News

City moves to calm anxieties over property takings

Palo Alto's Rail Committee votes to remove from consideration grade-separation options at Churchill Avenue that could require eminent domain

Seeking to ease concerns from residents in the Old Palo Alto and Southgate neighborhoods about property seizures, Palo Alto officials are preparing to abandon the idea of raising or lowering the rail corridor near the Churchill Avenue crossing.

The council's Rail Committee on Wednesday agreed that the "hybrid" option, which calls for both raising the rail corridor and lowering Churchill, should be eliminated from the city's menu of 10 alternatives for "grade separation" -- the reconfiguration of railway tracks so that rail and surface streets would not intersect. In addition, the council voted to eliminate what's known as the "reverse hybrid" option at Churchill, which entails elevating the road and lowering the tracks.

Both of these options generated a wave of opposition, with hundreds of residents signing a petition urging the council not to consider the two options. A recent analysis by city staff and consultants concluded that the hybrid option would require acquisition of 14 to 22 properties; the reverse hybrid would require full or partial taking of more than 40 properties.

Faced with the prospect of property seizures, residents have been appealing to the council to eliminate both "hybrid options." A petition from Old Palo Alto resident David Shen to that effect received more than 450 signatures.

During the council's May 29 discussion, Shen re-emphasized the neighborhood's opposition to the "hybrid" and "reverse hybrid" options. If the city cannot pursue an underground solution for rail (such a trench or a tunnel), Shen said, the neighbors advocate for a "system-wide solution at north Palo Alto, which would entail looking at Churchill and Embarcadero Road together."

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Jason Matlof, a resident of Churchill Avenue, pointed to the latest analysis showing the need to property takings and urged the Rail Committee to eliminate the hybrid and reverse-hybrid options. He noted that in addition to being highly unpopular, they are also extremely expensive, with a price tag that can reach $500 million.

The arguments from Southgate and Old Palo Alto proved persuasive. Councilman Greg Scharff, who made the motion to eliminate the two Churchill options from consideration, said he was very moved by appeals from residents about eminent domain "hanging over (their) heads."

"It hangs over people's lives and it causes angst and we need to take that off the table," Scharff said.

Yet the proposal to scrap the hybrid options creates another dilemma. If Palo Alto doesn't pursue a grade-separation option on Churchill, it will likely move ahead with another Churchill alternative: the closure of Churchill to car traffic. This alternative, officials acknowledge, will likely divert more cars to the nearby Embarcadero crossing.

To address this impact, the city has been weighing an expansion of eastbound Embarcadero from three lanes to four at the often-congested underpass near the Town & County Village shopping center.

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That idea, however, is facing resistance from residents of Professorville and University South, who have made the case in recent weeks that expanding Embarcadero would be both disrupting and counterproductive.

These critics include former Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto, who told the Rail Committee on Wednesday that she believes adding a traffic lane on Embarcadero would run counter to the city's philosophy of discouraging driving and encouraging bicycling and other types of alternative transportation.

Kishimoto said she is part of a group of residents who plan to circulate their own petition opposing the widening of Embarcadero. She urged the Rail Committee to eliminate the option and argued that there is no evidence that the underpass causes a bottleneck. Adding a traffic lane, she said, would lead to more traffic and more speeding, she said.

"The solution is not increasing speed on a key residential arterial that is part of Safe Routes to School," Kishimoto said.

Faced with these concerns, the Rail Committee agreed not to pursue the option of widening Embarcadero Road underpass as part of the grade-separation project. But they didn't preclude the option of redesigning the underpass in the future. Chief Transportation Officer Joshuah Mello told the committee that the underpass was built about 100 years ago and will need to be replaced soon. At that time, the city will have another chance to consider new design options for the underpass.

The committee agreed that this is a conversation worth having -- just not at this time. Scharff called the proposal to widen Embarcadero to accommodate Churchill's closure a "community distraction." He and his committee colleagues agreed that any plan to widen Embarcadero should follow its own outreach process, with full community participation.

The Churchill crossing is one of four Palo Alto rail crossings that could see major changes in the coming years as part of the city's effort to prepare for a significant increase in Caltrain trains and the potential arrival of high-speed rail. The council is looking to select a "preferred alternative" for the four rail crossings -- Palo Alto Avenue, Churchill, Meadow Drive and Charleston Road -- by the end of the year.

The Rail Committee issued its recommendation to eliminate the two Churchill options by a 3-1 vote, with Councilwoman Lydia Kou dissenting. While Kou also favored elimination of options at Churchill, she was opposed to outright eliminating the expansion of Embarcadero from consideration. She argued that the city has significant challenges when it comes to traffic circulation and that it should pursue a "comprehensive study" to evaluate improvements, which may include a reconfiguration on Embarcadero.

