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Study: High-speed rail could slow down emergency responders on Peninsula

Original post made on Jul 10, 2020

Despite a decade of delays, funding uncertainties and political hurdles, California's embattled high-speed rail project continues to slowly advance, with plans to complete the section between San Francisco and Los Angeles by 2033.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 10, 2020, 4:26 PM

Comments (27)

93 people like this
Posted by Kathy
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jul 10, 2020 at 10:28 pm

Time to stop this outrageously expensive, ineffective and disruptive project now.


57 people like this
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 11, 2020 at 1:23 pm

Amazing that people are even still talking about this. The state is basically bankrupt, crushed under pension commitments and entitlements accumulated foolishly over decades, with the costs piled on the heads of future generations. High-speed rail is an illogical money loser that that California can't pay for.


33 people like this
Posted by Eric
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 11, 2020 at 1:33 pm

The CA High Speed Rail Authority has been consistent with respect to grade separations along their route, it's not their problem. They have espoused that position clearly ever since the bond measure passed in 2008. That their trains will interfere with local traffic, including emergency response, is also consistent with their, 'its not our problem' business plan. Apparently their fiscal insolvency is also 'not their problem' either.

I have always believed that the CA High Speed Rail project, while sounding cool, has been a fiscal fraud perpetrated on the tax payers of CA and the nation based on an unrealistic business plan that only survives per the misguided political will of key players in Sacramento.


65 people like this
Posted by Thomas Paine
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 11, 2020 at 1:51 pm

It would be much more economical to simply pay the thousands of high priced consultants $250,000 each to NOT work on HSR. The authority budget shows expenditures of more than a $1 billion per year for consultants. Paying them not to work saves $750,000,000. Sound like a stupid idea? Perhaps but not quite as silly as the entire HSR debacle.


5 people like this
Posted by Davina Floriano
a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2020 at 2:17 pm

Quad gates and not raising the train tracks is exactly what most Peninsula residents want. You’re literally asking for the impossible if you also want cars to be able to travel across the train tracks with no additional delay. A better solution to the car delay “problem” is to close the rail crossings to car traffic entirely and build underpasses that people can use as is being considered at Churchill Avenue.


7 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 11, 2020 at 2:38 pm

Since HSR has already spent tens of billions of dollars to build tracks that nobody may ever use, it seems sensible to spend a few billion to move the Caltrain tracks underground between San Jose and San Francisco, with a bike path on the surface where the tracks now reside. This way, even if HSR never runs, the community gets some real benefit out of the infrastructure.


51 people like this
Posted by DTNResident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 11, 2020 at 3:21 pm

Why are people still talking about this? MONEY. As long as it's on the drawing board, millions of dollars of campaign donations will be forthcoming from contractors who want a piece of the billions of federal dollars. This helps the incumbents remain incumbents and that, my friends, is how the game is played.

Even though the project is currently stalled, there are still millions of dollars being spent on planning and other such nonsense just because they can, and you don't get those contracts unless you pay to play.

Payment can be in the form of direct dollars donated to your campaign, or fundraising events, or even just a couple of dozen people who work after hours on your campaign. Even if it will never be built, it gives Gavin the ability to twist contracting requirements to allow only friendly parties to win the bids. And if Gavin has that power, Gavin gets a share of the money and manpower. And if you are going to run for president in 2024, you're going to need all the help you can get.


20 people like this
Posted by Initiative to kill
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 12, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Is it possible to make another initiative to kill HSR? Clearly a majority see the folly and corruption and don’t wNt this.


13 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 13, 2020 at 2:36 am

The vote for this project should be recalled since many people did not understand what they were voting for at the time. After the election, a meeting was held at Mitchell Park, and it was clear that few people understood what their vote meant.
Residents wondered why our city did not talk publicly about this monster project prior to the election, whereas residents of Menlo Park understood what a HSR project would mean.

Is there any way we could get this vote recalled, and get it on the ballot again? I know it would be expensive, but it would be a lot less expensive then having more money dumped into this project, and alter life in Bay Area cities as we know it.

Recall that unfair HSR vote!


23 people like this
Posted by Eric Fazzino
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 13, 2020 at 8:49 am

Think HSR is dead? Think again. If Biden wins and the D’s control the Senate and the House one of the first big bills will be a massive pork filled infrastructure package with billions allocated for California HSR.


