If At First You Sue and Don’t Win, Try and Try Again
Three years after filing a frivolous lawsuit against the California High Speed Rail Authority, two years after they largely lost that case, and one year after they failed to get it reopened, a group of Peninsula cities are once again in court to block the project. The same judge, Michael Kenny of Sacramento Superior Court, is hearing the case:
Lawyers for the group asked Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny to block the California High-Speed Rail Authority from proceeding with a route between San Francisco and the Central Valley. They say planners made flawed estimates of ridership and ignored traffic problems and other possible impacts.
I fully expect Kenny to reject these claims as he rejected the vast majority of their claims in 2009. In fact, if that was all that went on I probably wouldn’t even write about it. But this following quote from Stuart Flashman that appeared in the Mercury News article was too absurd to leave without comment:
“There will be congestion on highways south of San Jose that people won’t be aware of, and they should have been made aware,” said Stuart Flashman, attorney for the coalition.
Is he serious? I am guessing Stuart has never actually been on a highway south of San José. If he had, he would know that there is already a huge amount of congestion on those routes, particularly Highway 101 to and from Monterey.
Stuart and anyone else who thinks there isn’t already a major traffic problem down there should get up tomorrow morning around 9 AM and drive from the Bay Area to Monterey. From the 101/880 interchange in San José it should take you about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to Cannery Row. On a Saturday heading south it will take between 2 and 2.5 hours. On a Sunday afternoon heading north it can take as many as 3.
HSR can help resolve those traffic problems. The Transportation Agency of Monterey County has plans to connect Monterey and Salinas to the Gilroy HSR station with rail, enabling visitors and residents alike to get to and from Monterey County without having to clog up Highway 101. HSR can help people get to their destinations around the state. Sure, some people will still drive, but they’ll find much less traffic.
Flashman might also be talking about traffic in south Santa Clara County. Here again he shows his ignorance – rush hour traffic on 101 between San José and Gilroy is already pretty bad. HSR could help reduce some of that traffic by giving people a commute option for Gilroy – and improved Caltrain service can help shoulder even more of the load. Robust transit service can support transit-oriented development, reducing traffic impacts even further.
If that’s what the HSR deniers are reduced to arguing in their attempts to derail the project, they’re even more desperate than I imagined.