> Tuesday, September 14th at 11:45 AM
> Ronit Bryant
> High Speed Rail Through Mountain View: a Study in Community Engagement

> Ronit Bryant is Mayor of Mountain View and Chair of the High Speed Rail
> Ad Hoc Subcommittee, which meets on an as needed basis regarding
> High-Speed Rail policy recommendations to the City Council and regional
> High-Speed Rail issues. The Subcommittee is also tasked with fostering a
> collaborative environment with the community during the design phase.

> Since late last year, Mountain View residents and city officials have
> been involved in a process managed by the California High Speed Rail
> Authority called Context Sensitive Solutions, consisting of a number of
> informational workshops to gather community input on design
> alternatives. In addition, the Council has held a study session to
> discuss design alternatives.

> Ronit will give an overview of the process and describe her experience
> as a Subcommittee member actively participating in the process over the
> past 9 months, including her feelings on the current design alternatives
> available to the city.

Ronit began by explaining that the High Speed Rail issue got real when voters passed 1A, maybe four years ago now. The initiative specified that high speed rail go from Anaheim to San Francisco, with only a few stops in between. Since then the reality of the questions about how we do this have been working their way through the process. At this point it looks like the route will come over Pacheco Pass from Sacramento, stop in San Jose, and then follow the Caltrain right of way up the peninsula to San Francisco.

There is likely to be a stop on the Peninsula, somewhere between Redwood City and Mountain View. Such a stop would require 3,000 parking places and a station capable of handling 15,000 visitors every day. After studying the issue, our Mayor reports that Mtn View doesn't want a station here. It would simply do too much damage to the downtown we all enjoy to add that much parking and traffic.

Caltrain right of way is wide enough in Mountain View to handle the additional tracks. However, high speed rail requires that all roads be grade separated from the tracks. This would require redoing the intersections at Rengsdorf and Castro Streets. There are a number of ways to do this. After study the best answer looks like putting high speed rail in a covered trench, leaving the pedestrian and car access as it is now.

There are other towns where the right of way isn't yet wide enough. Places like Atherton, where the residents are very negative on having their back yards shaved by a government taking.

Ronit sees the coming of high speed rail as a great opportunity for all of the cities on the peninsula to work together and make something happen. The whole project will be a $43 Billion investment in California. She is hopeful that there will be shovels in the ground working on it by 2012.

During Q&A the following came up:

One problem is that the high speed rail authority seems to be dense and opaque, and it's not at all clear how their decisions are being made.

280 is not a good path for trains because it doesn't get very near the many population centers on the peninsula. 101 is too curvy for trains to follow that right of way.

Caltrain is hoping to get electrified rail out of sharing the tracks. Electric drive would make it possible for them to start and stop more quickly, shaving minutes out of the schedules. They have no money to make the project happen otherwise.

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Tian Harter