(EDITOR’S NOTE: the “comments” section contains some excellent information and local insight. THANKS TO OUR READERS!)
The Almanac Online reports Palo Alto officials have some concerns about the proposed California HSR splitting the community in tow and taking private property to expand the existing right-of-way.
The draft memorandum of understanding between the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board and the California High-Speed Rail Authority lays out the framework for cooperation between the two agencies. But the document also indicates that the two agencies already have a fairly clear idea of what the Caltrain corridor would look like when the high-speed rail is built.
“Ultimate configuration of the Caltrain corridor will be a four-track, grade-separated high speed rail system, with mixed traffic from Caltrain commuter rail and the high speed train service capable of operation on all four tracks to enable Caltrain to achieve service levels of no less than eight trains per hour in each direction,” the agreement between the two agencies reads. “In some places, the corridor may consist of more than four tracks.”
The statement appears to contradict earlier assertions by rail-authority officials that all design options — including running the high-speed rail through an underground tunnel — are still on the table. Palo Alto officials and residents have strongly argued that running the line underground would be in the best interests of the city.
So the question arises, are they living in some sort of alternate universe? The very idea of building this tunnel brings up ugly visions of Boston’s “big dig.” The price tax makes a tax-and-spend liberal like me wince.
Pesky details like the original agreements for the right-of-way may drasticly change the situation. Who knows? Otherwise, there’s always politics. How can the local needs be accommodated in the bigger picture?
This is not an easy situation. In Little Rock, for example, a freeway cut through the central city neighborhoods 25 years ago. What emerged is a vast sector of substandard housing and crime. This is in place of middle income neat neighborhoods. If the railroad must be expanded, as much of the streets and local amenities must remain.