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

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?

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