But as with so many decisions on the project, other considerations won the day. There was heavy lobbying by Silicon Valley business interests and the city of San Jose, which saw the line as an economic boon and a link to lower cost housing in the Central Valley for tech employees. They argued for routing the train over the much higher Pacheco Pass — which would require 15 miles of expensive tunnels.

In 2008, the rail authority issued its record of decision.

“It absolutely has to go through Pacheco and up through San Jose,” Mr. Richards said.

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