We’ll spend your money no matter what

I wasn’t paying attention to this, but it turns out that San Francisco, which already has a fairly comprehensive public transportation system, wants another 1.7 miles underground — at a cost of $1.6 billion.  Think about it.  That cost is almost one million one hundred million for every tenth of a mile.

Now, I know you’re all thinking what I’m thinking:  If San Franciscans are fool enough to spend that kind of money on 1.7 miles, that’s their problem.  Except it isn’t.  You see, the feds have stepped in.  They committed $942 million of that amount (way more than half), and have already given the City $72 million.

What makes it even worse is that (a) the City has no money to meet even its own obligations; and (b) the City’s public transportation ridership is falling, not rising.  What’s fascinating is that, despite these hurdles, which one would assume would doom the project, San Francisco is working hard to find the funds (where, I don’t know), and go forward.

As I said, if San Francisco wants to dig a deep economic hole in order to dig another hole under the City, so be it.  What hacks me is that I’m funding this Progressive boondoggle.  Arrgh!

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  • Charles Martel

    Book, the smell of ozone swirling about your head will get even stronger when you realize that the cost per tenth of a mile is $100 million, not the $1 million stated in your piece. I think that part of the conservative brain known as the No, No, Not Even Liberals Can Be This Spendthriftus kicked in when you were making your calculation.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Thanks, Charles.  You’re right.  I couldn’t conceptualize that math!

  • Danny Lemieux

    Book, don’t sweat it! It AIN’T GOING TO HAPPEN! The money won’t be there.

  • Charles Martel

    San Francisco has a massive case of Manhattan envy, which shows up in the need to have a municipal transportation system that’s like the ones the big boys have.

    Aside from Danny’s observation that the money for this scheme is nowhere near a sure thing, the problem with the proposed subway line is that it will tie up two major streets for at least two years—and that’s assuming the contrators, who will be working under an immense regulatory burden imposed on them by three levels of government (federal state and city), will be able to bring everything in on schedule.

    Also, the route passes by the east edge of Union Square, the retail heart of the city. Big stores like Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nieman Marcus, Tiffany, as well as the Hyatt and Westin hotel chains, are not going to be enthisiastic about a big-dig project that discourages shoppers and guests during a recession. Near Market St., the city’s main drag, and south, where Stockton becomes Fourth St., major businesses like Apple, Marriott and the Moscone Convention Center are going to have conniptions watching vital foot and auto traffic get redirected to graffiti-festooned wooden sidewalks, and bumpy, tire-chewing temporary cross beams flung across the subway’s underground steel supports.

    Aside from being able to boast, “Look, Ma, we gots a subway system with more than two lines, too!” one of the project’s objectives is to relieve the horrendous crowding on the 30 Stockton line, the main feeder into Chinatown. Chinatown is easily the most densely populated U.S. neighborhood outside of Manhattan, and some demographers say it may even be number one in the country. A sleek subway, stashed tidily underground, would save San Francisco’s good burghers and tourists from having to see how much Chinatown’s refusal to step up its abortion rate is straining the transit system of Everybody’s Favorite City.

    (Which brings to mind an anecdote told by Herb Caen, San Francisco’s beloved daily gossip columnist. It seems an old Chinese lady boarded the 30 Stockton bearing a couple of shopping bags and live chicken. The bus driver told her, “No live animals are allowed on the bus.” “Oh,” she said, “oh. Just a minute.” The woman stepped of the bus, grasped the chicken by its head and swung the cluck around, lasso-style, breaking its neck. She reboarded the bus. “Chicken now not living animal. OK to ride?”) 

  • jj

    I don’t actually know enough about it.  This may be an incredibly naive question, if so, forgive me, but: who the hell builds a subway through the middle of the biggest active fault zone in North America?  I mean, if San Francisco starts rocking and rolling, is underground really where anybody wants to be?
    Probably a stupid question.  It has to be a stupid question!  Somebody must have thought of this and made a better-than-reasonable attempt to engineer for it, right?

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    “The money won’t be there.”
    Why not. All they have to do is to cut military expenditures by 75% over a couple of years.

  • Tonestaple

    And Seattle has a truly pathetic case of San-Francisco-envy.  Right now, the city wants to take a state highway double-deck viaduct that traverses the waterfront edge of downtown and bury it underground.  It was damaged in the 2001 Nisqually earthquake so the whole thing begs the same question that jj asks:  who wants to drive through a tunnel built through fill dirt in a very active fault zone? 

