A Word About This Site

Important Note: This site is designed to be a one stop shopping place for information relevant to the HSR project, the potential impacts to our communities and how to participate in the process. Since this is an all volunteer effort, a lack of funding relegates us to using the freeby sites. With no perfect fit available, this site is being treated like a hybrid blog/website. Like a blog, it is not stagnant, but like a website, information is categorized. Therefore one should not treat it as a blog by always looking for only the latest entry, yet periodically refer back to older posts for updated information. To make it easier, HSR-PREP has a newsletter designed to be used in conjunction with this site. If you wish to be notified of new information appearing on the site, it is recommended that you sign up for the HSR-PREP Newsletter. Another way is to create an RSS link on your homepage.

Spread the word. Be informed. Get involved.

Spread the word. Be informed. Get involved. If you have any issues at all with the high speed rail project as it exists, if you say and do nothing, it means you agree 100%. We are all busy in our lives. This cannot be used as an excuse later. If you have issues, you must participate in the process or forever hold your peace. Call, email or write your legislators. It takes 15 minutes using their websites. Participate in the public input opportunities with the High Speed Rail Authority (HSRA). But don't wait.
Spread the word. Be informed. Get involved.


Timeline for the HSR Project. The timeline can be viewed in the Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) Toolkit on the HSRA site. See this link for the timeline. Further understanding of the purpose of the CSS toolkit can be found elsewhere on this site along with other public input opportunities. See the side bar for Public Input - to High Speed Rail Authority. Note the timeline as it gives you an idea of where we are in the process. The timeline is subject to change, but at this time is being driven by the stimulus funds requirement that construction begin on the Peninsula section by 2012.

As of April 2010 engineering for the Peninsula section is at about 3-5% engineering. The project is expected to be at about 15% engineering by fall. At 15% engineering, we will have construction details, in other words how the different alternatives might be constructed, including how they will keep Caltrain operational during construction. Some basic understanding of the sequencing of the construction is described in the AA appendixes.

Sound of HSR

HSR Sound Levels. Video of the French TGV.

Train speeds on the Caltrain corridor will be 125mph for HSR and 110mph for Caltrain. The graph at right above can be found in this 1996 study. As aerodynamics and technology of design (such as slab track versus ballast track) are improved, the sound levels will only come down, but should remain a significant concern in the design process. Sound walls on elevated or at grade structures will add visible mass. The HSRA tells us these sound walls will only need to be 3-5' high. Other studies suggest they should be higher, similar to the sound walls along Rt 101. A lot has to do with the distance between the sound source and the wall, so for a greater ROW width, higher walls may be required.

Japan has a national noise standard for the Shinkansen, limiting the noise it generates to 70 decibels in residential areas and 75 decibels in commercial districts. For comparison, a vacuum cleaner at 10 feet produces 70 dB, and a car passing 10 feet away measures 80 dB. To meet Japan's stringent standards, they use lightweight trains with sleek and sometimes odd-looking noses, design windows, doors and the spaces where cars connect to be as smooth and aerodynamic as possible, cover the wheels, and work to quiet the overhead electrical supply system, a major noise source. The railways also install sound-walls in some locations along the tracks, ranging from roughly 2 to 12 feet high, and they travel at reduced speeds in the densest areas.

Pantograph study.

2005 Federal Railroad Administration High-Speed Ground Transportation
Noise and Vibration Impact Assessment
. Of interest on page 4-9 is that a HSR placed in a deep trench produces roughly 19dB less than an elevated structure without a sound wall.

What Could it Look Like

Story Poles. The City of Burlingame, in an effort to show people what the scale might blook like, erected story poles near the Caltrain station. The 30' wide orange netting represents the cross-sectional thickness (not the full width of 79' (straightaways) -126' (Caltrain-only stations)) of the deck the trains will ride on. This representation does not include the expected 3-12' sound walls, either. The total height of 59' to the top represents the height to the top of the poles which will carry the catenary wires for electrification. Interestingly, Caltrain and the Federal Rail Administration (FRA) had a problem with the safety of the poles, requiring around the clock security guards be posted, which in turn prematurely sucked up Burlingame's budget for this outreach project, thus ending the display early. One might ask how they are fine with a major HSR construction project along the tracks, when they are not with a well engineered display? See Channel 7's report here.

