News

High-speed rail shifts focus back to the Bay Area

In launching environmental review, officials hope to placate critics on Peninsula, elsewhere

After gaining some momentum in the Central Valley, California's beleaguered high-speed rail project is now hoping for a fresh start – and a smoother journey – on the Peninsula.

The California High Speed Rail Authority, the state agency charged with building the controversial, $68-billion system, is now preparing to launch its environmental reviews for the two northern segments of the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles line. One stretches between San Francisco and San Jose and the other between San Jose and Merced.

The rail authority plans to complete the environmental analyses for the two segments by late 2017 and begin construction shortly thereafter. If all goes well, the new rail system will be in place by 2029.

To date, all has not gone well for the rail authority on the Peninsula, where the project remains a dicey and deeply polarizing proposition.

The Palo Alto City Council officially took a stance in 2011 opposing high-speed rail, and rail authority hearings have consistently attracted angry crowds of opposition. Atherton and Menlo Park have also been skeptical, and have taken part in several lawsuits against the rail authority.

Things have quieted down somewhat since 2010, when the rail authority decided to launch the system in Central Valley. Now, the conversation is starting up again and the rail authority is hoping to strike the right tone this time around.

The re-launch began Tuesday, with a community meeting in San Francisco. Some things have changed since 2009. No one, for example, is talking any more about building a four-track system with Caltrain on the outer tracks and high-speed rail on the inside — the preferred alternative five years ago.

The deeply unpopular plan to elevate the tracks is also off the table. Now, the only alternative being considered is the "blended" approach in which high-speed shares the rail corridor with Caltrain on existing tracks — a design championed by U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, Assemblyman Rich Gordon and then-state Sen. Joe Simitian. This proposal was also deemed palatable by local communities.

"Part of beginning this outreach is as much to talk about what this isn't as what it is," Ben Tripousis, who as the rail authority's Northern California Regional Director is overseeing the construction of the Peninsula segment, told the Weekly. "There's significant concern about the full build-out and what has gone before and it's not that. It's blended service on existing Caltrain tracks. It's about rail integration at its best."

At the Tuesday event, Tripousis was joined by more than a dozen members of the rail authority's staff and about 50 residents. Thea Selby, vice chair of the rail authority's board of directors, told the audience that the project faces challenges throughout the state, each unique to its region. But she said the authority feels "confident that this is going to happen." Just two years ago, she said, the rail authority had fewer than 20 staff members. Today, it has the authority to hire 219.

"It's a question I get asked the most: 'Is this going to happen? Is this really going to happen?' And the answer is, 'Yes! It's going to happen.' And with your input, it's going to happen the right way," said Selby, who joined the board in March 2014.

Yet the project continues to face a series of formidable challenges, including lawsuits and a budget shortfall in the tens of billions. Though the project's price tag dropped when the rail authority committed to a shared-tracks approach, it is still roughly twice the estimate in Proposition 1A, the successful 2008 measure that provided $9.95 billion for the new rail system and related improvements.

Lisa Marie Alley, the rail authority's deputy director for public affairs, told the Weekly that the goal of the meeting was mostly to remind residents that the project is still here. The rail authority hasn't held any meetings on the Peninsula in a while, she said, and it was time for an update.

While the project has been a tough sell on the Peninsula, rail officials on Tuesday pointed to signs of success elsewhere in the state. San Francisco is well on its way to building the new Transbay Center, which will serve as the northern terminus of the proposed line.

Construction in the Central Valley began last year. And on the Peninsula, Caltrain is now preparing to begin the long-awaited electrification of the rail corridor, a project that will both boost the capacity of the commuter service and set the stage for high-speed rail. The rail authority is providing $705 million for the Caltrain project.

Yet several steep obstacles remain, including funding. While Proposition 1A authorized the expenditure of $9.95 billion for the rail system, and related improvements, that amount falls far short of the project's cost.

James Janz, a former Atherton mayor who is a member of the grassroots group Community Coalition on High Speed Rail, said the uncertainty over the project's cost remains a concern.

"They say it will cost $68 billion," Janz told the Weekly after Tuesday's meeting. "Even if that's right, that's a bit of a shortfall."

Tripousis said the rail authority will address the issue of funding next year, when it releases its updated business plan. In its prior iterations, the funding plan has relied heavily on private investment that has not materialized. Officials indicated Tuesday that this has not changed.

