Californians For High Speed Rail to State Senator Joe Simitian: “Demonstrate how your Proposal Meets the Intent of Proposition 1A.”

San Francisco, May 3rd, 2011 – Today, Californians For High Speed Rail (CA4HSR) called on State Senator Joe Simitian to demonstrate how his demand for a scaled-back high-speed rail (HSR) project on the Peninsula meets the true intent of Prop 1A. CA4HSR is also calling on Senator Simitian to drop his demand to eliminate phased construction.

Senator Simitian made his demands for a scaled-back project with no phased construction to the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) at a hearing last week at the Senate Budget Subcommittee #2, which he chairs. His demands were based on a proposal he recently released with Representative Anna Eshoo and Assemblymember Rich Gordon.

“Frankly, we are skeptical that the Simitian proposal is realistic,” said Daniel Krause, Executive Director of CA4HSR. “Voters did not approve a system that could technically run one train a day at high-speeds along the Peninsula, which Senator Simitian suggested as a possibility at the hearing. They approved a project that can run fast and frequent high-speed trains throughout the day.”

To meet Proposition 1A requirements for frequent service and a 30 minute travel time between San Francisco and San Jose, the corridor will ultimately require full-grade separation and four-tracks along a majority of the corridor. “The emphasis on limited funding and ‘scaling back’ the project in the Simitian proposal indicates a lack of commitment to grade separate the entire corridor and to expand capacity sufficiently,” said Brian Stanke, Chair of Californians For High Speed Rail.

The most troubling aspect of the Simitian proposal is the demand to eliminate phasing-in construction of HSR improvements, such as grade separations. Given the uncertainty in funding and the Simitian proposal’s endorsement of expensive trenches, CA4HSR is perplexed by this demand.

Bianca Walser, CA4HSR board member and resident of Menlo Park said, “As a mother of two small children, I’m really worried about the long-term impacts of this proposal.  Grade separations will improve pedestrian safety, improve air quality, and eliminate annoying train horns. If full grade separation is not completed, we will be prevented from improving our rail service and from making our community safer, more connected, and more sustainable.”

San Carlos resident Matthew Arata added, “Traffic back-ups on streets that cross the tracks, which are already bad, will become unbearable as rail traffic increases. I urge the sponsors of this proposal to see the HSR project as something we can leverage to improve problems we already have on the Peninsula, rather than taking a confrontational approach that will lead to an exacerbation of our problems.”

“We urge Senator Simitian to work with us to build a system that meets the needs of Californians for decades to come and his constituents. We support studying a wide range of options that includes phasing, to ensure that the voter mandates, including 30 minute travel times from San Francisco to San Jose and 2 hours, 40 minute travel times from San Francisco to Los Angeles. As gas prices rise, it’s more important than ever that we build rail infrastructure that meets the needs of both high speed rail and Caltrain,” said Daniel Krause, Executive Director of CA4HSR.

About Californians For High Speed Rail

Californians For High Speed Rail (CA4HSR) is a grassroots, statewide coalition of high speed rail supporters advocating for the high speed rail project approved by California voters in November 2008. Founded in 2005, we exist to educate, inform, and organize Californians about ways they can help make high speed rail a reality in the Golden State. Additionally, CA4HSR also encourages sustainable development of the high speed rail (HSR) system, promotes the building of HSR stations in city centers, transit-oriented developments, as well as developing/improving feeder transit systems. Visit us at: www.ca4hsr.org