Monday, August 3, 2009

Menlo Park HSR Town Hall Rescheduled For August 26

NOTE: We've moved! Visit us at the California High Speed Rail Blog.

Mark your calendars:

High Speed Rail Town Hall Meeting
Wednesday August 26th at 7:00 PM
Menlo Park City Council Chambers
701 Laurel Street

On Wednesday, August 26th, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo will host a Town Hall Meeting to discuss High Speed Rail. Experts from the High Speed Rail Authority and Caltrain will make presentations and answer questions.

In November, 2008, Californians passed Proposition 1A, the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century. How this will impact local communities has been the subject of considerable debate.

The meeting will be held at the Menlo Park City Council Chambers from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

If constituents are not able to attend, they can watch the Town Hall Meeting live via webcast at They can also submit questions for the panelists through This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The location is wheelchair accessible and parking is available. For more information, constituents can visit Rep. Eshoo’s website at or call her District Office at (650) 323-2984 or (408) 245-2339.

Wednesday evening is a MUCH less ideal time than a Saturday afternoon, but I will be there anyway. Hope you will as well, at least if you're in the Bay Area and are able to attend.


Evan Goldin said...

Sweet. I can actually make this one.

Anonymous said...

I'll have to take a night off work for this. But it might be interesting.

political_incorrectness said...

I will still watch the webcast of this.

Bay Area Resident said...

I wonder if they will be serving Geritol hors-doevres? This meeting better be quick before all those geezers fall asleep at 8:15.

Anonymous said...

They had to schedule it after the Carrow's early bird special.

ex-Eshoo supporter said...

The meeting promised to be a real looser. Below I copy how it will be conducted. You get the usual promoters from CalTrain and the Authority -- you get screened questions. You get no new info.

Eshoo is firm supporter of the project in any form. She has been sending her staff around to public officials urging them not to oppose in any way the project, for fear Federal money will be put into jeopardy. Actually she needs to be removed from office; she has been there way too long.

Anyone who is looking for new info, will be sorely disappointed. I'll never vote for her again.


I’m writing to invite you to the rescheduled High Speed Rail Town Hall
Meeting. I had to postpone the original meeting from July 25th because
critical healthcare reform negotiations required my presence in Washington,

Experts from the High Speed Rail Authority and Caltrain will make
presentations and answer questions.

The meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 26th at the Menlo Park City
Council Chambers, 701 Laurel Street, Menlo Park, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The location is wheelchair accessible and there is parking nearby. For more
information, you can visit my website at or call our
District Office at (650) 323-2984 or (408) 245-2339.

If you’re not able to attend, the Town Hall Meeting will be Webcast live at and I will take questions from Webcast viewers.
Anyone with a question can email it to me at

I hope to see you in Menlo Park or via our live Webcast.

All my best,

Anna G. Eshoo
Member of Congress

Reality Check said...

So "ex-Eshoo supporter" ... we get you're pissed because Eshoo thinks HSR is a good idea and backs it ... but I'm curious why don't you tell us exactly how the meeting should be run?

Rafael said...

@ Reality Check -

Hell hath no fury like a NIMBY spurned. You're wasting your time.

ex-Eshoo supporter said...

Reality check and Rafael:

Rafael, your comment is probably on target.

Let me tell you how the meeting should be run.

It is advertised as a Town Forum. It is sponsored by Rep. Eshoo, who presumably should be held accountable to her local minions. They put her into office --- she should be listening to us -- she should not be listening to more propaganda from the CHSRA and CalTrain.

As for the community, how many times do we get this same type of gathering. We have had enough of this last year.

Rep Eshoo has been on record way back favoring the project. BTW, she lives near the tracks in Menlo Park -- she is hardly ever home as I understand it.

She doesn't want to take any flack for her position. I'm not sure why she even needs to be there.

She should be willing to take questions herself from the audience. Last year she had a more general meeting and she took herself questions. She said then in response to the HSR bond measure, we shouldn't worry too much -- it probably wasn't going to pass -- voters usually don't give their approval to spending measures during tough times. She was wrong --- she kept pushing for passage.

