California's new high-speed rail system could burrow underneath the Peninsula, freeing developers to use land on the surface and improving quality of life. But it might not happen unless locals pay for the construction themselves.
Burlingame officials are furious over the the California High Speed Rail Authority's decision, according to the Contra Costa Times. Late last month, the Authority told the town in no uncertain terms that the state didn't have enough money to bury the train tracks in tunnels.
Of the $43 billion that the project is expected to cost, as much as $30 billion is still unaccounted for. Adding the cost of underground construction could devastate the entire operation.
But many towns are insistent that underground tracks are vital to the project's success. They claim that subterranean rail would actually be cheaper. In addition, above-ground rail would create noise, divide neighborhoods, and chase away residents. Who wants to live next door to an elevated train track?
There's no way that Burlingame could fund the underground construction on its own. Federal grants might potentially help, but the Authority is in a much better position to secure that money than a single town.
For their part, many of the towns along the Peninsula are considering a lawsuit to force the tracks underground.