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HSR may cut into Central Expressway

Original post made on Apr 8, 2010

Should high-speed rail come to Mountain View, it will not sit atop a massive Berlin Wall, as some rail opponents have feared. But it may mean the loss of two lanes on Central Expressway, according to a new report from the California High Speed Rail Authority.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, April 8, 2010, 1:55 PM

Comments (43)

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Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Apr 8, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Seems dubious, I don't see any reason they can't bring a trench as close to central as they need to or even partially overlap with appropriate engineering a stretch that partially undercuts the roadway.


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Posted by HELLO
a resident of Castro City
on Apr 8, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Why not drop Caltrain altogether (since its about to go bankrupt) and make HSR be the new Caltrain. This would make sense and would not require any more demolishing and rebuilding of anything. As for what intervals train would run, I leave that to other people to decide.


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Posted by Chuck
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 8, 2010 at 3:09 pm

In a state that is virtually bankrupt why don't we repeal and abandon this ridiculous project that will many times exceed its astronomical budget (Bay Bridge), create havoc for years while being built, leave more conjestion, noise, dirt, inconvience (RR crossings now)and frustration when complete and in the end have little value (questionable ridership)?
California does not need federal money or higher taxes to provide jobs, that should be a part of well run, profitable business enterprises.


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Posted by Just a thought
a resident of Castro City
on Apr 8, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Has anybody given a thought as to moving all of the Caltrain tracks to the middle of highway 101 and have two stops along every city?


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Posted by resident
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Chuck, you are correct.But people in sacremento do not understand that. That is why we have to pay good attention in nov. election.It's a very high time.


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Posted by MVFlyer
a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 8, 2010 at 3:33 pm

"Has anybody given a thought as to moving all of the Caltrain tracks to the middle of highway 101 and have two stops along every city? "

I fully agree with this option, although it hasn't been considered for some reason. Noise isn't a factor, it wouldn't split cities, and the state already owns the right of way. I don't think any of the current NIMBYers would object.


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Posted by Seer
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 8, 2010 at 3:45 pm

I'm amazed at the lack of thought and the consistent NIMBYism that permeates these comments.

The award has to go to Palo Alto city councilman Larry Klein, who orates like Boss Tweed of Tamminy Hall, but whose bloviation basically equates to "I don't want this, but if it has to happen I want it gold plated and someone else has to pay for it".

More silliness from this thread:

- Make HSR be the new CalTrain: how quickly do you think HSR will make it from SF to LA if it has to stop every couple miles. Imagine trying to ride CalTrain to LA! The HSR plan has ONE stop on the peninsula, because more would destroy the speed of the train. It can't accelerate to 125 mph in half the space between two existing CalTrain stations!

- Move CalTrain to the middle of Hwy101: You want to give up two lanes of 101 now? Is that better than giving up two lanes of Central? What do you think that will do to traffic? And regarding riders, how will they get from the city centers of Millbrae, San Carlos, Redwood City, Palo Alto, and Mountain View to the middle of 101?

- "astronomical budget (Bay Bridge), create havoc for years while being built, leave more conjestion, noise, dirt, inconvience (RR crossings now)and frustration when complete": well, there is always some messiness for a new project. Widening 101 or expanding our airports (reasonable alternatives for moving the riders) would be just as messy or more. Somehow Germany, France, Japan, China and other countries managed to make it through their HSR build-out and are enjoying the economic benefits. I'm willing to bet there were lots of complaints there too, but the difference was that self-important individuals weren't allowed to impede progress for the majority.


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Posted by Atziluth
a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 8, 2010 at 4:03 pm

I agree with Chuck's remarks.

All evidence points to the fact that the HSR project has virtually no chance of making economic sense given the ridership level this would require, so why are we still pursuing this chimera?


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Posted by Atziluth
a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 8, 2010 at 4:17 pm

@Seer - Please note that the situation for this project (SF to LA) is completely different from any European or Japanese HSR network, due to the difference in the distances involved.

The distance between SF and LA is about 400 miles, with very few major settlements in between apart from San Jose. Now compare this to France, where Paris and Lyon are less than 300 miles apart with a few important stops on the way.

In addition, several studies have shown that HSR projects, in Europe as well as in Japan, seldom bring economic benefits which outweigh their costs. And bear in mind that these are countries which have a lot of experience building these kinds of projects...

Whether the California HSR makes economic sense is far from being as obvious as you seem to think, Seer.


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Posted by Mike Laursen
a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 8, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Chuck, don't worry. This high-speed rail project will go away sooner or later. There simply isn't any money to actually build it.

Hopefully, in the meantime, it won't cause too much disruption. I hope nobody takes the high-speed rail talk seriously enough to start tearing up lanes of Central Expressway or putting off improvements to CalTrain.


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Posted by Daniel DeBolt
Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
on Apr 8, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Daniel DeBolt is a registered user.

I just added the following paragraph in response to an above comment:

The report says the Rail Authority has examined the possibility of running the high speed trains up Highway 101 and Highway 280 as an alternative to the Caltrain corridor. But in order to run the high speed trains in a relatively straight line, tracks would have to run over sensitive wildlife habitat, either wetlands east of Highway 101 or near Crystal Springs reservoir along Highway 280. Wetlands would also be prone to "liquifaction" in an earthquake.


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Posted by Patriot
a resident of Castro City
on Apr 8, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Lets make one point clear about the bay area. Population growth is not going to stay the same so lets make educated decisions about how best to use tax money to make the most efficient way of travel between cities possible.

The most obvious choice that will eventually have to be adopted without argument is making another freeway. I have heard some people talk about actually making El Camino Real an express way or possibly a freeway.

My second personal option would be to make a train go down all of the 101. This train would make one stop at every city. People could very easily get off the train and go to a public parking space and pick up their cars and go home or have buses for those that don't drive.


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Posted by Dave
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 8, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Nothing is perfect. But what we have now -- Caltrain -- is horrible. Noisy, smoky diesels, dangerous grade crossings that mess up the timing of traffic lights and creat massive delays on Central Expwy, Rengstorff, etc. It's time to get rid of this 19th century railroad and catch up with the rest of the world.


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Posted by MarkT
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 8, 2010 at 7:35 pm

I think that there's a much better alternative to the proposed high speed rail (HSR) system in California --
SkyTran, at Web Link It's currently being considered for limited use in Mtn. View. Why not use it instead of the whole HSR system?

This system overcomes many of the problems associated with HSR (and trains in general). Here are some advantages that I can think of:
It's much cheaper to install and operate.
** Its capital cost is estimated to be $15 million/mile for both directions (vs. $40 million to $60 million/mile for HSR).
** Its costs will decrease as volume goes up, while HSR's costs will likely increase.
** Skytran expects to be able to make a profit, while HSR will likely continue to be an expense.
** Its total cost per passenger mile is estimated to be less than $0.03.
** Its ticket price would thus be much less than HSR.
** Its low ticket price would attract more riders than HSR would.
** It's much more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
It's much quieter (almost noiseless).
It doesn't require widely separated large stations that riders have to travel to.
It allows many small stations that would often be easy to walk or bike to.
It eliminates the need for large parking lots.
It doesn't require heavy and expensive infrastructure, and could likely use most current bridges.
Its lighter infrastructure would be less vulnerable to earthquakes.
It doesn't require the complicated and divisive right of way that HSR does.
Its environmental impact is much smaller than HSR's.
Its environmental impact report would thus be approved more easily than HSR's.
It can be built more quickly than HSR.
Its approval would likely be easier and faster, because it's much cheaper.
It doesn't disrupt or divide communities on its routes.
It eliminates accidents between cars and trains.
It eliminates the potential for "train suicides" or similar accidents (15-20/year on SF-SJ Caltrain).
It's much less vulnerable to terrorism, because riders are not concentrated in large trains or stations.
It doesn't interfere with current traffic, roads and rail systems.
It's immune to trash and litter on rails, and resistant to inclement weather.
Its riders don't have to wait for scheduled trains.
It can run 24/7.
Its proposed speed is 100 MPH in cities, and 150 MPH (or more) between cities.
Its passengers don't stop at intermediate stations.
Its travel time is comparable to HSR and airplanes, when door-to-door time is used.
Its estimate of 8640 riders/hour means one track could easily handle HSR's expected 32,000 - 38,000 riders/day in 2035.
It's easily expandable to include many branch and parallel lines.
It can be redundant and robust -- with a web of tracks, allowing travel around sections that might have problems.
It could take over the peninsula traffic from Caltrain, eliminating Caltrain's expected $471 million electrification cost.
It would provide improved (faster, cheaper, and quieter) service along the Caltrain route.
It might be expanded to take over many of the other rail and bus routes around the SF Bay and LA areas.
It might be expanded with extensions to Sacramento and other metropolitan and recreation areas (such as Tahoe).
It would provide the functionality that voters intended when they voted for HSR.
It's modern, with a 21st Century design, instead of the 19th Century train concept.
It would make California the worldwide leader in public transportation.

