by Maria Medina and Len Ramirez
SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Dozens attended the first public outreach meeting Monday night where city and state transportation leaders gave them an opportunity to talk about a massive transportation hub planned for San Jose.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said San Jose Department of Transportation Spokesperson Colin Heyne. “This is a transformational project that is really going to change how San Jose operates and looks.”
“We have the great opportunity to create the Grand Central Station of the West Coast here in San Jose,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo, who also sits on the board of the Valley Transportation Authority.
Right now the station sees about 92 trains or 17,000 daily passengers. The expanded Diridon Station would be the hub for Caltrain, Amtrak, ACE Train, BART, VTA light rail, and California High-Speed Rail, accomodating some 300 trains and 140,000 passengers a day; the equivalent to the number of people who use San Francisco International Airport daily.
“I just want to know what the future holds for the station and the neighborhood I live in,” said meeting attendee Lori Johnson, who lives near the Diridon station and takes Caltrain every day to work.
City transportation leaders, who were joined by staff from the VTA, Caltrain and High Speed Rail Authority, made it clear to the crowd that the design of the new station is still months away.
Heyne said the design concept won’t be decided until early next summer, and that it will take close to another year to finalize construction plans.
He also said it was too early to say where thousands of passengers would park their cars before hopping onto the public transportation of their choice.
Susan Popko, who lives steps from Diridon Station, said she is looking forward to the expansion and what it means for the area.
“We’re pretty excited about developing what has basically been empty lots and derelicts buildings,” she said.
Google plans to build a mega campus near the station, and city leaders said this is one reason why they chose the location.
But Edward Saum, who also lives near the train station, is skeptical. He believes there are already construction plans that will move full-speed ahead despite public input.
“It has the more cynical among us thinking that the decision has already been made,” said Saum. “It just hasn’t been officially published yet.”
“Hopefully this will be a single coherent station instead of three or four disparate elements,” Saum said.
Neighborhood groups expect traffic and parking disruptions during construction. But many questions, especially regarding high-speed rail, are still unanswered.
“The alignment whether it comes in at grade level or overhead, hasn’t officially been determined but it has the more cynical among us thinking that the decision has already been made, it just hasn’t been officially published yet,” Saum said.
Planners say building the new transit hub will be complete in about ten years.