News

High-speed rail: On the wrong track?

Midpeninsula cities charge that plans for state high-speed rail are headed off course

Last week, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sojourned to Asia for a brisk, three-nation tour of high-speed rail systems.

Before boarding Japan's widely acclaimed Shinkansen bullet train, Schwarzenegger marveled at the technology around him. Surrounded by reporters and aides, he praised the nation's rail infrastructure, including its tunnels and double-decker trains.

"The ingenuity is really unbelievable," said Schwarzenegger, whose tour also included stops in China and South Korea.

At one point, he took 10 minutes out of his busy schedule to dial into a San Diego conference, where about 30 officials from various parts of state voiced their frustrations about California's own high-speed rail effort. The meeting, sponsored by Palo Alto, was scheduled in conjunction with the annual League of California Cities conference. City leaders from northern, southern and central California participated.

According to Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt, who hosted the meeting with Councilman Larry Klein, Schwarzenegger told the city leaders that he understands their concerns about the rail system's potential impacts. He then asked them to subordinate these concerns for the greater good of the state.

Klein, who has recently emerged as Palo Alto's fiercest high-speed-rail critic, characterized Schwarzenegger's remarks as "condescending" and said he wasn't the only conference attendee to feel that way. One "grandmotherly" councilwoman from Southern California held up a note while the governor was talking inscribed with the letters "BS," he said.

The sign, in many ways, epitomized the feelings of Midpeninsula city officials about California's high-speed rail project, which state officials hope will connect San Francisco to Los Angeles by 2020. Voters approved a $9.95 billion bond for the rail system in November 2008, when they passed Proposition 1A.

This week, Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto councils all voted unanimously (in Menlo Park, one council member abstained) to sue the California High-Speed Rail Authority, claiming the agency has failed to address their concerns in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act. Burlingame and Belmont are both scheduled to consider lawsuits in closed sessions next week.

Suing is one of many tools Midpeninsula officials are using in their quest to slow down the $42.6 billion project. In recent months, city officials have attended rail authority meetings in Sacramento to criticize the most recent plans and have sent letters to state and federal officials complaining about the process. The Peninsula Cities Consortium, which consists of Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto, Belmont and Burlingame, also issued a public statement in July claiming the rail authority has "an enormous credibility problem" and challenging the authority to "build right or not at all."

Palo Alto city leaders this week took their firmest stance to date against the project in its current form. The council, which voted to support the high-speed rail project back in October 2008, unanimously passed a resolution Monday night declaring "no confidence" in the project. The city also voted 5 to 4, with Mayor Pat Burt, Vice Mayor Sid Espinosa, Councilman Greg Scharff and Councilwoman Nancy Shepherd dissenting, to send a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration requesting that the agency to stop its $1 billion funding of the project.

Espinosa, who was on the council when it supported Proposition 1A, said he has "gone through every emotion" over the past two years when it comes to the rail project.

"Like so many Californians, I started with excitement, then confusion while on the council, then frustration with the authority and finally to anger," Espinosa said. "Like so many Californians, I was excited by the prospect of being able to jump on a train and being able to get to L.A. in a quick manner.

"I soon realized like so many of us that the High-Speed Rail Authority was in fact not a good partner."

Klein, who chairs the city's High-Speed Rail Committee, was also once a rail supporter. Two years ago, he co-authored a resolution with former Councilwoman Yoriko Kishimoto urging Palo Alto voters to pass Proposition 1A. The two council members called high-speed rail a "proven technology" and argued that it "will provide a faster, far better environmental solution to the problem of moving our state's growing population from one part of the state to another."

Now, Klein is the council's fiercest critic of the project. At a Sept. 15 committee meeting, he described the city's negotiations with the rail authority as a "bare-knuckles political fight" and a David-versus-Goliath struggle.

"We have a serious problem facing our city which we have little power over," Klein said.

Palo Alto officials have expressed a litany of concerns about the project, including (but not limited to) the rail authority's estimation of how many people will use the rail line; its elimination of deep tunnels and covered trenches as possible design options; its failure to provide any information about potential property seizures along the Caltrain corridor; its virtual abandonment of the "context-sensitive solutions" model, which gives stakeholders a say in the design of the line; and the speed with which the design work is proceeding.

Though the lawsuit isn't expected to stop the project, Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton officials hope it will at least slow it down. They also hope the suit will force the rail authority to reopen its voluminous Program Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the second time and re-evaluate its selection of Pacheco Pass as the preferred route rather than the Altamont Pass in the East Bay.

Stuart Flashman, the attorney who represented Atherton, Menlo Park and a coalition of nonprofit groups in a 2008 lawsuit against the Rail Authority, said he believes the revised Environmental Impact Report (EIR) remains inaccurate, particularly when it comes to projected ridership numbers. These estimations are critical because they provide the basis for the rail authority's choice of Pacheco Pass over the Altamont. Flashman said the rail authority probably would have reached a different decision had it made its projections correctly.

"The message we're sending to the High-Speed Rail Authority is that we're going to keep making you do it until you do it right," Flashman said.

The coalition's initial lawsuit forced the rail authority to de-certify the EIR for the Bay Area-to-Central Valley segment of the line and revise chapters relating to vibration impact, project description and Union Pacific's opposition to sharing its tracks with the new high-speed trains. Palo Alto was not a plaintiff in that suit but filed a "friend of the court" brief in support of its Midpeninsula neighbors.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny did not require the rail authority to revisit the issue of route selection. Flashman hopes the new lawsuit -- along with a recent report by UC Berkeley's Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) that found the ridership projections "unreliable" and recent evidence that the rail authority's ridership models weren't publicized or peer reviewed before the EIR was issued -- will change that.

The new lawsuit also seeks to slow down the rail authority's design process for the San Francisco-to-San Jose segment of the 800-mile line. The rail authority is scheduled to release a highly anticipated Project Environmental Impact Report in December that would analyze the various design options -- including trenches, aerial viaducts and at-grade tracks -- along the Peninsula.

Flashman said the group wants to make sure the rail authority doesn't certify this new document until it resolves the outstanding issues with the broader document and proves that the Pacheco Pass is indeed the proper alignment for the new line.

"They haven't made the basic decisions about the Program EIR but they're going ahead with the new (Project) EIR," Flashman told the Weekly. "It's kind of like putting on your coat before you put on your shirt."

Jeffrey Barker, the rail authority's deputy director, declined to comment on the cities' planned litigation other than to point out that "this kind of thing is not unexpected for an infrastructure project of this size and scope."

The authority's goal, he wrote in an e-mail, is "to work with every community to help shape the best high-speed rail project possible, and (the authority) would hope that elected officials choose to engage meaningfully in that process."

The Midpeninsula's gradual insurgence against the rail project has not gone unnoticed by rail proponents, both in Sacramento and in the Bay Area. Authority CEO Roelof van Ark recently joined officials from Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton and Mountain View for a tour of the Caltrain corridor, where the rail officials hope to place the new system. Van Ark, who did not respond to a request from the Weekly for comment, also wrote a letter to Peninsula officials on Aug. 24 assuring them that "the trench option through many Peninsula cities remains an option to be further studied and evaluated," despite recent analyses indicating that it's an unlikely option further south along the Midpeninsula.

Schwarzenegger's phone call to the San Diego conference also struck Klein and Burt as a sign that Sacramento is finally hearing (though not addressing) the cacophony of complaints from local officials.

"I was very glad to have the governor try to hijack our meeting," Klein said at the Sept. 20 council meeting. "It was a confession that we're being taken seriously."

The volunteer group Californians for High-Speed Rail is also trying to quell the Peninsula storm. On Sept 13, the group launched a "Peninsula Reset" campaign, aimed at changing the tone of the conversation. The San Francisco-based group wrote an open letter urging, among other things, that Peninsula officials to "publicly acknowledge the benefits that HSR will bring to their communities in terms of necessary upgrades such as improved pedestrian safety and traffic conditions due to grade separations."

The group also calls for the rail authority to commit to "better communications with Peninsula cities and to provide a new staff member that is dedicated solely to resolving all the complex issues along the Peninsula."

Chairman Robert Cruickshank, who founded the California High Speed Rail Blog, said the group is "generally pleased" with the project's progress thus far. He called the Institute of Transportation Studies report's criticism of the authority's ridership numbers "an argument between academics over how you study ridership" and said the project has come a long way since voters approved Proposition 1A. Most people on the Peninsula continue to support the project, he said.

For evidence, the group points to a poll conducted by the firm Fairbank, Maslin, Mullin and Metz in April for a political candidate in the 21st Assembly District. The poll showed 77 percent of Democratic and independent voters taking part in the Democratic primary as supporting the project.

"What we're seeing on the Peninsula and what we're not seeing around the state is a much more organized and concerted effort to undermine the project," Cruickshank told the Weekly. "We see a lot of public support that's not been mobilized."

Daniel Krause, co-founder of the Californians for High Speed Rail, said he helped found the group in 2005 largely to urge legislators in Sacramento to provide funding for the project. Late last year, he and other group members realized they would need to become more active to counter the organized opposition on the Peninsula.

