Elon Musk’s Boring Company in talks for airport tunnel project in Silicon Valley

By Simon Alvarez : teslarati – excerpt

The Boring Company, Elon Musk’s tunneling startup, might have another tunnel project on its hands. In a statement earlier this week, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo stated that he has been in talks with The Boring Co. over the last 18 months to discuss the possibility of building a tunnel linking Diridon Station and the Mineta San Jose International Airport — a distance of about 4 miles.

Addressing reporters at City Hall, the San Jose, CA mayor noted that the tunnel project could give Diridon Station a chance to “grow with the city,” particularly as Google is expected to construct a campus near Diridon in the future, which would likely bring thousands of people to the area. Apart from this, Diridon Station, the city’s main transit hub, is expected to undergo an overhaul in the future, with the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) line set to extend downtown to the station itself.

Around five years ago, cost estimates for the construction of a conventional rail link connecting the Mineta San Jose International Airport to Diridon were listed at a hefty $800 million. Liccardo noted that tunnels, particularly those constructed by The Boring Company, could cost just a fraction of the $800 million estimate. That said, the mayor clarified that the project, provided that it does happen, would not be locked with the Boring Co…(more)



Muni forced to cut funding for accelerated train purchase in favor of solar power, merchant bailout fund

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

While city leaders play tug-of-war over $181 million in windfall tax dollars, one city department slated to net some of that money is already feeling rope burn:


The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is set to receive $38 million in windfall dollars from the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund, a legally protected “set-aside” that cannot be used for other city departments.

Though that money can not be taken away, exactly how it will be spent is another story. The SFMTA wanted to use all $38 million to speed up the purchase of 150 new trains to speed up Muni Metro service.

But now roughly $18 million of that funding for new trains will be used for other purchases, as part of larger negotiations between the Board of Supervisors and The Mayor’s Office.

The SFMTA Board of Directors were largely furious when they heard the news, during their regular board meeting on Tuesday… (more)

Solano supervisors reaffirm Spering appointment to MTC

By Todd R. Hansen : dailyrepublic – excerpt

FAIRFIELD — Supervisor Jim Spering will return as Solano County’s representative to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission on Feb. 10.

The board, on a 4-1 vote Tuesday with Supervisor Monica Brown dissenting, not only reaffirmed its earlier appointment, but spoke glowingly of Spering’s experience and expertise and how that has benefitted Solano County…

“We need to look broader than our county and improve the Bay Area,” Thomson said.

But it is the very nature of regional government that many opponents of Spering – and MTC in general – point at for the reason to change who represents the county….

George Guynn, a frequent critic of the board and regional government, argued again that Solano County needs a representative on MTC who reflects the opinions of the residents….

“It’s not a selection process, it’s a backroom deal,” Guynn said.

The board had already appointed Spering to the post, but took the second action because the mayor committee had failed to submit three nominee names. Fairfield Mayor Harry Price and Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan were added to the list, but that action was widely viewed as administrative.

Neither Price or Sampayan attended the board meeting… (more)

Los Angeles Is Now Offering Car Rides to Metro Stations

By Aarian Marshall : wired – excerpt

Public transit agencies are not known for their flashy, up-to-date technology. In many cities, you’re lucky if your diesel bus shows up on time. But this week, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is trying something new.

Starting today, riders who live near three Metro stations will be able to download an app, tap a few times, and have a car show up at their door—or at least within a few blocks—and take them to that station. The service, provided by ride-hail company Via, will cost riders with the system’s TAP cards $1.75, though it will be free for those who already use Metro’s low-income subsidy programs. Riders will share their car trips with between two and five others, but the agency says they shouldn’t have to wait longer than 10 minutes for a pick-up.

If LA has its way, the one-year experiment with on-demand service will solve the devious first-mile, last-mile problem, connecting those who live just a touch too far away from stations to get there. The idea is to make it easier for a whole new group of people to use mass transit. “We’ve created an additional layer of public transportation,” says Chris Snyder, Via’s head of global expansion. “It’s complementary.”… (more)

This sounds like a jitney service similar to the one San Francisco just nixed. This also looks like a last gasp effort to an “anything but” solution that is picking winners among the corporate choices, but, I suppose any service can offer a cheap alternative, including neighbors with their own cars. Hope it works for the public who needs it.


