Bullet train planners ditch tunnel under Elysian Valley and elevated tracks in Lincoln Heights

Rendering of California Bullet train | California High-Speed Rail

Rendering of California bullet train | California High-Speed Rail Authority

Planners with the California High-Speed Rail Authority have updated the proposed route that a bullet train would take through several Eastside neighborhoods, dropping the idea of a costly tunnel under Elysian Park and Elysian Valley and also eliminating an elevated track through Lincoln Heights.  Some of  the changes would save money but could also increase noise.

Under the most current concepts, the high-speed trains would slow down to travel alongside or on existing tracks and railroad corridors that currently cut through Atwater Village, Glassell Park and Lincoln Heights, according to updated documents presented to the authority’s board on Wednesday (see the map below for changes).

The trains, which will be able to speed along at more than 200 miles-per-hour between Southern and Northern California, were never expected to run that quickly in urban areas, so sharing tracks and right-of-way with Metrolink and other trains “does not make that much difference,” said authority spokeswoman Adeline Yee.

The tunnel would have reduced  the visual impact and noise generated by trains traveling on the surface. But the plans were dropped in part because the estimated costs ranged from between $200 million to $260 million a mile, which would make the tunnel about four times more expensive than a surface route, according to authority documents.  However,  running the additional trains on the surface “could potentially” create more rail noise in the area, according an authority analysis.

Meanwhile, the need to build elevated tracks above Chinatown and Lincoln Heights were eliminated after other changes were made to the platforms where high-speed trains would arrive and depart from Union Station.

The alignment of the high-speed rail route could still change but the goal is to make a final selection by next year before environmental documents are submitted for public comment and review. Yee said.

Plans to build the high speed rail network have continued despite rising cost projects and opposition from some residents along the proposed route.

The Union Station-to-Burbank section of the line not expected to open until 2029.

Related Link:

  • Burbank-to-Los Angeles Project Section. CHSRA
Updated plans (right) drop proposed tunnels and elevated tracks from previous proposal

Updated plans (right) drop proposed tunnels and elevated tracks from previous proposal

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  1. Hi Eastsider- I think the word you are looking for is ditch no “ditche”.

    They should “ditche” this whole boondoggle. High speed rail my behind. You can get to SF in about an hour by plane. The best estimates say this so-called high speed rail is 5 hours. They should be focusing this money towards building light rail in the city. Perhaps to get to the airport.

  2. Let’s just hurry up and get this train built. I’m looking forward to being able to hop on the train to have lunch with my San Francisco girlfriends on a whim.

    • Drink the kool-aid Armpit Hair. Have you actually looked at the facts? This will NOT be a high speed rail for most of the track. The best estimates will get you to SF in 5 hours. If you want to get to SF on a whim, head to ANY of our local airports – you can do that TODAY!

      • High speed rail lines have to slow down in urbanized areas throughout the world. If the initial projected 2 hours and 40 minutes becomes 3 and a half with a “blended” route (to satisfy local concerns) that seems like a pragmatic compromise to me (not sure where you go the 5 hour figure?)

        On the plus side, it’ll save the project a lot of money if they don’t have to tunnel through as many mountains. And once you get out of LA’s massive sprawl, the trains will be moving at ~200mph for much of the route.

        I suspect it’ll be time competitive with flying once you factor in the time (and hassle) it takes to get to and from the airport. Rail lines drop passengers off in the middle of CBD’s, and there are no TSA lines. And we’ll very likely see a great deal of infill development around all the stops (instead of destroying property values for several blocks in all directions like airports and highways tend to do.)

        Flights will be a lot more expensive, and highways a lot more congested by the time this opens… diversifying our travel options is just smart long term planning. The only complaint I have is the cost (which this sounds like it’ll help reduce.)

  3. Classic f-ing example of a solution in search of a problem.

  4. So when do Elysian Valley residents get to sue the authority and tie this up in court for the next 100 years? We do not need another surface rail running through these neighborhoods, especially right through the middle of a park that is supposed to be the crown jewel of the river project. But I guess screwing over low income neighborhoods has a long tradition in Los Angeles.

    • This line of argument is complicated by the fact that railroad use of this area predates any of its current residents (or neighborhoods). Besides, Elysian Valley is quickly changing from its industrial, low income past.

      If you’re looking for an environmental justice fight, I would suggest investigating why a tunnel has just been announced for the segment between Burbank and Acton (a section of the proposed route that is actually lower density, but of shigher average income). Is the State agency more afraid of the money and influence of Valleyites?

      I wouldn’t worry too much, though. It’s been clear from the beginning that this effort is being lead by incompetents and is unlikely to get far. Hopefully, whatever does get built will at least help conventional rail traffic in some way.

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