Over the past several years, Committee for Green Foothills has engaged in the California High Speed Rail Authority’s process to select an alignment through southern Santa Clara County. In Gilroy, there are two possible alignments: through the downtown area where the current Caltrain station is located, or east of Highway 101 in Gilroy’s Agricultural Preserve. Committee for Green Foothills, as well as the local community, believes that the downtown location is the best alignment. A downtown High-Speed Rail (HSR) station it will encourage transit-oriented development and make the station accessible to those without cars, whereas a station out in the Agricultural Preserve will result in the loss of some of the most fertile and active farmland in the county, will induce sprawl with new development likely to spring up to support the station, will result in increased vehicle traffic in order to access the isolated station location, and will further deplete opportunities for growth in Gilroy’s downtown.
Another area where the possible alignment of the HSR line is expected to impact the environment is the alignment through Coyote Valley. Here, the HSR Authority is considering whether to choose an at-grade alignment or an aerial viaduct. A viaduct, which would be raised on column supports, would permit the passage of wildlife underneath the tracks; whereas an at-grade alignment would require sound walls that would cut off wildlife migration corridors across Coyote Valley. If the HSR Authority elects the at-grade alignment, significant mitigation measures will be needed to provide wildlife with the ability to cross the alignment. For example, a “land bridge” — a wide aerial crossing over the tracks, constructed to appear like natural habitat to encourage wildlife to use it — is one possibility for mitigation of the impacts to wildlife migration.
Our Goal: We are monitoring this process and continuing to advocate for the protection of farmland and wildlife.
For More Information or to Get Involved: please contact our Legislative Advocacy Director Alice Kaufman at: [email protected].
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