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CITY OF PALO ALTO

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Memorandum

September 20,2010

TO: City Council

FROM: CITY MANAGER DEPARTMENT: CITYMANAGER

DATE: September 20,2010

SUBJECT: High Speed Rail (HSR) Agenda Item

As conveyed to the City Council on September 13, the City Council HSR agenda for September
20 will be finalized after the HSR Committee meeting on September 15. The following
documents are provided for policy discussions at the September 20 City Council meeting
regardless of the direction given by the HSR Committee on September 15. The enclosed
documents are:

1) Councilmember Klein's original "No Confidence in HSR" draft resolution and


background information
2) The "No Confidence in the CHSRA" draft resolution approved by the HSR
Committee
3) The August 24 HSR Committee staff report on the Supplemental Alternatives
Analysis Report (SAAR)

Please be advised that a special packet will be going out on Thursday, September 16 with the
finalized agenda, additional and/or clarified discussion points following the HSR COmmittee
meeting, and all relative staff reports and attachments.

Deputy City Manager


,I

The High Speed Rail Committee recommends that the City Council adopt the following Resolution:

The City Council of Palo Alto hereby declares that it has No Confidence in the High Speed Rail Authority

and in the High Speed Rail Project as presently plann.ed and that it will accordingly take the following
actions:

1) Urge the Governor and the State Legislature to cease funding High Speed Rail, (HSR), remove
the present High Speed Rail Authority Board and/or create a new governing mechanism for
HSR.
2) Urge the Federal Railroad Administration to cease funding California's HSR as presently
constituted
3) Urge our US Senators and Member of Congress to oppose further funding of California's HSR as
presently constituted.
4) Urge the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board to terminate its agreement and relationship
with the California HSR Authority and take all steps necessary to prevent the HSR Authority
from using the Caltrain right of way for HSR.
5) Encourage the Union Pacific Railroad to remain steadfast in its refusal to waive any of its rights
to the HSR Authority, grant HSR access to tracks it controls or otherwise aid in the
establishment of HSR in California as presently planned by the HSR Authority.
6) Coordinate and communicate with lik~ minded California ciites in order to make our positions
set forth above more effective.
7) Consider litigation if necessary and cost effective to protect the interests of Palo Alto with
respect to HSR.
8) Provide copies of this Resolution and supporting materiel to: the Governor, our State
legislators, United States Senators, Member of Congress, the HSRAuthority Board, neighboring
communities and other interested parties.

The action items listed in this Resolution are not intended to be exhaustive. Other actions, as
determined by the City Council, may also be necessary and appropriate.

Relationship to Caltrain

Nothing in this Resolution should be read as negative towards Caltrain. Indeed, quite to the contrary,
the City Council continues to believe that Caltrain is an indispensible part of our local transportation
program, that it should have a permanent, dedicated source of funding and that it should be
appropriately upgraded.
.. ~

Backgmund to "No Confidence in HSR" Resolution

The City Council has not lightly adopted this Resolution. The City Council and the voters of our City
supported the HSR bond measure passed in 2008. We have spent much time and resources since then
attempting to work with the HSR Authority to produce an HSR project we could support: But since 2008
an overwhelming number of facts have been discovered or developed and events have occurred that
lead us to believe that the only reasonable alternative is to stop the HSR project...nm!!!.:. Some of the
most salient of these facts and developmen!s are:

