CHSRA Says July 2013 Groundbreaking Still On Track
At a SPUR high speed rail event in San Francisco today, the new Northern California Regional Director for the California High Speed Rail Authority, Ben Tripousis, said that the project remained on schedule for a groundbreaking in the Central Valley this July. He also pointed out that the project’s phases could be complete by 2029, delivering SF to LA service within the statutory 2 hours and 40 minute time (I’m going to assume he meant 2:40 and not 2:45):
Tripousis told a packed auditorium that a 2-hour-and-45-minute-trip from San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal to Los Angeles’ Union Station could be a reality by 2029, but that a host of political, financial and logistical obstacles must be hurdled before high-speed trains reach the Bay Area.
“To quote Ben Franklin, ‘We must all hang together, or assuredly we will all hang separately,’” Tripousis said.
Tripousis is basically pointing people to the current fight on the Peninsula over the Caltrain modernization EIS. NIMBYs want to prevent the EIS from studying a four track expansion which, even though it’s not going to happen in the immediate future, should remain an option as ridership expands and system demands increase. The NIMBYs want a four track corridor to be rejected forever here in 2013, a ridiculous position that would essentially decapitate the HSR project and prevent it from serving San Francisco effectively.
One reason why intercity rail is needed in California is that the air route from SF to LA is almost at capacity, as San Francisco’s Director of Transportation Policy Gillian Gillett pointed out at today’s talk:
High-speed rail is also expected to stimulate the region’s economic growth by allowing San Francisco International Airport to concentrate on expanding long-distance and international airline service, instead of continuing to be bogged down by north-south regional flights, Gillett said.
“We are ‘this close’ to getting congestion management by the Federal Aviation Administration,” she said. “We are reaching our limits in the air.”
No wonder the Bay Area’s airports support high speed rail. They increasingly find the short haul shuttle flights to be burdensome, but without an alternative they’re going to continue offering them at the expense of the longer distance routes they would much rather serve.
Anti-HSR forces seem to think that the status quo is just fine. But as passenger counts at the airports and on Caltrain rise, it’s as clear as ever that HSR is vital to the future prosperity of San Francisco and the Bay Area as a whole.