Update August 5, 2010. The HSRA narrows the Alternatives down for the Peninsula. This article by Mike Rosenberg for the San Mateo County Times was one of the first out and includes an excellent visual map. For greater detail see this link for the HSRA's Supplemental Alternatives Analysis August 2010 and appendices.

I say what COULD it look like because no one really knows since the HSRA has not given us much to hang our hat on. So, we have to use what technical memos and limited drawings they have provided along with a little bit of imagination to piece something together. Probably the most representative of the alternatives can be found in this HSRA video simulation showing Alma Street in Palo Alto. You have to understand that certain things are not shown such as the houses east of the right of way (ROW) that needed to be demolished in order to construct this model, but the scale is fairly accurate. Note also the retaining wall for the cross streets when the cross road is dipped under the rail in a split design. Likely the retaining wall cuts off a driveway or two. Perhaps more important than what it might look like is to understand the scale. It is truly industrial scale.

Station, Elevated 4-Track , Burlingame.

The HSRA Alternatives Analysis (AA), Appendix C released on April 8, 2010 shows various conceptual cross sections. This illustration shows a typical Caltrain-access only (HSR on center two tracks, Caltrain on outer tracks) raised station at 139'4" wide. A narrower center island design shrinks the width to 112'6". Note: From the face of the Burlingame Station to the curb at Carolan is only 120'.

A cut-and-cover trench style station is shown at 137' 2", but roughly half of that could be hidden under the street or existing station, or even stacked with HSR running underneath Caltrain, limiting the opening to between 77'8" (outboard platforms) to 80'2" (center platform).

Scale. Recall, for a sense of scale, the Millbrae overpass is 100' wide at the BART station. I highly recommend you plant yourself under it and look up.

Stand under the 100' wide overpass at Millbrae Ave (click on the picture at left) and you will begin to understand the scale around a station. Outside of the stations, the width is expected to be in the range of 79' (103' for construction, all per AA April 8, 2010), unless the trains are stacked whereby it will be closer to 55' and much taller. Because legally they must, the HSRA maintains that all alternatives are being considered, yet there is good reason to believe that the alternative has already been determined - namely due to the lack of funding. I hope I am wrong, but I have yet to see any evidence to the contrary. So far, the only images Burlingame has seen for mockups from the HSRA are of elevated structures - both grossly misleading in their scale and shown in a wonderful light (who knew the sun could shine from underneath an overpass?). Stay tuned. I am working with a local business on a properly scaled mockup. For now, I recommend the image at right created by Burlingame's Don't Rail Road Us group. While not very creatively styled, the height at the station and mass are fairly accurate.

In Burlingame, as with many towns, we are wondering how HSR might change the character of our town? The Burlingame station is a centerpiece of our town. It was no accident that Burlingame Avenue was laid out to highlight the front of the station. An elevated structure would forever change this view.

Germany's Elevated 4-Track system into Berlin. Similar to that proposed for the Peninsula, it is made up of a commuter rail (Berlin Stadtbahn1) and a high speed rail (ICE).

The Vertical Alternatives. A look at the various vertical alternatives, elevated (berm and viaduct), at grade, and underground (open trench, cut-and-cover trench and tunnel)

Transition Areas. The April 8 release of the Alternatives Analysis revealed further details as to how the vertical alternatives (i.e. elevated, at grade, trenched, tunnel) might rise and fall along the Peninsula. Take a look at the profiles in Appendix B of the Alternatives Analysis.

