04 January 2010

CSS Game Plan

The Peninsula Rail Program recently distributed follow-up materials (1.5 MB PDF) to the Context-Sensitive Solutions (CSS) workshop held in November.

The included schedule reveals that the Draft Alternatives Analysis Report is delayed from January to late February / early March, compressing the environmental review schedule against the late 2012 shovel-readiness deadline. As recently as December 10th, this document had been "on schedule" for release this month.

CSS stakeholders have expressed a multitude of concerns and ideas, ranging from quite reasonable to off-the-wall wacky; they must be read to be appreciated. Exactly how this laundry list of CSS concerns relates to the environmental Scoping Report is unclear. Perhaps the AA will be driven by the scoping report and the CSS workshops, which might explain the delay.


  1. I would appreciate seeing this blog's response to the suggestion in today's Transport Politic that the Transbay Terminal be built without the DTX. See http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2010/01/04/san-francisco-ready-to-begin-construction-on-transbay-terminal/

    Cheers, Jarrett

  2. Are they releasing Alternatives Analaysis before the have a Program EIR or a Preferred Alignment?

  3. Or phrased another way - isn't this supposed to be tiered?

    From their opening summary in the Draft Scoping report: (broken into paragraphs here to represent what appears to be separate tiers in the process). Can they skip the middle two tiers and go right to the AA?

    "In August 2005, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) completed a Program Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) as the first-phase of a tiered environmental review process for the proposed California High-Speed Train (HST) system.

    The Authority and the FRA completed a second program EIR/EIS in July 2008 to identify a preferred alignment for the Bay Area to Central Valley section of the HST system.

    As part of the HST Alternative selected for further analysis, the Authority and FRA defined a corridor between San Francisco and San Jose along the San Francisco Peninsula connecting to a corridor through the Pacheco Pass via Henry Miller road, between San Jose and the Central Valley.

    The San Francisco to San Jose HST Project EIR/EIS will describe site-specific alignment alternatives and station locations along the Caltrain right-of-way for the section between San Francisco and San Jose

  4. Apparently the arrogant and incompetent CHSRA still doesn't have the guts to stand up to their latest business plan or the implications of their shift in financial strategy (ticket price/ridership volume/revenue tradeoff) or their plan to bilk localalities for the balance of funding.

    Still no 'business plan' on the meeting agenda. Wow, a board that doesn't deem it necessary to make strategic decisions.


    Yet, it was good enough for them to submit to the California State legislature and the people of California as a finished product.

    Never ending arrogance from the CHSRA.

  5. @Jarrett: my opinion posted on Yonah's blog. In short, I believe Transbay is so screwed up they might as well abort the train box.

    @anon: yes, they are releasing the project AA before the program EIR is re-certified.

    There are only two tiers (program and project) and they exist for the convenience of the preparing agency. There is no requirement that one be finished before the other, although a certified program EIR does let them off the hook from re-hashing and re-litigating all the program-level issues at the project level. The vast majority of the controversial issues in the program EIR stood the test of litigation, which makes it unlikely that a judge will allow them to be re-opened. That's why the program EIR will probably be re-certified quickly (in the next few months), and the next round of litigation will be more expeditious.

    By the way, I have nothing against these lawsuits: they are the intended and expected mechanism for contesting an EIR.

  6. http://www.mercurynews.com/search/ci_13919367?IADID=Search-www.mercurynews.com-www.mercurynews.com

    What's this about? Was this just the December board vote to rescind the program EIR and the preferred route (per the ruling)? Or something else?

  7. From the new biz plan:
    "On December 3, 2009, the Authority approved resolution #HSRA 10-0146 , as the first step in complying with the court judgment. This action rescinds the Authority’s 2008 certification of the program EIR and related approvals. The Authority directed staff to prepare the necessary revisions to the program EIR and circulate them in accordance with CEQA for public comment. The Authority will consider the revised program EIR and the entire record of material before making a new decision to certify the revised final program EIR. The Authority will also make a new decision on a network alternative, preferred alignments, and preferred station locations for further study in project EIRs."

    The "entire record of material" would indicate that all new comments would be incorporated, including various city's complaints and would need to be considered.

  8. The CHSRA just published a link on their website to their newly published Sacramento to Merced Notice of Intent NOI(dated Dec 23rd) which says the following:

    "The Merced to Sacramento HST
    Project EIR/EIS will tier from the
    Statewide Program EIR/EIS and the Bay Area to Central Valley HST Program EIR/EIS in accordance with Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations, (40 CFR 1508.28), the State CEQA Guidelines (14 California Code of
    Regulations 15168(b)) and FRA’s
    Procedures for Considering
    Environmental Impacts (64 FR 28545
    (May 26, 1999)).

    Tiering ensures that the
    Merced to Sacramento HST Project EIR/
    EIS builds upon program analysis and
    decisions made with the Statewide
    Program EIR/EIS and the Bay Area to
    Central Valley HST Program EIR/EIS."

    How do they tier off a Bay Area Program EIR and a Preferred Alignment decision that is NOT IN EXISTENCE?

    No where in their NOI notice do they state the FACT that they Bay Area program EIR and their Preferred Alignment was rescinded by the Authority on court order on December 3rd.

    They're liars and they're now filing false information with the federal government.

  9. As the judge ruled, project-level work may proceed while the program-level EIR is fixed, re-circulated, incorporated and edited, certified, and litigated.

    Whether or not the program EIR is certified at this particular instant in time is completely irrelevant to the decision to tier, as long as they re-certify the program EIR before certifying the first project-level EIR.

    There are many issues to get worked up about on this project, but this is not one of them.

  10. yeh, except they're making public statements on offical government documents that are false and misleading. On Dec 23 they absolutely have no Bay Area certified program eir nor do they have a preferred route. And they presen this document as if they do.

    OR perhaps they have just proven in writing in an official filing that they have no intention of abiding by the law to finish the study of impacts, as required by the court, recirulate for comments and then (only then) make an INFORMED decision.

    (sure its laughable, but I believe they are bound by law to at least pretend to do properly study the impacts before making the decisions.)

    They clearly have no intention of lawfully following the laws governing environemental impacts. They submit here to the feds that is a done deal.

    A restraining order should be the next thing filed.

  11. The EIR may have been rescinded, but the Feds don't care about that. The Feds care about the EIS, which was not rescinded. Don't forget the environmental review is done on both the state and federal level.