"The funding will come from most likely the private sector and potential state funding," Alley told the Weekly when asked about the funding shortfall. "What the ultimate price tag is – those details will still be worked out."

Another obstacle is political. Though the "blended" system has squelched long-held anxieties about elevated tracks and four-track designs, officials remain concerned about the rail authority's transparency and the project's compatibility with state law.

Councilman Pat Burt told the council on Aug. 31 that he and other members of a policy-working group were surprised to learn earlier in the month that the rail authority had already issued a request for information for an environmental analysis on the Peninsula segment (the board of directors authorized the request at its Aug. 4 meeting). The effort, Burt and other local officials in the group said, went ahead without prior notifications.

"It really doesn't mean the authority has the funding to go ahead, but it will make it an open issue on the Peninsula again," he said.

Burt said virtually all representatives expressed "concern over both the substance and the process by which it had been done."

"They're not being very transparent and that's one of the big pushes we made to the authority: to open up," Burt said.

Tripousis said one of the goals of the new outreach tour is to re-open the conversation and convince the communities throughout the state that the system is worth supporting.

"Our greatest goal in this effort is to ensure the high-speed rail project is actually an asset to each community and not an eyesore," Tripousis said.

Comments

12 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 11, 2015 at 10:36 am

Whoopee! The Gov Moonbeam High Speed Boondoggle.


1 person likes this
Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 11, 2015 at 10:41 am

The CHSRA has learned a few lessons over recent years. The Peninsula, especially the Mid-Peninsula, has objected to Caltrain corridor expansion for nearly a decade. The "blended" system is the political compromise. However, what the HSR people are talking about now, and what will actually happen on the corridor over the next, say, ten years, are two different things.

The "blended" system is bound to see a gradual, almost imperceptible track increase, with passing tracks appearing in several places on the corridor, sooner rather than later. As train traffic increases, demand for additional trackage will also increase. A little here, a little there. . . over time it will all expand the corridor. (Think camel's nose in the tent.)

Then, there's the "grade separation" problem. How to solve it at the lowest costs without throughout track elevation is bound to result in major corridor development in both up and down directions, especially with Menlo Park and Palo Alto's dozen street crossings.

Simply stated, regardless of what's discussed now, the corridor will be developed/expanded over time and while the necessary billions may not appear in the foreseeable future, there will continue to be many-sourced trickle funding that permits constant corridor growth and expansion.


2 people like this
Posted by Peg
a resident of Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Sep 11, 2015 at 11:20 am

Build it.


24 people like this
Posted by Peg
a resident of Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Sep 11, 2015 at 11:23 am

"Then, there's the "grade separation" problem."

It's a problem for geniuses in Menlo Park, although the troglodytes in San Bruno, San Carlos, Belmont and places all over the country somehow figured it out years ago. Funny, that.

Build it.


11 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 11, 2015 at 11:56 am

Peg
And those troglodytes didn't have SFRs next to the tracks. Some folks don't think a large wall and embankment dividing the city is such a good idea, just so a few folks can take a long train ride. Of course if you'd like to move the railroad to your backyard in Woodside we're all for it.


24 people like this
Posted by John McGraw
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Sep 11, 2015 at 1:07 pm

Why doesn't the rail authority just buy a couple of Boeing 737's and fly the people up and down the state. It would be much cheaper and they could start today.


7 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2015 at 2:07 pm

I second @whatever's remarks. The solution is very simple when one ignores the wellbeing of the people who live near the proposed route. From the vantage point of the sanctuary of Woodside, Peg will be insulated from the years of construction noise, pollution, street closures, etc. that would be necessary to build the kind of San-Carlos-type berm she favors. Those of us who will have to live with those things are understandably less enthusiastic.


6 people like this
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2015 at 3:49 pm

Reality Check is a registered user.

HSR does what planes cannot: provide fast, cheap, hassle-free connectivity to/from the intermediate cities.

Try looking up pricing and departure time options for air trips starting or ending at any of the intermediate Central Valley cities which will be served by CA HSR. Very expensive -- if they're even served. Try finding and pricing a flight between Gilroy and Fresno or Bakersfield.

Same day airfares between SF/SJ and LA basin airports are also typically prohibitively high.


22 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 11, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Reality Check:

HSR as it is currently proposed will do none of the things you mention. It's certainly not cheap, nor will it be fast. It will be "medium speed" at best. As to "hassle free," maybe for now, but we live in a world with terrorists. Ask Europe.

