State keeps Alhambra residents in the dark about plan to raze homes, reroute train through residential neighborhoods

One of the primary routes being considered by the California High-Speed Rail Authority would take a 150 mph train straight through the tree-lined residential streets of Alhambra bordering the I-10 freeway.

But you’d never know that from looking at the state agency’s website.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority’s website shows outdated – and misleading – information about the train’s proposed route.

According to the state website, the route is supposed to follow the 60 Freeway, when in fact the proposed route following the I-10 freeway apparently is more likely to be selected when the state agency’s Board of Directors meets in October to finalize the high speed train route.

Nowhere on the website is the latest proposed I-10 route, which would slice through residential neighborhoods and demolish a wide swath of homes in Alhambra and nearby cities bordering the freeway west of the 605 freeway.

Residents during Monday’s Alhambra City Council meeting said they were angry about the secrecy surrounding the new proposed train path that threatens to demolish their homes and neighborhoods.

The state’s High-Speed Rail Authority has kept everyone, including Alhambra city officials, in the dark about their intention to build a 150 mph train through the family neighborhoods bordering the freeway in Alhambra and other cities, city officials and residents said. Even now, they added, details remain hard to come by.

Until Monday’s meeting, the California High-Speed Rail Authority had not made a single attempt to solicit feedback from Alhambra residents living where the new proposed train path is supposed to cut through.

Monday’s Alhambra City Council meeting, where a single state agency staff member addressed council members, was the High-Speed Rail Authority’s first attempt to answer questions from local city officials — and that staff member, a civil engineer, only appeared because Alhambra city officials asked him to.

Officials from the various cities of the San Gabriel Valley had known since February of a possible plan to route the train down the center of the I-10 Freeway – away from homes and residential neighborhoods.

But it was only in late July that Alhambra officials discovered the state agency was now considering a different route that would slice through and demolish a huge swath of family neighborhoods bordering the freeway along the entire width of Alhambra and other cities along the I-10.

City officials and residents have been scrambling to find out more information ever since.

When asked during the meeting why information about the proposed train route through Alhambra’s neighborhoods was not posted on their website, a California High-Speed Railway Authority staff member only said they will update the website with the latest route information after the state agency’s October board meeting.

The problem with that plan?

By then, state officials will have already finalized the train’s route, all without ever soliciting community input on a significant scale or providing residents with accurate route information on their website — information that would show the state is going to tear down people’s homes and tear apart their neighborhood.

“High speed” train path would take riders on a circuitous route between San Francisco, San Diego

They say the quickest way to get from point A and B is a direct route. But when it comes to California’s high-speed train, it apparently isn’t so.

Surprisingly for a train that’s supposed to be super quick, the proposed, so-called high-speed route that threatens Alhambra’s and other cities’ neighborhoods along the I-10 freeway does not take the train on a direct route between the San Francisco and San Diego, the two cities the high speed train is supposed to connect.

The project would build a train route that connects San Francisco to Anaheim, with a stop in Los Angeles’s Union Station among several other stops in between.

One would think that the high speed train would continue the direct path south and head from Anaheim straight down to San Diego.

But it doesn’t.

Instead, the state plans to build an offshoot of the railway that starts further back north at Los Angeles’s Union Station.

From Los Angeles, the train would head east along the I-10 through residential neighborhoods in Alhambra and nearby cities, till it reaches the Inland Empire. From there, the route would curve down and head south along the I-15 to San Diego.

Alhambra city Councilmember Steven Placido and other residents at a city council meeting Monday questioned why the train was being rerouted east through working class neighborhoods along the I-10 freeway instead of taking a more direct north-south route through wealthier enclaves along the Orange County coast.

So think of the high speed rail route as a lowercase letter “h” — hardly a direct and quickest route between point A and B.

Proposed high-speed train to cut through Alhambra streets, demolish homes

People living near the I-10 freeway in Alhambra were blindsided Monday after finding out state officials have quietly rerouted the proposed high-speed train route to cut through the city’s neighborhoods that border the freeway.

California’s High-Speed Rail Authority representatives acknowledged they’re seriously considering a new route that will result in a wide swath of homes being torn down in Alhambra as well as other cities bordering the I-10 freeway during an Alhambra City Council meeting Monday.

It was standing room only as a couple hundred people filled two floors of city hall to hear details about the new proposed route which until now, has been shrouded in secrecy.

The Alhambra route is part of the state’s larger $40 billion project to build a high-speed rail between San Diego and San Francisco. The project was approved by an initiative on the ballot.

According to state officials, trains will barrel through the neighborhoods at 150 miles per hour on For a total of four hours a day, the trains will run every ten minutes.

