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Tunneling dropped as Midpeninsula rail option

Original post made on Aug 5, 2010

Deep tunnels and covered trenches have been dropped as alternatives for the Palo Alto/Midpeninsula portion of the state's high-speed-line under he latest plan from the California High Speed Rail Authority, officials disclosed today (Thursday).

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 5, 2010, 9:12 AM

Comments (118)

Posted by Mike Cobb, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 5, 2010 at 10:36 am

This announcement only confirms what many of us have been saying for a long time. Now, our local elected officials need to face the hard, bitter truth that if HSR is allowed to go through Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and other neighboring communities using the CalTrain right of way, we will not have the 'protection' of tunneling which is where many of those officials have tried to cover themselves from doing what should have been done all along and make every effort ... legal, political, and otherwise ... to stop this misbegotten project before it destroys our community. The simple facts are ... and they aren't new and are well proven ... that HSR is will bankrupt the state and local government and be horrifically destructive to our communities while not meeting its ridership objectives and doing nothing to improve local transit. Call your Councilmembers. Call your legislators. Demand aggressive action — now — to stop this monsterous project. The long, dark shadow of eminent domain creeps ever closer to the town we love. It isn't too late, but we are getting to that point rapidly.


Posted by Robert, a resident of Southgate
on Aug 5, 2010 at 10:44 am

This is a bloody outrage. Read the bloody mumbo-jumbo:

"A deep tunnel would 'result in critical risks due to ground conditions, have major constructability issues, lengthy construction schedule and substantial cost features,' the report said."

1. "ground conditions" ? Say what?!
2. "constructability issues" ? Say what?!
3. "lengthy construction schedule" ? It would take a long time with or without a tunnel and tunnel boring is more and more efficient. Another load of manure.
4. "substantial cost features" ? You mean it would cost a lot? Can't you even say that clearly and say how much more than an aerial structure?

This means war and the Palo Alto City Council better finally get in gear and get ready to fight or else this city will have an "aerial structure" hanging over it before it decides to act. Diridon and Kopp will stop at NOTHING to shove it down our throats.


Posted by Larry, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Aug 5, 2010 at 11:04 am

Palo Altans just want special treatment. HSR is coming and nothing will stop it, short of you all voting Republican Meg Witman for governor. And I doubt any of you can stomach that.


Posted by karin, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 5, 2010 at 11:08 am

Thank God! I wanted the train to block my view of the foothills. And those overhead wires will look great!!!! Besides, everywhere elevated trains have been built, property values have gone sky high. Visit Oakland if you don't believe me. Anybody notice the "for sale" signs on Alma and in the Southgate neighborhood.

I want to thank our city council in Palo Alto for sitting on their hands and doing nothing to stop this train. At least Menlo Park and Atherton sued. I'll keep your lack of action in mind at next year's council election.


Posted by LJK, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 5, 2010 at 11:17 am

I guess I'm voting for Meg! How else can we stop this?


Posted by Marie, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2010 at 11:26 am

Marie is a registered user.

And if my reading of the addendum errata page is correct (see p 4-61 of the addendum errata page on the CHRSA website), these options will require the permanent taking of 1-2 lanes of Alma St. between Churchill and E. Meadow. Can they do this with eminent domain?

I've long believed the "local funding" they've included in their funding formulae include blackmail to avoid using the cheapest and most disruptive alternatives. In other words, if we don't want an aerial/surface solution, we will need to pay them millions for a trench.

I believe the weakest part of the CHRSA proposal is that the fares would cover the cost of running the system. I believe this is where they are most vulnerable. I hope we can show this in every way possible. If they can't show a viable financial model, I don't believe they will get funds released. I believe our legislator, Joe Simitian is on the committee who determines this. Please write him with your concerns.

I also think we should support CARRD, who support HSR done right, in this case with covered trenches, as they have been extremely effective in finding the inadequacies of the HSR proposal.


Posted by Train neighbor, a resident of Ventura
on Aug 5, 2010 at 11:42 am

Only option B1 trenches the tracks through Palo Alto. Otherwise we'll have a mix of at-grade and viaduct.

The apparent height of the Overhead Contact System (OCS) poles will be about 45 feet high for the at-grade option and 75 feet above grade for the viaduct option.

source: Supplemental Alternatices Analysis report, Appendix C
Web Link


Posted by against HSR on the corridor, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2010 at 11:42 am

Mike Cobb, You are so right. From the beginning some of us- have been saying no HSR on the Caltrain corridor. I voted for it. Trains are good forms of locomotion- but when you are just starting to build them now- you have to take into consideration the surrounding constructions. And the recession, and the state of our state,and ridership needs and where the wisest place is to fund( education, and the serious needs of the majority of our constituents.) Now the HSR is frivolous, unnecessary and in the hands of the incompetent HSRA who are actually under our state- but seems to be running it independently. While more and more cities: Gilroy, Menlo Park, Atherton, Palo Alto, Orange City, and others are voicing serious objections the HSRA is right now requesting more funding. Does Washington even know many of us are opposing this rail? The HSRA are not going to tell them. We do need to write to our government reps. who are supposed to be representing us. First they need to know what we think.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2010 at 11:46 am

Thank you for endorsing the HSR council members Klein, Espinosa, Yeh, Burt, Schmid. And thanks to the new council members Price, Shepard for voicing your support of HSR during your campaign.

The city should name different sections of the track after each of you, so that your support can be remember forever by the citizens of Palo Alto.

Let's not delay the next city council election until 2012, so that the citizens can show their graditude by re-electing Espinosa, Yeh, Burt & Schmid.

Oh, and let's remove term limits for State Senator Simitian, because he supports HSR "done right", so that he can see this project through.


Posted by jerryl, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 5, 2010 at 12:01 pm

I still don't get it. Our city is divided by the Caltrain tracks right now. There are only three crossings right now.

I just don't see how running HSR through along the same corridor really changes much for Palo Alto.

There is such a huge amount of hatred that I can't yet see is justified.
And, having just come back from Germany and Italy, and felt the shame I feel every time I ride on a decent rail system that we, here in America, can't seem to manage, I am very exasperated at all the roadblocks people keep trying to erect in the face of progress.

Do we really think it's better to travel to LA in an aluminum tube spewing black soot and CO2 over the land than sitting in a comfortable and much more efficient rail car?


Posted by Anony Mouse, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Anony Mouse is a registered user.

Robert:

1. "ground conditions" ? Say what?!

The tunnel would need to be placed below the water table and it would need to go beneath San Francisquito Creek (among others). This would present increased costs and maintenance issues.


2. "constructability issues" ? Say what?!

See #1


3. "lengthy construction schedule" ? It would take a long time with or without a tunnel and tunnel boring is more and more efficient. Another load of manure.

Tunnel boring would clearly take longer than surface construction. And cost more.



4. "substantial cost features" ? You mean it would cost a lot? Can't you even say that clearly and say how much more than an aerial structure?

I've heard estimates of hundreds of millions of more per mile. (sorry no citation) (think Boston's Big Dig)


Keep in mind that Union Pacific Railroad is a major villain in all this. Due to certain rights that they have over the Peninsula ROW, they have demanded that they be able to run heavy freight over the new tracks. This imposes server restrictions because they demand no more than a 1% grade throughout the system, and heavy freight entails increased vertical clearances. This all imposes greater cost when we think about tunneling. A tunnel to just protect the NIMBY communities of Palo Alto, Atherton and Menlo Park, which would go under the creeks and other hazards, comply with the 1% grade and provide the heavy freight clearances would be a huge undertaking. It would start its descent several miles from our borders, impacting other communities. It is a huge undertaking. Also, this tunneling would need to accommodate Caltrain, so we're talking about a 4 track arrangement.

I'm not too sure that these communities are ready to finance this. Is the CHSRA supposed to pay for this?



Posted by MP resident, a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 5, 2010 at 12:07 pm

What a waste of time going to the public meetings. They wanted to know our concerns and we told them and apparently it was all a dog and pony show. I'm a Democrat and union member and I'll vote for Meg Whitman if she promises to stop this insanity.


Posted by Robert, a resident of Southgate
on Aug 5, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Dear Anonymous,

1. I see, so you support the cheapest alternative. Wonderful.

2. See # 1.

3. Whenever I see "clearly," it's usually a substitute for the lack of evidence. For example, in the most recent HSR meeting I went to the consultant hired by PA showed a table from HSR which showed that cut-and-cover trench method would be more expensive than a tunnel. Others there will remember the graph he put on the screen. Apparently not everything that's "obvious" is true, Mouse.

4. What is one to make of what you've "heard" about "estimates" of hundreds of millions of dollars? Show me the serious, state-of-the-art estimates, then if they're accurate and not inflated, I may admit you have a point. Boring technology is a rapidly developing thing. See Burkhard Bilger, A Reporter at Large, "The Long Dig," The New Yorker, September 15, 2008, pp. 63ff, about the Gotthard Base Tunnel.

I'm perfectly happy to let UP run its freight trains on the surface. But even if they must be accomodated in a tunnel, you are relying on intuition, guesses, and rhetoric, not facts and analysis.

Of course the entire segment from SJ to SF is ABSOLUTELY UNNECESSARY since we already have a decent carrier that does a good job getting people between those termini (35-37 min from Palo Alto to SF and 57 min from SJ to SF). What is the rationale for building redundant line, especially since HSR by law would be limited to 125 mph on the Peninsula, and since it would stop, wouldn't even average that. So, even if it ran at 125 from SJ to SF the time savings would be miniscule. There is no rationale other than "Hey, we're SF/SJ, we've got to be a node of the prestigious HSR!" What's the name of the hub in San Jose? Doesn't it have Diridon's name plastered to it? Ah, I see.


