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Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Saturday, Jan 30, 2016

darrylmanzer0215OK. It’s time for me to get this “bus” started and head out on the road. Time to go and see what is claimed to be the route of the California high-speed rail system. I’ve wanted to do it for a while and even wrote that I would do so soon … but that was many months ago.

The route of the California high-speed rail project isn’t a “fer sure” thing yet. There are so many lawsuits and complaints blocking the progress, it is unreal. Little things like the route from Bakersfield to Burbank via Palmdale. The route in the Central Valley isn’t cast in stone yet, either. Come to think of it, most of the route is still a dream of the CHSR Authority. And they maybe can’t even identify which state is California on a map.

I’ll take a lot of pictures. Want to get a record of all of the places the new train system could destroy before it does so.

The last time I was anyplace in Northern California was in 1995 to pick up a ship in Vallejo and take it to Norfolk, Va. Loved that trip, but it was just a little sad. The ship was being moved because the oldest naval shipyard on the West Coast was being closed. The trip to Norfolk was great. Panama Canal again, and then Key West, again. Stopped for fuel in San Diego and Key West. It wasn’t a cruise ship.

Anyway, I can’t wait to take the old Highway 99 north from Bakersfield. It is mostly freeway these days and maybe someday a train running next to the road, too. A very fast train. Fast except when the high-speed rail system will use existing tracks. It won’t be high speed then.

I plan on going right up past Sacramento and “camping” about an hour’s drive north. I do want to go to the railway museum in Old Town Sacramento. I say “camping” since being in a 40-foot-long motor home shouldn’t be called that.

Today a friend asked if I was packed for the trip. I do have to “stow for sea” in the sense that some things have to be put away to keep them from sliding onto the floor. I really don’t need to buy another coffee pot. (Yes, I’ve forgotten it a few times.) But I don’t “pack” like other folks.

After telling my son Steve about leaving my electrical cable plugged in and driving away, he found me a little binder called a Flight Officer’s Check List. I’d like to say I made the lists from knowledge without having any bad experiences in doing so. I cannot say that. Many items on the list are included because I forgot to stow the banjos or put the strap on a sliding door to the bathroom. So the binder works well.

There was the time I forgot to take off the parking brake on the Jeep. I tow the Jeep behind the RV. The rear tires are expensive. The brake works great. When I first started towing it, I thought I had to have the key in the ignition and power on for the lights. I left the radio on, so my Bluetooth worked with the Jeep and not with the RV. I was expecting some phone calls, and only when I stopped did I realize I wasn’t hearing the rings back in the Jeep some 45 feet behind me.

There are a bunch of little things on those checklists. Strapping down the TV and the computer and printer, plus the kitchen chairs and other stuff that one can find in just about any home.

Which brings to mind and makes me question the whole high-speed rail effort. Do they have any kind of checklist? It appears they don’t. Since this thing started all the way back in 1992, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has looked at routes and timetables and all manner of other things. In 24 years, they have started laying the first 24 miles of track. At this rate, it will be the year 2790 or so before it is complete. How many more billions will it cost then?

I’ll try to keep an open mind. Doubt if I can do that, given what I’m looking for, but you never know. I might actually see it is a good idea.

On the other hand, I think going out on submarines – those ships that sink on purpose – is a good idea. I loved doing that. Stay under for maybe 90 days or so. Seemed pretty normal to me, to me, to me, to me…

“All aboard!”

 

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

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3 Comments

  1. Cathy says:

    As you know I love the high speed rail idea. But I think they need to put more research with special interest in a geological study of the San Gabriel mountains. After attending a Sierra Club meeting. The geologist had some interesting views of the rock composition of those mountains. Not at all good for rail of any kind, at least on the proposed route. Now the conundrum begins. I still love the idea from back in the 50s (even the 70s version) of a high speed monorail running down the center of the freeway. I know we can’t stop our freeways to build it….but just maybe, some enterprising soul can figure out how to do it without shutting down the freeway system.

  2. jimvs says:

    Hey Darryl, nice to see you are back.

    I actually agree with the first comment; I too think the idea of a high speed rail system is worthwhile. I think that our existing national rail system (with all it’s history and faults) is an important part of our nation’s infrastructure – and economy. Adding a high-tech, high-speed passenger rail system can help California, if only by adding an alternative to clogged freeways and monopolistic air travel.

    But. And I think it is a mega-But; that is not what our current High Speed Rail project will give us.

    I will skip reiterating all the changes since the original project was proposed and voted for. We should have known better. I’ll also skip the litany of political “activities” that have aggravated the difficulties any project like this may have faced.

    We were promised a lot and instead we are being offered (or rather forced into accepting) a pig-in-a-poke project that will be nothing like what Californians voted for. The economic and political muscle behind this mess is going to end up leaving massive debt for our state, and will deliver much less than the worst original projections of service and value.

    Or it will fail in mid-project and leave nothing but that debt. Although I suspect many specific people will profit from it even if it fails. We won’t.

    So, get on up there, take pix and send us reports on what you find out. Those who are blinded by love for the idea will jape and jest at what you say. But perhaps an idea or two may make it past their bulwarks.

    Fair winds and following seas!

  3. Looking forward to seeing what you find.

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