High Speed Rail to reveal project choices from San Francisco to Merced

In July the High Speed Rail Authority will disclose “preferred alternative” from San Francisco to San Jose and San Jose to Merced, in a series of community meetings.  The meetings will disclose the High Speed Rail Authority’s preferences for a number of decision points including:

  • Which side of Brisbane Baylands does HSR want for a maintenance yard
  • Whether HSR thinks they need passing tracks to start running high speed rail service on the Peninsula.
  • How High Speed Rail would come through Diridon Station and the adjacent neighborhoods in San Jose

Though the long-term timeline for the High Speed Rail project is murky, these decisions are worth paying attention to. The long-term path for California’s High Speed Rail may depend on factors beyond the State of California, such as the results of national elections, and the potential for Green New Deal style massive national initiatives to address climate change with major investments in transit and high speed rail infrastructure.  

Whatever options are environmentally cleared and approved by the board would be the ones on the books if and when the funding picture changes and there is money to connect trains from the Central Valley to San Jose and San Francisco.

Given the project’s murky timeline, it’s possible that some of options decided on by the High Speed Rail Authority will be superceded, while some may be reinforced by other events.

  • Once HSRA decides which side of the Brisbane tracks it wants a railyard, the City of Brisbane and the developer of the Baylands project might want to avoid proposing development there to avoid extra lawsuits. And Caltrain might look to that location for a replacement railyard if plans move forward to add buildings on land currently used for train storage at 4th and King.
  • The passing track preferences might be superseded by other events. Caltrain’s more recent Business Plan studies indicated somewhat different passing track options. Plus, depending on the sequence of events, it’s possible that Caltrain would want to add a Redwood City passing station before there was High Speed service on the Peninsula Corridor, to meet local/regional needs of corridor growth and service for Dumbarton Corridor and the Downtown Extension
  • The Diridon options might be superseded by other Diridon station area decisions that are currently being shaped by the Diridon Integrated Station Concept Plan process, and changes to Caltrain, BART and regional rail that could possibly happen sooner.
  • Not to mention the hopes and dreams of longtime fans of an Altamont alignment that the plans to improve Amtrak/San Joaquin and Altamont Commuter Express routes would turn into a permanent realignment for High Speed Rail, so that there is never HSR service on the Peninsula, or that service frequency split left and right around the bay.

The community meetings are scheduled as follows:

  • Morgan Hill – Gilroy CWG
    • July 10, 6-8pm
    • Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center, 17000 Monterey Rd, Morgan Hill, CA 95037
  • San Jose CWG
    • July 16, 6-8pm
    • Leininger Center (Okayama Room), 1300 Senter Rd San Jose, CA 95112
  • San Francisco CWG
    • July 22, 6-8pm
    • Bay Area Metro Center (Yerba Buena Room), 375 Beale Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
  • San Mateo County CWG
    • July 24, 6-8pm
    • Burlingame Library (Lane Room), 480 Primrose Rd, Burlingame, CA 94010

Plus, there is a set of open houses scheduled in August: