Head of California high-speed rail project calls it quits

yahoo – excerpt

The head of California’s $64 billion high-speed rail project said Friday he’s stepping down after five years pushing forward a vision of 220-mph trains that still faces stiff resistance from lawmakers and the public. Jeff Morales, 57, told The Chronicle that uncertainty over the project’s future had nothing to do with his resignation, only a genuine desire to move aside after breaking ground on the nation’s largest infrastructure project. Morales, who sent his resignation letter to Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday, plans to remain chief executive officer of the California High Speed Rail Authority through June 2, long enough to find his replacement. In May 2012, Morales was hired by the rail authority’s board as the project struggled to get off the ground, with agency staffing stalled, lawsuits looming over rights-of-way, and the Legislature yet to commit to construction. […] the agency has bought up more than 1,000 parcels of land and hired a handful of contractors to begin building 119 miles of rail line between Madera and Bakersfield. […] in Sacramento, the state’s cap-and-trade program, which essentially sells pollution credits to industry to fund projects like high-speed rail, has failed to meet revenue expectations. […] he worked as a senior vice president at Parsons Brinckerhoff, an international transportation firm that has been a primary contractor for the rail authority…(more)

Advertisements

Trump administration deals a big setback to Caltrain

By Matier & Ross : sfgate – excerpt

In the first big hit to the Bay Area from the Trump administration, newly minted Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has put the brakes on $647 million for Caltrain to go electric — and in the process pretty much killed hopes for high-speed rail coming to San Francisco anytime soon.

“It puts the (electrification) project in serious jeopardy,” Caltrain spokesman Seamus Murphy said Friday.

Caltrain carries about 60,000 riders a day between the South Bay and San Francisco, but its diesel-driven trains are both costly to operate and slow. Officials see electrification as a way both to increase ridership and save money on operating costs.

Going electric would also allow the Peninsula line to be the final link in the high-speed rail system that Gov. Jerry Brown wants to stretch from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The Obama administration embraced the idea, but California Republicans have long portrayed it as a boondoggle and sought to kill it.

In this July 1, 2013, file photo, commuters board a Caltrain train at the Caltrain and BART station in Millbrae. The Federal Transit Administration is delaying a decision on whether to approve a $647 million …(more)

Hyperloop Raises $50 Million—In 13 Years High Speed Rail Raise $0 From Private Sources

By Stephen Frank : calpolitics – excerpt

The High Speed Rail concept has been trying to raise private funds for more than 13 years—yet not a dime of private money has been invested.  In fact, the Bond measure that gave us this boondoggle said they had to raise equal amounts from the private sector before beginning the process—like everything else, they lied… (more)

Hyperloop One raises $50 million despite lawsuit, and adds finance adviser

by : venturebeat – excerpt

Hyperloop One is working on a transportation technology that can make trains go as fast as 760 miles per hour. And today, the company said it has raised $50 million from the port of Dubai and others to explore building a high-speed transportation system to move cargo.

The deal comes on a previous announcement to explore building a high-capacity passenger transport system in Moscow and a $80 million funding in May. The company was able to close that deal and add a new chief financial adviser in spite of bad publicity from four former high-ranking employees who accused Hyperloop One’s of corporate misgovernance in a lawsuit(more)

New $1.5 billion rail shortfall imperils S.F. Transbay to Caltrain link

By Chris Rauber : bizjournals – excerpt

Already underfunded plans to bring high-speed rail service to San Francisco face a new $1.5 billion shortfall, which San Francisco officials say is due to cost cutting by the cash-strapped California High-Speed Rail Authority.

That funding was crucial not only to link the state’s high-speed rail project with San Francisco, but to fund the 1.3-mile rail connection between the Caltrain station at Fourth and King streets and the under-construction Transbay Transit Center. The transit center is already struggling with cost overruns and a transition in leadership.

The Transbay Transit Center, a 1 million-square-foot South of Market regional transportation hub is slated for completion by late 2017, but critics have said it will be a billion-dollar bus terminal if the extension to Caltrain and the bullet train doesn’t get built. The $1.5 billion shortfall could further imperil the extension.

The huge drop in the amount of money the city is expecting to receive from the California rail agency is spelled out in an April 13 letter to the high-speed rail authority from the heads of several San Francisco agencies.

The letter says the city’s Transbay Transit Center’s funding from the High-Speed Rail Authority “will be reduced by $1.5 billion to $550 million,” citing the authority’s recently revised draft 2016 business plan.

The San Francisco officials called the rail agency funding “an integral part” of financing the planned Caltrain/high-speed rail extension to the new transit hub.

The missive, obtained by the Business Times, asks the rail authority to reinstate the funding and make San Francisco, instead of San Jose, the terminus of its initial bullet-train tracks.

A revised plan, announced at a California High-Speed Rail Authority board meeting last week, indicated that the first $21 billion operating segment of the planned system would link San Jose to the Central Valley by 2025, rather than connecting Southern California to the state’s midsection.

The lower funding amount “caused me deep concern,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener, who chairs the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. “The high-speed rail authority needs to be a full and complete partner” with San Francisco. “Hopefully, this will be a bump in the road, and they will reverse course.”… (more)

SAN FRANCISCO’S TRANSBAY TERMINAL PROJECT QUICKLY TAKING SHAPE

By Carolyn Tyler : abc7news – excerpt – (video)

Thursday, June 25, 2015 09:19PM
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Work on a regional connection for Bay Area commuters is quickly taking shape. With much of the construction on the Transbay Terminal completed underground, we’re finally seeing it rise above street level.

At First and Mission streets in San Francisco commuters are watching an icon rise, one that might actually make their trip into San Francisco easier someday. “You absolutely get a feel for what that experience is going to be when the transit center opens in late 2017,” Dennis Turchon said.

Turchon is senior project manager of the $1.1 billion new Transbay Terminal project.

It is designed to be the Grand Central Station of the west, a hub for Bay Area transit.

Regional bus lines will carry commuters to and from the city on the upper levels, while underground Caltrain and high speed rail will bring commuters up the Penisula.

“We’ve poured almost 100,000 cubic yards of concrete in the last year for the train box,” Turchon said… (more)