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on Mar 3, 2009
""Just because the cheapest and laziest alternative is a 25-foot-high berm doesn't mean we should succumb to that, or be stuck putting up hundreds of millions of dollars" to pay for the trains to run underground, Mr. Cline continued."
Man, that berm just keeps getting taller!
Try not be self-rightous demanding people and act civil and work with the CAHSR as neighbors.then things will work out. And no Mr Cline its not your ROW its the County and State and YES the majorty of people in Menlo and PA and Santa CLara and San Mateo counties voted yes..and for the most part 63-65% YES
From the article:
Judge Kopp heralds high-speed trains as the way of the future, calling attention to their low greenhouse gas emissions, their perfect safety record (according to the Judge, the trains have never caused a fatality)
Kopp keeps making this statement regarding safety which is an outright lie. The Eschede train disaster in June 1998 is the world's deadliest HSR accident to date. Over 100 people lost their lives in that accident. There have also been others. For reference look at:
Councilman Cline has full understanding of the issues here. Only now are other communities along the peninsula starting to awaken.
The Monday night meeting at the City of Palo Alto was very revealing. The PA council had endorsed Prop 1A on a unanimous vote last fall. It is quite obvious now, that a new vote taken on the issue would not yield the same results.
One should take into account that Prop 1A passed by a 52.5% margin. If this vote had been on a school bond issue, not a general obligation bond Prop 1A would be defeated, since school bonds require a 55% majority.
Passage even by that slim margin was achieved only by a massive infusion of funds, especially from the Alliance for Jobs lobby, which funded the massive radio campaign in the last week.
One should evaluate your for success in negotiations by looking at past history. Rod Diridon speaks to the PA council and says, we want your input and it will be evaluated. We will follow all the CEQA rules and laws.
However, when Diridon was repeatedly asked about entering into a true negotiation with the City, that is not possible. In points of fact even a consortium of cities will have no more voice than a single city according to Diridon. One should also remember that when Diridon was asked last year about what would happen if opposition to the project arose, he replied "They will be over-ridden".
How much weight is going to be given to responses from various cities? Apparently not much. When Menlo Park filed its response to the EIR, the City's letter was supposedly lost and no reply was ever obtained from the Authority. Over a year later Judge Kopp answers, apologizes for having lost the letter.
The voters of California were supposed to have a business plan for the project due no later than Oct 1st, 2008, such that they would have more information on how to vote on Prop 1A. This was mandated in Prop 1A. The revised plan did not arrive until after the election. This was a clear violation of the law. Only now can the voters see that the promised 117 to 120 million passengers per year for the project has been drastically reduced in the new business plan. No wonder it was not released until after the election.
Even today, the AB-3034 mandated review panel for project, which was to review the business plan no later than 60 days from publication of the plan, has not been formed. These actions should clearly point to the way the Authority and its leadership function. The Authority doesn't wan oversight.
Can this be changed? Yes, I think so. State senate bill SB-53 was passed last year and could well be the means whereby the Authority would be abolished, and the project taken over by a different State transportation agency. This should be very seriously considered.
State senator Simitian has been appointed chairman of a key sub-committee that is destined to overlook at least the financial budget of this project. I strongly advise everyone to contact him and make your wishes known.
Stone Pine Lane
Some have suggested that the way to solve the grade separation problems is to have the HSR take another (non-Caltrain corridor) route between San Jose and San Francisco, or to have HSR passengers transfer to Caltrain for the trip between the two cities.
It is important to realize that neither of these will solve the grade separation problems. The reason is that Caltrain will be increasing the frequency and the speeds of its trains, and will therefore require grade separations even if HSR is not a part of the picture.
What HSR brings to the table is:
1. A requirement that grade separations are mandatory, and that they be done sooner rather than later;
2. More frequent and higher speed trains;
3. Four tracks rather than two;
4. The need to negotiate with the CHSRA as well as the Joint Powers Board; and
5. Money to construct the separations.
Argue 'For' argue 'Against'...blah, blah. The voters did pass Prop 1A although no one want's to clarify what that means and the State can't sell many bonds right now.
The focus should be on getting this project right. Boston had an elevated freeway that people quickly turned against once the building process started and the Embarcadero Freeway, in SF, gives us a local example of good ideas going astray. Forty years of arguing ensured before they developed a solution, Boston, and we just had an earthquake to enhance the Ferry Building waterfront.
My concern is that CHSRA is so busy planning on the Peninsula that they are forgetting Union Pacifc has denied then use of Right-of-Way (ROW) below San Jose to get from here to...the rest of California. We do not want a Seattle style highway to nowhere or in our case High Speed Train from SF - SJ. We already have that.
I know the politics may change things but shouldn't they at least have that detail worked out before we charge 120 mph into San Jose?
Passage of Prop 1A simply means the voters have declared they want the State to raise 9.95 billion dollars by selling bonds. 9 billion dollars of the sale of those bonds would be to partially fund the High Speed Rail project, the total cost is now estimated at over 40 billion by the High Speed Rail Authority. The cost will be much higher than that in any event. Statements made by the leadership of the Authority (Judge Kopp in particular), promised the voters of California that this bond issue would produce all the funds needed from the citizens of California and that the Authority would get the rest of the needed money elsewhere.
The remainder of the costs are supposedly to come from Federal funds and investment by private interests. To date there have been nowhere near the kind of funds needed to meet the remaining needed funds from either the Feds or private parties.
Now your comments above are right on target. Your comments make sense, but making sense is not what the High Speed Rail Authority is all about. They are pushing ahead full steam.
The Authority claims the denial by Union Pacific the use of their R-O-W south of San Jose will not stop them. Part of what the lawsuit filed by Menlo PArk and Atherton against the EIR deals with this very issue.
I hope this helps.
Stone Pine Lane
Sean, thanks for the article. Appreciate all your hard work getting the story together.
This is a complex issue and it is almost unfair to expect the article which is limited by space and time to be able to break down all the subtleties.
I did support the litigation under the premise that the city did not get an adequate response to miltiple letters sent in over the past several years. These questions related to impacts, alternatives, economics and actual rail usage. Until a week or two ago, we were only told that our letter was "lost" and had not been received (we sent multiple letters). I still feel that the decision to enter into a legal discussion was appropriate given the oversight. In this position as a councilmember, I don't feel I have the luxury to hope it works out or trust that more is coming from the rail authorities, regardless of my personal feelings about HSR.
And the litigation fulfills my need to get those answers before our agencies enter into long-term contracts that bind us all into this project. This was not anti-rail and it still is not anti-rail. HSR has many benefits that cannot be overlooked, but it must be done right because it will last for 100 years.
But by the same token, we are now a few months removed from a proposition that was passed by a majority of citizens of Menlo Park. Whether or not we think the state can afford it, or if the bonds can be priced adequately and soon enough or if privae funding can be achieved, it was approved.
This is why we have a parallel plan to work with our neighboring cities and find a way to create opportunities with the HSR and Caltrain and our communities. This is a key point. We are moving ahead in a positive fashion and we are looking forward.
I think these points can be lost in newspaper form, and I rambled to poor Sean for longer than I should have about all of this.
We have receieved an initial response from Judge Kopp relating to the "lost" letters. The city is reviewing this letter and we hope to have a quick response in return.
My take away point: This is not about anti-rail or anti-HSR, it is about representing the city in the most responsible way I see fit.
Mr. Cline, it's nice to have your input on this forumn.
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