Posted by Question, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 5, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Can anyone tell me why eminent domain can't be used against Union Pacific, and that way get one more character out of this mess?


Posted by chris, a resident of University South
on Aug 5, 2010 at 12:27 pm

MP Resident,

Are you betting on Meg Whitman over the Bay Area Council?

The Bay Area Council companies have even more money than Meg.
Meg doesn't have enough money to get her way with everything.


Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 5, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Elect Meg. She will stop this HSR. But if we elect J.Brown this project will go ahead.Tax payers and voters wise up.


Posted by Robert, a resident of Southgate
on Aug 5, 2010 at 12:45 pm

If Meg Whitman takes a strong and consistent position against HSR on financial grounds and Jerry Brown lines up with the views of the construction and other labor unions or tries to equivocate on the matter, then Meg will get my vote.


Posted by Lucky, a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 5, 2010 at 12:47 pm

I'm not convinced that HSR between Los Angeles and San Jose is a bad idea, but I can't see any reason to continue it to San Francisco. Riders can simply get on CalTrain! We need to focus our objections on the SJ-SF corridor. Please write and call your elected officials and city managers NOW: don't waste public funds on HSR on the peninsula corridor!


Posted by JeffD, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 5, 2010 at 12:54 pm

HSR in Europe looks so nice on television. It even feels good riding on it. But I spent a night in a hostel near the Cologne-Frankfurt high-speed rail line. I think this is an experience that every HSR supporter should have before continuing to talk about it going through a community.


Posted by residant, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 5, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Diridon has signed the contracts in India also and people are very angry . thousands of newly built houses will go for imminent domain . All politics.


Posted by Anony Mouse, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Anony Mouse is a registered user.

Dear Robert:

Just to be clear:


1. I see, so you support the cheapest alternative. Wonderful.


Who is supposed to finance this tunnel? The taxpayers?


2. See # 1.


See #1.


3. Whenever I see "clearly," it's usually a substitute for the lack of evidence. For example, in the most recent HSR meeting I went to the consultant hired by PA showed a table from HSR which showed that cut-and-cover trench method would be more expensive than a tunnel. Others there will remember the graph he put on the screen. Apparently not everything that's "obvious" is true, Mouse.

Again, whether it's tunnel, or trench and cover it will be vastly more expensive and take more time than building on the surface. I think this much is "clear" and "obvious". I don't know that I can prove such an obvious point with a citation. Do I really need to?



4. What is one to make of what you've "heard" about "estimates" of hundreds of millions of dollars? Show me the serious, state-of-the-art estimates, then if they're accurate and not inflated, I may admit you have a point. Boring technology is a rapidly developing thing. See Burkhard Bilger, A Reporter at Large, "The Long Dig," The New Yorker, September 15, 2008, pp. 63ff, about the Gotthard Base Tunnel.

Read the article. Back in the day. This will be vastly more expensive than building on the surface. "Clear" and "obvious", no?


I'm perfectly happy to let UP run its freight trains on the surface. But even if they must be accomodated in a tunnel, you are relying on intuition, guesses, and rhetoric, not facts and analysis.

See Web Link

There are numerous discussions about the problems that UPRR presents.



Of course the entire segment from SJ to SF is ABSOLUTELY UNNECESSARY since we already have a decent carrier that does a good job getting people between those termini (35-37 min from Palo Alto to SF and 57 min from SJ to SF). What is the rationale for building redundant line, especially since HSR by law would be limited to 125 mph on the Peninsula, and since it would stop, wouldn't even average that. So, even if it ran at 125 from SJ to SF the time savings would be miniscule. There is no rationale other than "Hey, we're SF/SJ, we've got to be a node of the prestigious HSR!" What's the name of the hub in San Jose? Doesn't it have Diridon's name plastered to it? Ah, I see.


Shouldn't this major transport investment serve the major cities of the state? I think SF and SJ both count on that score. The idea is one seat travel to have the greatest possibility for ridership.


Posted by Burlingamer, a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2010 at 1:02 pm

This is what "done right" looks like. What is realistically feasible based on preliminary engineering and what can be done based on cost estimates.


Posted by Y162, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 5, 2010 at 1:29 pm

What impact would the HSR have on the homes in the Eichler circles? Would all these homes need to be demolished for constuction of the HSR or will the construction just be a temporary inconvenience.


Posted by David, a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I wish there was a web site I could point people to that would clearly convey something like, 'the FIVE questions EVERYBODY should be asking about HSR' (or something like that). Maybe they could have the top 5 or 10 and then on another link they could have all the hundreds of others that just scream out what an ill conceived idea HSR is. I'd like to share that URL with my friends and neighbors, I'd like to share that with my city council...


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 5, 2010 at 2:05 pm

It doesn't matter whether or not I support HSR, many Palo Altans seriously have to step back and face reality.

Tunneling is great, but has anyone really thought about all the impacts it would have? Where all that dirt would go? All the utility cables/pipes down there? The cost? The traffic impacts? Berkeley wanted a BART tunnel, so they paid for it with their own residents' tax dollars.

Palo Alto is already divided. We already say, "The other side of the rail tracks." Heck, we already say, "The other side of Oregon." Will one of the given options, adding two tracks and grade separating Churchill, Charleston, etc, really affect our community that much? Will it split it up? Probably no more than it is now. In case you haven't noticed, Caltrain is also going for electrification too, with or without HSR. Talk to them about centenaries if you're that concerned about overhead wires, heard of power lines to your house? Look outside.

For those of you complaining about what City Council members of done, what really have you done? A letter? Some shouting? That's it? Folks like Kishimoto and Simitian has done A LOT to try and slow this project down, we should embrace that.

Remember that trenches are still an option, let's all pitch in and do everything we can to keep that option on the table, the whole way through.

Just a thought.


Posted by Robert, a resident of Southgate
on Aug 5, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Dear Anony Mouse,

Just to be clear:

1. Yes, the tax payers, the same ones who were duped into barely passing Prop. 1A by CHSRA's deception of not revealing that they'd decided to run it up the spine of the Peninsula until after the election. The tax payers, perhaps with assistance from people in communities that stand to be trashed by this overhead monstrosity.

3. So you're fine with its being built on the surface or via "an aerial structure"? If so, we'll have to agree to disagree on that. I believe that the aerial structure, in addition to being an eyesore of major proportions and possibly posing a significant risk, will actually lower property values throughout most of Palo Alto, not just immediately along the right of way,

4. That's Clem Tillier's blog. He's an ardent HSR booster. Might as well as me, an ardent opponent ON THE PENINSULA about the cost.

When it comes to comparing the minor inconvenience of walking 20 feet across a platform to switch to CalTrain in San Jose for the leg to SF vs. the devastating impacts on communities and families, to me it's a no brainer. "Serving" major city San Francisco with HSR will simply mean HSR from LA to all the way to SJ and walking 20 feet to a waiting, almost as fast CalTrain -- HSR is limited to 125 on the Peninsula -- for the final leg to SF (HSR will stop in SJ in any event so it wouldn't be an extra stop). Show me that doing it that way will cut down ridership. Don't speculate, show me with a serious survey, not a pre-cooked CHSRA-commissioned one like the most recent joke.


Posted by Robert, a resident of Southgate
on Aug 5, 2010 at 2:19 pm

For Anonymous in Crescent Park:

You said, "Remember that trenches are still an option, let's all pitch in and do everything we can to keep that option on the table, the whole way through."

May I direct your attention to the first sentence of this news article? : "Deep tunnels and covered trenches have been dropped as alternatives for the Palo Alto/Midpeninsula portion of the state's high-speed-line under the latest plan from the California High Speed Rail Authority, officials disclosed today (Thursday).

Thanks for your attention.


Posted by John, a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 5, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Several points:

1. I see no "value added" for a different rail line between San Jose and San Francisco.

2. I doubt that a HSR from San Jose to Los Angeles is needed, economically justifiable, and nothing more than "make work". But, I am open to reviewing more info on this. I realize it has been voted on and passed.

3. I think freight lines on the Peninsula are an ASSET.


Posted by M.C., a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2010 at 2:46 pm

peninsula rail program's version of context sensitive solutions is a complete joke and the politicians that sit on the chsra board incompetent.

i usually vote democrat, but i will vote for meg for sure since she'll put a stop to this boondoggle. jerry brown hasn't done much anyway.


Posted by Town Walker, a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 5, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Why can't the San Jose to San Francisco section run over the bay? At slightly above water level, this would provide an exiting ride and views from SJ to SF and vice versa. As mentioned earlier, the local service between SJ and SF already exists. Does anyone know if this had been considered?
Thanks.


Posted by Concerned Citizen, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2010 at 3:13 pm

I would like to see the HSR program done right, with the project using eminent domain to eliminate the Alma right of way entirely. This would give HSR the space it needs for the four tracks, Cal train and freight. Current grade crossings can become underpasses much like University, Embarcadero and Oregon are today. Getting rid of Alma would discourage use of automobiles, which seems to be the intent of the HSR. Isn't Mr Simitian of the State transportation committee a former Palo Alto official? I haven't heard much from him recently on the HSR issue.


Posted by Rick, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Aug 5, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Eminent domain will turn us all into Republicans!


Posted by carey, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 5, 2010 at 3:45 pm

There's only one way to stop this. We need to have a community fundraiser. We need a lot of cash. Then we need to give it to the politicians who can stop this train project as bribes. That's the only thing they understand.


