Almanac

Viewpoint - April 14, 2010

Letter: Bravo to Brown, Brady, Engel for train work

Last month I attended a meeting in Menlo Park where members of the California High-Speed Rail Authority were to present plans.

They had no clear route except that it would follow the Caltrain tracks. A new right-of-way must be built beside the current tracks — either on the east side or west side. Or maybe here and there plunge underground.

The coveted federal stimulus money depends on "environmental approval," but these authorities could not explain what was required to achieve such approval, and were not interested in the environmental objections from members of the community.

The high-speed train will occupy a 60-foot right of way (sometimes wider) completely separated from any possible human incursion by a barrier or by being planted in a ditch, or as a sky way. Thus forever dividing the peninsula cities the whole length of the peninsula.

Every street which crosses the tracks will have to go under the tracks, or over the tracks. This means a tremendous disruption of traffic and life along the line for the duration of construction, which could take years. Valuable property will be rendered worthless in the process, including stores, homes and office buildings. Who will pay for this at the current market price? No one had any comment on this question.

How can Menlo Park plan for refurbishing the downtown district, which includes the deserted car sales lots along El Camino Real that are likely be condemned if the west side of the tracks is chosen for the high-speed train?

What about the Stanford Park Hotel, the new train station in Palo Alto? What about Alma, the Central Expressway, the University Avenue bridge and the crossing at El Camino Real in Palo Alto? Whoops, there goes the old grove of redwoods and famous El Palo Alto redwood along the tracks at the crossing of San Francisquito Creek.

The obvious option to run shuttle trains on Caltrain to high-speed rail starting in San Jose was dismissed out of hand.

Kay Von Tress

Waverley Street, Menlo Park

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