Caltrain, Union Pacific, and HSR

Caltrain is broke, declaring electrification is the answer for turning a profit. Simply put, electrification will allow trains to run faster, thus increasing capacity, plus electric trains are cheaper to maintain and operate. Just where the money to make the needed upgrades will come from remains a mystery, but it is clear that Caltrain sees HSR as a funding mechanism, assuming HSR has funding. The only other option is the passing of legislation for a direct source of funding by way of a tax of some sort, or other legislation that assures Caltrain receives some of the federal stimulus money if HSR is not ready by 2012. See this discussion on Robert Cruickshank's pro-rail blog for a better understanding of Caltrain's situation and how HSR figures in. For now, Caltrain depends on funding from three counties; SF (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency), SM (San Mateo County Transit District, aka SamTrans) and Santa Clara (Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority or VTA), which have all suffered from the recession. Together, the three agencies comprise the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (PCJPB) which is in charge of running Caltrain.

Clem Tillier discusses in his blog (Caltrain HSR Compatibility Blog) what seems to be the obvious solution if HSR is to be built along the Caltrain corridor, and that is building integrated systems rather than separate systems sharing the same corridor; something the HSRA and Caltrain don't seem to be exploring. Such a system would include shared platform heights and train constrol systems. With two separate systems and only two tracks per system, Caltrain's existing service will be cut back as it will no longer enjoy a third track required for the Baby Bullet to pass slower trains.

May 18, 2010. Read about Caltrain taking a stronger position.

Union Pacific (UP) is having a slightly different discussion and that is an unwillingness to share their right of way (ROW) with HSR. In part, this is one reason why the Program level EIR was ordered de-certified by a judge, because the route the HSRA had chosen between San Jose and Gilroy required building on the UP ROW, and UP was having none of it. Here is a May 11, 2010 article written by Mike Rosenberg for the San Mateo County Times titled "Union Pacific vows to fight high-speed rail" discussing their postering. A letter from Union Pacific to the HSRA dated April 23, 2010. A bit of silliness that perhaps sums up the way UP feels can be found in this video.

Freight versus HSR. Read this June 22, 2010 article from the Economist. America’s system of rail freight is the world’s best. High-speed passenger trains could ruin it.

The Right of Way (ROW). The Caltrain ROW is owned by three counties: San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara, however, San Mateo County paid for it carrying IOU's from the other two counties. I'm not certain of exact numbers, but some I have seen range in cost from $200M to $500M to San Mateo County.

An interesting idea from Charles Voltz of Burlingame in response to the HSRA's suggestion that if towns like Burlingame want tunnels they should pay for them. Charles: "San Mateo County can offer to forgive the debt of the other two counties in exchange for the Joint Powers Board insisting that High Speed Rail apply the current value of that debt to the cost difference between elevated tracks and a covered trench. This, of course, would have to be negotiated between the Joint Powers Board and its prospective tenant, High Speed Rail. There should be room for compromise sooner rather than later since the state estimates that every year of delay boosts the total cost of the project by $1.5 billion."


July 26, 2011. HSRA breaking the law (yet again) by not responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. CAARD has repeatedly - ten times, in fact, between March 22, 2011 and July 26, 2011 - requested documents backing the ridership study without a document being produced by the HSRA. Authority’s Deputy Director, Jeff Barker said, “There are no documents; we are busy; any documents are draft and you just want to make us look bad on your website. Now why would he say that if he knew what they had was good data? CARRD knows there are documents because the HSRA CEO van Ark ordered a peer review committee on the ridership with a deadline already past. ”See CARRD's documentation here and a related article here.

New Blog Devoted to Ridership Issue. On November 23, 2010, this blog (possibly from an Alhambra blogger) was started to address the ridership issues seemingly ignored by the HSRA. The first entry compares an earlier ridership study which was conducted in 1999 and published in January 2000 by Charles River Associates (CRA). It was touted as “the most advanced state-of-the-art, comprehensive intercity HSR ridership and revenue forecasts and analysis ever carried out in California, and possibly anywhere” with the subsequent Cambridge Systematics (CS) study. The CRA study was adjusted for both time and population based on a 2030 operation date to match the CS study. "Ridership is nearly double (193%) that of the first study in spite of the fact that fares must have been disproportionally increased to account for the nearly tripling (258%) of revenue." So why the big difference? That's what inquiring minds want to know and legislators should require be known as part of their due dilegence. One thing that was changed as a result of the second study was the route choice from the Altamont Pass to the Pacheco Pass. See the Altamont versus Pacheco entry for more details on this discussion.

