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Could a tunnel bring Palo Alto together?

Urban design workshop looks for opportunities in proposed high-speed rail

California's high-speed-rail project could offer Palo Alto and its neighboring cities a rare opportunity to revitalize their downtown districts, transform old train tracks into leafy gateways and bring neighborhoods closer together, a group of leading urban designers and architects said at a Sunday workshop.

The meeting, held at the Sheraton Hotel in Palo Alto and attended by about 80 persons, was the conclusion of a two-day workshop organized by a group of local architects and sponsored by the Peninsula Cities Coalition.

On Saturday, about 80 residents and experts broke into groups, each focusing on one mile of the Caltrain corridor between Atherton and South Palo Alto.

On Sunday, the eight maps were meshed into what event organizer Brian Steen referred to as an "opportunity map" -- the participants' wish list for the controversial $40 billion line that California voters approved in November, along with a $9 billion down payment.

The list included new parks, sculptures, open spaces, bike paths and walkways along the Caltrain corridor. It also included an enhanced business district, urban gardens and rebuilt civic centers.

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"What we've seen in the last 48 hours is the creation of a vision for our communities -- a vision we all know is idealistic, but we feel parts of it are achievable," Steen said.

The various groups agreed that the portion of the high-speed rail zipping through the Peninsula should go through an underground tunnel, though there was no consensus whether this should be a cut-and-cover "trench" tunnel or a more expensive bored tunnel deeper underground.

Under the common vision, the Caltrain corridor would be converted into a bicycle and pedestrian corridor spanning eight miles from Atherton to South Palo Alto. As it passes through Palo Alto, the green path brings together neighborhoods that have long been separated by the tracks.

A new network of parks, plazas and dense developments crops up to link University Avenue with Stanford Shopping Center. The downtown area transforms into a green mingling district for Palo Alto residents, academics and entrepreneurs.

Tony Carrasco, a local architect who organized the weekend event, said the goal is to bring "connectivity" to Palo Alto's neighborhoods and residents. Carrasco is part of a group of architects and land-use experts who have long advocated for underground tunnels in place of the current train tracks.

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"We need to go beyond ourselves and look at the next 100 years or 200 years and ask, 'What kind of an opportunity do we have out here?'" Carrasco said. "Do we want to be able to take an elevator to the ground floor and go to the grocery store and meet our friends? I think the answer is yes. Not for everyone, but for a large majority."

Judith Wasserman, a member of Palo Alto's Architectural Review Board, gave the plan a special name: "Together Again for the First Time." Wasserman said an underground system could offer the city a long-awaited chance to connect its neighborhoods.

"The town has always been divided by the train," Wasserman said. "We've never had good cross-town connection. This is an opportunity we'll never have again."

But speakers at Sunday's workshop also acknowledged a major obstacle standing between them and their idealistic vision: the high cost of creating underground tunnels. While rail officials don't expect to have a cost estimate for the project for another year, they have estimated the cost of boring tunnels to be about 6.5 times as much as building at grade.

The cost of building underground tunnels is also expected to be beyond the rail authority's $4.2 billion budget for the Peninsula segment.

Glenn Isaacson, principal at Conversion Management Association, said cities would have a hard time funding a tunnel, but offered several ways in which it could be done. Aside from passing bond measures or enacting special taxes, cities could sell land currently occupied by the Caltrain right-of-way and use the proceeds to pay for the tunnels, he said.

Workshop participants have also singled out a downtown stretch between El Camino Real and Alma Street as a possible site for dense, revenue-generating developments, including multi-story condominiums. But Isaacson warned that the project would still likely require significant additional funding from the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

"I'd urge you to watch your pennies in the cost of what you select," Isaacson advised the audience. "You'll have a hard time covering 100 percent of the gap."

Dominic Spaethling, regional manager with the rail authority, said the agency is in the process of holding workshops and narrowing down possible alternatives for the San Francisco-to-San Jose segment. Spaethling called the two-day workshop in Palo Alto an example of the "context sensitive solutions" method to rail design. The approach includes collaboration with stakeholders to minimize the impacts of major transportation projects.

