Almanac

Viewpoint - March 16, 2011

Letter: Council member has conflict on rail project

At the end of the March 1 Menlo Park City Council meeting, Kelly Fergusson announced she was headed to Washington, D.C., to express the city's views on high-speed rail and apparently on Caltrain electrification.

This trip was not previously disclosed and had not been approved by the council.

Kelly Fergusson works for Siemens, which has been trying to become a vendor for the project. There is certainly now a question of whether she should recuse herself from any high-speed rail discussions.

She talks about a two-track option. Two tracks is not an option for high-speed rail. How many times do high-speed-rail officials have to say that the project demands two tracks for itself? Since Union Pacific Railroad and Caltrain currently use two tracks, four tracks in some configuration is going to be needed.

The council discussion indicates the city's lobbyist, Ravi Mehta, didn't even have a good plan for the visit.

Finally, Ms. Fergusson mentions Caltrain electrification. Is there a city policy on Caltrain electrification? Ms. Fergusson seems to think so, since she says she will be working to get the money for electrification.

The city's lobbyist, Ravi Mehta, told National Review Online that, "The cities — not just the councils, but the community itself — supported high-speed rail, and they are still supportive, but only if the project is done right."

If this is the city's position, it certainly should not be.

This project has ballooned from $32 billion to $65 billion in two years. The state is in dire financial shape and still we are supposed to be supportive?

Again form your own opinion.

Morris Brown

Stone Pine Lane, Menlo Park

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