Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

More California developments

Here is a peculiar item.

Are those of us out here in middle America to presume that the route for the California high speed route has been settled? All of this is rather tentative at this stage, but that is the implication of the story.

Surely the California High Speed Rail Authority plans to offer service faster than Metroliner speeds.

Anyway, here is the latest report from the Pala Alto online news. Your comments and reaction are always invited.

After selecting the Pacheco Pass, by default, at a mid-December meeting, the authority’s governing board said the train route, if constructed, would use the Peninsula to reach San Francisco.

That means trains zipping at speeds reaching 125 miles per hour along the current Caltrain tracks, an authority staff report states.

The authority envisions four parallel tracks along the current Caltrain route — the center two shared by the high-speed trains and the exterior tracks used solely by Caltrain.

And the San Joaquin paper is not on board. Part of that is understandable from the perspective of local politics, but they do make a few points.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and proponents might think twice about even putting the issue before voters in November.

That’s because the statewide ballot could be overloaded with other multibillion-dollar infrastructure measures. A $14 billion health care reform initiative and a $10 billion water infrastructure bond are still possible.

The final chapter for a bullet train connecting Los Angeles with Northern California might well have been written during a four-hour meeting of the authority’s board of directors in Sacramento.

Ignoring population trends, Interstate 205 gridlock, the capital and commuting patterns, the board accepted a staff proposal to run the rails across Pacheco Pass roughly following Highway 52 into San Jose.

Choosing the southern entry point, while disappointing, is no surprise. That recommendation was clear at previous meetings.

 The San Francisco Bay Guardian put this spin on the story.

The California High Speed Rail Authority was faced with a difficult choice for the system’s Bay Area alignment at its Dec. 19 meeting. Staff recommended laying track through the Pacheco Pass, which would make it easier for the trains to move up the Peninsula, but many environmentalists preferred the Altamont Pass option.

Political leaders in the South Bay and San Francisco strongly favor Pacheco, but the Sierra Club threatened to sue if Altamont (which would require a bay crossing to get to San Francisco) wasn’t chosen, concerned about Pacheco’s potential to induce sprawl and impact the Henry Coe State Park.

“If people want to be destructive instead of constructive, people can try to sink this project,” CHSRA chair Quentin Kopp, who created the project as a legislator from San Francisco in the mid-1990s, warned before the meeting.



Filed under: United States High Speed Rail

One Response

  1. Nathanael Nerode says:

    Good grief, what is wrong with the Sierra Club? First they try to block the Lackawanna Cutoff project, now this.

    Putting *high-speed* rail through the Pacheco Pass won’t induce sprawl, since there won’t be any stops! (That will probably be necessary, to keep it high speed!) The CHSRA recommended that the Altamont Pass route be used for enhanced commuter rail, getting all the stops. Impacting the park is an issue, but it’s clearly better than the trestle across the park/wetlands/bay which would be used by the Altamont Pass route!

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December 2007


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