Posted by paul, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 5, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Maybe I'm missing something here, but why is this train needed? I haven't heard a lot of people saying, "Gee, if I could only find a way to get to L.A." And from their business plan, it seems the fares would be about the same as taking a plane. Where is the demand for this train, and how does it outweigh the damage it will do to our community?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Aug 5, 2010 at 4:12 pm

HSR is so economically unfeasible that it will never happen.

Unfortunately the funeral will be long, drawn out and very expensive.

The cost of the HSR funeral could be reduced if Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton have the courage to vote against HSR as did the City of Orange. Their Resolution calls out the State for:

* Using eminent domain powers to cut through neighborhoods and business centers

* A viable finance plan to fund construction does not currently exist, and current plans lay out an unrealistic scenario.

* The State Auditor Report says, "The program risks significant delays without more well developed plans for obtaining or replacing federal funds."

* The CHSRA ridership and revenue scenario for the CHSR has been inflated in order to continue to move this project forward with unachievable goals.

* Increasing fiscal costs to complete the project.

The Federal government will never provide funds for HSR IF a significant number of cities on the proposed right of way officially oppose the project.


Posted by Jim, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 5, 2010 at 4:46 pm

The original bond measure said that limited government funds would be used - that private investment would carry most of the funding burden.

As estimates of ridership diminish and become more realistic, and higher cost estimates are forecasted, I doubt that private investors think they would get a return on their money.


Posted by jim, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 5, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Maybe this is a stupid question. But is there a fundamental reason why the train could not travel along the 101 corridor? There is already a freeway there so communities on either side of 101 are already divided and an elevated train could only enchance the look of 101.

So with no changes to the Cal train corridor we could have another high speed local transit between SJ and SF with just 1 or 2 stations in between.


Posted by Steve, a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 5, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Folks,

I grew up in Midtown and lived along Caltrain for six years in the late 80's. Once again Palo Alto will put the perfect in front of the greater good. How long has Alma Plaza been an eyesore? Mostly due to community ideas that did not make economic sense to the developer. This is the same thing, your "perfect" High speed rail is certainly one way to make the costs infeasible for a state wide project. Certainly voters are entitled to change their minds but the Peninsula Corridor as a location for HSR was already public before the Vote. Electrifying Caltrain along the existing grades creates all of the same vertical impacts of poles and wires. I've attended some of the HSR meetings in Palo Alto, and other than not really wanting it at all, most folks who attend don't agree on what would make it acceptable. Tunnels and covered trenches do need expensive ventilation and fire safety, just look at BART up near the Airport. Senator Simitian could stop it for us, but most of his district voted for it heartily. I won't try to defend Diridon,Kopp, and their public handling of things, but do remember that these two guys were each re-elected many times by neighboring constituencies.


Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 5, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Stanford expansion and improvements will save our lives but many are opposing that project and supporting this high speed rail which is going to fail and bankrupt California ,the state, which was the world's fifth largest economy one time. So sad. Voters, we need to take a charge of our state. There is so much disconnect between silicon valley and sacramento .Meg Whitman is the answer.Elect her.We need jobs, innovations ,affordable education.


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 5, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Wow ... this is unacceptable. I don't want this thing, and it is going to make the city look industrial and ugly, not to mention it is going to steal many millions of property values from people who bought their houses with goodwill thinking they were going to live in a particular kind of city.

I wonder if this is a bought and paid for decision in order to rubber stamp the cheapest and quickest version of this? The article still does not really give me confidence as to exactly what the issues are that takes this off the table, except cost of course.

What an ugly mess.


Posted by Super, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 5, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Mike Cobb speaks the truth! I don't know what more I can add to this discussion, as Mr. Cobb has aired my position on high speed rail. I didn't vote for it then, and I don't support it now. For all of you NIMBY people who voted for it but were startled to learn that the train wouldn't fly through the air on magic pixie dust, live with the consequences. California is going down the tubes fast.


Posted by BABIES, a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2010 at 6:40 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by babies, a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Enough with the propety values lies....How in the world is any home smack up against a railroad going down in value when all that will be
done is getting rid of unsafe grade crossings ..ITS a trench or at grade thru town...stop making up fear facts


Posted by Gail, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 5, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Vote for Meg Whitman. She opposes the rail. She also understands fiscal responsibility.


Posted by Train Neighbor, a resident of Ventura
on Aug 5, 2010 at 7:49 pm

To "Babies"- The impacts are not insignificant to Palo Alto.

Option A for Palo Alto's subsections 6 B (behind Paly to Southgate) & D (El Verano to Mtn. View border) has the tracks on a viaduct 30 feet high with caternary poles and wires bringing the height to 75 feet!
See page 5 of Web Link

1-2 lanes of Alma will be closed and we'll have years of construction to deal with.


Posted by Jim, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Mike Cobb: Will you be supporting Meg Whitman for governor?


Posted by so, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2010 at 8:10 pm

I recall this measure won in Palo Alto. What did you guys think you were getting when you voted for it? I voted against it becuase of the expense, but I guess the hefty price tag was not enough for most PA voters.


Posted by Alex Haselden, a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 5, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Poorly placed fear mongering is the norm in this conference. These guys are sticks in the mud who want nothing but the status quo. This rail line will have a "devastating impact" on the peninsula according to a poster above... he thinks PA will turn into west Oakland. I fail to see how this train will decrease property values in the whole of PA. I think you'll need to explain that one.

Let's look at Mike Cobb's post:

"The simple facts are ... and they aren't new and are well proven ... that HSR is will bankrupt the state and local government and be horrifically destructive to our communities while not meeting its ridership objectives and doing nothing to improve local transit. "

You should avoid using "the simple facts are","simply", "the fact that" etc. in your arguments. By calling your speculations "facts" (none of the things you wrote are factual) you are committing a logical fallacy commonly known as begging the question. I think you should admit that you wildly speculating about HSR, not listing "facts" to back up your argument.

You said HSR will bankrupt the state. Guess what, we're already there and it wasn't HSR that did it. Think about it this way: the government subsidizes all transport because doing so is in the best interest of it and the people it governs. Moving people and goods around is one of the main pillars of our economy. The positive externalities of transit make up for the costs, so the government funds it.

CA's transport system has not aged well and the population is growing. At some point we have to make improvements or there will be no progress. I heard on the radio that 20 million new residents are expected by 2030. Millions of cars will come with them, and the freeways can only be widened so much. Currently many sections of freeway, including parts of 101 on the peninsula, cannot be widened at all.

So what is your solution to these problems, Mike Cobb and others.


Posted by Sick at heart, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 5, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Reading this news sickens me, but so do these comments. Must we all be so unkind to each other? We could disagree without calling one another names.

I don't think we're "babies" or NIMBYs to want to avoid the complete destruction of neighborhoods that this train will bring. I really, truly hope it does not move forward.


Posted by chris, a resident of University South
on Aug 5, 2010 at 8:48 pm

The people who think Caltrain can handle the HSR traffic from San Jose to San Francisco do not understand the situation at all.
Before you make fools of yourselves to the rest of the state, you should come up with better alternatives.

Caltrain can barely handle the current commuter volume.

HSR traffic will be multiple times the commuter traffic, even if HSR estimates are overstated. There is no way to shoehorn these people into the current Caltrain system.


Posted by chris, a resident of University South
on Aug 5, 2010 at 8:53 pm

All of the Palo Alto whiners who get off on pushing Alma Plaza and Stanford around will get a lesson in "realpolitik" when HSR comes through Palo Alto.

Sometimes, the bully meets up with somebody who is stronger then he is.


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 5, 2010 at 9:07 pm

What a bunch of nasty ignorant posts ... obviously by people who do not have any problem with the high speed rail themselves and want to be nasty bullies discounting everyone else's viewpoints. If you cut out all those kinds of post what you are left with is intelligent posts trying to find compromise and reason by sane reasonable people who ask good questions.

If you put those trains up on a high track it's going to be heard all over town. This is not my particular problem - very much, but I know right now near the Rinconada Park area I can hear the trains and the horns only really on cold still nights when conditions are right. So if I can hear that on normal days, then everyone in Palo Alto is going to hear it as well, and at a volume that is going to hit everyone.

This is a stupid Idea that we cannot afford in any way monetarily, and that has somehow gained wrongful support as some kind of stimulus pet supposedly green project that will suck up stimulus and other money for no good purpose. Come on, does anyone believe California can make a good project like this now ... after the Bay Bridge fiasco?

Yes, the people who lived next to the train knew about the train and had to accept the train as a fact of life, before they bought their houses .... now it is a whole different thing, it is like a tax on people that knocks down the equity and value of their houses that they got no say on, and as many people have mentioned, who cares about high speed rail anyway - if it is going to be so distruptive, ugly and noise, and not even accomplish its goals of being high speed through these residential areas ... THIS IS PURE INSANITY, meaning, it's normal for California and Palo Alto I assume.

This is a nice idea, but to get the dream done they sold out the whole point of it. The cost and annoyance of high speed rail cutting through a big residential area of town is unacceptable and a win for no one.


Posted by James Hoosac, a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2010 at 9:08 pm

It is useless to argue if HSR is viable. This issue is settled. Look around - Europe, Japan, Taiwan, and China, HSR is happening everywhere.

It is useless to argue the choice of route either. Palo Alto had its chance. But the city officials and, the people frankly, were too ignorant.

Now is the time for damage control:

(1) Don't abandon the train station. If there is a HSR, it's better to have the train station at Palo Alto rather than Mountain View.

(2) Re-zone houses around CalTrain. Allow multiplex, mid/low rises, or even commercials, to protect property values.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2010 at 9:53 pm

So much ranting and raving, so many misconceptions. Maybe the HSR Authority's $9M PR campaign is working.

