Menlo Park to continue high-speed rail lawsuit


By Barbara Wood

Special to the Almanac

Despite recently announced changes in the plans for high-speed rail in California that lower the price and address other Peninsula cities' concerns, Menlo Park's City Council agreed in an April 9 closed session meeting to continue a lawsuit it has filed with Atherton and Palo Alto against the California High Speed Rail Authority.

In November a judge delivered a mixed ruling on the suit, which was filed under the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The ruling agreed with the Peninsula cities that the EIR's traffic analysis needs work.

According to Menlo Park Public Works director Chip Taylor, however, the local cities also want the EIR to re-examine the projected ridership numbers, the effect of a two-track system that would combine Caltrain with new high-speed trains, and the effect of elevated tracks on the areas, such as Menlo Park, that they would pass through.

A press release issued after the meeting said the council members believe "the newly proposed 'blended system' serves as a promising long-term solution as it would improve the use of the existing right of way, provide electrification and potentially provide a quieter, more efficient system."

However, council members still fear that the more intensive four-track system that was originally proposed could still be built because that option is focused on in all the environmental documents for the rail project.

"None of the EIR versions have adequately considered or analyzed the 'blended' system set forth in the new business plan. In addition, the EIRs do not address the impact of having an elevated structure along the Peninsula," the press release states.

Mayor Kirsten Keith said in a statement that the city cannot fully support the project until the rail authority "provide(s) certainty that the four-track system is no longer under consideration, that the ridership study will be redone, and that the project will not be exempt from the current CEQA process."


Like this comment
Posted by R. Gordon
a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm

It is all incessant double talk and mostly gripes from the "old guard" who predominate the state yet it is thought of as an important and necessary move to start construction among most Californians and Americans if you talk to THEM.
At this point, nobody seems to do anything but blame the President for the way this country was in a deep hole when he enterred office and most people think they can go on like our past dictated most of the fortunes and way of life that befell the "Republican way of making it big"....those days are gone forever, even after Romney is long gone after spending to get office.Disgusting.
This is a totally different world that demands sacrifices and not just toys like gas eaters, the lack of attention to our environement,
and the increasing debt caused by inactivity of jobless workers.
Those who live in the past are not only the minority, but the backers of leaders who warrant no respect.
Those people who are part of the 80,000 new organic farms across the country are the people to admire and realize they cannot afford to pay for food to live.The answer is JOBS.Not Wall St.

Like this comment
Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Let's be clear here: if you support the "blended system," you are supporting high-speed rail on the Caltrain corridor. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Furthermore, you are supporting high-speed rail in California. Upgrading Caltrain this way with electrification (with no conditions) is bringing HSR to the corridor. That's their MOU deal.

The reason the "blended system: was offered to us was not a compromise between what HSR intends to build (four track; elevated viaducts) and an at-grade two track corridor. It was offered because there aren't any funds to build anything beyond the "blended system."
We don't actually even know what all the requirements will be for "blended system" beyond electrification.

Therefore, "blended system" becomes a sneaky way to bring HSR on board without sufficient funds to build what both Caltrain and HSR want; that is, four tracks. Do not be fooled by Caltrain's "flip-flopping." Their strategic plans have called for four tracks for a very long time, along with electrification. They haven't changed their minds; just their tune.

If there ever are sufficient funds to actually build this HSR system, among the first things that will happen are the expansion of the Caltrain corridor to four tracks. The elevated viaducts are the least expensive way to solve the grade separation problem.

In Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto there are 10, relatively close together, street crossings. Running an elevated structure over them solves the separation problem. It would be far more expensive to dig underneath the at-grade four track corridor for each street.

Menlo Park City Council is being had. They are "accommodationists." They want it both ways. They have imbibed of the Kool-Aid offered by both HSR and the Caltrain Consigliore.

Sorry, both ways, electrification and no HSR, is not on the table. What is available, whether you want it or not, is high-speed rail on the corridor coming along with electrification, paid for either by Prop. 1A or not.

Electrification advocacy is a "red herring."

It, in fact, won't fix anything, except the pride in fancier train sets by Caltrain and a future with HSR paying for four tracks and grade separations.

Like this comment
Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Apr 12, 2012 at 10:02 am

I am not impressed by your lengthy non explanation of how money is raised for useless endeavors and from where it come from.
The War explains it all. It was a joke that killed hundreds of thousands of people and was totally illegal and never discussed by those who object so ferociously against spending.Even our former President Bush has made one statement since he has been in figurative hiding.He has some trillions to help explain along with those who profited from the concept of "war is good for the economy".
The money will come. The HSR will be running.You will be one of the first people to ride a bullet train to Los Angeles---that is, if you are not too old or infirm to confirm that America is definitely left in the dust when it comes to stepping into the future.
You are not really worried about the money....or the survival of the veterans. You just do not want your area made untidy for a while.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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