By Howard Wong : savemuni – excerpt


With the everchanging world of shipping, cruising, boating, transportation, recreation and technology, port cities have to be nimble—inventing mixed-uses of piers, berths, docks, yards and structures that mesh with maritime circulation.

PORT TECHNOLOGY: PSA to Unveil Drones, Robotics and Futuristic Port Tech


MARYLAND SEA GRANT: What is Aquaculture?


NEWGEOGRAPHY: Asia Dominates Largest World Seaports


The distribution of cargo traffic is similar. East Asia accounts for 56 percent of the top 100 port volume, four times the volume of Europe (14 percent) and five times that of North America (11 percent). The world of ports is by no means static. With the expanded Panama Canal now in operation, the maximum capacity of container ships has been nearly tripled. This means that US Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic ports are more competitively positioned by being able to berth the larger ships originating from Asia. This permits substitution, for example, of longer and less costly ocean voyages for intermodal truck and rail shipment across the United States,

QUORA: Why are Singapore and Shanghai the busiest cargo ports in the world


ARCBEST: 10 Busiest Seaports in the World


WORLD BANK: Competitiveness of South Asia’s Container Ports


The report proposes a three-pronged approach to improve the performance of container ports: (i) Encourage private sector participation within a well-regulated and administered landlord port model; (ii) strengthen the governance of port authority boards; and (iii) promote competition between and within ports, in part through transparent and competitive concession bidding.


PROJECT FOR PUBLIC SPACES: Great Waterfronts of the World


A truly great urban waterfront is hard to come by. The PPS staff has examined more than 200 urban waterfronts around the world–cities on the sea (Hong Kong, Vancouver, Miami, Athens), rivertowns (London, Paris, Buenos Aires, Detroit), and sturdy lakefront burgs (Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland, Zurich).

TELEGRAPH: The world’s most beautiful ports: 19 places you must arrive at by sea



Everyone wants historic Pier 70 and the waterfront to be a magical place. But not all new developments succeed. Certainly, wise decisions and planning have laid the groundwork for success. All involved deserve gracious kudos. Now, let’s study the details and elements that assure long-term rewards. Here’s an example of one of the best historic preservation projects—followed by lessons learned and activation ideas.


The Pearl neighborhood is a sensory immersion into a story of history. This grand historic preservation project is infused with historical architecture, spatial experiences and industrial objets d’art. Along the extension of the San Antonio River and Riverwalk, the Pearl is a mix of residential, office, retail and dining, creating a destination hub—especially for food. But history is the palpable draw because the sense of place has maturated for 130 years. Recognition has included: Global Award for Excellence by the Urban Land Institute, Great Neighborhoods Award by the American Planning Association and Top Green Project by the American Institute of Architects.

CONGRESS FOR THE NEW URBANISM: Pearl Brewery Redevelopment


At the turn of the millennium, the 26-acre Pearl Brewery in San Antonio was abandoned and desolate—a collection of empty buildings and pavement with only five trees. Now, thanks to an ambitious Pearl Brewery Redevelopment Master Plan, the site is an economic and social powerhouse, drawing an average of more than 10,000 visitors to events weekly, including 3,000 shoppers at a farmer’s market. Thirty locally run businesses thrive in the district, which is known for its restaurants. The entire district was built without street curbs, allowing flexibility for public gatherings like the farmer’s market. Public spaces abound, including an outdoor amphitheater. A 500-kilowatt array in the district is the largest solar roof installation in Texas. A combination of design and connectivity reduce parking needs. Residents and visitors have multi-modal transportation options, including a bike-share station on site.

INHABITAT: Abandoned Pearl Brewery Adapted into a Vibrant Mixed-Use Project in San Antonio


The Pearl Brewery was abandoned in the early ’90s in favor of other breweries. But rather than let the industrial infrastructure sit vacant, it was transformed into a vibrant mixed-use office, retail and entertainment district. Located along the famed San Antonio River, the Pearl Brewery/Full Goods Warehouse is at once a tribute to the history of the brewery and a modern and sustainable project.

