News

Residents mull HSR design options

In a meeting Monday night about the consequences of high speed rail in Mountain View, local residents found themselves mulling the sort of questions usually left to those with degrees in transportation design.

"Can you Photo Shop some pictures for us?" said one attendee as many tried to visualize the various alternatives for the grade separated train crossings required in Mountain View at Castro Street and Rengstorff Avenue.

The city-organized meeting was intended to educate the public and California High Speed Rail Authority officials spoke in the crowded Senior Center ballroom about the various challenges, options and likely scenarios that could play out in Mountain View. In the effort to build the high-speed train line from San Francisco to Los Angeles, a major rail station is being considered for downtown and two additional train tracks could turn the Caltrain corridor into an aerial platform, a shallow tunnel or trench or remain at grade level.

In small groups, residents made their preferences known about those options, though little was said about the possible train station.

"People don't want the aerial or at-grade options," for running the tracks, concluded one group at the end of the meeting. "We want the whole thing to be invisible, really." Most attendees cheered and applauded the remark.

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But the solution, as some found, isn't that simple. Stevens Creek and Permanente Creek are major obstacles for the trench or shallow tunnel options, which may also be prohibitively expensive. Rail Authority officials said a deep tunnel that could go underneath the creeks is not being studied for Mountain View. And while the aerial platform option has the advantage of making the land along the corridor useable and pedestrian friendly, it would require that Shoreline Boulevard and San Antonio Road overpasses be "leveled" as one participant put it.

Safety concerns about the aerial platform option were also raised.

A train going 100 miles per hour could "have the possibility of flying off the tracks and into houses," concluded one group.

But others disagreed, saying that high speed rail had a near perfect safety record in other countries, and that the real problem of debris falling onto the tracks and derailing a train was less likely on a platform than an open trench.

Rail Authority officials presented a picture of an aerial train viaduct in Paris with retail shops inside the arches. Some liked the idea, but others did not.

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"Well that might work in Paris but this is Mountain View," said one participant. The remark got laughs when repeated to the entire crowd in the group's report.

Rail Authority officials said they were taking seriously the city's concerns about not running the 125 mile per hour train at grade across Castro Street, which would require the major traffic artery to be closed off.

"At this point, we need to keep Castro Street open," said Dominic Spaethling regional manager for the High Speed Rail, to the crowd.

Some attendees thought the exercise was a waste of time.

"This is like re-arranging the deck chairs on the titanic," said Sylvan Park resident Kathy Hall. She and resident Leslie Murdoch pointed to the recent state audit of the California High Speed Rail Authority which they said raises serious questions about the financial management the $43 billion project.

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Residents mull HSR design options

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Tue, May 4, 2010, 1:51 pm

In a meeting Monday night about the consequences of high speed rail in Mountain View, local residents found themselves mulling the sort of questions usually left to those with degrees in transportation design.

"Can you Photo Shop some pictures for us?" said one attendee as many tried to visualize the various alternatives for the grade separated train crossings required in Mountain View at Castro Street and Rengstorff Avenue.

The city-organized meeting was intended to educate the public and California High Speed Rail Authority officials spoke in the crowded Senior Center ballroom about the various challenges, options and likely scenarios that could play out in Mountain View. In the effort to build the high-speed train line from San Francisco to Los Angeles, a major rail station is being considered for downtown and two additional train tracks could turn the Caltrain corridor into an aerial platform, a shallow tunnel or trench or remain at grade level.

In small groups, residents made their preferences known about those options, though little was said about the possible train station.

"People don't want the aerial or at-grade options," for running the tracks, concluded one group at the end of the meeting. "We want the whole thing to be invisible, really." Most attendees cheered and applauded the remark.

But the solution, as some found, isn't that simple. Stevens Creek and Permanente Creek are major obstacles for the trench or shallow tunnel options, which may also be prohibitively expensive. Rail Authority officials said a deep tunnel that could go underneath the creeks is not being studied for Mountain View. And while the aerial platform option has the advantage of making the land along the corridor useable and pedestrian friendly, it would require that Shoreline Boulevard and San Antonio Road overpasses be "leveled" as one participant put it.

Safety concerns about the aerial platform option were also raised.

A train going 100 miles per hour could "have the possibility of flying off the tracks and into houses," concluded one group.

But others disagreed, saying that high speed rail had a near perfect safety record in other countries, and that the real problem of debris falling onto the tracks and derailing a train was less likely on a platform than an open trench.

Rail Authority officials presented a picture of an aerial train viaduct in Paris with retail shops inside the arches. Some liked the idea, but others did not.

"Well that might work in Paris but this is Mountain View," said one participant. The remark got laughs when repeated to the entire crowd in the group's report.

Rail Authority officials said they were taking seriously the city's concerns about not running the 125 mile per hour train at grade across Castro Street, which would require the major traffic artery to be closed off.

"At this point, we need to keep Castro Street open," said Dominic Spaethling regional manager for the High Speed Rail, to the crowd.

Some attendees thought the exercise was a waste of time.

"This is like re-arranging the deck chairs on the titanic," said Sylvan Park resident Kathy Hall. She and resident Leslie Murdoch pointed to the recent state audit of the California High Speed Rail Authority which they said raises serious questions about the financial management the $43 billion project.

Comments

Margaret
Willowgate
on May 4, 2010 at 2:55 pm
Margaret, Willowgate
on May 4, 2010 at 2:55 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.

A lot of peninsula residents near the line, like me, are not in favor of it.

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? Critical thinking, please.


HSRnow
another community
on May 4, 2010 at 3:38 pm
HSRnow, another community
on May 4, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Then get ride of Prop13 there is your money for education...its a local issue not one that should be using half the state budget...And you may not want HSR or voted no on the bond but far more people here in the BayArea voted YES..your living location near busy railroad tracks is/was of course your choice.


random reason
Old Mountain View
on May 4, 2010 at 4:15 pm
random reason, Old Mountain View
on May 4, 2010 at 4:15 pm

If HSR ended in SJ, Caltrain trains would simply not have the capacity for its regular users because Caltrain would be packed with HSR riders. That idea is often stated as if it is some original solution to the problem, which it is definitely not.


James
Whisman Station
on May 4, 2010 at 4:16 pm
James, Whisman Station
on May 4, 2010 at 4:16 pm


There have been a number of HSR accidents, The ICE train in Germany is probably the worst. The TGV has had some derailments, but were not serious due to the train not fishtailing, perhaps due to the stiffness of the articulation. I think the trench is best solution. The creeks can be engineered under the trench.


kathy
Sylvan Park
on May 4, 2010 at 4:18 pm
kathy, Sylvan Park
on May 4, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Why was the audit report not mentioned AT ALL last night....that is the big issue, not whether or not a trench or a tunnel is the best option, or how loud it will be. This sums it up....

"Now it's all out there for one and all to see. The grandiose plan for a high-speed rail system stretching from San Diego to San Francisco and Sacramento is a true, unadulterated boondoggle. The California state auditor has issued a scathing report that places the proposal in stark perspective. High-speed rail is a mismanaged financial nightmare waiting to devour the state's already hopelessly decaying budget for decades to come. Simply put, the money isn't there to build this project. Currently, the project's cost is said to be $43 billion. But that number is so ephemeral as to be almost worthless."
Web Link


Steve
Old Mountain View
on May 4, 2010 at 4:20 pm
Steve, Old Mountain View
on May 4, 2010 at 4:20 pm
J Cierra
Sylvan Park
on May 4, 2010 at 4:31 pm
J Cierra, Sylvan Park
on May 4, 2010 at 4:31 pm

How did Palo Alto get HSR to consider putting the track under San Francisquito, but Mountain View does not get the same consideration for Permanente and Stevens Creek? The depth and size of San Francisquito is much more complex than the creeks in Mountain View? - Another example of our city council refusing to advocate for the citizens.


Rodger
Sylvan Park
on May 4, 2010 at 5:16 pm
Rodger, Sylvan Park
on May 4, 2010 at 5:16 pm

I went to the meeting but found little or no new information. I think the project will fail due to costs, it's really going to cost around $100 billion to finish and then there is the bonds interest cost. Of course like all public transit systems it will not generate enough in fares to pay even operating costs and no change to pay off the bonds. Let's find a way to put a state wide proposition for a future election that will cancel this project. However if it is partially built it must be at grade level or below. If it's built a grade level closing Castro Street will be a good thing, it will become at least partially a mall with more street businesses such as restaurants.


Joe
Shoreline West
on May 4, 2010 at 10:04 pm
Joe, Shoreline West
on May 4, 2010 at 10:04 pm

A train running more than 100 mph plus makes lots of noise.

Just scrap Caltran since its loosing money anyway and dig a tunnel from san francisco to san jose like the european and asian countries would do.







Seer
Blossom Valley
on May 5, 2010 at 8:54 am
Seer, Blossom Valley
on May 5, 2010 at 8:54 am

Making CalTrain a leg of an HSR journey between SF and LA is simply not an alternative. Who would ride a train that takes half its time to get from SF to SJ, and the other half from SJ to LA? The two lines have different purposes: one is local travel, the other long-distance. Caltrain's average speed is in the neighborhood of 20 MPH because it stops so often. Speeding it up would mean adding... another two tracks on the peninsula so that trains could truly bypass "local" traffic. At that point, HSR becomes more practical anyway.

It really isn't an issue of "either-or": you need both local and long-distance transportation. This is why people don't take a bicycle to get to LA from SJ.


Mike R
Old Mountain View
on May 5, 2010 at 9:43 am
Mike R, Old Mountain View
on May 5, 2010 at 9:43 am

The HSR bond is specifically to San Francisco. Ending at SJ is not an option.


MVMike
Old Mountain View
on May 5, 2010 at 4:50 pm
MVMike, Old Mountain View
on May 5, 2010 at 4:50 pm

The reality is that this is a project that will ultimately benefit our grandchildren, but will be an expensive hassle for us. You don't hear anyone complain today about the cost of building the interstate highway system fifty years ago, but it cost $425B (in today's) dollars over 35 years. With an additional 30 million people by 2050, California will have to have an alternative to cars for intrastate transport.

BTW, it's hard to believe that running the HSR along 101 would be more expensive than all of these proposed tunnels.


Sam
another community
on May 6, 2010 at 2:26 pm
Sam, another community
on May 6, 2010 at 2:26 pm

At the time we voted for the proposition, we had no information about costs. If the ballot proposition had included the facts that are now available, I think it would have failed.


MtnView
The Crossings
on May 14, 2010 at 12:07 pm
MtnView, The Crossings
on May 14, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Kill HSR - waste of money. Few will ride, all will pay -
especially the peninsula residents.


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