"Folks like Kishimoto and Simitian has done A LOT to try and slow this project down."

Ah yes, Kishimoto is now the heroine of Palo Alto, AFTER she and Larry Klein wrote a colleagues memo urging the city council -- and residents – to vote FOR high speed rail.

"Getting rid of Alma would discourage use of automobiles, which seems to be the intent of the HSR."

Do people still think HSR is going to cut commute traffic? It's an express train from SF to LA. Not many stops in between.

I think Simitian is trying to resolve HSR issues. See "Rail Authority besieged by critical reports" Web Link

Those critical reports, Review of "Bay Area/California High-Speed Rail Ridership and Revenue Forecasting Study, are at: Web Link

Please, people, get the facts and write to your state and federal representatives. Tell them not to allocate any more of our tax dollars to this financial boondoggle.

I would suggest you contact the Palo Alto city council, but why waste your time? They're busy putting together yet another task force to help the City conduct an analysis of the Caltrain corridor. Web Link.

The 15 or 16 member task force is to include five neighborhood members, four business and property representatives, an environmentalist, a member of Canopy, a bicyclist, a Caltrain rider, a social-service specialist and representatives from Stanford University and the local school district. The five neighborhood members will include 2 from north of Oregon, 2 from south and 1 from PAN (Palo Alto Neighborhoods) representing all neighborhoods.

As for Whitman saving California, I'm glad someone with a powerful voice is opposed to HSR. But does ANY politician keep his/her campaign promises?

Also see "A tale of two campaigns from first-time candidates for California governor. Whitman's promises are almost identical to Schwarzenegger's when he promised to rescue the state: Web Link

While I would love to have someone run the state like a business, businesses don't have to deal with a legislature, nor – in most cases – unions. Good luck, Meg!


Posted by James Hoosac, a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Another "innovative" idea that I'd like to suggest is to do a three-way land swap with Stanford.

Namely, ask Stanford to provide a large track of land to build new residential houses. The are will be annexed to Palo Alto city. Move those who are mostly affected by HSR to the new houses. And Stanford, in return, get the land around train tracks, and especially the sole right to develop the train station. Stanford also get more concessions from the City on other projects such as the hospital expansion and Stanford Shopping Center expansion.


Posted by Bill, a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Whitman and fiscal responsibility?

You're falling for the incessant ads?

The same Whitman who wants to increase the state debt by $22 BILLION (including interest payments) to move water to SoCal and the central valley agribusiness?

This Prop 18 would increase state costs by some $750 MILLION each year. Where's Meg gonna get the $ for that? Oh yeah, cut the "Waste, fraud and abuse..." Heard that one before.


Posted by Al, a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2010 at 11:37 pm

The best way to oppose HSR is to put an initiative proposition on the 2011 ballot to suspend it, on the grounds that the economy of the state has adversely changed since HSR was approved, and the state can no longer afford it. The reclaimed money can go to schools, teachers, counties, and health care.


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 6, 2010 at 12:02 am

>> put an initiative proposition on the 2011 ballot to suspend it,

Great idea ... how ? Who has the money and the know-how ?


Posted by Toady, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 6, 2010 at 7:19 am

"A ballot proposition enacted by the initiative process may alter the state constitution, or amend the ordinary laws of the state, or do both. An initiative is brought about by writing a proposed law as a petition, and submitting the petition to the California Attorney General along with a submission fee (in 2004 this was $200), and obtaining signatures on petitions from registered voters amounting to 8% (for a constitutional amendment) or 5% (for a statute) of the number of people who voted in the most recent election for governor. The signed petitions are then sent to the Secretary of State of California for validation of signatures."

(Wikipedia)


Posted by neighbor, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 6, 2010 at 9:07 am

"Posted by jerryl, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, 20 hours ago

I just don't see how running HSR through along the same corridor really changes much for Palo Alto."

How can you believe it would not change Palo Alto to have a 15ft high berm splitting the city in half? The height will project noise further into the neighorhood and there will be four tracks instead of two, which means there will be more noise, more stirring up of dust (if you live anywhere near the tracks you'll understand), a HUGE visual block, and perhaps worst of all, the taking of homes of our neighbors. The plan is to run a train EVERY THREE MINUTES!

This is NUTS!


Posted by Robert, a resident of Southgate
on Aug 6, 2010 at 9:09 am

For "Steve' (from MV),

You wrote: "Certainly voters are entitled to change their minds but the Peninsula Corridor as a location for HSR was already public before the Vote." I challenge that claim.

I would like to request that you to produce an unambiguous reference to show that it was known publicly, before the Nov. 2008 vote, that the Peninsula Corridor would be part of the HSR route. I simply want the name of a NON-OBSCURE local or California-wide publication, an explicit quote from the article published in it in which the route up the Peninsula is publicly disclosed, and the precise date it was published.

I am deeply skeptical that it was known before the Prop. 1A vote that HSR had been chosen (in the summer of 2008) to run up the spine of the Peninsula. If it was known, how is it that no one on the P.A. City Council or in the P.A. Planning Dept knew it? I follow current events in the community closely and never read anything to that effect. NONE of my well informed friends in Palo Alto had heard before the vote that HSR was slated to run up the CalTrain right of way. Did we all miss the articles in which the route was clearly disclosed for all to see so that we could make an informed vote in November 2008?

Perhaps you're right, but I deeply doubt it. Until you produce that reference, I will continue to believe that the vote on Prop. 1A was an UTTER FRAUD, since knowledge that the CalTrain right of way had already been chosen as the HSR right of way was kept off the public radar until AFTER the vote. (There was no reference to the CalTrain right of way in either the inititive or in the material in the voter handbook sent to all voters' homes.) In fact, it was not until January or February of 2009 that I found out about the designated route and that was when the first demonstration against this HSR on the Peninsula occurred in downtown Palo Alto, one in which I and a number of my friends participated.

Let me be clear: if it had been clear what the route was going to be on the Peninsula BEFORE the Nov. 2008 vote, then I would have respected and accepted a pro-HSR bond proposition outcome. But since the vote was fraudulent and based on deliberate deception, I strongly contend that it was an ILLEGITMATE and UNETHICAL vote that should be redone. What we are doing now is struggling with an outcome that would probably not have occurred without that gross deception.

Steve, if you cannot produce a reference to back up your claim, then you should RECANT your claim IMMEDIATELY on this online site.

Sincerely,

Robert


Posted by neighbor, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 6, 2010 at 9:15 am

To Alex Haselden, a resident of Mountain View,who posted " I fail to see how this train will decrease property values in the whole of PA. I think you'll need to explain that one."

Property values have ALREADY decreased, even before any decisions have been made. I live near ALMA and all of the realtors are telling us they are unable to sell, or have to sell at markedly reduced prices, anything along the HSR corridor. It will only get worse if this passes.


Posted by Robert, a resident of Southgate
on Aug 6, 2010 at 9:23 am

For "babies" (resident of "another community,"

You wrote: :"Enough with the propety values lies....How in the world is any home smack up against a railroad going down in value when all that will be done is getting rid of unsafe grade crossings."

Let me give you a case study in relation to your claim about property values.

I spoke two nights ago with a person who lives adjacent to the tracks who had his beautiful house on the market for several months -- until recently -- and had several hundred people attend his open houses. He got not a single offer, not even a low ball offer, for his house. In effect, it wasn't and isn't marketable.

This real experience of a real person shows that your speculative question -- "How in the world is any home smack up against a railroad going down in value when all that will be done is getting rid of unsafe grade crossings?" -- is utterly unworldly and shows a clear lack of imagination and empathy on your part.

It almost follows that, based on what you state -- "all that will be done is getting rid of unsafe grade crossings" -- property values along the tracks should be going UP! [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Robert, a resident of Southgate
on Aug 6, 2010 at 9:38 am

I would like to make a comment about the options contained in yesterdays "staff report" to CHSRA.

If anyone believes that the options presented AND ELIMINATED in yesterday's "staff report" to CHSRA were the result SOLELY of engineering analysis and chosen SOLELY by the engineers who did the analysis (if the work done can be dignified with that term), then I'd like to ask: what exactly are you smoking?

Put differently, I believe that it is highly probable that the options presented were decided on political grounds by Quintin Kopp and Rod Diridon, given as marching orders to the engineers, and then they were dressed up with a modicum of rationalizations. Even the vague language used is a give away that this was a political decision, not a rational-technical decision:

"A deep tunnel would 'result in critical risks due to ground conditions, have major constructability issues, lengthy construction schedule and substantial cost features,' the report said."

Wake up, Palo Alto. It's time for bold action if we want to preserve the quality of life in this beautiful city. The Palo Alto City Council and Mayor should show some LEADERSHIP, step up to the plate, and, for starters, pass a strong statement akin to that adopted last week by Orange City, CA. Since the P.A. C. C. was asleep at the switch in October and November 2008 when it naively voted to support HSR, it needs to do something to protect the community now that the nature of the beast is clear for all to see and we see that CHSRA has no intention of taking P.A. concerns seriously (tunnel option was dismissed outright). Appointing yet another committee that will take months to get going and likely do nothing, like the Peninsula Cities Consortium did, is a waste of precious time.


Posted by chris, a resident of University South
on Aug 6, 2010 at 9:42 am

Robert,

It was known before the vote that the preferred route was up the Peninsula. I'm sorry that you were not in touch with the news.

The Silicon Valley Leasdership Group and the Bay Area Council are now heavily attacking your position. How many powerful people do you plan to antagonize before you back down or do you think you can fight them?

