As part of the ongoing planning process for the California High Speed Rail project, a Good Neighbor committee meeting was held tonight at the Roosevelt Community Center, east of downtown San Jose. To make the review more localized, several segments were identified and “separated” so that each could be reviewed separately. Diridon Station is not only a major transit hub, it is also the nexus of two such segments: San Jose-to-Merced and San Jose-to-San Francisco. The Good Neighbor committee, which is made up of local residents and other potentially affected parties, has been providing feedback on the station design, planning throughout the station area, the ballpark, and the most controversial piece, the prospect of either an aerial or tunnel rail segment that will run through the area. From the beginning, local residents have been opposed to an aerial option and have forced the City to include a tunnel alternative as part of the environmental review. This is in keeping with what Peninsula residents have wanted for some time, though finance constraints may make it difficult to move forward with anything other than an aerial option.
The image above is only one of several possible station designs, all meant to give the public a sense of the building’s mass and volume. The apex of the new station would be 90 feet above grade, more than twice the height of the current station but 20 feet lower than HP Pavilion, which is located a block away. There could be a large public space in between the two stations or a larger, fully connected “grand” terminal.
I’ve mentioned before that the ballpark has not received nearly as much resistance from locals as the HSR project, and the above pictures are Exhibits A and B of that resistance. The height of the rail will be 65 feet above grade, with another few feet above that for the platform and a retaining wall and/or fence. The columns and the viaduct itself appear to be buff or sand-colored concrete, which should help soften the look compared to drab, gray concrete. Still, there’s no getting around the fact that the structure itself is a behemoth. As the alignment enters and exits downtown, it will be widened to four tracks, making it the equivalent of a very tall freeway. Expect the property values for recent buyers at Plant 51 to come crashing down (at least on the side that faces the station) if the aerial is built.
The ballpark did get mentioned, insofar as there is some buzz about whether or not MLB will be making a decision on territorial rights (yes, some of those folks read this site). If the owners and Commissioner Selig decide to take the issue up (they never have officially) and rule in Lew Wolff’s favor, the decision will set a few more things in motion. Another Good Neighbor session would have to be held shortly thereafter. At that session several things would have to be discussed:
- Design of Cisco Field and how it differs from the alternatives approved for the original and supplemental EIRs
- Timing of the project, including land acquisition, referendum, groundbreaking and construction
- Status of needed infrastructure improvements (Autumn Parkway)
If/when this session occurs, I’ll post a notice well in advance. I urge anyone with a passing interest to attend. (Note: A similar session to the one held tonight will be held at the MLK Library a week from tonight.)
Twenty-five years ago, the Diridon area was partly light industrial and partly residential. HP Pavilion allowed the City to clean out many of the residences (via eminent domain). With Cisco Field, it’s expected that most of the industrial properties will go away as well, as those don’t fit in with the concept of a commercial transit hub. We touched on this two years ago, and this is yet another small step towards fleshing out the vision. The Diridon Station Area Plan, which was approved by the City Council in April, is starting its own EIR process now (PDF).