Very few people are going to want to travel to the central valley cities served by MSR. In fact, it was sold as a fast trip between SF and LA, not the central valley.

Nope, it's nothing more than a payoff to the state's labor unions by our legislators.


3 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 11, 2015 at 6:39 pm

Editor
I believe you have a major flaw in the comments process. It is possible for one individual to like a comment an infinite number of times. All one needs to do is closeout ones browser, reenter the browser and like the comment again. Closeout ones browser, reenter the browser and like the comment again, etc, etc, etc.

Please remove 3 likes from the McGraw comment on 737s as that's where I tested the flaw.


7 people like this
Posted by Pamela
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 11, 2015 at 7:15 pm

Come on, guys. Let's realize that this is a major metropolitan area and start acting like it. If you want your idyllic residential areas, complete with lawns, no sidewalks, and all the driving your automobilist hearts desire, move to almost ANY OTHER STATE. Seriously! Living in such a high demand area is going to come at a cost, you should know this. Let's make the high speed rail happen BEFORE 2029. Could we possibly do *anything* in the Bay Area at a quick pace? Does everything have to take forever? Has anyone else compared the timetables at the San Mateo County History Museum and noticed that in 100 years, the time between Menlo Park and San Francisco has BARELY IMPROVED? We should be embarrassed by the sad state of high speed rail.


15 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 11, 2015 at 7:19 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Pamela:

what we should be embarrassed at is that the electorate was sold a pig in a poke. NONE of what the voters were told about HSR was true. NONE. If any of it was, those of us opposed to it might not be. The fact is it won't do ANY of what it is supposed to do. And there is ZERO funding for it beyond what has already been committed. That funding only builds a section of rail in the middle of nowhere.


6 people like this
Posted by KI
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Sep 11, 2015 at 8:32 pm

If someone like Frontier Airlines connected smaller airports in California HSR it would be completely obvious to even the most die-hards why this HSR implementation is terrible. Our cities are not in a straight line, they are too far apart and there are mountain ranges in between. Mountains blow out the cost structure, and California is full of such ranges.


5 people like this
Posted by john burrows
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2015 at 10:37 pm

One reason for these meetings could be the fact that high speed rail may be arriving in San Jose sooner rather than later. A memo sent out by the Rail Authority and dated August 11, 2015 has some interesting information. Quoting from the memo---"The Authority's objective is to build a high speed rail system and to begin operations as soon as possible. Certain constraints and requirements, such as the operating system not needing a subsidy, available funding, and market constraints, all must be considered in the authorities delivery strategy. Based on Authority analysis, both the IOS-North and IOS-South do not require an operating subsidy". IOS- South, which has been getting all of the attention lately, extends from Merced to the San Fernando Valley. IOS-North extends from Bakersfield to San Jose.

IOS stands for initial operational segment and is the minimal segment that can operate high speed trains without requiring, in the Authority's opinion, an operating subsidy. The memo shows an estimated cost for the IOS-South of $33.6 billion in year of expenditure dollars compared to $31.1 billion for IOS-North. It is my understanding that IOS-South may run into time delays and cost overruns because of local opposition and unexpected difficulties in crossing the mountains before reaching the San Fernando Valley.

If the Authority should instead build north to San Jose there might be fewer obstacles. The route through Pacheco Pass is much lower in elevation than the southern route, and opposition to the project in San Jose and in Gilroy may be less than in the San Fernando Valley. If the
Northern Route to San Jose does prove to be substantially cheaper and easier to build, this might give it an edge.

The Authority is basically saying to the private sector---This is what we have done so far, and this is how much money we have to work with. What are your ideas on how to design, build, finance and maintain an initial operating segment? They call it an RFEI (Request For Expression of Interest) and the memo is an update of that request. Responses are to be submitted by the end of this month, and depending upon the degree of interest the private sector may have in the project, I think that we could see some big changes in the 2016 business plan when it comes out in February.

As far as how much money the Authority has to work with to construct the IOS (according to the memo).