1) Ridership Study. As one member of the HSR authority has himself noted, without a reliable
ridership study the project cannot move forward. But that is precisely the situation we have.
Responding to various criticisms of the ridership study the HSR Authority has been using the
State Senate asked the prestigious Berkeley Transportation Institute to review that study. Their
conclusion released earlier this year: the Authority'study was deeply flawed and should not be
relied on. The new CEO of the HSR Authority in meeting with Mayor Burt and Council Member
Klein earlier this summer stated that he trusted the Authority's ridership consultant and saw no
need to verify their work. This is unacceptable.
2) Cost. The Authority prior to the 2008 election estimated the cost of the system at $33.6 billion.
Shortly after it increased this to $42.6 billion citing inflation as the cause for the increase ( but
we've had little or no inflation in recent years). Many observers believe the Authority is
significantly underestimating the cost and point to studies that show the cost of large
construction projects almost always exceeds initial estimates. And the Authority's cost
estimates do not include the cost of necessary land acquisitions. We have repeatedly asked the
Authority to tell us what properties would have to be taken in Palo Alto and what would be the
estimated for such properties. The Authority has stated that it's too early in the process to
have such information but we have b~en advised to the contrary. The Authority's concern
course is that land acquisition will significantly increase the cost of the project and raise the ire
of the owners of the properties taken, both problems it would like to delay as long as possible.
Low ball cost estimates are unacceptable.
3) Business Plan. There isn't one. Not a meaningful one. Various state officials-the Auditor, the
Legislative analyst-have pointed this out, quite pointedly. The "plan" calls for $15 billion of
private financing which is nowhere in sight. The "plan", rather amazingly, also calls for $5
billion from local governments. Not acceptable.
4) Relationship with the Authority. The Peninsula communities were frequently promised--- even
before the election-that our voices would be heard in designing HSR in' our area. That has
proven not to be the case._The attempt to use Context Sensitive Solutions clearly has failed.
,"

Certain Authority members have made it clear that, in effect, the railroad is coming through our
community and we need to get out ofthe way. This is unacceptable.
5) Impact on the Community The alternatives the Authority clearly favors will have major negative
impacts on our community--- reduction in residential and commercial real estate values, traffic,
noise, vibrations, east/west division--- with little or no benefits to us. As one of our neighboring
communities put it, II 'Aerial orientation' and 'viaduct' are (the Authority's) euphemisms for
constructing the equivalent a six-to-eight-Iane elevated freeway through the middle of our
cities." This is unacceptable.
""<.~.'

:~

Context
The Palo Alto City Council High Speed Rail (HSR) Committee passed on a 4-0 vote on
Thursday, September 2 the following draft resolution titled No Confidence in the
California High Speed Rail Authority.

Draft Resolution
No Confidence in the California High Speed Rail Authority

Background
The City Council has not lightly adopted this Resolution. The City Council and the voters
of our City supported the HSR bond measure passed in 2008. We have spent much time
and resources since then attempting to work with the California High Speed Rail
Authority (CHSRA) to produce an HSR project we could support. But since 2008 an
overwhelming number of facts have been discovered or developed and events have
occurred that lead us to believe that the only reasonable alternative is to stop the HSR
project !!ID!. Some of the most salient of these facts and developments are:

1) . Ridership Study: As one member of the CHSRA has himself noted, without a reliable
ridership study the project cannot move forward. But that is precisely the situation we
have. Responding to various criticisms of the CHSRA ridership study the State
Senate asked the prestigious Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies to review
that study. Their conclusion released earlier this year: the Authority's study was
deeply flawed and should not be relied on. The new CEO of the CHSRA, in a
meeting with Mayor Burt and Council Member Klein earlier this summer, stated that
he trusted the Authority's ridership consultant and saw no need to verify their work.
This is unacceptable.
2) Cost: The Authority prior to the 2008 election estimated the cost of the system at
$33.6 billion. Shortly after, it increased to $42.6 billion citing inflation as the cause
for the increase (but we've had little or no inflation in recent years). Many observers
believe the Authority is significantly underestimating the cost and point to studies that
show the cost of large construction projects almost always exceeds initial estimates.
And the Authority's cost estimates do not include the cost of necessary land
acquisitions. We have repeatedly asked the Authority to tell us what properties would
have to be taken in Palo Alto and what would be the estimated cost for such
properties. The Authority has stated that it's too early in the process to have such
information but we have been advised to the contrary. The Authority'S concern, of
course, is that land acquisition will significantly increase the cost of the project and
'J '.

raise the ire of the owners of the properties taken, both problems it would like to
delay as long as possible. Low ball cost estimates are unacceptable.
3) Business Plan: There isn't one. Not a meaningful one. Various state officials-the
Auditor, the Legislative analyst-have pointed this out, quite pointedly. The "plan"
calls for $15 billion of private financing which is nowhere in sight. The "plan,"
rather amazingly, also calls for $5 billion from local governments. Not acceptable.
4) Relationship with the Authority: The Peninsula communities were frequently
promised--even before the election--that our voices would be heard in designing HSR
in our area. That has proven not to be the case. The attempt to use Context Sensitive
Solutions clearly has failed. Certain Authority members have made it clear that, in
effect, the railroad is coming through our community and we need to get out of the
way. This is unacceptable.
5) Impact on the Community: The alternatives the Authority clearly favors will have
major negative impacts on our community--reduction in residential and commercial
real estate values, traffic, noise, vibrations, east/west division--with little or no
benefits to us. As one of our neighboring communities put it, '''Aerial orientation'
and 'viaduct' are [the Authority's] euphemisms for constructing the equivalent of a
six-to-eight-Iane elevated freeway through the middle of our cities." This is
unacceptable.

