Gilroy Votes for Downtown HSR Station
Some good news out of Gilroy this week:
Council members voted 5-2 for a rail station in downtown Gilroy and opposed any kind of aerial track during a special study session on Monday. The study session was designed to get the council’s take on where Gilroy’s future High Speed Rail station should be built: either downtown or on the east side Highway 101, north of Leavesly Road.
Well, I don’t see the sense in opposing aerial track – as we’ve repeatedly explained before, it hasn’t turned cities like Albany or neighborhoods like Rockridge into ghost towns. Many places around the world have designed aerial tracks well. That can happen in Gilroy too.
Still, the key is that Gilroy is making the right choice in backing a downtown station. Building east of 101, near the outlet mall, would be the kiss of death for downtown Gilroy, drawing new construction away toward greenfields and farmlands where residents have already spent years fighting off developers and Wal-Mart. Last summer Gilroy residents and councilmembers expressed these very concerns and have acted on them by rightly voting to channel development into the existing city center.
A downtown station enables great transit-oriented development, with downtown San José and San Francisco a short train ride away, with downtown LA about two hours away (the same amount of time it can take to drive to SF on a busy day). It builds on the economic base that’s already there, and downtown Gilroy certainly has room to grow upward. It also allows cross-platform transfers to connecting rail service, especially to the Monterey Bay region.
We’ve previously discussed how HSR will benefit Gilroy, including how it could develop like other mid-line cities such as Ciudad Real in Spain. Putting a station downtown enables Gilroy to gain the maximum benefits from an HSR station. Even if they insist on trenching the tracks.