Belmont to fight HSR; official says Fox News "would really love it"
- Published Thursday, August 12, 2010, by the Palo Alto Daily Post
Belmont to fight high-speed rail
By Ryan Thomas Riddle
Daily Post Staff Writer
Belmont City Council won't be railroaded by the state High-Speed Rail Authority's plans for an elevated track to soar through the city.
As a first step, Council Member Coralin Feierbach is adapting a stern anti-high-speed rail resolution the city of Orange in Southern California approved last month. If Belmont's council passes such a resolution, it would be the first Peninsula city to go on record as opposing high-speed rail.
"I don't understand why people are being so polite and pussyfooting around," Feierbach told the Post.
Orange's resolution criticized the rail authority for inflated ridership projections and unrealistic funding scenarios.
Feierbach said the city has to put pressure on federal transportation authorities, who are being asked to fund the bulk of the $43 billion project. When the Post spoke to her, she was drafting her own letter to send to President Obama. But she said a written objection should also go out to national news organizations, such as the Wall Street Journal.
"I wonder if Fox (news) will take it. They'll take, anything," she said. "They would really love it."
The authority exterminated plans to put the bullet trains in a tunnel through the mid-Peninsula. As it passes through Belmont, the tracks would be elevated on pylons that could stretch up to 30 feet in the air and be 80 feet wide. It's an option that the city didn't particularly want -- an option that is apparently worse than the berms on which Caltrain now sails through the city.
Mayor Christine Wozniak has also drafted a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration urging them not to fund the mid-Peninsula section of the railroad. "I was very ... I don't know how to say this without using an emotional word," said Wozniak at Monday's council meeting. "I was disappointed. I was very disappointed because we've been working on this process for a year and a half."
Wozniak attended Thursday's high-speed rail board meeting in San Francisco where the authority's plans for the -- mid-Peninsula were announced. "We just got what they showed us in the beginning," said Wozniak.
Feierbach said the council needs to move quickly with its response. She's also trying to get neighborhood associations and other groups together to put pressure on the Obama administration.
City Council discussed at Monday's meeting putting up story poles that will give residents a sense of how far the tracks and trains' electrical poles will stretch into the sky. Feierbach said she'd work with public works to find a cost-effective way to get those poles up.
Belmont isn't the only Peninsula community considering taking Orange's fighting stance. Atherton town council will vote on its adaptation of the Orange resolution on Aug. 24.
Morris Brown, a Menlo Park high-speed rail critic, drafted his own version of the Orange resolution and sent it to his city council. As of Tuesday, he told the Post he hadn't heard back.