News

HSR stop an official possibility

In response to requests from the community and the Mountain View City Council, the California High Speed Rail Authority has included Mountain View among the possible locations for a High Speed Rail stop on the Peninsula.

At a meeting in San Carlos Thursday night, the Rail Authority presented various design alternatives for running high speed trains up the Peninsula Caltrain corridor. For the first time, the Authority included a possible high speed rail stop in downtown Mountain View at the existing Caltrain, bus and light rail station. The same information will be presented at a meeting at the Sunnyvale Recreation Center at 6 p.m. on Oct. 9.

"What we're presenting here tonight is just the first cut at the alternatives in the design options for the Caltrain corridor," said Dominic Spaethling, regional manager for the San Francisco-to-San Jose segment.

After studying the various possibilities, the Rail Authority will decide whether Mountain View, Redwood City or Palo Alto will host a mid-Peninsula stop, and whether the tracks will be in a tunnel, in a ditch, at grade, above grade or some combination.

"People need to be aware that this is happening and get informed about it," said Council member Ronit Bryant, who attended the meeting. "Our comments can make a difference. It is wrong to wait until decisions have been made and say 'I didn't know anything about it, this is terrible.'"

On the corridor's stretches east of Highway 85 in Mountain View, the authority only proposes running the tracks at grade. But west of Highway 85 there are several possibilities for the Castro Street and Rengstorff Avenue rail crossings. The tracks could either continue at grade above a depressed street, under the street in a tunnel or ditch, or above the street on either a raised berm or an aerial platform. There could also be a raised berm and a slightly depressed street, similar to what has been done in San Carlos for Caltrain, Bryant said.

It appears that an aerial platform in much of Mountain View is unlikely because the existing Shoreline Boulevard and San Antonio Road overpasses would be in the way. The City Council has expressed its preference for a trench or tunnel at Castro Street. Meanwhile city staff members have recommended against a tunnel or trench at Rengstorff Avenue because Permanente Creek is just to the west. Instead city staff have been working on a design with tracks at grade and running Rengstorff underneath.

The line could transition from below ground to above grade from section to section, though engineers hope to keep the tracks as level as possible to allow trains to move at a consistent speed.

"We don't want a rollercoaster," said Timothy Cobb, project engineer.

As a next step, rail officials will compare design options using evaluative measures such as construction feasibility and neighborhood impacts which will be published in a draft Alternatives Analysis report in December. The rail authority is scheduled to select the actual track alignment in early 2011, and construction of the $40 billion segment could start in late 2012.

Some cities along the corridor received only one proposed alignment and would not have their track elevation altered. Those sections include: railroads from Bayshore to South San Francisco Caltrain stations; San Bruno; Belmont to San Carlos; and southern Sunnyvale to northern Santa Clara.

The Authority will conduct two more "Alternative Analysis" workshops: on Oct. 9, 6 p.m. at the Sunnyvale Recreation Center, 550 E. Remington Drive, Sunnyvale, and Oct. 13, 6 p.m., at the Milton Marks Conference Center, 455 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco.

The alternatives are posted in the library section at www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov.

Palo Alto Weekly reporter Royston Sim contributed to this report.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by tommygee
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 1, 2009 at 2:10 pm

A High Speed rail stop in Mountain View? I hope that it actually comes true...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Oct 1, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Yeah, traffic through town isnt nearly bad enough.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Oct 1, 2009 at 2:29 pm

AC is a registered user.

Between VTA and Caltrain Baby Bullet service, we're already a transit hub. It only makes sense. And its good for our businesses, and their associated tax revenue too.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by wondering
a resident of another community
on Oct 1, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Eric, I'm not sure I understand your concern. The way I read it, the high-speed line will run either over (Rengstorff) or under (Castro) the road, so I don't see why traffic will be impacted. Seems like less impact than the current trains, which close the intersections when they go through. Am I missing something?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bruno
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 1, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Here's to the residents of Mtn. View being open to the idea of having a HSR station downtown. I'm glad we aren't completely like P.A., unable to move forward with almost anything due to the endless bickering.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bruce Karney
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 1, 2009 at 3:35 pm

I'm very pleased that Mountain View is being considered for a station. I believe that having one would make our community a more attractive pace to live and do business.

I currently commute daily from Great America to Berkeley by Amtrak and have been a Caltrain commuter in the past. Rail is a pleasant, low cost way to get from place to place. The leg room is great on Amtrak and there are 120 volt power outlets at each seat for keeping laptops running. I also see how full the ACE trains are coming in from the Stockton area to Silicon Valley each morning. Thank goodness they're not driving and adding to freeway congestion!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by curious
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 1, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Is an 'official possibility' stronger than a 'definite maybe'? These people are so transparent. They dangle this in front of the HSR enthusiasts to try divide the people in the community.

