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September 26, 2009


Ron Fulderon

I was sitting near the back so I couldn't hear very much. (It's really sad that after all these years since the development of electricity and then PA systems that people haven't figured out how to deliver clean sound to a couple hundred people...)

Here is what I heard (or didn't hear):

- the caltrain rep talked about how he was an old experienced guy that knew about high speed rail and that this was his chance to be part of it here in America by linking caltrain to all the billions and billions of dollars he saw coming from HSR and the great stimulus package.

- the official HSR employee talked about how important it was for them to get community feedback and how much they appreciated it and not to worry because they listen to us and it's their job to come up with the best solution, so not to worry.

- Jerry Hill assured us that he was on our side and that he would do everything in his power to make sure that this was going to be really good. And that he cares.

- If I have the order right then somebody who amazingly was not a fan of this project as it is proposed presented a bunch of reasons why this whole thing was a boondoggle, full of corruption and mistruths, proposed by the same people that assured us that BART to the airport
was going to be really great, (Quintin Kopp's name was mentioned) and some other points. When he finished he got a lot of applause and cheering. This was in contrast to the other speakers who got only a polite applause when they finished their part. One of the city council members reminded us not to applaud or something about the minute of extra applause that this person was getting would detract from the question/answer session or something.

- Then a guy who was an expert in tunneling gave a really quick slide show about the different types of tunneling but couldn't tell us what type of tunneling was appropriate for our situation or what it would cost. Fair enough; he's going to need a few hundred million dollars of engineering contracts before he can do that.

- Around this point two policemen showed up and walked to the back of the room. I wonder who had freaked out and thought that us Burlingamites were going to turn in to soccer hooligans or vicious teabaggers. Whoever it was that called the cops seems to have a low estimate of their fellow citizens.

- Then the city council got to ask questions and show their deep concern for property values.

During this final part of the presentation the microphones were even more poorly placed than during the earlier part and it became just too hard to hear what anyone was saying so I left.

I'm curious did the crowd turn into an unruly mob and all get hauled down to the pokey? Did the police have to call for backup?


The brigade did not have to ride in on white chargers, most of the audience was respectful and looked to be listening (debatable?) and time ran out.


Ron, congratulations on your keen and witty observations about the HSR meeting on Sat. I wanted to comment earlier, but alas my ancient computer won't allow it. I have no idea who you are or where you live, but you pretty much hit the nail on the head, and it was a very entertaining read.

I just wanted to add that the HSR folks(and Jerry Hill), several of whom I've seen or heard multiple times speak about this issue, are very good at saying a lot, without really saying anything at all. What a gift! When they want to bolster their points, they seem to have most all of the facts and figures close at hand, however when they are asked pointed questions from the public or Council, they commonly respond "we just don't know the answer (yet)".

I appreciated hearing Tolmack, whom I've never heard before. He was accoustically difficult to hear, but the point that stuck with me was when he said in Europe, nothing of this magnitude has been built through residential neighborhoods since the 1930s. The tunnel fellow could have been more specific, but he works for HSR. Why was he showing Burlingame examples of bedrock when the soil he'd be working with is alluvial fill? I guess he needs more big bucks to get more specific to our city's terrain.

I have a big question maybe somebody smarter than I can answer. If they project a train traveling up and down the Peninsula, anywhere from every 3-6 minutes, how many trains will need to be purchased; how many will be running on the line at once? I've heard that the actual trains are the least costly aspect of the entire project, but I wonder about this-- Also, if trains are traveling between 125-200 mph on the stretch, can they stop quickly in the event of some accident ahead? How much track does it take to stop a train going at such speeds?

No, I didn't notice the police in the back of the room. Maybe they had been across the hall to hear the band in the auditorium and wandered over for some more excitement.

For those still interested in following this saga, don't forget the meeting at the SamTrans building in San Carlos (1250 San Carlos Ave.) this evening (WED,) 6-8pm, when our "segment alignment" alternatives will be unveiled.

Also, I agree with the blogger about the train horns. What a runaround. One day there is an improvement, and the next we're back to needing earplugs. I'd been working on a haiku piece for Fred, but with this noise pollution, even three lines and a few syllables become mind-boggling.



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