"Whether you realize it or not, it's sort of what we're doing here -- realizing that the high-speed train is one element of a larger vision," Spaethling said.

"This is how it begins."

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Could a tunnel bring Palo Alto together?

Urban design workshop looks for opportunities in proposed high-speed rail

by / Palo Alto Online

Uploaded: Sun, Oct 4, 2009, 11:29 pm

California's high-speed-rail project could offer Palo Alto and its neighboring cities a rare opportunity to revitalize their downtown districts, transform old train tracks into leafy gateways and bring neighborhoods closer together, a group of leading urban designers and architects said at a Sunday workshop.

The meeting, held at the Sheraton Hotel in Palo Alto and attended by about 80 persons, was the conclusion of a two-day workshop organized by a group of local architects and sponsored by the Peninsula Cities Coalition.

On Saturday, about 80 residents and experts broke into groups, each focusing on one mile of the Caltrain corridor between Atherton and South Palo Alto.

On Sunday, the eight maps were meshed into what event organizer Brian Steen referred to as an "opportunity map" -- the participants' wish list for the controversial $40 billion line that California voters approved in November, along with a $9 billion down payment.

The list included new parks, sculptures, open spaces, bike paths and walkways along the Caltrain corridor. It also included an enhanced business district, urban gardens and rebuilt civic centers.

"What we've seen in the last 48 hours is the creation of a vision for our communities -- a vision we all know is idealistic, but we feel parts of it are achievable," Steen said.

The various groups agreed that the portion of the high-speed rail zipping through the Peninsula should go through an underground tunnel, though there was no consensus whether this should be a cut-and-cover "trench" tunnel or a more expensive bored tunnel deeper underground.

Under the common vision, the Caltrain corridor would be converted into a bicycle and pedestrian corridor spanning eight miles from Atherton to South Palo Alto. As it passes through Palo Alto, the green path brings together neighborhoods that have long been separated by the tracks.

A new network of parks, plazas and dense developments crops up to link University Avenue with Stanford Shopping Center. The downtown area transforms into a green mingling district for Palo Alto residents, academics and entrepreneurs.

Tony Carrasco, a local architect who organized the weekend event, said the goal is to bring "connectivity" to Palo Alto's neighborhoods and residents. Carrasco is part of a group of architects and land-use experts who have long advocated for underground tunnels in place of the current train tracks.

"We need to go beyond ourselves and look at the next 100 years or 200 years and ask, 'What kind of an opportunity do we have out here?'" Carrasco said. "Do we want to be able to take an elevator to the ground floor and go to the grocery store and meet our friends? I think the answer is yes. Not for everyone, but for a large majority."

Judith Wasserman, a member of Palo Alto's Architectural Review Board, gave the plan a special name: "Together Again for the First Time." Wasserman said an underground system could offer the city a long-awaited chance to connect its neighborhoods.

"The town has always been divided by the train," Wasserman said. "We've never had good cross-town connection. This is an opportunity we'll never have again."

But speakers at Sunday's workshop also acknowledged a major obstacle standing between them and their idealistic vision: the high cost of creating underground tunnels. While rail officials don't expect to have a cost estimate for the project for another year, they have estimated the cost of boring tunnels to be about 6.5 times as much as building at grade.

The cost of building underground tunnels is also expected to be beyond the rail authority's $4.2 billion budget for the Peninsula segment.

Glenn Isaacson, principal at Conversion Management Association, said cities would have a hard time funding a tunnel, but offered several ways in which it could be done. Aside from passing bond measures or enacting special taxes, cities could sell land currently occupied by the Caltrain right-of-way and use the proceeds to pay for the tunnels, he said.

