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Three public meetings set on high-speed rail

Original post made on Feb 25, 2009

In response to calls from Peninsula residents for more information on the high-speed rail project, the authority that oversees the project will hold three additional informational meetings on Feb. 25, Feb. 26 and March 4.
[Web Link ■ High-speed rail critics win comment-period extension]
[Web Link ■ Palo Alto residents join high-speed rail revolt]

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, February 24, 2009, 11:35 PM

Comments (5)

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Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 25, 2009 at 11:23 am

Having attended five meetings where Parsons Brinckerhoff and HNTB project leaders have presented themselves at introductory scoping sessions with residents and business meetings, several things became apparent to me. They (Mike, Dominic, Tim, John) are very friendly, nice guys who are eager to talk to anyone and everyone. They are very reassuring and take great pains to let us know that they are listening to us.

But, actually, we can learn nothing from them, at least, not yet. They will defer any and every substantive question with the answer that it’s too early to know anything. They say they will “study” everything, all alternatives, all options and all ideas. They say that they cannot respond to anything other than planning for the expansion of the Caltrain rail corridor. For them, other route options are off the table and not covered by their contract with the high-speed rail authority.

A growing number of people in Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto are becoming aware of and concerned about the possible impacts of the “default” rail alignment as described in the program-level EIS/EIR found on the CHSRA website. The rail representatives patiently listen to a great deal of complaining, anger and demands for other routes. But, that exercise is no more than therapy.

As the ad hoc group that is now meeting regularly in Palo Alto seeks to create a multi-city coalition, certain fundamental issues must be made crystal clear. Many of us are not satisfied with the reassurances that are currently being offered by the rail representatives. We fear, correctly I believe, that, after having heard our concerns and having read all our comments, they will design and plan and come up with a rail design and alignment solution that will not satisfy most of us in the cities along the corridor.

That is why the cities are affiliating; so that we can all speak with one voice, despite our possible individual differences, and be assured that they will listen and respond to us. In unity there is strength, and we will need that strength, rest assured.

The current lawsuit, signed by Atherton and Menlo Park, along with several other interested groups, is critical insofar as it serves as a bargaining chip, which the rail authority cannot ignore. I am encouraging Palo Alto to join in that lawsuit (CEQA, filed against the rail authority EIS/EIR) by filing an amicus-curiae brief in support. We must do everything we can to assure that the rail authority does not ride over our cities roughshod and destructive. We must not let them “railroad” us with elevated or even at-grade ROW expansion.

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Posted by Smarmy
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 25, 2009 at 6:04 pm

We must not stand in the way of progress. We must own up to the fact that we bought property near a railroad. We must not let our inconveniences, large or small, affect the general population. We must not be selfish and small minded.

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Posted by more sense
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 25, 2009 at 6:29 pm

So why is hsr "progress"? I want to fix the horrible lack of transit alternatives we have to get around within the bay area. That would be real progress that is needed long before we "need" long-haul hsr. We had rail options now. We don't have good ways to get around within the bay area other than cars except for straight shot trips to SF or SJ. Even getting to/from the airport is unnecessarily cumbersome and unavailable at critical hours. I don't own property near the RR, and I think it's not selfish or small minded to want to fix more immediate problems first.

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Posted by Rafael
a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2009 at 7:22 am

@ more sense -

if you're referring to Dumbarton rail, SMCTA deferred to an MTC request last summer. In affect, $91 million was re-allocated to BART's Warm Springs Extension project. That had previously been on hold so BART could "borrow" $146 million from the already-planned WSX just so trains could run underground between Daly City and San Bruno at the request of San Mateo county. Some $54 million is still outstanding and until it's paid off, there won't be any Dumbarton rail or any return to pre-SFO-extension levels of bus service. That includes the bus from Millbrae to SFO. Putting trains underground is really, really expensive.

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Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 26, 2009 at 3:17 pm


I certainly agree that tunneling is expensive. But, let’s deduct some costs from the total tab for the tubes: shoofly tracks and construction easement; eminent domain adverse takings; all grade crossing construction. Then there are the more difficult-to-quantify costs, such as property value depreciation, business losses, adverse impact on the several cities, such as traffic. The question I would ask is, whatever the tunneling costs are, what will be the costs of not tunneling, and who will have to bear them?

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