What's your view on high-speed rail? Other Topics, posted by Editor, The Almanac Online, on Jan 18, 2009 at 9:06 pm
Residents concerned about the impact of the California high-speed rail project on local towns have an opportunity to voice those concerns. The High Speed Rail Authority is asking the public what issues should be considered in an environmental review of the project. And the public is invited to provide feedback at a "scoping meeting" in San Carlos on Thursday, Jan. 22.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, January 18, 2009, 9:33 AM
Posted by Martin Engel, a resident of the Menlo Park: Park Forest neighborhood, on Jan 18, 2009 at 9:06 pm
Dear Mr. Leavitt and members of the California High-Speed Rail Authority:
Plans for the construction of the high-speed rail accommodations on the Caltrain corridor are now proceeding. Like the current corridor, this much expanded train capacity will also pass through and impact the centers of many towns along the right of way. However, the before and after difference will be like day and night.
The program CHSRA EIS/EIR was incomplete and incorrect in its discussions of the negative impact on Atherton and Menlo Park, hence, the lawsuit. The about-to-be-developed project level EIS/EIR must not be so cavalier as to ignore the impact of five years or more of construction and the permanent deleterious changes imposed on those Peninsula cities.
The current Caltrain system is now at grade level, with at-grade road crossings. The plan is to separate those grade crossings. In order to do so, the CHSRA EIS/EIR, posted on the web site, indicates that the rail authority will construct an elevated retaining wall of 15+ ft. height. That wall, in order to meet the needs for four tracks, will require at least 70 ft. of width according to HTNB engineers. Catenary towers will rise above that height, of course.
The impact of such elevated construction will be devastating to the cities of Atherton and Menlo Park, like a Berlin Wall. It may very well be that current engineering and cost studies will look at other alternative alignments for the rail corridor, but it is highly probable that the elevated retaining wall will be the final choice of the rail authority, if for no other reason than the lowest possible costs.
There can be no question that the CHSRA has an obligation to mitigate the negative impact of the train corridor development. That means not elevating the rail grade in any way, either by berm, retaining walls, or viaduct. Although there will be claims that tunneling is far too expensive and cannot be afforded by the rail authority, the fact is that not to do so will be far too expensive to the residents and cities adversely impacted by the elevated system. The harm and costs with elevated alternatives will be irreparable.
Asking (or not even asking, but imposing upon) the residents of Atherton and Menlo Park to accept the horrendous and costly burden to be imposed by the rail authority is unacceptable. All of us in California, and in the United States, will already be required to make major financial contributions for the construction of this rail system through demands placed on our taxes. So will our children. This intrusive and deleterious imposition adds further injury to injury. We cannot accept it.
What are we saying is this:
1. No elevated structures on the Caltrain corridor through Atherton and Menlo Park.
2. No additional cost burden to localities for the construction.
3. Only acceptable solutions to involve below-grade-level alternatives.
4. Unambiguous negative impact of construction easements, shoofly tracks, business closings, eminent domain takings, and revenue loss for the cities of Menlo Park and Atherton due to property devaluation, to be clearly acknowledged in the EIS/EIR.
5. Acknowledgement of unambiguous negative impact of any elevated rail-supporting partitioning of Menlo Park and Atherton. Required plans for and commitment to construct definitive mitigation.
Posted by jt, a resident of another community, on Jan 18, 2009 at 11:47 pm
THese people are like spoiled children. An elevated train isn't going to "devastate" their communities. Such hvperbole and drama. Most of the right of way through the peninsula is already pretty unattractive. It can only be helped by new stations and landscaped berms. These folks who think they live in some little hamlet in the woods need to get real. They must not be allowed to jeopardize a statewide project by using EIRs to implement their ideological opposition to high speed rail. The short answer to them should be "get over it." And while other communities are going to have to accept their share of the inconvenience, the folks in these cities, think we should all pay for them to get special treat. Not gonna happen.
Posted by get creative, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Jan 19, 2009 at 8:26 am
There will be negative impacts both during construction and following. After all, unlike other parts of the peninsula, the tracks are surrounded by residential properties. No one can tell us whether Menlo Park will get any of the benefits, either. Caltrain service to our city has deteriorated, and it is ludicrous to expect that HSR will stop here.
The current ROW is not attractive, but we have an opportunity to improve it by putting it underground. I was fascinated by the ideas promoted by some Palo Alto officials to tunnel the train and then be able to use the ROW for parks, businesses, housing. Ideas like that need to be seriously examined. The value of land is so high on the peninsula that there should be consideration of some creative financial approaches.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Jan 19, 2009 at 8:51 am
HSR will be a welcome addition to our neighborhood. It is good for the environment and will be good for the overall population. It is a step to the future, just like highways 101 and 280 were when they were approved. Imagine saying no to those noble projects then. Where would we be?
Posted by truth, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Jan 19, 2009 at 9:44 am
Look at these mongers above yet again insulting and impugning Menlo Park for taking a stand. I expect the next post with be something to the effect, "rich, white homeowners" or some garbage like that. I am none of those.
The first anonymous coward "jt" has no idea what he is talking about if he thinks all ROW is the same. And the last speaker, Steve, is yet another enviro bigot too caught up in smelling his own carbon footprint to think about the strategic negotiations that go on behind the scenes. Most of you live in cities where your council members are just glorified yes men and yes women, and you think that is how it is supposed to be.
I worked my butt off to live in Menlo Park. Now I will work to defend it from Sunnyvalization. A mall on every corner, a fast food restaurant on every block and random acts of zoning chaos.