Workshop participants have also singled out a downtown stretch between El Camino Real and Alma Street as a possible site for dense, revenue-generating developments, including multi-story condominiums. But Isaacson warned that the project would still likely require significant additional funding from the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

"I'd urge you to watch your pennies in the cost of what you select," Isaacson advised the audience. "You'll have a hard time covering 100 percent of the gap."

Dominic Spaethling, regional manager with the rail authority, said the agency is in the process of holding workshops and narrowing down possible alternatives for the San Francisco-to-San Jose segment. Spaethling called the two-day workshop in Palo Alto an example of the "context sensitive solutions" method to rail design. The approach includes collaboration with stakeholders to minimize the impacts of major transportation projects.

"Whether you realize it or not, it's sort of what we're doing here -- realizing that the high-speed train is one element of a larger vision," Spaethling said.

"This is how it begins."

Comments

BS
Evergreen Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 1:53 am
BS, Evergreen Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 1:53 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Rob
Woodside
on Oct 5, 2009 at 7:22 am
Rob, Woodside
on Oct 5, 2009 at 7:22 am

Your children likely will not live in Palo Alto anyway, unless they live in your basement, or your inheritance covers this extraordinary expense. Lightning doesn't strike twice in the same spot.


Paula Sandas, PA Chamber CEO
University South
on Oct 5, 2009 at 10:28 am
Paula Sandas, PA Chamber CEO, University South
on Oct 5, 2009 at 10:28 am

Congratulations to those who are thinking ahead and working on a vision for a community that could be better for those who will inherit it in the future. This is long-range thinking for the greater good.


Train neighbor
Ventura
on Oct 5, 2009 at 10:32 am
Train neighbor, Ventura
on Oct 5, 2009 at 10:32 am

Are there any documents from the workshop posted online?


Steve
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 5, 2009 at 10:42 am
Steve, Old Palo Alto
on Oct 5, 2009 at 10:42 am

Beware of the tunnel panacea. HSR is considering that option to assuage the overwhelming uproar of homeowners who oppose the above-ground options, but HSR has no intention of paying for a tunnel. You can see that HSR and other pro-development advocates are already talking about creative financing options. Read that as NEW TAXES on Palo Alto homeowners.

I for one do NOT want more taxes to pay for a tunnel. I want my money back from last year's HSR bond measure, please. The financial and environmental impacts of this project were misrepresented in the bond measure. It's time for our elected representatives to correct that and stop this project in its tracks.


happy
Evergreen Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 10:47 am
happy, Evergreen Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 10:47 am

I am delighted that Tony and others saw fit to put this workshop together. Keep up the good work. There are many who are afraid of change, many who care not about the really negative affects of the system we currently have, and many who want understand the benefits until the job is done. Never mind these, leaders must help us move forward to an even better Palo Alto for my grandsons and others.
When all the complaining and yelling gets going, just keep reminding us all of what can be, should be and with enough work WILL be.
Thanks!!!


Against HSR along Caltrain corridor
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2009 at 10:58 am
Against HSR along Caltrain corridor, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2009 at 10:58 am

"Whether you realize it or not, it's sort of what we're doing here -- realizing that the high-speed train is one element of a larger vision," Spaethling said.
What vision? The only vision that they are pushing is the high speed rail right through our neighborhoods. Many of us do not want 50 billion dollars or more spent on their dream.
Tony Carrasco said:"We need to go beyond ourselves." But he isn't! He is an archetect and has come up with this architectural plan. Who does he want to build it? Himself? The question of who owns the air rights above the Caltrain corridor has still not been answered.
I spoke with a geologist who is an employee of Caltrains, at the last Teach-in. He told me that with the aquifers and plumes in the Palo Alto area the tunnel would have to be 60 feet deep. He said that HSRA will not build that deep- it is too expensive.
Judith Wasserman's: together again for the first time, makes no sense.
Tunneling so that our neighborhoods could be connected!! Again, no sense. She should do some research on the HSR. Too costly, environmentally unsound, poor ridership, and unnecessary. If we want more trains there are more rationale ways to accomplish that. And better people with more experience than the High Speed Rail Authority in building them. There is an assumption in this article that is wrong. It has NOT been determined that the HSR is definitely being built on the Caltrain corridor. It is not a done deal. HSR, Tony and Spaethling just want you to believe it is!!


