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High Speed Rail Proposal Could Shut Down State Park for Several Years

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With recently-released proposals showing where tracks could be placed throughout Los Angeles as part of California's high speed rail project, some residents and environmental groups are ready to fight at least one possible route. That's because it could temporarily shut down Los Angeles State Historic Park, one of the few green spaces around downtown, for several years, according to the Downtown News.

The option would have trains heading towards San Francisco leave Union Station and enter a tunnel before the park, still commonly referred to as the Cornfield. The route would also mean street closures, or at least significant changes to them. Here's how a report (.pdf) describes this particular alternative:

It would head due north from the station, passing over Vignes Street and descending under Main Street, to enter a tunnel at Spring Street. Other roads between Vignes Street and Spring Street would need to be closed or grade separated. It would transition from cut and cover to bored tunnel construction within LASHP. The bored tunnel would continue due north deep below the Elysian Park neighborhood and Elysian Park, curve gently northwest beneath I-5 and the southern tip of the Elysian Valley neighborhood, and align with San Fernando Road or the existing Metrolink tracks. It would surface at the south end of the Rio de Los Angeles State Park.

An attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council called the proposal unacceptable. “Downtown is one of the most park-poor areas in the country, and in a neighborhood that doesn’t have green space, we have this amazing resource just blocks away from home that people can enjoy," Damon Nagami told the Downtown News."It’s something the community fought hard for and we can’t lose.”

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Not only could the route temporarily close the park, but it could displace businesses, according to another report (.pdf). But every single option presented to the California High Speed Rail Authority earlier this month displaces businesses -- even one would displace homes.

By 2020, the $40-plus billion project could be in operation, whisking passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in under three hours. Construction of some segments could begin in 2012.