04 January 2009

Peninsula EIS/EIR Announced

Sharp-eyed readers of the Federal Register will no doubt have noted in volume 73, number 249, pages 79541-79543 that the Federal Railroad Administration published a Notice of Intent on December 29th, 2008 to advise the public that FRA and the California High Speed Rail Authority will jointly prepare a project Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and project Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the San Francisco to San Jose section of the proposed California high-speed rail system.

The final peninsula impact evaluation is the next step in the tiered EIS/EIR process pursued by the FRA and the CHSRA, which already included the following milestones:
  • 2005 HSR Statewide Final Program EIR/EIS
  • 2008 HSR Bay Area to Central Valley Final Program EIR/EIS
  • 2008 Selection of Pacheco Pass alignment
Highlights from the Notice of Intent for the peninsula:
This Project EIR/EIS will describe site-specific environmental impacts, will identify specific mitigation measures to address those impacts and will incorporate design practices to avoid and minimize potential adverse environmental impacts. The FRA and the Authority will assess the site characteristics, size, nature, and timing of proposed site-specific projects to determine whether the impacts are potentially significant and whether impacts can be avoided or mitigated. This project EIR/EIS will identify and evaluate reasonable and feasible site-specific alignment alternatives, and evaluate the impacts from construction, operation, and maintenance of the HST system.


The San Francisco to San Jose HST corridor selected by the Authority and FRA follows the Caltrain right-of-way from San Francisco to San Jose. The HST would operate in this area at speeds below 150 mph and would share tracks with Caltrain express commuter trains. Further engineering studies to be undertaken as part of this EIR/EIS process will examine and refine alignments in the Caltrain right-of-way.

The entire alignment would be grade separated. The options to be considered for the design of grade separated roadway crossings would include (1) Depressing the street to pass under the rail line; (2) elevating the street to pass over the rail line; and (3) leaving the street as-is and constructing rail line improvements to pass over or under the local street.

In addition, alternative sites for right-of-way maintenance, train storage facilities and a train service and inspection facility will be evaluated in the San Francisco to San Jose HST project area.
It all starts with a scoping process. You can comment orally or in writing at three public scoping meetings to be held this month. Mark your calendars:
  • San Mateo County: SamTrans Auditorium, 1250 San Carlos Avenue, San Carlos, California, January 22, 2009 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • San Francisco: San Francisco State University, 835 Market Street, 6th Floor (Rooms 673-674), San Francisco, California, January 27, 2009 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Santa Clara County: Santa Clara Convention Center, 5001 Great America Parkway, Great America Meeting Rooms 1 & 2, Santa Clara, California, January 29, 2009 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Written comments on the scope of the San Francisco to San Jose HST Project EIR/EIS should be provided to the CHSRA by March 6, 2009, and can be sent to comments@hsr.ca.gov with subject line San Francisco to San Jose HST.

Any suggestions for what should specifically be included in the peninsula EIR/EIS ? Please discuss in the comment section.


  1. In a somewhat related note, one of the agenda items for the Jan 8th CAHSR board meeting is a Memorandum of Understanding with the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board. It's unclear if they will talk about the actual contents of the MoU, or just authorize the executive director to negotiate one. Is anyone planning on being there since the meeting minutes take a month and a half to show up online?

  2. This is the best web site I have seen covering the coming of HSR to the Caltrain corridor. Thanks, Clem.

    Just read an article comparing Japanese concrete slab track for speeds above 200 mph, vs. conventional ties and ballast. Apparently, they converted most of their rail lines to concrete embedded track.

    The benefits of this include ". . . inherent robustness, low-maintenance, long-term performance and whole-life cost benefits of concrete . . . ." said Jones.

    "This provided a rail track that has maximised operating efficiency by eliminating unplanned maintenance, provided high levels of safety and comfort and impressive whole life costings."

    As far as you know, is this part of the intended HSR corridor expansion plan?

  3. Thanks for the kind words, Martin.

    Since the peninsula will be operated at far less than 200 mph, I doubt slab track will be used. The subject did come up in another post, regarding the possibility / necessity of running heavy freight trains over HSR tracks without ruining them.

    I would expect track construction to be very far down the list of details to worry about.

  4. I assume you sent them an e-mail with a summary or a pointer to your previous post about slow traffic keep left?

  5. I agree, it's nice to have real analysis, rather than speculation.

  6. Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
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