why San Jose continues to make sure the environmental community does not support the CA HSR project

Once again provincial San Jose (Ca) interests are trying to convince people that up is down and right is left. The latest example

As usual, the Mercury News takes their San Jose-is-the-center-of-the-universe-approach in their editorial published on January 5, 2006.

After giving some basic background information:

But a key question will be answered over the next year: How should the trains enter the Bay Area from the Central Valley? Should they cross the Diablo Range near Pacheco Pass and head north through Gilroy and San Jose? Or should they turn east near Tracy and come over the Altamont Pass?

This is definitely the key question. Since 1999, San Jose interests have been trying to stop any sort of serious study of the Altamont Pass (I-580) corridor. Unfortunately, for them in 2004 the Bay Area passed RM2. Among other things RM2’s project list included:

Provide planning funds for integrated regional rail study pursuant to Section 30914.5 (f). Includes up to $2.5 million for Caltrain and/or BART to study ways to improve Bay Area access to the high-speed rail system. Up to $0.5 million for Caltrain and/or BART to study the feasibility and construction of an intermodal transfer hub at Niles Junction.

For more details about the regional rail plan, go to the Regional Rail website.

So that was that. Altamont was to be studied. Unfortunately for all hoping for a definitive unbiased study, Carl Guardino got himself appointed to the MTC Advisory Committee, turning what was supposed to be an independent advisory committee into a political committee.

Now back to the SJ Mercury editorial. They jump immediately to conclusions without bothering to do the fact checking. Or waiting for the Regional Rail study to be complete.

The answer should be Pacheco Pass. It’s the only way to serve Silicon Valley and San Francisco tech and tourism industries efficiently enough to be practical.

Why the Pacheco Pass? The only towns anywhere along this route are Los Banos and Gilroy, whose population is considerable less than Fremont, CA alone. But Fremont, is followed by Pleasanton, Livermore, Tracy, Stockton, and other areas that would get much improved commuter  train service and some long-distance High-Speed Rail service.

They go on:

Folks in Sacramento and the East Bay, along with some environmental groups, favor the Altamont Pass. South Bay leaders and some transit experts insist that the Pacheco/Gilroy route is the only way to ensure statewide high-speed rail success.

But based on logic — just look at a map — the route to San Jose makes the most sense. From San Jose, trains would continue in two directions — north along the Caltrain corridor to San Francisco or northeast to Oakland.

How about the logic of building the route where people are so they have a reason to ride the train? Or the logic of not building a route that has parallel sets of tracks thereby increasing construction and maintenance costs?

Using the Altamont Pass, trains from the south would stop in the Fremont-Union City area and then send spurs in three directions to San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland. That makes no sense. The line would end up being nothing more than a very expensive commuter option for folks in the Central Valley. Rail options already exist for this.

Oh gee, so people might be able to use the infrastructure in their day-to-day lives. So may be they might vote for it to be built? Isn’t that kind of important too? and it would be cheaper as well because of fewer total system miles.

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One Response to why San Jose continues to make sure the environmental community does not support the CA HSR project

  1. Nick says:

    Have you checked out http://www.sfcityscape.com/transit/CAHSR.html ?

    Really insightfull essay. Wonderfull “South Bay Transit Mafia” analogy

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