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High-speed rail issue draws a crowd

Original post made on May 29, 2009

How do you pack the room at the annual Atherton Civic Interest League meeting? Put a discussion of the California High Speed Rail project on the agenda.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 29, 2009, 11:55 AM

Comments (42)

Posted by Jay Tulock
a resident of another community
on May 29, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Should lawsuit fail and the route remain, you must repeal 1A. You can talk tunnel all you want, it will be astronomically expensive and disruptive outside the limits of the right-of-way so you gain nothing on that front. Placing a ballot measure to repeal 1A would easily pass in the state economic environment if the truth got out, that being that this is $9 billion down on a project that will cost five to ten times that much. The feds will not pay, the state can not pay and private investment will not materialize without the other. Kill it now and lose a few $100 million, kill it later and lose billions. Either way, this proposal will result in money spent and many jobs, but not in a train.

Jay Tulock, Vacaville

Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on May 29, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Jay, you could be right and you should be right. But, that doesn’t mean what you suggest or predict will happen. Who is going to repeal 1A? What’s the likelihood of a repeal referendum?

I need to know what if? What if the lawsuit makes no difference? What if they do get ARRA money? What if they get enough design work done and the EIS/EIR is accepted? What if they do come down the Caltrain corridor, what then?

You see, it’s not that I disagree with your premises; they are, in my mind, exactly right. But, as you well know, this is not a rational process, it’s a political one and our friends, Kopp/Diridon will do whatever they can get away with. So far, I have not seen much evidence that there is enough will power to stop this foolishness or re-direct it so that it can be “done right,” whatever that means.

I am being continuously badgered for my ‘negativity’ and ‘diatribes.’ Let’s just say that I need reality and realistic alternatives, not more fist shaking at the bad guys by people who have just come to this party and voted for the bond issue last fall. You don’t like tunneling. Well, when your back is to the wall, and there are no other options, then what? Tunneling will look much more attractive. You didn’t year Duncan Jones last night make a compelling case that tunneling is in reality a less expensive alignment than the anticipated alternatives, like the elevated wall.

I agree that until they are closed, all options are open. But, I don't want to be blind-sighted. What I'm talking about is risk-management, a standard practice in the corporate world. We must all stop sniping at each other; stop the quibbling and quarreling and get focused. Or, will we stand around disagreeing as the bulldozers come rumbling down our streets?

Churchill famously said, Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.

Posted by Josh
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on May 29, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Web Link

Everyting you could ever want to know about tunneling. The thesis isn't solely about cost, but that tunneling can be just as disruptive as building an elevated structure. Just how do you think all of that dirt is going to get out of there? Plus the Union Pacific might have somthing to say about it seeing as they would be unable to run their ancient diesels through a deep tunnel.

Take a breath and let the people work. When they actually present a plan then get hysterical. If you blow your wad now who will listen to you next year?

Posted by wary
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 29, 2009 at 6:34 pm

I would hardly expect an objective view on tunnels from someone who's a huge supporter of HSR! (Though note that tunnels are being considered for other sections of the HSR route, just not ours.)

Sounds as though you didn't attend the presentation, Josh. A tunnel expert was there, and he didn't try to sugarcoat the process -- it's messy and expensive. But even the most militant HSR fan should be able to acknowledge that tunnels have a long history of successfully facilitating movement of people and things all over the world.

The lawyer who spoke made it clear why we need to stay on top of this and not adopt a wait-and-see attitude. The courts are generally unwilling to undo or overrule studies that have been completed, even if they have major flaws. The least expensive, most constructive course of action is to stop the plans before they approach the shovel ready phase.