Posted by THE REAL TRUTH, a resident of another community, on Jan 19, 2009 at 10:13 am
"Rich White Homeowners" I think that is correct term for a number of people there...nothing wrong with that..now being whiners and trying to delay/stop a project that was EVEN passed in Menlo Park is another thing. Work with CAHSR as this. NOT Demand.
Posted by jt, a resident of another community, on Jan 19, 2009 at 11:07 am
Trench it or underground it, That's fine but the cities who want that have to pay the difference. Other cities aren't getting such special features so If you want it you'll have to pay the difference in cost. That's simple enough and fair enough. Are you better than the people in all the other cities who have hsr running through? The train runds right through residential neighborhoods in Fresno as well as other cities. They aren't expecting any special treatment.
Posted by no HSR here, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Jan 19, 2009 at 12:11 pm
BART goes under the bay. A few creeks aren't going to be a problem. Everyone else in the world seems to be able to build subways, and I'm betting we can figure it out too. The "too expensive" whine may vanish as the economy tanks. Labor is going to be a lot cheaper than it has been!
HSR makes no sense in crowded urban areas. If you want to run it along 5, fine. Or elevate it over the center divide on 101. Tearing up trees, homes, and the heart of several cities does nothing to preserve our environment. The current proposed route was chosen for political reasons, and will serve only to promote the careers of a few people.
Residents voted for 1A because they weren't aware of the ramifications, and because fast, sleek trains seem glamorous and exciting. If this project proceeds as planned -- and I'm still betting it won't -- you'll hear screams of outrage and dismay as soon as the first jackhammer hits concrete.
Posted by Martin Engel, a resident of the Menlo Park: Park Forest neighborhood, on Jan 19, 2009 at 12:20 pm
Those are good questions, Gloria. There are three ways of running the tracks below current grade levels, trenching, cut and cover, and full bore tunneling. While the most expensive, full boring (with a giant machine that works like an enormous worm) would be the least intrusive on the surface, would permit Caltrain to continue to operate during construction, and permits current grade crossings to be untouched. (Very few construction easements, no eminent domain, etc.)
Also, part of the answer to one of your questions is that the tunnel would not go the entire length of the corridor, but only where, on the diagrams in the CHSRA EIS/EIR on their web site, indicates a 4.6 meter elevated (retained fill) wall or berm. On those diagrams, developed by Parsons Brinckerhoff, the first of those elevated structures runs from 5th Avenue to San Francisquito Creek. The second segment starts right after the Palo Alto train station down to the California Ave. train station.
One of the reasons for that elevation is that it permits grade crossings to be constructed in the most economical way, and would be what the BKF Feasibility Study advocated in 2003, the “half-up half-down solution.”
For the tunnel, the various train stations would remain at grade level and the train platforms would be reached by escalators and elevators. As "Underground" points out, the tunnel would be below any creeks or utility lines. The tunnel drilling would leave the surface undisturbed. In short, the tunnel option is far from silly. To the contrary, it is highly plausible.
Upon completion of the tunnel, Caltrain would run through the tunnel as well. That would leave the rail corridor available for a variety of purposes, including bike and walking trails.
So, what are the problems? How about UPRR Diesel freights? They can use the tunnel also since it could be ventilated to the surface. And, finally, costs. Yes, it would be very expensive. Tunnels usually are. But, think of the environmental costs if the train runs on the surface.
Most people continue to be dismissive of this as not harming them personally, so they think that we are mindless, selfish complainers. (“You guys should make all the sacrifices!”) They defend the need for the high-speed train regardless of the costs, which will be much closer to $100 billion than the currently suggested $40 -$45 billion. With those numbers, $2 billion more doesn’t seem like much since without that investment, at least three cities with extensive residential areas contiguous to the rail corridor are fated to be permanently downgraded in value along many criteria.
And, many of our critics are eager for huge sums of money to be spent along the HSR corridor, to the benefit of the cities and counties through which the train will run. This tunnel should therefore meet their expectations even more so.
Posted by jt, a resident of another community, on Jan 19, 2009 at 12:41 pm
martin said "Upon completion of the tunnel, Caltrain would run through the tunnel as well. That would leave the rail corridor available for a variety of purposes, including bike and walking trails." Exactly, a very good point of the benefit to your cities which is why the additional expense should be paid for by your cities. By tunneling, you will not only prohibit any adverse impact but in fact realize a net improvement to you property values and that's why your cities should invest the money to do it.
Posted by Biden. Joe Biden, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Jan 19, 2009 at 2:31 pm
I read somewhere that it will cost about $50K/foot to tunnel all four tracks -- does anyone have a source for such a number? Assuming very roughly about 4 miles of right-of-way through Palo Alto the cost to tunnel tops $1B. Add another $1B for Menlo Park and Atherton, of course, and one wonders how much more tunneling will cost than the berm and eminent domain debacle that can't be taken seriously. I could see Palo Alto floating a bond to cover perhaps $100M -- reluctantly, of course -- but jt and other lovers of this fantasy will have to help cover the remainder. We thank you in advance,
Posted by let's check the benefits, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Jan 19, 2009 at 3:07 pm
Before throwing out ideas like tunneling because of the costs, how about quantifying some benefits? Couldn't some of the area not only be used for parks and trails but also sales tax REVENUE producing stores and restaurants, and property taxes from these and other types of construction? To my knowledge, no one has ever looked at this locally.
