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42142Palo Alto OK's $70k plan to take on role as HSR watchdog

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  • 8/4 Peninsula Daily
    Aug 4, 2009
      Published Tuesday, August 4, 2009, by the Peninsula Daily News

      City to take on role as high-speed rail watchdog
      Palo Alto to hire consultants to review high-speed rail plans

      By Will Oremus
      Daily News Staff Writer

      Not trusting the California High Speed Rail Authority to look out for locals' best interests, Palo Alto will spend $70,000 to arm itself with expertise on high-speed rail design options.

      The city council voted 7-0 on Monday to hire engineering consultants and hold an informational symposium and a separate design workshop on plans for the Peninsula portion of the planned Los Angeles-to-San Francisco rail line.

      Many in Palo Alto and neighboring cities are pushing for the trains to run underground while fearing that the rail authority will instead run them above-ground to save money.

      The symposium will come first. On Sept. 12, the city will sponsor an all-day "teach-in" to educate the public on "urban design and planning concepts" related to railroad design. The $5,000 event may be funded partly by Caltrain, Deputy City Manager Steve Emslie said.

      The city is hoping Caltrain will also chip in for a $15,000, two-day design workshop on Oct. 3-4. The charrette, open to the public, will include brainstorming sessions, briefings from design professionals and presentations of conceptual plans from "a team of national experts," according to a city staff report.

      The larger expense is $50,000 for engineering consulting services, designed to provide the city with "independent peer review" of the feasibility of running trains underground. The state rail authority is expected to do its own preliminary review of that option in documents scheduled to be released this fall.

      Emslie said the consultants could provide expertise that "the city could have some confidence in ... as far as providing good oversight."

      E-mail Will Oremus at woremus@...

      [BATN: See also:

      Palo Alto has $70k plan to analyze HSR, educate residents, NIMBYs
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/42132 ]