At its meeting on Tuesday, San Jose City Council voted to run the proposed high speed rail line on an aerial track, at least 60 feet above the city, as it makes its way to Diridon Station. The 8-2 vote rejected the alternative proposal of building an underground tunnel for the train, as is planned for Los Angeles and San Francisco. Not only would a tunnel be more costly. It would also take at least two years longer to build.

There is still hope, however, for tunnel advocates, including Scott Kniess of the Downtown Association. The decision to build an aerial line was included a provision that City Council gets final approval over the design, which will have an impact on the entire downtown area. The provision stipulates that an agreement must be reached by October 1—just two weeks away—or else they will reconsider the underground alignment and include it as part of the project’s environmental review.

This puts the ball back in the court of the High Speed Rail Authority. They will have to decide quickly too. Federal funding for the $43 billion statewide project is contingent upon it breaking ground no later than September 2012. The controversial stretch is just a few hundred yards long, but a delayed decision could put the entire project in jeopardy.
Read More at the Business Journal.