Posted by Oscar Herring, a resident of another community, on Jan 19, 2009 at 4:19 pm
Fairness suggests that other large noise sources to be tunneled too. Like Harley's on El Camino. It might make sense to bury highway 101 as well. What about those noisy Caltrains and the night-time freights?
That's all fine by me - as long as you pay for the additional costs that you incur.
Like it or not, Menlo Park CA has been on the main line for well more than a century. Nobody living in Menlo Park can claim "oh, gee, it was so pristine when I moved here and then they built the railroad and ruined it." Every living person in MP moved there fully knowing that there was an active railroad right through the middle of town. And housing costs near the tracks have long reflected this fact. To a very large degree Menlo Park CA exists because of the mainline; MP was developed as a commuter stop on the already existing railroad.
So it seems rather disingenuous to be demanding a tunnel - you voluntarily moved to the source of the train noise. Moreover, from all accounts the HSR trains will be rather quieter than the existing Caltrain and "baby bullet", not to mention the evening freights.
Posted by Clem, a resident of another community, on Jan 19, 2009 at 5:25 pm
If the cities can swing the financing, why not? The cities would pay for the additional cost of building the tunnels (yes, tunnels-- at least two bores side by side to accommodate four tracks) and in exchange, the JBP would donate the land where the tracks currently sit.
To a user of high speed rail, or to a California or federal taxpayer footing the bill for the project, such tunnels would add no value to the transportation function of the project. Therefore, it is not reasonable to expect the project to pay for the tunnels.
On the plus side, with the retained berm currently planned, the nearly continuous horn blowing through town 100 times per day would be a thing of the past. No more horns. No more diesel fumes. No more bell clanging. HSR may not be quite so dire a disaster that some make it out to be.
Posted by Who's JT?, a resident of the Menlo Park: Stanford Hills neighborhood, on Jan 19, 2009 at 9:43 pm
Hey "JT", maybe we believe in keeping the integrity of our hometown in tact. Many other towns along the rail corridor do not have homes as close to the track as Menlo Park and Atherton. We believe for this reason, and for my personal reason in that we pay a disproportionate amount of taxes versus most of the other towns, we should be considered for the tunneling being partially paid for by the state.
Posted by Spokker, a resident of another community, on Jan 19, 2009 at 10:15 pm
The right of way was there before you and the transportation needs of the state outweigh the needs of your town. We have precious little rail corridors in this state because of sprawl, that sometimes spread over abandoned ROWs.
Sorry, but these ROWs need to be built back up again to funnel people to and fro our major metropolitan areas. That you moved near these ROWs, active or abandoned, is a minor concern.
You are more than welcome to voice your concerns over this project. This is, after all, a free country. Your side may even use our generous legal system to further delay or complicate the project. But I am confident that this project will barrel through for the good of our state and to the detriment of those who live near the tracks along the Bay Area Peninsula.
Posted by jt, a resident of another community, on Jan 19, 2009 at 11:24 pm
-bidenjoebiden-- "but jt and other lovers of this fantasy will have to help cover the remainder. We thank you in advance," I'm not a over of the fantasy of tunneling. I think its a waste of money. I
'm just saying that if these cities want it tunneled they have to pay the diffeence. Not the entire cost, just the difference between the berm and the tunnel. and too the person who said the rest of us should pay for it because your cities contribute so much to the state in taxes. lol. please. Since when did the ports of oakland and long beach make their home in Menlo park?
Posted by jt, a resident of another community, on Jan 19, 2009 at 11:28 pm
People in the Sacramento Valley live with levees in their backyards and I sure as hell live with a lot of stuff I don't like in SF, but that's the way it goes. You can't stop progress on the Peninsula any more than I can stop it in the city, and by the way, we are sick of towns like yours shirking your housing and human services obligations and dumping them on us. Next time I'm down that way I'm gonna drop off some folks.
Posted by Cassandra, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Jan 19, 2009 at 11:39 pm
Spokker, it's absolutely personal with you. You've stated, over and over again, that you want to stick it to rich white people. Apparently you have many "other community" friends that can't afford to live in a nice part of town so want to see the rest of us suffer.
Aint going to happen.
There's no perceived benefit to putting HSR on the peninsula. It's a political gambit. Cluttering our landscape with 19th century vehicles is hardly progress! More koolaid, anyone? But the value of the land that could be freed by putting the tracks underground will exceed the cost by any net present value calculation. Remember: the cost is a one time expense, but the revenues that we can derive from use of that land will continue to roll in for decades.
Posted by get creative, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Jan 20, 2009 at 8:26 am
Those questioning the deterioration of CalTrain service should compare schedules of ten years ago with today's. As a regular commuter and fan of CalTrain, I now am forced to go to Palo Alto sometimes so my commute isn't absurd. So now some people think MP's station isn't "popular". Of course not, given the forced choices we now have. Guess what? I used to be able to walk to the MP station, and now I use a CAR to get to mass transit. How green is that?
I agree with the suggestions to look at the facts and some creative alternatives. That would be better use of time than bashing fellow citizens for legitimate concerns.
Posted by Clem, a resident of another community, on Jan 20, 2009 at 3:08 pm
> But the value of the land that could be freed by putting the tracks underground will exceed the cost by any net present value calculation
If that is truly so, Menlo Park should have no trouble lining up the financing to build the tunnels.
