Authority OKs rail plans

Line would top at new Gilroy transit center

The High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors voted to approve the preferred route for the state’s controversial bullet train at a Sept. 17 meeting.
High-speed rail, if funded, will pass through downtown Morgan Hill with a stop in Gilroy before tunneling through Pacheco Pass. The configuration, which utilizes the existing Union Pacific Rail corridor, was a sore point for Morgan Hill residents who have worried about the effect the 200 mph train would have on the downtown.
However, business leaders in Gilroy had a more optimistic view of the train stopping in the city at an expanded Gilroy Transit Center. The stop has been seen as an opportunity for an economic boost to Gilroy’s downtown, which has been in the process of revitalization since the 1989 earthquake.
Even with the rail board’s decision, there is still much more work that needs to be done before the project is ready to break ground. Most notably, the project lacks funding and is currently focusing on building the valley to valley section of the route from Bakersfield to Merced, per Gov. Gavin Newsom’s request.
The authority remains optimistic about the project and its potential to connect California by train. “The board’s adoption of the preferred alternatives is a major milestone for the high-speed rail program in Northern California,” said authority CEO Brian Kelly in a press release. “This action allows the authority to prepare for the next steps in moving the project forward in Northern California. I appreciate the hard work and dedication that our team put into getting this action finalized.”
The authority staff is set to begin the environmental impact report for the route, according to a press release. The environmental documents for the San Jose to Merced end of the route are expected to be completed in early 2020.
All of the route alternatives are examined by the environmental report, but the route that has been chosen by the authority and the board as the preferred route will get special attention.
Northern California Regional Director Boris Lipkin said in the authority’s press release, “The process to date has benefited greatly from the engagement of the communities and other local and state entities along the corridor. We look forward to continuing that public conversation as we move forward with finalizing the draft environmental documents in Northern California.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Dear Barry, This Article fails to mention that the UPRR has prohibited CAHSRA from entering its right-of-way. It also fails to mention that the Class One Railroads, e.g., UPRR, have eminent domain authority that trumps CAHSRA inferior, State level, eminent domain authority. It fails to mention that CAHSRA is disobeying the voters’ voter for self-sufficient high speed rail, and that we did not vote for another Supersized Amtrak. Why don’t you tell your readers how high gas & diesel taxes will have to go to pay the subsidies to keep this Ultra Massive Boondoggle running? I gave you the taxpayers’ expert witness’s opinion, and forwarded it to you several times, and asked that you have your Reporter include his common sense position in her next Bullet Train Article. But you did not do as I recommended. Thus, we see another one-sided Article about the Bullet Train, which local small and very small business owners cannot afford to subsidize. It will severely damage the local economy, Gilroy, Morgan Hill, and South County. Why didn’t you mention what Hon. Rod Diridon said during our pre-Election debate at Gilroy Chamber’s Conference Room Oct. 2008: He said that we need not worry about UPRR’s superior eminent domain authority because “we will make Gilroy a South Bay Area Hub, using BNSF tracks.” Well, everyone in the room realized that Hon. Rod Diridon was speaking with “a forked tongue” because the closest BNSF tracks to Gilroy are in Stockton. But you never mention it. I’d like to see truth in transportation in the Dispatch Bullet Train Articles. It would be a refreshing, small business supporting help for those about to have an Iron Albatross hung around our necks, worse than Caltrain, worse than VTA’s Community buses, worse than COG’s ultra-bankrupt transit boondoggles. Joseph P. Thompson, Esq., Past-Chair, Legislation Committee, Transportation Lawyers Assn., Past-President 1999-2001, 2006, Gilroy-Morgan Hill Bar Assn. (408) 848-5506; e-Mail: [email protected]

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