An HSR Tunnel Under Dodger Stadium?
We’d heard a little bit about this proposal at the RailPAC event in Los Angeles two weeks ago – because of concerns about the Taylor Yard section of the route along the LA River just north of Union Station, there are some very preliminary discussions about moving the HSR route to a tunnel under Dodger Stadium:
The plans to build a high speed rail line near the Los Angeles River and through Cypress and Glassell Park has drawn opposition from river advocates, including Councilman Ed Reyes. So, after several years of lobbying federal officials and state railway builders, engineers involved in with the California High-Speed Rail Authority Line are looking at possibly shifting the rail line away from the river. Instead, after leaving Union Station, the train, under one scenario, would travel through a tunnel underneath the state parking now taking shape near Chinatown, Dodger Stadium and Elysian Park before emerging on the other side of the river, Reyes said today. “They are going to very careful how they come up the river way,” Reyes said at a luncheon hosted by the Los Angeles Current Affairs Forum. “At Union Station, they are going look at going underground … under the Cornfield, under Dodger Stadium, under Elysian Park and pop up on the other side of the 2 Freeway or at Taylor Yard” near Cypress Park.
This appears to be a situation where the CHSRA is willing to examine the proposal as part of their alternatives analysis in order to keep the LA City Council happy, but isn’t necessarily set on actually doing this tunnel. As with other tunnel proposals, this too seems worth examining in full.
Of course, funding is also going to have to be part of that examination. HSR skeptics and critics who have been pushing the flawed State Auditor report are about to discover that report is going to rebound on them. Because of that report, it’s much more likely that things like a tunnel are going to have to have a clear source of funding identified if they are to be carried forward. Whether it’s an LA City Councilmember or a Palo Alto NIMBY, anyone who thinks they can just call for a tunnel without explaining how they’ll pay for it is going to have difficulty being taken seriously, especially by the Legislature, in the future.
Whether the LA tunnel idea will ever get to that level of seriousness is unclear:
The tunnel proposal remains just that, and no decision has been made on what the final route will be. The council office itself has not decided whether it would support the new route under Elysian Park, said Jill Sourial, the council office’s point person on Los Angeles River issues. Reyes just wanted other alternatives than the 100-foot-wide trenches and massive bridges the rail authority had been proposing, Sourial said. “Give us some reasonable alternative to just the straightest line between points A and B,” she said.
It seems to me that what’s going on here is the LA Council needs to be able to tell the folks living near the LA River – whose concerns are typically overblown – that other options were explored and that the LA River route really is the best, cheapest option for the people of California and their high speed train system.
Going back to the Auditor report for a moment, it shows a rather important double-standard that is still used by too many officials in Sacramento. The Authority is unfairly excoriated because Congress hasn’t yet delivered the long-term funding source (and because the Auditor chose to ignore the many signs that federal funding is coming), but NIMBYs and others who want to drive up the project’s cost are given a pass. If the Authority was going to be blamed for things outside its control, then why didn’t the Auditor look at the full range of factors that could pull the HSR project apart?