Citing property values, Silicon Valley blanches at high-speed rail

Summary:Three Silicon Valley towns have filed lawsuits contesting the construction of high-speed rail in the Bay Area. The line would connect San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Here's something you don't expect to read every day: the hub of American tech innovation is fighting back against the future of transportation.

Three California towns within the region known as "Silicon Valley" -- Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto -- filed legal briefs in a lawsuit that challenges a proposed high-speed rail line through the area.

According to the towns, the elevated track structure necessary for a bullet train would be "unsightly and threaten property values in some of the wealthiest enclaves in the country," reports the Wall Street Journal.

The news comes at a bad time for the transportation scheme, whose support in Congress is eroding. (Of concern: noisy trains, over-optimistic ridership estimates, along with the Valley's reasons.)

It's also an ironic example of NIMBYism -- "I may be leading a tech revolution, but not in my backyard."

The high-speed train intends to link San Francisco, a hub for tech startups (including the parent company of this very site), and Los Angeles, the West Coast's culture and entertainment hub.

Few dispute the train's value; rather, it's a question of execution: underground tunnel vs. beneath the East Bay, your yard versus mine.

The problem? Such heated debate threatens to stall the project.

California voters have already approved the sale of about $10 billion in bonds to fund the rail project, which would follow the Caltrain commuter rail system as it reaches the Bay Area peninsula. (The total estimated cost for the SF-LA leg is $43 billion.)

Officials are already gun-shy of legislation; that's why they chose the sparsely populated Central Valley as the starting point for the project.

HSR in the Valley: economic boon, or boondoggle?

This post was originally published on

Topics: Innovation


Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. He is also the former editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation. He writes about business, technology and design now but used to cover finance, fashion and culture. He was an intern at Money, Men's Vogue, Popular Mechanics and the New York Daily Ne... Full Bio

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