He acknowledged that mobilizing supporters is always a challenge -- it's the people who oppose the project who are more likely to attend meetings and get involved. But his group remains hopeful that the "silent majority" of rail supporters will soon speak up.

"High-speed rail provides a lot of opportunities, not just problems," Krause said. "We're really encouraging people to re-look at benefits of the project."

In Palo Alto, at least, the benefits of the rail system have been largely overshadowed by fears and anxieties. Over a series of emotional public hearings in August and September, council members and residents slammed the latest design plans for the planned system, which the rail authority unveiled last month.

The plans, outlined in the Supplemental Alternatives Analysis Report, eliminate the locally popular deep tunnels and covered trenches from consideration on the Midpeninsula and narrow the design options to at-grade (street level) tracks, aerial viaducts and open trenches. The rail authority is scheduled to release a fuller analysis of the remaining design options in December, as part of its Project EIR for the San Francisco-to-San Jose segment of the line.

Palo Alto officials are already gearing up for a battle over the new report. The city has hired the civil-engineering firm Hatch Mott McDonald to review the Alternatives Analysis, and representatives of the firm said they have already uncovered a number of flaws and inconsistencies in the document.

Hatch Mott McDonald concluded in its review earlier this month that the rail authority's hasn't been clear about the depth of the open trench in its cost projections; that its plan to switch from at-grade to aerial alignments in Palo Alto "does not appear to be consistent with the CHSRA policy to avoid a 'roller coaster' configuration"; and that the rail authority's rejection of the covered-trench option is questionable, given that the construction process for open and closed trenches is "nearly identical."

Palo Alto's traffic engineers, meanwhile, have completed their own analysis of high-speed rail's possible impact on traffic and concluded that the effects would be substantial if the tracks run at street level as Caltrain does now. These impacts would be particularly significant if the rail authority chooses to build the project in phases, a plan it laid out last month in an application for federal funds.

In that application, the authority proposed a scenario in which the high-speed trains and Caltrain would use four grade-separated tracks between San Francisco and Redwood City, then switch to a shared street-level two-track system along the Midpeninsula before going back to the four-track system in Mountain View. Staff has estimated that if this option were to materialize, it would take 10 minutes for traffic on Alma Street to recover after each train passed through.

The city is also preparing a series of studies of the Caltrain corridor, including an analysis of a high-speed rail system's economic impact and a property-value analysis for land near the corridor. These studies, the council hopes, will help the city acquire the answers it's been seeking (and not getting) from the rail authority.

Burt said the city plans to continue to "work constructively" with the rail authority over its plans, the new lawsuit notwithstanding. Klein also said the city should remain engaged in the design process for the new system, though urged his council colleagues to take a firmer tone with the rail authority during these negotiations.

"We tried to be nice guys -- that's our style in Palo Alto," Klein said at the Sept. 15 meeting of the high-speed rail committee. "We've been rejected over and over again by the High-Speed Rail Authority.

"That's a view clearly shared up and down the Peninsula," he added. "We're not acting alone."

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by political_incorrectness
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2010 at 10:35 am

"This week, Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto councils all voted unanimously (in Menlo Park, one council member abstained) to sue the California High-Speed Rail Authority, claiming the agency has failed to address their concerns in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act." - The issues have been addressed, it is not in the way PAMPA likes though and those who live near the tracks feel this way. People are pessimistic about high-speed rail because of opposition having a megaphone attached to them by city officials.

"build right or not at all."

According to what standard? I'm paying taxes for this project and I have residency in Washington but am currently in Montana. I should not have to pay for a tunnel wanted by a minority of the population of the city and state. It is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

"I soon realized like so many of us that the High-Speed Rail Authority was in fact not a good partner."

There was no good faith by the Midpenninsula to negotiate better ariel options. There was a lack of communication on both ends.

"its failure to provide any information about potential property seizures along the Caltrain corridor"

We're still in the design phase, try writing up a full detailed plan in a few months and let me see what you coem up with.

"Program Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the second time and re-evaluate its selection of Pacheco Pass as the preferred route rather than the Altamont Pass in the East Bay."

When this was brought back in 1996, Pacheco was still the preferred route. If Palo Alto wants it routed through East Bay, pay up to deal with NIMBYs over there!

"UC Berkeley's Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) that found the ridership projections "unreliable" "

They were not declared unreliable except by the media pointing out one quote when it stated that the models are satisfactory but UC Berkeley would use different assumptions such as those for air travelers instead of what world rail travellers do.

"if the tracks run at street level"

High-speed rail CANNOT BE AT GRADE, IT MUST BE GRADE SEPARATED! This will also grade separate Caltrain and electrify it. Meaning more service for Palo Alto.

"work constructively"

If you worked constructively, litigation would not have been pursued for another three months if not longer.

"We tried to be nice guys -- that's our style in Palo Alto," Klein said at the Sept. 15 meeting of the high-speed rail committee. "We've been rejected over and over again by the High-Speed Rail Authority.

Then why did I not hear about design options for ariel alternatives? The tunnel and trench have been rejected already due to the cost, soil issues. I ask what if homes collapse if a deep tunnel is constructed due to soil stability, what about delays? I suggest that cities that want deep tunnels take full price for delays, additional construction cost, maintenance, etc. This should not be paid by the rest of the state to please only a few individuals.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]






Like this comment
Posted by Steve T
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 24, 2010 at 10:59 am

For myself it's not nimbyism. I think HSR is a bad idea, period. I voted against it and I don't want my children to pay for the boondoggle. I am all for rail transit but let it grow organically. Use the money wisely to build the local infrastructure which will be used more and offset far more carbon emissions.

The presence of a local rail and public transportation infrastructure is what makes HSR work in Europe and Japan. Without that the HSR will be a giant boondoggle.


Like this comment
Posted by Frank
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 24, 2010 at 11:00 am

to political_incorrectness -

Actually I agree with most of your frustrations as expressed. I live near the tracks and would like to see this built and the station put in Palo Alto.

But I think the big issue is the HSR Authority. This is a political process and the Authority has proved itself to be politically inept and it's hurting (killing?) the project.

If you listen to some of the Authority members on the radio in the early days they sound very arrogant. You don't talk about seizing property unless you know exactly how much and where; this is only common sense because if you don't have these answers people will assume the worst.

You don't ask for input and then say it's off the table.

Most people don't realize the HSR Authority has been around in one form or another for decades. No one paid much attention to them before they had any money. They did years of study of the various routes (Pacheco v. Altamont). You might think they made the wrong choice - many did back in the '90's when they made decision but from their point of view this is old news.

Still if the Authority had been more politically astute they could have avoided much of the negative attitude people have of them now.


Like this comment
Posted by Greg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 24, 2010 at 12:27 pm

@political_incorrectness:
You say: "Personally, I would not mind giving the Midpennisula the shaft..."
That pretty much sums it up. Why act surprised when we defend ourselves?


Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2010 at 12:51 pm

> They did years of study of the various routes (Pacheco v. Altamont).

Altamont was the clear favorite for several years under the CA high speed rail commission. Only when San Jose and construction interests got involved did Altamont fall out of favor, mostly in order to protect $6 billion of BART extension that would have become redundant if Altamont ever got built. Pacheco is a profit-maximization move that adroitly exploits San Jose's civic inferiority complex.


Like this comment
Posted by Bill Moisten
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 24, 2010 at 1:36 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by Bill Moisten
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 24, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Larry - keep it up. Let's hope this gets done right or it stops in San Jose.


Like this comment
Posted by Vincent
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2010 at 1:48 pm

First in favor of HSR, now against HSR? Sure. After a lifting finger in the air to determine which way the political winds were blowing.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 24, 2010 at 3:00 pm

"The greater good" ???
I thought the governor was an environmentally-conscious person!
Whyhe put John Muir on our quarter!
We are not Japan Mr. Governor!!
Their needs are not ours!


Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 24, 2010 at 10:06 pm

polical incorrectness, whomever you are: Clearly you don't live here, so what is your investment in this discussion? You pay taxes? Give me a break! My taxes helped pay for the rail system back east, but I never thought it was my business to tell them how they should, or should not, do it. You sound like you have some personal investment in this HSR project and have lost all ability to recognize this impacts thousands of residents, and millions of taxpayers who will be stuck with the bill.

You stated: "We're still in the design phase, try writing up a full detailed plan in a few months and let me see what you coem(sic) up with" -- a few months? Are you kidding? HSR was voted on -- are you telling me that the HSR folks asked taxpayers to commit billions of dollars without a real plan???

Again, if you are not a California resident, why are you on this board????


Like this comment
Posted by CA resident
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2010 at 11:57 pm

@ neighbor: "are you telling me that the HSR folks asked taxpayers to commit billions of dollars without a real plan???"

You mean the way Eisenhower had a complete, detailed plan of every impact and property take of the Interstate Highway System when he signed the initial legislation? Let's even limit it to Interstates in CA.

