The California High-Speed Rail Authority says it was caught by surprise this week with a letter from the Bay Area Council and regional transportation agencies calling for a revised high-speed rail plan on the Peninsula, including slowing down the speed of the high-speed trains and not building any new overpasses so that Peninsula communities won't feel so put out.

This follows on a recent kerfuffle involving a Palo Alto citizens group and a lawsuit calling for a new impact study by the rail authority. The rail authority said they all but halted planning and environmental work two weeks ago in light of the stepped-up resistance from Peninsula communities, saying it can't spend any more money before it knows that it will be physically and legally possible to build railways between San Francisco and San Jose.

Now, state legislators representing Palo Alto and San Mateo, along with CalTrain and Metropolitan Transportation Commission officials are joining with the Bay Area Council to form a coalition, in an effort to reach a consensus as to how to proceed with the high-speed line. The proposed compromises include: slowing down the trains as they pass through certain Peninsula towns; limiting all high-speed rail construction to existing CalTrain right-of-ways; and generally scaling back the design on this northern portion so that an electrified Caltrain service and high-speed trains to the Peninsula can coexist on the tracks, and be affordable.

Somehow, also, they have to figure out how to get the train from SF to LA in less than 2 hours and 40 minutes, which was a legal requirement of Proposition 1A, the $10 billion bond measure for the train approved by voters.

[Biz Times]

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