High-Speed Rail Could Skip South Bay

A report released Monday by the High-Speed Rail Authority reiterates the authority’s consistent argument: A tunnel and underground station will not work in San Jose. Business and neighborhood groups worry that the proposed elevated structure will be a huge and unsightly addition to the cityscape.

What the report does not say — yet it is being discussed internally by HSRA officials — is that the city’s advocacy of a tunnel option could push the $98 billion high-speed rail line to take an alternative path.

Commonly dismissed as absurd by Silicon Valley’s mass transit proponents, the alternative high-speed rail connection from Southern California and the Central Valley would use the Altamont Pass in the East Bay as its gateway to San Francisco. The idea has been thrown out in the past. It is gaining steam now on the heels of last week’s legal ruling, which forces HSRA to reopen environmental analysis of the stretch through the Pacheco Pass between the Central Valley and Gilroy.

“If we can’t come to some sort of resolution, the authority will ultimately have to look at other alternatives,” says Dan Leavitt, a deputy director with HSRA. Leavitt admits that, as of right now, the only alternative stop in between Fresno and the peninsula is Altamont.

HSRA officials came to San Jose in late October to express their opposition to examining a tunnel option. Roelof van Ark, CEO of HSRA, and Leavitt met with Mayor Chuck Reed and his staff for almost an hour, but city officials exited the meeting unmoved.

“[HSRA has] consistently, from the very first time, said that they think a tunnel option is not constructible and will not be permitted nor funded by the Federal Transit Administration,” Reed says. “It’s not that I agree or disagree with them. I’m not an engineer.”

Reed has aligned with councilmembers Sam Liccardo and Pierluigi Oliverio, whose constituents will be affected by an aerial high-speed rail line, says Rod Diridon. The former Santa Clara County supervisor and longest-serving HSRA member until late last year, says the additional cost of mining tunnels, along with groundwater issues, make any complaints about the aerial bridge’s noise and aesthetics moot.

“There is a groundwater lake underneath us in San Jose. The only way you can stabilize it is to inject chemically-treated grout, like a slurry cement,” Diridon says. “What you would be doing, in effect, is building a long dam across the groundwater. In the future, water is going to be much more valuable than petroleum, and to think of us putting chemically treated grout into our ground water is absolutely ridiculous.”

Click on the following link to read the full article about high-speed rail potentially bypassing San Jose.

Josh Koehn is the managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @Josh_Koehn.

22 Comments

  1. > “If we can’t come to some sort of resolution, the authority will ultimately have to look at other alternatives,” says Dan Leavitt, a deputy director with HSRA.

    Here’s an alternative Mr. Leavitt can look at:

    SHUT THE RIDICULOUS TURKEY DOWN AND SEND EVERYONE BACK TO THEIR HOMES.

  2. I just got done watching a very good <a >documentary</a>on groundwater.  I would agree that messing with that groundwater is not something citizens should compromise for mere aesthetics.  San Jose’s skyline can be enhanced by a building project of this magnitude if the city and residents let a creative developer get creative with it. This assertion of mine may be premature though since the article stated HSRA is considering the Altamont Pass as an alternative.

    The voters of my grandfathers, and fathers generation missed the boat on Bringing BART to the south Bay, and perhaps that was the best thing for San Jose at that time. I don’t believe missing the boat on HSR is going to be of any benefit to the future prosperity of the city. 

    One hypothetical example is the film industry.  For $30 per person cast and crew will be able to travel in a more environmentally friendly way to location in about an hours time.  The film industry brings with it a void of temporary work that in major feature films that boost the local economy.  I’m not merely speaking of the unions for actors camera men, and lighting technicians, but of caterers, extras, and security.  Not to mention permits from the city that require application fees, and overtime (paid by the studios) for police who secure locations.

      The ability to ship products from the bay area to southern California for small and medium sized businesses will also be of huge financial benefit.  A fashion designer in San Francisco, or San Jose, can have his products on a rack on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles in Two hours time.  High speed rail is an economic pipeline, a trade route, the Silicon Road
     

      History has proven that when new routes are established towns die and turn into ghost towns.  Such was the case when the first intercontinental railroads sprung up. Killing off towns along old homesteading routes and the same applied with the introduction of the interstate highway system.  San Jose will not share this fate but it will surely miss the economic benefits that come with a HSR hub.

