Cities reject effort to repeal rail 

Members of the Peninsula Cities Consortium rejected the request of residents to join an effort to repeal Proposition 1A’s high-speed rail funding.

Last week, the five-city consortium was asked to support an effort to repeal the bond that was passed by voters in 2008 to build the high-speed rail track.

Burlingame Mayor Cathy Baylock said members of the consortium felt such an effort was not in line with the true meaning of the consortium.

“We felt it was not an appropriate charge for the PCC and that it is better left to the grass-roots efforts,” she said. “The position of the PCC is not to oppose high-speed rail, but work to protect all interests.”

The Peninsula Cities Consortium, which is made up of Belmont, Burlingame, Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto, meets once a month to update and inform the public on issues and concerns pertaining to the high-speed rail.

Baylock said the consortium’s cities want to prevent an above ground rail that would divide the Peninsula cities into east and west halves. Instead, the consortium supports an underground tunnel.

Two alternatives are being discussed by the High-Speed Rail Authority for the route up the Peninsula: raised tracks above street level or an underground tunnel.

Proposition 1A, which would provide $9.95 billion over 10 years to build the 220-mile-an-hour high-speed train between San Francisco and Anaheim, was approved in 2008 with 52.7 percent voting statewide in favor of the railway.

In addition to the residents’ request, Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point, is trying a similar effort at the state level.

Harkey introduced AB 2121 this month that requests funds for the high-speed rail be stopped during current state financial crisis.

California is estimating a $26.3 billion budget deficit in the 2010-11 fiscal year.

An environmental impact report on the project is expected to finish by the end of this calendar year. But High-Speed Rail Authority members are expected to narrow down the option to build on the Peninsula in May.

Baylock said the committee has yet to release a public statement on the alternatives for how the rail will travel up the Peninsula provided by the High-Speed Rail Authority. Outreach meetings began in Burlingame this week to discuss the alternatives.

The consortium also will continue public review of the alternatives on the Peninsula on Tuesday in Palo Alto.

Important high-speed rail dates

Monday: Public comments due on the document analyzing the Bay Area to Central Valley route.  
Tuesday: Palo Alto, Alternatives Analysis Review with High-Speed Rail Authority.
Friday: Consortium meeting in Atherton, 8:15-9:45 a.m., Atherton Town Council Chambers, 94 Ashfield Road. Open to the public.

Source: Peninsula Cities Consortium

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