The Rail Committee's vote makes it very likely that the council will eliminate at least the two Churchill options from its menu of options this Tuesday, June 19, when it holds a special meeting to discuss grade separations.

Related content:

Webcast: Debate over rail redesign

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City moves to calm anxieties over property takings

Palo Alto's Rail Committee votes to remove from consideration grade-separation options at Churchill Avenue that could require eminent domain

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Jun 15, 2018, 9:27 am

Seeking to ease concerns from residents in the Old Palo Alto and Southgate neighborhoods about property seizures, Palo Alto officials are preparing to abandon the idea of raising or lowering the rail corridor near the Churchill Avenue crossing.

The council's Rail Committee on Wednesday agreed that the "hybrid" option, which calls for both raising the rail corridor and lowering Churchill, should be eliminated from the city's menu of 10 alternatives for "grade separation" -- the reconfiguration of railway tracks so that rail and surface streets would not intersect. In addition, the council voted to eliminate what's known as the "reverse hybrid" option at Churchill, which entails elevating the road and lowering the tracks.

Both of these options generated a wave of opposition, with hundreds of residents signing a petition urging the council not to consider the two options. A recent analysis by city staff and consultants concluded that the hybrid option would require acquisition of 14 to 22 properties; the reverse hybrid would require full or partial taking of more than 40 properties.

Faced with the prospect of property seizures, residents have been appealing to the council to eliminate both "hybrid options." A petition from Old Palo Alto resident David Shen to that effect received more than 450 signatures.

During the council's May 29 discussion, Shen re-emphasized the neighborhood's opposition to the "hybrid" and "reverse hybrid" options. If the city cannot pursue an underground solution for rail (such a trench or a tunnel), Shen said, the neighbors advocate for a "system-wide solution at north Palo Alto, which would entail looking at Churchill and Embarcadero Road together."

Jason Matlof, a resident of Churchill Avenue, pointed to the latest analysis showing the need to property takings and urged the Rail Committee to eliminate the hybrid and reverse-hybrid options. He noted that in addition to being highly unpopular, they are also extremely expensive, with a price tag that can reach $500 million.

The arguments from Southgate and Old Palo Alto proved persuasive. Councilman Greg Scharff, who made the motion to eliminate the two Churchill options from consideration, said he was very moved by appeals from residents about eminent domain "hanging over (their) heads."

"It hangs over people's lives and it causes angst and we need to take that off the table," Scharff said.

Yet the proposal to scrap the hybrid options creates another dilemma. If Palo Alto doesn't pursue a grade-separation option on Churchill, it will likely move ahead with another Churchill alternative: the closure of Churchill to car traffic. This alternative, officials acknowledge, will likely divert more cars to the nearby Embarcadero crossing.

To address this impact, the city has been weighing an expansion of eastbound Embarcadero from three lanes to four at the often-congested underpass near the Town & County Village shopping center.

That idea, however, is facing resistance from residents of Professorville and University South, who have made the case in recent weeks that expanding Embarcadero would be both disrupting and counterproductive.

These critics include former Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto, who told the Rail Committee on Wednesday that she believes adding a traffic lane on Embarcadero would run counter to the city's philosophy of discouraging driving and encouraging bicycling and other types of alternative transportation.

Kishimoto said she is part of a group of residents who plan to circulate their own petition opposing the widening of Embarcadero. She urged the Rail Committee to eliminate the option and argued that there is no evidence that the underpass causes a bottleneck. Adding a traffic lane, she said, would lead to more traffic and more speeding, she said.

"The solution is not increasing speed on a key residential arterial that is part of Safe Routes to School," Kishimoto said.

Faced with these concerns, the Rail Committee agreed not to pursue the option of widening Embarcadero Road underpass as part of the grade-separation project. But they didn't preclude the option of redesigning the underpass in the future. Chief Transportation Officer Joshuah Mello told the committee that the underpass was built about 100 years ago and will need to be replaced soon. At that time, the city will have another chance to consider new design options for the underpass.

The committee agreed that this is a conversation worth having -- just not at this time. Scharff called the proposal to widen Embarcadero to accommodate Churchill's closure a "community distraction." He and his committee colleagues agreed that any plan to widen Embarcadero should follow its own outreach process, with full community participation.

The Churchill crossing is one of four Palo Alto rail crossings that could see major changes in the coming years as part of the city's effort to prepare for a significant increase in Caltrain trains and the potential arrival of high-speed rail. The council is looking to select a "preferred alternative" for the four rail crossings -- Palo Alto Avenue, Churchill, Meadow Drive and Charleston Road -- by the end of the year.

