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City gets first glimpse of $100,000 HSR images

Original post made on May 12, 2010

Thanks to some expensive new drawings, visualizing what high speed rail will look like in Mountain View just got easier. A $100,000 contract approved by the City Council on March 23 has already produced six preliminary designs for high speed rail crossings at Rengstorff and Castro streets in Mountain View.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 1:45 PM

Comments (49)

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Posted by hi everyone
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 12, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Daniel DeBolt show me the pictures


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Posted by Livn&LvnLf
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 12, 2010 at 2:16 pm

How about sharing some pics???


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Posted by Andrew Bachmann
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 12, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Yeah, pictures please? Also are there any pictures that incorporate the possible HSR station at mountain view? For $100,000 I sure hope so. :-)


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Posted by j Cierra
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 12, 2010 at 2:51 pm

- "Abe-Koga said she was concerned about the cost of the trench option"

We in Mountain View will pay for the expensive trenching or tunneling in Palo Alto and Atherton. The people in those cities must be happy that we in Mountain View will sacrifice our quality of life so they can be happy.

It is a pity that our city council does not advocate for us as well as they protect the lives of our wealthy neighbors.


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Posted by Andrew Bachmann
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 12, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Just after I post, pictures are up, but they're all black in my browser. Must be some shots of the HSR at night?


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Posted by what a joke
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 12, 2010 at 3:13 pm

We paid 100,00 for some cartoon drawings? I could have done these for 20,000.


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Posted by phm
a resident of The Crossings
on May 12, 2010 at 3:23 pm

The pictures are "up"? Where?


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Posted by Garibaldi
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 12, 2010 at 4:24 pm

If its about safety, then I want the HSR running in the trench. Accidents happen so it would only be a matter of time before one of these trains derailed if it were on the elevated surface.


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Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 12, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I also like the trench version. (I wish the pictures could have been bigger.) The problem I see with the trench version, in addition to the breathtaking cost, is the creek crossings--how can tracks in a trench cross Stevens Creek, Permanente, etc without obstructing the normal winterspring flows. Not to mention the 100-year floods.


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Posted by Mark
a resident of Rex Manor
on May 12, 2010 at 5:41 pm



Trench or elevated looks best and most forward looking. Don't cheap out at this point.

In any case, I think this is a great concept. Imagine from SF to LA in 2.5 hours. The money can be found and what an economic stimulus it would be for California - the construction phase and afterwards.

The overall estimated total cost - 40-50 billion is just 1/10 the cost of the Wall Street bailout and we're actually left w/ something useful. A positive legacy to leave to future generations who live in California.

Hopefully NIMBism does not rule the day.


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Posted by steve
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 12, 2010 at 5:54 pm

@Mark: I can get to LA in less than two hours today. 15 - 20 minutes to SJC, 5-20 minutes security, hour flight on southwest to LAX/Burbank. It's pretty economical too and wont cost the state tens of billions of dollars.


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Posted by Jarrett
a resident of Castro City
on May 12, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Steve,

I don't think it's realistic to allow one hour between leaving home and a departing flight. Unless you're chauffeured to the airport, you have to allow parking time, check in time, and security time. If you're arriving during peak travel times, you must allow greater time for driving. When you arrive at Burbank or LAX, you must also consider the ground transportation time to your final destination. This is also true with HSR, but the stations are more centrally located than airports and have a breadth of transportation options.

Also, it's unrealistic to assume these short Bay Area to LA flights will stay cheap and plentiful forever. When oil prices inevitably rise, the airlines will raise fares and reduce frequencies on their less profitable short haul flights. This happened briefly during the oil price spike 2 years ago.


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Posted by Daniel DeBolt
Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
on May 12, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Daniel DeBolt is a registered user.

Doug Pearson,

It is my understanding that in the trench option the tracks go over Stevens Creek as they do now but begin to slope downward into the trench at a 1 percent grade right afterward. I believe that is why Castro Street has to be raised by seven feet - there isn't enough room for it to work out otherwise.


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Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on May 12, 2010 at 9:05 pm


I think they should be able engineer the creeks under the trench. Closing the line due to flooding once every 100 years should not be a big deal. They should design it to handle occational flooding so that the line doesn't need to be down for very long.


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Posted by parent
a resident of another community
on May 12, 2010 at 9:09 pm

What are these pictures from the point of view of the blimp? What good are they? What a rip off.











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Posted by Andrew
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 12, 2010 at 9:57 pm

I like the trench option, although higher resolution images would be appreciated. Also, if there's a greenway all the way to Rengstorff, that better include a nice bike path!


