High-speed rail plans to be discussed, Routes topic for local meetings


University City has been pegged as the terminus of one section of the proposed 800-mile, high-speed train system between San Diego and San Francisco.

Voters last November approved a bond issue to partially fund the high-speed rail project. The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA), created in 1996 to develop a high-speed, intercity passenger train, has proposed University City as one of three stops in San Diego County, with the others in Escondido and at Lindbergh Field.

The rail authority will present proposed routes in the San Diego area at a public meeting from 3 to 7 p.m. Oc. 13 at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, 4126 Executive Drive. The meeting had originally been set for Sept. 29.

People will be allowed to ask questions and express concerns.

Linda Culp, senior transportation planner with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), a county regional planning agency, noted that this is a key time in the process of developing the high-speed rail line.

“The state is heading into the environmental phase for the L.A.-to-San Diego high-speed corridor with a location in University City at UTC or some other place,” she said last week.

Culp added that, if all goes well, the environmental phase of studies for the project could be done in 2013, with the entire system completed sometime beyond 2020.

“Right now, we’re working with the state to make sure our corridor is planned the way we like it,” she said, noting that the $9 billion bond measure passed by voters last year is just a “down payment” on funding the rail system, which would be paid for with a combination of federal, state and private funding.

Preliminary plans call for a system that would incorporate state-of-the-art, electrically powered rail technology with operating speeds up to 220 mph, similar to those operating in Europe and Asia. The system would interface with commercial airports, mass transit and the state highway network, linking Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Central Valley, Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, Orange County and San Diego.

Estimated cost for implementing the entire system, which would be done in several segments, would exceed $40 billion in 2006 dollars, according to the authority’s Web site.

Phase 2 of the project - the Los Angeles-to-San Diego section - is about 170 miles long and would be routed through the Inland Empire with station stops in the City of Industry, near the Ontario Airport, Riverside, Murrieta, Escondido and University City in San Diego.

One proposed route of the last leg of the line through San Diego enters a tunnel in Carroll Canyon near Interstate 805, travels underground to an underground station at UTC, and exits the tunnel into Rose Canyon near Regents Road.

The second proposed route would enter a tunnel at Miramar Road near I-805 and otherwise follow the same route. The train would travel along the Interstate 15 corridor between Escondido and Carroll Canyon.

The comments collected at the Sept. 29 meeting, as well as the rail authority’s responses, will be published around January as a Scoping Report. Then, in January or February, the CHSRA board will select a preferred alternative route for the high-speed rail line.

There will be two additional meetings held in the San Diego area: from 3 – 7 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Ramada Limited San Diego Airport, 1403 Rosecrans St., and from 3 – 7 pm Oct. 15 at the Escondido Center for the Arts (340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido, 92025).