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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Will State Supertrain encourage more sprawl?

Groups and Cities Sue Over CA Supertrain Route


In November 2008, voters approved Proposition 1A, which authorized the state to issue almost $10 billion dollars in bonds to support a new High Speed Rail system for California. Whether you voted for the train or not, here are several problems with the current plans that haven’t gotten too much public attention:

The route chosen by the California High Speed Rail Authority uses the Pacheco Pass (blue on the map) as the entrance to the San Francisco Bay Area. The Altamont Pass (yellow on the map) is the alternative that makes the most sense from both an environmental and transportation perspective. The Altamont Route would have the least impact on wildlife and natural resources, and would put the new rail facilities in areas where the maximum ridership could be developed – including access to Sacramento and Stockton.

Unless strong and certain measures are put in place to protect agricultural and natural resource lands, building a major new transportation corridor through the Central Valley could actually spread suburban sprawl.

--Support the Lawsuit--

The Planning and Conservation League (PCL), the California Rail Foundation (CRF), the Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund (TRANSDEF) and the Bay Rail Alliance have joined the Town of Atherton and the City of Menlo Park in a lawsuit challenging the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA).

What is the lawsuit?

The suit charges that the CHSRA’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the current peninsula route violates a California law requiring that projects follow the least environmentally harmful path and that the EIR has several faulty and missing points of information. It demands that the EIR be redone to an appropriately rigorous standard.

See the Press Release

and the Lawsuit.

What will winning do?

Winning would oblige the CHSRA to reconsider the Altamont Pass route, which would connect the East Bay with Caltrain in Redwood City via a rebuilt Dumbarton rail bridge. This route was previously favored by the predecessor body to the CHSRA, and many believe it has significant environmental and ridership advantages. Whether the lawsuit wins or loses (to be determined in May), it will provide important leverage in negotiations with the rail authority as our local cities seek to mitigate the adverse impact of rail developments.

The plaintiffs:

The State's Website:

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