The following article was originally published online by the Potrero View: http://www.potreroview.net/news10586.html
Last spring the San Francisco Examiner and KGO-TV featured reports of the possible dismantling of Interstate 280’s northern end to accommodate high-speed rail. However, assessment of the proposed plans by San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) prompted the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) to change its design to reduce impacts on the City.
Of particular interest to Southside residents is the less than one mile stretch of roadway between Cesar Chavez and Oakdale. “The same area is now being studied as an at-grade, ground level, design alongside existing ground level Caltrain tracks,” said Rachel Wall, CHSRA press secretary. “CHSRA has shifted plans to drastically minimize the impact on I-280. At the current time, the transportation agency is reviewing alternatives for the area that the City and County of San Francisco has proposed, and will continue to meet with officials to design a solution…into the community [to meet] its current and future transportation systems. The agency reiterates that they will solicit and welcome feedback from residents to ensure that the best possible transit systems are implemented for the statewide high-speed rail network.” According to Wall, the final route and track design for CHSRA’s San Francisco-San Jose corridor along I-280 won’t be decided until late-2013.
“We have been working with the state to expand options being studied to bring high speed rail into San Francisco,” said Leroy Saage, SFCTA’s deputy director for capital projects. “CHRSA is preparing an environmental impact statement/report for the San Franciscopeninsula portion of the high-speed rail project, and expects to release a draft of the EIS/R for public review in 2012.” According to Saage, under CaHRSA’s initial proposal the high-speed rail’s final approach to the under-construction Transbay Terminal would have required structural changes that depressed the grade of 16th Streetnear MissionBay. This initial plan, said Saage, would have adversely affected public transit service along 16th Street, and disrupted MissionBaydevelopment plans.
“Working with other City agencies, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority has developed three additional options for bringing high speed rail into the City, all of which avoid the impacts to 16th Streetand MissionBayassociated with the concept developed with CHSRA,” explained Saage. “Of these three City options, two simply depress the rail to go under 16th Street. A third option developed by the City of San Francisco Planning Department would provide a contingency in case the tunnel structures associated with the first two options would not fit under the I-280 freeway. Based upon a review of Caltrans’ as-built drawings for the I-280, it appears that the two underground options will fit. Space is fairly tight, however, and as-built drawings can be inaccurate. So having a back up concept such as the I-280 option is useful.”
There’s currently no active proposal to remove a portion of the I-280, though it could be considered in the future. “Should other options under consideration for high speed rail become unfeasible,” said Saage “the option to remove a portion of the I-280 freeway is being looked at in case of that.”