With Palo Alto preparing to install cameras and boost fencing around the rail tracks, city officials are inviting the community to a meeting later this month to discuss these changes.
The project, which is being jointly undertaken by the city and Caltrain, aims to limit access to the Caltrain corridor in response to a recent cluster of teen deaths by suicide on the tracks. In his June 29 update to the City Council, City Manager James Keene said he is proceeding on an accelerated schedule with the hope of getting most of the fencing work done before the middle of summer.
Caltrain will be replacing what he called an "old, substandard and missing fencing" along the west side of the northern segment of the train corridor, between Oregon Expressway and the San Francisquito Creek.
The agency will also be installing an 8-foot wire-mesh fencing with an 18-inch anti-climb winglet on the east side. The city will be picking up the cost of adding the winglet to the top of the fence.
Palo Alto officials will also be working to improve the southern segment of the Caltrain corridor, between Oregon Expressway and San Antonio Road. The corridor already has an 8-foot fence, which the city plans to extend. The project will cost about $268,000, which includes about $168,000 for vegetation removal and $100,000 for fencing extension.
In addition, the city will be installing an "intrusion camera system" that uses thermal infrared cameras and sensors capable of distinguishing between people and objects on the corridor. The cameras will be installed near the East Meadow Drive grade crossing.
The effort to improve fencing, generally known as "means restriction" is part of the city's broader effort to address suicide prevention. The city recently extended its contract with TrackWatch, a program in which security guards monitor the tracks, and is working with mental health agencies and other community partners to increase staffing for Project Safety Net, a collaborative that promotes youth well-being.
City officials plan to discuss the changes on the rail tracks at a July 27 community meeting, where they will be joined by Caltrain and school district representatives. The meeting will be held from 6:30-8 p.m. at the El Palo Alto Room in the Mitchell Park Community Center, at 3700 Middlefield Road.
More information is available at cityofpaloalto.org/rail.