Elizabeth Alexis of CARRD Speaks at November 4 2010 Senate Transportation & Housing Budget Committee. Asking for a little common sense. To Senator Lowenthal, if it were her, she'd be looking for an investigation. See the video here.

Why Do Projected Ridership Numbers Matter? It is these numbers that designers use to determine the capacity and frequency of trains required to build a system, and ultimately to build a system that operates at maximum efficiency. It is these numbers that help determine what is the best route (think Altamont versus Pacheco) to maximize ridership. We don't want to underbuild or there will not be enough room for expansion as the population increases. However, if ridership numbers are over enthusiastic, the train will run with a lot of vacancies for many, many years. This would not only be a money losing scenario, but also an environmental catastrophe as according to another UC Berkeley study, it could take up to 70 years to recoup the green house gas emissions produced when building such a structure if it only runs at 50% occupancy.

UC Berkeley Peer Review July 1, 2010. Commissioned by the California Senate Transportation and Housing Commission and paid for by the HSRA, among other things, the report Confirms what watchdog Elizabeth Alexis of the grass roots group CARRD – Citizens Advocating Responsible Rail Design had already pointed out to the HSRA and the California Senate Transportation and Housing Commission - the HSRA’s ridership study is not based on a representative sample of the general population. Read the press release or the full report.

Kathy Hamilton, writing for the Examiner, gives any easy to understand run down of ten issues pointed out in this study in this article.

The Reason Foundation's September 2008 Report: "The California High Speed Rail Proposal: A Due Diligence Report" estimated the true cost will be somewhere between $65B and $81B. It also projected fewer riders by 2030 than officially estimated: 23-31 million riders a year instead of the 65-96 million initially forecasted by the Rail Authority in their business plan. It will be interesting to see how their predictions fare over time. The HSRA has since downgraded its ridership estimates to about 40M with the increase in fare price from $55 to $104.75. (I note that as of July 2010, the HSRA website still proclaims 88-117M passengers annually by 2030.)

How much of a cultural issue is it for Americans to get out of their cars and into rail [again]? In other words, if we are modeling our HSR system after successful segments (note: worldwide, no full system is successful, only segments) elsewhere in the world (i.e. choosing routes with population densities similar to Paris to Lyon or Osaka to Tokyo), are we also modeling our ridership to match? Put another way; just because the population density exists, there is the additional hurdle of overcoming differing habits, and therefore for HSR to be successful in the US, one might argue that we need an even greater population density in order to succeed. I think the chart below shows that we will have a big hurdle ahead in convincing Americans it is time to get out of their cars. According to this NatGeo survey, citizens of poorer contries are more likely to ride trains. However, Americans surveyed reported that the biggest obstacle to their use of public transportation was lack of availability. Here are the results for one of the surveys: How likely are you to use public transit?

The Business Plan

The Business Plan.

  • General Library of business plans, appendices, summaries, etc.on HSRA site.

  • 2009 Business Plan December 2009 (142 pages)

  • Legislative Analyst Office's (LAO) Report on the 2009 Business Plan Jan 2010 (9 pages)

  • Addendum to the 2009 Business Plan April 2010 in response to LAO Report(45 pages)

  • April 15, 2010 Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcomittee Hearing on HSR with Senators Joe Simitian and Alan Lowenthal. See the video.

  • April 14, 2010. Letter from Congress asking the White House for a designated funding source for HSR. Since adequate funding is really at the root of the issue, how the administration responds will likely determine whether or not HSR lives or dies locally and nationwide.

  • Ronald Utt, Ph.D., an economics advisor to President Reagan, wrote this piece on the economics of high speed rail, addressing whether or not they operate with or without subsidy.

  • California State Auditor Report 2009-106 Summary April 2010. Congresswoman Jackie Speier has deep concerns about HSR stemming from the Auditors' Report and talks about a house of cards in an interview on KCBS radio AM740 on May 16, 2010 (discusses HSR about 5/8 of the way through).