RIVARD REPORT: Rise of the Pearl: How a Historic Brewery Transformed a City


Rare is the modern-day development that has the power to transform a city. Yet the crown jewel of downtown San Antonio revitalization, unfolding on the banks of the Riverwalk since 2001, has been accomplishing that for more than a century.

HOTEL EMMA: Pearl Brewery, San Antonio

This great historic preservation project tells a story of history. Much of the hotel has public access, with surprising spaces and industrial artifacts. Ranked #19 best hotel in the world by Condé Nast Travel, and #4 best hotel in the U.S. by TripAdvisor, the design is stellar to the smallest details. Within the Pearl district hub, Hotel Emma is an attraction in itself.

SAN ANTONIO CURRENT: A Walk Through Hotel Emma


When you walk up to Hotel Emma’s reception area, through the slate-gray gravel and naturally arranged flora, you start to feel as though you’re entering a unique place with an old personality and an authentic soul. To say that there were no accidents in the Herculean, multi-year undertaking of decorating and designing Hotel Emma is to “deny the accident,” as Jackson Pollock once did. Led by New York design firm Roman and Williams, with huge assists from countless locals, the interior design of Emma is rooted in the history of our city and in the artifacts of the Pearl Brewery’s history.

RIVARD REPORT: Hotel Emma: San Antonio Gets a Showcase Hotel


Set in the Pearl’s iconic 121-year-old brewhouse, the Emma is a design, engineering, and construction triumph that can be described at length, yet can only be truly appreciated through personal experience. What distinguishes the Emma from all other luxury hotels in the state and region begins with the approach its owner and developer, Silver Ventures, and its visionary, Kit Goldsbury, took to preserve and celebrate the site’s history as a blue-collar brewery with all its gritty industrial edges.


Like the entire historic waterfront, Pier 70 has an intrinsic economic value, which requires chipping away rubble to unveil the hidden gem of history. The Pearl Brewery and Hotel Emma in San Antonio show the power of historicism—from city planning, historic preservation and design to details and textures— maximizing the valuable asset of history.


Tenants have to engage the public realm—at all times of the day. A decade of public processes envisioned a public realm at Pier 70, with Prop D (2008), Pier 70 Master Plan (2010), Prop F (2014) and Pier 70 General Plan Amendments (2017). Frontages of tenant spaces should serve a public purpose. At frontages, small-scale retail can be sub-tenants, sidewalk cafés/ carts/ kiosks, beer gardens, night markets, art fairs, historical displays…. Tenants should be encouraged to operate 7 days a week—day and night—for more human connectivity.


When applicable and possible, adhere to the Master Plan for maximum public connectivity.


Design standards of historicism should apply throughout Pier 70—for historic structures, new buildings, interior renovations and tenant improvements. Also, often the best predictor of design quality is the steadfastness of the client, as well as project managers and reviewers.


The City and tenants together can install new historical art, sculpture and artifacts.


For the district as a whole and the site, routinely reevaluate circulation paths for people and vehicles—to assure a rich sequence of spaces, events and surprises.


Historic architecture and historical/ industrial artifacts have unique appeal that should be featured ubiquitously. Make Pier 70’s history palpable. Besides faithfully-restored buildings, small details add authenticity, like bathroom designs, lighting, handrails, door hardware, flooring….


Creative maritime/ industrial artifacts add to the sense of place, as functional objects, art and building systems. The sense of history should be everywhere.


The grittiness of the maritime and industrial age should be evident, with careful attention to design of sidewalks, street surfaces, plazas, floors, walls and roofs.


The public realm reinforces historic buildings, with creative design of streetlights, traffic lights, fire hydrants, signage, landscaping…. Wider sidewalks can incorporate historical displays, plaques, art, sculpture, planters, trellises, seating…. Combine streetscaping and buildings so as to frame views.