> Those questioning the deterioration of CalTrain service should compare schedules of ten years ago with today's
It's true that when Caltrain's skip-stop service was started, Menlo Park and many other smaller towns were the ones that got skipped. This will be resolved when HSR is built: four tracks will allow Baby Bullet service without compromise to frequent local service. Expect Menlo Park's Caltrain schedule to improve significantly.
Posted by js37, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Jan 20, 2009 at 8:40 pm
Assuming that the Pacheco pass route is adopted, perhaps we should question the San Jose-to-San Francisco via Caltrain route as the best (first) way to provide HSR rail service to the entire Bay Area.
For example, a route up the east side of the bay along the UPRR right of way with well-designed and synchronized connections to BART would give access to HSR for many more folks, in particular those who live in San Francisco, East Bay, Contra Costa county, and points east and north. Then, after ridership statistics and customer demand indicate that the Caltrain route is needed, that route could be built at a later time, but only if it is justified.
HSR doesn't need to be routed through the thickly populated, expensive peninsula. It doesn't need the same convenient access to riders that Caltrain does. Thus, for the most part, HSR is just passing through the peninsula. Therefore, the main reason for choosing this route must be a lower imagined cost; however, the costs of building HSR on the same sometimes narrow right of way as Caltrain will undoubtedly be much, much higher than is being stated.
For the surface proposals, in addition to clearing out the tumbleweeds and dropping down a couple of additional tracks, add in:
-- The costs of acquiring land so that the ROW will support four tracks when construction is completed;
-- The costs of acquiring land in order to construct temporary tracks such that Caltrain and UPRR can keep running during construction;
-- The costs of acquiring land and constructing grade separation overcrossings/channels/berms and the land required for these;
-- The costs of modifying Caltrain stations so that the additional two HSR tracks and trains will not disrupt access to Caltrain for Caltrain riders;
-- The cost of sharing two of the resulting four tracks with Caltrain, costs which include lower travel times, difficult schedule coordination, and safety; and
-- The costs of modifying existing overcrossings and bridges so that 2 HSR tracks will fit.
For tunneling proposals, in addition to the above, add in the costs for the tunneled sections.
In light of this, it seems likely that an east-bay-first strategy might be a less expensive way to provide HSR service to the Bay Area in the long run.
Posted by Spokker, a resident of another community, on Jan 21, 2009 at 12:44 am
"If the goal is to increase use of public transit, then there certainly are NOT "too many D% stations"."
Then maybe there should be a Caltrain station every 100 feet.
There were too many stations for those traveling from San Jose to San Francisco and other popular Baby Bullet stops. So yes, some trains were replaced with Baby Bullets. There is still half-hourly service on the line to most stations.
"How are these any different in the East Bay, and what would you say to residents there?"
They don't care if someone else is impacted, especially poor east bay residents.
Posted by trolls, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Jan 21, 2009 at 3:49 am
Everyone in this discussion has avoided the obvious issue of nanotechnology. By the time a high-speed rail system is built, it will be possible to shrink people to the size of a couple of molecules. Passengers could board the "train" in San Francisco and be transmitted to LA ... or Beijing, Paris, Cairo, NY, Sunnyvale, whereever.
HSR will take a long time without nanotechnology. Cities must approve it (they get to decide whether streets are vacated). The Caltrain JPA must consent (why share their ROW with HSR without some cash). Union Pacific has got to agree (Does UP even exist?). And CalTrans (the state Legislature) needs to be onboard. In other words, HSR ain't happening in our lifetimes.
Posted by js37, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Jan 21, 2009 at 9:24 am
It is important that the San Jose to San Francisco EIR/EIS document include the impact of HSR on Caltrain. In particular, how will the presence of HSR in the Caltrain corridor, and the sharing of two Caltrain tracks impact ridership and on-time performance?
1. Caltrain will be running electrified versions of bullet and local trains on their tracks, and on a strict schedule. The HSR trains arriving from the south, for example, cannot be expected to adhere to a similarly strict timetable; there are just too many variables such as weather, train loading and unloading times, which prevent this from happening. Just imagine the dispatching problem of sending an HSR train up the Caltrain corridor at 120 mph 20 minutes late at 7 am and have it not impact the timing of Caltrain express and local trains.
2. HSR will presumably allow service between San Jose, Palo Alto or Redwood City, Milbrae, and San Francisco. So does Caltrain. Won't this impact Caltrain ridership, especially if HSR is faster and cheaper?
3. The document needs to address such intangibles as the impact of 120 mph trains on waiting passengers, for example, as they rocket through Caltrain stations.
Posted by common sense, a resident of the Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks neighborhood, on Jan 21, 2009 at 9:27 am
I was trying to figure out a way for a friend to travel via public transit from the mid-peninsula to the western half of SF, specifically, UCSF. We all know that it's easy to hop Caltrain if we want to get to the eastern part of the city, but getting to UCSF entails taking the train to Millbrae, BART to SF, and Muni to UCSF. Three different modes of transportation, onerous and time-consuming!
HSR would not help this situation one iota. Nor would it make it faster for any of us to take public transit to Marin, Napa, Monterey, Berkeley, or any of the other places that we don't directly connect to already. I am wondering why any public agency is even considering spending our money to duplicate a route that already exists. Instead of wasting money in this manner, can't we add some new functionality? HSR on the peninsula makes no sense, not only because it is destructive but because it's duplicative!
Posted by Spokker, a resident of another community, on Jan 21, 2009 at 9:33 pm
"The HSR trains arriving from the south, for example, cannot be expected to adhere to a similarly strict timetable"
HSR trains will be sticking to a strict timetable as well. This isn't Amtrak we're talking about here. We're talking about electric trains running on tracks dedicated to passenger service. The #1 reason for delays on Amtrak is freights. There will be no freights on the HSR tracks.
