HSRA says it cannot yet release Peninsula HSR alignment maps
- Published Friday, February 26, 2010, by the Palo Alto Daily Post
Rail agency stonewalls city
Authority says it can't release key data yet
By Diana Diamond
Daily Post Associate Editor
Concern is mounting about the way High-Speed Rail Authority is stonewalling several requests made by Palo Alto City Council, since answers have not been received more than a month after the city asked for them.
One of those requests is for a map of the bullet train's right-of-way through town because that could indicate which homes and businesses near the tracks the authority could seize through eminent domain to make room for more train tracks.
What's the hold-up?
At a Feb. 9 community meeting on the high-speed system, Mayor Pat Burt asked why, despite repeated requests, the city had not yet received the maps.
Dominic Spaethling, the regional manager for the High-Speed Rail Authority, responded, "If you need to see them tomorrow, let's make the request and see if we can get them." Yet nothing still has been
provided. Spaethling told a Menlo Park gathering last week that the authority's board has to approve releasing the maps and so far it has not done so.
Council member Larry Klein, who is chairing the council subcommittee on high-speed rail, said at a meeting two weeks ago, "I don't know what the big deal is. I think the maps and information should be readily available to us. This delay hurts the credibility of the authority."
Affect on Caltrain
At yesterday's subcommittee meeting, Mayor Burt said he also was worried about what will happen to Caltrain's commuter line, if and when the high-speed system is built on the Peninsula.
Burt said he had a sense of the authority's "lack of coordination" between Caltrain and the planned bullet train "but the board will not admit to this."
The authority has promised Caltrain that construction of the bullet train's tracks would not interfere with operation of Caltrain trains, Burt said.
But if track detours for Caltrain are needed to enable construction of four new tracks, those detours could mean additional right of way also would be needed -- and that could result in the takeover of additional homes to provide room for these alternative tracks.
Spaethling told the public at the Feb. 9 meeting that the entire track system would have to be over-hauled, which means work on all existing Caltrain tracks.
The authority postponed a scheduled meeting set for March 4 to provide to the public the track alternatives (either grade level, above or below grade) for the system to April 1, forcing the city to cancel two meetings it was planning in March for residents to learn more about the system. "We can't do much without the documents (from the authority), Burt said.
The city also is asking for a 90-day period to review the alternative routes instead of the 45 days proposed by the authority.
[BATN: See also:
Palo Alto's attorney says he could sue to get HSR maps, if asked
Peninsula HSR alignment report delayed again until April 1
Editorial: HSRA should not keep eminent domain maps secret
Peninsula NIMBYs push to end HSR in SJ; eminent domain report delay
Peninsula NIMBYs seek HSR eminent domain maps, push SJ terminus
HSRA-hostile Palo Alto officials want more time to review plans
HSRA denies it has eminent domain maps sought by Palo Alto