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Letter: Council on right track with high-speed rail lawsuit

Original post made on Sep 2, 2008

Unlike Mickie Winkler, I applaud the "high-speed rail chutzpah" of the Menlo Park and Atherton councils for joining a lawsuit against the High Speed Rail Authority, as noted in last week's letters.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, September 3, 2008, 12:00 AM

Comments (12)

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Posted by Steve Schmidt
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 2, 2008 at 6:12 pm

Nancy, I believe that the HSR right-of-way requirement is 100 FEET not 100 yards. Less would be required if High Speed Rail used the existing Caltrain tracks and ran as an express from San Jose to San Francisco. Steve Schmidt

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Posted by james w
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Sep 2, 2008 at 9:43 pm

I think the lawsuit garbage and a waste of every one's hard and earnest efforts to bring a true breakthrough technology to the bay area. bring the train, bring the fast one! we need it, we deserve the best for our community and this includes high speed rail.

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Posted by other view of best
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 3, 2008 at 8:10 am

So you want a fast train even if it makes no stops anywhere near your town? No matter what it costs to build (lots more than the advertised teaser amount)? No matter what it will cost for a ticket? No matter what it costs to subsidize ongoing operations? No matter what the environmental impacts of the selected technology and route, even though there are several less environmentally sensitive technologies and routes? No matter how many funds this project will divert from other transit projects?
Let's fix (heavy rail)and enhance what we have (baby bullets), and improve connectivity and accessibility within the bay area first. That's what is best for our community.

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Posted by Reality Check
a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2008 at 11:52 am

Reality Check time here.

Steve is right -- 300 yards is ridiculous. Don't people ever travel or think before writing nonsense like that? Trains (Caltrain, BART, high-speed rail, whatever) are all about 10 feet wide (the two rails that they ride on are only 4'8.5" -- or 56.5 inches -- apart). Using 15-foot track centers, for example, leaves 5 feet between passing trains. 20-foot track centers would leave 10 feet between passing trains and would allow for 5 tracks to fit in a 100-foot right of way.

High-speed rail works excellently everywhere it has been deployed ... and has been doing so for around 30 years. There is absolutely no reason why it wouldn't work excellently in California, ultimately linking San Diego, Los Angeles, Central Valley cities, San Jose, San Francisco and Sacramento. This major long, long-lasting invaluable energy efficient high-value infrastructure, so of course it costs plenty to build. You have to ask yourself why the world is on HSR building boom if it wasn't a very good thing. There are huge costs of *not* doing it -- over time. And the payoff is huge, over time. You cannot appropriately gauge/evaluate the merits with the classic short-term narrow view all to often suggested by critics. If the economics work everywhere else, there is no reason they will not work fabulously here too. You can't do or build anything substantial without some near term construction impacts. There also be some long-term persistent impacts ... and, if the project is designed well, those will not be as nearly as bad as many hand-wringing troglodyte NIMBYs make them out to be.

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Posted by Steve Schmidt
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 3, 2008 at 1:22 pm

The 100 Feet of right-of-way is also needed for the poles that support wires powering both Caltrain and HSR. It is too early to say where stops between San Jose and San Francisco would be. If there are several trains per day, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City and Millbrae as major transit hubs would be likely candidates for one or more HSR stop per day. Access to HSR service from Palo Alto or even Redwood City would be considered convenient from Menlo Park.

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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 3, 2008 at 3:06 pm

Ask Steve (let's be honest here, ask Brielle) if he/she knows how grade separations will be implemented in Menlo Park. Ask them both if we know how high up the burm under the tracks has to be to make it up through our towns. Ask Steve and Brielle if they know the impact of trees on both sides of the corridors, how the HSR plans to take the adjacent properties and how many properties. Ask Steve how HSR will be funded statewide and how much it will cost to operate -- and how that operation will be funded (no HSR in the world runs without government subsidies, and government subsidies do not equate to economic bonuses and job creation...), and finally, ask Steve why he is in such a hurry to see this thing through that we admonishes anyone who wishes to get those answers for Menlo Park.

Ask those two and you will get very limited info because there are no answers to those questions.

I am grateful every day I don't see Schmidt or Winkler up there pushing through poor decisions without any data but a strong ideology.

