Another high-speed rail skirmishBy Michael Cabanatuan
Now that the brouhaha over the San Francisco terminus for high-speed rail has been settled, a new skirmish has erupted a little further down the line.
Residents and developers in Mission Bay, Showplace Square, Dogpatch and other "eastern neighborhoods," as they identified them, called on the High Speed Rail Authority to abandon consideration of an underpass to carry traffic beneath ground-level high-speed rail and Caltrain tracks on 16th Street. The authority was making a presentation on the fast-train system to the San Francisco County Transportation Authority board, aka Board of Supervisors, Tuesday.
Building the underpass, and keeping the existing ground-level railroad tracks, they said, would split the developing neighborhoods, isolate them even further from the rest of the city, spoil some existing development plans for the community and discourage biking and walking.
"I'm very much in favor of high-speed rail," said Joe Boss, a longtime resident and community activist, "but let's not screw up this part of the city."
Instead of putting the rail crossing underground, the neighbors said, the rail authority should put the Caltrain and high-speed train tracks in a trench or tunnel. The demands are similar to those expressed by residents of mid-Peninsula communities who are campaigning for tunnels.
Representatives of the rail authority did not comment other than to say that they've met with representatives of UCSF to discuss its concerns about the underpass. But Jose Luis Moscovich, executive director of the transportation authority, said the crossing has been identified as an issue that needs, and will receive, further study.
High-speed rail will share the Caltrain right of way between San Francisco and San Jose. Planners are studying where the tracks will be at ground level, elevated or placed in trenches or tunnels. A draft of that study is expected in August, though final decisions won't be made until next year.
The $43 billion high-speed train system could be under construction by late 2012, officials say, with trains running between San Francisco and Anaheim by 2020.
Copyright ©2010 San Francisco Chronicle. Published 06/30/2010.