Get an HSR Routing Primer Before Scoping Hearings Begin Tomorrow

10_20_09_hsr.jpgImage: California High Speed Rail Authority

Feeling a bit overwhelmed at the plethora of meetings on various
projects such as the Crenshaw, Expo Phase II, Wilshire BRT, Harbor Subdivision,
Gold Line eastside Phase II, Westside Subway Extension, Regional
Connector
now occurring or upcoming?

Too bad! Public scoping meetings are being held this month by the California HighSpeed Rail
Authority
(CHSRA) to solicit public input for the development of
the project Environmental Impact Report/Statement (EIR/EIS) for the Los
Angeles to San Diego via the Inland Empire Section of the proposed
California HighSpeed Train System (HST).

Meetings
will be held from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. You can arrive and participate
at any time during those hours. All will be formatted identically,
so attend at the location most convenient for you. It appears the
Authority is following the informal drop in/open house format generally
favored by agencies in the early stages of outreach with display
boards, staff and/or consultants on hand to answer questions, cards
available to be filled out with any comments you wish to submit,
perhaps some opportunities to make verbal comments or even to see a
brief presentation on the proposed project.

The meetings in our area are being held in
the San Gabriel Valley, where the line from Los Angeles to San Diego is
to be routed through.  A complete list of the L.A. County meetings can be found here, in the Streetsblog calendar section.

Public comments can also be submitted on the Authority’s website or
by writing to Mr. Dan Leavitt, Deputy Director, ATTN: Los Angeles to
San Diego via the Inland Empire Section HST Project EIR/EIS, California
HighSpeed Rail
Authority, 925 L Street, Suite 1425, Sacramento, CA 95814, or via email
with subject line “LA-SD HST Section via the Inland Empire” to: comments@hsr.ca.gov no later than November 20, 2009.

For more information, call: (909) 627-2974 or (916) 324-1541.

For an overview of why the CHSRA chose a route through the Inland Empire instead of down the coast, read on after the jump.

I’m
sure some are curious why the CHSRA choose to connect Los Angeles and
San Diego via the Inland Empire instead of the more direct routing
along the coast. From my years following this project I’ll offer my
cliffnotes on why this is so.

There are a number of obstacles to using the coastal corridor. The
right of way in some places is narrow and also traverses
environmentally sensitive areas. As the faq "How is this project
different from other previous attempts to implement highspeed train systems in the U.S.?" on the CHSRA website notes:

The California HighSpeed Rail
Authority (Authority) considered but rejected a coastal alignment
between Los Angeles and San Diego as part of its certified Statewide
Program EIR/EIS (November 2005). The Authority concluded that limited
existing right-of-way and sensitive coastal resources made highspeed train service on the coastal rail corridor infeasible.  You can read more on the routing choices at the CAHSR’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

Another
factor is opposition from the coastal communities of Southern Orange
County and Northern San Diego County. While cities like Anaheim and
Irvine are eager to be part of the system, communities along the
coast further south are hotbeds of NIMBY pushback (e.g. San Juan
Capistrano and Encinitas). That is why the spur line serving Orange
County goes no further South than Irvine. Plus the folks in the Inland
Empire want the project to serve their region and have been actively
lobbying for it to do so during the past decade. Similar lobbying by
Palmdale and Lancaster is the reason why the project goes through the
Antelope Valley instead of along the grapevine/I-5 corridor to reach
L.A. from the Central Valley.

To see an interactive map of the proposed route, click here.

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