Federal grant funds-------------------------------------------$3.2 billion
Prop 1-A $10 billion minus $3 billion for bookends, etc.------$7.0 billion
Cap-and-trade (committed to date)----------------------------$0.65 billion
TOTAL-------------------------------------------------------$10.85 billion

In addition to the $10.85 billion, the Authority is telling responders to this request to figure high speed rail will receive $500 million per year from cap-and-trade beginning in fiscal year 2015-2016 and running until 2050. This would amount to another $17.5 billion---less whatever the finance costs would be on what would probably amount to a 30 year loan. I am sure that the rail authority is hoping that responders will come up with creative ideas on how to minimize these finance costs.

















7 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 12, 2015 at 7:28 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

mr. burrows:

even with creative accounting they come up short on needed funds. It is my understanding that private business has expressed no interest in HSR as the numbers don't work.


5 people like this
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Sep 12, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Lets see here I have been following the aircraft noise problem. More planes will just add to more noise. SFO, OAK and San Jose are landlocked so building more capacity is out, not just terminal but airspace is crowded.

No space to build more unless you build on the bay.

Bus Rapid Transit lanes we know how that is going in Santa Clara County, and BART is is long way from pulling into the station.

Under or over the streets but trenching or tunneling is costly.


8 people like this
Posted by Ollie
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Sep 13, 2015 at 4:03 pm

Do we really need to go that much faster by train? Besides that fact that we can't afford this project,what about all the delays when an earthquake hits? All the tracks that need to be checked? Couldn't we add more energy efficient buses like Stanford's shuttles, and not destroy more trees creating this nightmare of a project?


28 people like this
Posted by southbayresident
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2015 at 6:50 pm

Martin Engel,

As a frequent user of Caltrain I look forward to the "camel's nose under the tent scenario" you describe as becoming a reality ASAP. You can't beat a 4 track grade separated right of way for maximum operational flexibility, frequency of service, safety and overall benefit to the greater community. I understand the blended plan as a TEMPORARY political compromise and that's as it should be (strictly TEMPORARY).

Unfortunately although the blended plan may seem cheaper in the short term it will be significantly more expensive in the long run as Caltrain and HSR will need to re do it's electrification and grade separation projects two or three times over to meet the equivalent potential of the full build out. The blended plan may be flawed but so are all political compromises to some extent. Jerry Hill and Joe Simitian are responsible for creating the blended plan so anyone with serious complaints about it should direct their bitching towards those two, not towards Caltrain or HSR.


6 people like this
Posted by southbayresident
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2015 at 7:18 pm

KI,

Did you not notice the obvious flaw in your example of the hypothetical Frontier Airlines business plan?

How often have you seen a 737 touchdown, taxi to the terminal in a matter of minutes, load and unload all 100+ passengers in 60 seconds or less, push back from the gate and be back in the sky a couple minutes later?

The last flight you took from SF to LA likely did not attempt a stopover like that in San Jose or Fresno for very good reason. HSR can handle intermediate stops like that without breaking a sweat and with significantly less consumption of energy. That's why CA is building HSR. It's a better tool for the task.


6 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 13, 2015 at 8:28 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

southbay:

it's a better tool and that's why they're building it? Seriously? They're building it to pay off organized labor pure and simple. It will never perform as advertised for anywhere near the cost advertised.


5 people like this
Posted by southbayresident
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2015 at 9:05 pm

Menlo Voter,

Hell yes it's a better tool. Keep up your anti-labor rhetoric and conspiracy theories if it makes you feel better and helps you piece together a simple logic against greater complexity and complete understanding of the issues.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend which is itself another innovation you can thank our unions and organized labor movement for.


2 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 13, 2015 at 9:31 pm

South bay
At one time and still with some issues "unions" have helped all workers greatly. However With HSR the only reason "labor" comes up is to give votes and money to the Jerry Brown and his ilk of politicians. HSR is not the panacea of jobs the promise for Californians. There will be dome jobs to build it, most if the workers coming from out of state and country. As to long term jobs operating HSR only as long as we can be conned into more taxes to pay for it. Yes it is a conspiracy to add more worker fodder to the union roles for union and politician pocketbooks.


Like this comment
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 13, 2015 at 9:34 pm

My apologies for all the above typos! Never use fat fingers on a small cell phone.


17 people like this
Posted by Dale
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 14, 2015 at 4:23 am

About time that it's built. A shame that all the dinosaurs don't want it. Protip to everyone over 30 here: I, as a 25 year old, can't afford a home on the penninsula nor will I ever be able to do so. Which means I'll rent, probably around a Caltrain station. HSR makes *my* life better in that regard as it means I can get down to LA by just walking across a platform. The future of the penninsula isn't suburbs anymore, it's rental units and mixed use areas around train stations. The sooner you realize this, the happier you'll be. Even after HSR is built you'll still have your freeways. And thankfully, once the Grow America Act passes both 101 and 280 can be tolled so that they can start paying for themselves.