"HSR will presumably allow service between San Jose, Palo Alto or Redwood City, Milbrae, and San Francisco. So does Caltrain. Won't this impact Caltrain ridership, especially if HSR is faster and cheaper?"
HSR won't be cheaper. Some riders will switch to HSR. Some will stick to Caltrain. Caltrain may see new riders that are departing from smaller stations to get to the HSR station.
These are two different levels of service trying to accomplish two different goals. There will probably be provisions where southbound trains from SF that stop in Palo Alto or Redwood City will only receive passengers, just like Amtrak does on some routes.
"The document needs to address such intangibles as the impact of 120 mph trains on waiting passengers"
Posted by the truth about HSR, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Jan 21, 2009 at 10:49 pm
Spokker, your arguments are specious. It really doesn't matter who voted for prop 1A. Fact is that the voters were deliberately misled and misinformed. Public money should not be misspent,and it's pure fantasy to state that HSR will help millions of trips.
You've said repeatedly that are are primarily interested in HSR because you want to destroy our homes. We know where you stand, and we value your input accordingly.
Posted by jt, a resident of another community, on Jan 22, 2009 at 12:41 pm
how about we let railroad people build the railroad and operate the railroad, on land owned by the railroad, and keep the no nothings, hand wringers, and busy bodies out of the process. Welcome to 21st century life in a major urban area folks. Peace and quiet is 100 miles north of here. need a map? Geez are these people serious referring to places like menlo park as "hamlets" and quaint little towns and such? are you kidding? You guys are delusional.
Posted by Biden. Joe Biden, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Jan 22, 2009 at 2:07 pm
Spokker is a long-time, self-appointed mouthpiece and troll for HSR and has about as much to lose with HSR construction as he offers in the way of rational argument in support of the train, which is to say: nothing. "jt sf" is clearly of the same mold -- idealogues, both, and everyone who opposes their views is clearly wrong. I'd like both to sign up for the following task: Travel up and down the rail corridor in Atherton, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto, knocking on the doors of all the retirees who bought their homes next to the tracks 30, 40, 50 years ago or more, and let them know they no longer deserve to own a house -- any house -- in the town they've called home for so many years.
You'll need to do this to a good many people, and once their home is gobbled up by eminent domain proceedings they, being on fixed incomes, will no longer be able to afford to own a home on the peninsula, given the purchase of a new home will be met with astronomical increases in property taxes. True, they can always rent an apartment, but would you call that just treatment? I'd love to see Spokker and jt reason this out with, say, a WWII veteran who has owned his Palo Alto home next to the right-of-way since 1950. He may have been a machinist and never wealthy, but bought when homes next to the tracks could be had for less than $10K.
The thing that Spokker and jt simply can't acknowledge is that, lost among all the other problems associated with HSR, there is the very real human cost that will be paid once the the right-of-way is widened by 50 feet or more on the peninsula. But Spokker and jt don't give a damn because they won't be there to witness it, and they surely have nothing so valuable to lose as a long-time home when HSR is built. I'm guessing neither pays much in the way of taxes; else they would be as outraged as I am about the "business plan" that was put forth in support of Prop 1A. Perhaps these links will help:
Posted by Clem, a resident of another community, on Jan 22, 2009 at 2:40 pm
Widening the ROW by 50 feet?
HSR needs 75 feet minimum for four tracks. You can verify exactly how much ROW there is on these maps: Web Link
As you can see for yourself, Atherton already has the necessary width. Menlo Park does as well, for the most part, and those few tight spots aren't actually in people's yards. Palo Alto is nearly all set, except maybe for Southgate.
There may indeed be an issue with temporary construction easements, but I think you might have the eminent domain thing blown just a bit out of proportion.
Posted by Biden. Joe Biden, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Jan 22, 2009 at 3:56 pm
Yes, the existing ROW is between 75 and 85 feet in many stretches, but I'd read many times before Prop 1A passed that the ROW (I believe for the proposed berm) needed to be at least 100 feet to accommodate HSR/CalTrain/UP (looking for a source now). But if you take a look at one of the PDFs linked from your source, that for Menlo Park/Atherton at Web Link, you'll note that the existing ~75' ROW slices right through the backyards of many homes, especially north of Oak Grove. And if the berm proposal is the option chosen then clearly the homes along the existing ROW in these images will need to be taken by eminent domain -- I doubt anyone (save Spokker and jt) would propose building a 15-20' berm within the existing fence line of these properties.
BTW, Clem, did you watch the videos I posted above your comment? I'd be interested in your take on Joseph Vranich's comments, if you have one. Regards,
Posted by Spokker, a resident of another community, on Jan 22, 2009 at 10:23 pm
"Travel up and down the rail corridor in Atherton, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto, knocking on the trunks of all the trees who stuck their roots next to the tracks 30, 40, 50 years ago or more, and let them know they no longer deserve to absorb nutrients from the soil -- any soil -- in the dirt they've called home for many years."
Posted by jt sf, a resident of another community, on Jan 23, 2009 at 12:09 am
All this "concern" is a bunch of BS. Lets cut the crap and get down to what this is really about. aesthetics. These folks don't want the big "ugly" train in their "pristine" neighborhood because after all it will only serve "commoners" from lesser communities anyway. EVERY city and town in the nine county bay area has had to absorb some growth and bear the burden of increased traffic, density, development, and such. Even up in precious Marin County. You, extra special as you are, will live through it.