Dean
Midtown
on Oct 5, 2009 at 11:05 am
Dean, Midtown
on Oct 5, 2009 at 11:05 am

I think a parcel tax to pay for a tunnel is totally reasonable - although I have no idea how large such a tax would have to be. And I'm not wealthy, either - it's just that some things are worth paying for.
Homeowners will easily reap the benefit of a tunnel, in that our houses will be more valuable without noisy trains going by every few minutes. I live 4 blocks from the tracks, and even now the trains are a noisy distraction.


Mike Cobb, former Mayor
Greenmeadow
on Oct 5, 2009 at 11:13 am
Mike Cobb, former Mayor, Greenmeadow
on Oct 5, 2009 at 11:13 am

Steve and 'Against HSR" got it right. The problem with the tunnel 'solution' is that it isn't likely to happen for reasons that begin with cost and who would have to pay that cost and technical problems. The public that is rightfully concerned about the impacts of HSR on our communities is being drawn into a briarpatch with no exit. At the end of all the public 'outreach' and feasibility studies, the likely outcome will be that we will be told that the HSR must go through our communities on the surface (or, worse, elevated) and that those who will lose their homes and neighborhoods in process simply need to 'take one for the team' ... for the greater good, of course. And, at that point it will be too late to do what we should be doing which is to challenge the basic routing decision which is deeply flawed in many many way, not the least of which is the terrible destruction the non-underground 'solution' will to to many Peninsula Communities.


Wallace
Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2009 at 11:40 am
Wallace, Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2009 at 11:40 am

> Judith Wasserman's: together again
> for the first time, makes no sense.

Agreed! And this person sits on an important commission that affects the town we all live in.

The HSR is a terrible idea. The costs have been misrepresented, as others have noted, and there seems to be little interest by the promoters of the HSR to even consider talking about the total costs for this project. Ideas like a parcel tax would be paid by every in the taxed area, but those costs would never be added to the total cost of the HSR.

The future is not going to be happy with this generation of Californians--who have bankrupted the state with their craziness.


Snow Job
Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 11:43 am
Snow Job, Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 11:43 am

The lofty PR on Sunday was very polished. They were bringing Love and Peace and Togetherness with the HSR. They are going to "heal" the divide between east and west by making it easy to pass over or under the tracks and El Camino. This is a problem? This is a problem that will be solved by High Speed Rail line? Yes, they were serious.

Lots of architects were there to get in on the future big bucks.


Tony Carrasco
Evergreen Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 11:45 am
Tony Carrasco, Evergreen Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 11:45 am

Even if the High Speed train never happens we need to solve the problems that Cal train causes at present and will increase as their planned increases happens.
Gas prices will increase as the rest of the world demands more of it.
Caltrain ridership will increase to twelve trains in each direction. Twenty four peak hour trains without grade seperations? For the vast majority of us that Caltrain condition is an unacceptable condition. We beleive we must plan a better future with good rail transit as well as a more walkable bikable city. The vision that was developed over this weekend does that and will make Palo Alto Menlo Park and Atherton much better cities.


Snow Job
Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 11:56 am
Snow Job, Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 11:56 am

The bond was for 9.95 billion dollars, which rounds to 10 billion, not 9.

Judith Wasserman was poetic in her praise for the TK mammoth development on San Antonio Road. She predicted it would be beautiful and we would Love it!
She also loved the Cheesecake Factory building and 800 High Street design. You can decide whether you agree with her taste.


Frank Flynn
Ventura
on Oct 5, 2009 at 12:08 pm
Frank Flynn, Ventura
on Oct 5, 2009 at 12:08 pm

I was not able to attend - and (unlike some others) feel it's not helpful to get outraged about something I don't know enough about. Is this plan posted anywhere? Posting the plans (or ideas even incomplete) would be helpful.

