Kandel, Alan

Alan Kandel is a concerned California resident advocating for new, improved and expanded freight (and passenger) rail service. He is a retired railroad signalman previously employed by the Union Pacific Railroad in Fremont, California.

California High-Speed Rail: Worth Every Penny and Then Some

By Alan Kandel

On Jan. 6, 2015, in downtown Fresno in front of a mostly celebratory and welcoming crowd and in the presence of an armada of journalists and dignitaries, the virtues of California’s 800-mile high-speed rail system were extolled. The first 520 miles of which will link San Francisco and Los Angeles by way of the San Joaquin Valley. California Governor Brown gave the keynote address. A symbolic groundbreaking followed – in this case consisting of the on-hand dignitaries putting their signatures to rails and fasteners (tie-plates, mainly) and made possible with special markers that enabled such ink to adhere once dry.

Car Dependent Californians

By Alan Kandel

First, some statistics.

There are 22 million Californians driving, according to Sacramento Bee political columnist Dan Walters. Golden State population numbering an approximate 38 million people strong, that roughly 58 percent of us drive is one thing. But having 27.5 million motor vehicles at our disposal with which to do this – what is this saying?! What it says is: for every driver there exist 1.25 cars or five automobiles for every four motorists. Do we Californians love our cars or what?!

Trans-boundary Ozone's Impact on California Is More than Hot Air

By Alan Kandel

There is no question pollution is adrift in the air. The past couple of days, air quality in the Fresno region of California has been good. Connected to this have been lower temperatures. Daytime temps have been in the 90s. But this is going to change. Temperatures are already starting to warm and by the weekend, they will probably be in the triple digits in most, if not all parts, of the San Joaquin Valley.

How Long Before Life-Endangering Air Pollution Becomes A Top-of-Mind Concern?

By Alan Kandel

Houston: We (California) have a problem, a Texas-sized problem.

With the climate change debate front-page news, the fight to combat air pollution is every bit as important in my book; perhaps even more so. If not, what is this saying?

California's San Joaquin Valley is the place I call home. The Valley is among the nation's worst offenders.

So that which is being spewed into the air in California's central interior, where is it coming from? The following is from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

Will California Reap Growth Rewards with the Sustainable Communities Strategies Initiative?

By Alan Kandel

Houston: We (California) have a problem, a Texas-sized problem.

California used to be the envy of the country - at one time, maybe of the world even. Ours was the land of plenty; it still is. The Golden State's number one industry - agriculture - is a cornucopia, a veritable cash crop to the tune of $32 billion per year - handily. The central San Joaquin Valley's contribution, incidentally, is about half.

But where acre after productive acre of the highest quality farmland once existed, much has been paved over. And left in its wake: sprawl, traffic congestion and deleterious air pollution. And the dirty air is pervasive. How problematic is it?

Growing Smarter De Rigueur To Accommodate A Steadily Growing Population

By Alan Kandel

A month ago, I contended that “Adhering To a Status-Quo City Development Ideology Is So ‘Last Century’”. In fact, the issue is way more involved than business-as-usual development policy being outdated. It seems the proverbial fork-in-the-road has finally been reached: Either grow cities smarter now by managing growth effectively and efficiently and staying one step ahead or continue with a business-as-usual paradigm and, well, hope for the best.

Horizontal Sprawl Meets A Brick Wall

It has become quite clear that the current standard operating procedure of a now half-century old development practice is no longer working. It’s not too difficult to understand why.

Two of Earth Day’s Biggest Success Stories: Transportation and Energy Production

By Alan Kandel

For me, Earth Day is all about sustainability. With regard to getting our planet to a “greener” state, there have been many great advances. Two of the areas that have seen great progress have been in energy production and transportation. There, of course, have been great strides in other areas as well, but I am keeping transportation and energy production front and center in recognizing the year’s one day that draws national attention to, and awareness of, sustainability. That one day is Earth Day.

Transportation On The Move

The 1970s was an interesting time. When Earth Day was first established on April 22, 1970, I was a junior in high school. I doubt I gave Earth Day much thought then, that is, if I even knew about it at all. What I do remember is at age 17 the car I drove was no doubt far less fuel-efficient and far more polluting than the one I drive today. What I also vividly recall is that in 1971 the price of gasoline was 34 cents per gallon.

High-Speed Rail ‘Blended System’ Approach the Correct One

By Alan Kandel

California high-speed rail decision makers have got this correct. They are pushing ahead with what is being billed as the “blended system” approach to building high-speed rail in California. It also means building the entire 800-mile network in stages or phases.

The state HSR system is on track to start construction by early 2013, that is, of course, provided this summer state legislative approval comes. The segment between Merced and Palmdale is to be completed in ten years’ time meaning service through the Tehachapi Mountains will rail-link the Central Valley and southern California with viable—and faster—passenger rail service, something that hasn’t been available since before 1974, if not longer.

Metrolink Stands Behind Its Incremental, Yet More Expensive Positive Train Control Program

By Alan Kandel

Matters of transportation safety are not to be taken lightly. It’s serious stuff. But when I read: “Metrolink’s [John] Fenton is confident that the benefits of the new collision system will far outweigh any lingering concerns, since fatal crashes are constant worry in an industry that racks up hundreds of red-signal violations every year,” I’m not convinced. In fact, it was with regard to the sentence’s second part that I reacted with almost jaw-dropping disbelief. Red-light violations every year by the hundreds – what’s up with this?

The sentence in question appeared in a recent “Special to CNBC.com” report written by Alec Foege on train collision-prevention called “Digital Rail Crash-Avoidance System Runs Into Trouble.”

That wasn’t all; there also was this:

“Another issue may be potential the (sic) limitations of the technology itself.

Adhering To a Status Quo City-Development Ideology Is So ‘Last Century’

By Alan Kandel

Over the past dozen or so years, I’ve written on a wide range of topics covering everything from travel, transportation, climate, community and history, to agriculture and the environment. Population and population growth are often topics of discussion in terms of how these relate to community and the environment, for example.

Keeping on point, California and the United States have been undergoing unprecedented and seemingly inexorable growth. It should be understood that development, to meet the needs of an increasing population, and one that is increasingly on the move, must not be pursued in the absence of forethought. To permit growth to occur this way would be both irresponsible and unacceptable. But, I suspect, in some sense in California’s major cities productive, prudent and proper development has been lacking meaning that such hasn’t been quite up to snuff, otherwise why the creation of and passage in 2008 of Senate Bill 375?

SB 375: What is it?