Highlight historic buildings with floodlighting and spotlighting at night, as well as historical lamps at doorways. String-lighting over streets can have the flavor of industrial gas lamps.


Design the historic core as a holistic composition of buildings, streets and spaces—for 24/7 activity. The historic core is the comforting symbol that people will remember and return to.

Regards, Howard Wong, AIA, CWAG (Central Waterfront Advisory Group) Member

’Tis the Season to Share the Ride

mtc – excerpt

MTC and its Bay Area partners have launched several new Bay Area promotions to encourage Bay Area travelers to share the ride. “It’s the season for sharing, so share a ride and be rewarded in more ways than one,” said Barbara Laurenson, manager of MTC’s carpool program.

MTC’s recently established Bay Area Vanpool Program is offering direct subsidies to new and existing vanpools, thanks to an infusion of over $9.5 million approved by MTC  in July of 2018 for the next five years. “Vanpooling is a good option for commuters traveling 40 miles or more each way and who have pretty regular schedules,” said Lloyd Nadal, program manager for Solano County, where many of the region’s vanpools originate. Qualifying vanpools that rent their vehicles through Enterprise (the preferred vendor for the Vanpool Program) can now reduce the cost of their monthly van rates by $350, courtesy of MTC. Vanpool groups can apply for subsidies at Commute With Enterprise. Vanpoolers can pay for their remaining vanpool costs with pretax dollars, further reducing the cost of their shared commute… (more)

Why are carpools and car shares so unpopular? For years government has been trying to entice people into carpool lanes and car shares, but, for some reason, not many people bite, even when it means driving in crowded slower lanes, and paying higher tolls to drive solo.

Financial incentives haven’t made much difference either. One of the local TV news teams set up competition to see who got some faster using various means of transportation, and the slowest commute was the attempt to pick up a ride at a casual car share station. Nobody stopped to pick anyone up.

There has to be a reason that is eluding the transit professionals. Could it be a general distrust of strangers? Could it be that fear is the motivating factor that keeps people in their cars? Is the need to feel in control of one’s own destiny is more important than saving time and money? Is putting oneself in the hands of an unreliable system that breaks down daily too much to ask?

BART Warns Commuters About 3-Year Cuts To Early Morning Service

By Holly Quan : kcbsradio – excerpt (in cludes audio)

OAKLAND — Early morning commuters are getting an early warning from BART that starting in February the first trains won’t start rolling until 5 a.m., an hour later than now.

The schedule change will affect commuters for the next three and a half years as the transit agency conducts seismic retrofitting of the Transbay Tube.

Roughly 3,000 riders regularly use BART during the hour of service that’s poised to be eliminated… (more)

One of the best reasons to not vote for any more transit bonds is to avoid these cutbacks. The more money they get the worse the service is.

Opinion: Fixing Bay Area transit requires better building practices

By Marc Joffe : mercurynews – excerpt

Change construction methods after setbacks of Salesforce Center, Bay Bridge, BART to San Jose, high-speed rail

In the Bay Area, we’re witnessing one transportation infrastructure setback after another. Too many projects are late, over budget and provide limited benefits, leaving travelers stuck in traffic.

Local leaders should consider policies to make infrastructure projects less costly and more reliable. Shifting risk onto the private sector and using more standard technologies are two such policies.

The latest setback is the closure of the $2.2 billion Salesforce Transit Center due to construction defects. Besides a rooftop park and an unused high-speed rail terminal, the elaborate structure includes overpasses spanning Fremont and First streets.

The structural integrity of these two overpasses is now in doubt. Since the terminal will only handle about 20,000 riders per day, it could have occupied a much smaller footprint, obviating the need for overpasses…

Whatever technology officials choose for intercity rail and other transportation projects, they should award projects on a Build Operate Transfer (BOT) basis. Under BOT, a private contractor has responsibility to complete the project and establish service for a predetermined cost, eventually turning it over to the government. The contractor gets the opportunity to make extra profits, but the company takes on the risk of losses when construction costs exceeds budget or revenue service is delayed.

