Friday, August 20, 2010

Another reason to build HSR downtown: to beat Corona.

Back in this post, I talked about some of the reasons to build the HSR station downtown, rather than in bumblefuck nowhere near March Field. (By the way, you should read the comments- the spirited discussion is a vindication of my decision to allow anonymous comments.) Here's another: so we can ensure that we get the station instead of Corona. The High-Speed Rail Authority is required to evaluate potential alignments and station sites in terms of the potential they hold for dense development and connections to existing transportation infrastructure. Well, let's take a look, shall we?

SitePotential for DensityTransportation Connections
March FieldNone- Greenfield set in suburban sprawl1 local bus line, 1 (to-be-built) commuter rail line
Corona (Downtown)Some- I-15 skirts downtown, with potential for infill5 bus lines, one of them express, 2 commuter rail lines
Corona (Dos Lagos)None- Greenfield set in suburban sprawl1 bus line
Riverside (Downtown)Explosive- urban downtown undergoing significant investment10 local bus lines, 5 express bus lines, a planned BRT line, and 4 commuter rail lines

As you can see, the most credible argument that we, as a city, can make to the Rail Authority about why they should choose a Riverside alignment over a Corona alignment is the thing that we have and that Corona lacks- a dense, urban downtown.

Also, many have argued that the Riverside station is a better bet for ridership from the populated areas of the Inland Empire- that Corona, situated on the edge of a mountainous wilderness and a nearly impassible canyon, would be too far away for San Bernardino residents to get to. They're right, of course, but March Field is only better if you believe that people will still be driving well into the 21st century- which I do not. For transit riders, especially from San Bernardino and Rubidoux, a downtown Riverside site is a significant improvement over Corona, with connections via both Metrolink and local bus services. However, getting to a March Field site will be yet another transfer to undoubtedly lousy service on either the Perris Valley Line or infrequent RTA bus service- these riders might find a Corona site much simpler.

In summary, the tension between a downtown Riverside station and a March Field station may be a moot point. It may be a choice between a downtown Riverside station, and one in Corona.


Anonymous said...

I've come to the conclusion that the whole HSR project is doomed to be a giant clusterfuck...... now way this should go through Corona.....and I live there! Never let common sense get in the way of politics.

Richard bush
Corona, CA

Rene said...

I agree that a site on March Field is not a good idea. However, Mike Gardner pointed out that it's difficult to obtain property for the right of the way for HSR line in downtown Riverside. With the noise about Metrolink's Perris line in UCR neighborhoods, the March field is a safe bet, I assume in the officials' perspective.

I thought why not move up closer to Watkins or MLK exit for the station?

Another option is to build a tunnel from MLK exit on 215 or (Watkins exit) to downtown Riverside? I don't know how much it will cost per mile for building a tunnel. We already spent over a billion dollars on Riverside Renaissance projects.

As for Riverside Renaissance II in the future, we should make it more of transit focused measure similar to Measure R in LA. We can vote and help spur a various of transit projects that will connect to HSR station. If we vote for this transit-focused measure, it will help us to win a HSR station.

I'm okay with March field location as long as there is a "dedicated" bus service going to that station. I can imagine having MTA's orange busway along our HWY 91 connecting to HSR station. Or BRT service will suffice.

JN said...

Richard- The HSR project is a huge undertaking, something on the scale that we haven't attempted since the Interstate Highways and the State Water Project 50 years ago. The way we keep it from being a "clusterfuck" is through heavy pressure on our politicians to get it done right. It won't be perfect, but it's going to be a good thing in the end, so long as we make our voices heard.

Rene- I notice the freeway-centric view of Riverside in your comments. It isn't hard to find right-of-way for this project in downtown- we have rail lines going exactly where it needs to go, at the train station. It's going to be on elevated structure for most of the way anyway, so an elevated line above the existing rail lines, culminating in an elevated station above the Metrolink, shouldn't be out of the question.

The reason I oppose the March location so strongly is that there is no way to build any sort of transit to the location that would actually be viable. There just isn't anything else to ride to out there to support all-day frequent transit, which is what we need for the right sort of development around the station. What we could get is a dedicated express bus, timed to meet every train, from downtown and a few other places- but that won't be enough to encourage dense development at March. The station area will become more suburban sprawl, and we will miss the best opportunity we will get in a lifetime to change Riverside's development and transportation patterns for the better. No busway or BRT service will ever travel up Alessandro to that train station- the urban form along that corridor will not provide enough ridership to justify such a service.