News

High-speed-rail 'safeguard' bill signed into law

Senate Bill 557 gives Bay Area agencies veto power over four-track alignment

Legislation that makes it next to impossible for the California High-Speed Rail Authority to build a four-track rail system on the Peninsula was signed into law Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Senate Bill 557, spearheaded by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, and coauthored by Assemblymen Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, and Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, seeks to address one of the region's primary concerns about the increasingly unpopular rail project – the prospect of a four-track rail system getting built along the Caltrain corridor.

The four-track alignment, in which Caltrain would occupy the outer tracks and high-speed rail the inner tracks, was initially proposed by the California High-Speed Rail Authority but later shelved in favor of a "blended system" in which both train services share two tracks on the Peninsula.

Sen. Hill's bill creates a steep hurdle for reversing this decision. Though it stops short of codifying the blended alignment into law, it gives nine Bay Area agencies veto power over revisiting the four-track approach. The agencies include the Caltrain board of directors, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

The blended system, which was first proposed by former state Sen. Joe Simitian, Mr. Gordon and U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, would include as a major component the electrification of Caltrain, a project the commuter service has been planning for over a decade. Sen. Hill's bill makes Caltrain electrification more likely by including language that prohibits the transference of funds from the Peninsula segment of the high-speed-rail project to other regions of the state.

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The bill clarifies that $600 million in high-speed-rail funds will be used to electrify Caltrain by 2019, with local agencies providing the balance of the $1.1 billion project.

The rail authority is now preparing to construct the first segment of the $68 billion San Francisco-to-Los Angeles rail system in the Central Valley. In a statement, Sen. Hill said the new law "provides statutory assurance that high-speed-rail funding will be used to advance the modernization of the Caltrain system and deliver cleaner, quieter, faster, more frequent rail service to Peninsula residents and business."

"By signing this bill, the Governor has made it clear that the State is in lock-step with local communities advocating that the high-speed-rail project should be phased to prioritize upgrades to our existing rail system and eventually accommodate high-speed rail service in a way that avoids impacts on local communities," Sen. Hill said.

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High-speed-rail 'safeguard' bill signed into law

Senate Bill 557 gives Bay Area agencies veto power over four-track alignment

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Sun, Sep 8, 2013, 4:04 pm
Updated: Mon, Sep 9, 2013, 1:04 am

Legislation that makes it next to impossible for the California High-Speed Rail Authority to build a four-track rail system on the Peninsula was signed into law Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Senate Bill 557, spearheaded by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, and coauthored by Assemblymen Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, and Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, seeks to address one of the region's primary concerns about the increasingly unpopular rail project – the prospect of a four-track rail system getting built along the Caltrain corridor.

The four-track alignment, in which Caltrain would occupy the outer tracks and high-speed rail the inner tracks, was initially proposed by the California High-Speed Rail Authority but later shelved in favor of a "blended system" in which both train services share two tracks on the Peninsula.

Sen. Hill's bill creates a steep hurdle for reversing this decision. Though it stops short of codifying the blended alignment into law, it gives nine Bay Area agencies veto power over revisiting the four-track approach. The agencies include the Caltrain board of directors, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

The blended system, which was first proposed by former state Sen. Joe Simitian, Mr. Gordon and U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, would include as a major component the electrification of Caltrain, a project the commuter service has been planning for over a decade. Sen. Hill's bill makes Caltrain electrification more likely by including language that prohibits the transference of funds from the Peninsula segment of the high-speed-rail project to other regions of the state.

The bill clarifies that $600 million in high-speed-rail funds will be used to electrify Caltrain by 2019, with local agencies providing the balance of the $1.1 billion project.

The rail authority is now preparing to construct the first segment of the $68 billion San Francisco-to-Los Angeles rail system in the Central Valley. In a statement, Sen. Hill said the new law "provides statutory assurance that high-speed-rail funding will be used to advance the modernization of the Caltrain system and deliver cleaner, quieter, faster, more frequent rail service to Peninsula residents and business."

"By signing this bill, the Governor has made it clear that the State is in lock-step with local communities advocating that the high-speed-rail project should be phased to prioritize upgrades to our existing rail system and eventually accommodate high-speed rail service in a way that avoids impacts on local communities," Sen. Hill said.

Comments

Problem Solver
Atherton: West Atherton
on Sep 8, 2013 at 10:31 pm
Problem Solver, Atherton: West Atherton
on Sep 8, 2013 at 10:31 pm
Like this comment

Knocking out the four track option for cities that don't want it is essential, provided the technical definition of "four track" is "four tracks side-by-side", since it is the side-by-side configuration that causes the problems. Any attempt to impose a four-wide rail corridor through an unwilling community will ensure the failure of high-speed rail, so let's drop it with finality. I am pro HSR but strongly against four-wide HSR through my town (and support other towns who feel the same).

