High-Speed Rail Authority Presents Plan for Peninsula Rail Corridor
The California High-Speed Rail Authority held a Community Open House in Burlingame October 7. CHSRA officials presented updated information on plans for the rail line that will eventually connect San Francisco and Los Angeles, focusing on the route from San Francisco to San Jose that will run through the Peninsula. The meeting was one of four held in Northern California designed to provide up-to-date information on the statewide High-Speed Rail program and the next phase of planning and environmental review.
CHSRA Board of Directors Vice Chair Thea Selby said the CHSRA has been working with local communities, regional stakeholders and regulatory agencies to plan and identify the potential alignment alternatives for the high-speed rail line through the Peninsula.
CHSRA Board of Directors Vice Chair Thea Selby said the CHSRA has been working with local communities, regional stakeholders and regulatory agencies to plan and identify the potential alignment alternatives for the rail line through the Peninsula. “We believe the Peninsula is in a better position than other areas because people are actively engaged and political leaders and citizens have helped shape the project,” she said. “We are working on the electrification of Caltrain, and we already have tracks here, so we are further along in the process.”
Blended System on an Electrified Caltrain Corridor
The 51-mile blended system on the Peninsula will connect San Jose and San Francisco, with a station at the Millbrae BART and possibly a mid-Peninsula station in Palo Alto.Map by California High-Speed Rail Authority
High-Speed Rail service along the San Francisco to San Jose corridor will be a blended system that will support a modernized Caltrain service and high-speed rail service—primarily on shared track largely within the existing Caltrain corridor. Ben Tripousis, High-Speed Rail Authority Northern Regional Director, said the 51-mile blended system on the Peninsula minimizes impacts on surrounding communities, reduces project cost, improves safety, and expedites implementation. Tripousis said the blended system was promoted by former State Senator Joe Simitian, Assemblymember Rich Gordon, and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo. The state has invested $1.5 billion in the electrification of Caltrain—which will allow the replacement of diesel trains with cleaner electric trains.
A few residents who attended the meeting expressed concerns about HSR on the Peninsula and passed out flyers noting that traffic delays could result from 20 trains per hour passing through the area. Caltrain would have six trains passing through the Peninsula per hour in each direction, along with two High-Speed trains. Tripousis said the agency is continuing to meet with local policy makers, elected officials and groups to address concerns. “The CHSRA is continuing the planning and environmental process to further define the blended system,” he said.
System improvements that will be defined during the planning and environmental review process include passing tracks that could be used by high-speed rail to pass Caltrain trains that need to stop more frequently, system upgrades to support higher train performance and speed, system safety improvements, grade crossings, and new stations. He said there will be as many as 44 grade separations between San Francisco and San Jose, and that, “We are trying to limit right of way impacts.” Tripousis said the environmental impact review process will look at the timing of train trips and how to minimize traffic impacts and traffic delays.
Some of the funding for Caltrain upgrades will be used to upgrade safety along the tracks through an Advanced Signaling System, also known as Positive Train Control (PTC), which can reduce the probability of collisions between trains and between trains and vehicles crossing the tracks.
Construction of the High Speed Rail system began in the Central Valley in 2014; an official groundbreaking ceremony was held in Fresno January 6. The San Francisco to San Jose and the San Jose to Merced Project Sections will connect communities from the Bay Area to the Central Valley via the Transbay Transit Center in downtown San Francisco to the Merced Station in the Central Valley. The first phase of the project will be the 520-mile rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco, with future extensions planned to reach San Diego and Sacramento.
The $68 billion project is being built under a statewide project labor agreement with the Building Trades. The project could create 66,000 construction jobs annually over the next 16 years. According to a High-Speed Rail Authority Fact Sheet, “The increased economic activity associated with the development and implementation of the high-speed rail system could indirectly generate up to an additional 400,000 long-term, permanent jobs statewide.” Some of those job opportunities are already increasing in the Central Valley, with more than 200 small businesses engaged in maintenance, deliveries, and other services.
For more information, check www.hsr.ca.gov.
- Paul Burton