Action
The City Council of Palo Alto hereby declares that it has No Confidence in the California
High Speed Rail Authority or in the High Speed Rail Project as presently planned. The
City Council expects to take further action if the Authority does not immediately
establish a truly responsive and transparent relationship with affected communities and
present viable plan alternatives for the project.

The City Council continues to believe that Caltrain is the indispensible backbone of our
local and regional transit system and that it must have a pennanent, dedicated source of
funding and that it should be appropriately upgraded. Palo Alto is fully committed to
collaborating with other Peninsula cities and counties to help create a dedicated funding
source for Caltrain and its needed improvements.

1) The City will coordinate and communicate with like-minded California cities in order
to make our positions set forth above more effective.
2) The City will provide copies of this Resolution and supporting materials to: the
Governor, our State legislators, United States Senators, Member of Congress, the
California High Speed Rail Authority, neighboring communities, and other interested
parties.
"

CITY OF PALO ALTO


Memorandum

TO: High Speed Rail Committee

FROM: CITY MANAGER DEPARTMENT: CITY MANAGER

DATE: August 24, 2010

SUBJECT: California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) Supplemental Alternatives


Analysis Report (SAAR)

Recommendation
Staff recommends that the High Speed Rail (HSR) Committee provides staff with policy
guidance regarding the CHSRA SAAR report. Specifically, staff is seeking direction on policy
issues staff should address in a HSR report to be presented to the City Council at their meeting
on September 13,2010.

Background and Discussion .


th
The CHSRA held their last meeting in San Francisco on Thursday, August 5 . At this meeting
they discussed the SAAR prepared by staff for the San Francisco to San Jose HSR corridor. The
SAAR updated a previously published Preliminary Alternative Analysis Report (P AAR) released
in April 2010. The Committee may recall that the City submitted comprehensive comments on
the PAAR on June 30, 2010. Staffhas provided for reference the SAAR executive summary and
the Palo Alto Section map (Subsection 6) from, the full SAAR (please see attachments).

The SAAR addressed current CHSRA options for HSR alignments through the Peninsula from
San Francisco to San Jose. As referenced in a recent City HSR news release, staff contends there
remain many unresolved issues, which could have significant impacts on City of Palo Alto
residents and businesses. These issues include project phasing, the location of a Mid-Peninsula
.station, interoperability between a future HSR line and an electrified Caltrain line, continued
CHSRA consideration of aerial, trench and at-grade' options for HSR construction, project
funding, and other related matters.

Report findings include:

Station locations under consideration. HSR stations are still planned for San Francisco at the
Transbay Terminal, Millbrae, and San Jose. The CHSRA is still considering a HSR Mid-
Peninsula location. Alternatives include Mountain View, Redwood City, and Palo Alto. The
Palo Alto station location under consideration is located at University A venue. The potential
Mountain View station location is in their downtown near Castro Street.

CHSRA is not considering or evaluating any station locations in Palo Alto at California Avenue,
nor are they considering a San Antonio station location in Mountain View. However, they are

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reviewing the potential of moving the existing San Antonio Caltrain station north of its current
location.

According to CHSRA and HNTB, (i.e., HNTB is an architectural, engineering, planning and
construction services firm providing professional consulting services to the CHSRA on the
Peninsula) they plan to hold a series of public workshops on the station design, criteria, and
options during the last three weeks of September 2010. HNTB staff has stated that a proposed
Mid-Peninsula station would total 67,000 square feet and require the construction of 3,000
parking spaces within a three-mile radius of the station. The projected number of daily station
boarding's is 7,800. CHSRA would pay the cost of the station, rail line, platform, and other rail
station related improvements. They do not plan to pay the cost to build the necessary parking.
They envision the parking would be paid by the respective city, possibly including a partnership
of private developers. Staff estimates, based on conservative assumptions and experience (e.g.,
Bryant Street parking garage in Palo Alto), that the cost to build a parking garage could be $150
million or more based on a cost of$50,000/parking space.