My particular questions are: lets say we burry it and make a huge green space between Mountain View and this Downtown project - this is a very long park with an entrance at Meadow and one at California Avenue. How is that going to "tie the city together"? Will we put traffic lights and crosswalks at each intersection on Alma? What about the folks who live on the other side - will we buy and remove houses along Park Ave to provide access to this park?

Wasn't one of the problems with any kind of tunnel that you can't run freight through it without massive ventilation systems?

I also agree whole heartedly with Tony, even if High Speed Rail is stopped today we still face these same issues as we try to make Caltrain safer. But calling folks "stupid" or claiming you know their motivation is greed does not help.


Nick
Professorville
on Oct 5, 2009 at 12:21 pm
Nick, Professorville
on Oct 5, 2009 at 12:21 pm

"Snow job" has a point. HSR would never have passed if their original plans for elevated tracks had been spelled out in advance. Now that HSR advocates can claim that there has been "community input", they will go ahead and build the dreaded wall. Why should we trust these people? Fool me once...


Wallace
Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2009 at 12:27 pm
Wallace, Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2009 at 12:27 pm

> Even if the High Speed train never happens we need to solve
> the problems that Cal train causes at present and will increase
> as their planned increases happens.

The main problem with CalTrain is: Need for grade separation to increase safety and decrease the impact on vehicles.

While a umpteen-billion dollar tunnel is one solution, it is not a very good solution for its cost. The grade separation seems like a much better solution where cost (for CalTrain). Unfortunately, there are many who prefer the “status quo”.


Sean
Midtown
on Oct 5, 2009 at 12:46 pm
Sean, Midtown
on Oct 5, 2009 at 12:46 pm

I voted against HSR. It was obvious to me that it was too expensive, little (if any) environmental gains and it would produce a wall through Palo Alto. I am no genius, just use common sense, and do a little bit of research on the web. Why is it that our city council could not see that HSR would be a loser? My best guess is that they reflexively voted "green", because...well green is good, or at least feelgood. No need to examinine the facts, if it is about green.

It is amazing to watch the backtracking of our council members now. However, the council was elected by Palo Altans, so maybe the majority in PA needs to look in the mirror.


Tracy
Fairmeadow
on Oct 5, 2009 at 12:54 pm
Tracy, Fairmeadow
on Oct 5, 2009 at 12:54 pm

I voted NO for HSR. Whoever put PALO ALTO into such mess should be out of his/her office. How often do you go to LA? And how fast do you want to be in LA? It only cost you around $100 to get there by air in an hour. Comparing the noises and debts brought to Palo Alten, Do a Math! Now you know who you should vote for.


Snow Job
Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 1:29 pm
Snow Job, Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 1:29 pm

One small part of the plan is to connect Quarry Road to Alma Street.
Is that what people want? Through traffic creating another Oregon Expressway dissecting Palo Alto? Is that a way to "bring us together?"


Walter_E_Wallis
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 5, 2009 at 1:32 pm
Walter_E_Wallis, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2009 at 1:32 pm

There is already a separation, so what? I am not intimidated from dealing with the other side of the tracks, nor with the other side of Oregon, San Antonio or 101. Irrespective of future speed, grade crossings need to be eliminated now. Freeway sound walls have improved rather than degraded their environs, and I suspect a rail sound wall could be tastefully done.


Joseph Bellomo
Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2009 at 2:42 pm
Joseph Bellomo, Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2009 at 2:42 pm

I think the" tunneling workshop" was well intentioned, the group made compelling arguments for such a solution. Of course there is the concerns of regional not just local context sensitivity. Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Redwood City etc will have similar context sensitivity issues similar to those of Palo Alto for the HSR design solutions. Celebrating the HSR in my opinion is our collective responsibility from SJ to SF as well as into LA and Sacramento through Santa Barbara. We will petition HSR in creating a two tier international competition. These solution would assist in creating the best HSR system from designers from around the world to look at solutions that will work for everyone. We hope to garner some sponsorship support from California Corporation for this competition.


