Residents view high-speed rail plans

September 30, 2009 8:05:25 PM PDT
A public session is underway in San Carlos to unveil new drawings of where proposed high-speed rail tracks will be built between San Francisco and San Jose. It is an important step for a controversial and expensive project.

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Long-awaited drawings showing where high-speed trains may someday travel at 125 miles an hour, linking San Francisco to San Jose in 30 minutes.

"We've tried to incorporate as much of the comment as we can from and input from communities, from stakeholders, decision makers and other interested parties," HNTB corporation spokesperson Peter Gertler said.

The process has not been easy. Public town hall meetings have brought out critics.

"The best way you can help the cities of the peninsula and the state is to kill high-speed rail as fast as possible," one attendee said.

This is only a first iteration with many refinements yet to come. In many spots, the option remains open to raise or tunnel the high-speed rail tracks.

However, there will be long sections where the right-of-way will have four tracks across at grade level -- two for high speed trains and two for the existing Caltrain tracks.

"I think it'll quell some of the controversy," California High-Speed Rail Board member Quentin Kopp said. "This ought to reassure everybody at least as what the choices are. This is an endeavor which requires choices, and they're not always easy."

A rail authority animation demonstrates that a goal is to keep the tracks as level and straight as possible to allow the trains to move at a consistent speed.

"What we don't want to end up in the end is having a porpoise effect of continually going up and down so we'll have to look at how we pull all of those pieces together," HNTB engineer Tim Cobb said.

Government and transit agency representatives got a first look earlier Wednesday. Now it is the public's turn.

LINK: California High-Speed Rail plans (PDF)

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