  • GAO (United States Government Accountability Office) Report to Congressional Committees "HIGH SPEED RAIL Learning From Service Start-ups, Prospects for Increased Industry Investment, and Federal Oversight Plans" June 2010

  • Assemblywoman Fiona Ma interview, April 2010, Peninsula TV's "1 on 1". A little out of touch. Interviewer: "So then does this project already own the right of way through Caltrain, or will this project need to obtain right of ways through these communities?" FM: "As I understand, these right of ways are already obtained." Incorrect. The RoW is controlled by Caltrain, not HSR. Caltrain does not have to let HSR use it. She listed the three points of the lawsuit: Noise and Vibration and Pacheco versus Altamont. No, the third was the Union Pacific RoW between Gilroy and San Jose.

  • Congresswoman Anna Eshoo speaks up, "we need high-speed rail on the Peninsula to be a betterment, not a detriment." "That the High Speed Rail Authority needs to prove itself is beyond any doubt. Authority representatives - many of them well meaning - have proven repeatedly to be ineffective and even counterproductive in the way they have approached the project and the public. Frankly, they could not have been better at damaging their own credibility and the credibility of the project if they had planned it."

  • State Treasurer Bill Lockyer: Investors doubt rail project's viability; bonds tough sell. See the July 14, 2010 Sacramento Bee article. "I hear from the world of Wall Street investment bankers about what they think makes sense. And almost universally, they're convinced that no one can finance the routes from L.A. to the Bay Area that it just will never work economically, certainly in the foreseeable future."

  • October 11, 2010. Finance and business experts released a highly critical financial review of the proposed California High-Speed Rail Project. You can read the whole review (compliments of CC-HSR) or read this summary for the Examiner by Kathy Hamilton. "...we are forced to conclude the Authority's promise seems an impossible goal."

  • October 27, 2010. Inspector General reports some improvement with internal documentation, however major issues remain unresolved that would prevent the spending of Bond money which would hold up spending of ARRA funds. They found that the HSR Authority paid 38% of public funds, or $3.44 million, to contractors without asking for timesheets, work summaries or other documentation to prove how the bill was tabulated. Among other unresloved issues are the peer review and the revenue guarantee (subsidy) issues. The full report can be viewed here.

  • November 18, 2010. The California High Speed Rail Peer Review Group has grave concerns about the project. Read the complete report here. "...there is an air of unreality about a plan that includes $17 to $19B in "free" federal funding from programs that do not exist."

  • April 13, 2011. No money will be allocated for high-speed rail projects for the remainder of 2011. Federal Rail Administration officials claim that they lost what amounts to $1.4 billion in funds for high-speed rail. See this CNN article here.

  • August 25, 2011. California High-Speed Rail Authority Board Vice Chair Lynn Schenk admitted that the HSRA's previous business plans were really nothing more than sales tools. She said, “that first business plan was more of a sales and marketing piece than it was in the nature of a proxy.” Watch the video here.

  • November 1, 2011. Here it is folks, the latest in the fantasmagorical ride made up of pixie dust and dreams called HSR in California...the latest business plan is coming your way at $98B. No, I did not misplace the decimal. And even better, the HSRA claims the system will still make money even at the lowest ridership numbers. Huh?! Seriously. Oh yes. And none of those in charge seem concerned. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. All I can say is they just don't care. This is brazen arrogance. The bond measure was sold to the voters on the basis that the entire system from SF to Anaheim would only cost $33B at a total cost of $9B + interest to the CA tax payers. Since passing, increasing costs have outpaced additional funding by almost 20:1 and construction has not even begun. Has our legislature completely lost all touch with reality? (Don't answer that question.) Too see the latest business plan, it is posted on the HSRA site here.

IMO, until the HSRA can prove otherwise, it is safe to say, despite the legal (bond measure) requirements to the contrary, if HSR construction is allowed by the legislators to be started, it will require public subsidy by the CA taxpayers in order to complete.