Considerations and Questions

• Does the Committee want the City to continue to be considered for a Mid-Peninsula
station location given the parking requirements and that the cost burden at this time
would be on the City and/or a private development interest? If no, staffwould suggest the
City consider sending a formal letter to the CHSRA stating the City's position that Palo
Alto would not like to be considered further for a Mid-Peninsula station location.

• If yes, does the Committee want HNTB and the CHSRA to consider additional station
location options in the City such as California Avenue? If yes, then it will also be
necessary according to HNTB for the City to send a formal letter requesting analysis of
the California Avenue station location. Also, if the Committee wants to consider a
station location, staff would suggest we add this component into analysis of HSR
property value and economic development impacts in Palo Alto.

HSR track configuration changes. HSR options have been narrowed down to three within
two major design options (i.e., Design options A and B, Bl). These three HSR design options
that will be analyzed in depth all include horizontal four-track configurations which include:

1. 4-track Aerial

2. 4-track At-Grade

3. 4-track Open Trench

A principal CHSRA rationale for the above alternatives is that these options require much less
right-of-way, approximately 80', versus up to 135' as previously indicated in the PAAR released
in April. This narrower right-of-way is also possible due to designing the tracks so Caltrain
operates on the outside two tracks and HSR on the insides two tracks due to the Federal Railroad

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Administration (FRA) agreeing to use a two percent grade for HSR versus the previously
required one percent grade.

Palo Alto Corridor


Subsection 6 covers the approximately four mile section of HSR track in the City. The SAAR
identifies four major Palo Alto corridors labeled 6A to 6D (i.e., 6A is the northern boundary with
Menlo Park and 6D is the southern boundary with Mountain View). CHSRA is considering the
following HSR track configuration options for each section as follows:

6A 6B 6C 6D
Design Option A At-Grade Aerial At-Grade Aerial

Design Option B Open trench Open trench At-Grade Aerial

Design Option Bl Open trench Open trench Open trench Open trench

CHSRA did not identify the covered trench/tunnel option for further consideration. However,
they left open the possibility that partially or completely covered trench or short tunnel sections
may be need~d due to narrow right-of-way or environmental concerns. For example, San
Francisquito Creek in Palo Alto could require a short tunnel or covered trench. CHSRA staff
referenced at the San Francisco meeting that it was likely that the trench option would be used
for the rail section near the creek due to the proximity of EI Palo Alto tree and the deepness of
creek. Partial covers of the open trench could be accomplished as long as they do not trigger the
need for additional life safety and ventilation features. CHSRA made it clear (discussion of
Design Option B) that cities would be responsible for the cost of covering an HSR trench
configuration.

HSR Design Option Costs


The SAAR included an outline of preliminary costs for the proposed alternatives. These costs do
not include right-of-way costs. CHSRA staff referenced at the San Francisco meeting that they
will not have detailed cost figures until February 2011. The CHSRA will be presented with a
business plan during that same month (i.e., February -2011). Staff has prepared a sample
worksheet that summarizes the cost figures shown for the four major Palo Alto corridors labeled
6A to 6D. The attached spreadsheet shows: ,

Overall Costs

• The at-grade option has the lowest cost at $234M, the next lowest cost is aerial - $252M,
then open trench - $765M and covered trench/tunnel at nearly $1.9B. CHSRA then
provided costs for a deep tunnel high speed train (HST) at $1.2B and hybrid cost option
$2.4B. The hybrid option cost is higher due to greater retaining walls, drainage,
ventilation and life safety features.

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Palo Alto Specific Costs

• The cost for sections 6A to 6D using the aerial or at-grade options for each segment totals
between $234M and $252M (this assumes the at-grade option for 6A). The cost for
sections 6A to 6D using the open trench option for each segment totals $765M, a
difference of $513M to $531M (or more than 200% greater).

