Seattle Delegation Picture

Seattle Delegation Receives a Primer on California’s High-Speed Rail Program

June 12, 2017 – A 40-member delegation from the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce received an overview of California’s High-Speed Rail program as part of its 2017 Intercity Study Mission to San Francisco. Northern Regional Director Ben Tripousis gave advice on best practices in implementing the program.

Chamber leadership selected San Francisco for the three-day trip for the similar opportunities and challenges the cities are attempting to confront. The trip was designed to strengthen ties between the cities, explore best practices being employed to address regional issues and help develop sustainable solutions to Seattle’s most pressing issues and concerns.

“We must continue to connect with and learn from others if we are to ensure the future sustainable prosperity and global competitiveness of our region,” said Mindi Linquist, Vice President of External Relations for the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

Members of the chamber met Tripousis at the San Francisco International Airport. They received a presentation on the California High-Speed Rail program and how the project has evolved over the past 20 years.

Officials in the state of Washington – with significant interest from leaders in the high-tech sector – are conducting a feasibility study for a high-speed rail line that would stretch from Vancouver, British Columbia to Portland, with potential stops throughout Washington.

Tripousis urged members of the delegation to “engage the public” early in the planning stages, adding that it’s important that communities have a voice in the ultimate vision of the program and its potential impacts.

“As elected leaders explore the potential for high-speed rail service in Washington State, it is important that we learn from those who are already implementing it here in California,” Linquist said. “Ben’s remarks emphasize the economic importance of establishing strong connections between our major metropolitan regions, and the need for thoughtful and inclusive engagement from the business community on this topic.

May is Bike Month Outing

Wrapping Up May is Bike Month with a Lunchtime Outing

May 30, 2017 – Southern California staff couldn’t resist a fun biking excursion after Regional Administrator Claudia Joaquin sent out a notice about Los Angeles Metro’s free Bike Share during Bike Month. Michelle Boehm, the Southern California Regional Director, sounded the call to action saying “Let’s go ride a bike!” The nearby Los Angeles State Historic Park quickly became the destination for a beautiful lunch hour ride.

May is Bike Month Riders

The adventurous group, consisting of Cullen Davis, Olivia Kress, Adrian Alvarez, Sean Calvin, Todd Nguyen, Kevin Alvarado, Mayra Ramos and Karl Fielding, set out on a sunny day, riding a mile north to the 32 acre park. Located in historic Chinatown, between the Los Angeles River to the east and the 110 Freeway on the west, Los Angeles State Historic Park was the site of a train station that brought easterners to Los Angeles at the turn of the 19th century, earning it the nickname of “the Ellis Island of Los Angeles”.

Claudia Joaquin and Jennifer Thommen enjoyed a leisurely walk along Alameda Avenue as the bikers whizzed by and waved, then caught up with them at the park. Thommen, Administrative Assistant to the CEO visiting the LA office, was surprised by the number of riders and bikes enjoying the bike share experience. “It’s so easy to find a bike station in downtown Los Angeles,” she exclaimed.

Back at the office Michelle symbolically honored Cullen Davis with a gold star for wearing a helmet. Olivia Kress, exhilarated by the outing, proposed a monthly high-speed rail bike riders club to explore the many historic areas of downtown Los Angeles.

Innovation Norway visit HSR

Norwegian Delegation Meets with Authority Representatives

May 24, 2017 – The California high-speed rail program welcomed a delegation from Innovation Norway to San Francisco on May 4. The visit offered insight into efforts to build the nation’s first high-speed rail program, while also providing an overview of California’s statewide rail modernization efforts.

Innovation Norway

Innovation Norway is the Norwegian Government’s most important instrument for innovation and development of Norwegian enterprises and industry, with focus on helping businesses grow and discover new markets. The delegation of 25 from the Norwegian transportation ecosystem represented state and regional entities focused on transportation. Their trip included a visit to high-speed rail, Google, California State Senator Scott Wiener and other important highlights of San Francisco and the Silicon Valley.

Northern California Regional Director Ben Tripousis provided an update on the status of the high-speed program, the program’s Sustainability Manager Meg Cederoth discussed the sustainability program and Chad Edison, Deputy Secretary for Transportation for the California State Transportation Agency, addressed statewide rail modernization during the meeting.

“We were encouraged to see how the state of California is working to build a modern and quick high-speed rail for the 21st century,” said Alexander Huth, project manager for the Norwegian Transportation Ecosystem.

“As all countries need to reduce carbon emissions, moving transportation from the roads over to rail is essential,” explained Huth. “In Norway, we are working on similar upgrades to our public transportation system. We all need to make this shift in order for the world to reach its carbon-emission cut goals. It is therefore in our interest that you succeed with the high-speed rail, and we wish you all the luck.”

Cullen Davis

Spinning Our Wheels for Bike Month

May 22, 2017 – May is National Bike Month, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities throughout California. Employees working on California High-Speed Rail are excited to be a part of the fun and work biking into their daily train commute.

