Environmental Review Process
With HSR being such a large important project, there are many levels of environmental impact reviews.
The HSRA has completed the “program level” Environmental Impact Report (EIR). In short, the “program level” EIR determined the alignment for the entire project. For our segment from San Francisco to San Jose, the EIR found that the least impactful option for the community is to locate the new high speed rail along the existing Caltrain alignment. This study was finalized and certified in 2004.
The environmental review considered two primary alignments from the San Joaquin Valley to the Bay Area: the Altamont Pass and the Pacheco Pass. The Pacheco Pass alignment was selected and is being developed as part of the design process.
A law suit, challenging the Environmental Document, was filed by several organizations, including the Planning and Conservation League, Transdef, Bay Rail Alliance, the City of Menlo Park and the City of Atherton. The issue was resolved by the courts and resulted in additional analysis of the HSR segment between San Jose and Gilroy where the right-of-way is owned by the Union Pacific Railroad. Additional evaluation of vibration impacts is also underway in response to the legal findings.
Currently, the HSRA is working on the “project level” EIR for our segment from San Francisco to San Jose. This stage of the EIR looks at various environmental impacts, such as physical community divisions, traffic impacts, aesthetics and right-of-way impacts to name just a few. The Draft Project Level EIR/EIS was anticipated for relase in December, 2010; however, release of that document has been delayed to a date uncertain.
Update: “Partial Revised” Program EIR
In January 2012, the HSRA was required to submit a “partial revised” Program Environmental Impact Report (EIR)
to address ongoing legal challenges to the EIR that came out of the Supplemental Alternatives Analysis released in 2010. Caltrain is spearheading an effort to explore a new promising “blended” approach
(Caltrain and HSR operating on a two track system); this new approach is not discussed in the “partial revised” EIR. However, in order to continue commenting on all legal documents under this process and to take advantage of an opportunity to voice our interests, the Mayor submitted a letter with our City’s feedback on the latest EIR. Please read the letter