Let's be fair.
Greenmeadow
on Oct 5, 2009 at 2:48 pm
Let's be fair., Greenmeadow
on Oct 5, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Even without HSR, the frequency of trains will increase. We need grade separation of some kind for safety and to maintain efficient cross-town (EB/WB) traffic movement on major arterials.

I am hugely disappointed to see that the tunnel option might not extend to the Charleston Arastradero crossing. If you want to create a new north-south divide, this would be just the issue to do it.

Please treat south Palo Alto with the same consideration as the north and extend tunneling (if it is to be done) to Charleston/Arastradero.


Joel
Barron Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 3:07 pm
Joel, Barron Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 3:07 pm

It seems that we just have to accept the destruction of the Pacheco Pass wilderness route. Is no one concerned about the greater south San Jose areas instead of our own backyards? Why does anyone have to get from San Francisco to San Jose at speeds of 125 miles an hour? Let's slow down.


Mike
Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 3:20 pm
Mike, Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 3:20 pm

You can already get to SF from San Jose at 125mph. You just have to wait until after 10 pm when the northbound traffic on 280 has eased up.


Sean
Midtown
on Oct 5, 2009 at 3:28 pm
Sean, Midtown
on Oct 5, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Grade seperation should be considered on its own mertis, divorced from HSR. If HSR is cancelled, as it should be on other grounds, grade seperation remains an issue. I am not sure it is worth spending large amounts of money on, but it can be done. Electrification of Caltrain is probably worth doing, in order to reduce noise (make it like Bart). It would be a mistake to eliminate freight trains, IMO, thus a hybird system would need to be built. If a decision is made to do the above, I think it would make more sense to trench Caltrain at crossings, rather than builing more autmobile/pedestrian underpasses.


Snow Job
Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 3:32 pm
Snow Job, Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 3:32 pm

The plan to tunnel under north Palo Alto is so that they can build high density housing on it. This isn't a north Palo Alto plan,
It is the developers and their architects who are promoting it: Carrasco, Wasserman, Bellomo, Solnick, Barton, Bern Beecham, and Sandas, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce (see message from the Chamber above) "This is long-range thinking for the greater good".
There is big money to be made here, and they will be in on it. They just have to convince us that we want it. For example, grade separations are just a distraction. We can get them we want them. Don't need HSR for that.




Buzz
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 5, 2009 at 4:32 pm
Buzz, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 5, 2009 at 4:32 pm

When Californians voted for the HSR, they bought a pig in a poke. All these workshops are just window dressing, letting the populace put lipstick on the pig. BB


wary traveler
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2009 at 4:44 pm
wary traveler, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2009 at 4:44 pm

"You can already get to SF from San Jose at 125mph. You just have to wait until after 10 pm when the northbound traffic on 280 has eased up."
That's funny, Mike. You know, if you wait until Caltrain gets electrification you can go at 110 mph, which - end to end - is only a few minutes slower than HSR. You can look it up if you don't believe it. The project's a boondoggle, especially this final SJ-SF leg.


Wallace
Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2009 at 5:11 pm
Wallace, Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2009 at 5:11 pm

> Celebrating the HSR in my opinion is our collective responsibility
> from SJ to SF as well as into LA and Sacramento through Santa Barbara.

This is a truly creepy comment, the kind that no doubt the bureaucracy in Russia and China used to tell villagers and school children--“It’s our collective responsibility to celebrate the life and works of {Stalin, Mao, etc.} and the greater glory of the State.”

Sorry .. but showing this kind of religious zeal at a project like this should give everyone pause to stand back and ask: “what’s going on here?”


