News

Rail Authority: No trains on berms in Palo Alto

New report shows that state agency is heeding public outcry over massive walls

Should high-speed rail come to Palo Alto, it will not sit atop a massive Berlin Wall, as some rail opponents have feared.

But the 125-mph trains still could zip along on an aerial viaduct, in an underground tunnel, through an open trench or at street level, according to a report released Thursday by the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

The Authority's "preliminary alternatives analysis" identifies ways that the 48 miles of tracks between San Jose and San Francisco could be configured. It also eliminates options it deemed unfeasible due to factors such as geology, various cities' regulations, negative effects on traffic, the need to protect natural resources and more.

The overall rail line, which would stretch from Los Angeles to San Francisco, received voters' approval for $9.95 billion in funding in November 2008.

Since then, rancorous debate and considerable grass-roots activism, along with city-organized lawsuits and lobbying, has ensued. Opponents, some protesting the rail line altogether and others advocating for a plan that will not harm residents' quality of life, have questioned the state agency's processes, calculations and receptivity to public input.

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But holding fast to its prior plans, the Authority states that its analysis "reconfirms that a four-track, grade-separated, shared Caltrain and High-Speed Train system is feasible and the preferred ... alternative between San Francisco and San Jose on the Peninsula."

Furthermore, it asserts the costs for building the system are consistent with prior estimates, including those found in the 2009 Business Plan, which was released in December.

The agency did state that it has heeded community wishes, however, which have been vocally expressed over the past year and a half. The report promises that berms -- solid walls that would extend at least 10 feet into the air -- will be sparsely used in commercial or residential areas "where they would significantly reduce connectivity and mobility or where there is strong local opposition to this type of structure."

The agency removed high berms from consideration altogether from Redwood City to San Jose, though shorter berms may be used to connect aerial and underground or at-grade portions.

The report confirmed that tunneling -- an expensive method advocated by Palo Alto officials as early as 2008 -- has been added "for further evaluation."

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Using underground tunnels is only one of six options the Authority is studying. The other five include berms; aerial viaducts, which are concrete structures supported by columns, usually 10 feet or taller; at-grade tracks that run at or near ground level; open trenches, which are below-ground-level troughs; and covered trenches/tunnels, which are partly covered troughs that allow ground-level roads or buildings to exist above the rail line.

Robert Doty, director of the Peninsula Rail Program, a partnership between Caltrain and the High-Speed Rail Authority, said the communities along the route made it very clear that they felt the berms would be "extremely intrusive." Even though the structures are technically feasible, the rail authority opted to eliminate them from further consideration.

"The tunnel option is still in place," Doty said, referring to the Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton portion of the line. "All the options are in place, to be honest, from the feasibility perspective. All are available and can be done."

"We'll work with the communities and groups to pick from what's available."

The rail authority also eliminated the option of stopping the high-speed rail in San Jose, a design that some Peninsula residents have advocated at public meetings. Doty said stopping the service in San Jose would meet neither the purpose of the project nor the requirements of Proposition 1A, which specifies that the rail system should go between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

He also said the design would not meet the needs of Caltrain, which would have to absorb northbound rail passengers bound for San Francisco.

"There's no way the system we have out there today would absorb what happens if the system stopped in San Jose," Doty said.

In Palo Alto, all options other than the berm remain for most of the segment. But the detailed analysis showed that the rail line could affect city life in various ways.

For example, building either an aerial viaduct or an open trench crossing the Menlo Park and Palo Alto border would adversely affect San Francisquito Creek and the city's namesake, El Palo Alto. (Both options are no longer being considered for that stretch.)

Building an aerial viaduct between Embarcadero Road and Churchill Avenue would result in the loss of two traffic lanes on Alma Street. At the same time, traffic at Churchill could improve, since cars would no longer have to wait at the railroad tracks, the analysis states.

Some methods will be significantly costlier than others. Yet the Rail Authority did not eliminate any option solely on cost, according to the report. Rather, it is opting to design the whole San Jose to San Francisco corridor and then estimate the costs for each segment.

The Authority warned that the most costly of alternatives may not be feasible. If every segment of the line was built with the most expensive method, the cost for the whole route could be four to five times more expensive than what has been estimated.

"Such high cost alternatives would be impractical," the report stated.

(See related story: Rail report shows a tunnel cheaper than a trench.)

The alternatives will now be analyzed with greater scrutiny for their potential environmental impacts and engineering feasibility. That environmental impact study is expected to be completed by December 2010.

In addition to analyzing design options, the state agency also confirmed that it is still considering whether to build a mid-Peninsula station. If so, Palo Alto, Mountain View and Redwood City are all possibilities.

The Rail Authority held a board meeting in San Jose Thursday to review the analysis and receive public input.

Palo Alto City Councilman Larry Klein attended and warned that an elevated train track would be detrimental to Palo Alto.

"I'm here to speak first to the old aphorism from Tip O'Neill: All politics is local," he said.

