Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Palo Alto Council Flip-Flops on High-Speed Rail

Last fall, the Palo Alto, Calif., City Council unanimously endorsed the California High-Speed Rail bond proposition. Monday night it passed a resolution calling for the line to run through its city in a tunnel or consider alternative routes that would not see the trains operate in the San Francisco Peninsula.

The San Jose Mercury News reports residents having issues with the route the trains would take through their city, which is home to Stanford University.
"One possible alignment would put the tracks on a 20-foot-high concrete platform so the trains wouldn't intersect with cross streets. Residents, inflamed by the prospect of a "Berlin Wall" dividing their neighborhoods, have been packing public meetings on the topic."
But it doesn't have to be so bleak. At the California High-Speed Rail Blog, Robert Cruikshank presents examples from Europe of elevated railway structures that actually enhance the character of the surrounding by placing stores and other businesses under the arches that support the rails.

Here on Long Island, where I live, there are many examples of elevated structures that avoid the "Berlin Wall" effect feared in California. In the vicinity of stations the roadbed is supported by concrete or steel piers. Most of the space is used for parking. However, depots are placed under the tracks, as well. Recently, the Long Island Rail Road has upgraded the structures with new brick or stucco facades. In Merrick, a new depot was built and the original building, which dates to the mid-1970s, was converted into a branch library.

I would suggest that Palo Alto officials should heed the advice of California High-Speed Rail Authority Board Member Rod Diridon and "
focus on how to make the train work now that it has been approved by the state's voters." There is too much upside to let this project be derailed by a bunch of NIMBYs.

No comments:

Post a Comment