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Posted by mvf
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2010 at 12:45 am

waste of money. i would expect to see a lot more for $100k


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Posted by Ben
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 13, 2010 at 10:18 am

Most people worry about the local problems high-speed rail causes. There is a little attention paid and to the negatives of the system. The high-speed rail has no real local l feeder transit system here or in the L.A. area, so you'll still need an automobile when you get here. (Japan has an extensive government and private feeder rail system. No one considers the L.A. sprawl as being not serviced by high-speed rail. (This is not a door-to-door system.) The loss of the central valley farmland and in twenty years is totally ignored. The fact that this high-speed rail will be a commuter rail service from some of the central valley cities (I hour commute) is not what the ignorant public and the delusional pro transit people thought they voted to establish. High-speed rail was wishful thinking and is really not practical but we're saddled with this boondoggle as no one is going to revote this now that we realize the impact on all of California.


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Posted by PlsRuinMyBackyard
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 13, 2010 at 10:24 am

parent-- I had the same thought. The reason that they do not have ground-level drawings is that it would show how horrible this project is going to be to the character of downtown MV. These drawings are intended to *sell* the idea of the tracks to all the terrible NIMBY's who moved into a beautiful downtown thinking that the city staff would not be actively working against the local residents.

Personally, I'm in favor of high-speed transit, but let's figure out a way to do it without destroying cities.


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Posted by Jim
a resident of Castro City
on May 13, 2010 at 10:53 am

The open trench opotion is the best.

I like the fact that the greenway connects the Rengstroff park to castro city.

The images can be found at this link-

Web Link


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Posted by really
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2010 at 12:29 pm

No Parent you whinner...there fine picrtures..how in the world do you think someone can show a large area ? better than whats there now


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Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 13, 2010 at 1:10 pm

USA is a registered user.

100 grand for just the pictures. Too funny. It's like a black comedy farce within a farce.

HSR is still just on paper and yet billions over budget. Hopefully the city will not spend too much time on this before it implodes. There are real issues to handle.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Question
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 13, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Can anybody explain to me how many lanes would be left for Central Expwy. From the "sketches" it looks like one lane in each direction.


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Posted by Greg
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 13, 2010 at 1:47 pm

What a way to [Portion removed due to foul language] $100K. For drawings? Drawings that don't even reflect the published intentions of the HSR commission. They should have at least gotten some nice 3D renderings that could be easily manipulated to make small changes and offer multiple viewing angles. What amazes me even more is they used the same firm that designed the Castro St. "improvements" 22 years ago. Although Castro looks sort of nice, it has got to be one of the most dysfunctional designs for a downtown ever built. Makes you wonder if there is some sort of connection with this firm and city hall....


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Posted by Nick
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 13, 2010 at 1:53 pm

I for one, find the drawings really helpful. Bird's eye views are probably the best way to illustrate the large set of changes that would be needed to bring the tracks through Mountain View in the nicest way possible. Do not under-estimate the level of urban design expertise that Freedman, Tung and Sasaki brought to the table to develop these proposals. It's not like the City hired an art student to draw a pretty picture one afternoon; each design required a lot of thought in order to solve for the complex geometries of the intersection and create a proposal that the High Speed Rail Authority will be forced to take seriously. Having them in hand will help the City constructively lobby the High Speed Rail authority to make sure that if/when this happens in Mountain View - it's done the right way.

I really like the Castro Street trench option. It's the best by a long-shot because it takes High Speed Rail's lemons and turns them into Downtown's lemonade. The two new buildings shown flanking either side of Castro Street above the trench would really help tie Moffett Boulevard and Castro Street together. Doing so might finally allow downtown to expand north and tie "the other side of the tracks" and Old Mountain View together - something Mountain View has wanted to do for generations and generations. It would also greatly reduce the size of that intersection and make crossing Central Expressway much more safe and inviting by foot or bike.

...and the greenway to Rengstorff Park would be awesome.


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Posted by Alma Street
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Would the at-grade option cause occasional flooding of the sunken Castro Street and Rengstorff Avenue? Oregon Expressway occasionally floods and must be closed in Palo Alto where it goes beneath the tracks. Would Central Expressway have this problem also since it must be lowered by an equivalent amount?


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Posted by M.C.
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Wow, so Central Expressway turns into a one lane road? LOL

I can't believe the City of MV paid $10Ok for these.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by 101
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 13, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Can't we just widen 101 to accommodate HSR. This would eliminate all the b.s. about digging holes around castro and rengstorff.


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Posted by HS Arno
a resident of Cuernavaca
on May 13, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Large clear pix are available at the MV city site via tinyurl dot com slash 26gx2nv.


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Posted by CC
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 13, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Ask HSR for a station in exchange if MV doesn't go for the 1.4 billion option.


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Posted by J Cierra
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 13, 2010 at 10:00 pm

@PlsRuinMyBackyard

It is uncanny that you wrote that remark about city staff advocating something that seems to be contrary to the benefits of the residents -- I thought the same thing. Is the staff and council so cozy with HSR that they are neglecting those who live in the city?


