Here’s something you don’t expect to read every day: the hub of American tech innovation is fighting back against the future of transportation.
Three California towns within the region known as “Silicon Valley” — Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto — filed legal briefs in a lawsuit that challenges a proposed high-speed rail line through the area.
According to the towns, the elevated track structure necessary for a bullet train would be “unsightly and threaten property values in some of the wealthiest enclaves in the country,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
The news comes at a bad time for the transportation scheme, whose support in Congress is eroding. (Of concern: noisy trains, over-optimistic ridership estimates, along with the Valley’s reasons.)
It’s also an ironic example of NIMBYism — “I may be leading a tech revolution, but not in my backyard.”
The high-speed train intends to link San Francisco, a hub for tech startups (including the parent company of this very site), and Los Angeles, the West Coast’s culture and entertainment hub.
Few dispute the train’s value; rather, it’s a question of execution: underground tunnel vs. beneath the East Bay, your yard versus mine.
The problem? Such heated debate threatens to stall the project.
California voters have already approved the sale of about $10 billion in bonds to fund the rail project, which would follow the Caltrain commuter rail system as it reaches the Bay Area peninsula. (The total estimated cost for the SF-LA leg is $43 billion.)
Officials are already gun-shy of legislation; that’s why they chose the sparsely populated Central Valley as the starting point for the project.
HSR in the Valley: economic boon, or boondoggle?