Published Friday, April 9, 2010, by the Palo Alto Daily Post
Land needed for temporary tracks as well as rail
By David DeBolt
Daily Post Staff Writer
Temporary tracks at least 24 feet wide will be needed during construction of the $43 billion rail line, which could result in land grabs in downtown San Mateo as well as block Congresswoman Anna Eshoo's street.
That's according to a report from the California High Speed Rail Authority, which says the temporary tracks will be laid next to the current Caltrain right of way during construction to allow freight trains and Caltrain to continue to operate.
The 24 feet will be on top of the right of way needed for all options except deep tunneling, according to the report released yesterday.
In downtown San Mateo, near the Century 12 Cinema, the right of way thins to a lean 51 feet -- the narrowest of Caltrain's right of way between San Francisco and San Jose.
Between Buckhorn Way and Encinal Avenue in Menlo Park, near where Eshoo lives, the corridor narrows to 75 feet. Rail authorities could either seize homes that abut the tracks on Felton Drive.
Or, the temporary tracks, or shooflys, could be placed on Stone Pine Lane, blocking access for many residents, including Eshoo. Rail critic Martin Engel, who lives on Stone Pine Lane, said the tracks would be at his front door. "It doesn't sound legal to me," Engel said yesterday, pointing out that emergency vehicles wouldn't be able to reach his door. [BATN doubts they can (or need to) reach most front doors right now!]
Menlo Park Mayor Rich Cline said many have overlooked the construction phase of the process and the impacts it will have on small businesses near the tracks. Cline said if business owners are asked to move it's likely they'll never come back.
"I actually think the construction could be more devastating than the rail itself," Cline said.
The temporary tracks will be laid on public property when possible, the report indicated. Elizabeth Alexis, a rail watchdog and Green Meadow resident, said that could mean the tracks will be along Alma Street.
In Burlingame, where the right of way narrows to 75 feet, they could be on Carolan Avenue.
[BATN: See also:
Why three Menlo Park NIMBYs may be best hope for HSR foes
Comment: Menlo Park HSR foe Engel on tunneling past his house (part 2)
Comment: Menlo Park HSR foe Engel on why tunneling is way to go (part 1)
Menlo Park HSR foe Engel says construction may close his street (6 Mar 10)
Comment: NIMBY Engel wants HSR "rent" to fund tunneling by his condo