Posted by Martin Engel, a resident of the Menlo Park: Park Forest neighborhood, on Apr 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm
Let's be clear here: if you support the "blended system," you are supporting high-speed rail on the Caltrain corridor. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Furthermore, you are supporting high-speed rail in California. Upgrading Caltrain this way with electrification (with no conditions) is bringing HSR to the corridor. That's their MOU deal.
The reason the "blended system: was offered to us was not a compromise between what HSR intends to build (four track; elevated viaducts) and an at-grade two track corridor. It was offered because there aren't any funds to build anything beyond the "blended system."
We don't actually even know what all the requirements will be for "blended system" beyond electrification.
Therefore, "blended system" becomes a sneaky way to bring HSR on board without sufficient funds to build what both Caltrain and HSR want; that is, four tracks. Do not be fooled by Caltrain's "flip-flopping." Their strategic plans have called for four tracks for a very long time, along with electrification. They haven't changed their minds; just their tune.
If there ever are sufficient funds to actually build this HSR system, among the first things that will happen are the expansion of the Caltrain corridor to four tracks. The elevated viaducts are the least expensive way to solve the grade separation problem.
In Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto there are 10, relatively close together, street crossings. Running an elevated structure over them solves the separation problem. It would be far more expensive to dig underneath the at-grade four track corridor for each street.
Menlo Park City Council is being had. They are "accommodationists." They want it both ways. They have imbibed of the Kool-Aid offered by both HSR and the Caltrain Consigliore.
Sorry, both ways, electrification and no HSR, is not on the table. What is available, whether you want it or not, is high-speed rail on the corridor coming along with electrification, paid for either by Prop. 1A or not.
Electrification advocacy is a "red herring."
It, in fact, won't fix anything, except the pride in fancier train sets by Caltrain and a future with HSR paying for four tracks and grade separations.