May is Bike Month Presentation

Leading up to May is Bike Month, the California High-Speed Rail Authority offices in Sacramento held a free one-hour bike clinic presented by Eric Navarro of Sacramento City Bicycle Works. Staff learned about traffic safety skills when riding, the proper way to navigate one way streets on your bike, keeping your bike road-ready, and tips and tricks for what to have with you on the road. He answered questions covering everything from the best type of bike pump to the cost of a traffic ticket for running a stop sign on a bike (more than $300!).

Senior Graphic Designer Cullen Davis is happy to incorporate biking into his commute, where he bikes to his local train station. “Biking is practical transportation—it just makes sense,“ said Davis. “I encourage everyone to see if cycling can fit into their commute.”

For Davis, conditions in LA have become increasingly favorable in recent decades. Air pollution controls have led to cleaner air, and there is an increase in dedicated bike lanes and bike-friendly transit. “Southern California weather makes biking comfortable for almost the whole year, and most of the city is flat, easy-riding terrain,” he explained.

The Metro parking lot in North Hollywood fills up every day before 8:00 a.m., but Davis finds plenty of space for his bike. He owns a roadster that he enjoys driving, but no car is fun in heavy traffic or hunting for parking. “Riding a bike doesn’t add much time to my commute,” he said. “I get extra exercise, sun and fresh air.”

Michael Murphy

Keeping Our Environment on Track

May 8, 2017 – In large infrastructure projects, it is important to figure out what is right for the environment while moving the project forward. Soar Environmental works as a subcontractor on the high-speed rail project, overseeing environmental strategy for Tutor Perini Zachry Parsons (TPZP), the company building from north of Madera to south of Fresno. Soar makes sure all environmental mitigation measures and permit conditions are adhered to.

“Soar Environmental acts as a go-between to make sure the contractor is implementing policies that are legal and consist of best management practices,” said founder and CEO Michael Murphy. “We make sure they are careful to conserve the environment and protect assets like water, animal and plant species and Native American artifacts.”

“Soar’s challenge is figuring out what’s right for the environment while being able to keep the project going. For example, there are only 17 acres of Hairy Orcutt Grass in the world, and some is in the project alignment.” Soar worked with California environmental permitting agencies, as well as local farmers, to set up places to relocate the grass out of the corridor so it can continue to grow.

“It’s been quite rewarding having people who work for me employed on a contract that will be going on for quite some time,” Murphy stated. “Knowing that my employees, their spouses and their children have a future provides real peace of mind.”

Face of High Speed Rail Environmental

Ah’nesha Worshim and Darrell Patterson

Sustainability Begins at Home

April 3, 2017 – Ah’nesha Worshim and Darrell Patterson are friends concerned about global warming. Like many in Southern California, their concern fuels sustainable decisions in their lifestyle, transportation and work lives.

Ah’nesha Worshim

After becoming aware of devastating pollution in China caused by fabric processing, Ah’nesha decided to start an eco-fabrics business. Her studies in Fashion Merchandising at Cal State Long Beach take her to Downtown Los Angeles where she looks for fabrics made from natural sources like cotton, hemp and bamboo.

Ah’nesha plans to move to Los Angeles “to start using public transportation and get away from auto traffic congestion.” After a recent visit to New York City she noted, “Nothing is more than 25 minutes away using public transportation—it’s a great experience.” She looks forward to a one-trip fare in California that includes high-speed rail.

Darrell Patterson brings a passion for sustainable transportation to his work with the Southern California Association of Governments, and believes “we are all trying to find a way to live a sustainable life.” He is adamant that high-speed rail is key to inter-regional travel and looks forward to leaving long car trips behind and taking high-speed rail weekend trips to San Francisco.

Darrell observed, “People from all cultures with innovative ideas, coming together in stations like Union Station in Los Angeles that will include high-speed rail, are part of the future connecting all of us.”

Photo of Alex Kenefick

Celebrating National Bike to Work Week

May 17, 2016 – In honor of National Bike to Work Week we introduce you to a Southern California multimodal enthusiast.

Growing up in bike-friendly Davis, California, Alex Kenefick knew the joys of bicycling at an early age. After moving to Los Angeles for his job, Alex realized that cycling wasn't just for fun, but it was a great way to meet up with friends, save money and get some great exercise.

Alex once worked in downtown Los Angeles within five miles of most of his frequently visited destinations, and close to transit service. He made a large number of friends in the bike community and found himself questioning the hassles of driving and parking. "If more people would bike to work, there wouldn't be oceans of wasted parking space," said Alex.

Along with his chance to work on the High-Speed Rail team, Alex accepted a 40-mile commute from his home in downtown LA to Chino. He currently blends driving to the office days with transit and biking days. "I am happy with my commute now - I feel like I am interacting with the city when I ride to work," he explained.

Alex's philosophy is practical. "My bike is a tool. It benefits my health. It's nice to ride and I like not being stuck in a car all the time."

He recommends before making biking a part of their day-to-day commute, cyclists should be able to change a flat bike tire, and build the fun of cycling into their lives through social bike rides. "I am looking forward to a future of whole mobility - riding high-speed rail north and south up and down the state of California - and using bike share at each station along the way."