Posted by Michael Griffin
a resident of another community
on May 29, 2009 at 8:17 pm

As I said last night, all the venting in front of the PR boys doesn't change the fact that changing the course of HSR is a political problem solved by voters combining to exercise their political power. Ms.Kevyn Allard reports that – there are quite a few ways we are organizing ourselves:
· Community website:

· Regular meetings at the Palo Alto City Hall. These meetings are organized by PA City Councilmember, Yoriko Kishimoto under the name of “Peninsula Cities Consortium” or “PCC” – and the focus is on understanding Bay Area challenges / opportunities with regard to the high speed rail project. There are usually representatives from Caltrain and the CHSRA; residents and elected representatives from Burlingame, San Mateo, Atherton, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto. The PCC meets every other Friday morning at 8 AM – and the person who can put you on the mailing list is: Katie Whitley, Administrative Assistant, Office of the City Manager, City of Palo Alto 650-329-2485

· There is a grassroots coalition that’s forming called, CARRD – or Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design – and they should have a website up and running very soon.

It's time to quit shouting in frustration and get down to the business of forming a political action group to put pressure on Simitian, Ruskin and other Peninsula legislators.

Posted by Unbelieveable
a resident of another community
on May 29, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Michael Griffin and others,

If you and your so called organization want an option for the peninsula that goes above and beyond, just to cater to some residents, YOU PAY EXTRA FOR IT. In truth, we can all see through your scheme, calling it "do it right", when all you really want to do is kill the project. Just like you did with BART years ago. Also, maybe its time your communities quit spending our tax dollars on a bogus lawsuit against something that was voter approved, and by a great majority of penincula residents I might add.

Posted by Robert McGinn
a resident of another community
on May 30, 2009 at 9:35 am

To "unbelievable":

That "something" that was "voter approved" last November was, as you know, Prop. 1A. What you fail to realize or acknowledge is the outright deception involved in its (slim) passage. While the above-ground route up the spine of the Peninsula had already been decided on by Kopp, Diridon, and other insiders earlier in 2008, that route decision was deliberately keep below the public radar in the fall campaign and was not even referred to in the text of Prop. 1A. Voters -- including the Palo Alto City Council, as they eventually admitted when they voted to file an amicus brief in support of Atherton's and Menlo Park's suit against CHSRA -- had no clue that they were being asked to vote on a system whose (above-ground) route up the Peninsula had already been chosen. In other words, the voters were DUPED into voting for Prop. 1A ON FALSE PRETENSES. The Prop. 1A campaign was anything but a transparent process intended to insure that voters could give their INFORMED CONSENT to the proposition at hand. That is why that vote to approve -- one that still managed only 52.5% for to 47.5% against -- is ETHICALLY ILLEGITIMATE. If a vote were retaken today now that the sordid realities of the situation have been revealed, Prop. 1A would go down in flames as a huge waste of tax payer money, grounded in otherworldly ridership and cost projections, and incredibly harmful to the affected communities.

Posted by Get your facts straight
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 30, 2009 at 9:59 am

"What you fail to realize or acknowledge is the outright deception involved in its (slim) passage."

It may have been close state wide, but the collective pasing votes was almost 65% in favor up and down the penincula. So get off of the "ETHICALLY ILLEGITIMAT", because people living all around you voted a very strong yes.

No one was duped. The CAHRA clearly stated the route was to go over Pacheco and up the penincula to San Francisco before the Nov. 2008 vote. There was no big campaing for prop 1A. It is your job as a voter to READ and become informed about what you are voting on.

Don't cry foul when the outcome wasn't what you wanted. You are probably one of those people who thinks everything is a conspiricy if it doesn't happen in your favor.

Posted by Nick
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on May 30, 2009 at 10:13 am

Just a few thoughts about the train.
1. It will cost a fortune to buy up land in both Atherton and Menlo Park that the state does not have.
2. A tunnel already exist in other communities. Why can't we consider that.
3. You can also change the route of the train to start outside of the peninsula, such as Morgan Hill or Gilroy and thus avoid buying up land or tunneling.
4. From the outside it could sound Nimby that the Town of Atherton and City of Menlo Park do not support the train. However, it is not nimby at all. It is realizing that the proposed train route would travel though some of the most expensive real estate in the state / county.

