California HSR, Chapter 4, Part 2
Palmdale Welcomes You
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California High Speed Rail: Chapter 4
For the last few weeks the group has been reviewing the newly revised California High Speed Rail Business plan.
Last week we discussed the route details of the California High Speed Rail Business Plan Chapter 4. This week we discuss the partnerships and stations.
While everyone focuses just on the Merced to Bakersfield route, stuff is happening in the Bay area and LA basin to prepare for high speed train service all the way to LA and San Fran. Not talking about traveling at high speeds, but rather the trains themselves continuing into the cities at traditional train speeds. While not faster, this will allow someone to travel from San Fran to LA all without any connections.
Highlights include of the chapter include:
In the San Fran:
The rail is being electrified from San Francisco down to San Jose https://calmod.org/
Grade separation taking place in San Mateo in San Francisco basin
Building of a underground high speed rail station at the Salesforce transit Center
Farther Afield in San Jose:
Supports the growth of Google’s Downtown West Plan which would transform the area from auto oriented suburban sprawl, to a mega transit oriented development and new gateway to Silicon Valley
Then down in LA;
Modernizing LA Union Station (called the Link Union Station Project) https://www.metro.net/projects/link-us/
But then, there is Palmdale....which is another matter altogether
From the Captain
Palmdale Welcomes You!
Today it’s a sleepy town on the outskirts of the Los Angeles Basin, home to 155,079 (2019).
Average home value in Palmdale is $280,000. Average median income is only $62,865 a year.
Compare that to Madison with its population 259,680; median house value of $246,300 and median household income of $65,332.
Big deal. You would own real estate in Madison, right?
What if Palmdale was a boom town in the making. By 2040 could even be the fastest growing city in the United States.
It is the power of transportation that will turn Palmdale from this sleepy little town into America's up and coming city, and it is due to:
California high speed rail
Brightline West extending from Victorville
Expansion of a California Highway 14
Airport owned by the same airport authority that owns Los Angeles Airport.
Throw in high tech of Lockheed Skunk works, Boeing, and Northrup Grumman; and you gotta the base for high tech transportation cluster forming.
Palmdale is the future.
Today mountains separate Palmdale from LA. During good traffic, on the other side of the mountains is Burbank, which is 50 minutes in light traffic. Los Angeles is just over an away (during light traffic as well).. All within reasonable committing distance. But this is LA
Commutes from Palmdale to Burbank and LA during rush hour can easily turn into a 2-3 hour drive as all cars are funneled into the limited mountains passes. This discourages people from living in Palmdale and working in the LA region.
However, big plans are in place. First California High Speed Rail Project is planning to tunnel through these mountains reducing that commute time from 60 minutes to 20 minutes. To put that into perspective, that 20 minutes is the shorter than a commute from the Isthmus to Epic Health Care in Verona.
Of course, that is not a 20 minutes during light traffic, where you still need to plan 1 hour in case there is that crash on the interstate. That new train is a predictable 20 minutes no matter the weather, or traffic, or construction on the I-5.
This opens up Palmdale to be a commuters dream!
Then in Palmdale, California high speed rail is planning on 946 acre future inter modal transportation hub that will connect to Metrolink, Brightline West, Amtrak, light rail, and Greyhound and a large transit oriented development complex. It not only means easy access to LA, but also to Las Vegas, Bakersfield, Fresno, Sacramento, San Jose, and San Francisco. This transportation hub will not only be a regional hub, but a hub for all of California!
But that is not the start, let's look at housing values.
In Burbank the average home costs $730,100
LA has average home values of $636,900
Meanwhile remember Palmdale’s home value is only $280,000?
This means you can live in a small two bedroom home in Burbank, or own five bedroom mansion in Palmdale and still have extra cash to jump on Brightline West spend you leftover savings in Vegas!
This may seem unbelievable, but it is happening. It is a question of when, not if.
Of course, there is a precedent for what is going to happen to Palmdale.
In 1950 Orange County John Wayne Airport (SNA) was just a sleepy orange grove county with a small airport and a single runway.
Orange County and only had a population of 216,000 and the airport just had a handful of small commercial planes using it.
If you wanted to travel anywhere you went to LAX or LA Union Station. However, in the 1960s and the building of freeways, Los Angeli-nos' went seeking cheaper homes and suburbia spread (and this guy called Disney built a park in the county as well). Orange County ballooned, and today is home to a population of 3.175 MILLION, and John Wayne Orange County Airport served over 3.8 million passengers in 2020 to over 33 destination including service to Canada and Mexico.
Of course, SNA is limited by a 5,700 ft runway (that limits planes to small narrow bodies) and some strictest noise abatement in the world which limits its capacity. But imagine if Orange County had 12,000 ft runway which is not only capable of handling large wide bodies on intercontinental flights…but was were those wide bodies were built (Lockheed built the L1011 wide body there).
Well Orange County might not, but Palmdale does. So by 2060, to fly to LA you may not even consider LAX Airport, but instead you would be flying you hyper-sonic aircraft into Los Angeles - Palmdale International Airport.
How valuable is the High Speed Rail Project to Palmdale:
Well, at least $36 billion.
Why would this happen?
Of course, that is assuming no increase in population (which would likely happen), no new corporations moving to Palmdale (which would likely happen), and no other federal projects flowing into Palmdale. That is a lot of “ifs”, but this is just to give a clean comparison using housing value
Today the Transverse Mountain Range separates Palmdale from the LA metro area. It essentially creates a wall with only highway 14 and Interstate 5 being the only major roadways through the mountain. In fact, this is the reason Palmdale residents spend 62% more time in their cars than those in Burbank. It is because a majority of them are driving over the Transverse jobs in the LA basin.
However, with a high speed rail tunnel under the mountains we are now looking at Palmdale being roughly the same distance to the center of Los Angeles than Orange County or Ontario. Essentially Palmdale and Lancaster become a suburb of LA, and there for housing values match LA. Then you recalculated the average housing price in Palmdale based upon LA prices …..and you have $36 to $45 billion in value!
Of course, you are likely to have new corporations move offices to Palmdale which will bring more jobs and more demand for housing. However that is another calculation for another day.
So while it may seem that the cost for California High Speed Rail may be spiraling out of the control, the truth is…It is still going to be a great return on investment.