The Rail Committee issued its recommendation to eliminate the two Churchill options by a 3-1 vote, with Councilwoman Lydia Kou dissenting. While Kou also favored elimination of options at Churchill, she was opposed to outright eliminating the expansion of Embarcadero from consideration. She argued that the city has significant challenges when it comes to traffic circulation and that it should pursue a "comprehensive study" to evaluate improvements, which may include a reconfiguration on Embarcadero.

The Rail Committee's vote makes it very likely that the council will eliminate at least the two Churchill options from its menu of options this Tuesday, June 19, when it holds a special meeting to discuss grade separations.

Related content:

Webcast: Debate over rail redesign

Comments

Paly Grad
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 15, 2018 at 10:07 am
Paly Grad, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 15, 2018 at 10:07 am

There is no good reason to close to Churchill at Alma. Just leave the crossing as it is! Motorists, bicylists and pedestrians who don't mind waiting a bit will continue to use it. Others who are in a hurry can choose a different route!


AllYouCanEat
Mountain View
on Jun 15, 2018 at 10:35 am
AllYouCanEat, Mountain View
on Jun 15, 2018 at 10:35 am

Don't believe it. These thieves will legally take your property in a heartbeat!


OPA_resident
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2018 at 11:05 am
OPA_resident, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2018 at 11:05 am


Very happy to see this. Thank you David Shen and those involved.


mike morganstern
Professorville
on Jun 15, 2018 at 11:55 am
mike morganstern, Professorville
on Jun 15, 2018 at 11:55 am

What is really needed instead of messing with the Caltrain trackage is to build a subway with local and express tracks under El Camino and complete a loop around the bay - extending Bart tracks. In addition add a tunnel or bridge across the bay with Bart to allow quick cross-bay commutes. Start the High Speed Rail in San Jose at the Bart Terminus. Given Express Bart Trains, this would not add a lot of time to getting to Los Angeles San Francisco or Oakland and points in between.




Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Jun 15, 2018 at 12:57 pm
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Jun 15, 2018 at 12:57 pm

I hope the City Manager has tasked someone in the Planning Department with counting how many petitions are circulating. As the most recent survey points out: satisfaction is waning.


sunshine
Barron Park
on Jun 15, 2018 at 1:11 pm
sunshine, Barron Park
on Jun 15, 2018 at 1:11 pm

Whatever certain neighborhoods want, is done. Those neighborhoods are probably where the money lives and those who have the ear of the mayor. Other neighborhoods never get their choice. Barron Park still does not have a connection to the PA city shuttle.
We need to have rail and road separations at ALL 4 crossings in Palo Alto. Please do not waste any more time trying to decide how and where. The only way to improve traffic flow in PA is to separate the crossings.
It should have been done over 40 years ago--then it would have been affordable.
Separate all grade crossings in Palo Alto now. Don't dig a tunnel. Don't close the streets at the rail. Either go up or down with the city street or the rails. That matters less than getting it done before it becomes any more expensive.


Steve
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2018 at 1:25 pm
Steve, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2018 at 1:25 pm

Between the crumbling infrastructure, the out of control employee pension costs and now this...where is the money going to come from?


ODB
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2018 at 1:37 pm
ODB, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2018 at 1:37 pm

"they are also extremely expensive, with a price tag that can reach $500 million"

Compared to a tunnel or trench, that's cheap.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 15, 2018 at 1:56 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Jun 15, 2018 at 1:56 pm

"I hope the City Manager has tasked someone in the Planning Department with counting how many petitions are circulating. As the most recent survey points out: satisfaction is waning."

Annette, satisfaction is clearly waning, petitions are increasing, auditors are dismissed in the name of cost-savings, etc, etc. Taxpayers and petitioners continue to be dismissed, insulted and placated with costly irrelevant "studies" justifying the status quo re the Office Cap Ballot Initiative and the traffic "calming" petitioners.

So hiring someone to count petitions must be cheaper than wasting $400,000 on consultants to "respond" to the Ross Rd petitioners' safety concerns only to find neither the city nor the consultant has the necessary safety data -- or had it while throwing tens of millions of dollars at the "traffic calming" and road furniture and bollards infuriating so many.

"Cirque de PA": the continuing saga."


senor blogger
Palo Verde
on Jun 15, 2018 at 2:00 pm
senor blogger, Palo Verde
on Jun 15, 2018 at 2:00 pm

Only hundreds sign a petition on old Palo Alto and the City Acts.
A thousand sign a petition for Ross Road and all the City does is hold a "Listening Session"
Go figure


Wait, what?
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2018 at 2:04 pm
Wait, what?, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 15, 2018 at 2:04 pm

If they hybrid options are eliminated at Churchill because homes would be taken through eminent domain, why are there still options on the table for Meadow and Charleston that would require taking homes?


