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The Madera Tribune

A look at the scope of HSR project

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webmaster | 11/24/12

The Los Angeles Times may have found out why the planners of the California High-Speed Rail project want to start it here in little old Madera County.

The first rails are set to be laid some time next year at about where Avenue 17 and the Burlington Northern tracks intersect.

That could change. Originally, the rail system wanted to start the tracks in Borden, south of Madera. But the rail planners changed their minds.

Wherever it starts, many county residents will see it as an inconvenience, perhaps even an economic and ecological tragedy. But rail planners and their lawyers can face those challenges as planners of all large public works projects must face them.

But at least Madera County and the Valley as a whole are relatively flat. Our share of the track, welcome or unwelcome as the case may be, will be fairly easy for the track-layers to install.

Once they start laying track in Southern California, the work through the valley will seem like walking their dogs in the park.

The Los Angeles Times, in a story Nov. 12, made this clear. Building the rails from Bakersfield to LA will be “the project of the century,” the story quotes UC Berkeley engineering professor Bill Ibbs as saying.

At 220 mph, he said, the trains will roar over viaducts as high as 33-story skyscrapers and through tunnels as deep as 500 feet.

Not inconsequential will be the power supply for the rail line. Access roads and power lines will have to be built through the Tehachapi and San Gabriel Mountains, along with the rails, almost 60 percent of which will either be on the viaducts or in tunnels.

It will be somewhat of a power hog, using the equivalent of about a quarter of Hoover Dam’s output.

Costs probably will skyrocket from the $68 billion now budgeted, and by the time the rail is laid through the Valley, it will be too big to fail.

Or, the San Joaquin Valley will have one fine set of unused high-speed rail tracks.


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