Posted by Gil Fernbeam, a resident of the Menlo Park: Felton Gables neighborhood, on Jan 23, 2009 at 9:30 am
"Travel up and down the rail corridor in Atherton, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto, knocking on the trunks of all the trees who stuck their roots next to the tracks 30, 40, 50 years ago or more, and let them know they no longer deserve to absorb nutrients from the soil -- any soil -- in the dirt they've called home for many years. Fixed."
This is the clearest proof that you have no regard for the human lives that will be uprooted by HSR. What sacrifices are you making for this train, Sponker?
Posted by common sense, a resident of the Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks neighborhood, on Jan 23, 2009 at 1:29 pm
Spokker is a perennial student in LA who loathes rich white people and is hoping HSR will serve as the coup de grace for the let-them-eat-cake crowd.
Here's what I am trying to understand. This area was developed largely during the 1940s and the post-war period, parallel to the beginnings of Silicon Valley. Over the past 60 years, this area has witnessed incredible innovation and ever-increasing prosperity (economic blips aside). All this has occurred without having to change the overall character of our communitiies. With the rise in reliance on the Internet and other electronic media, we are heading into an era in which we can be increasingly productive without having to drive (or take public transit) to an office or meetings. Many companies already employ people who commute via computer; quite a few schools offer online courses.
Now the backers of HSR and others expect us to buy their "growth is inevitable and you must sacrifice" story. What sort of "growth" requires heavy density and the Sovietization of our cities? Are we going to be building tractors on the mid-peninsula? Do we really expect San Francisco to be the center of all commerce in the future, just because it was in the early 1900s? And why are we even considering trying to construct a future based on trains, so inflexible and capital-intensive?
I see too many statements made by Spokker, jt, and their ilk that go something like "xyz is going to happen...and therefore we need HSR" -- but the anteceent is assumed, not proven. Let's just imagine, for a moment, that our area will continue to thrive, as it has for so many decades, without our having to endure an upheaval to our entire infrastructure. And then let's step back and look at the problems that are currently impeding our progress -- noting that HSR will address none of them -- and set about fixing those first.
Posted by Jt, a resident of another community, on Jan 23, 2009 at 7:49 pm
"What sort of "growth" requires heavy density and the Sovietization of our cities" "Sovietization"? really? That just shows the mentality the folks around there. Its just like when people who have never cared about the environment in their lives, suddenly become environmentalists when a project comes near them. I've seen the this kind of process used to stop every kind of progress this state has tried to accomplish for the past 30 years or more. yet everyone complains about california's inability to get things done. You want to know why everything in cali costs so much? This is why. Every time california blinks, some one files a lawsuit. Have the people of this state, who came from westward pioneer, 49ers and the transcontinental railroad, become so delicate and sissified that they can't deal with a train running through town? It's just ridiculous. More than that, it's sad. Witness california's ability to do big things and lead the nation, withering away. The Central Valley project, the california aqueduct, the golden gate bridge, the university system, the award winning freeway designs, ...we've been resting on our laurels for too long. Where has my cali gone? Its been hijacked by namby pamby nimby chicken littles. "oh but the train is big and scary" please.
Posted by common sense, a resident of the Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks neighborhood, on Jan 23, 2009 at 9:45 pm
Looks as though no one can answer my questions. And I still haven't seen one justification for pouring billions of dollars into this political boondoggle. Obfuscation can take you a long way, as the HSR backers have already demonstrated, but after a certain point it fails the smell test. Palo Alto is starting to wake up to this travesty too. Critical mass, here we come!
It's been lovely having you troll our boards, Spokker and buddies, but it's going to be game over for you guys, real soon.
Posted by jt, a resident of another community, on Jan 23, 2009 at 9:54 pm
A handful of nimbys in Menlo park are not going to stop a statewide project. Everyone in the bay area knows all about certain communities in each of the counties who try to pull this stuff and those days are coming to an end. Time to get things done for a change.
Posted by common sense, a resident of the Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks neighborhood, on Jan 23, 2009 at 11:35 pm
Methinks you have it backward, jt. The mid-peninsula, home to entrepreneurs and CEOs of many successful Silicon Valley firms, is justifiably renowned for its thought leadership. The residents of this area are the people whose skills have enabled the region to grown and thrive. And now we are exhibiting similar leadership on this issue.
Our residents are people who know how to get things done. We don't spend money foolishly. We're not afraid to ask questions, or to point out that the emperor has no clothes, as is the case with HSR. The rest of the bay area is slowly becoming aware of the potential debacle, and when people realize what CHSRA is trying to foist on us, the project will come to an unceremonious end.
I expect you'll have vanished from our boards long before that happens.
Posted by broke, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Jan 24, 2009 at 3:18 pm
Hey - does anyone get it that many of us are really suffering in this economy (yeah - even in Menlo Park)? We simply cannot afford this. I would FAR rather invest in improving the almost non-existent transit in my own community than this enormous project. We have Caltrain already.
Posted by I Smell an HSR Funded Rat, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Jan 24, 2009 at 5:15 pm
I believe "Spokker" and "jt" are either the same person writing under two different names, OR, they know each other and call each other on the phone to write HSR postings within a few minutes or hours of each other - both arguing on the same side.
Are either of you on the payrolls of folks who stand to profit greatly from the construction of HSR?