ODB
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2018 at 2:04 pm
ODB, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2018 at 2:04 pm

"There is no good reason to close to Churchill at Alma. Just leave the crossing as it is! Motorists, bicylists and pedestrians who don't mind waiting a bit will continue to use it."

I think this is the best idea for Churchill, given all of the intricacies and expense of grade separating that crossing.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 15, 2018 at 2:06 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Jun 15, 2018 at 2:06 pm

And 3,000+ signed the ballot initiative petition to curb office growth and are dismissed as minority "scaremongers" "completely disrespectful of the good governance" a council member thinks the city provides.


Old Palo Alto Native
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2018 at 2:19 pm
Old Palo Alto Native, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2018 at 2:19 pm

This is a distraction. We have been talking and talking about encouraging bike traffic and walking for a long time. A robust and comfortable fleet of electric or NG busses, air conditioned and comfy, up and down the corridors is still not in place. If we use Alma/Railroad tracks to create a massive slice through Palo Alto and remove traffic crossings, it will spell the end of a beautifully diverse and easy-to-manage City. Leaving the crossings and encouraging alternative transportation is what this City has been advocating. I think most of us agree that High Speed Rail is a pipe dream for the Bay Area. We will likely see it from the East Bay, South, into the Central Valley and then to Southern California "someday" but at the ticket prices discussed, it's DOA. So back to our beautiful city. We should manage of our own residents and quality of life. The entire city should bear a 25mph limit, and we should make it a pain in the neck to drive right into the downtown areas, in comparison to taking convenient busses and shuttles. A shuttle or bus route that ran up and down El Camino, Middlefield, and Alma would do the trick. Streets would be safer too. Electric assist shared bikes, shared electric scooters would also make most of the problem go away. Let's use our smarts here, not our knee jerk reactions. This city is beautiful and if we keep our heads screwed on straight and resist urbanizing it and spoiling it with 20th Century thinking about "adding traffic lanes" etc, we may evolve into a kind of a model city.
As it stands today, we talk innovation and creative thinking, but we come up with ideas and concepts that are last century. Let's get a bit more brave and be willing to take cars off the streets, by providing viable and fun/ high quality of life alternatives.
FWIW nobody wants to make it easy or more convenient to have more cars here. That's so 1970's thinking. We should be embarrassed. And to that - ugly fly-overs and crazy tunnels are also crude ways to avoid the main issue-- too many cars and a pathetic public transportation master plan.


Old Timer
Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jun 15, 2018 at 2:33 pm
Old Timer, Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jun 15, 2018 at 2:33 pm

And here we go again on Charleston...No matter the outcry from Ross Road residents,same "damage"--curb bulbs, medians, scrunched lanes all in the name of progress...yet same lines of cars will persist from Alma to Middlefield at commute time. Never works, never ends, never costs less. And of course, after a year of the road mess, grade separation of RR will descend. Believe me, South PA won't be afforded the same input as residents to the north. To date, most road changes have neither speeded up nor lessened traffic; why do we think the grade separations will work better?
Cheers to whomever suggested using the El Camino corridor for a realistic and regional fix! Out of the box, Silicon Valley thinking!


densely
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 15, 2018 at 3:01 pm
densely, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 15, 2018 at 3:01 pm

The three-lame Embarcadero underpass doesn't create a bottleneck because traffic is routinely stalled between the underpass and El Camino. This was improved somewhat when the traffic lights were retimed (after almost a decade of study!) but the result is that we can see how bad the traffic overload is.

Closing the crossing at Churchill can't help but make this worse.

And no, keeping that crossing at grade is not an option. We need the extra transit capacity we'll get when Caltrain doubles the number of trains after electrification.


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Jun 15, 2018 at 3:50 pm
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Jun 15, 2018 at 3:50 pm

Who is willing to give up their car? I am, and often do. But I could not say that if I had children at home or a job that required me to drive, or the need to get to medical appointments frequently. Old Palo Alto Native is correct. Until we have decent, reliable, robust public transportation serving all areas of Palo Alto we are just whistling Dixie when it comes to automobile reduction.

We might not need traffic calming and road furniture (who thinks of these terms?) if fewer people were driving b/c they were shuttling instead. Let's work on that.


Old Timer
Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jun 15, 2018 at 5:00 pm
Old Timer, Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jun 15, 2018 at 5:00 pm

p.s. Re Silicon Valley thinking...Merc News June 15 Biz Page features Elon Musk's Boring Co.planned transportation tunnel for airport ride from downtown at 100mph for 12 m.at reasonable cost--in Chicago!!! And also one in L.A.--at no cost to cities...I thought he was one of our guys!?!


ODB
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2018 at 6:06 pm
ODB, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2018 at 6:06 pm

"We need the extra transit capacity we'll get when Caltrain doubles the number of trains after electrification."

