Caltrain's voyage toward electrification of its Peninsula corridor will make a stop at Palo Alto tonight, where officials will solicit comments about what issues they should study as part of their environmental review for the long-awaited project.
The meeting will give residents and officials the chance to offer input about the scope of the agency's environmental-impact report, a state-mandated document that will evaluate the effects of the electrification project.
The project has been in the works for more than a decade but has stalled in recent years because of lack of funding. Last year, it flickered back to life when the state Legislature passed a bill funding the first segment of the controversial $68 billion high-speed rail system. While the first segment of high-speed rail will be constructed in Central Valley, the funding bill also includes $1.1 billion for train improvements between San Francisco and San Jose.
Caltrain officials have long coveted electrification of the corridor as the ideal way to improve service and boost revenues for the popular but perpetually cash-strapped service, which does not have a dedicated funding source. According to Caltrain, switching from diesel trains to electric ones could increase service by up to six trains in each direction during peak travel hours by 2019.
Last week, state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, proposed a bill that would further ensure that the electrification of Caltrain will take place. If passed, Senate Bill 557 would allocate $600 million from high-speed rail funding for electrification and another $105 million for an advanced signal system.
The bill, Hill said at the Feb. 22 press conference at the downtown Palo Alto Caltrain station, will "provide certainty and a peace of mind as we move forward toward electrification and, ultimately, high-speed rail."
The public scoping meeting will take place tonight, Feb. 28, from 6 to 8 p.m. at City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave. Comments can also be submitted by email to email@example.com, with the subject line "Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project."