You are heading for another Rickey's / Alma Plaza disaster unless you start cooperating. BAC and SVLG will just run over you unless you work with them constructively. Welcome to "realpolitik."


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 6, 2010 at 9:50 am

Robert,

I voted against Prop 1A, the HSR bonds because I read the maerial, and thought the plan was fiscally unsound & would result in a wall running down the middle of Palo Alto.

It was well known that the HSR would run along the Cal train tracks, as stated in the PA Weekly, Sept 26, 2008 as one instance.

Council members Klein & Kishimoto proposed that the City Council endorse the HSR, which was heavily endorsed by the environmental groups like the Sierra Club (an example of Council Members putting special interests who help get them elected above the interests of the general population), as well I'm sure they were at the time pals of Drirdon who they worked with on various transportation boards. At the council meeting, there were people who spoke out against the endorsement, but the city council, true to form, gave weight only to those special interests who got them elected.

At the very least, the council should have gotten input from the Planning & Transportation Commission - that's why they the government has such a group. But the council, in their rush to show their special interest supporters how "green" they were voted 8-0 to endorse.


Posted by Robert, a resident of Southgate
on Aug 6, 2010 at 10:25 am

Chris,

Your message is inadvertently hilarious.

What? My position is the opposite of the SV Leadership Group and the Bay Area Council! What have I done wrong?! And my position will "antagonize" them? Oh no!

These are powerful special interest groups that don't give a damn about how a project affects local residents. What are you saying, that I'm supposed to cower in face of differences with such groups? My goodness, Chris.


Posted by chris, a resident of University South
on Aug 6, 2010 at 10:34 am

Robert,

You can laugh all you want. The point is that you will get a better result if you cooperate.


Posted by Clem, a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2010 at 10:41 am

@Robert:

A few crumbs of evidence for you.

The Bay Area - Central Valley Final Program EIR/EIS Web Link
This document was prominently posted on the CHSRA website on June 30th, 2008, over 4 months before the 2008 election. The Exhibit A CEQA findings unequivocally stated on Page 2 that the alignment selected for the San Francisco to San Jose segment was the Caltrain Corridor (Shared Use).

The famous Atherton / Menlo Park CEQA lawsuit, Sacramento Superior Court case 34-2008-80000022 (to which Palo Alto later contributed an amicus brief, after the election) was filed on August 8th, 2008 specifically in response to the selection of the Caltrain alignment. So, we know for a fact that the cities of Atherton and Menlo Park knew that the Caltrain alignment had been selected at least 3 months prior to the 2008 election.

The Palo Alto city council passed a resolution on October 6th, 2008, several weeks before the election, in which it is acknowledged that HSR would come through the Bay Area "potentially through and perhaps stopping at Palo Alto". Web Link

There was plenty of unambiguous coverage of the Caltrain corridor choice in the media before the election. Among others (conveniently archived on the BATN site):
Web Link
Web Link

Clearly, somebody somewhere knew something. Whether this meets the standard of "generally available" information is for you to judge.


Posted by Super, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 6, 2010 at 11:57 am

Why build HSR in the current economic climate? The state of California is nearly broke. And it seems that few people are pleased with the current plans to lay down HSR track through Palo Alto. I say let's revisit this later on in the future and think things through before we get HSR rammed down our throats.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Aug 6, 2010 at 12:08 pm

The following email was sent to the Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto City Councils.

************
Yesterday's HSRA announcement that they fully intend to destroy our communities with a surface alignment of HSR demonstrates that the HSRA neither has the funding to do this project right nor are they listening to our elected officials. I urge the Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto Councils to follow in the footsteps of Orange City and bring this economically unfeasible and socially destructive project to an end.

While I personally believe that HSR is so economically unfeasible that it will never happen, the funeral will be long, drawn out and very expensive. The cost of the HSR funeral could be reduced if Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton have the courage to vote against HSR as did the City of Orange.

The Orange City Resolution calls out the State for:
* Using eminent domain powers to cut through neighborhoods and business centers
* A viable finance plan to fund construction does not currently exist, and current plans lay out an unrealistic scenario.
* The State Auditor Report says, "The program risks significant delays without more well developed plans for obtaining or replacing federal funds."
* The CHSRA ridership and revenue scenario for the CHSR has been inflated in order to continue to move this project forward with unachievable goals.
* Increasing fiscal costs to complete the project.

******************************************

In my opinion the Federal government will never provide funds for HSR IF a significant number of cities on the proposed right of way officially oppose the project.


Posted by Patrick, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 6, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Regarding Chris' comment: "You are heading for another Rickey's / Alma Plaza disaster unless you start cooperating."

We have been cooperating with the CHSRA, and that's the problem. While we hold meetings and "teach ins," they are moving ahead with their plans that are not in our community's interest.

I think the Daily Post's editorial this morning hit the nail on the head -- it's time to fight!


Posted by James Hoosac, a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2010 at 1:00 pm

For guys who really want to stop HSR, let me throw in another "innovative" idea:)

Abolish CalTrain.
Extend BART to San Jose using the CalTrain corridor.

This will stop HSR.

CalTrain is not a state agency. It is a regional agency. We can abolish CalTrain if a ballot for the three counties can pass.

But again, years ago many Palo Altans vehemently denied BART. They got what they wanted, without knowing the worse will come in its place.


Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Palo Alto
on Aug 6, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.

In the spirit of the David Letterman show, here are the top 10 reasons to support High Speed Rail:

10. Rod Diridon has a train station named after him, Quentin Kopp does not

9. Quentin Kopp has a freeway named after him, Rod Diridon does not

8. It will take longer to get to a final destination from north or south compared to flying

7. It will be more expensive for a passenger to get from north or south compared to flying

6. The State of California is already bankrupt. Might as well dig the hole deeper

5. Foolhardy propositions placed on the State ballot over the years have proven to have unintended consequences

4. The CHRSA folks have done a great job of holding public meetings and ignoring all the concerns that people have conveyed

3. HSR is a money loser in Europe, a part of the world that people in this country generally do not want to emulate

2. There is federal funding for this sort of project, and that is reason enough to go forward with it

1. Hey, the voters passed it in 2008! Screw buyer's remorse or second thoughts after more disclosure and discovery. It's a done deal.


Posted by yewon, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 6, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Pretty pathetic try at humor, Paul.


Posted by Empty Words, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 6, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Just what good has all the huffing and puffing by the City of Palo Alto leaders done on this issue? Just a lot of empty words, empty gestures, empty suits.


Posted by Vic, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 6, 2010 at 2:06 pm

I hate to say it, but I'm voting for Meg. It seems to be the only option out there for killing this thing. It kills me to vote for a Republican. I've voted Democratic in every election in my life, and my parents were Democrats too. But the Democratic politicians in local government haven't done anything to stop this train. Nothing. I feel as if I have no choice but to elect Whitman. (I wasn't too excited about another Jerry Brown term either.)


Posted by Ivan, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 6, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Glad to know you're thinking independently for once Vic.


Posted by Elf, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 6, 2010 at 2:10 pm

This may sound radical, but how about a RECALL of our council members for doing so little to stop HSR. Just the circulation of recall petitions might wake them up!


Posted by J. Diaz, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 6, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Elf ... you won't be seeing any action out of the city anytime soon. ... Most employees and the entire council take the whole month of August off for vacation. Remember, as city employees, they're entitled to every other Friday off, 12 holidays off and two months vacation per year. So they'll get to this whole high-speed rail thing sometime in December ... oh no, that's the "holiday season" (they don't use the word Christmas) ... OK, they'll get serious about this in January 2011!!!!


Posted by Toady, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 6, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Come on folks. It was pretty well known that the Caltrain corridor was slated for HSR before the Proposition was on the ballot. To not know this is a COMPLETE AND UTTER FAILURE ON YOUR PART AS A VOTER. (yes, I'm steamed right now)

I voted against this pig more for the fact that it the projections are complete and utter nonsense (I wanted to use stronger language, but this is a family paper) and the state can't afford this huge investment at all.

As for the folks who believe that it won't change anything for Palo Alto, get your heads out of the sand. It will. An HSR train every 15 minutes (if the projections are to be believed), especially at grade, will generate a big more than a breeze.


Posted by James Hoosac, a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Toady, you are wrong. HSR schedules a train every 15 minute EACH WAY. So it's two trains every 15 minutes for your ears.


Posted by Empty Words, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 6, 2010 at 4:15 pm

This is one more reason to clean up City Hall.


Posted by Babies, a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2010 at 4:44 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Jim, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 6, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Babies,

"is still going to be built..IT passed in PA"

Where will the remaining $35B come from? Actually, it is much more likely that the full buildout will be much more than the stated $40-50B. The initial $9B was approved, but not the rest of it. Where will all those private investors come from? Would you put your money into a fund that is dedicated to funding this thing? Or are you counting on a new bond issues to "finish" the first few miles of this turkey?

It won't get built, because enough people now realize that it is a fiscal disaster, and it does not even reduce CO2 in the global atmosphere (hint: the new electrcity will come from primarily coal).


Posted by babies, a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Is it not strange how ugly "shouting" and name calling is fine and dandy for the anti HSR poster on this board ..thou post a response and the equally biased PA on line staff removes it???


Posted by babies, a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2010 at 5:26 pm

u YES prop1A did pass in Palo Alto!!! and by a nice percentage!! thou nobody on this board cares..its your way or the highway..no wonder so many people in the BayArea say so many "nice" things about PA


Posted by wary traveler, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Clem wrote about how the docs were on the high-speed rail authority's website. "Whether this meets the standard of "generally available" information is for you to judge."