You mean the way NASA had a complete, detailed plan of every cost and life to be given up when Kennedy initiated the moon landing program?

You mean the way the Palo Alto city fathers had a complete, detailed plan of the way the city would grow for the next 140 years?

===

In Bizarro World, the Authority spent many years and many millions of dollars doing planning so specific they could identify every shrub that would need to be removed to build the facility. In Bizarro World, "neighbor" would then write to PAOnline, "are you telling me that the HSR folks committed hundreds of millions for a plan without going to the electorate first to see if they wanted to commit to build it???


Like this comment
Posted by ODB
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2010 at 9:47 am

<< Let's hope this gets done right or it stops in San Jose. >>

In this case "done right" means not being done at all. CA HSR will create oceans of red ink for the state whether it stops in San Jose or not. The economics just don't work out unless you believe the ridiculous ridership projections put forth to make the project seem viable.

Be careful what you wish for.


Like this comment
Posted by Barron Park Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 25, 2010 at 10:39 am

Whatever they build they must make sure that it is safe and not exposed. With all this talk about high speed rail almost nothing has been said about safety and preventing rail related deaths. Safety and the prevention of rail related deaths is the most important aspect of this project yet no one ever discusses it. I would love to see an article in the paper discussing the various different configurations proposed from a safety and death prevention point of view.


Like this comment
Posted by political_incorrectness
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2010 at 2:33 pm

@ neighbor If HSR doesn't succeed in California, there will be implications to high-speed rail nationwide. Why am I here? 1st amendment says I can. Politicians like Senator McCain complain about waste across the country, what is the issue with me making a stink about opposition to a good idea? I have had opinions published in the Morgan Hill Times and Gilroy Dispatch. I don't have to be local to have a say, especially in the days of the Internet. You do not realize that with ANY PROJECT THERE WILL BE IMPACTS. The Interstates did not have 0 impacts so why expect that of high-speed rail? The Mindpenninsula has made it sound like a 200 foot swatch of land is going to be compeltely cleared and hell is going to come just because of high-speed rail.

My issue is that the federal grant money for this could go to a gold plated tunnel for a few residents without them sticking their money where their mouth is. You also fail to overlook what this would mean for Caltrain. This means higher frequency Caltrain and more express trips in which Palo Alto is a stop for Baby Bullet trains. It would make Palo Alto a more desirable place to live. No high-speed rail means Caltrain could be gone in a few years.


Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2010 at 4:50 pm

@political
I am going to repost something, because it absolutely applies here. You ask what is the issue with you making a stink about opposition to a good idea? The opposition isn't to the good idea, it's not to HSR. The opposition is to the worst possible implementation of it for the people it is ostensibly supposed to serve.

You are making convincing general arguments that don't apply here. It's easy to tell you are not from this area by your post. It's like you can't understand why someone would want a road race routed next to their house rather than through their living room. They're not opposed to the road race, they're opposed to having their house wrecked. But, to carry the analogy further, if the people in charge of the road race are just that unreasonable, at some point, the'll have to oppose the road race altogether.

Many of the people against the HSR authority, including the Palo Alto city counsel, support high speed rail for California, they just want it implemented in a responsible way so that it improves our transportation systems rather than ruining our communities.

High speed rail is supposed to bring people faster across the very long state of California. The stretch between Southern California and Northern California is the bulk of it. The short stretch from San Jose to San Francisco isn't the critical distance, it crosses a densely settled area and must be done carefully.

Yet the rail authority won't consider any of many alternatives to bringing the HSR across this relatively small distance except the one that has the worst impact on communities there. It's the rail authority that is hinging the high speed rail across the entire state on whether they can do this one short piece this unnecessary, specific way. Hence the opposition by people who otherwise support high speed rail.

I have taken the train from mountainous areas of Eastern Switzerland, narrow gage rail (tourist purposes), all the way around the entire country of Switzerland, then connecting to the TGV to Paris across France, where the whole trip took only 8-10 hours including several (easy) connections. The ease and speed of the trip did not hinge on whether the TGV reached into the mountainous areas of Switzerland. The best use of the TGV was over the long flat French countryside, not the relatively shorter distances in Switzerland where the train SYSTEM works so well. Is that a little more clear?

The benefit of HSR is to go across long distances at high speed. If it connects well with a very well-run SYSTEM, that is an optimal implementation, because people can make use of HSR across long distances, then go to a very many different places in the more densely populated areas easily.

We should be improving the system HSR links to. HSR would serve the region and the state just fine if it went to San Jose, linked well to (an improved) local system (including to SF, but also to all points in the Bay Area), and picked up again at high speed to Sacramento from SF. The distance between San Jose and SF is miniscule and easy compared to my example above in Switzerland. It's only a problem if the local transportation system doesn't work, and isn't interfaced with the HSR.

We do have a problem with all the different transportation in the Bay Area not working as a system. That should be addressed, it shouldn't be a reason HSR ruins our communities to serve its own ends.

The rail authority isn't even considering the option of improving the SYSTEM in the densely populated areas. The biggest problem with Bay Area public transit is the poor coordination and interface of different pieces, so the SYSTEM doesn't work well as a system. That's a solvable problem that is, frankly, more important to solve for this region than getting HSR, ever. The HSR authority is continuing with the worst of the narrow point-to-point thinking that got us this disjointed mess, planning the HSR in a vacuum, as if the train is the be all and end all, not the communities that need the best transportation SYSTEM to support them.


Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2010 at 5:00 pm

I need to add the following, regarding the issue of San Jose being the major hub (not the terminus, the hub):

Per the above, and those who are thinking of HSR only as a point to point (which is not what the Proposition represented) and can't understand that HSR can be part of a system, an endpoint for the TGV line on the Swiss side is Pontarlier, France, population 20,000. TGV endpoints on the Swiss side can easily be reached by all points Swiss by their rail SYSTEM, they don't need to make the Swiss accept an equivalent rail to their major cities to have a useful transport.

San Jose has a population of over 1 million, while San Francisco has a population of around 800,000. San Jose is considered the "capitol" of Silicon Valley and is a hub for other transportation. The entire metro region, including Oakland, SJ, peninsula cities, and SF, has around 7.5 million people. The Bay Area is a metropolitan region. There is absolutely no sane reason that HSR couldn't go to San Jose, be linked by improved regional rail to San Francisco and all other parts Bay Area, and pick up again from SF to Sacramento. In fact, it would be a far better solution for the people of this metropolitan region and probably far cheaper.

Actually, I can think of a good reason NOT to go THROUGH SAN FRANCISCO. Going up the peninsula involves not only crossing densely populated areas, a peninsula is a narrow strip of land bordered by water -- there are far more options on the East Bay side. Going any farther north than San Francisco also means crossing water from San Francisco to ...where? Oakland and parts north? Will they be tunneling or building a new bridge to take it further? They can't have the BART tunnel, that's pretty important for the region already.

Crossing the water is hugely expensive, and unnecessary. If the HSR went to San Jose, then up the east bay to Oakland, it's quite simple to take it on to Sacramento (state capitol), and quite simple to take regional transportation from Oakland to San Francisco. Changing one train for a short hop in a well-coordinated system is nothing. If the system were updated as part of this, it would be good for the region.

Why put the HSR up the peninsula to San Francisco when going to San Jose then Oakland hits more populated areas anyway, leaves open the option to build more HSR to parts north (like Sacramento) more cheaply, and it's simple to get TO San Francisco from both cities? It makes more sense and is almost certainly far cheaper (and less divisive). I mean, do you want HSR, or is your support so flimsy, you'd scrap it if you couldn't get this one plan for such a small segment of it?


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Parent

I will repost my comment about your analogy between California and France/Switzerland here since you have reposted yours here.

Parent




I have been rereading some of your posts.




8 - 10 hours between mountainous Switzerland and Paris is not a good comparison. The Swiss Alps have some picturesque narrow guage railways for reasons we do not have here - namely the steep terrain plus the views. No, to compare the Swiss Alps with California is wrong.




To get to major European destinations, trains travel to major city centers, not leaving passengers in suburbs to get suburban transport. If you want HSR to fail, then ending it in San Jose is the way to do it. The non-stop city center to city center is what will make HSR attractive for the ridership. The stops along the (San Jose included) will not be the majority of trains, just some of them. Remember, all the people who live north of San Francisco in Marin, Napa, will not want to end in San Jose and then go to San Francisco only to still need another form of transport to get them to Marin and Napa. The only sensible thing to do is LA - SF, the two cities which will attract most ridership. SJ is a major city, but not the same type of destination city that LA and SF both are. It needs to be servied by HSR, but SJ on its own will not be the draw.






Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Parent

I will also repost another reply to one of your arguments here so that you can read both of these together.

Parent




You lost your credibility when you suggested that the best solution was to widen 101 to put HSR in the middle and tear down every bridge between Millbrae and San Jose.




You talk about sensible alternatives. The sensible option would be a tunnel or covered trench. Another alternative would be a streamlined, sleek, aerial track with parkland, parking and shopping underneath. Another alternative would be for the HSR to enter the Bay Area by Livermore/Tracy but this would not include San Jose, probably a poor option for that reason. I am not sure what the East Bay option would be - possibly along the 680 corridor.