"I think all transportation projects are also done to be local. By that I mean of course, this isn't a project that goes from Los Angeles to San Francisco. It also goes through many communities along the way.

"My message to you is -- please engage us all in this process," he said.

"These are actual people, actual economies that will be affected by the routes that you choose as members of High-Speed Rail Authority.

"Let me close by invoking another aphorism: Do no harm."

The California High-Speed rail Authority board voted 7-1 to accept the Alternatives Analysis, with Quentin Kopp dissenting and Vice Chair Tom Umberg absent. Kopp said that he wanted to see more discussion on options for the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco.

View the report.

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Rail Authority: No trains on berms in Palo Alto

New report shows that state agency is heeding public outcry over massive walls

by / Palo Alto Online

Uploaded: Thu, Apr 8, 2010, 1:15 pm

Should high-speed rail come to Palo Alto, it will not sit atop a massive Berlin Wall, as some rail opponents have feared.

But the 125-mph trains still could zip along on an aerial viaduct, in an underground tunnel, through an open trench or at street level, according to a report released Thursday by the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

The Authority's "preliminary alternatives analysis" identifies ways that the 48 miles of tracks between San Jose and San Francisco could be configured. It also eliminates options it deemed unfeasible due to factors such as geology, various cities' regulations, negative effects on traffic, the need to protect natural resources and more.

The overall rail line, which would stretch from Los Angeles to San Francisco, received voters' approval for $9.95 billion in funding in November 2008.

Since then, rancorous debate and considerable grass-roots activism, along with city-organized lawsuits and lobbying, has ensued. Opponents, some protesting the rail line altogether and others advocating for a plan that will not harm residents' quality of life, have questioned the state agency's processes, calculations and receptivity to public input.

But holding fast to its prior plans, the Authority states that its analysis "reconfirms that a four-track, grade-separated, shared Caltrain and High-Speed Train system is feasible and the preferred ... alternative between San Francisco and San Jose on the Peninsula."

Furthermore, it asserts the costs for building the system are consistent with prior estimates, including those found in the 2009 Business Plan, which was released in December.

The agency did state that it has heeded community wishes, however, which have been vocally expressed over the past year and a half. The report promises that berms -- solid walls that would extend at least 10 feet into the air -- will be sparsely used in commercial or residential areas "where they would significantly reduce connectivity and mobility or where there is strong local opposition to this type of structure."

The agency removed high berms from consideration altogether from Redwood City to San Jose, though shorter berms may be used to connect aerial and underground or at-grade portions.

The report confirmed that tunneling -- an expensive method advocated by Palo Alto officials as early as 2008 -- has been added "for further evaluation."

Using underground tunnels is only one of six options the Authority is studying. The other five include berms; aerial viaducts, which are concrete structures supported by columns, usually 10 feet or taller; at-grade tracks that run at or near ground level; open trenches, which are below-ground-level troughs; and covered trenches/tunnels, which are partly covered troughs that allow ground-level roads or buildings to exist above the rail line.

Robert Doty, director of the Peninsula Rail Program, a partnership between Caltrain and the High-Speed Rail Authority, said the communities along the route made it very clear that they felt the berms would be "extremely intrusive." Even though the structures are technically feasible, the rail authority opted to eliminate them from further consideration.

"The tunnel option is still in place," Doty said, referring to the Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton portion of the line. "All the options are in place, to be honest, from the feasibility perspective. All are available and can be done."

"We'll work with the communities and groups to pick from what's available."

The rail authority also eliminated the option of stopping the high-speed rail in San Jose, a design that some Peninsula residents have advocated at public meetings. Doty said stopping the service in San Jose would meet neither the purpose of the project nor the requirements of Proposition 1A, which specifies that the rail system should go between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

He also said the design would not meet the needs of Caltrain, which would have to absorb northbound rail passengers bound for San Francisco.

"There's no way the system we have out there today would absorb what happens if the system stopped in San Jose," Doty said.

In Palo Alto, all options other than the berm remain for most of the segment. But the detailed analysis showed that the rail line could affect city life in various ways.

For example, building either an aerial viaduct or an open trench crossing the Menlo Park and Palo Alto border would adversely affect San Francisquito Creek and the city's namesake, El Palo Alto. (Both options are no longer being considered for that stretch.)

Building an aerial viaduct between Embarcadero Road and Churchill Avenue would result in the loss of two traffic lanes on Alma Street. At the same time, traffic at Churchill could improve, since cars would no longer have to wait at the railroad tracks, the analysis states.

Some methods will be significantly costlier than others. Yet the Rail Authority did not eliminate any option solely on cost, according to the report. Rather, it is opting to design the whole San Jose to San Francisco corridor and then estimate the costs for each segment.

The Authority warned that the most costly of alternatives may not be feasible. If every segment of the line was built with the most expensive method, the cost for the whole route could be four to five times more expensive than what has been estimated.

