A six-month trial of changes to the Alma Street-Ravenswood Avenue intersection starts this week, according to the city of Menlo Park. The changes are being put in place in an attempt to improve safety at the street-level railroad crossing where a woman in an SUV was struck and killed by a train in February.
This week work crews are scheduled to begin installing temporary medians from the Ravenswood Avenue railroad crossing to Noel Drive, along with a curb extension to block left turns from northbound Alma Street onto Ravenswood Avenue, according to Transportation Manager Nikki Nagaya. Right turns from Ravenswood to head south on Alma Street will also be blocked. The installations are expected to be finished within three days.
The council voted 3-0 on May 5 to let the trial proceed, while granting staff the flexibility to adjust the temporary installations as needed. The city is also studying options for creating a separation between the road and the railroad tracks; the study is expected to take at least 18 months.
Navigating around the trial changes will entail making a left turn from northbound Laurel Street instead of Alma Street onto Ravenswood Avenue, Nagaya said, or using a combination of Laurel Street and Oak Grove Avenue.
She acknowledged that the changes will take some getting used to. "All city employees use those intersections, so it affects us as well," she said.
Nagaya told the Almanac that the city will compare collision rates and near-accidents before and after the installation at the intersection and railroad crossing to assess how well the changes are working. The city will also record video of the crossing to track how often vehicles get stuck on the railroad tracks.
There's also community feedback to consider. She said anyone wishing to comment should call the transportation division at 650-330-6770 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We're sure it's going to be a learning experience," Nagaya said. "We'll try to make it as painless as possible."