Sorry for the lack of a post yesterday - been busy all day with the California Democratic Party's Executive Board Meeting here in sunny, beautiful San Diego. Some news from the southwestern corner of the nation:
- I had the chance to interview Janice Hahn, LA City Council member and candidate for Lieutenant Governor in 2010. We'll have the video up on a Calitics soon. One thing I asked her about was high speed rail - she's shown strong support for HSR recently, and I asked her if she'd be willing to be a statewide advocate for HSR should she be elected, since we seem to lack such an advocate right now. "Absolutely," she said, and proceeded to make a strong case for why California needs HSR.
- Daniel Krause and I took a quick scoping tour of the proposed HSR route in San Diego, from the Santa Fe Depot north to Rose Canyon and University Towne Center. It seemed clear to us that a downtown station would be the best location for an SD station. Downtown San Diego has become a major regional destination, has a lot of density, and is well-served by the existing mass transit (San Diego Trolley). An airport station, which has a lot of local momentum, would be much less effective from the perspective of potential riders and certainly from the perspective of linking HSR to urban densification (which downtown SD has accomplished quite well). We also took a look at Rose Canyon, where CHSRA proposes an at-grade implementation. BNSF still uses this route for freight service, so track-sharing is an issue. Adding new tracks would mean encroachment on Rose Creek, which is what worries locals. Finally, we drove up to University Towne Center mall, which is an awful TOD location and doesn't seem like a good place for an HSR station. A possible alternative to Rose Canyon is possible though via a tunnel under UTC, along Nobel, and then south along I-5.
- Scoping comments for the LA-SD route are due Friday, November 20th. From Dan Krause:
It appears that most folks making comments support a downtown San Diego station. Unfortunately, the political momentum in the San Diego area is to eliminate the downtown station in favor of an airport station. While I think there is merit considering a scenario where there would be both a downtown and airport station, it is absolutely necessary for the downtown station to happen for a successful project segment.
Comments are due for the scoping for the LA-SD section of the project-level eir-eis on Friday November 20th. Please consider sending a note to the following address and let them know a downtown San Diego needs to be preserved.
Mr. Dan Leavitt, Deputy Director
California High Speed Rail Authority
Attn: Los Angeles to San Diego via the Inland Empire Section EIR/EIS
925 L Street, Suite 1425
Sacramento, CA 95814
Feel free to use this as an open thread for anything HSR-related, whether it involves San Diego or not.