A new video animation of possible HSR implementations through Palo Alto has been circulating, and a link was posted to it in the comments on yesterday's post. I thought it worth posting, as it looks quite a lot better than anything else we've seen:
That being said, I cannot imagine that the depictions of the above-grade solutions, whether the viaduct or the retained fill, will please the Peninsula NIMBYs. As Clem noted in the comments to yesterday's post, we have to unpack the term "barrier":
As a San Carlos resident, I can't agree with this at all--unless you meant a visual barrier. Visual barriers don't prevent you getting from point A to point B, which is what a physical barrier does (like the tracks in Palo Alto).
San Carlos = high visual, low physical barrier
Palo Alto = low visual, high physical barrier
The whole "division," "barrier," and "Berlin Wall" debate needs to be separated into physical and visual components before it starts to make any sense. Conflating the two is confusing and is often used to scaremongering advantage.
All of the solutions depicted in this video would create a low physical barrier. As we saw over the weekend in Palo Alto, residents also want a low visual barrier in the form of a tunnel, but it is very, very uncertain whether this is financially possible.
Further, there is a third kind of barrier that must be considered - a "mental geography" barrier. Californians have been trained to see above-grade structures as creating spatial divisions and separations within communities, between neighborhoods. An above-ground high visual barrier is usually seen as a something that causes separation and division - which is why the totally ridiculous term "Berlin Wall" used by NIMBYs to describe the above-ground solutions is able to gain any currency at all on the Peninsula. Those barriers are often permeable and people learn to adapt to them, just as Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton have apparently maintained a high quality of life with the much more obtrusive physical barrier of at-grade tracks. But these images are likely to reinforce the perception of an above-ground solution as an undesirable barrier, no matter how positive the effects are likely to be.
I don't know who produced this video, and that would be a rather important matter, especially in determining whether the depiction of the above-ground solutions are fair and realistic or not.