    Additionally, certain elements in the state legislature are determined that all cost overruns will be borne by the city of Seattle, meaning me and the few people who are still foolish enough to live inside the city limits.  Everyone is absolutely shocked that our brain-damaged mayor is not willing to go for this pig in a poke, but they want their tunnel so very, very badly, it will be interesting to see how this eventually plays out.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    I’m hearing a lot of talk about public transportation. This reminds me of Chris Christie in his state. Are the unions this much starved for cash and jobs? Or is this a strategic expansion on their part in order to stock up on troops and war funds for 2012 and onwards?
    Their rolls will swell once this transportation system is setup and employing “people”.

  • Charles Martel

    San Francisco lies just east of the San Andreas Fault, but not directly on it. California engineers for years have designed for stresses caused by earthquakes by building rail-based systems that pass through tubes connected to their neighbors by immensely flexible joints. For example, the track that takes Bay Area Rapid Transit trains under San Francisco Bay is laid through a series of tubes designed to flex and roll with earthquakes without breaking or letting in water. So far, so good.

    (Geologists worry more about the Hayward Fault that runs under Oakland and Berkeley than they do about the San Andreas and San Francisco. Supposedly the 1906 quake on the San Andreas relieved the immense tensions on the Bay Area section of the fault for the foreseeable future, while the Hayward is overdue for a big one. While SF would certainly feel the effects of a Hayward quake, its across-the-bay sisters would feel them much more.)

  • Mike Devx

    Book says,
    > What hacks me is that I’m funding this Progressive boondoggle.  Arrgh!

    Book, you’re living in an abusive relationship, yet you refuse to leave.  Sigh.

    Have you asked yourself yet: WHAT precise action by my beloved San Francisco will ACTUALLY cause me to leave this area, to move?

    If you cann’t ask that question because you cannot answer it, then you literally ARE the frog in the slowly heating water, rising to the boiling point.  you cannot detect the rising temperature, partly because you refuse to.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Martel, I’m worried that the Democrat funded unions will only give work to “legit” engineering companies. I suspect that those “legit” companies were hired less for their competence and more for their bribe stash of cash.

  • SGT Dave

    I think BW is a bit stuck because of Mr. BW and her legal clientelle.  Once you’ve built a base of operations it is very hard to move away; school transfers, creating a new clientelle, and purchase/sale of a home are all big, big trouble items.  I’d encourage her to move away; it appears she does remote work for clients, and that can happen from anywhere.  I don’t know about Mr. BW, and therein lies the rub.  He won’t want to leave – there is very little that I’ve found irritates liberals more than actual, real change.  Change is good for everyone else; they prefer to live in their own little bubble, surrounded by the familiar sights, sounds, and input. 

    Wow, that really sounds like an autistic child.  Maybe I hit something there.

    Anyhow, as I said before, it is time to take my son to school (Dr. Appts for the Mrs. & daughter) and get to work.

    SSG Dave
    “Ever notice how everyone that wants to change things wants to change YOUR things, not theirs?”

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    “Wow, that really sounds like an autistic child.  Maybe I hit something there.”
    Book’s a real home getter. You know she’s got to take care of things.
    Have a good voyage back and forth.

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  • jj

    I knew somebody’d know – thanks, Charles!

  • Mike Devx

    > I think BW is a bit stuck because of Mr. BW and her legal clientelle.  Once you’ve built a base of operations it is very hard to move away

    Sgt. Dave, you’re right of course.   I’d like to hear that Book discusses the *possibility* of moving with the family, and what they all (especially Mr. Book) think of the idea.  Stranger things than a positive reaction have happened in this quantum-physical, non-deterministic, strange universe of ours!

    On the other hand, no need to run from a good fight!  But to be so surrounded by the liberal horde…   I think of the scene at the end of The Lord Of The Rings, where the good guys are encircled by thousands of the Evil Horde, but are saved at the end when the Ring falls into the volcanic fires of Mt. Doom, and Barad-Dur and Sauron crumble into ruin.  Is there a Ring and a Mt. Doom to free Book from the crazed insanity surrounding her family?

    San Francisco, once a healthy fruit hanging from its leafy bough, now sits dropped to the ground, shrinking, diseased and decaying, weeping putrid liquid into the soil.

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