• The cost for sections 6A to 6D using the covered trench/tunnel option not under
consideration is $1.874B; $1.623B higher or 647% greater than the least cost option and
$l.lB higher, 338% greater than the open trench option.

Considerations and Questions

• Does the Committee support any of the Design Options A, B or B I? If no, what if any
Design Option is supportable? Are any Design Options supportable? If yes, which one
may be supportable?

• If a Design Option(s) is supportable then does the Committee support using one Design
Option for North Palo Alto and another for South Palo Alto? For example, Design
Option B has an open trench in Sections 6A and 6B and then at-grade in 6C and aerial in
6D. Option Bl offers the same Design Option, ·open trench, through the entire Palo Alto
corridor. Does the Committee have a preference?

.• If the Committee wants a Design Option not under further consideration (e.g., Covered
Trench/Tunnel) would the Committee direct staff to communicate to CHSRA they should
add back the covered trench/tunnel Design Option? Does the Committee want to
communicate to the CHSRA that they should be responsible for paying the cost?

• There is a real possibility that whatever HSR option is executed by the CHSRA, that the
project will be constructed in phases. CHSRA recently submitted in their most recent
Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) ARRA funding application discussion of a 4-
track grade separated HSR line from San Francisco at 4th and King Streets to Redwood
City, then a 2-track non-grade separated section for the six miles through Atherton,
Menlo Park, and Palo Alto, and then a 4-track grade separated section of rail from
Mountain View to Sunnyvale into San Jose. The entire track would be electrified and
have positive train control.

What is the position of the Committee on this potential alternative? Another alternative
could be trenching North Palo Alto first and keeping the rest of the line at-grade until
sufficient funds were available to trench all the way through the City. Yet another
alternative could be building a HSR system at-grade throughout the entire City corridor
with trenching to come later. Is the Committee willing to consider any of these options?
Would the Committee only consider an option that completed an open trench along the
entire Palo Alto corridor in one phase vs. multiple phases to minimize property,
construction and community impacts?

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• The criteria the CHSRA used to evaluate alternatives included: "Meet community needs
by addressing alternatives that would not visually divide communities and are responsive
to concerns about noise and vibration impacts." An additional consideration is the
"ability to meet the project purpose and support by public agencies." Does the
Committee think the CHSRA met these criteria?

Additional issues include:

• The City has not yet developed a vision for what it wants along the existing rail corridor.
This future vision, whatever it may be, will likely have a major impact on what position
the Committee and the City takes on HSR.

• The current focus is on the SAAR and the future Draft Environmental Impact
ReportlEnvironmental Impact Statement (DEIRJEIS) to be publIshed in December of
2010. However, even assuming this proceeds as planned by the CHSRA, significant
funding issues remain to build HSR.

• Caltrain electrification while related to HSR is a completely separate and distinct project
with its own policy, financial, and long-term economic and operational viability issues.

• What economic development and property value impacts are there from construction of a
HSR line because so little analysis is available regarding the economiC impacts of HSR in
North America? Should the City seek out its own economic analysis to provide a basis
for positions on HSR alignments?

• The ridership numbers for HSR still remain in question.

Current Activity and Next Steps

CHSRA
The CHSRA's focus is to complete the project level DEIRJEIS by December 2010. This
includes continuing with engineering design work on the three HSR design alternatives. The next
milestone is to complete 15% design work. Also, the CHSRA continues to apply for available
American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) funds for the HSR line. The most recent
request was for an additional $lB to match $2.25B in funds already awarded. ARRA funding
does not by itself determine the HSR alignment nor the ultimate preferred alternative. The
results of the environmental analysis will determine these factors. In addition, the CHSRA will
continue to evaluate a potential Mid-Peninsula station location. Once the environmental review
process is completed next year the CHSRA plans to focus on HSR funding.

City of Palo Alto


The City Council recently agreed to the completion of a rail corridor study including the
formation of a community based task force. This study will evaluate land use, transportation,
and urban design elements of the rail corridor. This study is expected to commence in
September of this year. In addition, staff recently released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to
solicit professional expertise to assist the City in evaluating HSR property value impacts on

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residential and commercial properties along the rail corridor. Staff anticipates selecting a firm in
September and getting this work done in the fall. Irt addition, staff is also working on a scope of
work to either have the same firm selected for the property value impact analysis or a separate
company to evaluate potential HSR economic development impacts. Staff also continues to
participate fully in the Technical Working Group (TWG) meetings associated with HSR to
ensure Palo Alto's position on the various technical alternatives are weighed, considered, and
evaluated for a future HSR line along the corridor.