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Posted by Mike Laursen
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 13, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Ben, we're sort of stuck with it. The Authority will keep their jobs and contracts to their friends going until the money allocated to them has run out. Then the whole thing will peter out. Too bad Mountain View added $100,000 to the total damage done by this boondoggle.


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Posted by Clem
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2010 at 10:57 pm

> It is my understanding that in the trench option the tracks go over Stevens Creek as they do now

No, that's impossible with a 1% grade. The AA shows the creek being grade-separated (!) if the tracks go below-grade at Castro. Without freight, such an arrangement would be possible, with a 3% grade up from the sunken station up to the creek crossing. Web Link

My thoughts on the sketches here: Web Link


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Posted by Daniel DeBolt
Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
on May 14, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Daniel DeBolt is a registered user.

Clem,
I just confirmed with public works director Mike Fuller that the Castro trench design sketch is based on the scenario I mentioned before where the tracks run at grade over the creek and descend at a 1 percent grade before going under Castro St. Email me at ddebolt@mv-voice.com so we can talk more about this. Thanks.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mr. Big
a resident of North Whisman
on May 14, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Go HSR!

I don't like the elevated rails, too ugly. It has to go at grade for cost savings or in a trench for safer passage.


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Posted by Anne C.
a resident of Rex Manor
on May 14, 2010 at 1:25 pm

As a resident of Rex Manor, I would prefer the trench option the whole way through, if we are going to be stuck with the HSR boondoggle. Questions for Daniel: What are the plans for Permanente Creek, which crosses the tracks between Castro and Rengstorff? Where is Central Expwy supposed to be reduced to two lanes? And is the City Council considering requesting different options for the two intersections or are they leaning towards a unified look? (I can't help but think that the Rengstorff intersection is liable to get short shrift in the $$$$ game.) I do like the idea of the greenway over the covered trench.

Thanks.



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Posted by Clem
a resident of another community
on May 14, 2010 at 1:55 pm

@Dan: A simplistic calculation might go as follows. The creek is about 0.52 miles from Castro. At a slope of 1%, that distance gives you 27 feet of vertical elevation change, probably a bit less because of the vertical curve transitions.

That may be why they are showing Castro at +7 feet, since you need about 30 feet of vertical separation between the top of the rails and the road surface above.

However, this calculation falls apart if you consider the full picture.

(A) The tracks between Castro and the creek already rise by about 15 feet, with a surveyed slope of 0.62%. It is quite possible that Fuller has incorrectly assumed that the tracks were flat in this area.

(B) The platforms inside the trench are going to be 800 ft to 1300 ft long (depending on whether MV becomes the mid-peninsula HSR stop) and there may be additional constraints on how level they must be. For example, Caltrain platform slopes of 1% and above require special engineering approval.

This much isn't a matter of opinion: a trench used by freight trains cannot be routed over the Stevens Creek and under Castro with a 1% grade. The grade would need to be 2 to 3%. I believe that is why the AA shows the below-grade alignment continuing past the creek, presumably with some sort of pumped siphon "grade separation" of the creek. I'll be happy to provide source documents for you to verify these facts (e.g. surveyed track profile)

HSR and Caltrain could handle 3% without breaking a sweat. Isn't freight wonderful?


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Posted by Nick
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 14, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Just a point of clarification as folks continue this discussion:

These drawings do not show Central Expressway being narrowed to two lanes.

If you look closely, Central Expressawy is the same - it's just that the designer who drafted these images decided not to show lane lines on *any* of the streets (take a look at the way Rengstorff is shown, for example). I think adding in lane lines would have been helpful - but they probably decided to omit them so that the changes directly related to the railraod crossings would be the most detailed and apparent when looking at the graphics.


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Posted by Mark
a resident of Rex Manor
on May 16, 2010 at 12:20 pm



for those really interested in an intelligent discussion of HSR make sure to check out Clem's site ( it's in his 1st post)


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Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 16, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Forget it. Frugality is the new black. If we can't afford to take care of our poorest citizens (and I mean CITIZENS), what kind of shameful decadence would compel us to build such an extravagant and unnecessary toy? That $100,000 of public money was wasted on these trivial drawings is shameful enough.


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Posted by BD
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 17, 2010 at 10:55 am

Are higher resolution versions available anywhere online? The Voice's online images are very hard to use.


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Posted by Andrew Bachmann
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 17, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Copying HS Arno: Higher res images at tinyurl dot com slash 26gx2nv


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Posted by Jay Tulock
a resident of another community
on May 17, 2010 at 6:44 pm

"I love the trench alternative," said council member Laura Macias

I would love pretty much anything that cost a half billion dollars too, until I find out the Authority plans on asking me to pay for it.

