Palo Alto Prop 1A backers horrified to learn HSR may run near them!
- Published Monday, February 9, 2009, by the Palo Alto Daily Post
A train every two minutes
High-speed rail plans shock residents
By Ian S. Port
Dozens of residents who crammed into a Palo Alto house yesterday
gasped and shuddered when they heard that trains would blast through
their neighborhood once every two minutes -- at speeds up to 170 mph
-- when the state high-speed rail project is completed.
The crowd packed a house in the Southgate neighborhood south of
Churchill Avenue, which is adjacent to the tracks on which high-speed
rail trans are set to run. Attendees filled the living room and
overflowed into the kitchen, backyard and even out the front door
as they flooded City Council member Jon Barton with fears about
the rail project and the future of Palo Alto.
Munching on grapes and homemade cookies, the group branded the
elevated platform on which the trains would run "the Berlin Wall."
They vowed to take any action to stop it from being built.
Ironically many in the crowd admitted that they had voted last
November for state Proposition 1A, which authorized $9.95 billion
in bonds to start the high-pseed rail project. When they voted,
they had no idea what the project would do to Palo Alto.
After during questions at Barton for over an hour, residents seemed
to take some comfort in a plan he is floating to run all high-speed,
freight and passenger train in tunnels 50 feet underground, while
building homes and a park on the existing grail corridor. "If you
don't want that wall, you might have to accept something you wouldn't
want otherwise," Barton told the group.
Barton came loaded with lots of information and a graphics-rich
PowerPoint presentation on the $40 billion high-speed rail project,
but even he may not have been prepared for the worried bunch.
"This is quite the crowd," Barton muttered as he pushed in to the
living room, which was filled from wall to wall with residents
sitting on couches, chairs stools and even the floor, while many
others stood. "I wasn't expecting this."
One of Barton's key slides showed a cross section of the high-speed
track envisioned by the California High-Speed Rail Authority: In place
of the current Caltrain tracks would be a 15-foot wall on top of which
the trains would run, with 40-foot towers on top to run power to them.
The "Berlin Wall" is purposed to be built along the current Caltrain
alignment -- meaning directly adjacent to the homes of many Southgate
Barton explained that when the high-speed rail project is completed,
neighbors of the tracks can expect 30 trans on it per hour during
peak times -- or one train every two minutes, not including freight
As he said this, the group appeared shocked. "A lot of people are
going to be laying down on the tracks if this thing goes through,"
one man quipped.
Homeowners along Mariposa Avenue are especially worried about the
rail authority using eminent domain to take all or part of their
properties, which back up to the Caltrain tracks.
Barton said the rail authority would need to at least need an 80-foot-
wide right of way to add another rail line on each direction. Mariposa
resident Dave Rimerman said the existing rail lin eby his house is
only 50 feet wide.
Some yesterday talked about trying to kill the whole project, or at
least the leg between San Jose and San Francisco. But in the end most
seemed determined to push for the tunnel solution rather than fight
the entire project.
[BATN: See also:
Letter: NIMBY Palo Alto HSR foes spreading misinformation
Column: Peninsula NIMBYs raise the alarm over HSR
Palo Alto NIMBYs fear HSR eminent domain
Palo Alto NIMBYs raise alarm on HSR eminent domain fears
Comment: Caltrain meets HSR -- what implications for Palo Alto?
Peninsula residents skeptical about HSR
Menlo Park starts HSR negotiation campaign, to continue lawsuit
Questions abound over HSR specifics for Caltrain, Peninsula cities
Comment: HSR will disrupt Menlo Park; vote no on Prop 1A
Prop 1A bond would launch plan for HSR along Caltrain corridor
Cities divided; HSR may help Caltrain electrification
Comment: Undergrounding Caltrain in Palo Alto an old idea
Editorial: Undergrounding Caltrain, HSR tracks worth exploring
Palo Alto leaders propose putting Caltrain, HSR underground