Julie Caine

Managing Producer, KALW News. Lead Producer, Audiograph.

Julie Caine is the managing producer for Crosscurrents, KALW’s award-winning newsmagazine. She’s also the lead producer of Audiograph, an ongoing KALW series that uses sound to tell the stories of the San Francisco Bay Area. Her radio documentary, Squeezebox Stories won an SPJ award for best arts and culture reporting in 2012, and her radio work has aired on a wide variety of national programs. She has a master’s degree in journalism from UC Berkeley, and believes deeply in Grace Paley’s assertion that you must be a story listener to be a storyteller.

Ways To Connect

Around 250,000 people use Market Street every day— and in every way. They take the bus, ride BART, walk to work, shop... even live.

In 2016, Market Street, between Octavia and the Embarcadero, will be torn up and repaved. So city planners figure it’s the perfect time to reshape and re-imagine San Francisco’s main drag.

San Francisco’s transportation director Ed Reiskin says it’s a good opportunity for the city to do more than pour concrete.

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If you want know the price of gas around the United States, there’s a map online that breaks it down for you. The states with the cheapest gas are green, and the states with the most expensive are red. It’s probably the only map where California is one of the reddest states in the country.

Julie Caine

If you saw the lead story of today's San Francisco Chronicle, you would have seen a photo of a long line of people outside a lawyer's office in Richmond, near a sign that says: "Chevron Claims Filed Here." 

D.H. Parks, under CC License / http://www.flickr.com/photos/parksdh/7730542302/

The smoke from the Chevron refinery fire that started late Monday has cleared, but the controversy was still hot at a community meeting last night in Richmond. Around 700 people attended the meeting, where Chevron General Manager Nigel Hearne and local government and health officials faced frustration and anger.

Joan Davis from the Richmond Community Foundation began the meeting with some powerful questions: “Those of you who are feeling afraid, very quietly, stand. Those of you who are feeling angry, please stand, quietly.”

The bullet train may be back on track. Earlier this month the state legislature narrowly approved $8 billion dollars in bond money to start construction of the high-speed rail system connecting Los Angeles to the Bay Area. Governor Jerry Brown signed off at ceremonies in LA and San Francisco.

The project is now expected to cost close to $69 billion dollars to complete. The bulk of the money the legislature just approved will go to start building a 130-mile stretch of track in the Central Valley; about a quarter will go to local transportation projects in LA and San Francisco.

Governor Jerry Brown gave high-speed rail the official green light today, signing legislation authorizing $8 billion in initial funding for the controversial $68 billion project.

Signing ceremonies in San Francisco and Los Angeles emphasized the political importance of the $1.9 billion allocated for improving existing commuter rail systems in these cities, the eventual “bookends” of the rail network that would connect northern and southern California.

The California State Senate today narrowly authorized funding for the nation’s biggest high-speed rail plan.

This vote authorizes initial funding for the bullet train, with construction set to begin in the Central Valley. It also provides close to $2 billion to upgrade Caltrain, and commuter rail lines in Los Angeles.

The senate vote was mostly along party lines, with Democrats supporting the plan and Republicans opposing, but several powerful Democrats crossed the aisle, including the chair of the transportation committee, Mark DeSaulnier.

In the past six weeks, five people have died on Caltrain tracks, hit by trains that could not stop in time to avoid them. Every year, an average of 12 people die on Caltrain tracks, and most are suicides. This is a small percentage of suicide deaths each year – only about one percent of suicides in the U.S. are by train.

Caltrain has built 10-foot fences along much of the route, commissioned studies about location and prevention, put up signs with suicide hotline numbers along its tracks, and partnered with mental health agencies. But it is a tragic problem that persists.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Dominik Morbitzer

Chris Bucchere, the bicyclist charged in the death of 71-year-old pedestrian Sutchi Hui, pled not guilty today to charges of felony vehicular manslaughter.

Photo by Flickr user Salim Virji

For some people, the daily commute will get a little easier this week. Monday morning, a new ferry service between the Oakland, Alameda, and South San Francisco opened. In San Francisco, regular service resumed on the MUNI’s N Judah and J Church lines, after ten days of repair work at some of the city’s busiest transit junctions. Statewide, however, things aren’t so bright. A new poll shows that voters are losing faith in plans for a high-speed rail system in California.

In the era of Mike Daisey making up facts for his stories about Apple factory workers in China, or the uproar over the motives behind the recent KONY video, we have to start asking ourselves how real these real world videos really are. What’s going on outside the frame of a YouTube video? What’s true? And, who decides?

Zydeco by the Bay

May 9, 2012

Northern California and Southwest Louisiana might seem like they’re worlds apart. But they’re actually intimately linked––by food, by language, and by music.

Cajun and Creole people left Louisiana for California in the 1940s, and later in the 1960s--looking for work and opportunity in shipyards and on military bases. Many of those jobs have disappeared, but the sounds of the squeezebox have helped keep the community together. In fact, California is now home to one of the biggest Zydeco music and dance scenes outside of Louisiana.

Tuesday’s May Day protests marked the re-emergence of the Occupy movement with coordinated protests around the Bay Area. But May Day—known around the world as International Workers Day—is traditionally a day when union members mobilize around labor issues. In San Francisco, those are ongoing.

If you added up all of the time that all of us spend stuck in Bay Area traffic, it would average out to about 40 million hours a year. It doesn’t take much to slow down traffic – accidents and construction and weather conditions all have an impact. And, there’s more than cars in the road.

Last year, a truck full of chickens overturned on 80 near Fairfield. And then there was the herd of cattle that wandered through the toll plaza on the Benicia Bridge. Not to mention all the falling ladders – that’s one of the most common pieces of debris.