This reminds me of Anna Eshoo's event last summer where she commented that if she used as an excuse that she "posted it on her website", she'd be laughed out of Washington.

If people are going about their businesses & lives without thinking about trains, why would they suddenly conjure up a thought that they ought to google around in case a high-speed train or something might be coming through their neighborhood?

The CHSRA utterly failed in its public outreach on the Peninsula, and one could make a fairly convincing argument that it was intentional. The motive is obvious: they'd never have gotten that bond Prop passed if people understood its local implications.


Posted by regret my vote, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Why the hello does this thing HAVE to go up the Peninsula????

I'm happy to travel to San Jose to take it, and I'll be better able to afford to take it if this thing doesn't destroy my property values (I do not live by the tracks, but bisecting this town with HSR WILL negatively affect QOL and property values).


Posted by babies, a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Please explain how a 100 foot wide railroad at Grade thru the entire town is somehow not divided?? Failed outreach???what a joke!! you people have had at LEAST 20 meetings and hearings!!! What they are supposed to hold your hand ??? Once again there is a reason your town
is well know and "loved" and ITS going up that 100 year old railroad to San Francisco..


Posted by wary traveler, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Dear babies (your name is fitting for your level of discourse),

Why don't you list those meetings which occurred before the vote? My understanding is that there was not a single public meeting on the peninsula prior to the vote. If you can prove otherwise, please do.


Posted by chris, a resident of University South
on Aug 6, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Out of all of the cities in the Bay Area, there are 5 small cities who are involved in a consortium to protest HSR.

I don't like their chances, no matter which side Meg is on.


Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 6, 2010 at 9:55 pm

I also would like to know ,weather Mike Cobb will vote Meg?


Posted by Mooogy, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 6, 2010 at 10:07 pm

HSR isn't going to happen. The Republicans are taking over Congress this fall, so the spigot from Washington is going to stop pretty soon.

Robert Cruickshank and his fellow Democrat lobbyists will be so sad.

Hahahahahahahaha.


Posted by Well..., a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 6, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Who else is competing for the federal dollars for HSR? They need to know about the misrepresentations, impossibility of conforming to the legal/financial limits on the initiative, history of public transit failure by this team, and general corruption in the California HSR effort. They need facts, documents and details. Can you imagine the "spin" created in order to obtain federal dollars?


Posted by Robert, a resident of Southgate
on Aug 7, 2010 at 7:55 am

Booster Clem wrote as follows:

Regarding "The Bay Area - Central Valley Final Program EIR/EIS Web Link," Clem informs us that "this document was prominently posted on the CHSRA website on June 30th, 2008, over 4 months before the 2008 election. The Exhibit A CEQA findings unequivocally stated on Page 2 that the alignment selected for the San Francisco to San Jose segment was the Caltrain Corridor (Shared Use)." From that and a few other other cherry- picked data points, Clem concludes that the reality of the route of HSR was "generally available" before the fraudulent Nov. 2008 Prop. 1A vote.

Clem, that is one of the most hilarious claims I've encountered in a long time -- since the last time I heard CHSRA claim that it is taking public input seriously. In the summer of 2008 most regular citizens on the Peninsula had no clue that CHSRA existed or what CHSRA was, much less the awareness to go to its website and search out and read "Exhibit A CEQA findings"! Give me a break!

You ended up by saying "Clearly, somebody somewhere knew something. Whether this meets the standard of 'generally available' information is for you to judge." Yes, Clem, someone somewhere knew something. And yes, it is for me to judge, and I judge that the fact that HSR had already decided to run up the spine of the Peninsula was definitely NOT a fact that was "generally available." I have talked to hundreds of people in Palo Alto and very, very few knew that salient fact before the election. You will recall that that salient fact was NOT mentioned in the office statement of Proposition 1A, NOR in the material sent to every voter through the mail, ostensibly so that the voter could read it beforehand and vote in an informed way. Accident? No. Deliberate deception and obfuscation? Yes. The idea was to keep the plan below the public radar until after the election. Indeed, it was right after the election when news media started highlighting the implications of the vote that many of us started to organize to oppose the fraudulent process and the noxious substantive impact of this project on our communities.

Clem, you have devoted much of your waking life the few years to staying on top of HSR developments. You are extremely knowledgeable about HSR and I admire and respect that. But you are also guilty of holding the public to a ludicrously lofty standard of being informed, telling them in effect, 'Hey, the fact that they were going to run it through the Peninsula was there prior to the election. All you had to do was to go to the CHSRA website and read all about it in Exhibit A CEQA findings. So, you're all a bunch of lazy, ill-informed whining citizens who have forfeited any right to complain about the route after the election.' Unbelievable chutzpah, Clem.

Clem, you are now free to return to your 24/7/365 HSR booster activities. If this fiasco-in-the-making (i.e., HSR on the Peninsula) is ultimately stopped because of the non-existence of a compelling business plan, or because of deceptive, puffed-up, amateurish, and specious ridership, ticket cost, construction cost, and HSR opinion favorability studies used to extract money from the pubic trough, or because people finally came to their senses and realize that bankrupt CA cannot afford to go another $100 billion in debt and that Wall Street investors will loan CA tens of billions only at a very high rate of interest, or because Meg Whitman opposes it, I hope you will not be too depressed. You're putting a lot of your psychic eggs in the fraying HSR basket.


Posted by Jim, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 7, 2010 at 9:05 am

I was generally aware that HSR would come up the peninsula along the Caltrain tracks, that it would be elevated (presumably on a berm like in the rest of the world), that it would be extremely expensive and a major engineering and construction issue, and that it would never be self-sustaining (because it is subsidized by the state in Europe).

That is why I voted against it.

Our city council knew all this before their recommendation in favor of HSR. However, it was a cool green dream...and that is why they voted for it. They did not want to be seen as not green.

What a mess!


Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 7, 2010 at 9:42 am

How many riders does each train need to make this monster fiscally do-able? HOW MANY PEOPLE REALLY WANT TO GO TO LOS ANGELES???? I don't think they will start in San Francisco. There is a definite argument that the ballot measure itself was
worded to twist the facts. It surely conned our own city council - but then given the council make-up then, that could be expected. It's not much better now. Voters all over California voted for this - from the Oregon border to tiny Alpine County in the Sierras to the Mojave desert. It sounded sooooo nice, so 'European'. This ballot measure was an outright fraud. Can we take this to court?


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 7, 2010 at 10:59 am

> Why don't you list those meetings which occurred before the vote?

> HSR had already decided to run up the spine of the Peninsula was definitely NOT a fact that was "generally available." I have talked to hundreds of people in Palo Alto and very, very few knew that salient fact before the election.

Cover story in the Weekly, Sept 6, 2008: "… thanks to the rising possibility that a high-speed train route between Los Angeles and San Francisco could be added to the Peninsula corridor."
Web Link

In September 2008 nearly 200 people showed up at the Menlo Park City Council Chambers, voicing concerns about HSR. Web Link

In spite of THREE local newspapers, it's my impression that few in Palo Alto pay attention until something lands right at their doorstep. Then they complain they didn't know. If you don't know what you're voting for (or against), you shouldn't vote!

>The ballot measure "surely conned our own city council.

It didn't take much to con that bunch. Kishimoto would have bought the Brooklyn Bridge if someone told her it was "green." Klein and Kishimoto wrote their colleagues memo recommending a YES vote for HSR in October 2008 – AFTER the above Menlo Park meeting.

> Can you imagine the "spin" created in order to obtain federal dollars?

The spin is already happening. The rail authority is paying $9M to Ogilvy PR to make their case: Web Link
Web Link

WRITE TO YOUR REPRESENTATIVES!


Posted by helloThere, a resident of Gunn High School
on Aug 7, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Robert,
Chris said: "Out of all of the cities in the Bay Area, there are 5 small cities who are involved in a consortium to protest HSR."

Any ideas as to how to persuade more cities to join the anti-HSR consortium?


Posted by Robert, a resident of Southgate
on Aug 7, 2010 at 6:24 pm

HelloThere,

Thank you for your question. IF we could make it vividly clear, on a personal basis, to the people in cities and towns throughout California...

1. that HSR, if implemented, will greatly increase the state's debt, probably to the tune of about a tenth of a TRILLION dollars,

2. that our children and theirs would be saddled with significantly greater taxes going forward to service that debt, something that will affect their quality of life in a substantial way, and

3. that other more important aspects of California life, e.g., our schools, parks, fire and police resources, and basic infrastructure (roads, bridges, tunnels, etc) would receive insufficient resources and allowed to deteriorate even further than they have been already (HSR's opportunity costs),

all that for a project that will

-- likely run at a significant annual operating deficit (which will require NEW infusions of public money),

-- add relatively few jobs in the steady state (compared with the ludicrous claims of 600K!),

-- be unable to fulfill or come close to its promise of 2 hours and 20 minutes from downtown SF to downtown LA. WHY? For several reasons, including the fact that major, costly, and imperfect anti-terrorism security screening procedures would be put in place throughout the HSR system that would require the same upstream waits and delays that we're familiar with in the case of airlines.

-- price its tickets far higher than the CHSRA's most recent utopian claim of 83% of the cost of an airline ticket price for the same route. (They claim that the system is going to make millions of dollars of profit annually even while pricing their tickets below those of SWA! Anyone want to bet the farm or mortgage on that one?)

then the base of opposition to this project (as conceived, as designed, and as it is being implemented) will broaden significantly.