Posted by Robert McGinn
a resident of another community
on May 30, 2009 at 10:29 am

To "Get your facts straight":

1. Here is what you said: "the collective pasing [sic] votes was almost 65% in favor up and down the penincula [sic]."

The facts are these: the percentage of YES votes in San Mateo County was 60.8%, in Santa Clara county: 60.3%. (It was much higher -- 78.3% -- for obvious reasons.) So much for your "up and down the peninsula" claim.

2. Show me where it was stated in the text of Prop. 1A mailed to all registered voters that the route would run up the spine of the Peninsula. I'll do you a favor and save you a futile search: it wasn't stated ANYWHERE in the voter material. That was deliberate deception. Or do you think that they inadvertently forgot to include it or thought it wasn't important enough to include?

3. Did the Palo Alto City Council and its staff know that Kopp, Diridon et al. had chosen the aboveground spine-of-the-Peninsula route and nevertheless still gave it their unanimous and enthusiastic endorsement before the election? Answer: NO, THEY WERE UNDER NO SUCH IMPRESSION. Its members later admitted that when they voted to file an amicus brief in support of Menlo Park and Atherton's suit against CHSRA's defective EIS.

In short, GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT, get your facts straight.

Posted by Robert McGinn
a resident of another community
on May 30, 2009 at 10:31 am

P.S. I omitted to indicate that the 78.3% YES vote was for San Francisco City and County.

Posted by Katy
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on May 30, 2009 at 11:31 am

Robert McGinn you are my hero!

Posted by Nick
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on May 30, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Good Evening,
There are a few things to keep in mind regarding the High Speed Rail project.
1. Since the passage of this measure the state budget has gotten much worse.
2. It is true that we need to generate local jobs for the benefit of our community.
3. However, given the financial situation we are in we should really examine the following factors for the high speed train.
A. How much will it really cost? (3 to 4 times, or more?)
B. How is eminent domain going to work here and the how has it worked in the past regarding rail projects?
c. Despite the measure passing, shouldn't the change in the state's financial circumstances have any bearing on this issue?
d. Is the train project willing to be a public / private partnership in event (which will take place) that more money is needed?

Posted by Get your facts straight
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 30, 2009 at 4:37 pm

Robert McGinn, [portion removed; see terms of use] I said the collective (average) votes and also approximate. The point was a high percentage of yes votes locally, not barely over 50% as you state trying to bend the facts in you favor. Laughable) So you rebuttal number 1 is gone.

As for number 2, you just refuted your own rebuttal by admitting Palo Alto city council supported the HSR line which it knew was going to come up the penincula, as you stated in you answer number 3. They voted in favor of the system even after the selection of Pacheco pass by the CAHSRA, before the November election.

[Portion removed] The majority of voters, like myself, voted in favor of this project. All my family and friends knew exactly where the train was going to run, because we did our homework, as a voting citizen should. The city councils are way out of hand using our/my tax dollars for a lawsuit which IS NOT VOTER APPROVED by the majority of citizens.

These lawsuits by the cities need to stop. Use our money in a better way. You didn't ask the voting citizens of each city if that is what they want. Talk about wasting money.

Posted by john-pierre
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on May 31, 2009 at 8:40 am

It is not about the South Bay, it is about the entire state. You opposed BART and now you want us to pay for all the transportation that you now have. If you do not want to live near a train track, MOVE. You [portion removed; see terms of use] are determined to hold the rest of the state hostage to get what you want. The highest number in any of your assemblies has been less than 1000. The MARCH for WATER drew ten times as much and no body herd from us. Stop your idiocy.

Posted by Clem
a resident of another community
on May 31, 2009 at 3:59 pm

The article says:

> The rail corridor in Atherton is lined by expensive homes, and widening it to accommodate high-speed rail would require purchasing swaths of private property.

The author of the article assumes that the corridor would require widening. At this point, it is only an assumption. The fact is that the railroad right of way is 80 to 85 feet wide throughout all of Atherton, and four tracks can be built inside of 75 feet. Please familiarize yourself with maps: Web Link

> It will cost a fortune to buy up land in both Atherton and Menlo Park that the state does not have.

