Palo Alto councilmen seek rail allies in San Diego

Mayor Pat Burt and Councilman Larry Klein take their high-speed rail frustrations to League of California Cities meeting

Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt and Councilman Larry Klein are heading to San Diego today to compare notes and share high-speed-rail frustrations with elected leaders from around the state.

While no specific proposal is on the agenda, unofficially the meeting could lay the foundation for a stronger collaboration, or even a possible coalition, of cities concerned about impacts of the rail project.

Burt and Klein are hosting a meeting on high-speed rail at the annual League of California Cities Conference tonight (Thursday, Sept. 16).

Both sit on the city's High-Speed Rail Committee, which recently adopted a "no confidence" stance toward the voter-approved rail project and which on Wednesday agreed to ask state officials to withhold funds from the 800-mile project, currently estimated at $43 billion.

Both council members supported the project in 2008, when the council adopted a resolution to support the November 2008 initiative that authorized $9.95 billion in state funds for the project.

Both have since become disenchanted with the project. Klein called the city negotiations with the California High-School Rail Authority a "bare-knuckles political fight."

The meeting, sponsored by Palo Alto, is billed as an information-sharing affair. City leaders won't be taking any official resolutions or signing any agreements at the conference, Klein said.

"The only thing we're asking people to sign is a sign-up sheet," Klein said.

Burt, the city's high-speed-rail lobbyist Ravi Mehta, and Alhambra Mayor Stephen Sham are scheduled to speak at the meeting about the rail project.

But there's an unwritten, unofficial part of the agenda:

"What we want to explore is what we can develop in common," Burt said Wednesday night at the city's High Speed Rail Committee meeting.

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Like this comment
Posted by Gayle Riggs
a resident of Nixon School
on Sep 16, 2010 at 12:58 pm

While Burt and Klein are in San Diego, I suggest they look at the fairly new open trench in Solana Beach which services both Amtrak and the commuter trains. I think "open trench" sounds really ugly, but seeing one and NOT hearing the trains in them could let them see a working "open trench." The sides of the "trench" are planted with cascading bouganvilla and other plants, quite pretty.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 16, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Don't get your hopes up - they probably will come back. I wonder if they rode the train. They could also look at the Alameda Corridor trench, another success story.

Like this comment
Posted by Koa
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 16, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Nice. Trip to San Diego on our dime.

Like this comment
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Sep 16, 2010 at 10:01 pm

I'm sure Klein and Burt won't let facts get in the way of their opinions.

Like this comment
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of University South
on Sep 19, 2010 at 3:09 pm

YIMBY is a registered user.

I'll add the Long Island RR to the mix.(others above suggested corridors to view in Southern CA)
There are 8 branches - some are on slightly raised viaducts (see Rockville Center), others are slightly trenched - the Pt. Washington line. Hailing from both Bayside and Great Neck, both are on this line (the only one that does not go through Jamaica), I took the line often - still do when I return. The advantage to the trench is that the station platform is a walk down a flight of stairs, while the main streets - Bell Blvd and Middleneck Rd (like University Av), pass above the tracks. The station itself is above the tracks too.

However, I really do think that the future of the Caltrain corridor needs to be considered ASIDE from HSR - as Caltrain, freight, and HSR may not be running side by side depending on what the city opts for, HSR agrees to, and can be afforded.

BTW, LIRR carries more passengers than any other commuter RR in US.

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