Bay Area High Speed Rail Debate: City Vs. Suburb?

The San Francisco Peninsula stretch of the LA-SF high speed rail line appears to be stirring up as a classic debate between suburban San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties.

The High Speed Rail Authority held a meeting in San Francisco on August 5 to release its alternatives analysis - a necessary environmental planning document that shows the possible configuration of the tracks for the section between San Jose and San Francisco along the existing Caltrain commuter railroad right-of-way. A four-track alignment along most of the 50 miles would be shared by commuter, freight, and high-speed rail.

"The divisions between those calling for full speed ahead on the $43 billion California high-speed rail project and dissenters were on full display. Mayors and city council members from Burlingame, Belmont, Palo Alto, Atherton and Menlo Park joined together in the Peninsula Cities Consortium, and issued a clarion call this month that the San Francisco-San Jose leg of the project should be "built right or not at all," prompting accusations of "obstructionist policies" from Jim Wunderman, CEO of the Bay Area Council (business group)."

"Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of the San Francisco Planning + Urban Research Association (SPUR), went further. He described California high-speed rail having "national, even international significance." Given those stakes - necessary community involvement and input notwithstanding - "It's impossible to address every single individual concern. It's an impossible wish," he said."

However, many Peninsula cities only appear to dig in their heels deeper to prevent an aerial track configuration they fear will do permanent harm to their cities.

Full Story: High-speed rail factions on display at meeting

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