02 May 2009

No A's/High Speed Rail conflict, say planners

Years ago, when the High Speed Rail project was only slightly more than a pipe dream, I had a dream of my own. It involved a few friends and me going on a quick weekend trip on HSR. We'd pack light, walk from my house, and board an HSR train on a Friday afternoon. Three hours later, we'd be in Anaheim, just in time to catch the first game of a division rivalry weekend series at Angel Stadium. We'd bunk with some other friends in the O.C. We'd reciprocate the hospitality when they wanted to come up here, of course.

This was before the final alignment was decided. Since then, the East Bay has been shut out of the initial phases of HSR, making such a trip from the East Bay less convenient than what I just described (a transfer from BART in SF remains possible). From San Jose, the dream is not only alive, it's within grasp. And according to comments by SJ city planners and HSR planners, it can work for them too.

"Engineering hasn't been done, and decisions haven't been made," said Hans Larsen, San Jose's deputy director of transportation, "but there's nothing to indicate — that we've seen — any chance of a conflict between the two projects."

Added Mehdi Morshed, the rail authority's executive director: "The more activity, the more development, the more things that are located in and around the station, the better it is for our riders. We would go out of our way to work with them, to do everything we can to match our station design to fit the city's priority."

Now that sounds like the spirit of cooperation to me! Each independent working group knows what the others are doing, they appreciate what the other could bring to the table. Hopefully, they're also thinking about sharing infrastructure along the lines of what I suggested last month.

Eventually, HSR could be a boon for all sports teams situated near it. An A's or Giants fan in Fresno could conceivably get to SF or SJ about 90 minutes. A Padres fan who wants to attend a Pads-Dodgers game in LA but doesn't want to deal with LA traffic would have a solution that gets him end-to-end in just over an hour. Baseball fans from all over could join cool train-based ballpark tours, visiting all 5 major league parks as well as several minor league parks along the route if they wanted. The potential is staggering.