You may have heard it referenced that the true cost will be closer to $80B. Where does the $80B estimate originate from? The Reason Foundation's September 2008 "The California High Speed Rail Proposal: A Due Diligence Report" estimated the true cost will be somewhere between $65B and $81B. It also projected fewer riders by 2030 than officially estimated: 23-31 million riders a year instead of the 65-96 million initially forecasted by the Rail Authority. It will be interesting to see how their predictions fare over time. The HSRA has since downgraded its ridership estimates to about 40M with the increase in fare price from $55 to $104.75.

Hoover Institution's April & May 2010 "The Trouble with High Speed Rail".

The Heritage Foundation speaks out with this slide show on Vimeo.

Consider this: If the national HSR system costs $1T, that equates to $4761 for every registered voter. If the California HSR system costs $80-100B, that equates to $4624-5780 for every registered voter. Now, double these figures to include the debt service associated with the capital costs. These figures (roughly speaking) include only costs to build, not to operate or maintain. Assuming it could be paid over ten years, would a national or state HSR system be worth almost $10,000 for each voter ($1000/year) in your household?

The Tally - Funds for HSR Specifically.

State Money.

November 4, 2008. $9B of $9.95B Prop 1A Bond measure to be used for HSR. Can only be spent if matching funds are found.

Federal Money.

January 28, 2010. $2.25B = $1.85B for HSR + $400M for TransBay Terminal to be matched 100% by state bond money. (from $8B national ARRA pot, $4.7B was applied for). An additional $100M to be used for conventional rail.

October 25, 2010. $715M matched 30% by state funds for use in Central Valley(from $2.4B national FRA pot funding awarded under the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) Program). An additional $186M to be used upgrades to Peninsula. To see the FRA application requirements, click here.

December 9, 2010. $616M in ARRA funds rescinded from other states to be matched 100% by state bond money.

September 8, 2011. Total funding is now at $6.3B ($3.5B federal and $2.8B useable state bond money). Cost estimates have risen from $33B to $67B. The Obama administration had asked for $8 billion for fiscal 2012 for high-speed rail projects, including the one in California, as well as other passenger rail programs around the country. The House Appropriations subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development on Thursday cut Obama's request by nearly $7 billion, leaving money only to operate Amtrak and some smaller programs.

Private Money.



Legislative Hearings. View live and archived videos of legislative hearings on High Speed Rail on The California Channel.

November 4, 2010 Senate Transportation & Housing Committee meeting.

HSRA Meetings. Archived video of the April 8th release of the Alternatives Analysis in five parts, and more on the HSRA website under "Board" tab.

Burlingame City Council. After you select the video you want to view, you can click on the agenda item and the video will skip to that portion of the meeting.

The Building of HSR in China. See the video.

The Sound of High Speed Rail. This is the sound of the French TGV. Although electric trains are somewhat quieter than diesel trains at the same speed, and especially the intermittent horns, remember, there will be a.) more trains (the High Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) estimates up to a train every 2 minutes) for a greater cummulative effect, and b.) faster trains which adds to the base sound level. It is expected that above ground alternatives built along densely populated corridors like the Peninsula should be required to have sound walls, which will add to the mass of the structure and obstruct outward views for passengers.

Two sides of the argument. Here is a video presenting two sides of the argument. A KTVU Ch 2 July 2, 2010 video report "It's difficult to tell if two-billion in stimulus is truly a boon or seed money for a boondoggle."

Public Input - to Legislators

Contact your politicians and potential politicians. It only takes a few minutes to follow up with each of these once you click on the individual's website. Call or e-mail (form letter below) or write or contact facebook pages for various politicians. If you call, be sure they take your full name and address. When using some politician's sites to e-mail, you will be asked to chose whether you 'support' or 'oppose' even if you have to leave the issue box blank because HSR is not listed. Be careful. If you support in concept, but are not 100% comfortable with the way things are, you should always check the 'oppose' box. From experience we know not all e-mails are read, but all are categorized and tracked. The same can be said for writing a letter. Do not start off a letter with "I support..." unless you are 100%, or else your letter will end up in the support pile. Always keep back up copies and send registered/read receipt whenever possible.