IF, not when Caltrain doubles the number of trains. They can feed a line to the gullible public but it is no guarantee it will happen.

What is your solution for grade separating Churchill that won't take residences, won't elevate the tracks, won't cost tens of billions and won't defy the laws of physics? Does Elon Musk have something up the sleeve of his wizard's coat that the rest of us don't know about?


Allen Akin
Registered user
Professorville
on Jun 15, 2018 at 7:56 pm
Allen Akin, Professorville
Registered user
on Jun 15, 2018 at 7:56 pm

Caltrain says electrification increases its peak capacity by only 31%: Web Link , Web Link

Nothing to sneeze at, but definitely not a profound change. Note that Stanford is already counting on using a good portion of that new capacity for its expansion under the new General Use Permit (GUP).


Yoriko
Registered user
University South
on Jun 15, 2018 at 10:12 pm
Yoriko, University South
Registered user
on Jun 15, 2018 at 10:12 pm

Please join your Professorville and Embarcadero Rd. neighbors and sign this petition! Here's a link:
Web Link


Barbara Hazlett Emerson Street
Roberto Peon Embarcadero Rd
Rob Levitsky Emerson Street
Thomas and Rachel Kellerman Emerson Street
Yoriko Kishimoto and Lee Collins Embarcadero Rd
many others

This article is an excellent summary of the issue. The rail committee (on a 3-1 vote) is now recommending that the hybrid grade crossings at Churchill be eliminated so the residents need not fear eminent domain of their homes. It also recognized that moving the problem to other neighborhoods is not the right thing to do, and is also recommending to the full council to remove the widening of Embarcadero Rd as part of the project description. Now the vote goes to the full city council and we need your signature!


Here's the petition wording:

We, the undersigned, oppose the widening of the Embarcadero Road underpass as part of the proposed rail crossing initiative for the following reasons:

THIS PROPOSAL WOULD NOT SOLVE THE TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGES
 There is no evidence that the current underpass is a bottleneck, while the traffic lights at Paly, Town and Country, and El Camino Real are known to be bottlenecks. A new pedestrian overpass for Paly students will likely do more to smooth traffic flow than a new expensive underpass. 


THIS PROPOSAL WOULD LEAD TO MORE WIDENING, MORE TRAFFIC LIGHTS 
 
The proponents of the proposal to widen the Embarcadero underpass also propose to take away park land and mature stone pine trees and add more traffic lights to 
Alma. Some also advocate for eventually widening the entire length of Embarcadero. Nearby residential streets in Professorville are already impacted as de facto cloverleafs, and will only get worse.

THIS PROPOSAL SHIFTS A PROBLEM FROM ONE NEIGHBORHOOD TO ANOTHER AND IS NOT A SYSTEM-WIDE SOLUTION

The rail crossing challenge must not pit one neighborhood against another. Instead, we should work together to improve the traffic flow in and through Palo Alto by controlling the amount and type of development and using alternate transport where appropriate. 


THIS PROPOSAL ATTRACTS MORE SPEEDING TO PALO ALTO 

The Palo Alto Comprehensive Plan clearly calls for prioritizing safety over vehicle LOS (level of service). We support following through on the principles already espoused in the comprehensive plan. 


THIS PROPOSAL THREATENS CITYWIDE WALKABILITY AND TRAFFIC SAFETY 
 
We all rely on residential arterials, which are densely lined with single family homes with direct driveway access, host community schools, libraries, neighborhood shopping areas and community centers. Keeping residential arterials and nearby streets and neighborhoods safe are a KEY part of the walkability of the entire city. 


In short, we oppose any so-called solutions which don't solve real problems. We urge fair and comprehensive city-wide initiatives to reduce traffic volume, reduce speeding, and increase safety. We request removing the widening of the Embarcadero underpass as part of the rail crossing initiative. Further, no solution for the Churchill crossing should be approved that increases traffic in surrounding neighborhood residential streets.




allen
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 16, 2018 at 7:54 am
allen, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 16, 2018 at 7:54 am

"There is no good reason to close to Churchill at Alma. Just leave the crossing as it is! Motorists, bicylists and pedestrians who don't mind waiting a bit will continue to use it."

Closing Churchill at the tracks would make the street usable again for getting onto Alma from Churchill going west. Now it is usable as long as you can afford the occasionally additional 5 to 15 minute wait while the train eliminates the green signal. Sure, I only had a 15 minute wait once but if I need to get somewhere, I use Bryant to Oregon. Just too many times waiting multiple times for a green light.

That intersection is left turn only in the busy morning commute so for a large group of people, closing Churchill at the tracks would be an improvement over what is there now. For others it would be worse. Net is that it is not worth taking 40 homes.