Sick of NIMBYs said...

A NIMBY wrote:

It is advertised as a Town Forum. It is sponsored by Rep. Eshoo, who presumably should be held accountable to her local minions. They put her into office --- she should be listening to us -- she should not be listening to more propaganda from the CHSRA and CalTrain.

Well, since the majority of voters in her district supported HSR, I think what you really wanted to say is "Rep. Eshoo should listen to us NIMBYs because we canb cry and whine the loudest."

YESonHSR said...

@Jim..sorry off topic but somewhere
I thought I saw you worked for Amtrak..anyway I cant find out if the Buses will be running over to Emerville durning the Bay Bridge retro fit Sep-3-6..labor day weekend.I have a ticket from The ferry terminal to LA via the San Jouaquin train 712..amtrak res says it running..amtrak california says Capitals buses are NOT and someone would need to take BART to Richmond station to get these this apply to the SJ trains as well..wanted to check out the "route" of our new HSR system!

Rail>Auto said...

I wish I was in CA to make this meeting... These meetings are always good chances for NIMBYS to turn the tide on initiatives.. I hope this site can get as many people as possible to this meeting to make sure this doesn't happen.

dave said...

The reason why these meetings seem like the town or area is opposed to this project is because NIMBY's are the only ones who have a reason to be there, to cry and whine!

On the other hand, supporters of the project feel like everything is taken care of and are confident, so they don't need to show up.

If we can get more supporters to take the time to attend these meetings then NIMBY's would probably hide in the corner.

Anonymous said...

Sick of NIMBY's writes:

"Well, since the majority of voters in her district supported HSR, I think what you really wanted to say is "Rep. Eshoo should listen to us NIMBYs because we canb cry and whine the loudest."

That was then... this is now. Anyone who believes that PA, MP, Atherton etc., having really learned what this boondoggle is all about, would suppot it, is in la la land.

The is one great gap between somebody like Eshoo who is ignoring those who voted for her and a representative like State Senator Simitian.

They both favor HSR. But Eshoo won't even bother to listen to constituents.

Simitian, last year know nothing about the project either. But he has now taken the time to learn about the project. He has become the chair of the key budget sub-committee in Sacramento and he is doing a lot of things right. Does he still support the project. Yes he does (unfortunately from my prospective). But he is trying his best to make sure this does not turn into a complete disaster.

I sincerely hope Simitian will run against Eshoo next election cycle. Eshoo is hopeless, she needs to be replaced. Simitian has a real war chest and could indeed make it a fight.

Anonymous said...

Why don't all the supporters of the project here get together and get Robert to run for State Assembly.

He has political ambitions; he is young. He had been cultivating the whole left side of the Democratic party. Get him elected, and he would push for every rail project one can imagine.

Dig deep guys --- it take funds to win a campaign.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Anon @9:10 PM - heh. Don't hold your breath. Bill Monning, who represents the 27th AD in the Assembly (which includes Monterey) is a friend of mine and someone I strongly support, even though we occasionally disagree on the state budget. He is just starting his first term, and will be in office until 2014.

Anonymous said...

@ yes onhsr

The tickets are being changed so that you will get a ticket from sf to ric that you will give to an amtrak emplyee at the embarcadero bart station. We did this last time. just dome to ferry building tkt office and change your ticket - you can take bart on your own if you want. but come down and change your ticket so you wont have to pay. The details have not been issues to us in full yet - but thats how we did it last year.

Sam said...

That was then... this is now.

The details of CAHSR were available before the vote. If people in MP, Atherton, and PA were too stupid to read up on the project and voted yes when they really wanted to vote no, well, them's the brakes. This isn't a best-of-seven series.

Anonymous said...


I don't know why I knew all about HSR before I voted but the PA MP folks were completely in the dark. Was there a media black out on the peninsula?

Rafael said...

@ jim -

the city of Menlo Park was in fact proactive in its dealings with CHSRA prior to last November's election, e.g. by pressing - albeit unsuccessfully - for a trench alignment.

