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Union Pacific RR unwilling to share right-of-way with HSR

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  • 6/5 Fresno Bee
    Published Thursday, June 5, 2008, by the Fresno Bee Railroad doesn t want to share with bullet train By E.J. Schultz Bee Capitol Bureau SACRAMENTO -- In a
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 6, 2008
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      Published Thursday, June 5, 2008, by the Fresno Bee

      Railroad doesn't want to share with bullet train

      By E.J. Schultz
      Bee Capitol Bureau

      SACRAMENTO -- In a potential blow to California's bullet train
      dreams, a major railroad is refusing to share its right of way on
      portions of the planned 800-mile line.

      The dispute between the Union Pacific Railroad and California High
      Speed Rail Authority comes five months before voters will consider
      a $9.9 billion bond measure to jump-start the $40 billion project.

      As envisioned, trains reaching top speeds of more than 200 mph would
      knife through the Central Valley, connecting Southern and Northern
      California.

      The train requires new, dedicated tracks. Rail planners have
      identified land near Union Pacific tracks for some routes, including
      stretches through the Fresno area, according to planning documents.

      In a letter <http://tinyurl.com/5pj8gr> sent to the rail authority,
      Union Pacific said it was not in the railroad's "best interest to
      have any proposed alignment located on Union Pacific rights of way."

      The railroad wants to preserve the option to build its own tracks
      on the land to meet rising freight demand, Scott Moore, a company
      vice president, said. He also raised safety concerns, saying that a
      collision between a freight train and fast-moving passenger train
      would be disastrous.

      "High-speed [rail] needs to be in a sealed and separate corridor
      from a freight corridor," he said.

      Mehdi Morshed, the rail authority's executive director, dismissed
      the railroad's position as "much ado about nothing." He said safety
      barriers would separate passenger trains from freight trains.

      "Look to Europe and Asia for evidence: High-speed train travel
      has been in use for decades and has proven to be the safest, most
      reliable form of transportation in the world," he said in a statement.

      The authority never specifically targeted Union Pacific-controlled
      land, Morshed said. Instead, land could be acquired near, but not
      on, the railroad's property, he said.

      "We anticipate that we will pay the full price whether we buy it
      from railroads or we buy it from someone else," he said.

      But state Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, said that adjacent land
      might prove more expensive.

      "The authority and railroad are simply going to have to sit down
      and resolve their differences," said the senator, who recently held
      hearings on high-speed rail.

      The rail authority, established in 1996, has already spent $58
      million on the project, according to a report issued Thursday by
      the state Senate's Transportation and Housing Committee, led by
      Lowenthal.

      The bond on November's ballot would cover less than a third of
      the total cost. Planners hope the federal government and private
      companies will pick up the rest of the tab.

      Lowenthal said voters deserve assurances that the additional money
      can be raised so that taxpayers are not "stuck with a massive bill
      in future years."

      Lowenthal also called for greater state oversight of the project.
      The rail authority is governed by a nine-member, part-time board but
      does not report to the California Transportation Commission, which
      oversees other state transportation projects.


      The reporter can be reached at eschultz@... or 916.326.5541.


      [BATN: See also:

      HSR backers alarmed by UP ROW snafu; officials unflapped
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/38672

      Comment: What's behind UPRR opposition to accommodating HSR?
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/38661

      HSR backers say HSRA and its plan ignored UPRR opposition
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/38660

      UPRR opposes HSR on its land or near its trains; HSRA undaunted
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/38659

      CHSRA officials brush off UPRR refusal to sell ROW for HSR
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/38647

      8-group coalition blasts HSRA on Pacheco vs. Altamont route pick
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/37623 ]
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