Also, consider what it would be like for three years of Alma being closed during construction. It is just a bad idea.


Resident
Community Center
on Jun 16, 2018 at 10:31 am
Resident, Community Center
on Jun 16, 2018 at 10:31 am

@Wait,What
You raise a good question. The recommendations coming from the staff and consultants seem really inconsistent with staff recommendations for the Charleston/East Meadow area. Why is eminent domain off the table for Churchill, but not Charleston/East Meadow. Also, the new consultants ruled out consideration of a 2% grade on a trench for Churchill, but staff has that as one of the narrowed alternatives for the south. How do these contradictions get reconciled?
Scharff’made an amazing assertion that it’s a “distraction” to evaluate whether closing Churchill will require widening the Emabcardero underpass. Remember, we not only need to deal with whatever number of cars would be diverted from a closed Churchill, we have the continuing growth in cars on Embarcadero that we have all seen in recent years. Scharff again succeeded by domineering, despite his lame rhetoric, past a staff and his colleagues who let him bulldoze every meeting. Check out the meeting video when he belittled the Chair, Wolbach, personally as another domineering tactic. I even felt sorry for Wolbach. All he was able to muster in response was an angry and insulted glare at Scharff.


ODB
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 16, 2018 at 1:15 pm
ODB, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 16, 2018 at 1:15 pm

"for a large group of people, closing Churchill at the tracks would be an improvement over what is there now. For others it would be worse."

Close Churchill to through traffic during certain hours.

Has anyone seen any actual plans being considered that involved taking so many homes? What were they considering building? A huge interchange such as at Oregon? Or were they merely going to restrict driveway access for some homes?


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 16, 2018 at 1:24 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Jun 16, 2018 at 1:24 pm

"THIS PROPOSAL WOULD NOT SOLVE THE TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGES
 There is no evidence that the current underpass is a bottleneck, while the traffic lights at Paly, Town and Country, and El Camino Real are known to be bottlenecks."

An oldie but a goodie. How many years did it take to get our former head of transportation to change the T&C light timing there so we didn't get stuck waiting school WASN'T in session? 8 years? 9 years?

Whatever happened to the "stakeholder" meeting that Jaime Rodriquez was going to have with Stanford, the county etc. to "plan" how to fix the El Camino lights and restriping?

Re widening Embarcadero, just don't. Didn't we just spend lots of money "improving" the Middlefield /Embarcadero intersection? Perhaps Mr. Scharff is more concerned about Casti's expansion plans than the problems those near Embarcadero experience?


ODB
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 16, 2018 at 1:43 pm
ODB, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 16, 2018 at 1:43 pm

"the new consultants ruled out consideration of a 2% grade on a trench for Churchill"

There may be more to it. Churchill is beetween and is in fairly close proximity to two crossings which are already grade separated.

Has there been any outreach at all to Caltrain by the city or the new engineering firm?


@resident
another community
on Jun 17, 2018 at 12:37 am
@resident, another community
on Jun 17, 2018 at 12:37 am

>>>> "the new consultants ruled out consideration of a 2% grade on a trench for Churchill, but staff has that as one of the narrowed alternatives for the south. How do these contradictions get reconciled?"

The consultant is saying that even with a 2% grade it is not possible to get the train under Churchill and over Embarcadero. This is self evident given the short distance between Embarcadero and Churchill.


ODB
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 17, 2018 at 2:01 am
ODB, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 17, 2018 at 2:01 am

"The consultant is saying that even with a 2% grade it is not possible to get the train under Churchill and over Embarcadero. This is self evident given the short distance between Embarcadero and Churchill."

The options at Churchill are severely limited. The neighbors won't tolerate a solution which elevates the tracks or the roadway; the engineers say a trench/tunnel can't be done; closing the crossing entirely will push the traffic into somebody else's back yard.

The do-nothing plan is starting to look attractive at Churchill. Maybe restrict access to Churchill during certain times of the day.

The neighbors will have their quiet and their privacy but they'll also have to wait for passing trains, unless Elon Musk invents that magical flying train in a hurry.


LOVE cars
Barron Park
on Jun 17, 2018 at 3:45 am
LOVE cars, Barron Park
on Jun 17, 2018 at 3:45 am

Cars reign supreme. We're not gonna start zooming around on electric scooters. Who the %&$* comes up with these ideas. '

Cars
reign
supreme.

As they should!

Instead of "limiting cars" which is impossible, we need to limit population growth. This is the red pill that so many progressives refuse to swallow.


LOVE cars
Barron Park
on Jun 17, 2018 at 3:49 am
LOVE cars, Barron Park
on Jun 17, 2018 at 3:49 am

It's sad that so many people are now guilt-tripped driving their automobiles, as if it's something we should "give up" for the "good of the community". Pur nonsense, regressive thinking. So many of you folks are falling for the lie. Socialist concepts creeping into your minds and poisoning your thinking.