Because of these many positive attributes (and some I probably haven't thought of), Californians would quickly appreciate SkyTran. Also, people from the other transportation systems will likely oppose SkyTran because it will take business from them.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by hans
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 8, 2010 at 7:50 pm

I am more inclined to have the northern terminus of HSR be in San Jose and not run through the peninsula towns.


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Posted by Rodger
a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 8, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Guess which cities will get the underground or less obtrusive right of way, not Mountain View which stands like a deer in the headlights while Palo Alto and other cities to the north mount a determined effort to mitigate the the negative impact of Hight Speed Rail. Actually what we need is a new proposition to repeal this boon doggle. STOP HIGH SPEED RAIL in it's tracks.


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Posted by Mike Laursen
a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 8, 2010 at 9:52 pm

hans, the planners have no leeway because it is dictating in the text of Proposition 1A that the high-speed rail line has to run, at minimum, from San Francisco to Anaheim. It even states that the route has to start at San Francisco Transbay Terminal and must run through Union Station in Los Angeles. The regional transportation board for Los Angeles has been complaining lately that it is a major hassle to route it through Union Station, and other options should have been allowed.

Of course, hardly anybody read the actual text of the initiative before promoting it or voting for it.


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Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 9:38 am

MarkT, at least have the courtesy to identify yourself as an employee of SkyTran before you post a press release. If you arent going to use your real name, I think Lyle Lanley would be a better pseudonym.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Seldon
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 10, 2010 at 9:46 am

"In a state that is virtually bankrupt why don't we repeal and abandon this ridiculous project that will many times exceed its astronomical budget (Bay Bridge), create havoc for years while being built, leave more conjestion, noise, dirt, inconvience (RR crossings now)and frustration when complete and in the end have little value (questionable ridership)?

California does not need federal money or higher taxes to provide jobs, that should be a part of well run, profitable business enterprises. "

------------------

I'm inclined to agree. Though I generally support mass transit improvements, the problem with this particular project is not in its intent or mission, its in timing.

The State is grappling with the biggest financial mess its been faced with ever, with no immediate or easy solutions to the problem. If we continue with this project, we would be continuing the failed policy of spending money we don't have.

The sobering reality that all Californian's must face, is that just because they want something and pass a Proposition for it, doesn't mean its fiscally responsible to do it. We need to balance our budget and fix the underlying root causes of its continual failure, before we go embarking on big spending.


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Posted by GC
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 11, 2010 at 11:21 am

Has someones thought of putting the HSR on elevated lines in the bay. The extra cost to build the piers etc. will be off set by the low cost of land and construction delays. Extend Bart out to it at the airport light rail in the south bay.


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Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 12, 2010 at 8:44 am

USA is a registered user.

It turns out that the HSR is a boondoggle: Web Link

Who knew? Oh ya, me.