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Posted by Steve Schmidt
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 3, 2008 at 7:51 pm

truth, Major public infrastructure projects like HSR and grade separations are expensive. As a voter, you get to decide how much expense and disruption for benefit you are willing to accept. On September 9, if you are willing to give up your anonymity, you might ask the "experts" if HSR rail can run at Caltrain speeds within the Caltrain right-of-way north of San Jose. That's what I'd like to see.

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Posted by shiller's list
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 3, 2008 at 9:14 pm

sure, just like "architect" Schmidt indulged Stanford as Mayor and pushed an oversized Sand Hill/Santa Cruz intersection, without consulting the locals, because "somebody else" was paying for it.
Stanford got carte blanche for pittance to develop the SH corridor.
Now, our illustrious former mayor is playing the same game in the rail corridor, in the interest of "Transit Oriented Development".
Of course, he gets his long coveted bike tunnel. Too bad for the locals along the tracks.

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Posted by Stop The Madness
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2008 at 10:14 am

Some of you people are sure ugly. 100 feet vs 100 yards and some of you take these threads and start name calling. At least this guy Steve has the integrity to sign his name. How can a correction of 100 yards to 100 feet be ideology?

Such silly people.

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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 4, 2008 at 11:19 am

Check your history just for a moment. Thre is a disagreement here on approaches to HSR and you are right, we should just leave it as a disagreement.

But taking a post out of context and then feeling sorry for Steve is just ludicrous.

Steve and Brielle have pushed a single ideology for many, many years and they did it by creating mean-spirited campaigns and by stabbing well-intended volunteers in the back to get the result they desired. They do it with a wry smile in public as if they are puppet masters.

The next generation of leadership has changed this approach for the better.

I can see how this forum can be viewed as unfair if you have not had your village burned by these two.

But Steve casually just dismissed any Menlo Park concerns in his own post. I support HSR if they can address our concerns, but I am amazed Steve, a former regional representative on mass transit, just avoids the bigger questions. That is why I react the way I do. Steve does know better but he wants HSR too much too see it logically any longer. Questioning the big government agencies like HSR is what we should do, not simply endorsing a dream. You guys are slamming Menlo Park for being rich, white, anti-transportation, ignorant...etc. etc. all because our council stood up and demanding answers.

And yes, I hide my identity so I can shop and eatand attend meetings without having to worry about people like Steve and Brielle undressing me because we disagree.

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Posted by People like that
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 4, 2008 at 4:47 pm

Steve cares only about one thing: getting his bike tunnel. And he'll be happiest if he gets it at Willow Road.

We have had some pretty dumb people on council. Steve isn't stupid, but he is the most self-centered and selfish council member in Menlo Park's recent history.

Meanwhile, no one seems to care a whit about local transit solutions, which is where we should be applying our scarce resources.

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Posted by Roxie
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Sep 5, 2008 at 12:27 am

Steve Schmidt was the best mayor this city ever had. It makes me sick to see such ugly statements made about him. Calling anyone who basically volunteered hours of his time for eight years to sit in city council meetings every week, meet with citizens and city managment and employees constantly, spend all those hours reading reports, agendas, letters, etc., selfish just does not make sense. Also, Steve fought the Stanford Juggernaught off as long as anyone could have. Shiller's list, we need to talk because I don't think you understand what happened back then, were you even living in Menlo Park when Palo Alto voted to double-lane Sand Hill Road and our City Council (Steve Schmidt et al) filed a lawsuit against Stanford to try to stop it?

Not only are Steve and Brielle two of the smartest people I have ever met, they are also kind and respectful. I don't think they would disrespect anyone just because they have differing opinions on High Speed Rail.

If I seem to be in a hurry to support High Speed Rail, it is because I believe our planet is in danger from global warming and we need to stop using so much fossil fuel as quickly as possible. This means non-auto transit solutions of all types. Local transit is important. But even so, say we get a lot of citizens to give up their cars, people will still need to get to other parts of the state. I just do not believe that all this non-local travel can be met by the airlines. With all of the hundreds of millions that go into building just a few freeway interchanges every year, I am just not that afraid to trust the state to start spending money on something different. Sure, it is going to be expensive, but do you think adding lanes to 101 and building new freeways is cheap? The state does that all the time. Maybe with HSR we can eventually cut back on building so many freeways.


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