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Beale Street Alternative Still on the Table for High-Speed Rail Terminus

As reported on the front of Section C in today’s San Francisco Chronicle by John Coté in an article titled “State ruling fails to clear terminal location,” the California High-Speed Rail Authority still disagrees with San Franciscans on the Prop 1a $10 billion bond’s requirement of locating the high-speed rail terminus in downtown San Francisco at 1st and Mission Streets (the Transbay Transit Center). The remote possibility of the Authority choosing to build a second train station in the Rincon Hill neighborhood, in addition to the already in progress Transbay Transit Center which will extend Caltrain from 4th and King, leaves 424 condo units (disclosure – I own one of those units) in Rincon Hill and South Beach under the shadow of a remote possibility that they will need to be demolished in the future to make way for a high-speed rail station along Beale Street between Harrison and Mission Streets.

I took a half day off of work and drove up to Sacramento to the CHSRA Board meeting yesterday morning to speak during public comment (public comment happens during first 20 minutes or so of meeting). I encouraged the Board to eliminate the Beale Street Alternative as soon as possible and to hold a meeting in San Francisco. The Chair, Curt Pringle (also Mayor of Anaheim), acknowledged he’s been receiving our petition emails. Frankly, my read is that we need to continue the first phase of persuading them to take the Beale Street Alternative off the table by asking Californians to sign (the online petition).

Supervisor Chris Daly held a SoMa waterfront community meeting on December 16th about this matter. The first step of action following that meeting was setting up an online letter/petition that sends an email to the CHSRA Executive Director and the Chairman of the CHSRA Board asking the CHSRA to determine the “Beale Street Alternative” for high-speed rail as economically and technically infeasible and to hold a formal CHSRA Board meeting in San Francisco to face those of us affected financially by the continuing consideration of the “Beale Street Alternative.”

Please sign the online letter/petition if you have not already done so – you may change the wording of the letter to suit your comfort (some neighbors have told me it is a little more high octane than what they can agree with).

You can also send a letter by postal mail to Medhi Morshed, California High Speed Rail Authority, 925 L Street Suite 1425, Sacramento, CA 95814. If you send a postal letter, you may want to bring up points from the online letter/petition – specifically, aside from the demolition of two residential buildings, there is the consideration for disturbing the anchorage of the Bay Bridge, the water infrastructure under The Embarcadero, the pump station at Main and Bryant, and the plans to create a high-density residential neighborhood in Rincon Hill concentrated along and south of Folsom Street. Also, please do mention that you support high-speed rail in California and you support trains terminating at the Transbay Transit Center at 1st and Mission Streets in downtown San Francisco.

Please ask your California neighbors to also sign our community letter/petition – we need to keep applying public pressure to get the CHSRA to eliminate the Beale Street Alternative consideration. They only need two alternatives for their environmental study (at least that’s my understanding), and those two alternatives should be the Transbay Transit Center primarily and the existing Caltrain station at 4th and King secondarily.

Thank you for taking a few minutes to try to help reduce stress for me and your other 600 or so neighbors in Rincon Hill and South Beach by asking the CHSRA Board to eliminate further consideration of the “Beale Street Alternative” as soon as possible.

3 Responses to Beale Street Alternative Still on the Table for High-Speed Rail Terminus

  1. Perhaps this controversy wouldn’t be happening if the TJPA had hired even one rail engineer worth his salt. Their rail station design is so deeply compromised and disfunctional that it’s no surprise the CHSRA is looking at other solutions, solutions that might actually fulfill the basic functions of a rail station.

    Meanwhile, the TJPA is busy designing TTC signage. Astonishingly enough, the font and color scheme seems more important to them than station approach speeds or platform reassignments.

    Another important consideration is that TJPA and CHSRA are two pigs feeding from the same stimulus trough. The CHSRA is keen to prevent TJPA from getting the $400M, and I think they’ve succeeded. The chances of the TJPA getting the money are almost nil.

    At this point, building nothing may indeed be better than building the abominable train station that the TJPA proposes.

    Enjoy your $2 billion bus station.

  2. I think it is worth reminding folks that the Caltrain Extension passed by San Francisco voters in 1999 to extend the Caltrain tracks from 4th and King over to 1st and Mission (Transbay Transit Center) was and remains one of the main reasons (in addition to earthquake safety needs) of building the new Transbay Transit Center. The MTC report indicating that high-speed rail’s lofty ridership expectations for 2030 could likely be met by primarily terminating at Transbay Transit Center with additional rush hour train capacity by Mission Bay at the existing Catrain station at 4th and King Streets.

  3. Good of you to bring up Proposition H, which featured HSR as a footnote. Where is the “Caltrain” extension going today? One platform, two tracks, accessed by a single bi-directional spur that will be nearly impossible to operate effectively and robustly. Even Caltrain has given up on it and plans to continue using 4th & King.

    The incompetence on display is just stunning.

    As currently designed, the TTC meets neither Caltrain’s nor HSR’s needs. It doesn’t deserve a single penny of stimulus money.