According to the detailed plan that was released by the California High Speed Rail Authority on Thursday, most of the high-speed rail section that will someday traverse the Peninsula and the South Bay will do so above ground, and not in an underground trench as many communities had hoped for. According to this article in the Daily News, the Rail Authority assigned most Peninsula cities above-ground implementations since they are the least expensive, but that decision was not well received by many community leaders on the Peninsula who were lobbying very hard to minimize the intrusion of the new rail system.
Elevated? Been There, Done That…
While many communities on the Peninsula now face the first prospect of an elevated train track splitting their city, San Carlos is one of the only cities that has at least some experience in this area. Years ago, amidst a sea of contention, San Carlos opted to elevate the Caltrain tracks through its city limits as a way to alleviate the chronic traffic tie-ups at the railroad crossings. Opponents to the plan believed that an elevated berm would isolate the east side of the city from the west — a fear many community leaders on the Peninsula are now expressing for their own constituents.
Whether or not this was the net effect on San Carlos is a subjective matter, but what one cannot argue is the fact that traffic flow at the Howard Avenue, Brittan Avenue, and Holly Street intersections is immeasurably better since the tracks were elevated. They’re still far from perfect, but much better than before.
A Little More Noise?
Aside from the isolation concerns, one of the biggest objections to an elevated track will be the noise impact. It’s not a stretch to see how the wind noise and rail noise that’s generated by a train that is capable of 200 mph will be far different (and quite possibly louder) than what we’re accustomed to with CalTrain today. Granted, the train will likely not be hitting those speeds on the Peninsula, but the noise element will be a big concern for many.
In reality, with all of the objections already being voiced by community leaders, it’s easy to see how the whole California High Speed Rail idea could spend the next decade or so in the court system…instead of fulfilling the dream of a high-speed rail backbone in California.
What are your thoughts on the High Speed Rail Initiative?
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