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 HIGH-SPEED RAIL IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD


The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) is considering proposals to a build high-speed rail system along the San Bernardino Freeway corridor from the east city limits to west city limits. The options being considered include building tracks down the center of the freeway, and parallel to the freeway along Ramona Road, the latter to which the City of Alhambra has great concern. These proposals are part of a larger $40 billion project to build a high-speed rail between San Diego and San Francisco or Sacramento. If approved by the CHSRA, the Ramona Road options may have a serious impact on our community including the possible displacement of some Alhambra residents.

As proposed, there would be a 50-foot wide deck set on top of 35-foot high posts placed every 100 feet. There are other serious concerns as well, including loss of possible travel lanes or parking on Ramona Road, potential for train noise, an effect on property values and property tax revenue, possible removal of over 200 trees, and an impact to city infrastructure.

Overview of Recent Community Meetings:
During the month of August, hundreds of Alhambra residents and others came to two meetings hosted by the City of Alhambra to learn more about proposed construction options being proposed by the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHRSA). The City invited the CHSRA to discuss their project and to enable residents and others to express their opinions about having a rail line built in their community.

After hearing the presentation by the CHSRA and the numerous comments and opinions of our residents, the Alhambra City Council voted to oppose any rail alignment along the I-10 Freeway that would directly impede on the properties of Alhambra residents and significantly affect the quality of life of our community. It was clear that there is strong residential opposition to all three of the options currently on the table as they apply to Alhambra. They include the placement of a rail alignment directly adjacent to the I-10 Freeway along Ramona Road on either side of the freeway and another option based on a shared right-of-way down the center of the I-10.

Although the CHSRA explained that no route has actually been determined and they are still looking at feasible alternatives, residents expressed considerable concern over possible displacement from their homes and other devastating consequences. Not only do residents on Ramona Road have great apprehensions, but many others also noted their angst believing their property values would be affected and they would be unable to sell their properties. It is difficult for the community to imagine that a 50-foot wide concrete structure set 35-feet high could have any other effect than to denigrate the aesthetics of the surrounding neighborhoods. Moreover, there are also strong concerns about the excessive speed, noise and possible vibrations the trains would cause, with many residents stating that they are already affected by loud freeway noise. Others suggested concerns over the loss of travel lanes or parking on Ramona Road and the effect the trains would have on nearby schools and students.

Following its decision, the City Council advised staff to write a letter to the CHSRA to express the City’s concerns about the project that include not only uneasiness about the three current route alignment options, but also the questionable lack of initial outreach to the community and families that could potentially be impacted by the CHSRA’s decision. In its letter of concern to CHSRA Chairman Curt Pringle, the City Council urged the CHSRA to immediately organize a subcommittee of representatives from the communities along the I-10 corridor, so that future discussions concerning possible routes along the I-10 corridor will include the review and recommendations from the people directly and permanently affected by any future actions. The City acknowledged that it is willing to work with the CHSRA through a process of open dialogue to develop an appropriate alignment.

Currently, the CHSRA is scheduled to meet on October 7th to review the results of the Preliminary Alternative Analysis and to narrow the list of possible alignments for further study. The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG), which represents 31 cities in the region, has urged the CHSRA Board to delay any action until February 2011.

Meanwhile, the City of Alhambra urges residents to send letters of concern to the CHSRA and to their legislators. A sample letter of concern for residents, as well as the City’s letter of concern to the CHSRA, is posted on the City’s website at www.cityofalhambra.org.

See a copy of the letter sent by the City to the CHSRA and a sample letter of concern for residents below...

August 16, 2010

 

Curt Pringle, Chairman
California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA)
925 L Street, Suite 1425
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Mr. Pringle:

This letter is to inform you that after hosting two community meetings this past week on the proposed High-Speed Rail Project through the San Gabriel Valley and hearing the numerous comments and opinions of our residents, the Alhambra City Council voted to OPPOSE any rail alignment along the I-10 Freeway that would directly impede on the properties of Alhambra residents and significantly affect the quality of life of our community.

We appreciate that CHSRA representatives came to provide a brief project overview at our two recent public meetings. However, after hearing the presentations and subsequent concerns voiced by our citizens, it was clear that there is strong residential opposition to the options offered by your staff and very little desire to have a high-speed rail built in a highly urban area such as the San Gabriel Valley.

While the community understands the purpose of the project is to alleviate traffic congestion and improve the quality of our environment, the matter becomes extremely personal to the residents near the route because of possible displacement from their homes and other devastating consequences. Not only do residents on Ramona Road have great apprehensions, but many others also noted their angst believing their property values would be affected and they would be unable to sell their properties. It is difficult for the community to imagine that a 50-foot wide concrete structure set 35-foot high could have any other effect than to denigrate the aesthetics of surrounding neighborhoods. Moreover, there are also strong concerns about the excessive speed, noise and possible vibrations the trains would cause, with many residents stating that they are already affected by loud freeway noise.  Others suggested concerns over the loss of travel lanes or parking on Ramona Road and the effect the trains would have on nearby schools and students.

Furthermore, until the City informed its residents and offered them the opportunity to express their concerns, there had been no outreach to our community and the families that could be potentially impacted.  As such, if the I-10 route remains a viable alternative we would like to request that the CHSRA immediately organize a subcommittee of representatives from the communities along the I-10 corridor so that future discussions concerning possible routes along the I-10 corridor will include the review and recommendations from the people directly and permanently affected by any future actions.

The City of Alhambra supports the concept of a high-speed rail project to bring about greater mobility for all California residents. We would certainly like to continue to work with your agency through a process of open community dialogue to develop an appropriate alignment. However, we would urge you to slow down and give serious consideration to other feasible options. These steps are necessary before your board commits to any particular route or alignment.

Very Sincerely,

 
Stephen Sham                                      Gary Yamauchi      
Mayor                                                      Vice Mayor

Barbara Messina                                  Dr. Steven Placido   
Councilperson                                      Councilperson          

Luis Ayala
Councilperson

Sample letter of concern for residents



Alhambra City Hall, 111 South First Street, Alhambra, CA 91801; Phone: (626) 570-5007; Fax: (626) 576-8568
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 a.m.-5 p.m.