However, the status quo with Caltrain at grade is ugly, noisy, dangerous and divides our wonderful town in two sections. Half our high school students have to cross this monstrosity every day. We have four at grade crossings, three underpasses and two pedestrian/bike tunnels. This is a huge problem in our City, it causes traffic delays and could lead to road rage, poor decision making and speeding.




The sooner something is agreed on the work starts the sooner we will all start to reap the benefits.




Nimbys standing in the way of progress can be very rude and often do not want to enter civilised discourse. Just saying No,No,No, is not productive. Calling others names and shouting with block capitals is upsetting to those of us who are politely pointing out our views. This is a democracy and we are all allowed to have our own point of view.




Palo Alto is a wonderful place to live. HSR is not going to destroy that.


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Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 25, 2010 at 7:13 pm

California cannot afford a HSR experiment right now. Why is this so difficult to understand?


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Posted by E K Kadiddlehopper
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 25, 2010 at 8:11 pm

The people of California voted FOR the High-Speed Rail system! Let's get it built and STOP the obstruction and objections! Don't we live in a democracy? HALT the opposition, I say! I, for one, will definitely ride it, numerous times annually! We sure have poor sorry losers! If you don't like living and functioning in a democracy, then move to Cuba, North Korea or the middle of Nevada!


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Resident,
The point of my Swiss analogy is that the Swiss have no HSR, the French do. The French have at least one line that goes all the way across France through no towns of very large size -- i.e., no large cities on the other end, no major city centers anywhere near -- so that they have something the Swiss SYSTEM can interface with. The Swiss have a very efficient system, so you can reach the TGV and go to Paris quite happily and efficiently from even remote parts of Switzerland without having to run high speed rail in point-to-points between large cities or anywhere in the entire country. More clear?

I don't think I ever suggested 101 was the "best solution" of ALL SOLUTIONS. If choosing between the Cal Train corridor and 101, yes, 101 is the best solution -- at least for the people living here. Not so for the rail authority, hence the rancor. In past posts, I have also suggested the train go to San Jose and connect to an improved local system. I've suggested going to Oakland. I've suggested tunnels if the cal train corridor was necessary (wouldn't it be cool to reclaim the land above as a bike corridor up the peninsula? How is it that those tunnels are out of the question, but a tunnel under the bay from SF isn't ?)

There are many alternatives that more people in the affected towns would support, but the HSR authority won't consider because it doesn't have to. Again, hence the challenge by local communities.

You are inserting such strong opinions here and you don't know this region at all. San Jose is a major city center, with more people than San Francisco. It is considered the capitol of Silicon Valley, an important economic engine for the state. The peninsula is full of small cities, they are not suburbs of either San Jose or San Francisco.

I was suggesting San Jose as a hub, not an end. San Francisco would still be a major destination, it would just be reached by a long stretch on HSR from SoCal, then connected -- nicely and easily -- to a short hop to SF on improved local rail from either SJ or Oakland.

If you are suggesting HSR go north from SF, how are you suggesting this happen from SF? A new tunnel? A new bridge? Do you have any concept of the logistics and cost? Realistically, if the rail authority chooses the route up the peninsula, you can kiss anything further north goodbye.

A much more viable and cost effective solution is to send HSR to San Jose as a hub, where people can transfer up improved, existing rail up the peninsula, or continue on HSR to Oakland and parts north. Oakland is also a transportation hub. So people can connect easily to parts in the East Bay, and all over the Bay Area. This is a metropolitan REGION, not a single city.

You have a really erroneous idea of what this metropolitan area is like. This is not just one city at the end of the peninsula, San Jose is an important city in this state with more people than San Francisco. Places like Palo Alto and Sunnyvale are huge high tech employers. Ridership is more likely to be high if people can get from SoCal to all parts Bay Area easily, and from all parts Bay Area to SoCal, instead of some short-sighted point-to-point line that won't serve the region well.

I really don't think you have been reading my posts, which leaves me wondering what your stake in this is. I keep asking this question, and no one ever answers:

Why put the HSR up the peninsula to San Francisco when going to San Jose then Oakland hits more populated areas anyway, leaves open the option to build more HSR to parts north (like Sacramento) more cheaply, and it's simple to get TO San Francisco from both cities? (i.e., San Francisco is still a major destination). It makes more sense and is almost certainly far cheaper (and less divisive). I mean, do you want HSR, or is your support so flimsy, you'd scrap it if you couldn't get this one plan for such a small segment of it?

Your argument that you have to go point-to-point just doesn't hold up, doesn't serve the people of this region well, and will be destructive to communities.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2010 at 11:42 pm

E.K.
Go back and read some threads on this issue. People are not against HSR. Most of the people oppose voted for it, including me. We want high speed rail, we just don't want it implemented so badly that it harms our communities rather than serving them.

Would you argue to the people of Bell, California, that they should just let the mayor continue to collect his million dollar salary/pension, because they voted for him? They voted for him, and now they are holding him accountable.

Communities on the peninsula are doing the same with the HSR authority -- which, by the way, they did not vote for, the legislature installed the authority. Fortunately, we live in a democracy, where citizens can have some say in such huge impacts on their lives. If you want rail built without pesky citizen involvement, well -- read the end of your own post.




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Posted by ODB
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2010 at 5:51 am

<< However, the status quo with Caltrain at grade is ugly, noisy, dangerous and divides our wonderful town in two sections. Half our high school students have to cross this monstrosity every day. We have four at grade crossings, three underpasses and two pedestrian/bike tunnels. This is a huge problem in our City, it causes traffic delays and could lead to road rage, poor decision making and speeding. >>

Pure rubbish. The train tracks have been been there for almost 150 years, before the city was even incorporated. There was never a time when Palo Alto/Stanford/Mayfield didn't have train tracks going through them. It may shock you to learn that steam engines used to pull the trains and were even noisier and smokier than the diesels. Despite your dire-sounding rhetoric, crossing the tracks is not a "huge problem" for high-school students and is no worse than it was when my 80-year-old father went to Paly in the '40s. You can probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of deaths to high-school students at the railroad tracks which were purely accidental and not intentional.

<< The people of California voted FOR the High-Speed Rail system! >> I frankly don't think California voters knew what they were getting into when they voted for this in 2008. They heard the buzzwords "green" and "jobs" on the radio and thought it must be a good thing. I doubt they fully understood the ramifications of the project or the problems with it, and various misrepresentations made by CA HSR only helped get it past the electorate. Answer me this: Why would voters in Barstow, Yreka or Bishop vote in favor of HSR when those communities will never even benefit from it?


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Posted by ODB
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2010 at 6:19 am

One more thing: Prop 1A in 2008 was not a referendum on the project itself. It asked California voters to approve the sale of $10 billion in bonds. If it hadn't passed, Japan and China could have supplied the financing voters didn't approve. I'm sure you're aware that Schwarzenegger just got back from Japan and China where he lined up potential financing from those governments. If the bond measure hadn't passed, Japan and/or China would simply have lent us $10 billion more, and why not? They'll make out on the interest paid by California taxpayers and federal stimulus dollars. As far as I know there was never a referendum on whether we should have HSR in the first place or not. It was simply thrust upon us, dating all the way back to Jerry Brown's time in office.


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Posted by greg4
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2010 at 9:03 am

To all these comments and this sensationalist story - no one cares what one little city thinks about this massive undertaking! It's as simple as that, Palo Alto is one city that is trying to ruin something really special for the whole rest of the state. It may be the way we do things here that we argue over EVERY single thing possible in city council until nothing ever happens, but not for the rest of the state. Sorry, Palo Alto, try as hard as you want, but you can't turn these tracks into Edgewood Plaza!


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 26, 2010 at 10:35 am

greg4--- one little city? Where have you been? Palo Alto is far from alone in our objections.

@political incorrectness -- "You also fail to overlook what this would mean for Caltrain. This means higher frequency Caltrain and more express trips in which Palo Alto is a stop for Baby Bullet trains. It would make Palo Alto a more desirable place to live."

There are many who would dispute that big time, but I guess it depends on what you and I see as "desireable". Palo Alto already is a highly desireable place to live and is not in need of a train to change that. Our schools, home-town feel, and sense of neighborhood make it attractive. Increased traffic, increased pollution that goes with deadlocked traffic (remember, the plans are likely to include reducing a major thoroughfare from 4 lanes to 2, a thoroughfare already jammed during commute hours), hassles that goes with deadlocked traffic in the downtown area, either more problems finding parking downtown or Palo Alto footing the bill for multiple new parking garages, higher crime that goes with influx of non-residents, berms that further divide our city and are, at best, unattractive (look at BART), the taking of homes by emminent domain,etc. are not my definition of "desirable". The traffic problems alone are a deal-killer. Stanford is building out an additional 1 million square feet and our town already must deal with the associated increase in traffic that will go with that.