    • Ooh family feud!  (sorry to disagree with ya bro)

      The reason city leaders never wanted bart to extend to SJ was (and this is what I’ve heard from our own elders) is they were worried that bringing bart, would bring all the “undesirables” (putting it nicely) to San Jose.

      You’ve lived a lot in BART connected cities, and have ridden it a lot.  Is it a coincidence that these cities have higher crime rates than SJ?

      As of now, SJ has a prostitution problem.  Pimps are coming from all the Bart connected cities to pimp their ho’s.  Somehow I think adding bart would compound the problem by giving them unfettered, cheap access to our city.

      Enough about BART though..

      HSR seems like a good idea, but the project should have broken ground in the 90’s (when our economy was skyrocketing)  Building HSR now while the economy is in the dumps is akin to the same type of hail mary pass the CSJ is doing now with the stadium. 

      Josh: Whenever I read one of your posts, for some reason I hear it in Ben Steins voice (Bueller, Bueller).  Please include a picture of a kitten in your next post, or unicorns.  Maybe a picture of kittens and a unicorn on a picnic?  Might help.

      • Robert, I can’t believe that San Joser doesn’t have enough pimps to match up with the “hos.”  Just check out the 18th floor of CH and you’ll find plenty of them.

      • I know what the reason for passing on BART was, as you stated dear brother, was to leave the undesirables isolated in their cities.  I’d beg to differ with you on the subject of BART connected cities having higher crime rates exclusively because of BART.  In fact I think San Jose’s policing policies would have deterred the riff raff regardless of a BART presence or not.  I would not go as far to say it is coincidence but to assert that BART is the cause is too easy of a scapegoat.  Sorry brother and all BART haters that’s just a massive FAIL.  The fact is BART overall reaches more affluent and middle class communities then it does “at risk” communities.  San Jose is getting a BART extension anyways and with that, BART Police to aid in the fight against prostitution, which I can’t really comment on because I have not seen it first hand.

        HSR is a good idea now because we don’t have jobs and the jobs created would have an immediate effect on the local economy.  In addition government and corporate bonds can be issued for financing at relatively low prices to cover the cost for materials and labor which will have a long term positive impact on the stability of the regions wealth provided that residents are given the IPO of bonds. Bonds are also a highly liquid asset that can be traded, sold, or held onto if they provide dividends. The same way I case on Joseph Disalvo about his education plans applies such that the impacts of planning need to be considered 30-100 years in the future minimum.  I’m sure 30 years from now you’d like to be able to cash in some bonds or other financial vessel to pay for your grandchildren to visit the Sulu National Memorial.

    • >  The ability to ship products from the bay area to southern California for small and medium sized businesses will also be of huge financial benefit.  A fashion designer in San Francisco, or San Jose, can have his products on a rack on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles in Two hours time.  High speed rail is an economic pipeline, a trade route, the Silicon Road

      Well, DUH!!

      The stupid High Speed Rail is PASSENGER ONLY!

      The only way you’re going to ship products on High Speed Rail is if people carry them in their pockets.

      Now that we have established that your grip on the High Speed Rail reality is lacking, it’s now an opportune time for your to say:

      “Oh.  If it only carries passengers and won’t carry products, or film crews and all their gear, and it costs a hundred billion dollars, it’s really a very dumb idea.”

      “And, moreover, I deeply regret and apologize for trying to name the thing the SILICON ROAD.  I should be horse whipped.”

      • I normally don’t participate in the sissy fighting that goes on at this blog site.  If I feel I can contribute I make a comment and leave, and if someone responds I don’t typically respond back because I can’t be down on the street gathering signatures, or participating directly in my home towns affairs.  However I’m going to make an exception because as of late, I have been openly discussing problems facing San Jose, and the country with another San Jose Native living abroad, and your comments are the epitome the caustic, vitriolic, and immature machismo culture that plagues San Jose and stifles progress.

        The only way you’re going to ship products on High Speed Rail is if people carry them in their pockets.

        Spot on governor!  My USB flash drive holds 16 gigabytes.  Is that a bundle ‘o flash drive in your pocket or are you just happy to see me governor?  How many do you think I can fit in a backpack?.  Oh yeah and as my overprotective brother pointed out below t stands to reason that the HSR would be used for small package delivery.