The city of Palo Alto is a different kettle of fish, it did not raise any red flags prior to the election. Council members were either sitting on their duff, co-opted by CHSRA or waiting for prop 1A(2008) to pass so they could pounce as soon as a few of the inevitable NIMBYs reared their heads. Whatever the reasons, city officials did not behave appropriately.

Rafael said...

(cross comment from Clem's post on the Berkeley BART Tunnel Saga - highly recommended reading for anyone interested in the Eshoo town hall)

The plot thickens:

Palo Alto to hire consultants to review high-speed rail plans.

IMHO, this is actually a good thing, even though there will almost certainly be disagreement over e.g. the cost of a tunnel option as well as the need for four tracks all the way down the peninsula. It may well be bitter and protracted, much like the Berkeley BART saga of the 1960s.

However, with engineers involved on both sides, at least there is a good chance of some fact-based discussion, which has been sorely lacking from the HSR opposition. The project is too large and the result too important to leave it all up to just CHSRA or those who react to it on a purely emotional level.

The bottom line will end up the same as it is today: if you want a fancy stretch of rail tunnel through suburbia, you're going to have to figure out a way to raise funds for the difference yourself. Anything else opens CHSRA up to environmental justice lawsuits that would kill the entire project, which has been democratically legitimized. The sooner SF peninsula cities bite the bullet, the sooner there can be a constructive dialog on how to keep the cost delta to a minimum - even if that means firing a CHSRA board member or two. The only people who benefit from years of delay are lawyers and construction companies.

Moving the alignment to 101 or to the East Bay, perhaps even out onto a causeway down the middle of the Bay, will be advocated yet again and rejected yet again. That's because each of these alternatives would cost at least as much while doing nothing at all to grade separate Caltrain and UPRR traffic.

Anonymous said...

Caltrain can be upgraded incrementally with highway underpasses, overpasses and some street closures. Moving to 101 means no complaints about the noise of trains operating at high speeds and no interference from Caltrain problems.

The 101 alternative needs to be sympathetically costed out, not just dismissed. It advantages are being ignored.

Spokker said...

Will there be punch and pie?

Bianca said...

Similarly: On Sept. 12, Palo Alto will sponsor an all-day "teach-in" to educate the public on "urban design and planning concepts" related to railroad design.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 9:13am -

CHSRA did look at running HSR along 101 and concluded it was an inferior option. However, they published very little by way of supporting evidence. If they have more gathering dust on a shelf somewhere, an independent review should be given access to it. After all, California taxpayers did pay for the data.

That said, re-opening the program-level EIR/EIS would be a really, really bad idea this late in the game. FRA has already rendered its Decision of Record, which has put California and the Bay Area in particular in an excellent position to secure federal funding for the project.

Of course, if SF peninsula cities want to conduct their own study of the 101 corridor, they're free to do so and use that in legal proceedings down the road. To carry any weight, such a study should include itemized cost estimates for two tracks of HSR plus full grade separation of all remaining Caltrain grade crossings up and down the peninsula plus Caltrain electrification. There's also the issue of where HSR would cut over between the rights of way. Sierra Point up in Brisbane might be an option.

Note that Caltrain wants to increase its rush hour service from 5 to 10 tph (trains per hour) by 2025, which would effectively all but close any remaining grade crossings during those times of day. Canceling those plans would severely constrain Caltrain's potential for ridership growth created by electrification and the DTX tunnel to the new SF Transbay Terminal.

Since only $41 million of the prop 1A(2008) bond volume is reserved for Caltrain itself, peninsula cities would need to construct additional grade separation that don't involve HSR on their own nickel. That could mean implementation over several decades. In fact, it might never be completed at all, such that there would still be real estate blight due to bells and whistles unless FRA quiet zones are established. That won't happen until and unless the associated legal liability issues are resolved.

