While other Peninsula cities used informational high-speed rail discussions to promote underground tunnels or call for regional representation, Redwood City officials has a more simple request: Workshops.
Rather than tick off a list of demands, the Redwood City Council asked high-speed officials to meet with residents and stakeholders for greater input.
The City Council needs to learn from the residents and feed it back to the high-speed rail officials, said Councilwoman Barbara Pierce, echoing a sentiment shared by her peers.
James Jonas wants a place "where people can have two-way communication while Jim Bigelow cautioned haste to meet a December 2011 deadline for federal money. The council, too, agreed that time is of the essence.
The turn before the Redwood City Council was the latest stop in a campaign launched by proponents of high-speed rail and Caltrain electrification to collect comments, questions and suggestions of what residents want. The matter did not get called, however, until after 10 p.m., leading Mayor Rosanne Foust to extend the meeting slightly and call to revisit it at another time.
While other Peninsula cities have voiced strong opinions on varied aspects of the plan, Redwood City could be in a slightly different position because it is proposed as one of the railway's station stops alongside Millbrae and San Jose. The station possibility wasn't addressed last night as officials explained to the council, and a near-empty chamber, the High Speed Rail Authority's beginning steps to construct an 800-mile track to move riders through the state at 220 mph. A trip between the Transbay Terminal in downtown San Francisco and Los Angeles Union Station is estimated at approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes and would cost approximately $55 one way.
Caltrain has signed an agreement with the authority making electrification plans a joint project with high-speed rail. The authority will likely need to expand the Caltrain rails from two to four tracks to separate the authority and express trains on one line from local and freight service on the other.
Working together is beneficial because it lets both consolidate outreach to the public and stakeholders and connects local service to a statewide system, said Seamus Murphy, manager of government affairs for Caltrain.
Murphy highlighted the benefits of the project -- jobs, safety, increased passengers -- and emphasized the need for strong public communication and transparency as both groups begin the lengthy process toward completion.
"What we don't know right now is how we should listen," he said.
Councilman Ian Bain asked that officials not only listen but tell residents why high-speed rail is a good idea. Cities need to know "the vision for local communities" as well as the benefits to the state, he said.
Even though voters passed Proposition 1A in November approving approximately $10 billion in general obligation bonds toward the $40 billion project, the road since has been far from smooth.
As the authority has held public meetings and city councils received updates, the questions far outweighed the answers and some residents continue opposing the plan.
A collection of cities -- including Burlingame, Belmont and Menlo Park -- championed the so-named Peninsula Cities Consortium which is charged with representing common interests and mitigating potential impacts of the high-speed rail.
A key sticking point is the locale and a lawsuit against the authority argued the Peninsula was improperly chosen.
Some, like Burlingame officials, are concerned the rail line will not include the preferred underground option, instead splitting the city physically with the less-expensive above-ground tracks.
But details and plans are months and years away at the least -- a caveat that didn't sit well with Mike Smith.
Smith wasn't even at the council meeting because of the rail matter but said during a break he was irked for having voted in favor of Proposition 1A.
"Shouldn't they have a plan?" he asked. "When I voted for this I figured there was a plan."
But the planning process is complex, involving not only designs and funding but also environmental reviews, according to proponents.
The next nine months will be used to circulate alternatives and collect comments before setting up technical working groups and meeting with cities, said Tim Cobb of the High Speed Rail Authority.
No specific construction timeline has been released but High Speed Rail Authority officials have said the goal is to a final EIR by 2012 and service from San Francisco to Los Angeles by 2020.