Potential Palo Alto Alternatives


Staff suggests the following policy positions for the Committee to consider:

1. Status quo. This alternative includes continuation of the present course to gather, analyze
and evaluate the information on HSR and at the appropriate time make a formal policy
recommendation to the City Council. Support for this alternative is based on awaiting the
results of the rail corridor study, the property value and economic development analysis,
and the draft CHSRA environmental impact report work. There is a great deal of
quantitative data yet to be published that will have a bearing on the ultimate position the
Committee may recommend to the City Council.

2. Pass a Resolution/Write a Letter. The Committee may want to recommend to the City
Council it pass a resolution or write a formal letter in favor or opposing the HSR project
based on the current SAAR design options under consideration. This alternative would
officially convey to the CHSRA and to the legislature, which has project oversight
authority, that the, SAAR does or does not meet the City's design requirements and could
list alignments or conditions that would enable the City to support HSR. A resolution or
letter opposing the project might say all current design options are unacceptable and for
this reason alone the City opposes the project.

3. Lobbying Focus. Palo Alto, along with the cities of Atherton and Menlo Park, engages
the services of a lobbying firm to provide legislative advocacy services. The Committee
could recommend to the City Council the City legislative advocacy services take a much
stronger position with the legislature and the CHSRA relative to a desired HSR design
option including asking. the legislature not to release HSR funds in the Peninsula until
design options are put in place that meet the needs of the respective cities. This letter
'could also reinforce that the City wants a certain design option even if such option(s) cost
more. This alternative would be stronger if we could secure similar support from our
neighboring cities (e.g., Atherton and Menlo Park) and other Peninsula cities.

4. Oppose the CHSRA FRA Application. The City could send a ietter to the FRA opposing
the recent CHSRA $lB grant application since the proposed phasing of the improvements
in that application could be detrimental to Palo Alto as it calls for no grade separations or
other improvements.

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Caltrain Impacts
What is not factored into this discussion of the SAAR is Caltrain and its long-term viability as a
commuter rail service along the Peninsula. Caltrain and the public agencies that financially
support Caltrain operations are including HSR and the potential funding into their capital and
operational plans to upgrade and modernize Caltrain service including track electrification,
installation of new positive train control systems and purchase of new electric train units to
replace the old diesel locomotives. Consideration ofHSR and HSR design options has an impact
on Caltrain modernization.

Assuming Caltrain fmds the funds to modernize its rail line and electrify the line exclusive of
HSR the new line will likely be built on the existing at-grade alignment. The catenary system to
support the Caltrain electrified trains, including the poles, could be up to 50' high. This will
create adverse visual impacts similar to those expected with an at-grade HSR alignment.
However, if the HSR line were to built using the open trench design the same catenary system
used to support HSR would be used by Caltrain. Thus, there would not be the same adverse
visual impacts.

A question the Committee needs to consider is do you think it is likely if HSR goes away
Caltrain could secure the necessary funds to electrify their line, purchase and install a modem
positive train control system, modernize their train fleet, and fund the construction of an open
trench (assuming this was an acceptable design option) through the City? Prior to the passage of
Proposition lA, timing for Caltrain electrification was very uncertain and below numerous other
transportation priorities.

Reco~mended Alternative
The City should complete the rail corridor study, the property value and economic reports, and
evaluate the current and future technical and other documents published by CHSRA and their
consultants. This includes evaluation of the environmental documentation to be published late
this year. The results of this information will assist the Committee and ultimately the City
Council. We also suggest the Committee make a formal recommendation to the City Council
either supporting or not supporting any of the current rail configuration options including a Mid-
Peninsula HSR Station in Palo Alto.

Attachments
• Supplemental Alternatives Analysis Report, Executive Summary
• Supplemental Alternatives Analysis Report, Subsection 6, Palo Alto
• Spreadsheet sample

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ROB K. BRAULIK
Proj ect Manager

STEVE EMSLIE
Deputy City Manager

JAMES KEENE
City Manger

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