I would like to share my scoping comments for the Dumbarton Railroad Environmental Impact Report (EIR). I believe I have determined the reason this project continues without any evidence of sufficient ridership. One of the CalTrain employees let slip the fact that federal law requires commuter heavy rail lines to accept freight trains as well. I do not know how light rail is affected by this, but I suspect that if you facilitate light rail and heavy rail on the same line, freight would be part of the package. A subsidy of $60.00 per passenger ride is too high to comply with federal funding rules. But whoever wants freight does not play by the rules; so far the information from CalTrain does not mention freight traffic.
I have been watching this project for about ten to fifteen years, but my and others’ oral and written communications have vanished. Please locate all of them and make them a part of the scoping process and the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Also, please consider this a formal protest for the short response period allowed. Two weeks to as little as one day (November 29, 2006 to November 30, 2006).
Before beginning the EIR, please locate the money for mitigations, as required and mandated by the California Environmental Quality Act. If you don’t have the money for mitigations, you don’t have a legal project. Please include money to mitigate all of the effects of the legally mandated rail traffic. Please make clear in all your written documents that when you build heavy rail, freight cannot be barred from the same route. Facilitating freight traffic may be what is driving this proposal.
Please consider mitigation needs of all the neighbors: Redwood City, including unincorporated areas, Bell Haven and the Flood Triangle in Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Newark, Fremont, Union City, and our animal neighbors in the various wildlife refuge and parks. Ridership has not been demonstrated. Please document sufficient ridership to obtain subsidy funds.
The current estimate seems highly speculative, even more so than prior estimates, having almost tripled in volume without explanation. Apparently it would require a subsidy of $60.00 per trip, and would remove approximately one-thirty-second to one tenth of the cars from the auto bridge. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) study showed the Dumbarton Bridge commute was one of the LEAST congested of the 150+ commutes measured. Please include the cost of electrification. Was the Mountain View Railroad Spur ever reviewed? Please add it as Rail Alternative C. Please make Light Rail the Rail Alternative D, which has the added political advantage of being incompatible with freight. Please make a new route around, not through, the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge Rail Alternative E, and minimize, or better, avoid, impacts on it and on the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife, Menlo Park's Bayfront Park, East Palo Alto's Ravenswood Open Space Preserve, and Palo Alto's Baylands Nature Preserve, Coyote Hills Regional Park, the Alameda Creek Regional Trail, and Ardenwood Historic Farm. Please consider the High Speed Bus Alternative, in both directions.
Also look at realistically estimated transit time, actual time, not wishful time. Traveling from Union City to Sunnyvale in Silicon Valley, using any of the three lines in the East Bay and traveling around the bottom of the Bay, is shorter in mileage than traveling from Union City to Sunnyvale in Silicon Valley by way of the Dumbarton Railroad Spur and Redwood City. Your EIR should address this.
Please include the Mountain View Railroad Spur in your comparative review of the different routes. Please make your conclusions fit the data, rather than reach a conclusion and then seek to find or invent data to fit it.
Also, please include noise, vibration, privacy, grade separations, and compensation for property loss as mandated by the U.S. Supreme Court. Grade separations and compensation for property loss will be the largest expenses, in my opinion.