To mitigate this highly undesirable outcome, Caltrain could constrain tph growth by elongating its station platforms and purchasing Talgo 22 rather than Siemens Desiro EMU equipment. This would maximize seat count and ease of access per unit of train length. However, even with this mitigation, 101 would become even more of a mess during rush hour. There could very well be a lot of additional vehicle traffic from Dumbarton Bridge through Menlo Park/Palo Alto over to El Camino Real/Central Expressway, down the Bayshore frontage road just east of 101 and on other secondary roads.

An independent study that looks at all of these impacts, financial and otherwise, might very well support CHSRA's conclusion that the Caltrain ROW really is the best option for running HSR down the SF peninsula. Rod Dirdion et al. may come across as arrogant at times, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're wrong.

Anonymous said...

My prediction is that things will wind up being built as planned with some mods for noise.

lyqwyd said...

101 is obviously a bad choice. It would be just as expensive as running a tunnel all the way through the peninsula since it would have to be elevated the entire way.

Running along 280 might be better than 101, but then the stations would be far from the actual riders, or would not be built at all.

The Caltrain ROW is the obvious winner as it adds grade separation/electrification to Caltrain, thus improving trip time for riders, and no longer requires cars to wait while the train passes, as well as eliminates whistle blowing as the train passes.

YesonHSR said...

@Jim thanks thought that was going to be the plan..

Morris Brown said...

The second in the 4 part series appearing the the NY Times from Harvard Professor Edward Glasser has appeared:


I suspect Robert will have plenty to say about this; most likely starting off with his "cost of doing nothing" outburst.

Anonymous said...

An independent study could very well come up with the finding that the 101 corridor is the preferable option.

Demands for tunneling are not going to go away. In fact other towns are likely to pile on to the idea once they see PA et al are sticking to their guns.

Elevateds are much cheaper than tunnels - especially if underground stations are required. But they are ugly and noisy - the noise problem worsens with age - BART is a good illustration of this. The great advantage of the 101 alignment is that it eliminates the blight and noise issue. The drone of the freeway is so loud that the trains will be inaudible even without expensive sound walls. You could even argue that the 101 is so ugly that the addition of trains will make it more visually interesting. An appropriate industrial application within an industrial application.

The cost of the tunnels will be so significant that building two surface lines will be comparable. Caltrain can still receive electrification and progressive grade separation. Top speeds would stay in the 80mph range, similar to BART.

The hsr would provide the express service to San Francisco. Alternately you could terminate the hsr at SFO, with a transfer to Caltrain or BART.

Anonymous said...

How delusional are NIMBYS? In their world our elected officials should ignore the vast majority of their constituents and give their selfish concerns above all else.
Seriously, these folks must have been ultra-rich/spoiled all of their lives. Fortunately for us, the will of the majority trumps the minority's whining and crying.
Eshoo! Eshoo! Eshoo!

Anonymous said...

the noise problem worsens with age - BART is a good illustration of this

The only thing this illustrates is that BART spends all its money on expansion and very little on basic upkeep of the existing system.

An independent study could very well come up with the finding that the 101 corridor is the preferable option.

So what? Some studies showed Altamont would be the preferable option, but those don't matter either.

The State of California has already decided that HSR would go via the Caltrain right of way. That decision has been approved and there is no legal recourse (other than Atherton & Menlo Park's lawsuit) to overturn it. The Attorney General of the State of California will see to it.

Rafael said...

"[...] the noise problem worsens with age - BART is a good illustration of this

The only thing this illustrates is that BART spends all its money on expansion and very little on basic upkeep of the existing system."

Tracks rated for operation at 125mph have to be maintained regularly, even if axle loads are kept below 17 metric tons (the international standard for HSR). Therefore, HSR won't have the luxury of deferring maintenance in favor of network expansion.

Anonymous said...

Of course there is a way to change anything legal. It is called legislation.

Believe it, under the right curcumstances all of us could be drafted into the army at a stroke of a pen.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Morris, my reaction to the Glaeser piece will probably come later tonight or tomorrow. And yes, I think that a true assessment of HSR costs must include the cost of doing nothing.

