a half hours
The push is on to bring the bullet train through the South Valley, but Gilroy leaders won’t be helping.
“We won’t be doing any lobbying,” City Administrator Jay Baksa said Thursday. “There is some philosophical opposition on the [city] council. We will stay close to it. If it’s going to come through Gilroy, we’ll force ourselves to the table if we have to.”
In early September, the Morgan Hill City Council joined the Silicon Valley High-speed Rail Coalition – a group that supports the construction of the railway with an alignment that traverses Pacheco Pass through Gilroy and Morgan Hill.
This week, the California High-Speed Rail Authority gave final environmental clearance for a train link between San Francisco and Los Angeles. But the authority still has not decided whether to run the train through San Jose, with a stop in Morgan Hill or Gilroy, or through the Altamont Pass, in the East Bay.
The train has support from county luminaries including Supervisor Don Gage and former Supervisor Rod Diridon, who is also a rail authority director.
Diridon said this week that he wants to bring the train to San Jose, but must refrain from lobbying for it. He urged Gilroy leaders to get behind the proposal and said the authority will make a decision in about a year.
“I have to stand back and look at the data as it comes in, and then make a decision,” Diridon said. “If I was in Gilroy, I’d sure be involved in that study.”
But City Councilman Bob Dillon Thursday called the bullet train a “gigantic boondoggle” that would sap already tenuous state finances.
The November 2006 ballot will include a $10 billion transportation bond measure that includes $1 billion for high-speed rail. Assuming the project is on track, the November 2007 ballot will include a $10 billion bond for the bullet train. The system’s ultimate cost is expected to be in excess of $30 billion.
“There’s already a high-speed transit system in California 35,000 feet overheard,” Dillon said. “It’s called an airliner. What really scares me is a nearly bankrupt state bonding billions for something like that.”
The electric-powered bullet trains would get riders from San Francisco to Los Angeles in two and a half hours – or from Gilroy to Los Angeles in one hour and 45 minutes – reaching speeds of 220 miles an hours in rural areas and 125 in cities. Later phases would extend lines to Sacramento and San Diego.
The scope of the project makes the environmental process especially protracted. The entire project must first be cleared by the State Department of Fish and Game and the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, then every segment of the project must be evaluated in greater detail.
Matt King covers Santa Clara County for The Times. He can be reached at 847-7240 or [email protected]