Evan
Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 7:26 pm
Evan, Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 7:26 pm

Wallce. What's going on here? What's going on? California has approved one the best projects in recent decades, which could vastly change California for the better. You're comparing it to communism? What are you talking about? For most people, it's hard not to show great enthusiam that could finally connect neighborhoods on either sides of the tracks by lifting/lowering trains from grade level, bring safety to Palo Alto communities, speed commuters up and down the Peninsula right to city center, save tens of billions in airport and highway expansion costs, and allow people on the Peninsula to get to and from Central Valley, Los Angeles and San Diego cheaply and quickly.

That's what's going on. Please look to the future, with an open mind.


Wallace
Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2009 at 8:59 pm
Wallace, Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2009 at 8:59 pm

> California has approved one the best projects in recent decades,
> which could vastly change California for the better

A small number of voters approved this project—not all California. There is little evidence that this project, if built, will “make California better”, particularly in those portions of the state not served by this behemoth.

> speed commuters up and down the Peninsula right to city center.

The current bullet trains provide fairly fast transport for the few thousand people who use this mode of transportation. The over $100M upgrade to the system is being paid for by people who do not use it. With 15-20000 people using this system daily, the rest of the 2-3M people in the service area (about 6.5M in all of the Bay Area) don’t seem to show much interest. So—you’re proposing to up the ante into the billions to maybe shave off a few more minutes for the few thousand people who might chose to work in one city and live in another?

> on the Peninsula to get to and from Central Valley,
> Los Angeles and San Diego cheaply and quickly.

People already have cost effective air transportation. You’re asking us to have an “open mind” about this state-run system that will have the same people managing the system that have gotten us almost to the point that we are a “failed state”.

Is California a failed state?
Web Link

There is no credible business plan for this project, and no clear estimate for the costs. Moreover, there has been no evidence that anyone has given a hard look at how Broadband will change everything, allowing for a downsizing many of the institutional services that have consumed significant public and private resources in the past (such as travel expenditures).

Sorry .. but its hard to keep an “open mind” when you are not being told the truth.


Michael S.
Charleston Meadows
on Oct 5, 2009 at 9:03 pm
Michael S., Charleston Meadows
on Oct 5, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Steve, a resident of the Old Palo Alto Neighborhood, is right; this whole peninsular HSR is wrong.

He says: "You can see that HSR and other pro-development advocates are already talking about creative financing options. Read that as NEW TAXES on Palo Alto homeowners."

That's right. Only it's not just homeowners who are opposed. I am a renter and opposed. I love my peninsula home.

The answer is: no HSR up the peninsula. Put in in the East Bay where there is room enough and a direct connection to Oakland, Chicago, and beyond. We are a peninsula, which dead ends in SF. We are not a route to anywhere except developer's dreams of more and more and MORE money!


jt
another community
on Oct 6, 2009 at 12:56 am
jt, another community
on Oct 6, 2009 at 12:56 am

god, you people sound like a bunch of whiny losers.


Walter_E_Wallis
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 6, 2009 at 6:17 am
Walter_E_Wallis, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2009 at 6:17 am

Pacheco Pass "Wilderness"? Sheesh!


Big Al
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2009 at 11:41 am
Big Al, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2009 at 11:41 am

They will never build a tunnel-
don't believe the hype-

tj-what were you crying about?


Anonymous
Gunn High School
on Oct 6, 2009 at 1:53 pm
Anonymous, Gunn High School
on Oct 6, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Use your head, people! Do a cost-benefit anaylsis.

The cost of HSR: Huge, at a time when California's economy is in crisis.

The benefit: Nothing, unless you happen to not like flying on airplanes.

There are much cheaper ways to make grade separations. Also, how would YOU like to have very, very noisy construction going on right next to your home for months?