@Nick: a fortune to you and me, maybe, but chump change compared to the cost of a tunnel. See here for some back of the envelope numbers. Web Link

> How is eminent domain going to work here and the how has it worked in the past regarding rail projects?

The last time eminent domain was used to build a rail project in San Mateo county was about 10 years ago for BART to SFO. If I recall correctly, Samtrans effected some $180 million of expropriations without undue difficulties. They've been there, done that!

Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 1, 2009 at 10:09 am

@Mr. Get-Your-Facts-Straight, get you facts straight. (I couldn't resist that!) Who paid for the lawsuit? Not the cities; not Atherton, not Menlo Park and certainly not Palo Alto, which was not a plaintiff. Answer: I did. And so did hundreds of other residents of those two towns.

Mr. GYFS, let me help you benefit from my painful experience. Do not attempt to be smarter than anyone else, chastising them with your superiority, because there are destined to be lots of even smarter people than you (or I) out there just waiting, like tigers, to spring on every error you make, regardless how trivial.

@Clem, (for whom I have enormous respect), the debate about tunneling costs is far from resolved. At last Thursday's meeting in Atherton, the public works director for that city, Duncan Jones, made a compelling case about the alignment costs issue. He called our attention to calculating with full-cost accounting and off-sets. When all the numbers are in, it may well be that tunneling can be quite cost/effective for the rail authority. I appreciate that it's counter-intuitive, but I'm far from ready to relinquish the concept as a possible practical alignment alternative.

Posted by wary
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 1, 2009 at 10:30 am

This thread is supposed to be about the meeting last Thursday that many of us attended. If you attended that meeting, support HSR, and have something to contribute pertaining to the information disseminated on Thursday, I encourage you to go ahead and post. But if you're a kneejerk HSR puppet who didn't go to the meeting and has nothing new to contribute, don't waste all our time reposting the same propaganda we've already read on the dozen other HSR threads.

The encouraging news from the Thursday meeting is that there are many obstacles to HSR on the peninsula, problems that the CHSRA has overlooked or ignored. The ostrich approach may have enabled them to garner the majority of the votes last November but it is not going to permit them to get this train built. Unless they cooperate with the communities -- yep, NIMBYs and all! -- they will fail. There is not enough benefit to running HSR up the peninsula to justify putting tracks through residential backyards, and the costs would be way beyond any dollar amount that the CHSRA could hope to beg from their D.C. buddies.

Posted by Parent
a resident of another community
on Jun 1, 2009 at 10:50 am

If there's one thing we've learned is that the california initiative process rules california politics. Therefore, simple: Get an initiative on the ballot to require voter ratification of the HSR route and design - that the design has to be approved by voters in every impacted town. In other words, for example, city of San Jose could approve their portion, while say Mt. View may not, In which case, the authority either would need to redesign Mt. View to get it right for Mt. View, or move the Mt. View portion out of Mt. View

This will force CHSRA to 'do it right', and would require the authority to put fact on the table, instead of attempting to claim they got something approved (via half baked, incomplete planning documents), which they never even presented to the public. This would REQUIRE them to put a valid design and specific impact down on paper, in order to win impacted communities approval.

If the coming of HSR is going to be so wonderful for these hundreds of California communities, then this should be no problem at all for the the program.

Posted by Resident
a resident of another community
on Jun 1, 2009 at 11:12 am

Clem, I own a 6000 square foot lot, and that DOES NOT mean I can build a 6000 square foot home. No sire, I can NOT build right up to the property lines, and neither can anyone else in this state.

You continually put forward the intellectually dishonest argument that because the ROW may be 75 Feet wide in most places, that it is wide enough to house 75 foot wide 4-tracks. That would put high speed trains directly up against the ROW property lines, which puts high speed trains directly up against the community (backyards, bike paths, travel cars on 101) and does not leave room for poles, walls, screening vegitation, or does it leave room for emergency vehicle access right of ways, it puts the noise, vibration, wind and other issues, that much closer to the community.