It's good we're moving into the future.


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 14, 2015 at 6:45 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Dale:

The only problem with your scenario is you won't get to LA in under 2 1/2 hours as promised, it will be more like 4 hours. You could to commute to Sacramento or closer in that kind of time frame or less. You're also assuming it will actually get built. Considering there is no more funding for anything beyond a track to nowhere currently and the Feds have said they will provide no more funding and private business wants nothing to do with it, just where do you think the money is going to come from to complete this boondoggle?


4 people like this
Posted by Gina
a resident of another community
on Sep 14, 2015 at 7:56 am

Bad ideas in government bureaucracies never die - they metastasize. HSR will cost a fortune to buy and build. Then, after one terrorist attack, no one will ever ride it.


13 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 14, 2015 at 8:13 am

pogo is a registered user.

This weekend, I watched a fascinating documentary on cable called "Battle for Brooklyn." It is the story about government and private industry working together to redevelop a part of Brooklyn. People were promised lots of things - a sports arena, shopping centers, new tax bases, 15,000 jobs for residents, etc. Local organizations, unions and government officials couldn't have been more enthusiastic. Based on these promises, property was condemned and long time residents were displaced.

The final frames of the film showed that just 115 jobs were created - that includes the construction jobs - and only 15 employed locals. After all of the people who had lived there for decades were displaced, only the arena was built and all of the promised development is now 20 acres of parking lots. The two billionaires who were behind the project got even richer, as did many of the politicians and organizations who supported it. Nicely done.

I couldn't help but think of our HSR project. Our politicians will promise ANYTHING. The remarkable thing is that some people are still gullible.

Government isn't broken ... it works as smoothly as a Swiss watch.

Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by Belmont Voter
a resident of another community
on Sep 14, 2015 at 11:00 am

The rail system on the Peninsula must be updated to improve the lives of thousands of commuters and students every day. Until the 101 freeway is abandoned for flying Tesla's, we need a clean, efficient way to move lots of people between SF and SJ and then feed into the HSR to LA. A flight leaves the Bay area every 5 minutes for LA area and flying has become a major expensive and inconvenient hassle that even if the HSR can get there in under 4 hours, its a infinitely better, safer, cheaper, cleaner, relaxing and efficient way to get to LA & SD. This rail line on the Peninsula has been here for over 150 years and for those 1% who can have a chauffeur take them to their office or work from home, I am sorry but the rest of us need better options. Invest in some trees and sound proof windows and deal with the progress that will benefit the remaining 99% of us.


5 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Woodside High School
on Sep 14, 2015 at 3:21 pm

why not simply make San Jose the end station for the Bay Area and use local transit (Caltrain / BART / VTA / or even car) to reach the HSR station in SJ?

that would slice out levels of cost and opposition.


Like this comment
Posted by southbayresident
a resident of another community
on Sep 14, 2015 at 5:22 pm

Observer,

That's not being considered because it would also slice out ridership and significantly reduce the usefulness of the system overall. The opposition does not get the say 100% of the time.

Some decisions are too important than to leave up to a relatively small group of disgruntled residents and neighbors regardless of how vocal (and wealthy) they may be.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 14, 2015 at 5:31 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

southbayresident:

in case you weren't aware, most folks that voted for it are now against it.


2 people like this
Posted by southbayresident
a resident of another community
on Sep 14, 2015 at 6:04 pm

Menlo Voter,

What credible poll are you using as evidence of that? The operative word here is 'credible'.

In case you weren't aware Republican governor candidate Neil Kashkari who made killing HSR his signature policy proposal failed pretty spectacularly in the last election.

I guess most Californians must of had other priorities on their minds than to take their talking points from Breitbart news and all the various Koch brothers funded opposition groups.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 14, 2015 at 6:36 pm

southbay:

how's this: Web Link

there are more.


Like this comment
Posted by southbayresident
a resident of another community
on Sep 14, 2015 at 9:41 pm

Menlo Voter,

That's not good enough. I specifically asked for a 'credible' survey! That USC Dornsife LA Times survey from over 3 years ago was noted for being biased in it's line of questioning on several items.