"Such high cost alternatives would be impractical," the report stated.

(See related story: Rail report shows a tunnel cheaper than a trench.)

The alternatives will now be analyzed with greater scrutiny for their potential environmental impacts and engineering feasibility. That environmental impact study is expected to be completed by December 2010.

In addition to analyzing design options, the state agency also confirmed that it is still considering whether to build a mid-Peninsula station. If so, Palo Alto, Mountain View and Redwood City are all possibilities.

The Rail Authority held a board meeting in San Jose Thursday to review the analysis and receive public input.

Palo Alto City Councilman Larry Klein attended and warned that an elevated train track would be detrimental to Palo Alto.

"I'm here to speak first to the old aphorism from Tip O'Neill: All politics is local," he said.

"I think all transportation projects are also done to be local. By that I mean of course, this isn't a project that goes from Los Angeles to San Francisco. It also goes through many communities along the way.

"My message to you is -- please engage us all in this process," he said.

"These are actual people, actual economies that will be affected by the routes that you choose as members of High-Speed Rail Authority.

"Let me close by invoking another aphorism: Do no harm."

The California High-Speed rail Authority board voted 7-1 to accept the Alternatives Analysis, with Quentin Kopp dissenting and Vice Chair Tom Umberg absent. Kopp said that he wanted to see more discussion on options for the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco.

View the report.

Comments

resident
Charleston Meadows
on Apr 8, 2010 at 1:58 pm
resident, Charleston Meadows
on Apr 8, 2010 at 1:58 pm

This high speed rail project from s.f.to s.j.must stop.


Martin
University South
on Apr 8, 2010 at 2:09 pm
Martin, University South
on Apr 8, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Great that things are moving forward!!


no Berlin Wall
Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2010 at 2:48 pm
no Berlin Wall, Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Palo Alto doesn't want a Berlin Wall and now that is guaranteed to not happen. Time stop whining and move forward.


Aerial viaduct is berlin wall
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 8, 2010 at 3:06 pm
Aerial viaduct is berlin wall, Old Palo Alto
on Apr 8, 2010 at 3:06 pm

An aerial viaduct is a Berlin wall, berm or no berm.


Noah
Stanford
on Apr 8, 2010 at 3:27 pm
Noah, Stanford
on Apr 8, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Ha! "...rancorous debate and considerable grass-roots activism," -- is a superb euphemism for "hypocritical NIMBYism and rich Peninsula residents working their Rolodexes".


Sharon
Midtown
on Apr 8, 2010 at 3:32 pm
Sharon, Midtown
on Apr 8, 2010 at 3:32 pm



Caltrain is not a going concern and is cutting back service

There is cetainly no market for HSR and will be no market for it.

It never made economic, environmental or transportational sense.

The consultants are just trying to maximize their fees before plug is finally pulled on this white elephant pipe dream.

People with conflicts of interest would like the announcement to be delayed until after the Nov elections


resident
Charleston Meadows
on Apr 8, 2010 at 4:07 pm
resident, Charleston Meadows
on Apr 8, 2010 at 4:07 pm

noah,this is not a rich peninsula residents concern , but the concern of people who are smart and think about reality . You can call those people 'hypocritical nimbies but in reality [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment] .Please educate yourself about this 'High speed rail ' issue .


Paul Losch
Registered user
a resident of Palo Alto
on Apr 8, 2010 at 4:07 pm
Paul Losch, a resident of Palo Alto
Registered user
on Apr 8, 2010 at 4:07 pm

This is such a shell game.

The entire concept makes no sense, and we are getting analysis and reports on how to put lipstick on the pig.

Most travel is local and daily, and has been by automobile since the end of WW2, at least in this part of the world.

Starting with Pat Brown in the 1950's, California has built one hiway after another. I am not one to criticize that aspect of things, but it came at the expense of local mass transit.

Witness that CalTrain and VTA are struggling. This is a densely populated metro area, and should be capable of supporting and providing mass transit that effectively serves its potential patrons.

They cannot right now, and the reasons for that is a separate subject. But it is fatuous to think that HSR from north to south will fare as well or better. Huge red flags.

And yet people keep trying to polish the you know what instead of calling it what it is.


martin
University South
on Apr 8, 2010 at 4:36 pm
martin, University South
on Apr 8, 2010 at 4:36 pm

First the concern was "A Berlin Wall", which it is not. In reality Caltrain is more of a barrier to traffic (both car and pedestrian) now than this will be when elevated.

"no market for it"

I guess Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Belgium, China, etc... Are all wrong and you are right? And the airline lobby is protesting HSR because their is no market??

No NIMBY can deny the fact that CA population will continue to grow. We better be ready, or do you really want 101 to be 40 lanes wide or Moffet Field to become a major airport one day?


M.C.
another community
on Apr 8, 2010 at 4:45 pm
M.C., another community
on Apr 8, 2010 at 4:45 pm

There are plenty of us in SJ who live near the tracks who are not "rich". But the HSR project is still a very big concern for us (though it is not always picked up by the media). This has nothing to do with rich or poor.


