Shall we have one more high-cost rail post for the year? Why not. The Daily Post has done the legwork on the five candidates seeking to replace termed-out Assemblyman Rich Gordon for the seat located just south of our own Kevin Mullin. The Post talked to all five and unfortunately none of them had the huevos to just say no to high-cost rail, but four of the five are less supportive than Gordon was in his day. Here's a taste of each:
Palo Alto councilman Marc Berman: "he said he would like to see the money go towards regional projects to alleviate traffic in the Bay Area before working on HSR." That's nice, except there is no "money". Even the initial bucks from Prop 1A couldn't be reallocated and there ain't any more after that, especially if you read the Cap and Trade limits like a normal person would read English.
Menlo Park councilman Peter Ohtaki: "he certainly accepts the blended system, which has HSR sharing the train tracks with Caltrain along the mid-Peninsula. Before the blended system was proposed, HSR was proposing building its own set of tracks down the Peninsula, which Ohtaki said would have split the cities in two." Except even the blended system will require crossing closures and the increased frequency, noise and grade separations will still split cities in two.
Cupertino Mayor Barry Chang: "California needs HSR, but not the project that is being proposed. 'I'm worried that it's not going to work' he said. The Central Valley needs HSR, but he'd like to see the tracks run along I-5 then the system could branch off to other areas of the Central Valley." He might want to revisit the pitiful ridership numbers for the current SF-LA proposal before espousing a worse business plan.
Vicki Veenker, a Palo Alto patent attorney, "said she questions why HSR needs to go up the mid-Peninsula to San Francisco, as opposed to stopping in San Jose. 'If you look at other metro areas in other parts of the world, the HS of HSR doesn't happen until you get out of the metro area". Veenker makes the most sense of the bunch. I noted much the same here for regular speed Amtrak service.
The last guy, Mountain View councilman Mike Kasperzak told the Post he still supports HSR, so he is a definite "no". While B'gamers don't get to vote in this one, we all have friends "down there" and once we figure out the best choice it will be time to make some phone calls. We need someone from the Peninsula in Sacto talking sense and protecting the town.