You should contact the your Senators, Congress members, Assembly members, the Governor and your city Council. If you do not know, find out who represents you in the Assembly, the Senate, and Congress using these links. At the local level visit your city's website and look under Council Members. Think outside the box. Contact potential political candidates that will support your point of view and let them know that you support them. Conversely, let those that do not stand up for your concerns know that you will not support them in the next election. Lastly, since the development of HSR within the United States is being driven from the top down, you should also send your message to the White House as they do not know the details of your situation, yet should be listening.

If you know your representatives or district already, you may find the contact information directly on this site.

Form Letter to Legislators. A form letter with e-mail addresses to the most critical contacts within legislation (according to State Senator Joe Simitian) can be found on the High Speed Boondoggle site here. CARRD also has contact information on their site here.

Public Input - to High Speed Rail Authority

There are three (3) separate, remaining important ways in which you should be submitting public comment on the high speed rail project. Always make copies and retain proof of delivery.
1. The Peninsula Alternatives Analysis (AA) was released by the HSRA April 8. While we're really no closer to knowing where we stand than we were before the AA was released, the good news is the alternatives remain essentially all on the table. View the AA here. Related documents such as the Executive Summary and the Board Presentation are listed at http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/library.asp?p=8243. Although the HSRA has not given a deadline for accepting comments to the AA, they indicated that they were likely to make initial decisions after a 30 days based on whatever comments they had at received at that time. After discussion with the HSRA, Burlingame requests comments be submitted by June 21, 2010. This should be similar for other cities. Please read the AA report carefully; if you have comments, try to submit them at your earliest convenience.
Note: It is recommended that your comments be prefaced by a statement to the effect of "Due to the fact that a final route has not legally been determined as the de-certified and re-released Program level EIR was not re-certified at the time of the Alternatives Analysis release, it is inappropriate that alternatives comments should be limited to the Caltrain corridor."
AA comments can be sent to the HSRA via one of the following methods:

Mail (certified is recommended): Robert Doty
California High-Speed Rail Authority
925 L Street, Suite 1425
Sacramento, CA 95814
Attn: San Francisco to San Jose Section Preliminary Alternatives Analysis Report Comments

Email (read receipt is recommended):
The subject line “San Francisco to San Jose Section Preliminary Alternatives Analysis Report Comments”
Send to comments@hsr.ca.gov,

Facsimile transmission:
(916) 322-0827

2. Final Project Level EIR Reminder:
The Program Level EIR comment period ended on April 26. The Final Project Level EIR will be released at a future date (TBD) in 2010/2011 and will be based on the Program EIR, AA and CSS input. A comment period will follow. The Project EIR will have the final design upon which comments regarding whether or not impacts were properly mitigated may be submitted.

3. Context Senistive Solutions (CSS) Toolkit: The Peninsula Rail Program (PRP), a joint collaborative between Caltrain and HSRA, has developed the CSS toolkit for stakeholders of the San Francisco to San Jose section of the California High-Speed Train Project. The purpose of the toolkit is to provide a methodical, online approach for both providing technical and project information to stakeholders and for soliciting a wide range of inputs that will be used to further shape the project alternatives. While a bit tough to view on a computer monitor (you might want to print out the pages that pertain to you), this toolkit utilizes "click-and drag" features to help with user friendliness. Stay alert for workshops in your city for training. Their technical working groups (TWGs) and policy working groups (PWGs) are being trained by the HSRA shortly.

To Recap:
The AA addresses design alternatives such as tunnel, trench, at-grade, berm and aerials, while the Final Project Level EIR addresses the final design into the Bay Area and environmental impacts such as noise, vibrations, visual, traffic, vegetation, land use compatibility, etc. BOTH are extremely important! While it is not exactly known just how CSS input will be incorporated into the final EIR, suffice it to say that it can only help, and is therefore also highly recommended. CSS input type can be broad, but as with the AA and the EIR comments, CSS input should be as detailed as possible.