Mike S.
Midtown
on Apr 8, 2010 at 5:24 pm
Mike S., Midtown
on Apr 8, 2010 at 5:24 pm

California just cannot afford the HSR project right now. I hope people will realize that fact soon or later.


Sharon
Midtown
on Apr 8, 2010 at 5:31 pm
Sharon, Midtown
on Apr 8, 2010 at 5:31 pm



>I guess Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Belgium, China, etc... Are all wrong and you are right?<

In fact you are WRONG


There is no comparison between those countries and California.

1/ The population densities are completely different, the only place HSR makes sense in the USA is in a narrow corridor between Boston, NYC and DC

2/ In the countries you cite, towns and cities were laid out in the days of walking and ridding horses-- California towns and cities were laid out in the era of the automobile.

3/ The local transportation infrastructure in those countries is completely different from that in California, and much of it was rebuilt in those countries after destruction in WW2.
They have local dense housing with tram, subway, buses, systems that have been in existence for 100+ years.

4/ If you have not noticed,old time sales and business travel has been largely replaced by Telecommuting, Telepresence, WIFI, Wireless, and Internet enabled Digital Transformation.


We invent and build this technology in our own back yard-- why would we want to adopt a 19 century technology resell when we can sell our new technology solutions from Cisco etc to these old world countries.

5/ Countries in Scandinavia have chosen high tech solutions, moving BITS not spam in a can.


HSR is a massive step back in thinking and it will never happen in California apart from maybe a HS freight system for produce and machine parts from LA to Sacramento, but even that has become obsolete.

Supply Chain Management systems can now optimize a combination of road/rail/ship transport with air delivery.

HSR Luddites have lost to Darwin


Kerry
Midtown
on Apr 8, 2010 at 5:36 pm
Kerry, Midtown
on Apr 8, 2010 at 5:36 pm

From the Report:

"Once these corridor-wide alternatives are developed, they will be described on an engineering, environmental and cost basis. These corridor-wide alternatives can then become the basis for
discussion of cost sharing between the Authority, FRA and other agencies including cities on the corridor."

Translation: The least costly alternative will be chosen and, for Palo Alto, it will be elevated, for HSR, although without a berm. CalTrain will continue at grade. There will be grade separation between CalTrain and automobiles, which will go through underpasses. Any additional costs to accomplish this configuration wil be shared by the City of Palo Alto.

Question: How many $ millions will it cost Palo Alto, since the berm (Berlin Wall) has been eliminated? How will we pay for it?


Sharon
Midtown
on Apr 8, 2010 at 5:45 pm
Sharon, Midtown
on Apr 8, 2010 at 5:45 pm


Who will pay for it? well the dream was our children would pay for it--

But as HSR makes no business nor environmental sense it is dead in the water-- it will never happen--the politicians know that and they are looking for a way out of the "HSR train wreck"

We can accelerate their sobriety by our votes in Nov-- but the smart money knows HSR in CA is dead-----

Even CALPERs will not touch HSR with a ten foot pole-- that tells you something
--SEIU is still plugging it with faint praise but they know HSR it is dead.


Kerry
Midtown
on Apr 8, 2010 at 6:42 pm
Kerry, Midtown
on Apr 8, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Sharon,

You should not dismiss the arrgance of the HSR leaders. They are real political pros. This current piece of delusion is designed to be a three-card-monte trick. See the Berlin Wall?...now it is gone...where is it?...in your wallet! Wow! But I thought I was getting something for free!...Nope, you just got took.

What Palo Alto citizens, or politicians cannot see through this piece of sophistry?


kludged
Barron Park
on Apr 8, 2010 at 6:47 pm
kludged, Barron Park
on Apr 8, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Sharon,

Have you visited any 1st world country other than the united states? HSR is way more energy efficient than any other form of mass transit. 2.5 hours door to door can't be beat by an airline. We should tray to make this work for everyone; the world would be a better place.


Kerry
Midtown
on Apr 8, 2010 at 6:51 pm
Kerry, Midtown
on Apr 8, 2010 at 6:51 pm

"HSR is way more energy efficient than any other form of mass transit."

kludged,

Prove that statement.


qq
Barron Park
on Apr 8, 2010 at 7:04 pm
qq, Barron Park
on Apr 8, 2010 at 7:04 pm

From Wikipedia:

Web Link

Fuel Efficiency in Transportation


qq


Mitch
Monroe Park
on Apr 8, 2010 at 7:17 pm
Mitch, Monroe Park
on Apr 8, 2010 at 7:17 pm

HSR is like the old-time travelling minstrel show.

Carnie guy puts up posters a week before the show comes to town; gets everyone in town excited. Wagon rolls in, show starts with pitch man selling elixir, a few jokes are told to loosen up the crowd, some banjo music entertains, a closing pitch for elixir. The wagon show closes up shop and heads out into the night to the next town.

