The Alhambra City Council unanimously rejected the latest California High-Speed Rail Authority proposal, which would include a 74-foot aerial structure towering over the I-10 Freeway. Coming into Alhambra from the east, the train would run underground from Union Station to East Los Angeles, where it would emerge and continue above the median of the freeway.
The Council made their decision after attendees at the meeting voiced concerns about noise, safety, property value, and loss of homes. Alhambra resident Tony Garcia, 65, said he was worried after reading about accidents occurring on similar trains. “Imagine this train up in the air and something happens,” said Garcia. “It’s going very close to residential areas, and there’s also Mark Keppel High School. That could be a great disaster for us.”
Gisela Adams, 67, shared her experience with high-speed rails during a vacation in Europe. “We were on the freeway in an enclosed car. We could still hear the noise from the high-speed train. It’s not quiet at all,” said Adams.
According to Jessica Keating, assistant to the city manager, it is estimated that the trains could run through the city once every 8 to 20 minutes. The statement drew a murmur of disapproval from the crowd.
No one spoke in support of the proposal. A representative of the CHSRA was not in attendance. But, the Pasadena Star-News reported high-speed rail officials said it's too early to tell how tall the structure will be.
"We have stressed to Alhambra and all San Gabriel Valley cities that the aerial alignment is not final and at this very early stage in the environmental process there are many details still yet to be pinned down," Rachel Wall, a spokeswoman for the Rail Authority, wrote in an e-mail to the Star-News. "We are still in the preliminary planning phase and we have a considerable number of options yet to consider with any corridor that may be carried forward after the preliminary report is heard before the authority board."
The CHSRA had requested that the city respond to the proposal within two weeks. After hearing the comments on the floor, council members unanimously agreed to send a letter that would oppose the plan.
The aerial proposal was considered after other options were rejected. An underground tunnel was deemed too costly to be constructed under the I-10, and Council members rejected plans for a rail to run at ground level through the city. According to Keating, the CHSRA is still reviewing the 60 Freeway as another option.
City Council members voiced their frustrations with the CHSRA throughout the meeting, saying that the agency refused to cooperate at a local level.
“They’re just throwing this [proposal] out there at us,” Councilman Steven Placido said. “They don’t listen to any of the council members that have talked to them.”
The council also complained that a visual representation of the proposal was not made available.
According to Keating, construction of the rail will likely stall due to a lack of funding. She said that the CHSRA may engage in a public-private relationship with overseas investors for additional money.
Dan Bednarski, who maintains, a blog http://www.alhambra123.org resisting the high-speed rail from passing through Alhambra, writes that, “the Rail Authority board will meet on March 3 in the Metro Headquarters next to Union Station in downtown L.A. During that meeting, the Rail Authority staff will present its recommendations regarding the L.A. to San Diego train line. Public comments occur at the beginning of the meeting. Please attend if you have time and would like to express your opinion regarding its plans.”