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Can city catch up with high speed rail?

Original post made on Oct 30, 2009

A three-person City Council committee met this week in the first of a series of regular meetings to discuss the challenges of running high speed trains through Mountain View's Caltrain corridor.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 30, 2009, 11:57 AM

Comments (12)

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Posted by Jamie
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 30, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Why on earth would anyone need a high speed train? What a waste of money. It would be insane to close off Castro.


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Posted by Frank Wilson
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 30, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Who's going to stand up and say the emperor has no clothes? Comparing the cost of this project against the state's miniscule ability to pay, it's safe to conclude there is no need to fear: this thing is never gonna happen in the next 25 years.


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Posted by Jeff
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 30, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Gee, Jamie, an awful lot of people could benefit from a high speed train linking the Bay Area and Sacramento with the LA Area. The problem is how to implement it locally (I agree, it would be a bad choice to close off Castro(.


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Posted by Ben
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 30, 2009 at 4:33 pm

There are more issues to consider than what impact Mountain View directly, although the impact on us locally is important. The negative aspects of high-speed rail are what it will do to California. If the high-speed rail is built, it should end at San Jose or Gilroy. At that end location it should connect to Caltrain. Caltrain should be upgraded to provide express trains and more local trains by providing bypass tracks at the smaller local stations. This is what needs to be done if you are sincere in improving public transit.

Unfortunately this will take money to implement and still does not solve many of the present problems of vehicle crossings. It should improve public transit, but regardless of what improvements are made it still will not solve the vehicle congestion problems. Only restricting overpopulations will prevent the traffic problems from becoming intolerable.

Peter Skinner recently claimed (S.J. Mercury Letter to the Editor) "high-speed rail is precisely what America needs." He does not consider what high-speed rail, without land development restrictions for the Central Valley, will do to this farming area. (Only one of the many high-speed rail negatives that supporters of growth (overpopulation) fail to consider.) Developer will buy cheap farmland and create a new urban sprawl region. Commuter will be able to have a 1 hour commute to Silicon Valley and S.F. from their low cost homes. Then America can ship in food from outside the U. S. That is just what we need!

I would like to point out the many problems with high-speed –rail and continued development (bubble and bust cycle) but that would make a longer comment.

What most people and politicians have not figured out is that we do not have too few jobs or housing; we have too many people for the jobs necessary to support the civilization. Are we ready for the next bigger bubble and bust cycle?

More people are unemployed today due to the mild recession than were unemployed during the great depression!

California Population - 1930 - 5,677,251 and 1950 - 10,586,223 and in 2009 - 38,292,687 (Web Link)

How long can this growth continue that high-speed rail is intended to support?


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Posted by NeHi
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 30, 2009 at 5:07 pm

Let's see; we have a railroad, about 140+ years old, that does a fine job [despite losing half of it's right-of-way in the last few years] of hauling from SJ to SF and points in between. It seems agreed that it is to be electrified. The situation seems to be separate from high-speed-rail [HSR].

The Sacto - LA HSR route seems simple, hope it is. Problems far away are always simpler,

Now, can we connect the two systems?? Can the bureaucracy handle something that simple? Sorry.


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Posted by JD
a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2009 at 6:14 pm

We are not going to stop HSR in SanJose.thats just a plain stupid nimby idea..YES 300 people will board a commuter train to SF..you would have to double or triple Caltrain runs to handle this amount of people. All that is happening is upgrading that 140 year old railroad
GEES you people act like its a 10 lane freeway planned thru here


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Posted by Andrew
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 30, 2009 at 7:10 pm

But JD, you forget that HSR is going to divide all these neighbors in ways that Alma/Central or El Camino don't already do!!

I hope this committee is also focusing on how to lobby for a MV stop!


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Posted by Rafael
a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2009 at 9:01 am

@ Andrew -

how, pray tell, will *full grade separation* divide neighbors in ways Alma/Central, Caltrain and El Camino don't already do? It'll be much *easier* to cross the railroad right of way!

Before you lobby for a MV station, think about what you want PCJPB and CHSRA to deal with the existing VTA light rail line and station. HSR platforms need to be straight, 1320' (1/4 mile) long and 20' wide (island type). Add to that 6 tracks plus platforms for Caltrain plus VTA light rail, it adds up to a lot of width or two levels.


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Posted by MV-my-home
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 31, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Ben is right on the money. The first step ought to be to lim it population growth. The current rates are unsustainable and will degrade everyone's quality of life.


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Posted by CC
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 2, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Closing Castro street will block poeple from other cities taking the 101 path to the area. No customer -- no bussiness.


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Posted by Catherine
a resident of Jackson Park
on Nov 3, 2009 at 9:16 pm

An above grade separation will be very loud...with negative impact to downtown. Elevated things aren't great for cities. Think about how much nicer San Francisco became once the Embarcadero collapsed (not that I'm advocating another earthquake...)

We're not Chicago.


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Posted by Rafael
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2009 at 4:40 am

@ Catherine -

ok, if you don't want trains on elevated structures then keep them at grade and turn Castro and Rengstorff into deep underpasses. You'll lose the intersections with Central, though. Noise can be dealt with via sound barriers, e.g. living walls or triple-glazing. HSR trains do cause vibration, but due to their light weight and exact rail/wheel geometry, it's a very manageable issue. I'm pretty sure UPRR freight and the current FRA-compliant Caltrain equipment put more strain on the foundations of nearby buildings than HSR trains ever will.

Putting Caltrain, UPRR and HSR into a trench is possible in principle, but gravity-drained conduits such as Stevens Creek would need to be diverted, possibly increasing the risk of local flooding after heavy rainfall. The high water table in the area would also be a serious complication.

HSR is electric, so if its tracks are underground they can be covered. Caltrain will be electrified as well, but for the moment at least, there is no commitment from UPRR to switch to electric locomotives. Amtrak would like to operate a diesel-based "Coast Daylight" between SF and LA via the central coast. Any underground station in the SF peninsula would therefore need very effective forced ventilation. Tunnels are also fire hazards, in addition to being the most expensive solution.

Whichever solution is locally preferred, the biggest single headache in downtown Mountain View is fitting HSR, Caltrain/UPRR plus VTA light rail into a single corridor just 90 feet wide. Five tracks side-by-side is *barely* doable, but six are not. Platforms require additional space. Note that FRA rules prevent light and heavy rail from sharing track even if the rail gauge is the same. HSR and US-style ultra-heavy freight can't share track either, though they can share a right of way.


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