Friday, May 06, 2011

California HSR route option reconsidered

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The California High-Speed Rail Authority Thursday agreed to reconsider an HSR route between Los Angeles and San Francisco roughly paralleling Interstate 5, closer to the Pacific coast than the Central Valley option, still viable, through the state’s interior.

CHSRA had planned to begin HSR construction on the “Antelope Valley” alignment, and the inland communities of Gilroy, San Jose, Merced, Fresno, Tulare/Kings, Bakersfield, and Palmdale were deemed eligible by the authority to apply for up to $700,000 in federal stimulus funds and $200,000 in state stimulus funds to help plan for high speed rail stations.

Some were displeased with the authority’s decision to reconsider the route. Los Angelese County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich told local media the move “is a step backwards,” and added, “The proposed action would jeopardize years' worth of commitments to a high-speed rail connection for Antelope Valley residents.”

Supporters of the coastal option note it is 30 miles shorter than the interior routing, offering shorter travel times, less tunneling, and potential cost savings of up to $1 billion. The 700-mile HSR system is projected to cost $44 billion.

The authority on Thursday also rejected a proposal to shareright-of-way with Caltrain on the latter’s approach to San Francisco as a wayto lower project costs. Among other issues, the shared-used proposal would havetrains bound for San Francisco terminate at Fourth and King streets, and not atTransBay Terminal, considered a key intermodal point for the project.