Three Bay Area legislators joined forces today to announce their rejection of elevated tracks as an option for high-speed rail on the Peninsula, and to push for building the project within the existing Caltrain corridor.
Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Menlo Park, Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto), and Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, issued a joint statement on Monday, April 18, to "set forth some basic parameters for what "high-speed rail done right" looks like in our region."
In essence, their vision of "high-speed rail done right" integrates the project with Caltrain through a combination of electrification and other upgrades.
The statement highlighted criticism of the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) by agencies such as the Bureau of State Audits, the Office of the Inspector General, and even the authority's peer review group.
"Frankly, a great many of our constituents are convinced that the High-Speed Rail Authority has already wandered so far afield that it is too late for a successful course correction," the statement said. "We hope the Authority can prove otherwise."
In conjunction with the joint statement, Caltrain announced preparation of a feasibility study to evaluate whether electrification and other upgrades can help the system accommodate high-speed rail. Additional studies will analyze ridership projections, service plans, cost estimates, and environmental impacts, with a draft of the results released by late 2012.
The struggling transit agency, which is plagued by budget problems, expects the upgrades to produce enough revenue to reduce its operating deficit by 45 percent in eight years, according to a press release.
Menlo Park Mayor Rich Cline said he was very pleased with the news. "Looks like we are more aligned with our state and federal representatives today than we have been for a long time."