        Now that we have established that your grip on the High Speed Rail reality is lacking, it’s now an opportune time for your to say:

        Actually you’ve established nothing, strike that you’ve established you’ve only seen images of HSR in Japan where busy commuters are stuffing themselves beyond capacity into a rail car, and that you probably don’t go outside enough.

        “Oh.  If it only carries passengers and won’t carry products, or film crews and all their gear, and it costs a hundred billion dollars, it’s really a very dumb idea.”

        Drink all ye faithful from the fountain of obliviousness and you too can be baptized in the light of the divine gadfly.

        My most recent experience with a feature film was on the set of The Hangover 2.  Do you really think that the cast and crew flew all their gear to Bangkok?  Likewise do you really think they shipped all their gear from L.A. to San Francisco when they filmed Milk, or Terminator 2 or Terminator Salvation?  Is it at all in the realm of the reality which you have such a firm grasp on that they have companies hired by the producers to supply them with the lighting, cameras, costumes, trailers, and whatever else they may need?  I’ll let you in on a not so secret secret…  That’s exactly how Hollywood does things.

        “And, moreover, I deeply regret and apologize for trying to name the thing the SILICON ROAD.  I should be horse whipped.”

        Would you prefer I called it the KGB purple snurfle ten dispensary trainwreck road?  Why couldn’t it be called this?  Why shouldn’t it evolve into this? If a route is established why shouldn’t a major shipping rail line be the next to follow parallel to HSR?  Why are you such a gadfly about the fact I used an analogous comparison to the silk road in China which makes perfect contextual sense?

        Considering NAFTA and Mexico’s sub standard environmental regulations why wouldn’t tech companies move down there to produce goods to ship up here.  The NAFTA railroad plans completely bypass California all together.  California needs to look out for itself and likewise San Jose needs to start thinking much more maturely about its future.

        <sarcasm>Oh by the way Old wreck next time you go to a city council meeting don’t forget to remind the council how there are still city employees who are not using number 2 pencils when there was a referendum back in ‘97 to switch exclusively to the use of number 2 pencils… because that’s something that really matters. </sarcasm>

        • > Would you prefer I called it the KGB purple snurfle ten dispensary trainwreck road?

          Well, it does have a certain musical quality.

          Certainly less pompous than the “Silicon Road”.

          If it were called “The Silicon Road”, people might get the impression that it’s purpose is to ship breast implants back and forth to and from LA.

      • >The stupid High Speed Rail is PASSENGER ONLY!

        Greyhound is “passenger only” but they do station to station package delivery as well.  It stands to reason that the HSR would be used for small package delivery.  Now that I’ve invalidated your counter-point:

        I find your post really odd wreck of 97(and brother, feel free to chime in here)  Your punctuation, grammar, etc are above the levels of the average IQ of 90 writer.  Something tells me you do this for a living.

        (I happen to be good at that sort of thing because unlike most people, I LOVED English, and my brother is currently an English teacher on the pacific rim)

        Nick, wanna play “Let’s guess which writer is astroturfing comments?”

        • Over 90?  I would not give him that much credit Rob.  He uses the inclusive pronoun We when he says <Now that we have established that your grip on the High Speed Rail reality is lacking, it’s now an opportune time for your to say:> 

          I’m still left wondering who he was including for supplementary support for his argument before making the personal attack on my grip on reality.

          I’m not a psychologist but my hypothesis would be that anyone who uses inclusive pronouns in that manner when presenting their argument knows on some level their argument lacks even observational evidence and erodes their credibility.

          However with regards to your keen observation of the Greyhound company’s system of transportation of packages, you dear brother hit the nail on the head. That is precisely what I was envisioning in terms of shipping for HSR.  It is in fact an integral part of the passenger rail industy to ship packages to make up for lost revenue when they don’t sell all their seats. 

          I couldn’t begin to guess who may be astroturfing.  The weak argument,complete lack of objectivity, and overwhelming display of ignorance implicates a lot of the usual suspects.

        • > Greyhound is “passenger only” but they do station to station package delivery as well.  It stands to reason that the HSR would be used for small package delivery.  Now that I’ve invalidated your counter-point:

          Well who knew?!!!