Encouragingly, even with the deception of the Prop. 1A campaign and the vague and incomplete information provided in the voter pamphlet backgrounder, not to mention the utopian promises made for HSR, 47.5% of the people voted against 1A in November 2008. If the vote were held today, with the increased construction and costs estimates CHSRA has been forced to acknowledge) it would likely lose by a substantial margin.

We are beginning to see more journalists, e.g., Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee, dig into and shed light on the underbelly of this project, revealing its flawed assumptions and uncompelling case for profitability. We are beginning to become aware of the waste of $9 million of public money, our money, that CHSRA is lavishing on Ogilvy, a slick PR firm, to have it try to improve HSR's "image" by commissioning deceptive public opinion surveys and propagating misleading and hyper-optimistic interpretations of their "findings." As people begin to wake up to this web of deception, waste, and misplaced priorities, they will begin to put more and more pressure on their legislators to SCRUTINIZE the project as currently mismanaged, and if its flaws persist, to deny it any of the $9.5 billion the electorate authorized (but DID NOT REQUIRE) the legislature to spend on it.


Posted by chris, a resident of University South
on Aug 7, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Kate,

Have you read this from the ridership analysis?

Area ridership projections conclude that by 2030, high-speed trains will carry 45%, air transportation 26%, and the automobile 29% of the total transportation market between the two biggest metropolitan areas in California.

---------------------

If you don't believe this, let's see your analysis.
By the way, the HSR traffic will be 5-10x or more of the current Caltrain traffic. People who think HSR traffic can be diverted onto the current Caltrain are out of their mind.

In addition, there is no way the existing airports could handle the passenger load in 2030 if HSR is not built. How much are you willing to spend to build new airports and to pay for fuel imported at a high price from Arab countries?


Posted by Robert, a resident of Southgate
on Aug 7, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Chris,

You wrote: "Have you read this from the ridership analysis? Area ridership projections conclude that by 2030, high-speed trains will carry 45%, air transportation 26%, and the automobile 29% of the total transportation market between the two biggest metropolitan areas in California."

My comment to you is this: if you believe that by 2030 (merely 20 years from now) high-speed trains will carry 45% of the riders in this state, then I have a used Golden Gate Bridge for sale, cheap.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 7, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Chris,

Money talks, fancy dreams walk. Since the HSR plan originally called for private investors, where are they?

Private investors would do due diligence and have to find

1) project can be done for statd cost
2) revenue/ridership estimates are accurate
3) operational costs ar accurate.

Since no private money is willing to invest, it tells alot of people that the business plan and build plan doesn't make any sense.


Posted by One Dollar Bob, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 8, 2010 at 4:42 am

<< Maybe I'm missing something here, but why is this train needed? I haven't heard a lot of people saying, "Gee, if I could only find a way to get to L.A." And from their business plan, it seems the fares would be about the same as taking a plane. Where is the demand for this train, and how does it outweigh the damage it will do to our community? >>

If you're just now asking these questions you're two years behind the curve. You and the P.A. city council should have been asking these questions in August of 2008, not August 2010, almost two years after the election. The gullible California electorate neglected to do its homework and as a result had this infeasible project crammed down their throats.

It's true, the Pacheco Pass route was selected before the 2008 election. What they didn't tell you was that Union Pacific refused to let HSR use its right of way between Gilroy and San Jose. The voters were fleeced! HSR has since come up with an alternate route down Monterey Highway, adding untold costs to the original estimate in what, if history is any guide, is likely to become a series of mounting cost overruns. You can thus use the original cost estimate to wrap frankfurters in Fantasyland.

I have seen nothing which describes how they intend to market HSR to the traveling public or how they plan to lure people out of airplanes and off the highways and into HSR (flying is faster and HSR will have no provision for transporting automobiles). Believe the outlandish ridership projections if you will and you'll be duped again.

If Jerry Brown supports HSR he's instantly lost my vote, as abhorrent as it would be for me to vote for Meg Whitman.

BTW, the proper city name is "Orange" or "City of Orange", not "Orange City": Web Link


Posted by Clem, a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Quoting Robert:
'Hey, the fact that they were going to run it through the Peninsula was there prior to the election. All you had to do was to go to the CHSRA website and read all about it in Exhibit A CEQA findings. So, you're all a bunch of lazy, ill-informed whining citizens who have forfeited any right to complain about the route after the election.' Unbelievable chutzpah, Clem.

The chutzpah is all yours, sir, for putting words into my mouth that I never said or wrote. I understand your anger, but please don't turn it against me personally.


Posted by Robert, a resident of Southgate
on Aug 8, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Clem,

This is what I said: "...telling them in effect..." followed by single quote marks. However, I doubt your view is materially different from that position. If, however, you disagree with the position I attributed to you, how does your position differ from it?

Clem, I am not angry with you, even if you are a relentless booster of HSR, just astonished that you would cite the presence of the plan before the election on p. 2 of a CEQA document on CHSRA's then little-known web site (plus the articles you linked that were published in the "Peninsula Examiner" (that describes itself as "Political Posts for San Mateo County") and the "Menlo Park Almanac" as evidence that the decision to run HSR though Palo Alto on the CalTrain right of way was "generally available" (your words), hence that the electorate has no right to complain downstream. If there had been major detailed articles published before the Nov. 2008 election in the major papers that are widely read in Palo Alto that would be more compelling. I would hazard the guess that few Palo Altans read the "Peninsula Examine" or the "Menlo Park Almanac."


Posted by Where is city leadership?, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 8, 2010 at 11:40 pm

The Mayor of Palo Alto has become very knowledgeable about HSR but he seems to be using his knowledge to pontificate at the council and hobnob with HSR bigwigs.

What he should be doing is saying No loud and clear, and leading the city in
objecting to the HSR monstrosity. I do not believe he is doing so. Ditto some of the staff. We need some leadership.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Aug 9, 2010 at 10:09 am

Let's wait for this - it will have to be underground!!

**************

China developing 600 mph airless maglev high-speed train

High-speed rail just got a whole lot faster.

China is reportedly developing a high-speed train that will travel at 1,000 kilometers per hour, or approx. 621 miles per hour, through Maglev lines in airless tubes underground.

Researchers at the National Power Traction Laboratory of Southwest Jiaotong University reportedly told Beijing-based Legal Evening News that they were working on a prototype "vactrain" with an average speed of 500 to 600 kilometers per hour (approx. 311 to 373 miles per hour.)

The researchers say the technology could be in use within a decade. In the meantime, a smaller model train may be introduced in two or three years, they said.

The technology at the heart of the train is Maglev, short for magnetic levitation, technology. A concept that's been around for more than 100 years, Maglev tech entails the suspension of a train via powerful magnets to remove the friction present at the rails of conventional trains.

The catch with maglev technology is that there's still friction from the air rushing past the train as it hurtles down the tracks. To date, the fastest Maglev train managed about 361 miles per hour — not much faster than a conventional high-speed train.

But an airless tube — a vacuum — would remove that air drag, allowing for impressive speeds. (The trains themselves will contain pressurized air, just like an airplane.) A cheaper alternative to removing the air completely is to depressurize it, the researchers say.

Inventor and ET3 CEO Daryl Oster holds the U.S. patent for Evacuated Tube Transport, or ETT, technology. As you might expect, Oster has reportedly been working with Chinese researchers Shen Zhiyun, Zhang Yaoping and Wang Jiasu at the university on the concept.

The researchers say the train is cost-competitive with a traditional high-speed train because it has a smaller tunnel and requires less boring.

Here's a rather rosy video about an existing maglev system in China, via the eagle-eyed folks at AltTransport:



The best use of such train technology? Transoceanic travel. One proposal by Channel Tunnel pioneer Frank Davidson and engineer Yoshihiro Kyonati entailed floating a tube above the ocean floor, anchored with cables.

Call it the Concorde 2.0: live in New York, work in London. Or travel from New York to Los Angeles in 45 minutes, according to Oster's calculations.

A 2007 Worcester Polytechnic Institute report (.pdf) elaborates:

The Vactrain outweighs the current modes of transport in several ways, making it a ground-breaking idea. It has a clear edge over present airplanes, trains and automobiles as it causes no pollution and does not operate with gas or petroleum. Thus, while the present transportation would soon be in a sticky situation with the energy crises which the world is facing with dwindling resources of petroleum and gas, the Vactrain would emerge victorious. Moreover, the Vactrain is unaffected by any extremes in weather conditions. It has low maintenance costs as it employs the high-lifetime maglev technology, which also minimized wear due to friction. Additionally, it has low operation costs and 25% energy consumption when compared to aircrafts. Due to all these factors, the Vactrain triumphs over the current means not just in the future but even in present situations making it highly superior.

The Chinese aren't the only ones working on a vactrain, by the way: according to the report, both the U.S. and Switzerland are developing similar technology.

Illustrations: ET3


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 9, 2010 at 11:07 am

>"If there had been major detailed articles published before the Nov. 2008 election in the major papers that are widely read in Palo Alto that would be more compelling."

Robert, do you consider the Weekly to be a major paper widely read in Palo Alto? I posted this previously:

Cover story in the Weekly, Sept 6, 2008: "… thanks to the rising possibility that a high-speed train route between Los Angeles and San Francisco could be added to the Peninsula corridor." Web Link


Posted by advanced transit, a resident of another community
on Aug 9, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Innovate to save taxpayers $61 billion?

Is there a chance to innovate for HSR, to minimize visual impact, noise, and cost?

Megaprojects like HSR are challenging and can benefit from a Silicon Valley private sector risk management approach. Megaprojects tend to go over budget. Reason Foundation predicts a cost of $81 billion for CHSR: Web Link, much more than the original $25 billion estimate.