"the Rail Authority will decide whether Mountain View, Redwood City or Palo Alto will host a mid-Peninsula stop, and whether the tracks will be in a tunnel, in a ditch, at grade, above grade or some combination."

Is the RAIL AUTHORITY like the SS? I know some will try to invoke Godwin's law but I could not resist it. Who the heck do these bureaucrats think they are? First of all, we hire these people and they do what we want. Most of the cities on the peninsula except for the suck-up Mtn View City council are opposed to this ridiculous boondoggle.

Second, I am willing to bet anyone reading this a $1 donation to the 'Stop the HSR' fund vs your favorite charity that this will not get done within the shortest of our lifetimes. The RAIL AUTHORITY is going to p*ss away the $10 billion in studies and lawsuits then come back to the voters for $100s Billons it will really take to build this thing. By then the state will be in receivership and the creditors who will run the state will not allow it.

""People need to be aware that this is happening and get informed about it," said Council member Ronit Bryant,"

Yeah, it is clear what side she comes down on. Unless it is politically unpopular, then she will recuse herself because her husband works for HP, which has property close to the rail line.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bruno
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Lots of anger there "curious". The SS? Really? I find it so odd that you don't think that's offensive to those who dealt with the real SS. My guess is they would have traded places with you in a heartbeat.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by kanan
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 1, 2009 at 4:40 pm

pipe dream. How many years they have been discussing this? They spend billions in just talking about this for so many years without doing anything. Now imagine what it would cost to actually lay a single rail..What a bunch of crooks running california..


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bruno
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 1, 2009 at 5:07 pm

It was voted on less than a year ago, so I'm not sure what years you are refering to. Also, California is spelled with a capital C because it is the name of a state. Our home.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Matt Raschke
a resident of The Crossings
on Oct 1, 2009 at 5:27 pm

That is definitely good news for Mountain View. Thanks City Council for asking HSRA to consider this.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Oct 1, 2009 at 5:35 pm

curious-

Traffic to and from the station bogging down Shoreline. Massive traffic slowdown due to narrowed Central Expressway (oh-- didnt anyone mention that part??). Traffic on Castro Street making University Ave look like the autobahn.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by curious
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 1, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Bruno,"Lots of anger there "curious".

Hey "Bruno" this mantra by the Left that anyone who disagrees them is angry and out of control is getting tiresome. What's next? Accusing me of racism? Maybe I'm also responsible for the murders of Moscone and Milk?

You better figure out a new approach because that one is not working. There is strong opposition to the HCR (high cost railroad) from cities here on the peninsula where the majority voted for it. They recently won a lawsuit and the RAIL AUTHORITY is going to have to go back and re-do their environmental impact report. I guess they are just angry and out of control.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bruno
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 1, 2009 at 10:56 pm

No, I didn't accuse you of being racist. I accused you of using a really bad analogy.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by judielaine
a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 2, 2009 at 6:55 am

Web Link & Web Link don't exist. Try Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by judielaine
a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 2, 2009 at 6:56 am

I'll restate: www.chsra.ca.gov and chsra.ca.gov don't exist. Try www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rafael
a resident of another community
on Oct 2, 2009 at 7:23 am

One aspect that CHSRA and Caltrain will need to deal with regardless is the VTA light rail stop. The right of way isn't wide enough for five six tracks at the 85 and N Whisman overpass.

An ADA-compliant pedestrian over- or underpass across Central Expressway to Moffett Blvd and/or Stierlin Rd might be a good idea in any case, but especially so if there will be an HSR station. Is there any way the Santa Clara county Social Services Agency between Jackson St, Stierlin Rd and Moffett Blvd could be relocated? It is sitting on a good spot for a bus stop to support additional connecting transit services.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Barry
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 2, 2009 at 8:43 am

The CHSRA wanted the stop to be in Palo Alto and still does. Mountain View should not raise hopes too much that the train will stop at the transportation hub near downtown. Mountain View might be a possibility, but this is a bargaining mechanism to push Palo Alto.


There is no use arguing whether the train is a good idea because the last election decided whether it would get money. We should now be protecting our property values by making certain its route is tolerable.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Barry
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 2, 2009 at 8:43 am

The CHSRA wanted the stop to be in Palo Alto and still does. Mountain View should not raise hopes too much that the train will stop at the transportation hub near downtown. Mountain View might be a possibility, but this is a bargaining mechanism to push Palo Alto.


