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High-Speed Rail Project Presents DTLA Options

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, September 22, 2010, at 11:52AM
High-Speed Rail: Station Rendering California High-Speed Rail Authority

Rendering of how a high-speed rail station might look

The California High-Speed Rail system could provide drastically reduced travel times between in-state destinations such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, but first a number of decisions have to be made about how the line would impact the communities through which it would be running.

The authority set up to build the rail system held an open house meeting at Metro’s One Gateway Plaza on Tuesday evening to present those who live and work around Downtown Los Angeles with the project’s current ideas for how the trains would enter and exit Los Angeles Union Station.

From the north, the rail line’s path would take it along the crowded banks of the Los Angeles River, where it has to deal with conflicts between freight lines, Metrolink, Amtrak, bicyclists, pedestrians and plans to revitalize the river path.

The route would also place tracks next to or through three parks: Los Angeles State Historic Park, Rio de Los Angeles State Park and Elysian Park. Three tunneling options are currently being studied, as are several at-grade variations.

The potential addition of new tracks next to the park space has brought a vocal response from residents and open space advocates. A coalition of groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, California State Parks Foundation, Friends of the Los Angeles River and the Los Angeles Conservation Corps this week sent a letter to the authority board urging it to add an additional option back into its study. The “long tunnel” option would extend tunneling north nearly to the 2 freeway.

At the open house, project staff said that they are currently studying that option and intend to bring it to the authority board in October.

The full rail system would stretch 800 miles and is planned to be open by 2020.

Opinions

At Tuesday’s open house, we spoke to several attendees to see what they thought of the proposals.

Jason Bushman, Silverlake:

I was excited from the moment I heard about it. I’ve traveled through Europe and Japan where they have high-speed rail. People are always saying that the U.S. is the most technically advanced, yet we don’t have high-speed rail in California, so it will be nice to cut down the 12 hours it takes to get to San Francisco from Los Angeles. I was interested to find out how the project would work in the dense urban areas to the northeast of Union Station. People are concerned about the train being at-grade, but I heard that one proposal is a long tunnel from Union Station to Burbank, which I think, is the best option, though it will cost more.

Jim Shafer, Downtown:

I am totally in favor of high-speed rail. I spoke with one of the women on the project who explained how the shared track would work. I was concerned before but she explained that there would be two tracks, one for the high-speed rail, Amtrak and Metrolink to share. All would go up to 90 mph and the Metrolink would be sort of an express train that would make less stops. The other track would allow freight and Metrolink local trains to go slower. Now if they could just add a high-speed rail option from Union Station to LAX, I’d be happy.

Nathan Griffin, Venice:

I came to the presentation because I am a civil engineering student. I wanted to see how the train will go through certain areas. I have family in the Netherlands and have traveled a lot there so I know that the high-speed trains are very quiet. I also wanted to find out how the opposition in San Francisco is. They’ve filed a lot of lawsuits to try to stop it and some of the city governments haven’t been very welcoming.

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