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Caltrain project deemed 'best' by Sierra Club
December 13, 2012, 05:00 AM By Bill Silverfarb, Daily Journal Staff
The electrification of Caltrain is featured in a new national report from the Sierra Club as one of the best transportation projects in the United States.

The report identifies how the nation's best and worst transportation projects will move the United States beyond oil.

For each of the 50 states, Sierra Club identifies a "best” and "worst” project. For California, Caltrain modernization, particularly electrification, and a San Diego freeway project were the two projects picked as the best in a report called "Smart Choices, Less Traffic: 50 Best and Worst Transportation Projects in the United States.”

Officials with the Loma Prieta chapter of the Sierra Club, in Palo Alto, said Caltrain electrification is an example of the kind of projects California needs to move beyond oil.

"Electrification will cut the railroad's operating costs in half by avoiding the purchase of 4.5 million gallons of diesel fuel a year and replacing it with far cheaper and cleaner electricity,” Gladwyn d'Souza, Belmont planning commissioner and transportation committee chair for the Loma Prieta chapter, wrote in a statement. "It is exactly the kind of infrastructure we need as part of a 21st century transportation system that increases our transportation choices and increases our housing options by enabling transit-oriented development.”

Megan Fluke Medeiros, the Loma Prieta chapter's conservation manager, is a daily Caltrain commuter and praises the system's modernization effort. 

"I love Caltrain because it gives me time to respond to emails, a space for my bicycle enabling me to get much-needed exercise and the freedom of not owning the car I don't want. With more frequent and faster service, we're going to have less traffic on our roads, more active lifestyles, more disposable income and happier people all around,” Fluke Medeiros wrote in a statement.

Some of the best projects on the list include the installation of a 4-mile electric streetcar system in Tucson, Ariz.; a 61.5-mile commuter-rail service in Orlando, Fla.; The Midwest High Speed Rail project between Chicago, St. Louis and Detroit; and a new streetcar system in New Orleans.

Some of the worst projects on the list include a 100-mile gravel road proposed for untouched wild Arctic landscapes in Alaska that crosses six rivers; the South Mountain Freeway project in Arizona that will cost $2 billion to build; and the Jefferson Parkway project that would build a section of beltway surrounding Denver, Colo.

The Sierra Club is the nation's oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization with 1.4 million members with chapters in all 50 states.

The full report is available at: http://content.sierraclub.org/beyondoil/content/smart-choices-less-traffic

Bill Silverfarb can be reached by email: silverfarb@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106.

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