There is no use arguing whether the train is a good idea because the last election decided whether it would get money. We should now be protecting our property values by making certain its route is tolerable.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John Cierra
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 2, 2009 at 9:09 am

In reviewing the documents from the web site given by a previous comment, it is interesting to see that the alternatives through Mountain View are mostly surface. This contrasts with Atherton, a wealthier community where opposition to HSR forced an underground alternative.

If we are to keep property values as high as when we bought our houses, as a previous comment wrote, we should also be demanding a tunnel.

City staff who want a raised berm are not thinking clearly and do not understand a train's tunnel can go below Permanente Creek. Making the comparison to the berm in San Carlos is crazy -- that berm is almost entirely along a commercial/industrial zone, and only briefly near a neighborhood that is now run down because property values crashed.


See for yourself. Check out the document showing the grades here:

Web Link

(www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/images/chsr/20090929172246_AA_Exhibits_092509.pdf)



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ben
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 2, 2009 at 11:46 am

I see problems from having lived through the Santa Clara's history of growth. That growth can be repeated in a very negative way in the next 50 years for the Central San Joaquin Valley due to the high-speed rail project. A major impact will occur in the Central Valley and in the Santa Clara Valley.

Here is a partial list of problems:
1. Promotes Growth
2. Loss of Agriculture in the Central Valley
3. Electric Power Generation Problems
4. Jobs Growth leads to Unemployment Bubble
5. Energy to Build System (Energy Saving is Unknown)
6. Encourages Long Daily Commutes
7. Impacts Local Rail Service
8. Impacts Local Traffic

The high-speed rail should stop at Gilroy or San Jose. The high-speed train system should not have stops in the Central Valley because that will promote growth and long distance commutes. (People use Southwest Airline to compute to LA daily.) Cheap homes and long distance commutes by high-speed rail will result in the elimination of farmlands in the Central Valley. The high-speed rail stops should be LA, Sacramento, possibly Stockton, and a South Bay stop at Gilroy or San Jose. Not stops should be allowed in the lower Central Valley unless an agricultural preserves is put in place like Portland OR had done for the surrounding farm lands

If the politicians are really interested in improving transit, especially on the Peninsula, the present CALTRAIN line should be electrified and upgraded to allow more local more local stops and by using somewhat higher speed trains (baby built) to bypass less used stations.. The main stops from San Jose to San Francisco should have express bypass tracks at stations to allow the CALTRAIN Baby Bullet trains to provide higher-speed service along the Peninsula to San Francisco. Those passengers coming from the LA, and Sacramento areas need to change to the CALTRAIN system with a train change in the South Bay. If this is not done the Central Valley agriculture area will be lost.

Many people at the Curberly Teach-in express interest in improving the Caltrain system and keeping high speed rail out of the Peninsula.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Oct 2, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Since this debate started, I've posed the same question in many venues, never to be answered by an HSR advocate:

How much will the SJ to SF leg cost, and how much time will be shaved off an SF to LA trip vs a Transfer from Caltrain to a SJ HSR terminus?

Make sure to include the swept under the rug Eminent Domain expense. The HSR authority is downplaying this huge impact to MV and other Penisula cities.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 2, 2009 at 12:27 pm

I think high speed rail should be placed on the highway 101 right of way. The noise and visual blight if place on the Cal Train right of way through Mountain View will be horrible. If we cannot stop this terrific waste of money it should be in a tunnel in Mountain View as well as the rest of cities.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by wary traveler
a resident of another community
on Oct 2, 2009 at 12:48 pm

>How much will the SJ to SF leg cost?
Current estimate is $4.3 Billion.

>How much time will be shaved off an SF to LA trip vs a Transfer from Caltrain to a SJ HSR terminus?
Approximately 3-5 minutes travel time plus transfer time depending who you ask.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Barry
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 2, 2009 at 2:20 pm

> Approximately 3-5 minutes travel time plus transfer time depending who you ask.

All this fuss and expense to save so little time? If that small number is true, the project through the peninsula is absurd, a triumph of vanity over pragmatism.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by curious
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 2, 2009 at 2:45 pm

""We don't want a rollercoaster," said Timothy Cobb, project engineer"

Why not? That would be fun!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by whoknows
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 2, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Will the horns be underneath or on top?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Andrew
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 3, 2009 at 8:40 am

Glad to see Mountain View on the map. I hope it stays there, given its connections to the light rail, some future connection to the Shoreline district, and easy access from all freeways except 280-N.