You may recall our town got postered a year ago by pros, many got excited, some even voted for the show to go on the road supported by a 20% down payment using our tax dollars.

Then the pitch man showed up in our town, but nobody bought the elixir. Uh oh. Trouble in River City.

Yet the wagon moved off into the night heading for the next town because our tax dollars continue to subsidize the show.

It is said, "There is a sucker born every minute." The HSR traveling minstrel show is out finding, and selling to, these suckers.



HSR is a Bad Thing
Fairmeadow
on Apr 8, 2010 at 8:35 pm
HSR is a Bad Thing, Fairmeadow
on Apr 8, 2010 at 8:35 pm

AB2121 has been proposed to kill California's HSR activity.

See:
Web Link

There are grounds to justify killing HSR. The initial environmental benefits won't be reached - there may actually be a net environmental negative. The promise to the voters was that government would not have to pay for this thing - now California is planning to put into law that if the dreams of the planners don't come true, California will repay investors. It won't even stimulate innovation in the US, since it apparently will be designed and built with Chinese companies!


Harkey's bill is reputed to be unlikely to pass. But she would appreciate hearing from those who realize this is a Bad Thing. There are other ways to prevent this.


Sharon
Midtown
on Apr 8, 2010 at 9:05 pm
Sharon, Midtown
on Apr 8, 2010 at 9:05 pm

The HSR scam is the same as the Cold Fusion scam and the Madoff scam.

Early investors profit from the fools who follow.

In this case real the fools are us, the tax payers, going along with an HSR Enron like scam that is dead in the water.

This will not stand


Super
Community Center
on Apr 8, 2010 at 9:11 pm
Super, Community Center
on Apr 8, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Gee, I thought it was going to run on pixie dust and fly through the air. Apparently so did alot of the people who voted for it in the first place, and are now fighting the train because they realize that it actually needs to run on rails and those rails might run through their backyard! People should think things through before they voted on this to begin with. The high speed rail project is a wonderful solution to a problem that we don't have. Urban congestion warrants solutions like this. Not the run from SF to LA. Last time I checked, traffic was moving just fine up and down I5. And, if the train is ever built, costs will run higher than expected and revenues will be insufficient to keep in running in the green (sound familiar Cal-Train?). So us taxpayers will be called on yet again! Wake up people!


quality of life
Midtown
on Apr 8, 2010 at 10:26 pm
quality of life, Midtown
on Apr 8, 2010 at 10:26 pm

I hope it will be a tunnel, and the land above that is created by a tunnel is turned into a bicycle boulevard for the peninsula. It'll never happen, so don't flame me. I can dream... (The improved property values and related tax revenues could be an added bonus, not to mention possible tourist tie ins.)


Larry Cohn
College Terrace
on Apr 8, 2010 at 11:48 pm
Larry Cohn, College Terrace
on Apr 8, 2010 at 11:48 pm

"This high speed rail project from s.f.to s.j.must stop."

Wrong. The high-speed rail project from S.F. to Anaheim must stop -- the whole shootin' match.


Alan
Greenmeadow
on Apr 9, 2010 at 9:14 am
Alan, Greenmeadow
on Apr 9, 2010 at 9:14 am

The state budget is in shambles. Our bond rating is the lowest in the nation. We just cannot afford high cost low return projects like this. Just scrap the entire thing, and save that money to preserve our bond rating. It will lower our interest rate and allow us to focus on the more important things like funding schools properly.


Alan J
Southgate
on Apr 9, 2010 at 9:26 am
Alan J, Southgate
on Apr 9, 2010 at 9:26 am

Is there any coordinated effort of stopping this high speed rail project madness? A ballot???


Walter_E_Wallis
Registered user
Midtown
on Apr 9, 2010 at 9:54 am
Walter_E_Wallis, Midtown
Registered user
on Apr 9, 2010 at 9:54 am

The comments about Berlin Wall and dividing Palo Alto neglect the current existence, since prior to most of Palo Alto, of the railroad right of way. As for the final configuration, I like the Alameda Corridor, which see.


James Hoosac
another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 10:16 am
James Hoosac, another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 10:16 am

You don't need to go far to see what a real viaduct looks like. Here is a link for a street view of the light rail viaduct at Montague x Great Mall Pkway in North San Jose.

Web Link

This is the satellite view:

Web Link


Mik
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2010 at 11:08 am
Mik, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2010 at 11:08 am

Something you never hear the extraordinarily arrogant HSR Authority talk about ... ever ... is the impact on neighborhoods and all the homes that will have to be taken. The proposed routing is simply wrong, will cost many people their homes, and cause many others to live in a degraded neighborhood. And this for a project whose ridership estimates are a highly inflated joke, which will require massive injections of funds from State and local government which neither can afford. The Authority goes through the motions of working with the
community, but that is all a facade ... basically, a seduction to cover up the rape of our community and many others. As propose, this project is too destructive ... we can't afford it — not even close ... and they have yet to demonstrate that it is justified by rider demand. In its present form, it must be stopped. That isn't NIMBY ... that is a response to terrible physical and financial planning.