I have done some Google research on Spokker, others of you might want to do the same.
I am entirely against your case, "Spokker" and "jt", as my family stands to lose a great deal - both financially and in quality of life - if the HSR through the Peninsula ever gets going. And I would estimate my need/desire to take a high speed train to Los Angeles would happen once a decade. Put that in your inflated ridership estimates.
Posted by I Smell an HSR Funded Rat, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2009 at 9:52 am
The state of California does not NEED a high speed train from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Simple as that.
And,"Spokker", I notice that you did not address my comments that I believe you are the same person as "jt". Nor did you address my comment that I believe you are being paid to troll the HSR forums by someone who will stand to profit financially from the High Speed Rail boondoggle.
Posted by broke, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2009 at 3:56 pm
The transit this state needs is LOCAL, especially within the bay area and within the LA and San Diego areas.
Here, it is virtually impossible to run errands, shop, go to the doctor, get to jobs, etc. without getting into a car. My family tries to walk and bike, but we simply cannot go where we need to go by public transit. Our jobs are not, and never were, near each other nor near our home. HSR won't help that a bit. The commuter train used to help my wife, but it doesn't stop as much as it used to during rush hour here in Menlo Park so she can't even walk to the train anymore. HSR will do NOTHING to help transit.
Posted by roxie, a resident of the Menlo Park: University Heights neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 2:10 pm
I don't understand what Joe B means when he says the right of way "slices right through the backyards" of homes. The ROW land is owned by the railroad isn't it? If the homeowners have been using it for their backyards, they have just had free use of the land for some time, but they always knew it could come to an end.
Menlo Park residents voted yes for prop 1A by a large margin (57% to 43%). This should be enough to convince the city council to take our city off that lawsuit. The Pacheco pass route has already been chosen, it was a lengthy process and all sides had an opportunity to state their case. Any route chosen will leave some people unhappy, the HSR authority is willing to work with residents to mitigate the problems, but they should be reasonable. Martin Engel's demanding letter did not seem to me the best way to start a discussion.
We want this project, and now is the best time to start. President Obama and the congress are looking for economic stimulus projects, especially infrastructure projects that will have a positive impact on the climate. The state might finally be able to get some federal money for this. Let's just do it!
Posted by roxie's simplification, a resident of the Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 2:36 pm
Obama was referring to immediate stimulus that is often referred to as "shovel ready". This means projects that begin shoveling in 2011 or 2012 (this is HSRA's timeline not mine) does not apply. Right now it is all studies and review. This is what you do for big projects, you hire consultants to study and gather feedback and draft up the plans. The jobs come when the dirt gets moved.
Martin is not on council and even if you think there are some who parrot his words, he is not representative of the entire town. He has a right to speak his mind, but I will look to council to represent.
I cannot comment on the lawsuit. I assume it will be resolved in time.
Posted by HSRn't, a resident of the Menlo Park: Stanford Hills neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 5:10 pm
Many Menlo Park voters thought prop 1A was about shiny trains sweeping through miles and miles of vast unoccupied land. But now that it's passed, local residents are beginning to understand the ramifications of this ridiculously wasteful and unnecessary project.
Read the thread on the Palo Alto board for a lot of excellent comments about the devastation that HSR will cause. Although Spokker and other HSR trolls hang out on that board, they seem unable to respond to any of the many legitimate questions related to flooding, reconfiguration, noise, pollution, or expense-- they just keep hyping the HSR glamour and accusing everyone of being NIMBYs.
It's a lot of money for a duplicative (on the peninsula) train system that does not solve any existing problems or address any likely future challenges.
Posted by I Smell an HSR Funded Rat, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 10:10 pm
Some of those Menlo Park and Palo Alto voters, along with many others in the state voted for the train without doing any research on what exactly they were voting for. The train from SF to LA sounds very sexy, until you uncloak it and look at the details of building it. Then it's repulsive. Unfortunately, many people didn't get educated before voting yes.
In addition to the direct negative impact on neighborhoods, the negative fiscal impact is huge. Here's a quote from an article posted to ABCNews.com today:
< A fiscal nightmare is looming in California. The home to 1-in-8 Americans will begin delaying tax refunds this week if state legislators and the governor do not reach an agreement to fix the state's cash shortfall. "We are running out of money," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said at a Monday press conference in Sacramento, Calif. Tax refunds will start being delayed by Feb. 1, and possibly as soon as Tuesday, according to Hallye Jordan, a spokeswoman for California state Controller John Chiang. California has had no money in its general fund for the past 17 months, and has been paying its bills by borrowing from Wall Street and special internal funds, according to the state controller. >
For more doom and gloom, you can read the rest of the article at this URL:
Posted by Suckers, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Jan 27, 2009 at 2:58 pm
<< Some of those Menlo Park and Palo Alto voters, along with many others in the state voted for the train without doing any research on what exactly they were voting for. >>
How right you are. In Marin county 65% voted for HSR which will never, ever lay one single railroad tie in that county. Buzzwords such as "reduced greenhouse emissions" made electric rail sound like a wonderful high-tech ecological panacea so they voted it in. Now voters in the affected locales are starting to wake up and figure out what it was they voted for.
Who will benefit from HSR? A relatively small number of travelers going from S.F. or S.J. to L.A., that's who. Hundreds of thousands of residents and business owners up and down the peninsula will suffer huge financial cost and disruption and chances are the vast majority of them will never even use HSR. What's more, in the business sector HSR will be competing with the airlines, and in the non-business sector it will be competing with I-5 and Highway 101.
