During a special Monday evening closed session, the Menlo Park City Council decided to continue the lawsuit it has filed with Atherton and Palo Alto against the California High Speed Rail Authority, despite the HSRA ruling last November. According to a press release issued today, the City Council reiterated their belief that the newly proposed “blended system” serves as a promising long term solution as it would improve the use of the existing right of way, provide electrification, and potentially provide a quieter, more efficient system.
The City Council said that it looked forward to working with the High Speed Rail Authority to further consider this less impactful approach and that a mutually acceptable result cannot be reached until all of the documents, including the EIR, standardized to a two track system without expansion to a four-track system for any phase of the project.
The Council’s main concerns are that all of the EIRs thus far have focused on a four –track system and that none of the EIR versions have adequately considered or analyzed the “blended” system set forth in the new business plan. In addition, the EIRs do not address the impact of having an elevated structure along the Peninsula.
“For the City Council to fully support the blended system, the HSRA must provide certainty that the four track system is no longer under consideration, that the ridership study will be redone, and that the project will not be exempt from the current California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process,” said Menlo Park Mayor Kirsten Keith. “The last point is important because if the Attorney General rules that the blended system violates Prop 1A, and a streamlined CEQA process is in place, that could be very damaging to the Bay Area. It is our hope that the HSRA will understand and adopt our position.”