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TAMC Rail Policy Committee Meeting Report

April 5, 2010 Meeting

Reported by Chris Flescher, Associate Director

Presentation from planners working on the HSR segment San Jose – Merced

In 2035, if the fare is at the lower planned level, then the expected ridership is 100 million people per year.  The run time from San Francisco to Los Angeles, phase 1, will be 2 hours 40 minutes and the length will be about 500 miles.  The planners are at the alternatives analysis stage, and they will publish a report in about 1 month.

For the impact on TAMC, the Morgan Hill to Gilroy subsection is the most important part of the HSR.  The area has quite a few alternative routes, and going adjacent to Highway 101 is one route.  It is believed that the Gilroy station would need about 6000 parking spaces.  If a completely new Gilroy HSR station is built, it would be about 1 mile southeast of the existing one.  The new station location would not provide as good connections to the “local” San Jose to Salinas service.  All HSR stations would have 4 tracks.

Monterey Branch Line

There is a need for more public outreach.  Some people think that the proposed light rail on the MBL is the same kind of service as the state HSR.  For MBL street crossings, there will be gates and lights, but no bells or horns are planned, so the system should be very quiet.

One alignment (past Window on the Bay Park) will run the tracks right next to Del Monte Avenue, so very little of the park will be “lost.”  There is an interest in adding a few locations to the simulations, like Contra Costa Street and  Playa Avenue.

One suggestion made was to mention some of the right of way history, around 1985-1989.  During that time, the cities of Monterey and Marina reached an agreement, which included accepting some state money to buy the rail line with plans to turn it into a bike path but accept future transit use of the corridor.

Short animated videos (simulations) are being created for every station.  They show what trains passing the stations will look like.  There is a need to finish the simulations in time for some upcoming public events, like the one which will be the second Monterey Waterfront Master Plan meeting.

What’s Next?

Next month, TAMC will ask the state for permission to use the last of the Prop 116 money to buy property for the rail line to Salinas.  The estimated property cost is $24 million.

There is a desire to release a Request for Qualifications, for real estate agents and appraisers, for buying land in the right of way. The RFQ also includes legal firms for assistance with buying.  The plan is to take this plan to the full TAMC Board of Directors this month.  During the June meeting, the committee will return with a list of approved agencies.  The motion to release the RFQ was approved by the Rail Policy Committee.

It was mentioned that the San Jose Mercury News predicts that Caltrain could be bankrupt in two years from now.  The Capitol Corridor operators appear to have more stable sources of funding.  This seems to show that TAMC made the right decision, which is to pursue negotiations with the Capitol Corridor operators, to extend some of their trains to Salinas.