One last-minute change to the deal was the elimination of a controversial passage that indicated the bullet train would operate on a four-track alignment, assuming there typically would be two tracks for Caltrain and a pair for high-speed rail.
This was only "controversial" because Palo Alto insists on having veto power over the operations and basic needs of the system, which they have no right to claim. As others have pointed out in the comments, a four-track solution is still expected to be adopted. Personally I think Caltrain and the CHSRA should have kept that language, since NIMBYs cannot be appeased, as they immediately proved:
Palo Alto Council Member Pat Burt, echoing the concerns of other officials and residents, said the cities should have the right to partner with the state as well, not just Caltrain.
"The cities must be allowed to enter into this process in a substantive way," Burt said. "(The Caltrain board) is not designed as its first priority to preserve and protect the quality of life of the cities that the railway passes through."
Right. Their priority is to operate efficient passenger rail service. Burt's words are significant though for explaining what this is all about for him - preserving a 20th century model of urban life that is obsolete and not at all workable in the 21st century. He thinks Palo Alto can live in a kind of permanent 1995. Is this the kind of forward and progressive thinking Palo Alto wants to be known for?
Still, this is a welcome development that shows the high speed rail project is making important progress.
2. Court throws out Menlo Park's letter to CHSRA:
In August 2008, Menlo Park and Atherton joined a lawsuit against the rail authority. One of Menlo Park's arguments in joining the suit was that rail officials had not responded to their letter. Under law, the agency is required to respond to every letter it receives.
But in the March 27 ruling, Judge Michael Kenny said the city did not adequately prove that it had in fact sent the letter, and that it didn't do enough to make sure it had been received. Furthermore, after the release of the final environmental document but before it was certified, there was a 40-day window in which Menlo Park could have resent its letter, the judge said. The city apparently did not do so.
During the City Council's March 31 meeting, City Manager Glen Rojas said the plaintiffs' attorney did not think the exclusion of the city's letter would have much effect on the case, because similar arguments had been made by others, including the town of Atherton.
The article also has an interesting discussion of whether Menlo Park will reconsider its decision to sue. You'd think that in a time of financial crisis for virtually every city in the state, Menlo Park residents would prefer that their taxes pay for libraries and pothole repairs, not frivolous lawsuits against the CHSRA.