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Posted by Margaret
a resident of Willowgate
on Apr 12, 2010 at 2:36 pm

I think the large goal of rail between San Francisco and Los Angeles would be accomplished by building high speed rail from San Jose to Los Angeles, and leaving the SF to SJ rail as is. This would save unbelievable amounts of money for all of the peninsula towns and SF.

Also, it's unrealistic to think that it trains will really be able to go high speed through the peninsula - I bet anything that trains would end up traveling at the same speeds as CalTrain does now.

On a related topic, why are we willing to spend all this money on trains and not on education? I hope the people in charge will look at this critically.


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Posted by John the Man
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 12, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Much ado about nothing. HSR isn't going to be built. Too expensive, too vague of a business plan, not enough interest in using it.

All they are going to do is waste taxpayer money doing studies and employing the people who do them. In other words: consultants.

Well...... then again, maybe all the arguments so far are too complex. So let me make one unassailable one:

WE CAN'T AFFORD IT.


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Posted by M.C.
a resident of another community
on Apr 13, 2010 at 9:58 am

CHSRA = FAIL

central expressway only has two lanes in each direction. it's heavily traveled during the commute hours. and they would want to take away lanes for hsr??

send hsr back to the voters and lay this project to rest before any more money is wasted and potential damage is done.


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Posted by Bruno
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 13, 2010 at 1:59 pm

I think the people of California should have a say in this! Oh, they voted FOR it already!?! Well then let's vote again until we get the answer WE want! It's cool when we do it for our cause, but not when the gays do it (they'll have to wait).

I know I don't want a Berlin Wall boondoggle failure that is a waste of money and that nobody is going to ride because it goes the same speed as CalTrain. Why can't the HSR board see this for what it is when we so clearly have all of the answers!


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Posted by David
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 16, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Can't wait!


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 16, 2010 at 7:54 pm


I have to admit that the HSRA has done a terrible job in articulating the vision, starting with the ex-Executive Director Mehdi Morshed. It's too bad because high speed rail will have the greatest impact on California's future in the long term than any other public project. What many people don't realize is that we're building it for the future, not the present. The state will have 20 million more residents by 2050. By having HSR in place, we could avoid the (some of the) rampant sprawl that has ruined southern and central California.

These big transportation projects are always expensive and inconvenient, but try to find someone who doesn't appreciate the value of the TGV that has actually used it (especially with volcanic ash floating over France).




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Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 17, 2010 at 7:48 am

Here we go again bringing up TGV in France. OK, let's talk about France and its public debt and high unemployment, the high rise tenement of San Quentin to the north of Paris, and the many restrictive rules on hiring and firing employees, and not just about the TGV. And then let's talk about the future of where we live.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 17, 2010 at 7:48 am

Here we go again bringing up TGV in France. OK, let's talk about France and its public debt and high unemployment, the high rise tenement of San Quentin to the north of Paris, and the many restrictive rules on hiring and firing employees, and not just about the TGV. And then let's talk about the future of where we live.


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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 17, 2010 at 10:01 am

We have got to say NO to high speed rail!!! Silicon Valley is the economic engine of Northern California, which is at least half the economy of the state, which is the 5th largest economy in the WORLD. How can we even CONSIDER taking away half the lanes on one of our major North-South thoroughfares (Central Expwy) for a bunch of tourists going to Disneyland??? This is the most absurd thing I have ever heard. Not to meantion CHARGING cities on the peninsula, which are already GENERATING major amounts of cash for state coffers to build this useless thing. Put a STOP to it. Show up at meetings, write your city council member/ congressperson. Say NO.


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Posted by Kristine
a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 18, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Personally I think the the trench idea I think is preferable. It's cheaper than the tunnel and dramatically enough better than the ariel choice. Also isn't the dividers of central expressway wide enough that one to two lanes could be added by removing them? There problem solved, go get a smoothie.


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Posted by Art
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 2, 2010 at 9:06 am

Losing lanes on Central, when it's already choked to a crawl (or worse) on a frequent basis? Where's the net gain for our community in that? Come on, this proposal simply exchanges one problem for another problem. Brilliant. In the business world this is know as a DEAL BREAKER.


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Posted by sutcliffe 20
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 19, 2010 at 4:22 pm

just take the druggies and bums out of the old transbay terminal. cleanit up and we ave something the city can afffor and looks good.
the plans for a funny shaped new terminal with trendy round ipod lumps is in bad taste and looks like a joke . it looks like a woman's bottom to me. let's have this look like a terminal, not a cartoon. keep the 1930's station ,not every green building thats eco friendly has to have round bubbles in it. trust me the old transbay terminal can be beautiful again without the hobos and adicts,. A good cleaning and some period refurbishing and we could have a fine example of 1930 glamour in our downtown. we will be proud .


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Posted by desirex
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 19, 2010 at 4:34 pm

i go to san francisco and see the lack of period style buildings these days. saw the latest design for the transbay terminal and i hate it. my friend said it looks like a giant sports bra, what a giggle. i agree it looks like boobs. if designers can't design a pretty and or intelegent building, for sanfrancisco's mass transit,they should keep the old one. it may be old fashioned but it's a smart design and it's pretty.


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Posted by divastar
a resident of Castro City
on May 19, 2010 at 4:40 pm

only thing i like about the plans for the new transit terminal in sf is the garden. what is that bulby round front that looks like a kidney shaped swim pool about? and why does it have stilts like the moscone centre. one stilt building is enough. downtown sanfrancisco could look far more sophisicated without this planned eyesore.


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Posted by jan
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 19, 2010 at 4:44 pm

keep the old 1930's transbay terminal building. there are less and less of these classic buildings around. and also wasn't that building a historic landmark ?


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Posted by garvey 777
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 19, 2010 at 4:49 pm

transbay terminal just make a huge square glass box. blue windows metal frames. Make it functional, not something that looks like the lump shaving cream that came out of my spray can this morning.


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Posted by desirex
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 19, 2010 at 4:59 pm

me again . there is so much that can be done to revive an old building. even to updated standards. yes this old place can be clean again if only people tried. the whole thing of the vagrants hase sullied people imaginations of what the building once looked like and could be again. just clean it up and see? looke at the fine jobs in public library of sf, and you will understand.


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Posted by liilly
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 7, 2010 at 1:28 pm

idon't know why we have to have highspeed rail. ithink it's just a look at us we are so hip ego boot.what a shame that we have to drag other people in like whole cities just to make an individual city or state look good. it's all about ego. plus why was the destination of the high speed rail la. nobody is going to use it to go there, cutting a ride from 7 hours to 2 by hsr is only another sugar coating to sell this ego inflated plan . also must it cut into the expressway? i say it shouldn't. we are blessed with caltrain so why not, forget about hsr.


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Posted by veronica maximi
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2010 at 1:39 pm

i'm one of a lover for period designs in city buildings and feel its's a put down that the new transbay transit terminal can't look like from another period. retro design is classy,the designers of this ugly lima bean made of glass are not and don't understand,style.also the round drsign is suited for a green house, not a mass transit building for travellers and comutes. the design for this is silly i don't care how eco concious you are, this new terminal,should look like a re done version of the 1930's building. if not then let's keep the old one.


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Posted by dave
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 7, 2010 at 1:46 pm

my 5 yearold kid was putting sand in an old shower cap and it reminded me of the poor design of the future transit terminal.i want a building that looks like a building not a chuckle shower cap. as for the highspeeed rail i'd rather the money go to schools and educate kids than be put for 2 hour rides to la. maybe with education some designers can learn how go back to art school and make archetutrue that doesn't look like a young boy playing in a sand box.


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Posted by violet
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 7, 2010 at 1:49 pm

we neeed more era period style buildings in california. they have charm that most other buildings can't compete with.


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Posted by sally j
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 7, 2010 at 1:57 pm

nsbay building need to be change for something more on the lines of the old place. the current designers know nothing about what is functional for a train and bus station. this is a terminal not a funny shaped botanical garden .please don't use all that glass to.


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