Construction of a high speed rail line alongside the Caltrain tracks in Palo Alto could threaten El Palo Alto, the 1069-year-old redwood tree after which the city is named. (...) If the new rail line is built to the east of Caltrain, El Palo Alto would have to be cut down.Hold the presses... nobody has ever envisioned running the tracks to the east of the existing bridge, as already discussed in Focus on: Palo Alto. This sensational straw man was invented by the Daily Post. And it goes on:
If the rail line went to the west, it would mean at least part of the Stanford Park Hotel would be eliminated, and the tree still might not survive.Perhaps we can do some fact finding research for them:
- The PCJPB right of way (land owned by Caltrain) is nearly 150 feet wide at the location of the tree, with plenty of room on the west side of the existing tracks, not even close to the Stanford Park Hotel
- The venerable tree in question, El Palo Alto, is acknowledged in the CHSRA's regional environmental impact documents (Volume 1, section 3.9, page 16), with the two additional tracks quite logically described as going west of the existing tracks with no impact to the tree
Excavating for a sound wall footing or other reason close to the tree would probably result in tipping the tree's viability over the edge. Even if deep cuts were vertical without leaving the ROW, they may have catastrophic effects. (...) There simply are not roots where a typical flatland tree would have roots. Root and soil removal could result in an irreversible decline or even mortality whether by health or weakening the tree's stability or catastrophic whole tree failure in any direction.Sounds pretty dire, but so far, nobody has suggested excavation near the tree, excepting a few Palo Alto residents who are advocating the entire railroad be buried in a tunnel. The great alarm over HSR impacts to El Palo Alto is out of proportion with the concrete piers poured in recent years near the tree for a bicycle bridge, and certainly overlooks the pressing need to replace the more than 100-year-old rail bridge over the San Francisquito Creek, regardless of HSR.
With the debate over HSR heating up in Palo Alto, the Daily Post should refrain from further inflaming passions with poorly-researched, sensational stories like this one.