Against HSR along Caltrain corridor
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2009 at 3:38 pm
Against HSR along Caltrain corridor, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2009 at 3:38 pm

I so appreciate these posts. Most of them are right on the money! Against HSR here, now. I am relieved to see that you(s) are seeing the HSR for what it is. Tony C. mentioned that the Caltrains will be increasing their number of trains. Actually, Caltrain is decreasing their number of trains. They are getting fewer riders. And I think that with electronics- email, computer, phones, conference calls- fewer people will be traveling in the future.
This summer I checked out costs for traveling up to Victoria, B.C. The trains were much more expensive, planes much less.
My main point: our city council encouraged us to vote HSR in. We have a chance with this election to do it right. My main issue is HSR. Check out their views on HSR. And vote accordingly. So far I am voting for Karen Holman and Larry Klein.


P.A. Native
Mountain View
on Oct 6, 2009 at 4:56 pm
P.A. Native, Mountain View
on Oct 6, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Are you going to convince the rest of the state that they don't need HSR either, or just all of the cities from SJ to SF? How much money do you think you'd have to throw at this thing in order to have your way? Your outrage is isolated to your personal intrests.

I think Rob from Woodside had it right from the start of this conversation. It's highly unlikely any of your children will live in Palo Alto when they are grown. Don't punish future generations because you're worried about your home values.


R.GORDON
another community
on Oct 6, 2009 at 5:39 pm
R.GORDON, another community
on Oct 6, 2009 at 5:39 pm

China will complete 3500 miles of HSR by the end of this year..This after completing almost 2000 miles last year.
And you are all thinking about 40 miles?
It is more than likely your 10 year olds will be serving in the Mid East if there is still no nuclear warfare....
What has become of most typical "Americans" is that they do not give a second thought to other people and as Europeans say "Americans are nice, but they care too much about money and religion".
It would be a shame if kids today, lost their lives in the Mid East only to return to P.A. in a casket. It is not an impossible scenario.


Big Al
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2009 at 5:51 pm
Big Al, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2009 at 5:51 pm

great- let's emulate china-
get out in front of the tank while you're at it gordon-

so, let's see, shall we force hsr down the peninsula because of
misguided adventures in the middle east will kill our offspring?

you silly argument doesnt hold much wa wa


Snow Job
Crescent Park
on Oct 6, 2009 at 9:48 pm
Snow Job, Crescent Park
on Oct 6, 2009 at 9:48 pm

The idea that building a rail line through the city - no matter whether it is above or below ground - will unify us and bring us together, is too bizarre for words.
That was the pitch made by a number of speakers. It's designed to counteract the obvious concern that the railroad will cut Palo Alto in half, much worse than the Oregon Expressway. Just denying an obvious outcome is clever but dishonest PR. That doesn't mean we have to believe it.


Against HSR along the Caltrain corridor
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2009 at 9:33 am
Against HSR along the Caltrain corridor, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2009 at 9:33 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Big Al- I agree with you. There are many things about China that I do not want emulated here. 3 things: their HSR,their pollution, and their smoking.
Snow Job- I agree with you. It is bizarre to say that tunneling would unite P.A. If there were a park above a tunnel- who would bring their kids there- right beside Alma Street with cars whizzing by!! As I have heard: saying it, does not make it so!!This HSR idea along the Caltrain corridor is just wrong!!


Mike
Crescent Park
on Oct 7, 2009 at 3:54 pm
Mike, Crescent Park
on Oct 7, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Why not the opposite?

Oregon Expressway divided Palo Alto into halves/north and south. This could help make it quarters.


Skeptic
Crescent Park
on Oct 8, 2009 at 10:04 am
Skeptic, Crescent Park
on Oct 8, 2009 at 10:04 am

Using a parcel tax to finance the tunnel is a great idea!

$6 billion for the tunnel, divided among 25,000 Palo Alto households is a present value of $240,000 per household. If we turn that into a 30-year bond at 3%, that's $12,000 per household per year. Let's put it on the ballot!

Of course, these numbers just illustrate what a folly HSR really is. And if the system is installed, the inevitable below-market pricing will stifle investment and innovation in alternative long-distance transit for generations, and the endless tax burden will reduce employment and cut our standard of living far beyond the initial system cost.


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