Bill Silverfarb/Daily Journal
Burlingame erected ‘story poles’ to show the potential impacts of an aerial viaduct considered to be constructed for high-speed trains.
Burlingame unveiled “story poles” next to its historic train station yesterday to give the public a better idea of what an aerial high-speed rail structure might look like.
Two poles soar 59 feet into the sky with a plastic orange screen connecting them to represent the potential height of the aerial structure.
The top of the poles represent catenary cable heights, where trains will be linked to electricity.
The Peninsula Rail Program, the local arm of the California High-Speed Rail Authority that also answers to Caltrain, presented two alternatives for the Burlingame stretch of the track in August, one an aerial viaduct and the other an open trench.
The city prefers neither alternative, however, choosing instead to have either a bored tunnel or cut-and-cover trench.
Burlingame wants the authority to further study those options.
About 60 people crowded around the story poles at the train station yesterday afternoon, including residents from San Mateo’s North Central neighborhood and Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo.
Burlingame used preliminary information provided by the authority to display the poles, said Public Works Director Syed Murtuza.
The two poles were erected 30 feet apart and stand 59 feet tall. The top of the aerial platform will be approximately 29.5 feet tall and the bottom about 16.5 feet tall, Murtuza said. The city will keep the story poles up for a week.
Regardless of which alternative the authority finally decides, Burlingame’s historic train station would remain untouched, Murtuza said.
The eucalyptus trees that line the track just north of the station would be impacted, Murtuza said.
San Mateo residents Ben Toy and Bertha Sanchez attended yesterday’s event, Sanchez with a sign in her hand reading “Dig it or dump it.”
“We want to maintain our neighborhood,” said Sanchez, who lives in North Central San Mateo and also formerly served on the city’s Planning Commission.
Sanchez wants the San Mateo City Council to stand up against an aerial viaduct like the Burlingame council has done.
“People are ready to move out of the neighborhood and are disgusted by the process,” Sanchez said. “We want to be unified with the city but we don’t know where they stand.”
Burlingame Mayor Cathy Baylock urged those opposed to an aerial viaduct to reach out to state and federal lawmakers to make their opinions known.
On Wednesday, the city councils of Millbrae, Burlingame and San Mateo signed letters to U.S. reps. Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo urging them to seek more federal funding for the Peninsula section of the statewide project.
“Additional funding for the Peninsula portion of the high-speed rail project to assist in both the design and construction of high-speed rail would go a long way toward helping alleviate the concerns in our community,” the letter reads.
The rail authority is planning a route with electrified bullet trains traveling from Los Angeles to San Francisco at a cost of more than $40 billion. It received a significant boost when voters approved Proposition 1A, a $9.95 billion bond in November 2008.
A draft environmental impact report for the Peninsula section of the line is expected to be released in December. That document will be the basis for how the authority decides to construct the project, from both a cost and engineering standpoint.
Bill Silverfarb can be reached by e-mail: email@example.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106.