Clem, it is absolutely false to continue to argue that 75 feet is enough room. To stuff 4wide tracks in to this space would be a gross failure of public safety and aesthetic, and it would likely fail any public safety evaluation.

You are implying that a person could stick their arm or a small stick through a chain link fence and get it wacked off by a passing high speed train. That close.

Why don't you get real, and consider the amount of space that is PRACTICALLY required to either side of the tracks, in dense residential areas, where high speed trains run today. Are there really any US examples of ZERO safety zones betweeen high speed trains and community? What is the normal amount of clearance, and what's LIKELY to be required by california?

Are we talking OSHA lawsuits now?

Posted by Paul
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 1, 2009 at 1:58 pm

For those (including the City Council) who is proposing the reroute option, you are basically shifting the problem from one area to the other.

Are the "Rich People" along the existing route on Aetherton, Menlo, Palo Alto more important than the neighborhoods that would be affected if the route shifts to the east?

Why are you demanding the under-tunnel option only if it goes thru the "rich neighborhood"?



Posted by wary
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 1, 2009 at 2:24 pm

HSR should not go through ANY neighborhoods, no matter what their economic status. It's a red herring to suggest that this is a class/race issue. (If I wanted to be paranoid, I'd say it sounds like an HSR ploy.)

All the photos and mockups of HSR that CHSRA has shown us and all the pictures of HSR that I have ever seen -- and I have taken the TGV too -- show the train cruising through open countryside. Not through backyards. I don't think anyone would have a problem with running HSR along 5. Many of us would still consider it a colossal waste of money, but the location wouldn't be an issue.

Posted by Shirley
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 1, 2009 at 4:32 pm

They are pushing for either one of the two options:

(1) Underground Tunnel using existing route on El Camino, or
(2) Use the East route to the Dumbarton bridge to the East Bay

Why does nobody seems to notice, that the city council tactic seems to be moving the problem away from the "expensive neighborhood" (their word) and to a "less expensive" neighborhood instead.

If I am paranoid, I'd say the law suit and the city tactics, is basically forcing HSR to take option #2 since it is a lower cost option.

But guess what, that's moving the problem to another neighborhood! Why does the "less expensive" neighborhood not deserve an underground tunnel, if it were to come thru there?

Why does the council put to HSR that they either pay a high tunneling cost, or use alternate route which goes thru our less expensive neighborhood? Whey does the council not request tunneling regardless of the neighborhood? This seems awfully odd. Doesn't it?

THIS IS A MESSAGE TO CITY COUNCIL: WE SEE THRU YOUR "TACTICS". Please do not try this. If we mobilize, you can count how many VOTES between the neighborhood you are going to lose. There are certainly more votes in the "less expensive" neighborhood, and we'll come out in a vengeance, I promise.

Posted by THETRUTH
a resident of another community
on Jun 1, 2009 at 5:13 pm

WHY dont you people ride the Amtrak Acela and see its not some Monster
in your "Backyard" as some on here shout...The NEC runs thru many urban/sprawl type towns at speeds as high as the 135Mph and no one has gone insane or had there life ruined..and there are t as nice of towns as PA/MelnoPark...better even. And its 4 tracks thru many areas

Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 1, 2009 at 5:53 pm

You guys need to actually start reading the information and listening to the points made by some city leaders who have at least tried to take a stand.

Class warfare is cheap and petty when it has no merit. Shame on anyone for bringing race and class into a discussion as big as this.


Posted by Clem
a resident of another community
on Jun 1, 2009 at 7:07 pm

@Resident, I don't believe railroads are bound by any local zoning or tree ordinances. Setbacks requirements on your residential property are probably irrelevant. I'd actually like to get to the bottom of what they legally can and can't do within their property boundaries... because I don't understand it either. I imagine they can get away with a lot.

As to your technical points, 75 feet includes 10 feet of clearance from the ROW edges to the nearest train. I suspect you wouldn't touch a high speed train with a ten-foot pole, but the point here is that you couldn't even if you literally tried.