As an example what would you say about a question that asks whether you would prefer HSR or upgrades to local mass transit? As with Caltrain they are both one and the same and it's a similar situation with Metrolink.

Those are not in opposition to each other and there is an inherent bias when a survey claims they are. Also, how many of the 1,002 survey participants can we assume have actually been paying attention to the project?

What conclusion would you draw from a survey that determined support for SF to LA HSR had disappeared HOWEVER what was more popular than ever were local mass transit upgrades such as electrifying Caltrain, quad tracking from SF to San Jose to allow up to 10 trains an hour (express and locals) and grade separating the whole route for 125+ mph operation allowing a 30 minute SF to San Jose service?

I know the survey didn't get into those specifics but couldn't you draw the same conclusion if preference is for improved mass transit over HSR? It sounds a lot like HSR to me but we don't need to call it HSR if not politically advantageous or there happen to be Republicans in the room.

If the thought of HSR gets you so mad you can't think straight try a little wordplay: call it Rail Modernization instead (as it's more or less officially described in the Prop 1A wording). Rail Modernization is basically what it is and it's about 75 years overdue.


5 people like this
Posted by Follow the money
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 14, 2015 at 10:31 pm

A few years ago, when the waves of opposition to HSR starting rolling across the state, trolls were planted on this and other boards to voice support for HSR, insisting that they spoke for the majority of Californians, that all money spent on HSR was a great investment, and that anyone who disagreed was a Luddite.

So I hope and trust that some of you are getting paid for your pro-HSR posts here. It's the only benefit you are likely to receive, and it's more than the rest of us will get.

Everyone else: get a clue. CHSRA really doesn't care about getting your 99%er ass from point A to point B at an incredibly fast speed at very little cost. If you have managed to swallow that koolaid, what the heck, maybe they'll throw in a bridge for you too. It's all about making some rich people a lot richer. The CHSRA insiders are going to be traveling at high speed all right -- when they go to the bank to deposit your tax dollars in their account.

Our future transit needs are going to be addressed by emerging technologies, including driverless vehicles. Trains were great in the 1800s, but California, as the home of innovation and outside-the-box thinking, can and should do better.


1 person likes this
Posted by john burrows
a resident of another community
on Sep 14, 2015 at 10:32 pm

The web link cited by Menlo Voter is from a USC Dornsife/Times Poll that showed 59 per cent of those polled would vote against high speed rail if given another chance while only 33 per cent would be in favor---Only trouble is that the poll is not current. Look at the date on the web link, (June 4, 2012), over three years ago.

The latest poll that I know of is a PPIC (Public Policy Institute of California) poll that came out in March 2015, and it showed the following---

Among all adults
47 per cent for high speed rail-----48 per cent against
Among likely voters
48 per cent for high speed rail-----48 per cent against

I don't put that much faith in opinion polls except when I like the results, but my take on the polls that I have seen on whether or not we should have high speed rail is that we are pretty much evenly divided.

















Like this comment
Posted by Time to under ground
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 14, 2015 at 11:49 pm

HSR belongs under ground. Figuratively, it has no viable business or financial plan so should be buried.
Literally, if it moves forward, the proper design is to put it underground in the mid peninsula. In Europe neighborhoods are not torn up by HSR. Why here? There would be far more support, it might actually hit the ballot measure's speed requirements.

Try to imagine 4 track above ground in PA, MP, Atherton. Adios homes, adios any small town feeling, adios center of town. Caltrain also should be put below ground. Huge value to relieving traffic backups caused by train crossings. Monetary value from using ground level for other purposes. How about some creativity and leadership?


Like this comment
Posted by southbayresident
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2015 at 1:28 am

@Time to under ground,

Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton can underground the tracks provided they have the funds to finance the additional expense. They can follow Berkeley's lead and do what that city did with BART in the 1960's.

It's about time the mid peninsula wakes up and realizes it can no longer carry on it's country club mindset in perpetuity. Do the people that happened to buy property bordering a 150 year old ROW really have the right to hijack the entire process?

Everyone values and wants creative solutions to a problem but when one side refuses to negotiate and demands "tunnel or nothing" they are the ones who have truly abandoned the creative process. Someone puts together an amateurish looking 3D rendering and it's talk of Berlin Walls non-stop.