California’s high-speed rail project has taken a beating over the past couple of months. The price tag for building the super fast train is now expected to be almost $100 billion, more than twice what voters approved in 2008. The High-Speed Rail Authority, which is designing and planning the project, has to convince voters – and an increasingly skeptical Legislature – that funding high-speed rail is feasible.

Lisa Ratner

It’s Hattam Moktor’s second day in San Francisco. He arrived from Egypt yesterday and spent today seeing the sights in the city. Now he’s standing in front of an empty station agent’s booth at the Embarcadero BART station trying to get back to his brother’s East Bay apartment.

“I want to ask someone how to get there, so I came here, but there is no one to ask. So I found you! So I will ask you how to get there. Walnut Creek?” Moktor laughs.

Moktor pulls a crumpled BART map out of his back pocket, and we look at it together. What he needs is a Pittsburg-Bay Point train.

This year is BART’s 40th birthday. While some people swear that 40 is the new 30, when it comes to subway systems, 40 is just plain over-the-hill. About two-thirds of BART cars have been running the rails since the system opened, in 1972.

Paul Oversier is in charge of operations at BART. He says that because BART trains run long distances and at higher speeds than other subway systems, it gives the system a dubious distinction. “We have the oldest cars, and we run them the hardest,” he says.

USDOT

On a stop in Fresno today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood pushed for high-speed rail in the state.

“High-speed rail in California is about helping to get the California economy moving again, to get unemployment down, to put friends and neighbors to work,” said LaHood. “And implementing high-speed rail in California will do that.”

The section of the rail line between Fresno and Bakersfield, where construction is set to begin later this year, is the only segment of the estimated $100 billion project with secured funding.

Photo courtesy of Lisa Hamilton.

If you’ve ridden on BART lately, you might have seen a photograph of a blue and white beach umbrella standing at the edge of a green farmer’s field. The caption reads, “Those are potatoes.” Or one with a girl in a cowboy hat standing upright in her horse’s saddle, swinging a lasso over her head. The caption: “She’s Also Pretty Good At Volleyball.” Or one with a boy wearing a green 4H tie, proudly holding a goat to his side. “Jesús and Lightning,”

The photos are visions of rural California, pasted on the walls one of the state’s most iconic urban structures.

courtesy Caifornia High-Speed Rail Authority

California State Senator Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) introduced legislation today that would put high-speed rail back on the ballot come November.

In a statement, LaMalfa said that "voters have been misled about the true costs of High-Speed Rail from the start. The costs have tripled since 2008 and every objective observer has said this project is too expensive and is unlikely to be completed.”

California Governor Jerry Brown in 2010 (photo by Steve Rhodes via Flickr)

In his State of the State address today, Governor Jerry Brown didn’t give an inch on the state’s embattled high-speed rail plan.  Likening the project to the launching of BART, the Panama Canal, and the Suez Canal, Brown said: “Those who believe California is in decline will naturally shrink back from such a strenuous undertaking,” he said. “I understand that feeling, but I don’t share it.”

Photo by Shani Aviram

One of the expenses truckers face is paying to upgrade their rigs to meet new environmental emissions regulations for diesel engines. California has the strictest gasoline emissions regulations in the country. If you own a car in this state, then you’ve been through the ritual of the smog check. Until very recently, diesel engines on freight trucks – big rigs that haul almost everything we buy in and out of ports and across the country – haven’t been under the same rules. Now, that’s starting to change.

Julie Caine

In San Francisco, the idea of "pop up" is ubiquitous. Pop-ups are temporary businesses, venues, or events that happen suddenly, in unexpected locations, and only for a short amount of time. There are pop-up bakeries, pop-up restaurants, pop-up magazines. And for a little while last month, housed in an old nail salon, there was Tikva Records, the world's first Jewish pop-up record store.

Rosa Say/Flickr Creative Commons

Last year, commuters of all kinds came to terms with one fact: getting somewhere, anywhere, is harder than it used to be. Here in the Bay Area, drivers faced higher gas prices and bridge tolls. AC Transit riders dealt with fewer bus lines and increased fares. San Francisco Muni riders faced changing routes as well. All in all, 2011 meant more cost, and oftentimes more waiting, for drivers and riders. And it might not get better this year.

Flickr photo by moonjazz. http://www.flickr.com/photos/moonjazz/122391/

If you go deep in the basement of the Oakland Museum of California you might hear something extraordinary. It’s the archives of the California Library of Natural Sounds. What started with some crickets and a couple of frogs has expanded into a sound collection that's hard to contain inside the gallery walls. Reporter Julie Caine takes us inside the Library for this report from the KALW News archives.

CARSON BELL: I listen to a lot of wild things in here.

Photo by Julie Caine

Occupy protesters marched on ports from Anchorage to San Diego Monday in a coordinated action designed to shut down operations.

While BART managers are trying to bring the Bay Area’s rail system into the future, state officials are trying to bring a new train system into existence. High-speed rail is supposed to whisk passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in just two and a half hours. It’s a controversial project, though, and over the past few months it’s gotten even more controversial. KALW’s transportation reporter Julie Caine has more.

HOLLY KERNAN: Julie, we know the price tag for high-speed rail has now gone up to an estimated $100 billion. What is happening?

Earlier this week, two Caltrans workers were fired for allegedly falsifying test results on various projects around the state, and neglecting proper testing procedures of the new span on the Bay Bridge. 

Julie Caine

The Bay Area’s first real freeway was the 880. Completed in 1957, it connects the Port of Oakland with San Jose. Today it’s a major trucking route, and the most direct way to get to the Oakland Airport, or to a Raiders game.

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