Neal
Community Center
on Apr 9, 2010 at 11:19 am
Neal, Community Center
on Apr 9, 2010 at 11:19 am

Although HSR is a white elephant it may be built anyway. It's a pity the politicians never let the facts get in the way of a good jobs program. If HSR is built, the people of Palo Alto should do everything in their power to make sure Palo Alto does not become the one and only midpeninsula stop. A huge station and parking structure will be another blight on our city, not to mention all the traffic. People aren't going to take public transportation to the station. That means most midpeninsula riders will converge on Palo Alto in their cars. UGH!


Against HSR
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2010 at 12:21 pm
Against HSR, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2010 at 12:21 pm

I went to that meeting yesterday with the High Speed Rail Authority- at one point one of them said imagine we could go to one ball game in L.A.. And then hop on the HSR and be in San Francisco for another one in the afternoon. And he was not joking. They all were enthused.
They are trying to sell this rail by talking about jobs. Jobs for our unemployed. But they don't seem to be telling these teamster unions, and construction workers, and engineers that they will need workers experienced in high speed rails. They have not made it clear that they are shopping for trains in China. They will import the trains. This does not help our economy.
And then there is the funding. This rail will cost billions. More that they are saying- maybe 100 billion. California does not have that kind of money. There are drastic cuts in the education budget, but we will have a train.
Diane Harkey is trying to get a bill passed to refuse the HSR funds. Pls support her.
The HSRA is trying to get a bill passed that allows them to go ahead with the HSR without community input!! In other words if it passes they will not need to listen to any of our concerns!!


Against HSR
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2010 at 12:21 pm
Against HSR, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2010 at 12:21 pm

I went to that meeting yesterday with the High Speed Rail Authority- at one point one of them said imagine we could go to one ball game in L.A.. And then hop on the HSR and be in San Francisco for another one in the afternoon. And he was not joking. They all were enthused.
They are trying to sell this rail by talking about jobs. Jobs for our unemployed. But they don't seem to be telling these teamster unions, and construction workers, and engineers that they will need workers experienced in high speed rails. They have not made it clear that they are shopping for trains in China. They will import the trains. This does not help our economy.
And then there is the funding. This rail will cost billions. More that they are saying- maybe 100 billion. California does not have that kind of money. There are drastic cuts in the education budget, but we will have a train.
Diane Harkey is trying to get a bill passed to refuse the HSR funds. Pls support her.
The HSRA is trying to get a bill passed that allows them to go ahead with the HSR without community input!! In other words if it passes they will not need to listen to any of our concerns!!


Gethin
Midtown
on Apr 9, 2010 at 1:08 pm
Gethin, Midtown
on Apr 9, 2010 at 1:08 pm

What a surprise that some Palo Alto residents are opposed to the HSR. As a local my impression is that there are people in town who are always against every change and heaven forbid it could be seen as a significant step to improve the future, not just for this generation, but those to follow for whom transportation issues will become even more of a concern than they are today.
Putting it underground is just a ploy to grind the process to a halt. Besides a massive increase in building costs there would be endless delays to deal with environmental concerns. My opinion is that underground environmental issues would be more problematic than above ground environmental impacts.
I am totally in favor of putting HSR through the peninsular to SF. Will is cause problems? Yes. Are they justified by the overall benefits? Absolutely.
Its about time that an area world famous for its technology and innovation caught up with the rest of the world in terms of high speed transportation.
I look forward to taking HSR to LA.


Jack L.
Charleston Meadows
on Apr 9, 2010 at 1:21 pm
Jack L., Charleston Meadows
on Apr 9, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Kill off the funding of the high speed rail project and show your support for bill AB2121 by emailing Diana Harkey.

Web Link


neighbor
another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 2:14 pm
neighbor, another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Really looking forward to taking that HSR train to LA! Great project!


Yesterday's technology
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 9, 2010 at 2:44 pm
Yesterday's technology, Old Palo Alto
on Apr 9, 2010 at 2:44 pm

"Its about time that an area world famous for its technology and innovation caught up with the rest of the world in terms of high speed transportation. "

Not even close...for all of the destruction to our neighborhoods, we don't even get a state of the art system like maglev. HSR is old news...


a limp.....................
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 9, 2010 at 4:02 pm
a limp....................., Old Palo Alto
on Apr 9, 2010 at 4:02 pm

what good in a major high-speed ANYTHING that dead-ends in SF if the big return is running to Seattle via Portland and Sac'ram'ento who wants the assests without the local burden???????????


