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State High Speed Rail Authority Picks SF’s Transbay Transit Center

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The California High Speed Rail Authority Board recently adopted design variances to ensure that the Transbay Transit Center at First and Mission streets in downtown San Francisco becomes the northern terminus for high speed rail in California.

The CHSRA also presented its Alternatives Analysis Report for San Francisco to San Jose. The alternatives study will be used to help CHSRA identify alternatives that merit being carried forward for additional study.

The CHSRA’s board analysis confirmed that the Transbay Transit Center is the preferred and only practical location and that the proposed Beale Street alternative is infeasible.

“The Transbay Transit Center project is one of the largest transit projects that will be built in the country in over 50 years and we look forward to building a new station to accommodate high speed rail travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles,” says Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan, executive director of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority.

The Transbay Transit Center project will replace the current Transbay Terminal with a new, multi-modal transportation center and centralize the region’s transportation network by accommodating nine transportation systems under one roof.

The three components of the project – replacing the outdated Transbay Terminal with a modern transit hub, extending the Caltrain rail line 1.3 mi into the heart of the Financial District and redeveloping the area surrounding the Transbay Transit Center with 2,600 new homes (35% affordable), parks and a retail main street – will help to return San Francisco to a culture of mass transit, says the TJPA.

The project broke ground on the Temporary Terminal in December 2008 and demolition of the current bus terminal is scheduled to begin this summer.

Meanwhile, based on input gathered at hundreds of public meetings throughout the Bay Area and Central Valley, the CHSRA released its preliminary alternatives analyses for two sections of the high-speed rail system.

The analysis for the San Francisco to San Jose portion of the project reconfirms that a four-track, grade separated, shared Caltrain and high-speed train system is feasible and is the recommended alternative on the Peninsula.

The analysis found that this alignment, using the existing Caltrain right-of-way, would minimize environmental impacts and increase intercity connectivity, while also improving the safety and reliability of Caltrain commuter service. The shared-track system would allow high-speed trains to operate at speeds up to 125 mph and Caltrain to operate at up to 110 mph.

The analysis for the Merced to Fresno portion of the project reconfirms that the alternatives that closely follow existing rail corridors – the Union Pacific Railroad and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad – best serve the purpose and need of the high-speed train project.

The Analysis found that the Union Pacific Railroad alignment optimizes travel time while minimizing environmental impacts, and has the support of a number of local governments, including Merced County, the city of Merced, the city of Atwater and local transportation agencies and water districts.

The analysis notes that the Burlington Northern Santa Fe alignment also provides a viable alternative for further study.


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