I know that when I first heard of the possibility of High Speed Rail in California, immediately I had a feeling of “little-kid” like curiosity and delight. I thought, “…how fast will it go?” “…what will it look like?” (Really space age, I hope) “…I want to ride it…and sit in the front with the engineer!” The optimist in me thought of all the positives high speed rail would provide Californian’s daily and tourists regularly. And there are positives:
- Jobs! Green jobs. Nationwide. Building the new rail infrastructure. Manufacturing the rail cars and equipment. Engineering and Construction. Commerce increase from new commute patterns.
- Oil. Reduction of our trade deficit (some say it is as high as $700 billion/year). Reduces our oil consumption. Reduced dependence on foreign oil. Reduces our car and truck emissions. Stretches the timeline towards peak oil crises.
- Living. Improved way of life for Californians. Congestion Relief – delivers new mobility while relieving congestion on highways and runways. Air quality improvements. Life savings (thousands of Californians die in auto accidents every year). Affordable, safe and efficient transportation making Californians even more mobile.
- Pride. The United States is the greatest country in the world, quite possibly in the history of the world. California is the greatest state in the greatest country. California should have the greatest transportation for moving the greatest people in the greatest state in the greatest country. Just sayin.
That one really sticks with me. There is High Speed Rail in Japan, Europe and China. I want High Speed Rail here! In the USA! And I want to be proud of it…I want people from all over the world to come to California and marvel, not only at Disneyland, Yosemite and The Golden Gate Bridge, but at the Bullet Train that can transport them so efficiently between them.
So the Californian in me, the American in me, the engineering spirit in me, the surveyor in me, the child in me…all want the High Speed Rail. My enthusiasm led me to participate in every matchmaking meeting, seminar, luncheon, dinner and tent revival that had as its goal the alignment of local small business to giant international Prime Contractors that would be bidding on the various elements of the CHSR engineering and construction. If there is going to be High Speed Rail in California, in the San Joaquin Valley, I wanted to be part of the process! Would my grandchildren one day be proud, much like a kid whose grandpa flew fighter planes in WWII, of their grandpa who surveyed on a portion of the great California High Speed Rail?
My enthusiasm soon turned to disappointment and frustration. These matchmaking sessions NEVER, EVER felt as though any one of the interviewers was truly interested in using DeWalt Corporation’s services in support of CHSR. Their insincere and condescending rhetoric along with their well rehearsed, matter-of-fact “fill out this form and we will contact you” speech was like finger nails on a chalkboard to me. DeWalt Corporation’s core professional services align so well with the needs of the design of a rail route. Civil Engineering and Land Surveying would be key elements of the initial design process. I was SO confident that DeWalt Corporation had something to offer.
My discouragement grew as the media reports of grossly underestimated budgets surfaced. Changes and deviations from the plan voters approved fueled rejection of the CHSR by my political party. Turnover and dissension in CHSR leadership further condemns the process. Unions extort CHSR contracts and agreements with threats of lawsuits. The pessimist in me nods and smugly confirms that “I knew all along that ‘people’ would screw it up”.
I am starting to think that, despite its extremes, CHSR will happen…and I am openly in support of CHSR happening! Of course, I am keeping my fingers crossed that it happens smart; that it happens intelligently, elegantly, prudently. The reality is that some of it will happen intelligently, elegantly and prudently…and some of it will not. As much as I wish I could control how smart or intelligently CHSR progresses, the only thing I can control is how smart or intelligently DeWalt Corporation goes about its business. DeWalt Corporation is now part of the CHSR process. We are setting aerial targets, establishing aerial target control and performing topographic surveying for a portion of the California High Speed Rail route. Our involvement came about because of some established relationships. Relationships established by our service to a valued client, our smart, intelligent, prudent dedication to servicing their project. I like this DeWalt Corporation reality!