PA refugee
another community
on Jun 17, 2018 at 10:59 am
PA refugee, another community
on Jun 17, 2018 at 10:59 am

So glad I cashed out of Palo Alto! Everything the city council touches turns to crap. Ross rd arasterdero., to say the least. Night and day traffic from planes trains and automobiles. And I don’t miss those entitled bicyclists constantly breaking laws.


Ahem
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2018 at 3:08 pm
Ahem, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2018 at 3:08 pm

The self-righteous virtue signalers pushing passenger-rail still harbor the mistaken belief that the only reason we don't live in a car-free utopia is because the evil auto companies ripped up the rails in Los Angeles.

The real truth is the modern transportation landscape is dominated by automobiles because automobiles are an all-weather, on-demand, two-dimensional, single-mode, door-to-door transportation system.

Passenger-rail is a one-dimensional system that even after a hundred years of development has never figured out how to economically solve the "final-mile" problem associated with its infrastructure technology.


ODB
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 17, 2018 at 7:06 pm
ODB, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 17, 2018 at 7:06 pm

"Passenger-rail is a one-dimensional system that even after a hundred years of development has never figured out how to economically solve the "final-mile" problem associated with its infrastructure technology."

Do you have a point to make that is relevant to the topic of grade separation?


Midtown
Midtown
on Jun 17, 2018 at 9:06 pm
Midtown, Midtown
on Jun 17, 2018 at 9:06 pm

Just put the train on an elevated track. Can't be any worse than what we have now and horns. Wikipedia: "Elevated railways are usually used in urban areas where there would otherwise be a large number of level crossings. Most of the time, the tracks of elevated railways that run on steel viaducts can be seen from street level." And yes with the power poles will probably stick up 100 ft. So what. Lots of open space underneath the tracks. Gotta be way cheaper than digging and pumping. No properties would need to be "taken".


ODB
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 17, 2018 at 10:28 pm
ODB, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 17, 2018 at 10:28 pm

Contrary to the propaganda, cruft and fear mongering that's been posted here, it is possible to design an attractive rail viaduct which isn't infested with crime, heroin addicts and doggie-doo.

It is possible to ford a waterway anywhere in the world with an aesthetically-pleasing structure, but it seems an impossible feat to cross a comparatively narrow roadway in Palo Alto, the main obstacle being Palo Altans themselves.

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


ODB
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 17, 2018 at 10:36 pm
ODB, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 17, 2018 at 10:36 pm

Unlike the photos I posted above consisting mainly of arched structures, a viaduct built on supports shaped like the letter "H", very similar to the design of the Golden Gate bridge, could open up a lovely greenway on the ground, replacing the rails, ties and roadbed that are there now.

It might be worthwhile to do a 99-year lease with PCJPB to acquire the rights to create a greenway.


Ahem
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2018 at 10:57 pm
Ahem, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2018 at 10:57 pm

If the government builds a "viaduct" it will be built with elevated freeway technology and materials, and it will look just like an elevated freeway.

Let's start calling the "viaduct" concept what it really is... and elevated freeway for trains.


ODB
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 17, 2018 at 11:08 pm
ODB, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 17, 2018 at 11:08 pm

"If the government builds a "viaduct" it will be built with elevated freeway technology and materials, and it will look just like an elevated freeway."

I've lost count of how many times you've made this same point with no basis in fact. You've seen no plans, no drawings, nothing, because there are no plans or drawings, just the fantasy you post here.


brian
another community
on Jun 18, 2018 at 12:16 am
brian, another community
on Jun 18, 2018 at 12:16 am

The collective brain power of local 'clever guys' must be able to come up with a pleasing viaduct design. This is an easier task than trying to entirely re-invent grade separations.
Start by asking Caltrain to chrome plate the power poles, then they will reflect the color of the sky and will be less visible.


Judith Wasserman
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 18, 2018 at 11:11 am
Judith Wasserman, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Jun 18, 2018 at 11:11 am

Jo Bellomo did a beautiful elevated solution - more than 20 years ago! Web Link


Reality Check
Registered user
another community
on Jun 18, 2018 at 11:55 am
Reality Check, another community
Registered user
on Jun 18, 2018 at 11:55 am

A nicely designed viaduct could allow a Churchill grade-separation without taking a single home.