          This changes everything.

          You would think that HSR’s highly paid consultants would have had the common sense to tell their clients to call the damn thing the “High Speed Rail and Small Package Delivery Service”.

          Still, it’s not clear to me how this hundred billion dollar service is going to help me if, in the course of my natural life and before the year 2035,  I need to have a package delivered to, say, Hollister or Gilroy or Hope, Arkansas and not Los Angeles.

  3. Does anybody really believe that HSR will get built? It’s a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money that needs to be shot down pronto.

  4. First, make no mistake: the City’s position (wanting an underground tunnel and station for HSR) is ALL ABOUT “THE STADIUM.” A surface or above grade solution causes all kinds of headaches for the stadium site. Cost be damned says “The City.” Spend what ever it takes and put it underground!

    The Second thought is that this is the continuation of a long chain of events that confirm a pattern that is evident with “The City” (read Chuck Reed, D. Figone, a majority of the City Council who all with the exception of Figone are ALSO the Redevelopment Agency and its offshoot the Diridon Redevelopment Agency/Lets build a ballpark agency).

    What is the pattern? HSR report (the ones who really want to build HSR and bring it to San Jose) says the underground tunnel/underground station is not feasible for a number of reasons not the least of which is the COST!!!  What does the City Say, “Do it anyway!”

    The City/RDA gets in a battle with the County and says, “You know that tax we collect on your behalf? Well we will still collect it but we aren’t going to turn it over to you like we are supposed to – we are just going to keep it!”  Any idiot could tell you that what the City/RDA said it was going to do was illegal!  What did the City Do? They did it anyway – forget about the future consequences!  What was the Consequence? The County sued the City which settled out of court and agreed to pay the County $68MILLION!!! Part of that $68MILLION was giving the old City Hall and surrounding property to the County. Tens of Millions are still owed!

    The City Says, “ Don’t worry, SJ is a safe city. We don’t want to lay off cops but we have to and your safety will not suffer.”  It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that fewer police and fewer firefighters meant the public’s safety would suffer. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that crime might rise or that traffic accidents would increase and more people would be injured or killed… That crimes reported by that same public would never be investigated becasue of a lack of staffing… The City just said, “we are the City that does more with less! You’ll see its just union thuggery trying to incite fear!” And the did it any way – they laid off cops and fire fighters and crime has risen, traffic accidents with injury/death increased, crimes go unsolved and are not investigated…

    The City said to its employees we are going to drastically reduce your pay and benefits. The employees said,  if you cut wages and benefits to the extent you say you will then employees will leave and you will have a difficult time recruiting quality replacements. Employees went so far as to offer cuts that MET ALL OF REED’s conditions and were palatable to a majority of employees.  What did the City do? They did it anyway! They Cut Pay, Cut Benefits , Laid employees off and rejected employee backed reforms and added PETTY acceptance conditions after the fact …. Employees left, no one wants to work here and then….

    Reed’s pension reform ballot measure? The City Attorney, former City Attorney, Attorney General for the State of California, pro and anti- labor attorneys AND EVEN THE HONORABLE CHARLES RUFUS REED himself agree:  THE BALLOT MEASURE VIOLATES THE State and Federal Constitutions, violates decades of settled legislation and court rendered labor law. It WILL be challenged in a court battle that will last years and cost the City (TAXPAYERS) MILLIONS of DOLLARS! AND it will most likely be struck down!  What does Reed say – We are going to do it anyway!

      • what “fiscal emergency”? did you know that M Greed/city, has already put aside 4 million (yes, that’s right) aside for the upcoming fight over the illegal pension ballot? Here we offered $500 million savings in pension reform over 5 years but he says it is not enough. He’s spending $$ like there’s no tomorrow. What a crook.

    • Turn on any local news program, or read any local newspaper and you will likely find Mayor Reed pitching his pension reform plan as enthusiastically as Ron Popeil pitches his Chop-O-Matic on late night television.  Relentless in his pursuit, he is now waving next year’s projected budget deficit of $78-$115 million like a bloody shirt.

      In his November Newsletter, before moving on to more important issues like gifting millions in city owned assets to the A’s, he quickly dismisses a pension reform proposal presented by 5 of the city’s unions, including police officers and firefighters, which could have saved San Jose taxpayers nearly a half billion dollars.

