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October 29, 2013 > High Speed Rail focus of Milpitas Rotary meeting

High Speed Rail focus of Milpitas Rotary meeting

Submitted By Frank De Smidt

At the Milpitas Rotary Club meeting on September 23, Rod Diridon, Sr., Executive Director of the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) and Chair Emeritus of the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board, presented an update on the multi-billion dollar California High-Speed Rail (HSR) project to connect CaliforniaÕs major cities.

Diridon served in 1971 as the youngest person ever elected to the Saratoga City Council and retired due to term limits in 1995 after completing six terms as chair of both the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and the Transit Board. He is the only person to have chaired San Francisco Bay AreaÕs three regional governments: Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and Association of Bay Area Governments.

The transportation station in downtown San Jose is named after him. Diridon received his BS in accounting and an MSBA in statistics from San Jose State University and served two tours in Vietnam as a naval officer.

Diridon began his presentation stating that cars, busses and planes contribute greatly to pollution, carbon, and global warming. The clean electric-powered 220 mph High-Speed Rail would substantially reduce the need for these modes of transportation. He said that a trip to Los Angeles from the Bay Area would take approximately two hours, faster than flying and going through the airports. Voters approved the project in 2008.

CaliforniaÕs HSR corridor ranges from San Diego to Sacramento and to San Francisco including Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Fresno, Stockton, and San Jose. The first leg to be built will run from Madera in the Central Valley to Bakersfield. This route will expand to Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, and San Jose. The extension from San Jose to San Francisco is expected to be completed in 2026.

The project is 790 miles long with 26 stations. Convenient, accessible, high density, multi-story housing is expected to be developed near many of these stations, reducing the need for autos.

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