Midtown Resident
Midtown
on Apr 9, 2010 at 4:11 pm
Midtown Resident, Midtown
on Apr 9, 2010 at 4:11 pm

I would love it if HSR came to the LA-SF corridor. I have to travel a lot in Europe on business and find HSR there an incredibly relaxing and efficient way to travel.I find driving down to LA to be time consuming and stressful and I obviously can't get work done or read if I am driving.Flying takes a long time with all the security now and the need to check in so far ahead of time.
It's amazing how HSR has transformed travel in Europe.Remember the old days when to travel from London to Paris you either had to spend many hours on a boat getting seasick or take an expensive plane that again, involved time consuming travel out to an airport and then long waits in the airport before you took the flight? Now you can travel from London to Paris in 2 hours without all that waiting in security lines! Fantastic!


David
Greenmeadow
on Apr 9, 2010 at 4:21 pm
David, Greenmeadow
on Apr 9, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Since HSR is not being planned to replace Caltrain, why is the Caltrain route the only north-south route being considered for HSR?

Why not over/along/under 101? If it is indeed high-speed, it's not going to need to coordinate with the many stops that Caltrain makes on the peninsula.

An express Caltrain makes only 4 stops between San Jose and San Francisco.

Does anyone know how many peninsula stops are planned for HSR? Since I would suspect it's less than the 4 made by Caltrain today, what's the real value driving HSR through residential neighborhoods if it's not going to stop in those neighborhoods?


Walter_E_Wallis
Registered user
Midtown
on Apr 9, 2010 at 4:52 pm
Walter_E_Wallis, Midtown
Registered user
on Apr 9, 2010 at 4:52 pm

With the money they blew on the Bay Bridge to build that stupid worthless harp, they could built a parallel bridge with HSR capability, allowing through traffic to Sacto and North. Remember, that boondoggle is Jerry Brown's fault. 10 Billion+ but no net increase in traffic handling?


Gethin
Midtown
on Apr 9, 2010 at 6:38 pm
Gethin, Midtown
on Apr 9, 2010 at 6:38 pm

HSR may not be cutting edge technology or even close however a higher tech solution is not being debated, this one is. This is a superior technology to what we have and more importantly will provide improved services. I cannot imagine that a more state of the art solution would have any positive influence on those who oppose the HSR on the table.
Besides taking it to LA I would love to take it to Seattle. A HSR west coast corridor would be outstanding!


Kerry
Midtown
on Apr 9, 2010 at 6:57 pm
Kerry, Midtown
on Apr 9, 2010 at 6:57 pm

qq,

Could you please explain your link to:

"Fuel Efficiency in Transportation" ?

It looks like van pools are a much more efficient means of mass transit. It does not appear to compare long haul charter buses vs. trains.

I am awaiting "kludged" to prove that "HSR is way more energy efficient than any other form of mass transit."


ODB
another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 7:45 pm
ODB, another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 7:45 pm

I don't care about homes being destroyed in Palo Alto, I don't care about energy efficiency, I don't care about convenience to travelers and above all I don't care how many ball games I can see in one day (which I can already do by air travel). What I DO care about is that HSR has all the makings of the biggest boondoggle you ever saw. If it is built, I fully expect the final construction cost to be 1 1/2 to 2 times the figure being fed to the public due to "cost overruns", and I do not expect it ever to run in the black without subsidies which will be an albatross around the necks of California taxpayers for generations to come.

Am I the only one to notice that so many of these "devil in the details" issues are coming to light only AFTER the bond election of 2008? IIRC the Pacheco Pass route was selected after the bond election so they didn't have to disclose that Union Pacific will not let HSR use its right-of-way between San Jose and Gilroy. Or that now it MIGHT BE an aerial viaduct or it MIGHT BE a trench or it MIGHT BE at-grade. Shouldn't all this have come out in the EIR before the bond election? Or that the trains will come from China? Yeah Governor Schwarzenegger, HSR will create 600,000 new jobs -- most of them in China.


ODB
another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 8:47 pm
ODB, another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 8:47 pm

I must correct myself. The Pacheco Pass route was chosen in December 2007, 11 months before the bond election. Still, UPRR will not allow HSR the use of its right-of-way and a plan has since been concocted to run HSR down Monterey Highway, thus increasing automobile congestion.


John McNary
Ventura
on Apr 10, 2010 at 10:50 am
John McNary, Ventura
on Apr 10, 2010 at 10:50 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


John McNary
Ventura
on Apr 10, 2010 at 10:52 am
John McNary, Ventura
on Apr 10, 2010 at 10:52 am

Hey ODB, I just drove down "Monterey Highway" from SJ to Gilroy and its nothing more than a collector road. It has numerous stop signs and is in places just one lane in each direction - and in other six lanes wide (form its historical US 101 days) and virtually devoid of traffic.

That piece of land is perfect for a railroad.


Frank
Ventura
on Apr 10, 2010 at 12:23 pm
Frank, Ventura
on Apr 10, 2010 at 12:23 pm

I live a few hundred feet from the current Caltrain tracks. I also support the HSR project.