This is not "progress", no matter which way you look at it, especially when better options are available. And, yes, of course the 1st amendment allows you to speak up. That wasn't my point. You clearly don't live in the area, so I don't understand why you are joining in the conversation. It sounds like you are associated with a company that has a stake in this.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Parent

I still do not think that comparing Switzerland to Paris is a good comparison. Paris to Madrid, Paris to Brussels or even Paris to London would be a far better comparison.

Switzerland is a very mountainous country and it would be almost impossible to put in something like HSR without tunneling under most of the country. Likewise, you can't compare the highway system there with the autobahns in Germany. The terrain is going to make any comparisons moot.

I have done a great deal of train travel in Europe, much of it over 20 years ago but some more recently. I have used the train from the north of England to Paris and have had to change from one station in London, then the Underground to another station, then a train to the ferry port, get off the train, get onto a boat, get off and change back to train and then finally another train to Paris. The journey round London was easy but tiring and added a great deal of time to a long journey. In fact, until the M25 motorway was built around London it was the easier option, but as soon as the motorway opened it made driving to the ferry port a much easier option. Now that there is a direct train from London to Paris and the station in London is the same as the train from the North, the train is once again a viable option. It is the number of times, no matter how easy, that makes a journey like this a real option.

Many years ago, there was a train that actually went onto the boat from London to Paris to make this journey smoother - but that was before cheap air flights. I myself have actually been on a train in Denmark that went onto a boat and the passengers could get off and experience a walk around the boat at sea before getting back on the train, to the same seats with your luggage right beside you, and this was a very pleasant experience.

To get back to California. If HSR ended in San Jose, or Oakland, or Sacramento without ending in San Francisco, it may work for Californians, but would not be an option for those who lived north of the Golden Gate. I don't expect HSR to go north under the Golden Gate, but at least it would give those who lived there a better option than San Jose. If the HSR got to Sacramento I could see it extend from there all the way to Oregon and Washington as a possibility. San Jose is not the same draw for tourists or out of staters as San Francisco. Flying to LA and spending time there, catching the train to San Francisco for more time and then flying out of SFO would be a wonderful opportunity that wouldn't exist is the train didn't end in SF.

I have no real reason for getting involved in this other than I don't like flying, at least for short distances, and I truly do not like Caltrain as it is at present. I don't live near the tracks, but hear the trains constantly. I have been to back to school nights at Paly and noticed how the teachers just stop speaking when a train comes by because it is impossible to be heard for that time and the pens on the desk vibrate as if there is an earthquake. I have been caught at the gates on many occasions and often for more than one train. This can make a short trip double in time. I have also seen many pedestrians, bikers as well as vehicles make a foolish, dangerous decision to race to beat the train and since they are usually successful, we don't hear about them.
I don't really care which route is chosen for HSR but I do see that the only succesful system will mean ending in San Francisco. If the route through the Peninsula is chosen the upside will definitely be an improvement in Caltrain which we are not realistically going to get otherwise. The trains are already here and improving them is definitely a goal.

I like trains and want to see the upgrades. I don't see that HSR is really going to be the destruction of our community - rather a means of improvement overall. The sooner we get this started, the sooner we can reap and enjoy the benefits.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Resident,
Read my post again. I"m not suggesting HSR not end in San Francisco. I'm suggesting San Francisco be a destination, an important destination, one of several in a system, rather than the sole terminus.

My example was supposed to get you off of your thinking that the only useful rail system is between two large cities. That's not what you find in the rest of the world (per my example), and it wouldn't best serve the Bay Area, which is not just one city. San Francisco is a smaller city than San Jose. It's surrounded by water and taking the line any further there would be prohibitively expensive. Going to San Francisco is a dead end. It makes far more sense to bring HSR to San Jose as a HUB, and then take HSR up the East Bay.

(Please look up the word HUB in the dictionary, as it's getting frustrating to have you come back each time like you can't understand that San Francisco would be an important destination, it would be reached by connecting -- easily and smoothly, if the planning is done -- to updated rail up the Peninsula.

Again, you seem very unfamiliar with this metropolitan area, and act like an outsider who has only ever heard of San Francisco. San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, and Palo Alto, are all important cities in this area. The entire metro region has 7.5 million people, the 800,000 in San Francisco are not the only ones who should be served by it.

I'm with the city counsel -- do HSR right or don't do it at all. We would like to see HSR done. The HSR authority seems to have no initiative to work to get this done right, so either we need a new authority or we need to stop the project. They give us no choice.


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Posted by ODB
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Let's visit Fantasyland for a moment and assume the (absurd) HSR ridership projections come to pass, and throngs of people use high-speed rail every day. You would need a real transportation hub like an airport to handle that volume of passengers, with long-term parking, car rental facilities, nearby lodgings, accessibility via surface roads, etc. The perfect place to put this hub would be the Santa Clara railroad station -- it is in the back yard of San Jose airport and could use all of SJO's existing facilities and infrastructure. Shuttle buses or some kind of monorail could move people between the train depot and the airport. From Santa Clara, HSR could transition to the rail line going up the east bay to Oakland and on to Sacramento. That's the practical approach. There would be no redundancy with CalTrain and it would not dead-end in San Francisco. Yes, travelers would have to change trains to get to S.F. via CalTrain -- hey, life is full of inconveniences. And the southern hub would not be the San Jose train depot with Rod Diridon's name emblazoned on it.

While we're fantasizing that the HSR projections will come true, imagine HSR comes up the peninsula with the projected thousands of people embarking and debarking at University and Alma each and every day. There is the nearby Sheraton for lodgings but you'd have to raze buildings and put up parking structures with car rental facilities, basically turning the area into a mini-airport. Then there is the question of how to get from the Palo Alto depot to, say, the Bayshore freeway. Are you going to funnel all that surface traffic down Embarcadero and Oregon through residential neighborhoods? Dead-ending Embarcadero at Town & Country Village/Paly high so the traffic will continue on to Page Mill/Oregon won't fly. These issues have clearly never been thought through.

Personally I don't think the projected ridership will ever materialize unless they shut down the airlines and keep automobile traffic off the 5 and 101 freeways. I envision dozens of near-empty trains whizzing up and down the peninsula every day, just like San Jose light rail and the Millbrae-to-SFO connection.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2010 at 9:36 pm

Parent

I do know what a hub is. If I fly to say New York I can go to New York direct or I can go to an airline hub, say Chicago, change planes (getting lost around the airport) and then fly to New York. That makes little sense to me. Perhaps if I wanted to go to Buffalo, it would make sense, but not if my final destination was a major city on the East Coast.

Likewise, if we want an HSR hub, then I think Sacramento would be a much better idea. We could go by Caltrain to either San Francisco or San Jose, and then get a train to our hub, change trains and get another train to LA. Good idea? I think not.

Airport hubs work because they connect smaller cities with smaller cities, or smaller cities with major cities. They are great for traveling across the continent, but not for traveling north/south in a state. California is a long state, but it is not very wide and most of the major cities are on the coast. Therefore a rail system relatively close to the coast makes most sense. Unfortunately, one of the biggest metropolitan areas in California is the Bay Area and because there is a large Bay it means that a coastal route has a problem. Either a train has to travel up the peninsula to reach a major city or it has to travel up the East Bay and then traverse a large Bay. Either way, San Francisco is in a difficult spot geographically, but missing it out makes no sense.

Palo Alto is not a major city in the Bay Area. It is just one of many small cities which you don't class as a suburb because it is not a dormitory for SF or SJ, which it isn't I agree. But, it is not a city which can be called urban, it is not a city surrounded by green fields or forests and can be called rural, therefore I choose to call it suburban as a description of not being rural or inner city. What we call it is not important though, but really what it is is part of the sprawl which occurs from Gilroy all the way to San Francisco. There are many cities along this sprawl, but unless you knew where the boundaries are, you would not know where one ended and the next started. With the exception of SJ, which is a large city, the boundaries of these small cities is immaterial to the success of HSR. Accordingly, no one city is more important than any other. It is the whole region that would benefit ultimately and we as one of these cities could make it work for us if we looked ahead.

I do know this area fairly well. I know the difficulties of driving to say Berkeley or Vacaville from Palo Alto. I know that to get to say a Giants game, or a Sharks game, Caltrain is a better option. I know that to get to the theater, Caltrain would be a good option if I could guarantee getting to the station for the last train. I know that crossing the Bay by a bridge it is best to look at traffic monitors before choosing my route. I know that SFO is horrendous to get to by public transport.

I also know that having traveled by train from major cities around Europe that the trains work best by being from major city to major city. I also know that many, many people living in the peninsula have spent time living in countries with excellent train systems and used them extensively. I also know people find what is available here a joke - both those that live here and use it and those who come to visit for a short time.

I think the city council has its head in the clouds. They have changed their minds like changing underwear. They have seen the problems that people are imagining and worried about reelection or other issues, refused to lead the way they should.

We have an opportunity to lead, maybe not the World, but certainly the US with this project. Let's do it, I say.


