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Hong Kong now has high-speed rail service to the mainland:

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor gave the ringing endorsement at the HK$84.4 billion (US$11.3 billion) Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link opening ceremony, which was also officiated by Guangdong governor Ma Xingrui, before leading hundreds of guests to board the train.

Ma described the commencement of the express rail link as a “milestone” in the establishment of the Greater Bay Area – Beijing’s initiative to link Hong Kong, Macau and nine Guangdong cities to form an innovation hub rivaling Silicon Valley.

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Deficit? What deficit?

As American infrastructure crumbles, the Senate has approved another defense spending increase:

The measure, which provides for more than $606 billion in base defense spending and nearly $68 billion more in overseas contingency funds, is in line with White House requests and spending targets outlined in the annual defense authorization bill approved earlier this summer. The funding total — approved by a 93-7 vote — amounts to an increase of more than 3 percent for military spending in fiscal 2019.

The appropriations fund 13 new Navy ships ― including three DDG-51 guided missile destroyers and two Virginia-class submarines ― 93 F-35 aircraft, 58 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, 66 AH-64 Apache helicopters, 13 V-22 aircraft, and $1.5 billion for the upgrade of 135 Abrams tanks.

All Senate Democrats voted in favor of the bill. Voting against were 6 Republican Senators and Bernie Sanders.

 

Looks like Saudi Arabia will beat out Morocco for Africa’s the first high-speed rail service in the Arab world:

Saudi Arabia will soon start offering high-speed train services between Makkah and Madinah. According to the local reports, the first rail service will be on September 24, 2018. The 450km line will link the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah via Jeddah and the King Abdullah Economic City of Rabigh.

The Haramain high-speed train line, which has been repeatedly delayed and resulting with cost increases, having originally been due to open in 2012.

There will be eight services daily in each direction until the end of the year, according to the news on Saudi Gazette. Trains on the line will travel at speeds of 300kph, is expected to cut down the amount of time taken to travel between Mecca and Madinah to two hours. It will also shorten the travel time between Jeddah and Mecca to half an hour.

The design and construction of the project will allow it to withstand tough climatic and heavy traffic conditions. Since temperatures in the region range from 0–50°C, the track will be designed to handle the temperature changes.

Cupertino City Council held a 9 hour(!) public hearing for NIMBY’s to express their grievances over a proposed housing development. Here was one of the slides presented:

cupertino

 

Palo Alto is arguably the most NIMBY town in California. It’s restrictive housing policies has resulted in some of the most expensive real estate prices in the US. There are a number of surface parking lots around California Ave that are ideal for infill housing. But the city has other plans:

Starting in January, construction crews will cordon off the Sherman Avenue block between Ash and Birch Streets and start constructing the new 636-stall garage, which will feature four stories above ground and two basement levels. Public Works staff expect the garage to be completed in spring 2020, at which time it will add about 310 spaces to a business district where merchants have long clamored for more parking.

According to the staff report, the garage will cost $46 million, or $147,000 per parking space!

palo_alto_garage

carson

Secretary Carson has yet to make any details about his proposal, so who knows…

AB-2989, the motorized scooter bill, is still making its way through the legislature. The good news is that it removes the silly helmet requirement. The bad news is that it retains speed limit prohibitions:

The operator of a motorized scooter shall not operate a motorized scooter on a highway with a speed limit in excess of 25 miles per hour unless the motorized scooter is operated within a Class II or Class IV bikeway.

There are a lot of 30 mph streets where it is safe to operate a scooter, even where there are no bike facilities. While the bill does give cities the option to make exceptions to this rule, how likely is that given the reactionary policies we’ve seen from places like Santa Monica? Alternatively, lawmakers might have permitted sidewalk riding on fast arterials, but the bill outlaws sidewalk riding in all cases. Scooter riders will no doubt ignore these legal requirements — which perpetuates the stereotype of them being inconsiderate lawbreakers.

30mph

If a scooter rider were struck by a car here, the driver would not be at fault.