Officials explained the high speed trains will be louder than regular trains and the increased noise will be heard blocks away. The railway will stand 35 feet high – taller than a three story building – well above the existing freeway sound wall.

Residents said they are upset about the proposed train route because it will tear down homes and force people to move away.

One resident at the meeting said five generations of her family have grown up in her house – a house that might be torn down if the proposed train path goes through.

Another resident in the impacted area said his neighbors are mostly hard-working immigrants who have bought homes and are living the American dream.

That dream, he said, is what the California High-Speed Rail Authority is trying to take away as they plan a route that will demolish those homes and force people to find a new place to live.

Residents up and down the blocks bordering the freeway also said they were worried about the increased noise and vibration that would come with the 150 mile per hour train. Property values will drop as well, they said.

Additionally, residents at the meeting said the high speed train would be dangerous to the hundreds of children attending the two elementary schools and two high schools near to the freeway. In order to get to school, children will have to walk beneath the railway as the 150-mile-per-hour trains speed over their heads.

Along with Alhambra city Councilmember Steven Placido, other residents at the meeting questioned why the train – which is to connect San Francisco to San Diego — was suddenly being rerouted east along the I-10 freeway instead of taking other more direct north-south routes.

State officials would rather make the train take a more circuitous route in the southern half of the state and drop the train into the path of the working class neighborhood in order to avoid routing the train through wealthier enclaves along the Orange County coast, residents explained.

Furthermore, residents along the proposed route  said they were angry about the secrecy surrounding the new proposed train path that threatens to demolish their homes and neighborhoods.

The state is hoping a working class neighborhood such as ours won’t put up a fight, residents said.

But, they added, they’re in for a surprise.

High Speed Rail Through Alhambra

Did you know that the State of California plans to build a high speed
train railway through the streets of Alhambra, Monterey Park, San
Gabriel, and Rosemead? The proposed railway will be more than three
stories high in the sky and race at more than 100 miles per hour through
our neighborhoods. Homes will be torn down, train noise and vibration
will increase, and property values will be affected.

The goal of this web site is to share information about the high speed rail system, the plans to cut through Alhambra and neighboring cities, and ensure that we are all informed about meetings and when reports are issued. The California High Speed Rail Authority clearly has not done a good job communicating with this or other communities about their plans and we intend to help fill in the wide gaps in knowledge.

What to do:
1) Get the word out. Tell your parents, neighbors, friends, and the
aunties/uncles about these plans.

2) Attend community meetings. Inform yourself and let your voice be heard. A community meeting will be held at Fremont Elementary on Thursday, Aug 12. The California High Speed Rail Authority will give the same presentation it gave at the Alhambra City Council meeting on Monday. The council asked that a board representative be present to hear our concerns directly. The city is encouraging public comments. The city web site has more info: http://www.cityofalhambra.org/community/HSRailProject.html

3) Contact your elected representatives. For Alhambra, they are:
State Senate: Gil Cedillo (213) 612-9566
State Assembly: Mike Eng (626) 450-6116
U.S. House of Representatives: Adam Schiff (626) 304-2727
U.S. Senate: Barbara Boxer (213) 894-5000; Diane Feinstein (310)
914-7300
If you do not live in Alhambra, visit the Secretary of State web site: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_r.htm

The route is part of the segment between LA Union Station and San Diego,
through the Inland Empire. There will not be a stop between Union
Station and El Monte. A route along the I-10 between Union Station and
El Monte was not part of the original plans discussed during scoping
meetings that occurred in the community. However, in the past few
months, the Authority has added that alternative route to its plan.

The route through Alhambra has three options:

  1. Option A: provides a 100 mph curve around Fremont. This option requires the Authority evict residents from their homes and demolish all or part of the neighborhood just north of Granada Park.
  2. Option B: provides a 75 mph curve about Fremont. This is the most disruptive option. The railway will be located outside the footprint of the I-10 freeway on either the north or south side on Ramona Rd. This will require many homes to be razed.  It will also affect Fremont Elementary, Ramona Convent, Mark Keppel High School, and Garfield Hospital.
  3. Option C: This route follows only the existing Metrolink right of way. It will not leave the existing footprint of the freeway or directly enter our neighborhoods. However, this option will require the trains slow to 50 mph between Fremont and the 710 freeway, which seems untenable for a high speed rail line. Also, it will take away lanes from the I-10 freeway which may prompt Caltrans to expand the freeway thus indirectly requiring homes to be razed and severe disruptions to our city.

Trains in all three options will be elevated above street level, with an expected height of 35 feet for the platform. That is more than three stories high and well above the current freeway sound wall. All three route options will also seriously interfere with kids from Marguerita School who use the foot bridge to cross from the other side of the freeway, as trains traveling faster than 150 mph will fly by above.