There are locations in Redwood City (well, actually unincorporated San Mateo county) barely a mile north of the Atherton depot that have homes abutting directly against the fences on both sides of an 80-foot, four-track right of way. If it works there, I see no technical reason why it couldn't work in Atherton. See here: Web Link

I agree that it may be quite ugly and disruptive, but it's safe.

Posted by wary
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 1, 2009 at 8:01 pm

I doubt too many people from the bay area have ridden Acela. It costs about twice as much as the regular Amtrak and only saves about 25% of the time (I'm sure when it was originally promoted to the public the backers insisted it would be twice as fast as the regular train!) And regular Amtrak costs over 3x as much as the bus, same amount of time. Are you going to spend $560 so that your family can travel from New York to DC via Acela? Or $70 to travel via bus? I'll tell which option my family chose, and we're "rich" Menlo Park residents.

Of course, the big cities on the Acela route are Boston, DC, and NYC, all of which have local transit systems ranging from good to excellent. So it makes sense for an individual -- or a family -- to use the train to travel between two cities on that route. Maybe if LA or San Jose had local transit systems as evolved as their east coast counterparts, it would make some sense to connect the cities via HSR. But as it stands, HSR is a flavor-of-the-month solution looking for a problem.

Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 2, 2009 at 10:15 am

We need another state wide inititive to repeal the HSR. The State, in its current economic crisis, simnply can not afford this. California is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. It is fiscally irresponsible to pursue HSR.

Posted by John Wilson
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 2, 2009 at 4:47 pm

It is truly painful to observe so much human effort being expended on flawed concepts. However, that's the way the world works, so perhaps the best approach is just to attempt to interject more facts and opinions and let nature take its course.

Many legitimate questions have been raised and ignored during meetings like the ACIL meeting. A couple that stand out are Malcolm Dudley's question about why the City of Atherton should be expected to take all the damage from the HSR when they get virtually nothing in return, and the gentleman from Palo Alto? who asked why the Shanghai maglev system could not be considered. Neither received any serious answer, and both deserve consideration.

In their response to the lawsuit, the State has admitted that the alignment for HSR might not be in the UP right of way. This statement alone should invalidate their program level EIR, as it clearly illuminates the profound uncertainty of any cost estimation they have made. If they have no firm basis for their cost estimation, the public cannot accept the EIR.

Another thorny issue for CHSRA is the safety issue. Regardless of all the comments about the safety of HSR, you can find plenty of European HSR incidents, with pictures, on the Internet. HSR derailments can be truly frightening. It seems clear that this issue has not been thoroughly studied by the Authority, except as reflected by their offer to restrict the speed through the Peninsula. Will trains pass in the corridor? Will the berm support multiple speeding trains in the same place at the same time, when there's an earthquake? None of the foreign train suppliers appear to conform to US mass-based requirements for safe operation in freight corridors, and UPRR cannot be forced to abandon the corridor. It's unlikely that FRA can alter US standards without an act of Congress. Where's this going?

Then, there's the gentle lady, again from Palo Alto, who pointedly asked the gentleman from HNTB if CalTrain service would be continued during construction. He answered that the mandate from the Authority was that it would. Her response was "that doesn't seem practical". Given the blather about 75-85 foot right of way, it certainly doesn't seem practical. Alma Street is a major urban resource. Shoo-fly, goodby for Alma Street? No thanks.

If all else fails, and all the fantasy about tunneling, forty foot sound walls, lubricating rail flanges to reduce noise, twenty-five to one mitigation of the destruction of heritage trees, and a train every two minutes evaporates, and the Authority is unstoppable, a fall back position is going to be needed.

That position should be to force the Authority to consider the least damaging, highest performance, lowest cost alternative to their iron dinosaurs. That alternative is maglev.

