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Burlingame high speed rail mockup worries Caltrain

October 15, 2010 6:53:14 PM PDT
The city of Burlingame is taking a unique approach to let residents see the impact of the proposed high speed rail line through their city and Caltrain is less than thrilled about it.

The city has set up story poles next to the Caltrain tracks showing the height of the proposed rail platform and it is quite a different view than the utopian vision provided by the High Speed Rail Authority in their animations.

City leaders do not want high speed rail to come through their city on elevated tracks. Orange mesh strung between two poles 59-feet in the air represents the height and thickness of the proposed platform. Above it, a rope strung between the poles represents the height of the electric cables.

The city hopes residents will see the mockup, dislike it and raise their voices about it. It seems to be working.

"It's grotesque, absolutely, it's a terrible idea; it divides the city and it's ugly," San Mateo resident Rosemary Pressler said.

The Burlingame City Council wants the trains to disappear underground.

"Right now our understanding from the high speed rail folks is they have eliminated from consideration certainly the tunneled option as well as what we would call the 'cut and cover,' which is what we would really prefer," Burlingame City Manager Jim Nantell said.

Caltrain says nothing has been ruled out.

"Caltrain is a partner in bringing High Speed to the Peninsula, however right now we are in the environmental phase of that process and it's yet to be determined exactly what high speed rail will look like," Caltrain spokesperson Christine Dunn said.

In the short-term Caltrain has a problem with the pole display, fearing it could fall down on trains or pedestrians.

"Our trains travel at 79 miles per hour through that station; it creates a gusty wind effect," Dunn said.

Caltrain has stationed a flagman there at rush hour to watch for problems. The display will be up for one week.


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