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Posted by TrainIsComing
a resident of another community
on Sep 27, 2010 at 4:26 am

Neighbor said (remember, the plans are likely to include reducing a major thoroughfare from 4 lanes to 2, a thoroughfare already jammed during commute hours). Whatever is built to either go over or under the four streets in Palo Alto will require building temporary tracks around the construction. When construction is completed the temporary tracks will be removed and the street lanes returned. Once the grade crossings with their crossing guards are removed traffic will no longer have to stop to let trains pass. Any construction causes traffic and is it very short sighted to consider this a "deal-killer".


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Posted by Bjorn
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 27, 2010 at 9:46 am

How come Europe can have a HSR lines, but the Americans (who know how do everything) can even agree on it....the oil companies will make sure it doesnt materialize.


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Posted by Jim H>
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2010 at 11:14 am

@ TrainisComing
Tonight (Monday), the city council will be discussing a request from CAHSR to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for $1Billion for the SF to SJ segment. The CAHSR is asking that it phase in this section and leave it as a two track at grade alignment with no date for future improvements. So, they're now looking in to running HSR at 125mph along with Caltrain on at grade tracks. Should be interesting watching Paly students cross those tracks everyday, not to mention the elementary and middle school students.

Web Link


Also, if you read the EIR, nowhere does it say that Alma will be restored to 4 lanes.


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Posted by TrainIsComing
a resident of another community
on Sep 27, 2010 at 11:29 am

@Jim H

If a trench or bridge structure is built where the railroad tracks are now then the train will need to go around the area during construction. Temporary shoofly tracks would probably be built on Alma. There would be no need for the shoofly track once the grade separation is completed. On which page in the EIR did you see Alma would need to lose traffic lanes?


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Posted by Jim H
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Go to the story here: Web Link


Click on the link for the "report released last week". That will take you to the SF-SJ Supplemental Alternative Analysis report.

You can also go to Web Link
and look up the report in the San Francisco - San Jose section

Go to page 4-51 and look at "Disruption to Communities". Under the Evaluation Measure of "Local traffic effects along alignment and at grade crossings" you will also see "Identify streets with PERMANENT loss of traffic lanes due to ultimate ROW requirements..." ALL options except for a tunnel result in the "Loss of 2 traffic lanes along Alma Street"

Yeah, it takes a bit to get to all of the important information like the loss of two lanes of one of the main N/S streets in the city, but did you really think they'd advertise that?

During construction they talk about using peoples backyards as temporary construction sites and shoofly tracks might end up taking up all of Alma.

And you're still talking about grade separation. CAHSR is asking for money from the Rail Authority to build AT GRADE.

So, at grade, shoofly tracks, loss of traffic lanes, trains coming every 6 minutes at 125mph. And, this is supposed to be a good thing for the peninsula?


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Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Hi E K Kadiddlehopper...

The people of California also voted that marriage would remain an institution between one man and one woman...twice. I didn't hear too many local people complaining when a judge overturned the will of the majority of voters...twice. Right or wrong -- the legal system exists for this very reason.

The point?

People elected Barack Obama because they believed his promise to "rescue" the economy by the end of his first year in office. Two years after the election, the economy is even worse. While Mr. Obama campaigns about how many jobs that his policies "saved or created" -- more people than ever are out of work! Unemployment hovers at around 10% in the nation -- and is even higher here in California.

Many people may have voted for the HSR because they assumed we wouldn't be enduring 10+% unemployment more than two years later. I think that many then-HSR supporters believed that the economy would be just as robust as it was pre-2007. Still, it only passed by a slim majority.

I suspect that HSR would have failed if it were up for a vote this year.


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Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Hi (again) E K Kadiddlehopper...

I apologize, but I don't know if my previous post was clear enough.

I was simply trying to convey that voters in 2008 may have voted for the HSR under the mistaken impression that the likely president-elect would fulfill his promise to turn around the economy by the end of his first year.

That didn't happen.

Our nation is in worse shape...and the Administration is talking about it as "the new normal."

Many of those people who voted for the HSR may have changed their minds. After all, our state unemployment rate is unbelievably high...and our spend-thrift state legislators still can't balance our budget!

We just can't afford this noble experiment right now. There is no pressing need for it either. We already have a significant transportation infrastructure that connects our cities. We can fly, drive, bus or even take a regular train to Sacramento or Los Angeles.

I just don't think that there is such a great need to extend ourselves, our children and our grandchildren to even greater fiscal debt than this overtaxed state is already experiencing.

Let's wait to experiment with our budget until AFTER we have fixed the state's massive budget crisis.


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Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Sep 27, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Jim H>, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood says, "So, they're now looking in to running HSR at 125mph along with Caltrain on at grade tracks."

The Public Utilities Commission requires grade separation between trains and vehicles before allowing speeds over 79 mph.

If the High Speed Rail Authority intends to run trains at 125 mph on at grade tracks, then somebody will have to pay to replace the roads that now cross the tracks with either overpasses or and underpasses; otherwise, cities will have to close exisitng roads that cross the tracks to permit 125 mph trains, and then whenever they expand to four tracks, the PUC will also require grade separation due to the number of tracks.


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Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2010 at 5:11 pm

@ Deepthroat:
I sure hope they wouldn't run them that fast at grade.

But, here's what they have on the Federal Railroad Administration website. Sounds like as long as they can stop a car from getting past the barrier, they can go over 110.

Web Link

Then click on "Xing Guidelines Hi-Speed Passenger Rail"

You'll see that with adequate barriers they can go over 110mph and up to 125mph.

They also state this here: Web Link

Not sure how the PUC and the FRA can have conflicting requirements.

It'd be nice to have someone straighten it all out, but I have a feeling very few people know what's actually going on.


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Posted by maguro_01
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 27, 2010 at 9:11 pm

While I would otherwise support some HSR plan, things have changed a great deal from the early 2000's. The 2008 crash was not just a result of Rove's $440 billion subprime real estate scheme and deregulated corruption. It was more than that. The US has hyped its standard of living on the national bar tab for some time. The assorted bubbles were not just misallocated investment, but worse, misallocated lives. Most of those jobs aren't coming back and people over 45-50 aren't going to be hired for whatever does come back. Young Americans are being discouraged from getting into science and engineering because there really isn't a career path there for them any more. Obama isn't responsible for the reality that the US economy has no use for tens of millions of people and probably never will. The US medical care system is partly to blame, but there are economic and cultural factors as well.

For all the enterprise and inventiveness here in the US, something like 70% of US exports are materials. Over 80% and growing of the non-oil US trade deficit is with China. Since Bush took a dive in the trade wars, the US is a defeated, indebted country and we just have to get used to it and start to dig out of the hole. It won't be easy. At least our present administration is working to change it. "Getting the government out of the way" is a slogan and doesn't help much because if currencies aren't free traded nothing else is. China maintains serious tariffs and other barriers also. Moving core competence in engineering offshore is actually economic undevelopment.

Adding $42 billion, clearly more, to California and US debt plus importing the technology may just be unwise with a negative ROI - the US is not in the business. Even the Green Economy which has added jobs is cheaper now partly because solar cells and wind turbines are being made in China.

We have to get shrewder fast about these issues if you want your kids to have a decent life and you want the US a developed country. The world power bit should already be off the table. The US is formidable but has to cut its military budget by half or two thirds to have enough money left for it to leave port.

HSR would be nice but needs a rethink. Possibly a fraction of the amount and less nimbyism would make for real public transit here in the Bay Area with a real ROI.


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Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2010 at 9:18 pm

Hi maguro_01...

That is some interesting propaganda that you have there. I guess that Bush was a traitorous devil and "idiot" and Obama is a beautiful "brilliant" savior?

While I wasn't a big fan of some of Bush's policies, I am MUCH less of a fan of politicians who can't stop spending our money and/or those who constantly think up creative new ways to take more.

Is it November yet?


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Posted by maguro_01
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 27, 2010 at 10:47 pm

"... and Obama is a beautiful "brilliant" savior?"

Could anyone be such a thing? Hardly - Obama is at least an American President as his predecessor was not. The reality is there - Web Link .

Obama's stimulus bill cost only about a year of the Bush trade deficits which ran an unsustainable over $2 billion per day for years on end. Bush borrowed that money back to fund wars he thought would fund themselves with oil money. He borrowed it back to hype the economy with tax cuts for the favored especially. He borrowed it back to finance an oddly bloated government. Bush/Paulson gave us the panic TARP program that unconditionally made big banks too big to fail on our dime and gave their management all the wrong incentives.

Note that just paying people money doesn't hype the economy that much any more as the trade deficit just zips the money offshore whence it came with the principal and interest still due. At least this government was getting money to Main Street which was being strangled by The Street and is trying to hype exports. His opposition thinks that expenditures can now be decreased and wants the credit for that. His frank opposition's program is to start where they left off in 2008 and finish it. Large corporations and especially The Street will constitute a shadow government. That's called a Banana Republic and it has already failed us once. There will be no bridging over such a failure again.

