Rod Diridon, a leading proponent of high-speed rail in California, last week urged Peninsula communities to be patient and said that key decisions for the Peninsula have yet to be made.
Diridon, a member of the Board of Directors of the California High Speed Rail Authority, acknowledged he has blamed a relative handful of residents and city officials in rich communities with seeking to block or alter an entire $40 billion system.
He said facts are needed based on studies to counter the "half-truths and scare tactics that are guiding the project now."
One half-truth, he said, is that the decision has been made to elevate the tracks, creating what critics claim would be a "Berlin Wall" through Mountain View, Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton. The decision has not been made, and thus, "The real issue isn't tunneling," he told the Palo Alto Weekly.
"Absolutely we've never talked behind closed doors, or in any corridor, about alternatives," he said.
The present schedule calls for engineering, environmental, economic and other impact studies to be complete in 2010, after which decisions will be made.
But Diridon said he is pushing to expedite those studies by six to eight months both to provide local residents and communities with solid information sooner and for cost reasons: Each month costs an estimated $160 million due to inflation on the $40 billion project, he said.
"Inflation just kills you," he said. "We've got to move more quickly."
He said he'd like to see engineering firms involved go to "double or triple shifts" to move things along at a higher speed. That could mean adding more people or hiring more firms to accomplish specific tasks.
He said that, counter to the opposition, there is "a general sense of enthusiasm" from hundreds of cities up and down the line, many of which would also have the rail system going through neighborhoods.