News

Caltrain opens new California Avenue platform

 

A new platform for northbound riders at Caltrain's California Avenue station in Palo Alto opened on Saturday, part of $35 million in improvements at the station scheduled to be completed in February.

The improvements include a fence between the northbound and southbound tracks so passengers no longer can walk across them. Instead, a pedestrian tunnel has been constructed at the south end of the station.

The northbound platform has shelters, ticket validators, station boards and electronic message signs.

The new platform will enable northbound and southbound trains to stop at the station at the same time, which wasn't possible before. The new platform also brings the station into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

-- Don Kazak

Comments

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Posted by sally
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 24, 2008 at 6:39 pm

I think the new platform design is disappointing. There is no direct access to the platform from east of Alma St. Pedestrians must walk down and up the existing tunnel (at the north end of the train station) to get to the west side of the train tracks. Then they must walk to the south end of the station and down and up another tunnel. If you're in a wheelchair or pushing a bicycle or carrying luggage, the extra distance and narrow/steep tunnel is more than an inconvenience. And, of course, these tunnels are known hangouts for violent criminals.

Why didn't they build the new tunnel at the north end of the train station and connect it with the existing Alma St. tunnel? I hope the new tunnel is very well lit at night.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 25, 2008 at 7:15 am

They just made caltrain less safe by having us go under a dark tunnel


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Posted by jack
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 25, 2008 at 10:29 am

if you had made these suggestions (excessive walking, dark tunnels) heard, or at least made a reasonable attempt, when they were designing these, it would have been more productive than what you are doing now.


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Posted by Annette
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 25, 2008 at 10:44 am

Hello Jack, I do not remember any outreach on this. They certainly didn't let Midtown know.


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Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 25, 2008 at 10:46 am

I am not sure what could have been done about access from Alma St. I guess they could have put a stoplight and a crosswalk. I think a problem with that would have been people jaywalking with cars rushing by on Alma--sounds like a disaster in the making.


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Posted by sally
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 25, 2008 at 10:58 am

There already was a bicycle/pedestrian tunnel under Alma Street at California. They should have connected this existing tunnel directly to the new platform instead of forcing people to walk through 2 different (and not closely placed) tunnels to get to the platform.

A new stop light on Alma isn't a bad idea, if car drivers will actually obey it.

As far as I know, there was zero community outreach for the new tunnel design. The first I heard about it was a month ago, after the construction was almost complete.


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Posted by T
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 25, 2008 at 11:25 am

terrible planning. Only one side of the tracks has a ticket machine. Honestly, who thinks that is a good idea?


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Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 25, 2008 at 11:46 am

Sally--you are right about connecting the tunnels or at least couldn't they put some kind of surface that is the same level as the platforms where you could cross over from one side to another--I saw this in Portugal on the commuter train line, for example.
I guess since this was Caltrain they did not have to do any community outreach--of course, I am sure they felt if they did they would get bogged down in the PA process!!!


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Posted by E
a resident of another community
on Nov 25, 2008 at 11:59 am

Adding to T's complaint:

I took a train on Sunday and EVERYONE who was there had to go back to the other side of the tracks and buy a ticket and then return to the northbound platform. This takes about 5 minutes (possibly more if you have a kid with you), enough time for someone to miss the train.

Maybe a sign would be helpful.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2008 at 12:10 pm

A pedestrian bridge which went over the tracks and Alma with 3 sets of stairs and 3 ramps at each platform and the sidewalk would have made more sense and would have meant less construction work, probably cost less too.


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Posted by sally
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 25, 2008 at 12:26 pm

Anyone know what ever happened to the Oregon Expressway improvement project? That was supposed to include a sidewalk along the south side of Oregon, west of Middlefield all the way to Alma. If that project still exists, hopefully it will include a bridge over the train tracks to the new platform. They have been strangely quiet lately, though.


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 25, 2008 at 2:05 pm

"There already was a bicycle/pedestrian tunnel under Alma Street at California. They should have connected this existing tunnel directly to the new platform instead of forcing people to walk through 2 different (and not closely placed) tunnels to get to the platform."

So of the top of my head

1. The connection would have probably have lined up on the incline, not a good plan.

2. This would not be a good place for people using the park and ride or connection buses, it would have forced them to cross the traffic circle

3. The construction of the existing tunnel might not be well documented, so proving structure soundness might be hard.

4. The construction of the existing tunnel might be well documented and structural soundness might be an issue.

5. Political, they may not be able to connect to the tunnel because it would be hard to negotiate with the entity that "owns" it. If caltrain owns it, this is not possible.

