Council members voted 5-2 for a rail station in downtown Gilroy and opposed any kind of aerial track during a special study session on Monday. The study session was designed to get the council’s take on where Gilroy’s future High Speed Rail station should be built: either downtown or on the east side of Highway 101, north of Leavesly Road.
Councilman Perry Woodward expressed concern about noise, and suggested a downtown station with a partially-enclosed trench to regulate any sound, while councilmen Dion Bracco and Bob Dillon were the dissenters on the issue, saying they strongly oppose a station in the city, period.
The council also called for a more detailed study of the trench or at-grade alignment options, which they’d like to see included in the second phase of the High Speed Rail general plan.
The last time council members tackled the High Speed Rail was in mid-December, when they were presented with.
As for an aerial track, Councilman Peter Arellano said the High Speed Rail Authority won’t force one on towns that the train directly travels through because of the anticipated community backlash.
“The state wants this project to proceed and succeed,” he said. “They don’t want to fight with every community that they come into.”
The council's vote for a downtown station comes after a year of community workshops and study sessions held by city staff and project consultant David Early.
Although the rail authority will ultimately decide Gilroy’s station location, City Engineer Don Dey said local input is important because it allows the rail authority to see that the city's involved in the process, and has preferences.
Dey said the city’s commitment to finding the best station location for Gilroy is exemplified in the Gilroy High Speed Train Visioning Project, which city staff spearheaded with the help of a $150,000 grant from the county’s Valley Transportation Authority. Dey said $50,000 of project funds came from the city alone.
The council then hired Early’s firm, The Planning Center DC&E, to spearhead the project, and conduct a study of different station-area development options for Gilroy.
Most recently, the city received a $200,000 grant from the High Speed Rail Authority and a $400,000 allocation from the Federal Railroad Administration, which they’ll put toward the next phase of the project. Then, in the third phase, the council will update all of the development and planning details for the station in the city’s General Plan.
“You will be able to put the meat on the bones for the upcoming projects in the next phase,” Early said to the council.