Jackson Ziegler

Scholarship Status: Awarded NA
Scholarship Awarded: Transportation Vision Scholarship
University: California State University Long Beach
Date of Graduation: May 2020


Essay:

When I was a kid, my dad took me to the train station. We would bond over the joy of watching giant hulking machines pull exorbitant loads over tracks and bridges and land that seemed to impossibly hold it all together. Then I went to Switzerland when I was 8. Upon return, I wrote a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger showing my dismay for the transportation infrastructure in our state. The governor writing back only fueled my desire to find the solutions. Over time my love for trains grew up with me, and that transitioned into a love for roadways, and design, and maps, and bridges, and I have ended up as a Civil Engineer. Almost my entire life I have been thinking about the solutions for transportation that work best for our state. These days its document, maps, spreadsheets in google drive, and stacks of paper 50 to 100 high of junction designs, transit maps, freeway interchanges, and bridge ideas. I suppose it is just best that I give some of my ideas out into the world. All of my transportation ideas have started undergoing the phrase, “organization, electronics, concrete.” Originating from German and Swiss transportation advocates, it means that for optimum performance; governments, private companies, and transportation agencies should first have good organization. Scheduling, administration, publicity materials, etc. Then, they should improve their electronics: signaling, equipment, etc. Then, concrete is poured, and new construction projects can commence. By following this system, everything that a Civil Engineer does is meaningful, and has the maximum benefit to all of society. One common project often thrown around for the state is a second Transbay Tube in San Francisco. That project would be immensely beneficial to the Bay Area, but with correct organizations, trains could go through them not only to Oakland and San Francisco, but to Salinas, Monterrey, Santa Cruz, the Central Valley, Sacramento, and beyond. This second Transbay Tube, for conventional rail, I envision to go out from the new Transbay Transit Center, and then out to Oakland roughly paralleling the current tunnel to the south, then connecting to the current line going north and south to Oakland and Sacramento. As well, a rail tunnel through downtown Oakland would not only avoid the dangerous Jack London Square, but connect downtown Oakland to statewide destinations. As well, a third Transbay tube, for BART, going connecting a future Geary Blvd. subway, down 2nd St, to Alameda Island in Oakland, then connecting to the rest of BART in downtown. Following, I have 3 maps, of Downtown Oakland, the Bay crossings, and Downtown San Francisco. Darker color is existing, lighter are my ideas from research and intuition, and in between is planned or under construction by local agencies. Red is traditional rail, purple for subways, and blue for light rail. (This key applies to all of my maps.) I emailed all maps to the contact of the scholarship. All of those maps were made by me using google's "My Maps", and expanded upon using research of currently planned and proposed lines, and my research. Of course, I’m a born and raised Southern Californian, so my passions lie in SoCal transportation ideas. My current vision is enormous, and unnecessarily so. In summary, for the Los Angeles metro, I envision a trunk lines through downtown Los Angeles extending to branch lines that would extend around the Los Angeles area, and to the Inland Empire and Orange County. Outside of downtown Los Angeles, various projects would help support the many branch lines. Turning the blue line into a grade-separated 4-track main from downtown to the 105 would set the stage for Paramount, Gardena, and Downey branches, as well as better Long Beach services. Some other branch lines would connect LAX to the South Bay, Long Beach, and Hollywood; Long Beach to San Pedro and Orange County; and Anaheim to Santa Ana, Orange, and the rest of Orange County. Metrolink, Coaster, and local Amtrak services could be combined into one megaregional transportation service. Turning the Los Angeles-San Diego corridor into a modern, electrified 125 mph could enable hourly (or much more) local and express service, with express trains taking only an hour between San Diego and Los Angeles. Expanding the rest of the system to these standards, and then extending lines to places like Redlands, Victorville, and Temecula, with LA Metro, San Diego Trolley, and bus connections planned and aplenty. The Los Angeles Area Transit is that exact plan, which I admit is incomplete. My L.A. metro ideas are mostly there, while only some planned Metrolink lines are there. My biggest dream for all of Californian transportation would be a project similar in scope and scale to the California High Speed Rail, but with less cost, and greater usefulness. That would be a new modern Metrolink line connecting Disneyland, Long Beach, the South Bay, Culver City, and the Valley. This 21 stop line would incorporate 3 different currently planned projects, and connect with the rest of Metrolink. Roughly paralleling the 405, this line would serve some of Calfornia’s greatest transit deserts. Of course, I have many more ideas, but this is just a summary, and a peek into some of the more specific plans. I read often different people’s plans for cities- politicians, sociologists, and urban planners. But none of these people can bring into account the buildability, and the actual act of designing and building the physical infrastructure to support these plans. That is why I chose Civil Engineering, so I could have the authority, training, and experience, to truly design and understand these giant transportation projects. To be honest, it was an ecstatic coincidence that I love physics, math, and programming. Those have all transpired into a true passion for transportation focused Civil Engineering, and I would love to continue working that passion to the benefit of all Californians.

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