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Thread: Rail Plan: Any thoughts, feedback, comments, criticism?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Rail Plan: Any thoughts, feedback, comments, criticism?

    Hi folks,
    This is from a few months back and I have versions with updated (cleaned-up) graphics, but this version is conveniently available on the world wide web. I would welcome any insights -- good, bad, or indifferent -- that anyone can give me.

    http://www.upsidedownschoolroom.com/..._Rail_Plan.pdf

    Thanks,
    MZ

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    A couple comments:

    1) Alleging a political agenda is the motivation for the siting (even if true) would never be permitted in a document produced either by a planning agency or by a consultant. It might come from a special interest group such as an environmental or NIMBY faction. When you make such a statement, you undermine your own credibility and immediately turn off many of the people who you are seeking to influence.

    2) The official study may have considered factors I did not see you address. I am assuming that these are existing rail lines? What are the relative conditions of the tracks? How do they compare in terms of conflicts (such as the number of street crossings)?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Originally posted by Cardinal
    Alleging a political agenda is the motivation for the siting (even if true) would never be permitted in a document produced either by a planning agency or by a consultant. It might come from a special interest group such as an environmental or NIMBY faction. When you make such a statement, you undermine your own credibility and immediately turn off many of the people who you are seeking to influence.
    Cardinal - I agree, but you gotta remember, there are some pretty stooopid people working in these agencies.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Thanks, Cardinal. I don't remember if I reworded that later on or not. This was my original school project and I used it as the basis for a brochure I designed and gave to a few planners, etc, at a local transportation planning workshop. I probably will have to approach it as a special interest/NIMBY thing. I am thinking of sending booklets I developed to some non-profits and such where I met a representative at a meeting.

    I know pretty solidly that it is a political bias. I interviewed, in person, someone from the county transportation planning organization (cannot recall the name of the organization, off the top of my head). Originally, Benicia had a different site in mind. When that one turned out to not be buildable due to conflict with an existing bridge, well, no one went back to square one. Benicia very much wants its own rail station, never mind they are boxed in on 3 sides and the '2nd choice' rail site is in a protected wetland, important birding area, their own studies say NO new growth in jobs near that rail site will ever happen, etc.

    There are some things I did not have time to research and there are some things I sort of left out of the power-point that I later put in the paper I wrote for my class. And maybe I need to go back to my paper and beef up my brochures and stuff with some of that research.

    Um, part of what is going on is that the entire county seems to have gotten mesmerized by the '5 mile rule' about spacing of stations and avoiding a 'skip stop' seems to be a fear-based Top Priority -- even though the skip stop rule clearly provides for an exception and even though the Capitol Corridor route has other examples of existing stations closer than 5 miles and has the lowest average distance between stations of any Amtrak route in California (if not the entire U.S.) due to how densely urbanized the Bay Area is.

    I agree totally -- but may have to use that line anyway because I am not part of any kind of planning agency, you know?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Originally posted by Michele Zone
    I agree totally -- but may have to use that line anyway because I am not part of any kind of planning agency, you know?
    I'll disagree. People will often consider a well-reasoned alternative, if it is not an attack on the proposed plan. I often contribute comments to state boards and commissions that end up included in policy or legislation. The reason they are heard is that they are offered in a spirit of cooperation, not confrontation.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Okay, how would you word it to make such a point without being confrontational? I think it is a valid point and important. I am not comfortable completely leaving it out. But, I do usually try to not be ugly or whatever. I am totally new to 'political' stuff. It never interested me. So, what do you suggest?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    I've found that, whenever you criticise something, bend over backwards to avoid making it appear like it's somebody's fault. When you lay blame on somone, you immidently galvanize potentially powerful people against you.

    Blame their "mistake" on the phase of the moon if you have to, but don't make it look like they were doing anything but working in the absolute best interests of the state and somewhere along the line an innocent error was made.

    Also, never pull the "politics" card unless you're writing a letter to the editor. Almost everything is politics. Complaining about politics in the political process is like complaining about the wetness of the ocean. The point to lobbying is to play the political game back into your corner.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Thanks JordanB. I was actually just coming on to go 'Oh, duh. I would like to retract my last comment and replace it utterly with gracious thanks to Cardinal for taking the time to read my school project and comment not once, but twice. I will make use of this feedback. "etc.

    Not my morning, you know? My car was in shop from last Thursday until Monday night. Tuesday morning, it promptly quits working again. I can whine about this because it is transportation related and this is the transportation forum.

    Okay, back to what Jordan was saying: Yeah, I hear you. The link is to a school project and it had certain requirements that do not really suit the purpose of using this for actual planning stuff, you know? So I have already made changes to it but figured it couldn't hurt to get additional feedback. But the more recent versions are not conveniently out there on the www, like my school project itself is.

    I finally have a wide format printer, so now I can do up some nice booklets. Now that I am physically set to print, I want to make sure I put my best foot forward. I ended up doing this research because planners in this county expressed their frustration with the existing rail plan to me right before I left for GIS school. I needed a project for school that was geographically related and this was what I ultimately thought of and worked on. I don't think I have 'all the answers' but needed to write it up like I did for the school project when I used my GIS work to then do stuff for an environmental economics class.

    Anyway, there is substantial research here, but I kind of need to repackage it so it sounds a whole lot less dictatorial -- like 'Do it MY way!' There actually isn't any one 'stand out' site for Vacaville and I have since been told by a planner that the Elmira site is 'politically dead' due to MTBE, etc. But, hey, that wasn't relevant to finishing the project just to turn in for schoolwork at the time (nor did I know it then -- this guy called me after I gave him a brochure as he was one of the folks that talked to me before I left for GIS school, etc.).

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    This is mostly to update my link. I migrated my website over the weekend so I now have control over it. Which means the link in the starter post for this thread will soon be defunct. And my new website will no longer have my original student project on it.

    In it's place is the pamphlet I developed out of that. This has cleaned up maps, information from someone in the county transportation department who gave me some background I didn't have, and it incorporates suggestions from this thread.

    I want to again thank everyone who took the time to read my original project and make comments.


    http://www.geocities.com/calif.miche.../Rail_Plan.pdf

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Just fixing the link. Sorry to bother you, but I hate broken links.


    http://www.geocities.com/calif.miche.../railplan.html

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