      To explain his decision, Mayor Reed indicates that the plan would provide zero immediate savings in the next fiscal year. This assertion is ridiculous on its face.

      Would police officers seriously be willing to move into another pension plan with a lesser benefit, requiring them to work an additional 5 years, give up their sick leave payouts and reduce their cost of living adjustments if it saved no money?

      Just one aspect of the plan, the POA’s offer to forgo arbitration on whether their 10% pay cut is one time (just for fiscal year 11/12) or ongoing, would have saved the city $30 million next year and every year going forward. Please click here and review the proposal for yourself.

      Additionally, the mayor has chosen to adopt new actuarial assumptions, which no other city or pension plan utilizes, that effectively make San Jose’s future deficit situation look worse. This is what he means in his November Newsletter when he says many of the savings in the union proposal were erased by, “changes in assumptions to reflect modern conditions.” The very mention of the term “actuarial assumptions” has probably put some of you to sleep. This is a complicated issue, which can easily confuse a casual observer, and the Mayor is using this complexity to his benefit. The facts are that the cutbacks are significant and the savings are huge.

      Why would he want to do this you ask? Mayor Reed made it clear long ago that he had no intention of negotiating any part of HIS pension proposal with employee groups. Whether we are talking about pension reforms, or the medical marijuana ordinance, our Mayor has an inability to compromise—his mantra of governance can be summed up as “my way or the highway.” While I find this mentality extremely troubling, his false characterization of our pension proposal is just beyond comprehension.

      Mayor Reed has repeatedly said he values city employees, but just has trouble paying for them.  Actions speak louder than words. All that City employees feel coming from this mayor is open contempt and disdain. I sure don’t feel valued based on the following section from Reed’s Pension “reform” ballot language:

      Section 9: Disability Retirements

      (a) An employee is considered “disabled” for the purposes of qualifying for a disability retirement, if all of the following is met:

      (i) An employee cannot do work that they did before; and

      (ii) It is determined that the employee cannot perform any other jobs described in the City’s classification plan because of his or her medical condition(s); and

      (iii) The employee’s disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

      In other words, according to Section 9 (a)(ii) of the Mayor’s plan, if a police officer is shot during a bank robbery and is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life, she would not get a disability retirement as she might be able to wheel herself into the mail room to sort mail.

      That’s not reform Mayor Reed, that’s contempt for those who put their lives on the line to ensure the safety of your constituents.

      Mayor Reed has clearly adopted a win at all costs mentality over this issue, and has no problem sacrificing some truth here and there to achieve his imperious view of the greater good.  Sadly, the route the Mayor has chosen will result in long legal battles, which ultimately could see the city saving no money, all because Mayor Reed is unwilling to partner with the City’s employees to collaboratively find solutions.  Whether it’s a new brand of math bought in to make his case look stronger or direct misrepresentation of the facts, it’s all become business as usual for Mayor Reed.

  5. Good! why dont we try fixing our own problems first.
    1) lowest staffed public safety in the nation
    2)illegal transfer of monies(DEBT) from RDA to General fund
    3)issues at sewage plant
    4) more low income housing in the works
    5) NO new jobs
    6)tore up roads
    7)illegal ballot measure to cost residents millions of dollars
    8)a corrupt Mayor
    9 )a corrupt City Manager
    10) an inept city council
    11)full disclosure of stadium details
    12) full disclosure of (joke of a ) convention center renovation ( why is general fund paying for this?)
    the list goes on and on ……………

    • Can it be true that the SJ General Fund is paying for the convention center renovation?  Such an undertaking is clearly a capital investment and should, therefore, be charged against the Capital or Special Fund. I hope someone in the know can shed some light on this.

  6. Tragic news for Rich Robinson and Nicholas Cortese

    (with homage to Monty Python)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIrBMt4eiRk

    “It’s dead.

    That parrot is definitely deceased.

    It’s not pining, it’s passed on.  This parrot is no more. It has ceased to be.  It’s expired and gone to meet its maker.

    This is a late parrot.  It’s a stiff, bereft of life.  It rests in peace. It’s brung down the curtain, joined the clime invisible.

    This is an ex-parrot.”