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Gilroy favors Pacheco over Coe for high-speed rail

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  • 8/31 Gilroy Dispatch
    Published Tuesday, August 31, 2004, in the Gilroy Dispatch City supports Pacheco Pass route for Bullet Train By Peter Crowley Gilroy -- As the whistle bows
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2004
      Published Tuesday, August 31, 2004, in the Gilroy Dispatch

      City supports Pacheco Pass route for Bullet Train

      By Peter Crowley

      Gilroy -- As the whistle bows [sic] today to end public comments on
      an environmental impact report for a proposed trans-California high-
      speed train, the Gilroy City Council still has not commented on the
      proposal despite the fact that it could stop in Gilroy.

      City staff, however, submitted a positive reaction recently to the
      California High-Speed Rail Authority.

      The authority opened the public comment period on Feb. 13 and
      extended it on March 23. If it decides to continue with the project,
      the next step would be to respond to those comments and prepare a
      final EIR that may designate a route and list of stations. Gilroy
      and Morgan Hill are possible stops.

      The electric-powered bullet trains would get riders from San
      Francisco to Los Angeles in two and a half hours -- or from Gilroy to
      Los Angeles in an hour and 45 minutes -- reaching speeds of 220 mph
      in rural areas and 125 in cities. Later phases would extend lines to
      Sacramento and San Diego.

      The trains would cost about $30 billion to establish, most of which
      would be publicly funded. A $10 billion bond to begin construction
      was on state ballots for November, but many legislators expect to
      delay this vote to at least 2006.

      Gilroy city staff sent the authority a recommendation favoring a
      train track through Pacheco Pass and counseling against a proposal
      to route the track through Henry Coe State Park instead, according
      to Mayor Al Pinheiro.

      City Community Development Director Wendie Rooney said the staff took
      a positive response in order to have a good working relationship with
      the high-speed rail authority.

      "We'd like to be a partner with them," she said.

      City staff still have concerns, Rooney said, regarding noise from an
      elevated train track through town and the effect of track vibration
      on Gilroy's historic buildings.

      The council asked staff on June 7 to research the plan insofar as it
      could affect Gilroy. At that same meeting, City Councilman Bob Dillon
      made a one-man stand against the train, saying California cannot
      afford it.

      Morgan Hill City Council members voted unanimously Aug. 18 to oppose
      any route through Coe Park, but they did not advocate any other route
      instead. Only Mayor Dennis Kennedy spoke in favor of having a stop in
      Morgan Hill.

      On Aug. 17, Santa Clara County supervisors voted 3-2 to support a
      rail route either through Pacheco Pass or through Coe. They would
      oppose an alternate route that would send a spur line to San Jose,
      rather than a necessary stop there. This alignment was dropped by the
      authority, but some groups, including the Sierra Club, have urged the
      authority to reconsider it. It would cross between the Bay Area and
      Central Valley through Altamont Pass, stop in Fremont and cross the
      bay to San Francisco. From Fremont, spur lines would go to Oakland
      and San Jose.

      Supervisor Don Gage, who represents the county's southern half, voted
      for the resolution but is against running the train through Coe Park,
      preferring the Pacheco route, according to Edwin Chan, a Gage
      spokesman.

      A Pacheco Pass crossing could have a stop in either Gilroy or Morgan
      Hill. A crossing further north, which would save time and stops
      between Los Angeles and San Francisco, would either cross through Coe
      Park through a series of tunnels or bypass it through wildland to the
      north.

      Authority members have said California's population of 36 million
      will rise to 59 million by 2040 and that the current network of
      highways and airways is insufficient to serve this quantity of people.


      Peter Crowley covers crime and other public safety matters for
      The Dispatch. You can reach him at peterc@...


      [BATN: See also:

      Morgan Hill apes SCCo. Altamont HSR route opposition
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/20074 ]
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