Maglev is successful in China. They are extending the Shanghai system by another 240 miles, and the record of operation in Shanghai has been exemplary. I believe that maglev was unjustifiably excluded from CHSRA consideration. When I spoke to Mr. Diridon about it earlier in the decade, he was evasive and dismissive without justifying the decision. If pressed, he would probably say the cost is too high, or maglev is only offered by one small company. Arguments about the cost are not credible. Maglev, due to its much lower operating and maintenance costs is far less expensive, and the HSR suppliers know it. Transrapid, the manufacturer, is owned by Siemens and Thyssen Krupp, not exactly small companies. After hearing him speak now in two venues, he has publicly stated inaccurate information about the technology, of which he apparently knows little.

In my many years of dealing with advanced transportation systems, I have never seen such an ill-conceived, and chaotic effort. Our region genuinely needs better transportation alternatives. The presently offered HSR solution does not qualify. The Authority should be reconstituted if they are to continue.

Posted by Clem
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2009 at 5:57 pm

Non sequitur.

Why should Atherton take all the damage from maglev?
Why should maglev follow the UP alignment south of San Jose?
Would Caltrain service continue during maglev construction?
Why is China building thousands of miles of HSR, not maglev?
Why have there been more deaths per passenger mile on maglev than HSR?
Why is your opinion of maglev more correct than Diridon's?
Why, with expertise in advanced transportation systems, have you come to the conclusion that HSR is an "iron dinosaur" ?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Posted by John Wilson
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 2, 2009 at 10:51 pm

Good questions. Perhaps you'd like to answer them.

Posted by wary
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 3, 2009 at 9:20 am

All fixed-route public transit belongs in the dinosaur category. I agree with most of John's points, but not maglev. Our future is going to look more like the Jetsons, with modular units that operate on electricity or other alternative forms of energy and move individuals and families directly from point A to point B. The large metal beasts that transport large groups of people on fixed tracks will be the stuff of bedtime stories that we tell our grandchildren.

Posted by Chestery McFly
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 3, 2009 at 10:24 am

The cheapest, simplest, best long-term use of the peninsula right-of-way -- above ground -- remains available to us, if only we have the foresight to act. Purchase that right-of-way from Union Pacific, shut down CalTrain, and build an unimpeded bicycle/pedestrian path and greenbelt with small retail oases stretching unbroken from San Francisco to San Jose. The near-term inconvenience to CalTrain commuters would be offset somewhat by the very large number of bicycle and pedestrian commuters who would use such a path to get to work and, longer-term, as the peninsula population doubles, triples, and more, having access to such a path for recreation alone will outstrip the "importance" of getting from Redwood City or San Francisco to Los Angeles in three hours by rail.

Build HSR, Maglev, or what have your from San Jose to Los Angeles, if you must, but I, who am no rabid bicycle advocate, honestly cannot see a better use for this right-of-way, long-term, than that offered by a simple bicycle/pedestrian path.


Posted by Thetruth
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2009 at 10:37 am

SHUT down Caltrain and make it bike path? ARE YOU NUTS...of course all the people that moved next to that 125year old railroad have always hoped for such self-centerd idioicy..NO Caltrain AND HSR will use that railroad for the 10 of thousands of people that use it every day..If YOU want to bike to SJ or SF go ahead and do it on El Camino..The road that has been here even longer..thats what roads are for..See anyone saying it should be ripped up and made it bike path?

Posted by still laughing
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 3, 2009 at 10:44 am

TheTruth, The truth may set you free, but satire makes us laugh. I think you should open your eyes a little wider to recognize satire when you see it.

Posted by Concerned citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 16, 2009 at 11:14 pm

I may not be exactly in the path of the train but I'm darn close. I'd like to say to the gentleman who told us to move if we didn't like the train, that we can't sell our properties at all right now unless perhaps we want to give them away. Q. Kopp told a realtor in a meeting lately that he didn't know what you should tell people, point them to their website. Oh that's a sure sale but really there are disclosure statements that would give someone more than pause before they bought a million dollar property in the path of a rail expansion. Bottom line we can't move.

I'm so tired of the HSR Authority pointing out that these are just a few rich people. Well there are many hardworking people in these effected communities. Also not publized, there are many seniors are in these high density neighborhoods that have all their money in their properties and have taken their Prop 13 one time tax basis carry over. What happens to them?