Given an $81 billion megaproject. If there is a chance that new technology can be developed (maybe not quite as wacky as ET3 above) that can lower the project's cost to $20 billion, then what amount of the $81 billion budget is worth investing in the development of new, advanced transit technologies? 1% of $81 billion is $810,million. This is enough to fund advanced transit pilot projects from four or more companies, with vehicles and long test tracks. It could be kind of an X-prize for HSR: Web Link.

If a pilot proves viable, then we have $810 million for pilots plus $20 billion for advanced transit HSR (ATHSR) = about $21 billion for CHSR.
If all the pilots fail, then the CHSR cost becomes is $810 million for failed pilots plus $81 billion for traditional HSR megaproject technology = about $82 billion.

If stakeholders can be convinced that such a HSR X-Prize would have 50% of succeeding, then, from a Silicon Valley perspective, this "try out some advanced money-saving technologies" approach is a no-brainer.

Amtrak's Acela Express Boston-to-DC train has a high top speed, but makes frequent stops that slow the effective speed down. The NYC subway express trains, Caltrain Baby Bullet, and personal rapid transit provide the crucial transit insight that it is counter-productive to stop at every train station. HSR innovation would surely include this insight. Advanced transit technology that bypasses some or all intermediate stations can also provide more stations than traditional HSR, increasing the ridership catchment area, increasing ridership.

For an HSR innovative system grant funding competition, submittals could be judged on potential to minimize visual impact, noise, and cost. There are a number of high-speed advanced transit systems under development. Elevated advanced transit technologies with lightweight vehicles require much smaller (cheaper) infrastructure than traditional HSR technology. There is also potential to provide elevated tracks that let light through, rather than blocking out 100% of the sun.


Posted by chris, a resident of University South
on Aug 9, 2010 at 3:09 pm

advanced transit,

Why are you comparing HSR to existing US trains? Numerous other countries have years of practical experience designing and implementing fast trains. Why do you want to waste money reinventing the wheel? The Chinese will be eating your lunch even sooner if you delay the project further. How many miles of fast trains have the Chinese built while we have been talking, talking, talking? Remember the perfect is the enemy of the good.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Aug 9, 2010 at 3:56 pm

California does not have the population density to support HSR as compared to France and Japan.

Here are their respective population densities:

California 235.68 people/sq/mi

Japan 873.077

France 1,716.743

Japan is over 3 times as dense and France is 7.5 times as dense as California. And both of their HSR systems are also substantially subsidized.


Posted by Ted, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2010 at 4:07 pm

We need pat, Peter Carpenter, & fireman on the City Council!

pat's residency in Los Altos, Peter Carpenter's reidency in Atherton, & fireman's residency outside of Palo Alto could be a problem, but let's forge ahead anyway!!


Posted by helloThere, a resident of Gunn High School
on Aug 9, 2010 at 4:19 pm

The Peninsula Cities Consortium is made up of Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, Burlingame and Belmont.

So when we contact our friends and relatives to tell them the truth about HSR, we should concentrate on cities on the peninsula other than these five, so that perhaps more cities will join.


Posted by Robert, a resident of Southgate
on Aug 9, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Pat,

Thanks for your reference. I do note, however, that this story did not say that the plan WOULD run the train through the middle of Peninsula cities, it said, "… thanks to the rising possibility that a high-speed train route between Los Angeles and San Francisco COULD be added to the Peninsula corridor."

That is pretty vague and non-definitive, wouldn't you say? Because HSR "could" take such a path, should I and others have voted against Prop. 1A? The fact remains that there was no clearcut and widespread public awareness that CHSRA had decided to/WOULD run its project through Palo Alto and other Peninsula cities before the Nov. 2008 vote. Not surprising, since CHSRA, although we learned after the fact, although it had decided in the summer of 2008 to do so had a
vested interest in keeping that decision off the public radar. In fact, go to YouTube and bring up the Oct. 2008 Palo Alto City Council meeting at which Rod Diridon spoke. Listen to what he had to say in October 2008: there is a "band" of possibilities for the route, it might run through the cities and it might not, in fact he says that it might stop at Gilroy or San Jose. Now tell me that it was clear before Nov. 2008 that it WOULD run through PA and other Peninsula Cities. To save you the effort, here's the YouTube link: Web Link

Listen to what he said in that tape:

1. that the "band" of route possibilities was "roughly paralleling the CalTrain system";
2. that it was "probable" that it would run along the CalTrain corridor;
3. that they would "look at" the HSR stopping in San Jose; and
4. "your staff will be deeply involved in that" (meaning the staff of the P.A. City Council would be "deeply involved" in the study of the mode options.

Now tell me: having listened to that October 2008 statement, do you think that prior to the election that it was public KNOWLEDGE that HSR would run through Palo Alto and other Peninsula cities? Pat Burt, who asked Diridon that question, told me that he didn't realize that that route had been decided upon before the election.


Posted by Adam Selene, a resident of another community
on Aug 10, 2010 at 8:55 am

The density of France is actually 299/sq. mile.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Aug 10, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Adam is correct, my density data re France was incorrect.

"Probably no country in the world is better suited to high-speed rail than Japan. From Greater Tokyo, one of the world's largest and densest metropolitan areas, rail lines travel to chains of other large, dense cities typically located 25 to 50 miles apart.

As of 1949, most rail lines in Japan were owned by Japanese National Railways (JNR), a government corporation. Although nationalized, JNR was not subsidized and had earned a profit, or at least broken even, every year until it began building high-speed rail lines. As of 1960, Japanese rail lines carried conventional trains at conventional speeds. In that year, autos accounted for just 5 percent of Japanese travel, while rails carried 77 percent.

Then construction began on the Shinkansen, the world's first high-speed rail system. The first bullet train between Tokyo and Osaka proved highly profitable, and it has carried more people than all other high-speed rail trains in the world combined.

Once this line was built, however, Japanese politicians demanded bullet trains for their own cities and prefectures. With one exception, all lines built since the first one have lost money. Japan's experience shows that once a nation starts building high-speed rail, political forces make it hard to stop. Despite the need for huge subsidies that Japan cannot afford, the nation's taxpayers are forced to pay for high-speed lines into the prefectures of every powerful politician in the country.

These and other political factors have driven up bullet train costs, and caused Japanese National Railways to switch from a profit-making venture, before 1964, to a money loser ever since. JNR raised passenger fares, but that only pushed more people off the trains and into automobiles. Total automobile travel surpassed rail travel in 1977 and has kept on growing. Between 1965 and 2005, per capita driving increased by more than 900 percent, while per capita rail travel increased only 19 percent.

By 1987, expansion of bullet-train services and other below-cost operations had swelled JNR's debt to more than $350 billion. That high debt load led to a financial crisis, which significantly contributed to the nation's economic woes of the last two decades. The government was forced to absorb JNR's debt and privatize the railways.

As of 2007, rail's share of Japanese passenger travel had declined to 29 percent, which may still be more than in any other country in the world. And the average Japanese person travels about 1,950 miles per year by train, which is definitely more than people in any other country. But only about 20 percent of those rail miles are by high-speed rail. Automobiles carry 60 percent of passenger travel, and the remainder is divided between bus and domestic air.

After adjusting for inflation, Japan has spent about the same amount of money per capita on high-speed rail as the United States has spent on the interstate highway system. Yet the returns to Japan's mobility from its investment are far smaller: the average American travels 10 times as many miles on the interstates as the average Japanese travels by high-speed rail.

A final interesting feature of the Japanese government's emphasis on passenger rail is that it has had a detrimental effect on freight rail. Rail carries only about 4 percent of Japanese freight, while highways carry 60 percent. By contrast, more than a third of freight goes by rail in the United States, while highways carry a little more than one-fourth.
European Experience

Europe's experience with high-speed rail provides another cautionary tale for the United States. As in Japan, high-speed rail in Europe is a money loser and it carries relatively few passengers. Italy introduced high-speed trains to Europe in 1978, and France followed with the Paris-Lyon train à grande vitesse (TGV) in 1981. Germany and other countries followed a few years after that.

France has been the European leader in high-speed rail. French trains carry 54 percent of Europe's high-speed rail passenger-miles, followed by Germany at 26 percent, and Italy at 10 percent. More than half of all rail travel in France is on high-speed trains, but in the overall European Union, nearly four out of five rail passengers still travel at conventional speeds.

When operating at high speeds, the French TGVs run on dedicated tracks. But TGV trains also operate on conventional tracks at normal speeds. In fact, while TGV trains may be seen throughout France, they only operate at high speeds between Paris and a few other cities. Germany's high-speed intercity express trains operate at their highest speeds only on selected routes, such as Berlin-Hamburg.

High-speed rail has done little to change European travel habits. In 1980, intercity rail accounted for 8.2 percent of passenger travel in the 15 countries in the European Union at the time. By 2000, the share in those countries had declined to 6.3 percent, and it has fallen further since then. Meanwhile, automobiles have modestly gained market share in recent decades. But the real challenge to high-speed rail has come from low-cost airlines. Thanks to deregulation of European airlines, the domestic airline share of passenger travel has more than doubled.

Because of the prominence of high-speed rail in France and Germany, rail has a higher share of passenger travel in those countries than in the rest of Europe. But the automobile's share of travel in both France and Germany is also higher than in the rest of Europe. The average French resident travels 7,600 miles per year by auto. By comparison, the average French resident travels about 400 miles per year on high-speed trains. In the European Union as a whole, the average is only about 100 miles per year. Rail's higher share in France and Germany comes at the expense of bus travel, not auto driving."
Web Link


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