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Bill Ties Caltrain Modernization To High-Speed Rail Construction

PALO ALTO (KCBS) - A proposal unveiled by State Senator Jerry Hill on Friday would tie together the future of Caltrain and high-speed rail in the state.

If approved, the measure would prevent the California High-Speed Rail Authority from widening the Caltrain right-of-way without the consent of communities on the Peninsula.

Since voters approved the high-speed rail bond in 2008, residents who live near Caltrain have raised objections about the increased noise and traffic the additional trains are expected to bring. Many expressed worries that eminent domain would be used to seize land adjacent to the tracks to build a separate set of tracks exclusively for the bullet trains.

KCBS' Tim Ryan Reports:

Bill Ties Caltrain Modernization To High-Speed Rail Construction

"This two-track system that we have now will not require any taking," Hill said. "Most of this can be done through the existing right-of-way."

Hill's legislation would give Peninsula cities veto power to block proposals such as the early high-speed rail proposals that called for a wider Caltrain corridor or an elevated trackway.

"We've got to make sure that the high-speed rail, when and if it does come through this area, is done in the manner that does not destroy the character or the quality of life of our communities," Hill said.

The future of high-speed rail between San Francisco and Los Angeles would depend on modernizing the Caltrain tracks if Senate Bill 557 passes.

Caltrain has long sought to electrify its tracks and upgrade its signaling system in order to accommodate more traffic. Some feared the Caltrain system would be left behind if a separate rail system were built alongside it.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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