Almanac

Viewpoint - February 10, 2010

Letter: Alternate route proposed for high-speed rail

I love trains. As a youth, the sight of steam engines crossing the San Francisquito Creek bridge stirred my heart. I made special trips on my bike to the South Palo Alto station to see the Sunshine Daily go by in its orange, red and black splendor, up from L.A. in the summer evening.

I can't envision the same romance for the bullet train. At least not as presently planned. And, unless the California High-Speed Rail Authority is thinking outside the box, I don't expect to get much joy from the forthcoming alternatives analysis, to be released on March 4. "Well, you can't have it underground, guess it'll have to be elevated."

So I started daydreaming. First I ruled out a run up the existing right-of-way. East of 101? No, leave the Bay alone. Then I got it! Run the two tracks for the high-speed rail up the middle of 280! How about running up Highway 85, transition to 280 at Cupertino, then come down 380 and rejoin the Caltrain line at San Bruno?

Imagine riding that route. What a great introduction to the area. Arguments against a freeway center bullet train? Sure, but the trick is to visualize the utilitarian beauty of any plan; choose, and then solve those problems. From the get-go, I see no grace, no enhancement for the public good in the Peninsula plan.

I voted for high-speed rail, but it feels like "bait and switch." We need a more elegant solution.

Don Baraka

Amherst Avenue, Menlo Park

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