6. Expense. This approach might be cheaper.

7. A tunnel parallel to the track might have to be able to take more of the load of the train when its in the station than one orthogonal to the tracks.

I suspect #2 is the reason they did it the way they did, but there are 7 possibilities for you. Some are probably bogus, but I think they are all reasonable possibilities. Besides, its built, and I really doubt caltrain planners read this site, so its not like they are going to learn here for future projects on the off chance that reading your comment would cause them to have a V8 moment. ;^)


Like this comment
Posted by Hurrah for the Bullet train
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 25, 2008 at 2:51 pm

Don't worry, the whole thing will be demolished when they construct the tracks for the bullet train as it speeds along at 200 mph between SJ and SF!!


Like this comment
Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 25, 2008 at 2:53 pm

I thought I read somewhere that it wont operate at top speeds on the pennisula.


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Posted by Carole
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 25, 2008 at 3:15 pm

There should be a restroom, even a portable one, at the station.


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Posted by sally
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 25, 2008 at 3:50 pm

There is a restroom in the station building that used to be open to the public. I guess they don't open it any more to save money.


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Posted by Vita
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 25, 2008 at 7:30 pm

The underground tunnel is NOT safe at all. Can't they build a pedestrian crossing over the tracks as in other stations? Please??


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Posted by Jayne
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 26, 2008 at 7:32 am

"There should be a restroom, even a portable one, at the station". Big problem - whose going to keep it clean?

The company that was awarded the concession to sell coffee at University Avenue has to keep the toilets clean under terms of the agreement. There is no one at California Avenue to keep the restrooms clean.


Like this comment
Posted by sally
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 26, 2008 at 9:51 am

Restrooms are a money issue. They could easily hire someone to clean/maintain the restrooms. This person could ride the train, get off at stations with restrooms to clean, then get back on. With the governor threatening to cut public transit funding to balance the budget, don't expect restrooms to happen any time soon.


Like this comment
Posted by Cal Ave.insights
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 26, 2008 at 10:17 am

"There already was a bicycle/pedestrian tunnel under Alma Street at California. They should have connected this existing tunnel directly to the new platform instead of forcing people to walk through 2 different (and not closely placed) tunnels to get to the platform."

The current tunnel is slated for replacement. Also, an overhead ramp would probably have met with community opposition, and would have to go anyway if HSR happens.


Like this comment
Posted by sally
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 26, 2008 at 10:43 am

Cal Ave insights - do you have more details on the replacement for the existing Cal. Ave tunnel? Will it be in the same location? Will it connect to the new Caltrain platform? What is the schedule for this project? Thanks.


Like this comment
Posted by CaltrainLaim
a resident of another community
on Nov 26, 2008 at 1:01 pm

My solution is the same as previous commentors: Stairs. Wow, in NY they do it in the subways, and at the subway station near JFK. Running late? Run up the stairs. The train isn't in the way because it's below you. Handicapables can use the ramps. Problem solved. But wait, that's too logical for Caltrain to comprehend. They are trying to win design awards....

The new design is unsafe, user-unfriendly, time consuming and will push me to drive more often -- if not all the time = lost revenue for Caltrain. I am tired of Caltrain's ineptitude with regard to projects, keeping their stations clean/tidy, keeping the trains clean/tidy, the lack of restrooms at the stations, etc. The trains have become grimy and gross, a public health and safety issue. They are supposed to be cleaned at least once a week. This obviously doesn't happen because they are trying to cut costs. It's an embarrassment to California and the U.S. to have foreigners visiting take the train. It's really quite a disgrace.


Like this comment
Posted by Richard
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 26, 2008 at 9:00 pm

There WAS investigation of merging the two tunnels. I attended a meeting in City Hall where an architect presented sketches showing how a replacement for the existing tunnel could be merged with the new Caltrain tunnel. Apparently Caltrain wasn't interested. They had nothing to gain from the connection, and it would have added cost and complication to their project. Too bad that an excellent opportunity for collaborative action was lost.

The old tunnel is too narrow and doesn't meet ADA requirements (nor do stairs). It is on a list of projects that are needed but that have no money, so it will not be replaced anytime soon. To say that "it is slated for replacement" is technically correct but misleadingly optimistic.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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