Widgets Magazine

University considers high-speed rail proposal

Construction on the 520-mile-long high-speed rail from San Francisco to Los Angeles has elicited both encouragement and resistance in Stanford and its surrounding Bay Area community.

Michael Cunningham, vice president of public policy for the Bay Area Council, said that both state and federal government have approved the high-speed rail project’s environmental document.

“Its progress to date is it has an improved project-level environmental document certified by the state of California and the federal government,” he said. “It has a partially completed design–engineering design–for the entire system, and it has underway details, design studies and environmental clearance for all of the segments between San Francisco and Los Angeles.”

Construction will begin next year and is projected to finish by 2020, according to California High-Speed Rail Authority spokesman Rachel Wall.

Stanford is planning to participate in the study and planning of the high-speed rail project, which so far has $6.3 billion with which to begin construction.

“Stanford owns 36 acres of land adjacent to the Caltrain corridor in Menlo Park and Palo Alto and owns the University Avenue Train Depot,” wrote Stanford Director of Community Relations Jean McCown in an email to The Daily. “Like many other property owners, Stanford is concerned that potentially negative impacts of the HSR [high-speed rail] system on these properties be adequately addressed, and when the necessary studies begin–they are apparently not being pursued at this time–expects to be an active participant.”

Although the University sees the potential benefits of the high-speed rail, McCown added that Stanford has found a few issues with the high-speed rail, including “inadequate analysis of future HSR ridership; continued lack of full-cost information on all elements of HSR, including land takings and impacts on businesses; inadequate or incomplete responses to community input on HSR track alternatives and deleterious traffic effects from any at-grade track alternatives which impede vehicle, pedestrian or bike movements.”

However, as an entity, Stanford has no official view of the high-speed rail but hopes to keep a working transportation system at their service.

“Several thousand employees of Stanford use Caltrain, and we have emphasized Stanford’s interest in seeing that a viable commuter rail service continues, whatever may happen with HSR,” McCown said.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the proposed high speed rail track from Sacramento to San Diego is 140 miles long and erroneously implied that it would run through the Stanford area. In fact, the San Francisco to Los Angeles stretch would pass through the Stanford area and it is 520 miles long.

  • Kathy

    Mr Cunningham is incorrect, there is a court challenge on the program level EIR and the project level EIR is 12-18 months away from completion.