22 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2020 at 10:45 am

You know what’s even faster than a 3 hour train ride? A 45 minute airplane ride. If we support air shuttle service between San Jose Airport and LA, we could take the tax money we save and buy everyone a Ferrari and still have billions left over. Airlines used to run shuttles in the Northeast for years. Set up some expedited security system and have planes leaving every 30 minutes with affordable walk up fares. Have the BART or whatever stop directly in front of the entrance to make it even faster.

There. Just save y’all $100 billion+.


8 people like this
Posted by historyguy
a resident of Portola Valley
on Jul 13, 2020 at 10:50 am

Let's pause and consider the most logical HSR solution for the Peninsula---We have already CalTrain, which, when totally electrified in a few years, will provide trains every six minutes. These trains should be used to funnel HSR travelers down from SF and along our peninsula to the San Jose HSR station; from there they can begin their ultra-speedy trip southward. The monies saved can be used to provide grade crossing upgrades along the entire route to San Jose, and there should be money left over afterwards. It is not practical to have HSR on the narrow land of the peninsula, and running on the same tracks as CalTrain will slow both systems.


Like this comment
Posted by Davis Fields
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 13, 2020 at 10:59 am

Cities that are moving slowly on grade separations (including Palo Alto) need to stop talking and get them done! Whether or not high-speed rail happens, use of the Caltrain tracks is certain to grow once the electrification project is complete - and as long as they're not done, we're looking at ever-increasing crossing delays and accidents. And assuming HSR does happen, the number of HSR trains is going to be very minor when compared to all the daily Caltrain trains.


5 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2020 at 11:16 am

When are people going to learn? They need to stop shoving their heads in the sand and wake up to reality. Significant impact? Let's take a look at the significat inpact at a rail crossing with a track speed of 110mph...
15 seconds for the time the gates are covered to the time the train hits the crossing...
10 seconds for the train to clear.,
15 seconds for the gates to rise..
Total "downtime... 40 seconds..."
Less than a minute.
There are many crossing in the US that handle more trains than the crossings in the SF-SJ corridor. Logistics and time management can eleviate the time loss at grade crossings. It's a reporters job to sensationalise the news. They did a fine job, but they don't tell you that they have enimate domain on the railroads side. The federal law that allows then to do whatever is necessary for the greater good.
The CHSRA will be built and two things are going to happen....
1. In 6 months you will never even remember what you are bitching about, and....
2. 95% of the people who are complaining about it now will be riders.
To quote the late mayor of LA.... People will get used to their new form of transportation...
How can I say this.... Over 40 years working for multiple railroads and now working for one of the largest rail construction projects in the world where the people praise our work and are taken back by the short sightnessesd off the Americans that doesn't realize the gift they're receiving.


3 people like this
Posted by lex22
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jul 13, 2020 at 11:18 am

Looking forward to high speed rail in California. Will be great.


5 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2020 at 11:28 am

@Historyguy RE: "Let's pause and consider the most logical HSR solution for the Peninsula---We have already CalTrain, which, when totally electrified in a few years, will provide trains every six minutes. These trains should be used to funnel HSR travelers down from SF and along our peninsula to the San Jose HSR station" @

HSR is required by law to terminate at Transbay Terminal.
HSR Prop1A funding can be used only to construct a "portion of a high speed rail system", it cannot be used to construct grade separations an a commuter rail system.


21 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 13, 2020 at 11:36 am

" Over 40 years working for multiple railroads and now working for one of the largest rail construction projects in the world where the people praise our work and are taken back by the short sightnessesd off the Americans that doesn't realize the gift they're receiving."

Gift? Since when is shelling out $80B a "gift?"

Maybe a gift in your own pork-filled pocket as a contractor, but certainly not for the residents of California.

This is not a gift.

Sorry - even with TSA, air travel is still faster than a train between San Francisco and the Southland.

And cheaper.


4 people like this
Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 13, 2020 at 11:48 am

HSR corridor SHOULD have started at San Jose, the Peninsula has way too many intersections, residential areas along the CalTrain tracks. Aside from that, HSR is not at all comparable to the The Acela Express, Amtrak's high speed service along the Northeast Corridor, between Washington, D.C. and Boston via 16 intermediate stops, including Providence, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City, all major hubs. Other than SF Bay Area and LA, HSR will serve Fresno, Visalia, Bakersfield, Palmdale...seriously.


1 person likes this
Posted by Brian
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2020 at 12:18 pm

@ "HSR corridor SHOULD have started at San Jose"

One of the signature features of a high speed train is that it takes you right into the center of the city, which by definition is the center of the population density and the center of a web of onward modes of transport . This is HSR's great advantage compared to an airplane that drops you off in a remote field a one hour taxi ride from the center of the city.


