Letters For February 6, 2008 

Readers sound off the proposed California high-speed railroad

Lighten Up

I am writing to tell you that I find your newspaper stories entirely negative and depressing. I have recently become enamored of Alameda, and picked up two copies of your paper to see what life was like in these parts. According to your version of "life," I don't see why anyone would take their life in their hands and actually live there. I suggest that you balance your stories with some of the social successes that I'm sure exist in abundance in your fair locale. Of course, that might mean you might have to actually work. Seek out positive info; you seem to rely entirely on the police blotter. I still plan to spend time in Alameda. And I will look at your newspaper again to see if there is light at the end of the tunnel.

William Carter, Mariposa

Not Yet What It Was

It's as wonderful as it was unpredictable that the Express is locally owned once more. The plethora of right-wing, "subtly" racist articles aimed at the Express' rather progressive audience during the New Times reign was nauseating. And yet. The Express has not (yet) become what it was in the pre-New Times days: a publication that readers actually looked forward to and read with genuine pleasure in the latter part of each week. Why not?

I'm guessing that it involves a combined absence of: the personal ads, so much more creative than those on Craigslist (no doubt gone forever); the edgy, polarizing music, art, and cultural criticism by Gina Arnold and others; a substantial monthly literature section; Lynda Barry's "Ernie Pook's Comeex" and Matt Groening's "Life Is Hell;" and the lead articles of a personal nature, written not necessarily by aspiring journalists so much as by literate citizens whose idiosyncratic articles expressed in their particular ways something of the texture of life in the East Bay.

The old Express did not become great overnight. In 1986 it was still a fairly provincial paper, a junior sibling to the Bay Guardian. It took until the very late '80s, as I recall, to begin to sizzle. And it can sizzle once again; if you get your bearings and gradually reintroduce some of the elements that could make the paper as great as the community in and for which it is published.

Eric Leimseider, Berkeley

"Who Said Building a Railroad Was Easy?" Feature, 1/9

Myths and Facts

Matthew Green's article about the California High Speed Rail System and the environmental, political, financial, and other issues swirling around it was generally well done. However it contained several major errors which continue to circulate despite clear evidence to the contrary.

Myth: People traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles would get there faster with a Pacheco HSR alignment than with an Altamont alignment. Fact: According to the HSR EIR/EIS released last July, the trip would be faster via the Altamont alignment.

Myth: The Altamount alignment will be "far more costly" than the Pacheco alignment. Fact: According to the EIR/EIS, the cost of the two alignments, including Altamont's rail bridge across the Dumbarton Strait, would be about the same.

Myth: There would be "four to six tracks" through the Tri-Valley area. Fact: There would be up to six tracks only at stations. Through most of the area there would be only two passenger rail tracks.

Gerald Cauthen, Oakland

They Cannot Be Trusted

After the CA High Speed Rail Authority's choice of the Pacheco Pass Route over the Altamont, I can't in good faith advocate for this project anymore. It's not just that it will impact wetlands, as the environmentalists say, or even that it is a significantly less useful route (specifically for anyone in Sacto or Stockton who wants to get to the Bay Area). What's really important is that, by making such a vital decision as the basic route for high speed rail based on political lobbying, rather than honest evaluation of facts, the CAHSRA has demonstrated that they cannot be trusted to manage a $40 billion investment.

Nicholas Kibre, Redwood City

Rezoning the Big Valley

The author of your piece on California's high-speed rail project, as well as the persons he interviewed, believe that this project will be a high-speed rail system just like the ones they have in Europe. In fact, it will be quite different, much more expensive, and much more questionable environmentally.

The idea was to have a rail system that would take people between San Francisco and Los Angeles in no more time than flying. This would clear the airways, reduce air pollution, and reduce airport congestion. If the state had stuck with this plan, the system could have been built by now.


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