In any case the point was that the US is in severe structural deficit and is actually undeveloping. What we have here in the Bay Area still has huge strengths and hopefully can be part of the answers. In such a context, IMO, we need a sharp pencil for our ROI on infrastructure projects. Possibly investing even part of the $42+ billion in regional transit would be a better alternative. It is true that the costs for the imported HSR can only markedly increase so not building it now may mean that it never will be. But other rail technology and rolling stock is imported now anyway. We always maximize the cost of transit projects by making each a unique build.

I'd also point out that investment in Internet capacity enables vivid 3D teleconferencing and even telepresence. How many LA/SJ/SF business trips do we really need? Can we leapfrog HSR?


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2010 at 12:20 am

@"Resident"
You said, "Likewise, if we want an HSR hub, then I think Sacramento would be a much better idea. We could go by Caltrain to either San Francisco or San Jose, and then get a train to our hub, change trains and get another train to LA."

What in the WORLD are you talking about? How does Sacramento enter into this? You talk like you've taken trains in other countries, yet you seem to be oblivious to the fact that in those other places, people CHANGE TRAINS. It happens all the time. If the SYSTEM is planned well, it works quite nicely. It would be a lot easier than driving to an airport, dropping off the rental car, and taking an hour to get back over to the airport for your pre-flight wait.

HSR is supposed to serve the state. The Bay Area has 7.5 million people, only 800,000 of them live in San Francisco -- the majority of the 7.5 mill don't go anywhere near San Francisco in their daily lives. They don't even go to SF city to take SFO, because it is (wisely) south of the city.

San Jose would be a HUB, if the HSR went across the LONG state of California from LA to San Jose (remember WHY we want SPEED in the first place?), then from San Jose, you'd have your CHOICE of destinations like SAN FRANCISCO via updated existing rail (not that long, frankly), or OAKLAND and SACRAMENTO via HSR, or all other parts Bay Area via connections to other existing transit.

How exactly do you figure Sacramento would be a hub, since it's over two hours drive north of San Francisco, across the bay, and not near any of the places you'd want to radiate out to nearby a hub?

Your airline analogies don't even make sense, but then, your arguments are really beginning to fall apart. You sound less and less like you really live here, and more and more like you've been looking things up on the internet but you just don't quite get it. You are justifying.

San Francisco is at the end of the peninsula. The only way to go on to Sacramento is to go across the bay, or, to go back south to SAN JOSE and then up the east bay. I don't recall seeing any proposal for paying for the cross bay tunnel or bridge the HSR would have to build to take it anywhere north of San Francisco by this existing plan. And if they can pay for that, they should pay for tunnels on the cal train corridor up the peninsula, opposition solved.

The original HSR proposal included Oakland, Sacramento, and Stockton -- again, SF is a dead end. Far more sensible to run the HS line to these other cities, all mentioned in the proposition, and connect SF from both Oakland and San Jose by existing (updated) transit.

Just as you have trouble with the definition of "hub", you seem to have your own ideas about "city" and "suburb" that are different than, oh, the dictionary's. Urban blight does not define a city versus a suburb. The feel of the place does not define them, either. A suburb is an outlying area, a satellite of a city where people live, but usually go to the city to work, seek cultural offerings, etc. A city is an incorporated municipality, with its own government, certain level of city services, supported cultural offerings, etc.

I'd like to share two sentences from Wikipedia:
Palo Alto serves as a central economic focal point of the Silicon Valley, and is home to more than 7,000 businesses employing more than 98,000 people.

Mountain View is one of the major cities that make up Silicon Valley...
[Let's not forget Menlo Park -- which has very few residences and a lot of businesses -- Santa Clara, San Mateo, Sunnyvale, etc.)

In recent years, the wealth resulting from the IT boom from the nearby Silicon Valley, as well as from the recent Dot-Com booms has created a high standard of living in San Francisco...

San Francisco benefits from its proximity to Silicon Valley. I know a lot of people who live in SF and work in Silicon Valley. I only know a few where it's vice versa, and only because the spouse works in Silicon Valley. Does that make San Francisco a suburb of Silicon Valley? Destroying Silicon Valley cities to make a small leg on HSR a certain way instead of just updating existing systems is just plain stupid. What is wrong with working with these communities to come up with an acceptable compromise for any of the MANY other options they would be willing to accept, like tunnels, going up 101, using San Jose as a hub, going up the East Bay, etc. etc?

And again, I'll ask for the umpteenth time, why is doing this one small leg of the journey this one specific way more important than the entire rail project across the whole state from Southern California? Why don't you ever answer that question?

Are you really a detractor trying to sink the project by drumming up opposition from affected communities by doing this project in a way that hurts them most? You may disagree, but you don't speak for them, the city counsel and the majority who live there do, and it's wrong for the HSR authority to dismiss and ignore that.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2010 at 12:25 am

Just a clarification, this third sentence was from Wikipedia:

In recent years, the wealth resulting from the IT boom from the nearby Silicon Valley, as well as from the recent Dot-Com booms has created a high standard of living in San Francisco...


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Posted by Larry Cohn
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2010 at 12:28 am

<< I'd also point out that investment in Internet capacity enables vivid 3D teleconferencing and even telepresence. How many LA/SJ/SF business trips do we really need? >>

Bringing this back to the topic of CA HSR ...

It has been pointed out many, many times that a teleconference for a Silicon Valley business would likely include participants in locations not served by CA HSR -- Boston, New York, Atlanta, etc. -- as well as people located overseas. The notion that there is huge demand for S.F./L.A. business travel which is not already met by the airlines is unsubstantiated. What industries have major hubs in both S.F and L.A.? Entertainment? Agriculture? Energy? Finance? I can't think of any.


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Posted by WilliamR
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 28, 2010 at 12:53 am

OK, so let's assume that the HSR line either ends or bends in San Jose, and that people who want to continue to San Francisco (or intermediate points on the Peninsula) would transfer to an 'enhanced' Caltrain service. What would such a service be like? It would be an electrified system, with more and faster trains, almost surely four-tracked all the way up. What does that do to the issue of grade crossings? (Not just in Palo Alto, but in other cities as well.) People still need to get from one side of towns to the other, so the crossings aren't going to disappear. That leaves either upgraded crossing gates, subject to Federal and State regulations, as to both design and train speed, or some type of underpass for grade separation. But if you go with a grade-separation plan, how much different is that from just running the HSR line itself up the Peninsula?


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2010 at 2:02 am

"But if you go with a grade-separation plan, how much different is that from just running the HSR line itself up the Peninsula?"

If the cities had some say and it didn't involve an elevated track on the Cal Train corridor, plenty.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2010 at 2:08 am

Larry,
You make a good point. The trouble is, proponents of HSR think the Bay Area is San Francisco and suburbs. I've just had long exchanges with people who didn't think San Jose was a big city, didn't think it was worth even mentioning, and think of Silicon Valley as an inconsequential bedroom community. They don't know the area, and have a certain mindset about cities and so forth, and they seem to be the ones making the decisions about HSR.


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Posted by WilliamR
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 28, 2010 at 10:31 am

@ Parent--

You're just sidestepping the question. I'm waiting for someone to present a coherent, sensible and 'saleable' plan for an enhanced Caltrain service, with four tracks and grade-separated crossings up the Peninsula, that would provide most of the benefits of the HSR line (electrified express service to one or more stops between SJ and SF), without the negatives that you and others have been complaining about. How do you design grade-separated crossings without elevating the whole line? A trench might have been an alternative, but for geologic and hyrdrologic reasons, it is probably off the table. If no one can come up with such a plan, then people need to quit talking about it as a solution.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2010 at 11:45 am

"You're just sidestepping the question."

No, you've sidestepped my question, which I will ask again for probably the 24th time, and it would be nice if you would finally answer.

The big picture of HSR is that it's supposed to make a long trip across a huge state shorter. The big picture is that SF is only one of many cities mentioned on the HSR proposal. If HSR went between LA and San Jose, even if people used the existing baby bullets and Cal Train (with a few small changes) to get to SF, it would still make the trip across California immensely shorter, especially since not everyone heading for the Bay Area is going to SF, they'd be going to San Jose and Oakland and Palo Alto and Menlo Park and Santa Clara and Walnut Creek and Union City and Fremont and Milpitas and Mountain View and San Mateo, etc..., too.

It might not make the world exactly perfect for you, but it would still be an incredibly shorter trip for everyone else. And if that's not good enough, there are alternatives to the cal train corridor plan, like using 101, or HSR up the east bay to Oakland (taking BART from Oakland to SF -- or making a new tunnel or bridge for HSR, no pesky communities in the way, which you'd have to do anyway to go in the other direction since you're dead set on making San Francisco the terminus and it is surrounded by water -- what would people who otherwise wanted to go on to Sacramento do, take HSR back to San Jose and connect onto existing rail to Sacramento? ridiculous).

Why is doing this one small leg of the journey this one specific way -- a way the communities along the way say is the worst way for them -- more important than the entire rail project across the whole state from Southern California? I'm still waiting for an answer.

