Union Pacific letter

Here is  April 23, 2010 letter the Union Pacific Railroad (“UPRR”) submitted as part of the Program Level EIR review.

Background

UPRR owns significant portions of the corridor that the California High Speed Rail program has planned to use or locate near. UPRR has repeatedly stated its opposition to allowing high speed trains on or near its property. This is an issue for many segments of the route, including all those going through the Central Valley.

The primary focus of this letter is the corridor from San Jose to Gilroy. The California High Speed Rail Authority’s failure to respond to a previous UPRR letter about this corridor led to successful environmental ligitation regarding the selection of the Pacheco Pass route over the Altamont Pass route. This litigation is the reason why the HSRA had to issue a revised Program Level EIR, slightly altering the plans and discussing a higher level of impacts, including the loss of traffic lanes on the Monterey Highway and property takings.

The basic plan remained the same. The high speed rail tracks would generally be adjacent to the UPRR property and go through Morgan Hill and Gilroy.

In the meantime, detailed project level work continued and it has become very clear that a more likely route is one that takes a very different path, through farmland to the east of Highway 101 that is currently off-limits to development.

Recent simulation of east Gilroy station

The residents and many environmentalists are up in arms over the Program level EIR which pretended as if the more suburban corridor was the only alternative. They feel that the big decision of which route to take through the Diablo Mountains fails to take into account the environmental consequences of a route through the environmentally sensitive lands.  For instance,  the Program Level EIR only discusses a downtown station while a recent CHSRA presentation showed the above illustration of a potential Gilroy station.

Photos

These are both of the Montery Highway alignment (the Program EIR route) and the 101 route.

Additional resources

Newspaper coverage in the San Jose Mercury News ”Union Pacific vows to fight high-speed rail”

2 minute audio clip from CHSRA Operations Meeting May 2010 discussing the UPRR letter (Main speaker is Tony Daniels, the Parsons Brinkerhoff program manager, and the other speaker is Board Member Richard Katz)

Revised Progam EIR materials, Chapter dealing with UPRR’s concerns

April 2010 Maps of modified Program EIR route from south San Jose through Gilroy near UPRR corridor (CHSRA)

April 2010 Maps of east 101 route from south San Jose through Gilroy (CHSRA)

Santa Clara County “at-risk”  map (Greenbelt Alliance)

Development issues in Morgan Hill (Greenbelt Alliance)

Leavesley Road Policy (City of Gilroy)