One thing missing from this discussion is the positive aspects of HSR for those who never ride it. Have you ever waited to cross the train tracks at rush hour? Grade separation for both Calrtrain and HSR would be a very good thing for all of us.

One thing I've read that I find disturbing is that if we go with a tunnel for HSR that Caltrain would not be improved. Clearly if we go through all the disruptions of construction we must fix Caltrain too.

Frank


Frank
Ventura
on Apr 10, 2010 at 12:26 pm
Frank, Ventura
on Apr 10, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Think if a trench at Oregon Expressway, Embarcadero and University - we would have to pull those streets up since currently they are in the trench. University and Embarcadero are probably due for a new trench / bridge anyway.

But bringing these streets up will mean 3 big intersections for Alma Street.


Mike
University South
on Apr 11, 2010 at 8:06 am
Mike, University South
on Apr 11, 2010 at 8:06 am

"I guess Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Belgium, China, etc... Are all wrong and you are right?"

If you tax people heavily enough to pay for HSR, they'll have to give up their cars.


Neal
Community Center
on Apr 11, 2010 at 11:29 am
Neal, Community Center
on Apr 11, 2010 at 11:29 am

Midtown resident was touting the benefits of train travel from Paris to London. The cost of this trip is outragious. Go to www.raileurope.com and price the trip for yourself. Lowest one-way fare I could find was $119 for Saturday travel. This is a 2.5 hr. trip comparable to the predicted time from SF to LA. Weekday trips at peak times are more than double that. In order to be fiscally sound, this is what HSR is going to have to charge. Check it out. The cost will blow your mind.


Willy
Woodside
on Apr 11, 2010 at 11:59 am
Willy, Woodside
on Apr 11, 2010 at 11:59 am

Neal:

Apples to oranges?

Cost for London to Paris, you say is $119. (I suspect that $119 is a rather low cost for that trip, historically, perhaps excluding an occasional airline "price war," but I digress.)

Then you compare that number to hours spent traveling LA-SF. Perhaps compare the $119 to airfare London-Paris, or to airfare for LA-SF.

Also utilizes one of the modern wonders of the world: the "chunnel".

Ever notice that when infrastructure or national investment discussions highlight other industrialized nations' accomplishments, the naysayers seem, um, well, never mind.

;-)


Neal
Community Center
on Apr 11, 2010 at 12:48 pm
Neal, Community Center
on Apr 11, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Willy. What's your point? Am I missing something? Please clarify.
Thanks


Willy
Woodside
on Apr 11, 2010 at 1:49 pm
Willy, Woodside
on Apr 11, 2010 at 1:49 pm

I was curious about your statements, including: "The cost of this trip is outragious."

You mention one cost ($119), and then compare it to time of trips. I didn't get your point.


ODB
another community
on Apr 12, 2010 at 2:29 pm
ODB, another community
on Apr 12, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Monterey Highway may work as an alternative to the UPRR right of way, but the overall plan for HSR remains fraught with myriad insurmountable problems.

I don't like this "after-the-fact" planning where they are filling in these details AFTER the bond election. In my view they sold voters a bill of goods.


maguro_01
Mountain View
on Apr 13, 2010 at 8:18 am
maguro_01, Mountain View
on Apr 13, 2010 at 8:18 am

Does anyone have any idea how expensive oil/gasoline has to get for public transit to work here? Light rail, buses, none of it is economic presently. Roads have received huge subsidies now for generations affecting US patterns of settlement and commerce. For years oil was subsidized too according to one study if US expenses in the Middle East were included. Also if medical care and finance buy The Best Congress That Money Can Buy today, oil did years ago.

One thing that might help a little is that most drivers drastically underestimate what it costs them to drive to work and what it costs them to subsidize other people driving to work. Estimates of those expenses should be more available. If you work along the VTA rail line from Mountain View to SJ you can't start most cars and shut them down twice for what it costs to take the light rail. Yet it's also a feeder for dying Caltrain and may logically lose trains too.

We see that towns along Rt 82 are still playing the same old games trying to screw one another - get rid of as much through traffic as possible but get as much business as possible preferably with freeway access. Would metro government with present cities as council member's districts work better?


Michael Tompert
Crescent Park
on Apr 20, 2010 at 7:27 pm
Michael Tompert, Crescent Park
on Apr 20, 2010 at 7:27 pm

The High Speed Rail project makes a lot of sense and I cant wait to just walk to the train station be in LA 2.5 hours later and get out in the middle of that city. I have taken the bullet trains in Europe and maybe one has to try it for themselves to understand what a difference it makes and how it connects big cities into neighborhoods. To the people who are vocal opponents I would pose the question is the alternative of building more airports and more freeways an acceptable alternative to you? It's a forward looking project that looks at California not as it is today but what it will be like in 10 years from now. In Europe and Japan these projects were planned and initiated decades ago and are now ready to make these countries function in a very modern yet environmentally sensible way. Take a look at YouTube for these video that give you a slightly bigger picture: Web Link


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