This project is supposed to serve people in this region, not be a pet project for someone who thinks San Francisco is the only important city in the metropolitan area, not damage the region's livability.

"A trench might have been an alternative, but for geologic and hyrdrologic reasons, it is probably off the table."

And for environmental and community impact reasons, elevated tracks should be off the table.

You're handwaving about the alternative those communities would accept. Probably? Not good enough. If the ground can't be safely trenched using modern engineering, ensuring the safety of elevated tracks is tricky, too. Even if it is more difficult to trench, it's the alternative that impacts the communities less, so it's worth overcoming a few extra engineering challenges, if they even exist. The ground along that stretch is subject the liquifaction in an earthquake -- it is much easier to find rock along the east bay, with much more leeway to alter the route if necessary than on a densely populated peninsula.

You're still sidestepping the issue of what to do with HSR from San Francisco. If this is all about just bringing HSR up the peninsula and ending it there, it's simply not worth the damage to the communities along the way. We're all fine with it ending in San Jose. San Francisco could still get door-to-door HSR from Oakland with a tunnel across the Bay -- which you'd have to do anyway for SF not to be a total dead end -- no pesky people or communities in your way there, tunnel away.

This is beginning to feel like Quentin Kopp worrying that San Jose would get a boost at SF's expense if HSR went point-to-point to SJ, and people had to make one little connection to get to SF. Perhaps that's why the rail authority has been acting like San Jose is nothing in all of this.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 28, 2010 at 1:30 pm

"When construction is completed the temporary tracks will be removed and the street lanes returned. Once the grade crossings with their crossing guards are removed traffic will no longer have to stop to let trains pass. Any construction causes traffic and is it very short sighted to consider this a "deal-killer"."

Check your facts -- the modifications on Alma as proposed will be permanent.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Parent

I do not think you and I can agree on this. You spend a lot of time asking me questions and then when I give answers you pull them apart without understanding that you are just saying the same thing over and over again.

The term "hub" is generally applied to airports not to train stations. My rather tongue in cheek suggestion about Sacramento being a rail hub is the same as some of the airline hubs in places like Las Vegas and Chicago, not where you want to go, but a good place to change planes. They put airline hubs in way out of the way places so if they want a train hub, why not in an out of the way place. Generally speaking, an airline hub works like the spokes on a bicycle. With the exception of some cities like London and Paris, which are destinations as much as hubs, the same hub system does not work in trains. Yes people do have to change trains in Europe, but not because there is a hub system all over Europe.

I know all about Silicon Valley and Palo Alto. You call them independent cities, which they are. But for the sake of transportation they are just part of the whole Silicon Valley. Whether they have their own cultural base makes little difference to the geography of the area. My family are just as likely to go to cultural/sporting events in San Francisco, San Jose, Mountain View, Redwood City, Saratoga, etc. etc. as we are to stay in Palo Alto. The employed workers in our family do not work in Palo Alto, one works north and one works south. In other words, we are not sleepy little cities where the residents rarely move outside our own city boundaries. I don't really care whether the dictionary definition of what you call a suburb applies to Palo Alto or not it is still not a stand alone city surrounded by greenbelt. It is part of a larger built up area. Palo Alto is no different from any of the other surrounding cities.

No, from the point of view of transportation, the Bay Area has to be considered one metropolitan area. Geographically (not politically) it is one region. People need to move around the area, not stay within the confines of one politically drawn boundary.

Regardless of the wealth of the city dwellers of any one of the Peninsula cities, regardless of whether we work for Google or the local WalMart, whether this is called suburbia (an area where single family homes surrounded by yards predominates - is my definition) or a string of separate urban areas divided by invisible boundaries, don't make an iota of difference as to the viability of HSR. We disagree on this.

You still do not trust my motives, this is very apparent. I have been honest and you don't believe me, I can't help that. I haven't questioned your motives or your honesty. I have a different point of view and you don't seem to understand that we are all allowed to have a different perspective. You use terms like hub and suburb and then use those dictionary definitions to either describe or disprove your theories. I am not really interested in whether we are talking about hubs or suburbs. I am just looking at what I see the reality of the area in which we live. The labels are not really important.

If you want to continue this discussion, I suggest you listen (or read) and then think before you get back on your soap box and preach. I could just as easily ask your motives, but I think I already know them. As your moniker is parent, I hope you put as much effort into being as good a parent and listening to your kids as you do preaching to them.

For the fun of it, I looked up suburb in the dictionary. Not only did it describe a bedroom community on the outskirts of a large city (which I agree Palo Alto is not) but it also described an attitude of provincial or narrow minded in outlook. I agree we are not the bedroom community of a large city which needs the large city to survive, I also agree that we are a community of single family homes surrounded by green yards which is my definition, but I also think that there are some with a suburban attitude with inflated self importance and narrow minded in outlook. I don't think I come into the last description.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Resident,
I think we've exhausted our conversation, you seem to live in your own little world. What is all this business about airline hubs and what is wrong with them? It has nothing to do with HSR, the discussion over HSR, or the general use of the word "hub", that's just in your brain. Here, this is how it's defined in Dictionary.com, note the example they use ("railroad hub"):

"...a center around which other things revolve or from which they radiate; a focus of activity, authority, commerce, transportation, etc.: Chicago is a railroad hub."


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Residet, you said: "No, from the point of view of transportation, the Bay Area has to be considered one metropolitan area. Geographically (not politically) it is one region. "

Exactly. Glad to see you finally see this area as more than just San Francisco. At least we accomplished something.


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Posted by WilliamR
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 28, 2010 at 6:50 pm

@ Parent--

I give up!! Too much smoke!! All I wanted was a reasonable scenario of how an enhanced Caltrain service would replace the proposed HSR line up the Peninsula. I'm not looking for engineering drawings, I just want someone to stand on the corner of Churchill and Alma and tell us what they would see.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2010 at 6:51 pm

So, expanding on that, if HSR crosses the entire long state of California from SoCal to San Jose, it has made it to this metropolitan region. HSR should not have to rip up the heart of this region to get to a city on the dead end of a peninsul to serve the region.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2010 at 6:56 pm

"Resident'
And lastly, you have managed to write another long spiel without ever answering my main question, which I have now asked again and again, and no HSR proponent ever answers:

Why is doing this one small leg of the journey this one specific way -- a way the communities along the way say is the worst way for them -- more important than the entire rail project across the whole state from Southern California?

Palo Alto wants HSR, I want HSR. Just don't put elevated tracks through the heart of our community. There are many alternatives, workable alternatives worth pursuing. (See my above question again.)

I'm still waiting for an answer.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2010 at 7:53 pm

OK I'll bite, one more time.

Not really sure what your question is but I will have a go.

The HSR project is important as a whole, not a part. The "small leg of the journey" from the southernmost point of Silicon Valley can be done any way, as far as I am concerned, as long as it is done to San Francisco.

If it were to be done along the Caltrain tracks, then so be it. It will not destroy communities, the communities are already divided, the communities already have noise, pollution and inconvenience from Caltrain. Getting rid of grade crossings, noise, and the smell of diesel will be an advantage. We should be more welcoming and work towards getting these benefits as soon as possible because there will of course be some disruption (even major disruption) while the work is being done. In the end we will have a quieter, more efficient system and we will be able to cross the tracks with great ease in more places. Wherever the line goes, there will be some people affected if they live by the proposed route. Why should Palo Alto consider themselves to be more important than any other community in the whole of the Bay Area when it comes to any inconvenience? All communities could say "it is the worst possible way for them" not just those on the Peninsula. I personally don't think it is the worst possible way, but then you would prefer to somehow widen 101 and rebuild all the overpasses which I think would be the "worst possible way".

If it were to stop in San Jose, San Jose would not be a hub because it is not in the central part of the metropolitan region. As you say, various destinations will be important to HSR riders, including Napa, Vallejo, Marin, Vacaville, as well as those places nearer San Jose like Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City, Fremont, Oakland, San Francisco. If you were to stop the HSR in San Jose, how would you get to Napa, Vallejo, Marin, Vacaville, and all places north of Oakland by public transport?

If I have not answered the question this time, then it is because you don't really have a question, just a complaint. I am not sure you really want to find a solution because in your eyes there isn't one other than ending in San Jose.

The metropolitan Bay Area is much more than its southernmost largest city. The Peninsula is not the center of civilization and the world will not end as a result of HSR.


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Posted by PAnative
a resident of another community
on Sep 28, 2010 at 8:36 pm

<< If you were to stop the HSR in San Jose, how would you get to Napa, Vallejo, Marin, Vacaville, and all places north of Oakland by public transport? >>

There are several options, the most practical being to fly to SFO/Oakland, rent a car and drive there. Another option would be to take HSR to San Jose and a CalTrain baby bullet to S.F. which is where you would wind up anyway if HSR went up the peninsula.

Now answer me this: Name a company which has a large number of employees who need to travel on high-speed rail which is located in Vacaville.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2010 at 9:37 pm

P A Native, that's a red herring!


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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