It must also take into consideration future changes in transportation and oil prices. Glaeser assumes a permanent 2009, which is just absurd.

Anonymous said...

the 101 would not drown out the noise of the train. the train would be elevated higher than it would be on the calrain row so it would spread the noise further and it would affect the neighbors more than the calrain row elevation would affect its neighbors. Of course those neighbors aren't concerned about noise in the other nieghbohoods.Are there homes on HAight, and Poplar, and Oakwood, and green. Van Buren and Peirce?

Anonymous said...

tbt joint powers is on sfgtv right now. might be some good info coming up

Anonymous said...

The temp terminal completed end of oct. operators move over. emp term opens early feb.

they are getting ready to bid out the demolition.

for the rail -- they did something where they extended the platform length to satisfy cahsr, and added crossovers for caltrain to meet demand and flexibility needs.

Working with caltrain and hsr on the townsend interface.

everything else is about relocating utilities and other boring stuff.... oh and apparently theres lots of contractors waiting to bid on all this.

still watching - coming up is more on the rail levels.

Anonymous said...

theyre doing "value engineering" to help absorb the increased costs of extending the rail platform.

working on refining details of the public spaces, retail etc, finishes, structural design. gray water, Lighting ventalilation, blah blah blah. details details.

arra funding requests for rail levels.....

rail to be done in first phase. working on minimizing costs of redesign/mods

waiting on FRA decisions about funding.

basically it goes on a about a lot of hoo ha about minimizing the effect of adding the rail changes up front.

lots of concern about the rail issues messing up the program apparently.

lyqwyd said...

a basic el might be cheaper than a tunnel, but an el on 101 would not.

As has been pointed out many times:

numerous on/off ramps would have to be demolished and rebuilt,

101 is too curvy for the speeds being considered meaning possible emimnent domain takings around the freeway and/or a much more massive structure needed to pass over the width of the freeway,

the el would have to go up much higher than a standard el in areas in order to cross some overpasses,

noise would travel much farther since the el would be higher,

lanes on 101 would be blocked for years at a time during construction since there is no median requiring bypasses to be constructed.

These are just a few of the flaws in your plan for the 101. We know you've seen them all before, we've heard your crazy claims many times before.

Perhaps there are better alternatives to Caltrain ROW, but 101 is most certainly not one of them.

Anonymous said...

No outside study, if done by professionals, will determine that the 101 corridor is superior to the Caltrain row for HSR. That's just plain absurd!

Anonymous said...

here comes the webcor guy....

nothing too interesting - lots of gobbldygook. wake me when the train are ready to depart.

and now there some girl up there who doesn't look like she should be in charge of such a huge project. Shouldn't there be a guy in a hard hat or something?

Anonymous said...

to do the train box in phase one they need the 400 million from FRA intercity passenger rail funds. from arra.

Bianca said...

The great advantage of the 101 alignment is that it eliminates the blight and noise issue.

So the implication is that the real estate around the freeway is already blighted, so adding HSR won't make it any worse? That somehow the real estate around an active railroad, with noisy, smelly diesel trains with LOUD horns going by 100+ times a day on weekdays, somehow that land is bucolic and pristine and would be ruined by HSR?

Or is the implication simply that the people who live near 101 don't care about their homes and won't object, the way some of the people who live near the Caltrain ROW do?

The people who think that an alignment on 101 solves things are not really looking for a solution, are they?

Jim in scruz said...

Cool, I'll be able to make this.

Alon Levy said...

The second in the 4 part series appearing the the NY Times from Harvard Professor Edward Glasser has appeared:

Garbage in, garbage out. Glaeser's numbers about Houston-Dallas are taken from a medium-speed line, rather than a high-speed line, and his estimates of cost savings are inconsistent with people's choices as represented by mode share. His analysis implies that HSR is even with air when its station to station travel time is at most an hour 24 minutes slower, but in Europe and Japan its market share tops 50% at a time penalty of 2:00-2:30 rather than 1:24.

If you don't base your analysis on the actual experience of HSR, you can make any projection you'd like seem plausible.