While for many Bay Area progressives, public-private partnerships may be a dirty word, the fact is that all our major infrastructure projects involve private contractors. The operative question is not whether companies have a role, but whether they have incentives to get projects done on time and within budget.

Marc Joffe, a Bay Area resident, is a senior policy analyst at the libertarian Reason Foundation... (more)

First-ever woman named SF Muni chief

By Joe Fritgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

The first-ever woman to lead Muni at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency was appointed last week, following the retirement of a man dogged by sexual harassment allegations.

Julie Kirschbaum is the new acting SFMTA director of transit, which she announced to the agency’s transit division on October 29…

As acting deputy director, Kirschbaum managed day-to-day Muni operations, led a system-wide redesign and managed the transit planning and scheduling group, according to SFMTA…

Before Reiskin was hired, Debra Johnson was acting director of transportation, overseeing multiple departments. Carmen Clark also was interim executive director of SFMTA for a time, which oversaw Muni responsibilities. However, Kirschbaum is the first woman to take the reigns as Director of Transit at SFMTA, directly and principally responsible for Muni.

In the Bay Area, however, women-led transportation agencies are the norm. Grace Crunican is general manager of BART, and Tilly Chang oversees the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, which primarily serves as a congestion management and transportation planning body… (more)

We can only hope that a new era of respect for the workers and Muni riders will open the door to some much needed changes in the top-down management style of the department. We hope the new director will concentrate on running a cleaner, safer, more reliable transit system today and get out of the planning department. We hope the new director will direct the staff to do the public’s bidding instead of forcing the pubic to follow the staff’s schemes. Just give it a try for 6 months and see if the ridership levels to not go up and the public does not approve.


Hello Everyone: More information gained from engineering magazines and photographs (structural drawings not public). Over Fremont and First Streets, the lower bus deck is essentially a suspended bridge—hung from two 8-foor deep girders at the upper park level. Somewhat unusual for a suspension structure is the single chord (vertical column) that hangs the lower bus deck from each girder.

SKYRISE: Transbay Transit Center Engineer Describes Design Innovations and Challenges


De Oliveira expanded on the specific elements of the building: “On the roof level, the beam that runs the perimeter of the structure, the spandrel beam, there’s a little gap of unsupported girder, and in the event of an earthquake, what will happen is each one of the architecturally exposed steel trees rocks back and forth, and that short segment of steel girder is intended to yield in shear and flexure. The trees are comprised of those steel pipes and steel castings and they remain predominantly elastic, so that the girder yields up and down and absorbs the energy input into the building by the earthquake.”

The Y-shaped tree columns, at the building exterior, are primarily bracing elements that have flexibility. At the bridges, the two upper girders carry most of the load of the park deck and the suspended bus deck. The single chord (vertical column), at the midpoint of each girder, is heavily loaded. Suspended structures do move. And the Y-shaped tree columns allow movement. Ultimately, the lesson here may be that simplicity is best. The bridge design seems overly complex. The simple approach would have been a truss bridge, where the bridge’s entire height (from park level down to bus level) acts as a single “beam” or “tube”.

The vertical column does a lot of work—all by itself. No redundancy. If the bus level moves differentially from the park level, there’s much stress at one point. Differential movement could be caused by differences in stiffness, deflection, vibration, oscillation, lateral forces, wind, uplift, suction, pressures, dynamic loading, thermal expansion, soil settlement…. Because both bridges in the project are designed similarly, one would expect the same stresses. Just food for thought. Regards, Howard Wong, AIA

Video shows beam cracks, description of general structural system
Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco could be closed for another week

It looks simple, but it’s not. Complexity of Transbay Transit Center raises risks

At that midway point, where each girder meets a single column that in turn supports the bus deck below, is where each of the cracks occurred. “Those two girders are working hard, spanning a good length and bearing a heavy load,” Panian said. “And the place where it’s expected to carry the most load is where it is cracked.” What may have helped prevent disaster is that the two girders don’t hold the span in place all by themselves. They’re paralleled by smaller, more conventional beams on either side that connect to the transit center structure on the east and west.