With respect to running the train up the 101 corridor, this would be bad for any of the mid-peninsula (RWC/PA/MV) stops. I have recently experienced public transit ending outside the main city center in Europe (TGV Aix En Provence station). It is quite a hassle to have to wait 20 minutes for a bus that takes even more time to connect to other transit. This was a big turnoff compared to other connections I made, like in Marseille, Nice, and Montpellier, which all drop you off in the city. Along these corridors and the trains I took in Germany, I also noticed these fast trains running very close to residences. It can be done. Why not here?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gazer
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 3, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Underground only please. We have enough problems (safety/noise) with the Caltrains. I am not thrilled with the prospect of years and years of construction in and around our commuting routes either, but what else is new. Also, with all these stops along the Peninsula, I wonder just how "high-speed" this train will be.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by curious
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 4, 2009 at 9:54 am

"Posted by curious, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2009 at 2:45 pm

""We don't want a rollercoaster," said Timothy Cobb, project engineer"

Why not? That would be fun!"

To the moderator:
There is spoofing of screen names on this site. I did not write this.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by J Cierra
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 8:41 am

J Cierra is a registered user.

Does anyone understand why city staff would want to disadvantage us by not wanting a tunnel, preferring surface or a berm?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Catherine
a resident of Jackson Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Palo Alto just wrapped up their session, with the resulting suggestion being to run rail underground through Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Atherton.

If they do this, the rail authority had better be prepared to do the same for Mountain View, because for us to get a Berlin Wall where everyone else gets a park is just WRONG!

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Tunnel under PA, MP, Atherton - $4.3 B is a lot to pay for -5 min. But the vanity of
SF probably knows no bounds. I saw a comment on the session in PA, if these communities want to have a tunnel and increase THEIR property values (i.e. bury the SP tracks too) then it is appropriate as the HS Rail Auttority mentioned that they find a way to do it with THEIR MONEY. There are many property tax ways to do this. The easiest is a Joint Powers Authority which keeps property tax increases and is required to spend these increases on the purpose of the district. [PA, MP and Atherton combined with the Rail Authority]

They want a solid gold option - they can pay for it themselves (Chevy option is ground level with berms).


 +   Like this comment
Posted by curious
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 5, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Posted by curious, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Oct 4, 2009 at 9:54 am

"Posted by curious, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2009 at 2:45 pm

""We don't want a rollercoaster," said Timothy Cobb, project engineer"

Why not? That would be fun!"

To the moderator:

There is spoofing of screen names on this site. I did not write this.

Yes I did!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Teflon
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 7, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Looking at the 3 proposed alternatives for downtown Mountain View
in the CHSRA alternatives discussion document.

Option 1) Tracks at grade under 85 then elevated at Castro then at grade under Shoreline then elevated at Permanente creek and Rengstorff then at grade after Rengstorff and under San Antonio.
>> Are you kidding? talking about a roller coaster, this will never fly. Keep in mind there is 1% maximum incline limit for the HSR tracks
This simply is not technically feasible

Option 2) Tracks at grade under 85/Stevens Creek then below grade/trench at Castro then back at grade after Rengstorff
>> Won't fly either. Way too short of a distance between Stevens Creek and Castro for the train to go underneath without breaking the 1% rule

3) Tracks at grade through Mountain View with Castro either going underneath or closed off and Rengstorff going underneath the tracks.
>> Out of the three options proposed by the CHSR Authority, it looks like this is the only one that is technically feasible


So basically, the CHSR Authority has its mind set for Mountain View, the tracks will stay at grade, otherwise why would they be looking at alternatives that can be ruled out by anyone with a 6th grade education

The preferred option for Mountain View residents is a deep tunnel underneath downtown, deep enough to lay below Stevens Creek and Permanente Creek but this is not being looked at by the CHSRA because they don't want to pay for it!

Here is a pointer to the CHSRA alternatives discussion document
Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by J Cierra
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 7, 2009 at 10:58 pm

J Cierra is a registered user.

Teflon,

Your sentiments are the same as mine -- the inclines through Mountain View are enough to appease the eye, but not realistic. They intend to build the train at ground level (at grade).

Technical notes:
To be fair, the maximum grade they specify is not 1%, it is 3.5%, in section 2.2 of the following (this was written in 1999, do you have better information?):

www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/.../20080121152031_Corridor%20Evaluation%20Final%20Report.pdf

A maximum grade of 3.5% means they can do what the picture shows, just barely. One reason they cannot achieve these steep changes, despite the picture, is that it slows the train so much that it cannot achieve 30 minutes between SF and SJ.

If you want to bury the track, it looks like about 10m minimum from surface to bottom of the pit.


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