Eminent Domain is a scary thing, from what I understand values are determined on some of the last properties sold before the offers are made which means that if it takes three years before offers are made, values will steadily decline with huge losses incurred like some of those businesses near the proposed San Francisco station. If someone who understands Eminent Domain could publize this, I feel there will be some real action from the hundreds (not 50-80) of families and businesses along the proposed line.

I too feel if the vote was today after all that has been exposed that it would fail. I was unaware that the train would come down the Cal Train route before the vote. I saw nothing stating this nor were there meetings right before the vote in our neighborhoods. And even now the authority says either directly or indirectly that this is the chosen path-no changes allowed- method yes, path no.

Another route was chosen by the Rail Authority, the Altamont pass and it was hailed by cities and environmental groups as the best route, then Diridon and Kopp came to the board and the preferred routing was never carried forward to the next step and their preferred path was the new path. Why is my biggest question?

We are in a state of near ruin financially and if the train is not profitable (which is a big joke) the state of Ca. will pick up the tab yearly when our children need a better education. The HSR Authority has not proven that this project will be profitable, not provided up to date ridership numbers and they haven't even filed an adequate business plan. Where are the Peer Review groups and what is there role- and more importantly when are they going to review each significant part of the project by these experts. But the Authority marches on, putting San Jose to San Francisco on a fast track for stimulus funds without the engineering done or the Environmental Impact studies completed. And are those studies a slam dunk? Who is looking at these studies objectively. It's as if they are just check marks to be done and no any concern that the content might show some real difficulties.

We must contact our state legislators, especially Simitian, Lowenthal and Benoit, on the sub-committe for finance and tell them to stop any further funding until they conform to AB3034 and all the facts are in. See for addresses and sample letters.

Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Jul 4, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Please run this train line right through some of the most expensive private property in Atherton. You don't want business or strangers in your private enclave, [portion removed]. You, who have consistently blocked the BART extension may now pay the price for the decades of short sightedness and inconvenience you have caused the rest of the public in the Bay Area.

Posted by Casey Jones
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 7, 2009 at 10:52 am

We don't need BART, we have Caltrain on the Peninsula. Keep your monolithic cement stations, we prefer our historic train stations. Not all progress is good progress.

Posted by frustrated BART rider
a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2009 at 11:54 am

Dear Jim, In case you haven't noticed, we're already "paying the price" -- but not for blocking the BART extension. Have you been paying attention to the fiasco created with the extension to the airport and other northern Peninsula stations? Check out the rapidly rising cost to riders, and rapidly decreasing level of service.

BART makes sense in some situations. The train is a much more reasonable and cost-effective way to move people on the peninsula.

Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 7, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Please try to keep the information accurate. Here is the true history of BART and San Mateo County.

Q. Why didn't we get BART through San Mateo County in the 1960's
when it was cheaper.

The state legislation stated to get the OK for the
formation of the BART district a 60% vote of all counties was
involved. In San Mateo Co, there was significant citizen
opposition to BART, lead by David Bohannon, the developer of
the City of Hillsdale & its Shopping Center.*

Base on this opposition and need to get combined
total of supermajority vote on BART,
it was decided not to have San Mateo County join with
SF, Alameda and Contra Costa on the Vote.

Posted by Casey Jones
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 7, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Why build new infrastructure for BART when there is an existing rail line on the Peninsula that's already been paid for? We had Caltrain, we kept Caltrain.

Just because the county didn't want to dump the train in favor of BART doesn't mean we're all NIMBYs or anti-transit.

And just because the residents of Atherton are ridiculously wealthy doesn't mean that the questions they raise about HSR are necessarily wrong-headed.

Posted by confused
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jul 8, 2009 at 2:33 pm

So how is that we in southern San Mateo County are paying for BART but it gives us virtually no service?
The changes made to the SFO connection now make it more expensive and it already become more time consuming with the routing changes.
Even driving to Milbrae or SSF BART stops to get to SF doesn't make sense in time or money.
Is there any way for us to opt out of continuing to pay?

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