34 people like this
Posted by Gary Schultz
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 13, 2020 at 1:36 pm

In this era of "fake news" it seems fitting that we are still repeating the "fake" budget numbers issued by the High Speed Rail Authority. The Authority says the HSR project will now cost $80 billion, up from the original ballot measure promise of $39 billion. But the Central Valley section, the only segment under construction, has seen the budget skyrocket by 100% from $6 billion to $12 billion. If the straight as an arrow, totally flat section has doubled in cost what do think the real costs will be when the HSR project starts tunneling through Pacheco or building on the Peninsula? Folks we're looking at a $160-200 billion disaster that no one can stop.


9 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 13, 2020 at 5:45 pm

Concerned about emergency response times? Then how about opposing the budget cuts to our public safety departments that are being promulgated by the City Council? Nothing slows down emergency response time more than half-empty fire stations and fewer police on the beat (except, perhaps, misguided and expensive traffic calming measures!)


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 13, 2020 at 7:42 pm

I believe that people are going to think differently about using public transport in the future - whether by air travel or rail.

Air travel is how this deadly airborne hemorrhagic virus spread across the globe from Wuhan.


6 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 13, 2020 at 8:36 pm

When Newsom came in as governor, I wrote him an email on this subject. There was a chance to take a bold review and make some major choices. One thought: cut your losses. Never received a reply.
Well, I’m not a billionaire or representing a major union interest.
In fact, I’ve never received a reply to the several emails on various subjects (including timely on Covid-19) that I’ve sent to him.
Some other politicians do reply, or a staffer personally replies, or one gets a “form letter” type reply.


2 people like this
Posted by Randyw
a resident of Ventura
on Jul 15, 2020 at 11:38 am

e gate time issue is the typical logical double standard that always benefits cars over mass transit. The gates are down at a train crossing for 10-25 minutes an hour in the worst case projections. At every Road to Road level crossing traffic is blocked for more than half of the time -- much more if they have a left turn cycle. No one is demanding that every traffic light along El Camino be replaced with overpasses.

Each train however will carry 600 people (caltrain) or 1200 (HSR) through the intersection per cycle with no pollution. Count how many people pass an intersection per cycle in a car: Probably less than 1/10th. If the train passengers were in cars the increased traffic would delay everyone (including firetrucks) much more.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 16, 2020 at 12:00 pm

I don't get what is going here. The paper says that the Caltrain which appears to be managed by San Francisco is not going to get any more money and may shut down.

Everyone has been working on a plan that has no funding?

How is high speed rail going to get off the ground at this point? The one thing they are doing is taking up farm land in the valley by eminent domain when they do not have an actual plan to follow through on.
This whole adventure is sinking fast. Someone needs to figure out what the path forward is.


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2020 at 2:14 pm

Posted by Brian, a resident of another community

>> @ "HSR corridor SHOULD have started at San Jose"

>> One of the signature features of a high speed train is that it takes you right into the center of the city, which by definition is the center of the population density and the center of a web of onward modes of transport .

San Jose fits that definition much better than San Francisco. Now, if instead center of population density and center of transit, you said center of northern California political forces, then, San Francisco is the "center".

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow

>> I don't get what is going here.

"BART". Don't be confused by the noise-- BART, despite *everything*, has a lot of "friends", and, the "friends of BART" would love to use COVID-19 to kill Caltrain.


5 people like this
Posted by Morris
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2020 at 5:45 pm

I thought Newsom was going to pull the plug on HSR. Guess not. Now one wonders if he's in the pockets of contractors/construction companies. He's another cash-and-carry Jerry Brown. Newsom will never get my vote.

Passenger rail is a guaranteed formula for losing money. Why do you think the big railroads got out of the business decades ago? Why do you think Amtrak came into existence, losing U.S. taxpayer money hand over fist?

The State of California has no more business being in passenger rail than it has manufacturing washing machines or semiconductors. Leave that to the private sector. CA HSR will suck money out of the pockets of California taxpayers for the rest of my lifetime. HSR really needs to be re-voted.

Trains always have the right-of-way over autos, be they Caltrains or (empty) HSR trains. The only difference is that there will be more of them if and when HSR is added to the mix. This is the foundation of the so-called "blended approach" adopted several years ago.

Building a 13-mile rail tunnel through the Pacheco Pass, in close proximity to the San Andreas fault, is sheer insanity.


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