The HSR people have shown remarkably little imagination in this area. Elon Musk's HyperLoop deserves consideration, at least as a starting point for some grounded creativity. An alternative that I have not seen mentioned for Peninsula communities is a double-wide double-height elevated four-track solution, with the HSR on the top and Caltrain on the lower elevation, but with both pairs elevated quite high. There are so many advantages to this:
1) No encroachment beyond the existing Caltrain right-of-way, no eminent domain seizing of private property (and the issue of encroachment during construction can be eliminated with some appropriate engineering).
2) All grade-level crossings, with many more crossings than at present, resulting in a new cohesiveness of communities currently divided by Caltrain (where they want it, that is), and better traffic flow.
3) The end of pedestrian deaths by train.
4) The HSR can travel fast through the Peninsula with much lower noise than the current Caltrain. Proper vibration isolation is well-demonstrated for noise transmitted through the wheels, and waist-high skirting walls (very close to the train is shown to all but eliminate undercarriage noise, without the visual impact of high walls used by freeways.
5) A spectacular view from both the HSR and Caltrain, that will enhance ridership.

And for those that deem any HSR to be visually polluting, on the contrary it's an opportunity for an architectural statement of lasting beauty (with a little imagination applied). Human structures can be very attractive - like the Roman aqueducts and the Golden Gate bridge (an unlike many of the "new urban" architecture sullying the Peninsula).

2)


Loopy Hyper Fraud
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 9, 2013 at 12:31 pm
Loopy Hyper Fraud, Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 9, 2013 at 12:31 pm
Like this comment

"Elon Musk's HyperLoop deserves consideration" You mean that dude's blog post (Musk's well disguised "concern troll")? Any real world examples of hyper? Outside of blogs and theme parks, that is.

Oh, yeah, I want California to be the first to build something out of a blogpost. Yeah, that will work out just FINE!

Get real.

"Now why is Elon Musk, who is not stupid, pushing a plan that looks suspiciously like the old debunked “personal rapid transit” crapola that Republicans and unscrupulous Greens keep pushing?

Perhaps because, just as with PRT, the plan was crafted by people who, for various reasons, are against true mass transit (such as, oh, the head of a car company), and who want to use a fake mass transit plan to attack and destroy an actual mass transit plan?"

Musk is a troll. He wants peeps in his cars, not public transit. He thinks he's the next GM, and following GM in destroying mass transit. Just the way GM destroyed LA's mass transit system last century.

"It began in earnest in 1936 with the creation of the National City Lines Company, a corporate front group representing General Motors, Standard Oil, Firestone Tire, and Mack Trucks. For the next 15 years, this powerful company bought out 45 street car and trolley systems throughout the country. By the 1950’s, all 45 transit systems were completely dismantled, opening the way for private car use and increased bus service, a demand that GM was all too happy to supply. This was the sad fate of public transportation in Los Angeles, a system nearly as extensive as New York’s. Eventually, National City Lines was found guilty of criminal antitrust violations, but the verdict was moot, for the great suburban build out was in full throttle."

What's old is new again...........


peninsula resident
Menlo-Atherton High School
on Sep 9, 2013 at 5:42 pm
peninsula resident, Menlo-Atherton High School
on Sep 9, 2013 at 5:42 pm
Like this comment

> Though it stops short of codifying the blended alignment into law, it
> gives nine Bay Area agencies veto power over revisiting the four-track
> approach. The agencies include the Caltrain board of directors, the
> Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and the Metropolitan
> Transportation Commission.

1) What are the other 6? I believe the 3 you cite would actually vote FOR a 4-track solution. It's not much of a "safeguard" if the agencies that have veto power want a 4-track solution. Is there any TRUE peninsula representation in the list of "agencies"?

I very strongly suspect that if you look at the list of agencies, none of them represent the best interests of the peninsula.

I welcome being corrected on my suspicion (but I suspect none will be forthcoming because I'm very likely right).

2) Do the agencies have equal voting power?

3) While taking 4-tracks off the table is an improvement (assuming that it actually is off the table), HSR is still blatantly violating Prop 1a. The blended system doesn't change that.



Pokai
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Sep 11, 2013 at 10:19 am
Pokai, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Sep 11, 2013 at 10:19 am
Like this comment



Pathetic.... shame, shame, shame on the sick people of the peninsula who would screw the entire state because they can't give up a few hundred yards here and there for a proper train system.


Menlo Voter
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 11, 2013 at 2:33 pm
Menlo Voter, Menlo Park: other
on Sep 11, 2013 at 2:33 pm
Like this comment

Pokai:

it's not a "proper train system" and it never has been nor will it ever be. It's political payoff to labor unions by our elected officials. Feeling no shame here.


peninsula resident
Menlo-Atherton High School
on Sep 11, 2013 at 11:41 pm
peninsula resident, Menlo-Atherton High School
on Sep 11, 2013 at 11:41 pm
Like this comment

> the sick people of the peninsula

Those "sick people" are in many cases

1) the SAME people that SAVED CalTrain. That's a fact; without representatives from Atherton and Burlingame fighting for train service on the peninsula, there is no Caltrain and there is no Caltrain ROW for HSR to try to exploit.

2) the same people that want more caltrain service. You can actually be FOR improved regional transit but against the waste that is HSR.

You should make more effort to educate yourself before posting.


Name hidden
Atherton: West of Alameda

on Sep 25, 2017 at 6:21 am
Name hidden, Atherton: West of Alameda

on Sep 25, 2017 at 6:21 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


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