Menlo Park residents and City Council members have slammed plans for high-speed trains to zoom through town, and now they'll hear the opposing point of view from some of the project's biggest supporters.
Rod Diridon, High Speed Rail Authority board member, and Dan Leavitt, the authority's deputy director, are among the expected speakers at a Tuesday, Sept. 9, City Council study session devoted to plans to connect Northern and Southern California with electric trains that travel up to 220 miles per hour. The study session is set to start at 5 p.m. in the council chambers at the Civic Center, between Laurel and Alma streets.
Judge Quentin Kopp, chairman of the authority, previously told The Almanac that he would likely be among the speakers at the study session, but he won't be on the panel, according to city staff.
The council's regular meeting will follow the study session.
The council isn't expected to take any action at the Sept. 9 meeting, but that doesn't mean things won't get contentious.
Opponents have distributed anonymous fliers headed, "Save our Neighborhoods from the Bullet Train."
The cities of Menlo Park and Atherton, and several nonprofit groups, are suing the California High Speed Rail Authority, arguing that it picked an environmentally damaging route to send trains through the Bay Area. As currently planned, trains would connect to Gilroy from the Central Valley, then shoot up the Caltrain corridor <0x2014> through Menlo Park and Atherton <0x2014> to connect to San Francisco.
Menlo Park joined the lawsuit on a 2-1 council vote, due to a recusal and an absence.
Council members Kelly Fergusson and Richard Cline <0x2014> the council members in favor of joining the suit <0x2014> said the rail authority showed little sign of listening to the city's concerns about the potential noise, construction, and environmental impacts associated with high-speed trains zooming through town. That viewpoint is shared by Menlo Park residents who live near the tracks, who have become some of the project's staunchest critics.
High-speed rail supporters have dismissed Menlo Park's stance as a "not in my backyard" attitude toward the project; they are rallying support for Proposition 1, the $9.95 billion bond measure slated to appear on the Nov. 4 ballot that would provide the initial stage of funding for the estimated $45 billion project.