While Touring French High Speed Rail System, Mayor Newsom Calls for Bringing High Speed Rail to Transbay Terminal
Mayor Newsom urges leadership of Transbay Terminal Development Project to Include High Speed Rail as a requirement of Phase One of the project
1/27/09 - Mayor Gavin Newsom used his tour of the French high speed rail system (TGV) to make a public commitment to ensuring that California's future high speed rail system and Caltrain come to downtown San Francisco. California’s high speed rail system, approved by voters this past November, will link the State by rail from Los Angeles to San Francisco. However, the plan for the system is currently uncertain as to whether or not the high speed trains would actually terminate in the new Transbay Terminal in downtown San Francisco. Today Mayor Newsom forcefully stated that the first phase of the Transbay Terminal redevelopment must include a 'train box' underneath the terminal to host the northern terminus of high speed rail, as well as an extension of Caltrain.
"Since the onset of this project, I have been committed to the grand vision of Transbay, including high speed rail, a downtown extension for Caltrain and the visionary multi-use terminal itself," Mayor Newsom explained. "Including the rail box as part of the terminal construction is necessary for this grand vision to be realized."
To date, discussions at the Transbay Joint Powers Board, which oversees development of the Transbay Terminal, have considered building the first phase of the new Transbay Terminal without the train box, and coming back later to excavate under the terminal and build for high speed rail only if subsequent funding materializes. Yesterday Mayor Newsom took a strong position against that idea, suggesting that the Transbay Joint Powers Board must move forward with construction of the new transit center in the coming months in a manner that fully includes necessary infrastructure to host high speed rail.
"We should not spend $2 billion to build a glorified bus station," said Mayor Newsom.
Under this plan, the Transbay Terminal would be a multi-modal transit hub and northern terminus of California high speed rail, and would connect high speed rail to Caltrain, BART, Muni and several regional bus lines. Mayor Newsom explained the importance of this linkage: "High speed rail is a game changer in California, but only if it connects the downtown transit hubs of the two largest metro areas in the State. Building a high speed rail route that stops short of downtown San Francisco equates to building a major highway that ends before it reaches a city."
The Mayor identified the Transbay Terminal as a textbook example of the type of infrastructure project that Federal stimulus and recovery funding should be funding.
"The Transbay Terminal is the first rail facility built from the ground up in 70 years and it will revolutionize our transportation system by increasing environmentally friendly transportation options. It will also create over 2,600 good paying construction jobs in the first phase of construction. It's just the kind of infrastructure project we need to get the country back on track."
At today’s event in Paris, TGV officials provided Mayor Newsom with an in-depth briefing on the history, construction, and operation of the TGV System, and a "first-hand" opportunity to ride the TGV and see its operations up close.