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Atherton worried by Caltrain, high-speed rail plans

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  • 5/12 Menlo Park Almanac
    Published Wednesday, May 12, 2004, in the Menlo Park Almanac Atherton talks trains Big worries about big projects in railroad s future. By Andrea Gemmet
    Message 1 of 1 , May 11, 2004
      Published Wednesday, May 12, 2004, in the Menlo Park Almanac

      Atherton talks trains
      Big worries about big projects in railroad's future.

      By Andrea Gemmet
      Almanac Staff Writer

      Atherton officials have trains on the brain. Worries about how
      electrification, high-speed rail, and grade-separation projects
      could affect the character of the town consumed the bulk of the
      May 6 town meeting hosted by the Atherton Civic Interest League.

      On the horizon, but undeniably heading this way, are major changes
      that could spell a big increase in the number of trains hurtling
      through town and necessitate major construction projects -- and the
      possibility of private property being taken to accommodate an
      additional set of train tracks for high-speed rail service from Los
      Angeles, according to Chuck Harvey, Caltrain's chief operating
      officer, and Atherton Councilman Jim Janz.

      Mr. Harvey delivered a high-speed presentation on the massive, $25
      billion project to create high-speed rail service that could take
      passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2-1/2 hours.

      He noted that although trains would likely slow from a top speed of
      300 mph to about 120 mph through the heavily populated Peninsula,
      grade-separation projects such as the one at 5th Avenue in Redwood
      City, would be necessary to prevent trains from tangling with
      vehicle traffic. Mr. Janz said town officials are currently working
      with Caltrain engineers to research grade-separation projects for
      Atherton's railroad crossings.

      The alternative to grade separations is to block a road, making it
      dead-end at the tracks, something the Atherton council opposed in

      "We want to find out what's feasible," Mr. Janz said, warning:
      "We're far from having any conclusions on what we want our position
      to be."

      Although the funding for both electrification and high-speed rail
      is far from secure, and proposed start dates are years away,
      environmental impact reports for both projects are currently
      circulating, said Mr. Janz.

      The Atherton council opposed the electrification of Caltrain in
      1998, but hasn't taken a more recent position.

      A question from the audience during a panel discussion, which also
      featured former state Public Utilities Commission president Greg
      Conlon and former Atherton Councilman Malcolm Dudley, highlighted
      a potential conflict in the electrification and high-speed rail
      projects. Grade-separation work to accommodate high-speed rail would
      have to be ripped up and redone to accommodate electrification, Mr.
      Janz said.

      Currently, the preferred option is for the rail service to go
      through the entire Peninsula along the Caltrain right-of-way, which
      would have to be expanded to accommodate a second pair of train
      tracks, with land purchased from adjacent property owners.

      "The current right-of-way is not sufficient," said Mr. Harvey.

      However, Mr. Janz cautioned that an alternate route, which would
      bring trains across the Bay along the Dumbarton rail bridge,
      bypassing Atherton, is still a possibility, as is the potential for
      high-speed rail to share existing tracks with local commuter trains.

      He said Atherton should work with neighboring cities to make sure
      high-speed rail service doesn't turn out to be detrimental to the
      communities they pass through. He suggested that running the trains
      underground might be a good solution.

      Atherton is fresh from a partial victory over proposed service cuts
      in Caltrain's new spring schedule, which kicks off in June. Lobbying
      efforts restored regular weekend service to the town's historic
      station and fewer cuts to weekday service.

      "We didn't get all we wanted, but our message was heard. Now it's up
      to people in town to demonstrate it by using the service," Mr. Janz

      [BATN: See also:

      Atherton stunned high speed rail may take property

      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
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/11561 ]
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