Did anyone for a minute try to visualize other at-grade, partially above grade or fully above grade solutions not rendered to look like Berlin Walls? I don't get the sense that was fully explored. Any well developed at or above grade solution would undermine the city's case for a tunnel so we know how that game gets played.

The creative process requires problem solving and working within many types of boundaries. It's not all about unyielding freedom and a "cost is no issue" mindset. That is unless you can find a creative way to fund extravagant proposals like large deep bore 4 track tunnels through the middle of low density suburban neighborhoods and underneath existing streams as well.


Like this comment
Posted by Time to under ground
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 15, 2015 at 5:43 am

Why do those who resist under grounding always resort to name calling?
Without going underground, HSR cannot attain the speeds it is required to provide. That's right REQUIRED.
There is simply no value to above ground tracks without stations. The midpeninsula gets no stations for HSR.

Think of the kind of mixed community "no tracks" would allow, in the center of Menlo park, including ease and safety of walking and riding bikes.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 15, 2015 at 6:51 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

john:

thank you for the more current information. Based on that, if they were to put HSR to a vote again today, it would be likely to lose. The voters have to to see they were lied to about virtually every aspect of HSR. If it is such a great thing and such a great deal for California what was the necessity to lie about what it would do and how much it would cost?


9 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 15, 2015 at 6:58 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

southbay:

HSR or "rail modernization" or any other name you wish to put on it doesn't change the fact it will not do what it is supposed to do. It won't get you from SF to LA in 2 hours 20 minutes. It won't only cost $50 to ride. It won't only cost $35 billion. Private industry will not invest in it because it will never be a viable money maker. It will require subsidies in perpetuity which is decidedly NOT what it was supposed to.

As to being mad. I get mad anytime I'm lied to and I get mad when my tax dollars get dumped down a rat hole so some politician can stroke his ego and some labor organizations can take my taxes for pointless projects. I'm surprised you don't.


4 people like this
Posted by Fritz
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 15, 2015 at 10:46 am

I can see the mess now if HSR is implemented, and goes underground. A large earthquake strikes, collapsing the tunnels, damaging infrastructure, brings the area to a halt. We can't afford this boondoggle, it isn't safe, and why can't we add solar buses or something like Stanford has with Marguerite?


2 people like this
Posted by southbayresident
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2015 at 12:55 pm

@Follow the money,

I think your claim about industry backed pro-HSR trolls is laughable. Have you never heard of transit advocates and people who are genuinely concerned about the sad state or urban planning in this country where walking and bicycling is generally considered a crime? The magnitude of California's HSR project and it's potential for the transformation of the entire urban planning and infrastructure of this country cannot be understated. This is an issue far beyond the provincial concerns of the mid peninsula. That's why the right wing media hacks are so vehemently opposed to it.

If you really want to "follow the money" look at the Koch Brothers and what they did to sabotage Nashville's BRT project. You may ask why did they care? (and that's a very valid question) but the reasons for their intervention and the way they implemented it are very disturbing. I am not saying that's necessary the case with the opponents of HSR on the peninsula but it's not too far a stretch to speculate that it could be.

Here's more on the Koch Brother's subversive intervention in Nashville.

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 23, 2015 at 8:15 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

So there are private businesses that will invest in HSR between LA and Las Vegas: Web Link

Yet no private business is interested in investing in HSR between SF and LA. What does that tell you HSR supporters?


Like this comment
Posted by time to under ground
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 24, 2015 at 9:21 am

Menlo Park, Atherton, Palo Alto SHOULD get together and figure out a way to finance undergrounding Caltrain. They could "save" the costs of all the new grade separations and apply that to undergrounding. There should be grants available. Interest on bond measures is near all-time low. There should be revenue from new uses above ground. We need local leadership, not politicians putting their heads in the sand and waiting for someone else to make decisions. Undergrounding is the only viable long term solution worth pursuing. There won't be enough long-term capacity in the designs discussed so far.

HSR has to solve its own problems. The ballot measure promises about cost, speed, price of tickets make its approval invalid. LA to San Jose should be a target, and LA to San Diego another. Forget central valley. It's a boondoggle for those who want to build out small towns there.


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

Babka bakery to open Thursday in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 6 comments | 5,159 views

Couples: Child Loss, "No U-Turn at Mercy Street"
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 1,690 views

Which Cocktail Has the Least Calories?
By Laura Stec | 12 comments | 1,502 views

UCSB's CCS program
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 3 comments | 694 views