal. I don’t tend to foot note my posts. The data are out there, the contours of the political terrain apparent for all who observe. The onus is on the challenger in this forum to make the case that a post, especially one that holds that populated centers of commerce generate more capital than rural areas that translates into subsidizing state and federal revenue, is incorrect. I’m not going to document every tiptoe through the terrain.

    -marc

  • marcos

    Hijacking back the thread, these data bolster the case for the San Francisco peninsula as a whole to receive a higher level of resources for integrating HSR into our existing urban context than has been given by the technocrats.

    What were they thinking? Was this another example of the productivity of Quentin Kopp and the remnants of the Willie Brown machine continuing their decades long feud?

    -marc

  • Yeah, my prediction @72 was amazingly right–an activist rather than an intellectual. Convinced you know already know what’s right, so you feel little need to investigate it intellectually. Instead of doing honest analysis, you engage in confirmation bias, ignoring anything that might undercut your preconceived beliefs and latching onto anything that supports it. By contrast, I try to teach my students to withhold judgment until they have collected sufficient evidence on which to base a claim. No doubt you’d consider that approach in a class to be “boring.”

    And this, “the onus is on the challenger in this forum to make the case that a post … is incorrect” is absolute bullshit. The onus is on the person who makes a claim to demonstrate that they’re not bullshitting. For example, you made the claim that tunneling might cost only 10% more. That was a bullshit claim, but you’re claiming here that the onus was not on you to be truthful, or to provide evidence for that. Sorry, you’ve got it backward–on every other blog I participate on, the rule is, “the person making claims has to back them up.”

    And to come back again to the topic of this post, you still haven’t provided any compelling argument that the extra cost of tunneling is a good use of funds. For the sake of argument, let me agree that SF ought to get enough money to do that–are you saying that there aren’t other needs that would be a better investment than you would get from the difference between a separated grade level track and a buried track?

  • marcos

    To the contrary, having to work with folks to put together support for measures and candidates, I’m humbled by the hidden complexities and unintended consequences. Instead of buying into the latest fashion trends, I’m always open to challenge.

    And around here, I do the challenging of those paid activists who do indeed find themselves pinched out of their group think by my analysis. They call me a troll for saying things like the $150-300m for a bay bridge bike lane on the west side is a total waste of money.

    I don’t know you, I’ve not seen you contribute much to the discourse on SF transportation issues, you’re really not worth my time to do the research a priori. These data are freely available. I don’t need to be providing you training wheels on issues involving local politics except when convenient. This is a fucking blog, I’m not paid to service you.

    Let’s see how the study goes.

    -marc

  • James Hanley

    Marcos,

    I don’t live in SF anymore. I’m just a midwesterner who became a bike messenger, then went off to grad school, and really enjoys this blog because as a gravy dog I got to know the streets of SF so well. You’ve got some mixed-up kind of view when first you suggest I’m not educated, then suggest my problem is that I’m too educated, then say that you do the educating of people around you. I think it’s clear why so many people on this blog dislike you. Contra your claim of humbleness, you exude nothing but a massive arrogance. And you’ve done nothing to educate me on issues of local governannce. I just asked you to back up one claim you made, which is pretty standard for blog discussions. It seemed especially worthwhile after you had pulled the whopper about tunneling only costing 10% more, which instantly pegged you as somebody who either had no understanding or a willingness to be dishonest. For the record, I have not only taught State and Local Government, I’m on the E-Board of our local watershed management agency. Local political issues are no mystery to me, boyo, no matter how desperate you are to announce your superiority to everyone. I’ve seen people like you at work in local politics, too. The vain certainty of beign absolutely right, the arrogant dismissals of anyone who might disagree. Those folks generally make themselves very disliked, and are ineffective because of it. However in their arrogance they are always persuaded of their own great effectiveness, so I’m confident you won’t see what I’m talking about.

    Good luck on the Bay Bridge bike lane issue, though. I’m inclined to agree with you on that one. It’d be fun as hell to bike the Bay Bridge, but I can’t see a large enough mass of people doing it to make that project worth the layout.

  • Tommy

    James.

    Bravo. That needed to be said.

    And your earlier statement was spot on too:

    “I’ve often seen that people who are deeply immersed in it are wholly issue-driven, and incapable of looking at it from a broader perspective”.

    If I were a decision-maker on this, I would generally take the word of an ordinary, unsophisticated and unaligned user of a transit system over a full-time “activist”, lobbyist or internet rabble rouser.

  • Thank you, Tommy.

    I’m heading off for a 10 day wilderness trip now (Minnesota’s Boundary Waters), so I won’t be able to comment any more on this thread.

    I’ll keep reading this blog, though, even though I don’t live in SF anymore. While I always had a love-hate relationship with the city while I was there (it’s a hard place for a farm town Midwest boy, but a beautiful city with some fantastic people), I continue to follow SF issues because I find it a deeply fascinating city in many ways. My best wishes to all of you on here who live by the Bay.

  • marcos

    Frankly, I could care less whether I am liked or not on a blog, because unlike the real world where things actually happen, this is the virtual world and virtual means not real.

    For ten years I’ve called it spot on as I’ve seen it on bicycle policy only to be excoriated by those getting paid to (not) represent our interests. The record proves that. You learn to let that shit roll off your back in politics if you want to remain sane, especially when you rack up a record of being correct compared to their record of being wrong.

    I could see how advocates and staff would chafe at being called on their errors time and again after they’ve resisted overtures to avoid failure. But fail they have!

    SF electeds give me face time because I help get them elected. They appoint me to advisory committees because I help get them elected and am knowledgeable on policy. I do not get paid to advocate. You can tell that because my suggestions are grounded in reality and viable when compared to the paid advocates who drink staff’s Kool-Ade.

    For example there was a time, what, was it four years ago, that I suggested that $300m (at the time) was not worth investing in a Bay Bridge western span bicycle facility, Josh Hart former SFBC, then of the CABC screamed at me on a blog, maybe the SFBC mailing list for personally attacking him because this was his project.

    It had nothing to do with the bogus “first day ridership” metric that constrains transit investment or that the $300m could turn surface streets along the I-80 corridor into bicycling palaces, rather that I had the temerity to step on his dick in public even though I didn’t even know that was his dick.

    That is the kind of crap that I’m used to from the inbred, single issue groupthinking compensated transportation advocacy community. It has taught me that there is a correlation between paid advocacy and failure.

    Here we are, with SFBC membership doubling over the past six years yet with bicycle policy still unable to complete the minimal tasks set 13 years ago. Nothing speaks success like success, eh?

    Over and again I’ve pointed out that choices made by advocates according to whatever the transportation torah portion was for that week were going to send us into the wall at speed only to be met with caterwauling. When they crashed into the wall, they blamed me as well when the fault ended up being all their own.

    We don’t know how much it will cost to cover the existing trench under I-280 when compared to the cost to secure the trench. I’d be surprised if it ran significantly more, given the high fixed costs of securing a surface facility in a densely populated city with so many people who live to spray paint where they’re not supposed to.

    But the tune you’re singing that staff’s proposals are etched in concrete, so don’t fight them, just ran into political reality from San Francisco.

    Have fun in the woods, enjoy the mosquitoes.

    -marc

  • Berlin

    SF doesn’t want to join the 21st century even though we’re already 50 years behind. I just got back from Barcelona. They have a great rail system there. The obvious solution is to by pass those whiners at SF and start at Silicon Valley.

  • Glenn

    No the whiners are in Menlo Park