Published Friday, May 7, 2004, in the Palo Alto Daily News
Locals' land eyed for train plan
By Jean Whitney
Daily News Staff Writer
Atherton residents were stunned to learn last night that bringing
high-speed rail through town would require taking property from
residents' backyards for more tracks.
Chuck Harvey, chief operating officer for Caltrain revealed high-
speed trains need two more tracks during a presentation at the
Atherton Civic Interest League annual state-of-the-town meeting
in the Holbrooke [sic] Palmer Park Jennings Pavilion. Harvey was
standing-in for state transportation officials who couldn't attend.
"It's scary when they are talking about taking property," said Mayor
Kathy McKeithen outside the meeting. "There's [sic] obviously thing
[sic] we haven't thought about."
The Atherton Caltrain right-of-way -- which the high-speed line
would likely use -- is too narrow for more tracks, according to
Harvey. Caltrain only has two now on the right-of-way.
City Council member Jim Janz, who heads up a town committee on
train transit, main it clear nothing definite has been decided yet.
However, Harvey insisted that high-speed rail was seen as necessary
statewide to cope with a projected population increase statewide by
"I think it's important to understand that it's coming," Harvey
said. "They would have to take property."
The plan would have the trains running by 2014 and cost $25 billion
to build. A trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles would take
two-and-a-half hours. A bond would fund the building of it. Trains
would run up to 300 miles-per-hour by some estimates and about 120
miles-per-hour through more [sic] cities.
While transit committee member Greg Conlon praised high speed trains
he used in Europe -- eating lunch in Paris and dinner London -- he
asked for clarification from Harvey on seizing property for high
speed rail through town.
Outside the meeting, other residents question the likelihood that
high speed would be welcome in town.
"It would change the community," said John Shenk. "I think the idea
is good. But will it work, coming through residential communities?"
Atherton has no commercial property and any expansion would be at
the expense of residents' land.
High speed trains are not to be confused with "Baby Bullet" express
trains that Caltrain is set to launch June 7 which will skip station
stops but travel at current speeds -- simply making trips shorter by
Another resident, Denise Kupperman, said she liked the notion of
high-speed rail combing the state with the population predictions.
"It's difficult to implement in a suburban corridor," Kupperman
said. "But ultimately it will happen."
More immediately, the town is in talks with neighboring cities over
removing the center platform at the Caltrain station and putting
platforms to the outside at a cost of $2 million, for safe operation
of the "Baby Bullet" trains. However, the changes would be ripped up
again for grade separations between tracks and streets, in the event
high-speed rail came up the Peninsula.
"How do we make sure high speed rail doesn't destroy communities
like Atherton? We have a lot of work to do there," Harvey admitted.
[BATN: See also:
Atherton meeting to focus on Caltrain, high-speed rail
Atherton eyes CEQA to block Caltrain service plan
Atherton cites CEQA in bid to fight Caltrain plan
Caltrain "reality" not pretty for Atherton
Atherton residents: axe Caltrain Bullet, hike fares
Atherton to hold meeting on Caltrain service plans
Atherton fights to avoid any Caltrain service cuts
Atherton newsletter on proposed Caltrain schedule
Atherton fights Caltrain cuts to little-used stop
Atherton lobbies to keep its Caltrain service up
Atherton panel says "we deserve" Caltrain service
Petition opposes Atherton Caltrain service cut
Editorial: Caltrain should give Atherton a break
Atherton panel gears up to protest Caltrain plans
Caltrain schedule proposal concerns Atherton
Caltrain may slash Atherton service; input sought
Caltrain may sharply cut Atherton service
Letter: Atherton wrong to oppose high-speed rail
Atherton to create panel to fight high-speed trains
Atherton puts Caltrain grade seps on its wish list
Atherton officials vow to fight high-speed rail
Atherton residents oppose Caltrain corridor plans