Posts Tagged ‘Bakersfield’

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) published photo-simulations for the proposed train alignment in Bakersfield. Trains would run on a humongous elevated viaduct through neighborhoods in the northern half of the city. Highway planners used to build nightmares like this in the bad old days of 1960’s urban renewal. This is the same thing, the only difference being that there are rails and wires on top instead of asphalt and cars:

Sumner at Baker Street, Bakersfield

Old Town Kern

Here is another image:

Garces Memorial Circle

Garces Memorial Circle

At least there will be some awesome infill transit-oriented development around the new Bakersfield station, right? Sorry, but no — the station would be surrounded by a ridiculous amount of surface parking:


There is no rationale for these aerial structures. Note that the original plan (in 2005) was to put the station on the periphery and keep tracks more at ground-level. That would have greatly reduced costs and neighborhood impacts. Since everyone will be be driving to the station anyway — as evidenced by the huge parking — a peripheral station location would not impact ridership.

Locating suburban HSR stations on the periphery is also typical European practice. Sadly, some so-called experts are too clueless to figure that out.

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One of the dumbest highway project in the entire US:

The secretary for the Westpark Home Owners Association, a group of residents whose houses would be destroyed if the Centennial Corridor freeway segment is built, threatened the Bakersfield City Council with a lawsuit Wednesday if the project continues.

“If you approve the validation action this evening, we will take you to court,” WHOA secretary Marc Caputo told the council as more than 40 Westpark residents sat and listened to council members share their doubts about going into debt to pay Bakersfield’s share of the federally funded Thomas Roads Improvement Program.

After more than an hour of debate, the council voted 6-1 to approve a validation action. It was the legal first step toward later borrowing as much as $270 million, to match $570 million in federal funds secured for the city by former U.S. Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Bakersfield.

“I’m just imploring you to consider a no-build option,” said resident Kimberly Squires. “The money’s just not there. The benefit’s small, the harm is great.”

Ward 1 Councilman Willie Rivera joined in the soul-searching, wondering if the city will have enough funds to repay the $270 million, years from now, while simultaneously maintaining local roads.

The city is going to borrow a shitload of money for a highway that will destroy a neighborhood, while doing little to alleviate traffic. Not that Bakersfield has much traffic…

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As part of the EIR process, station area plans have been published by the CA High-Speed Rail Authority for Fresno and Bakersfield (“California High-Speed Rail Fresno-Bakersfield Segment, Part III, Section E“).

Here is a rendering of the Bakersfield design (there are several variations, all following the same template).  You should click the image to enlarge.

And here is a Fresno rending. For a downtown location, the Fresno station sure has an abundance of surface parking (parking areas highlighted in orange, the station footprint in yellow).

These designs are very underwhelming. They are so retrograde, it is as if Parsons Brinckerhoff had thawed out 1960’s BART engineers from cryogenic hibernation.

The bike/ped access is especially bad. A simple metric for bike/ped accessibility is the walking distance from platform to street. For some destinations, it isn’t too arduous — but for other directions the travel is circuitous. Visitors must cross acres of parking (not to mention the fare gates and possible TSA baggage screening) to reach the street. The Bakersfield design is especially lacking because the station would be grade-separated over a roadway, and yet no effort was made to exploit that. Really, the only direct route from platform to street is the emergency staircase.

The bike parking is also problematic because no thought was given to inside-the-station secure bike parking. Indeed, bike racks and lockers are relegated to obscure locations, away from foot traffic (making for easy theft). The lack of secure parking is inexcusable as the stations don’t lack for space. Approx. 1,000 sq-ft is allocated for a telecommunications and “station computer” center (if this high-speed rail thing doesn’t work out, perhaps Google can use the facility for a data center).

Since the stations are situated along the existing freight rail tracks, long pedestrian overcrossings were included; however, the design of the overcrossings is bizarre. Take a look at this view of the Bakersfield station, and note how the freight overcrossing doesn’t line up with the high-speed rail platform. To exit the station, one must go down, then up, then down again!

A similar problem exists for Fresno station. The tracks are at-grade, and the west entrance is at-grade, but passengers must go up and down again — because the fare gates are in the upper level concourse:

So what can be done differently? For starters, we can look to these guys for inspiration…

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