High-speed derailment?

Pub date November 18, 2008
SectionPolitics Blog

train crash.jpg

By Steven T. Jones

After navigating a political gauntlet on the way to the momentous Nov. 4 voter approval of the California high-speed train project that he set in motion 14 years ago, you might think Quentin Kopp would savor a moment of conflict-free peace. You’d be wrong.

Instead, he decided to kick a hornet’s nest in his native San Francisco by voicing opposition to plans to bring the trains all the way into downtown San Francisco’s new Transbay Terminal – a proposed Grand Central Station-style multi-modal hub that would also include affordable housing and several towers, including the tallest one of the West Coast — suggesting the current Caltrain terminus at 4th and Townsend streets would do just fine.

In addition to raising issues of cost (almost $3 billion to tunnel the bullet trains that final 1.4 miles into downtown), Kopp also blasted Transbay Joint Powers Authority director Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan – a one-time protégé of Kopp’s old nemesis Willie Brown – for bungling the project and relying too heavily on Singer and Associates, the brash crisis communications firm now being sued for slandering and blaming the victims of the Christmas Day tiger attack at the SF Zoo.

The myriad San Francisco supporters of high-speed rail – from business community backers downtown to the alternative transportation geeks – are quietly scrambling to try to heal the rift and ensure that the trains reach Transbay, the terminus envisioned in the proposal approved by voters.