Lather rinse repeat.

This is happening in every town over the 800 mile corridor. Nothing special about you Mountain View. You will pay or you will accept a viaduct.

Jay Tulock, Vacaville


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Posted by Jay Tulock
a resident of another community
on May 17, 2010 at 6:44 pm

"I love the trench alternative," said council member Laura Macias

I would love pretty much anything that cost a half billion dollars too, until I find out the Authority plans on asking me to pay for it.

Lather rinse repeat.

This is happening in every town over the 800 mile corridor. Nothing special about you Mountain View. You will pay or you will accept a viaduct.

Jay Tulock, Vacaville


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Posted by J Cierra
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 18, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Nuts to you and your correct, well-reasoned argument, Jay Tulock! :)

The only way to mitigate the effects of this thing is to repeal the HSR measure.

Still wishing I had the money to put it on the ballot,

J Cierra
(You are welcome in Mountain View any time we open the door to sanity.)


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Posted by soccer guy
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 18, 2010 at 4:20 pm

This HSR is a terrible idea. I've read comments from some very uniformed people on here. This is going to be another case of Amtrak except this time in California. When Amtrak first set out they said it would be profitable after 40 years. After 40 years it would have paid for itself and then started generating a profit. Here we are now years and years beyond those 40 and the government is still subsidizing it because it isn't a viable option for people to use. It isn't making money and it never will. Why? because people don't use it. CalTrain is the same way. It isn't profitable...so what makes you think this new HSR will suddenly buck the trend? The answer is that it won't.

Do you know how many plane tickets you could buy californians to fly between LA and SF for what the cost of this project would be? The answer to that keeps going up because the project will continue to cost more and more as time goes on. This whole project is a waste of time, energy and money. In theory it sounds wonderful but as a practical means of getting between SF and LA it is terrible idea. The only people that will make out on this deal are the unions and the politicians. It will cost us as taxpayers continually just like Amtrak and CalTrain do an the benefit will never be realized. I hope this whole project fails sooner rather than later so maybe we can save some money and embarrassment.


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Posted by Andrew Bachmann
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 19, 2010 at 3:57 pm

I have a question about the cost estimates for anybody in the know. I downloaded the Appendix L Cost Estimates from 2010/04/08. For sections 7A & 7B relating to San Antonio and Mountain View stations, it lists the following costs: (in increasing order)

At Grade: $155
Aerial Viaduct: $344
Open Trench: $615
Covered Trench/Tunnel: $1,433

The mockups as they are for the "at grade" option seem completely impractical so I was primarily looking at the viaduct vs. trench.

On the viaduct option it lists as a note: "convert shoreline blvd to an underpass". I have two questions about this part:

1) is the whisman overpass high enough that a viaduct can get under it? (or the track can duck down fast enough)
2) does the estimate include the costs for converting shoreline into an underpass?

Maybe someone familiar with the 1% grade math and the local geometry can answer #1. I have the feeling the answer to #2 is in the document, but I can't seem to find the line item.

I'm surprised that the viaduct option is $250 million cheaper than the trench.

Finally one or two last questions:
3) can these things get built while caltrain/freight is in use
4) if so how can they keep caltrain/freight running during the construction?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jay Tulock
a resident of another community
on May 19, 2010 at 5:34 pm

J Cierra said, "The only way to mitigate the effects of this thing is to repeal the HSR measure. Still wishing I had the money to put it on the ballot"

True you do not, but you are one of thousands similar, and together you can join to hire signature gatherers and find more to donate to the cause. The people you wish to find are on the internet from newspapers throughtout the state. Together, united, we can defeat Diridon, Kopp, Pringle and all sixteen of their egos. I grassroots citizens initiative is the only way, as the politicians are all drooling for the federal handout.

Jay Tulock, Vacaville


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Frank
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 30, 2013 at 10:31 am

While late to this conversation, I have to agree with @Steve: a plane trip to LA from SJC is very easy and can be done in less than 2.5 hours, via SWA pretty much any Tue-Thurs! @Jarrett: When was the last time you took a weekday flight from SJC to LA? Print your Boarding Pass at home; pack a carry-on bag; take Central Expwy to the airport (way less traffic and more predictable than 101); park in the Short-Term lot across the street or next door to Terminal B; go straight to Security and pretty much through check-in--you already have your Boarding Pass (I've never seen it busy Tues-Thurs); check monitors when you get through Security; board your plane; enjoy the 40-min flight.

Jus' sayin'....

PS - And if you're concerned that the Check-in line is going to be long, just pay the Airport Preferred Traveler Upgrade Fee and go through the VIP Line. You walk straight to the front then...EVERY TIME YOU FLY. :)


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