Here is a list of communities which will have to grapple with figuring out how to shoehorn HSR through town and deal with the ensuing disruption, only to have HSR speed right through without stopping once it is completed. It assumes the HSR depots will be at San Francisco, Redwood City or Palo Alto, and San Jose.
South San Francisco
The fastest way to get from the bay area to L.A. will be to fly. The cheapest way will be to drive. I don't see that changing with or without HSR.
Anyone who voted yes on 1a without first doing due diligence and figuring out the impact of HSR on their community, is a sucker.
Posted by roxie, a resident of the Menlo Park: University Heights neighborhood, on Jan 27, 2009 at 3:56 pm
The people who voted yes for prop 1A knew what they were voting for. To those who say otherwise, just because your side lost overwhelmingly you should not resort to calling the other side ignorant as an excuse for the fact that the majority sees the issue differently than you do.
Posted by Spokker, a resident of another community, on Jan 27, 2009 at 4:17 pm
"Anyone who voted yes on 1a without first doing due diligence and figuring out the impact of HSR on their community, is a sucker."
Yes, yes, everybody is stupid but you.
"Here is a list of communities which will have to grapple with figuring out how to shoehorn HSR through town and deal with the ensuing disruption"
There will be a station at SFO. The other communities benefit from improved Caltrain service, including complete grade separation and electric trains that emit zero local emissions and accelerate more quickly than diesel engines.
"The fastest way to get from the bay area to L.A. will be to fly. The cheapest way will be to drive. I don't see that changing with or without HSR."
And high speed trains will be be a solid middle ground on price and speed, and more comfortable than driving or flying.
"How right you are. In Marin county 65% voted for HSR which will never, ever lay one single railroad tie in that county."
Maybe, just maybe, they don't hold a "what's in it for me" mentality and actually consider the needs of the state over their individual needs.
However, anybody from Marin can drive or ferry into San Francisco and take the high speed train.
Posted by concerned, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Jan 27, 2009 at 8:56 pm
<< NO people voted for HSR because they see it as a long term solution >>
A solution without a problem. People can now move between the bay area and L.A. by plane, car or Amtrak. I don't see where there is a void in service.
<< electric trains that emit zero local emissions and accelerate more quickly than diesel engines. >>
There are already plans to electrify CalTrain, with our without HSR.
<< anybody from Marin can drive or ferry into San Francisco and take the high speed train >>
I am not aware of any long-term parking facilities at or near 4th and Townsend. They could just as easily drive to SFO or OAK and take the plane, or continue on I-5 and have the use of their car when they get there.
Posted by HSR'nt, a resident of the Menlo Park: Stanford Hills neighborhood, on Jan 27, 2009 at 10:08 pm
Will improve life...how?
Expecting trains to solve our problems IS living in the 19th century!
Those of us who are fortunate enough to live here appreciate that our predecessors put some thought into planning our cities, made sure there would be plenty of room for trees, and set aside lots of little spaces for neighborhood parks. I can hope that future generations will also appreciate our efforts to keep our city from becoming an ugly, industrial, overly developed wasteland.
I have yet to hear one good reason for putting HSR on the peninsula.
Posted by Clem, a resident of another community, on Jan 28, 2009 at 12:45 pm
> There will be stops in S.F., Redwood City or Palo Alto, and San Jose. It will bypass the communities in between.
You forgot Millbrae.
> Those of us who are fortunate enough to live here appreciate that our predecessors put some thought into planning our cities, made sure there would be plenty of room for trees, and set aside lots of little spaces for neighborhood parks.
... and secured sufficient land to build four tracks along nearly the entire length of the peninsula, back in the early 1900s when surrounding land was undeveloped. What great foresight our predecessors had; without it, HSR could not possibly run on the peninsula.
> I have yet to hear one good reason for putting HSR on the peninsula.
At all, or as opposed to somewhere else?
The One Good Reason, of course, is to serve downtown San Francisco and its considerable catchment area beyond SF itself (Alameda county, Marin county, etc.) The mayor wants that, the governor wants it, our senators want it, the speaker of the house wants it, etc. and it makes sense from a ridership point of view: ridership is very sensitive to time and the hassle of changing trains (or planes, or buses...) I don't think anybody is entertaining the notion of NOT serving San Francisco, but you're certainly welcome to float the idea.
The best outcome for Menlo Park would be to win the lawsuit. That in itself is no guarantee that the Pacheco / Altamont decision will be reversed; the decision would only be re-opened. Considering how political it is, I doubt it would be overturned. San Jose wants equal billing with SF, and they are preserving the best available east bay alignment for their sacrosanct BART extension.
The latter project, by the way, far eclipses the budget for peninsula HSR... $6.2 billion and climbing, versus $4.2 billion here on the peninsula.
Posted by R.GORDON, a resident of another community, on Feb 14, 2010 at 4:15 pm
It certainly was a very typical meeting as our meetings go except for the addition of a truly intelligent new voice in the form of jt from San Francisco, which has never been discussed or people have deliberately not cared to bring the affect of HSR would make on the City.
It still boils down to people worrying about property values and little more than that.
"Jt" also had the most astute observations as to how people outside of this community think and he did say it with humor even though I have to agree with him that we are not exactly inviting disaster to put in the HSR and create a Juan le Pins out of a Monaco. Quite the reverse for those rich folk who have not traveled or know other parts of the world which share similar griefs.
THERE IS NO WAY TO PREVENT HSR and please get over it.