Vancouver: Web Link
Milpitas VTA viaduct (with overhead wire): Web Link
El Cerrito viaduct with path #1: Web Link
El Cerrito viaduct with path #2: Web Link
BART viaduct over park & playground: Web Link


Elevated freight trains
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Jun 18, 2018 at 12:12 pm
Elevated freight trains, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Jun 18, 2018 at 12:12 pm

I don't think monorail-like structures are too bad. But I can't envision one of those cute things supporting the freight trains that go by. And the noise from an elevated freight train is going to be dispersed much more widely than from a ground-level track. I don't understand why people are ignoring that. It will be an elevated freeway, however nicely designed. BTW, we have a "nicely designed" on-ramp to San Antonio, and it's pretty nasty under there. I think people may be confusing best-case drawings with reality.


Assessor
Midtown
on Jun 18, 2018 at 12:43 pm
Assessor, Midtown
on Jun 18, 2018 at 12:43 pm

"Jo Bellomo did a beautiful elevated solution - more than 20 years ago!"

Why are its supporting pylons buckling?


Samuel L.
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 18, 2018 at 12:47 pm
Samuel L., Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Jun 18, 2018 at 12:47 pm

Speaking of the San Antonio crossing, is it high enough to fit the overhead wires for the electrification? I've read that the poles can be anywhere from 30 - 45ft tall.

I'm assuming there's a solution to this.


Reality Check
Registered user
another community
on Jun 18, 2018 at 1:12 pm
Reality Check, another community
Registered user
on Jun 18, 2018 at 1:12 pm

There are from anywhere to 0 to maybe 4 freights per day. So it's a relatively rare event.

The tight clearance areas for electrification (now well underway) are the 4 SF tunnels and the old 1902 San Francisquito Creek truss bridge. Caltrain will be modifying ("notching") the SF tunnels and there's a solution for the creek bridge. The overpasses (like San Antonio) won't be a problem.


Elevated freight trains
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Jun 18, 2018 at 1:19 pm
Elevated freight trains, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Jun 18, 2018 at 1:19 pm

Yes, there are several loud and large freight trains every day. The tracks need to be built to hold these. It's not going to be a cute little monorail tube. And those trains are going to be much louder and heard much farther.

You are from another community, with what seems to be a very vested interest in building an elevated freeway through our town. Those of us who live here have some concerns about how this will affect the community, in terms of noise, aesthetics, and more. I think this is by far the worst of the options available to us. I would prefer to leave the tracks as-is.

But if I didn't live here, sure, I'd be all for it. Quick and relatively cheap, and gets that train through to SF. Problem solved, let's just do it.


ODB
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 18, 2018 at 1:40 pm
ODB, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 18, 2018 at 1:40 pm

"Speaking of the San Antonio crossing, is it high enough to fit the overhead wires for the electrification? I've read that the poles can be anywhere from 30 - 45ft tall."

Fortunately that is Caltrain's problem, not CPA's. It is their right of way. Same with the trestle at the creek.

"the noise from an elevated freight train is going to be dispersed much more widely than from a ground-level track. I don't understand why people are ignoring that. It will be an elevated freeway, however nicely designed."

How much more widely? How about some figures to back up your statement?

The engineers tell us a trench/tunnel is not doable at Churchill, so either you build an elevated structure which separates the roadway from the tracks or leave it as it has been for 150 years and let auto traffic wait for the trains to pass. Take your pick.

There are three possible solutions at Churchill:

1. Trench/tunnel/underground

2. Elevated solution

3. Do nothing

Option #1 has been ruled out as infeasible. It's between #2 and #3 which will be the default if option #2 is not chosen.


bob.smith
another community
on Jun 18, 2018 at 3:42 pm
bob.smith, another community
on Jun 18, 2018 at 3:42 pm

"Speaking of the San Antonio crossing, is it high enough to fit the overhead wires for the electrification? I've read that the poles can be anywhere from 30 - 45ft tall."

At an overpass or tunnel, electrification can be bolted to the ceiling:
Web Link


Ahem
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2018 at 5:11 pm
Ahem, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2018 at 5:11 pm

Brian said: "The collective brain power of local 'clever guys' must be able to come up with a pleasing viaduct design"

The "viaduct" will not be designed by the 'clever guys'. It will be designed by a bureaucratic governmental process. The same bureaucratic governmental process that designed the aborted banal "signature" bike bridge. The same bureaucratic governmental process that screwed up Ross road.


Ahem
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2018 at 5:25 pm
Ahem, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2018 at 5:25 pm

Judith Wasserman said:

"Jo Bellomo did a beautiful elevated solution - more than 20 years ago!"

Sorry, but Jo's design looks like standard concrete freeway flyover construction to me. The only difference is the strange baffles on top that don't even look like they would be very effective at blocking sound... and that would surely be eliminated to reduce cost.

Tired of bad architecture being over-sold with fake architectural renderings.


Polly Wanacracker
Professorville
on Jun 18, 2018 at 5:30 pm
Polly Wanacracker, Professorville
on Jun 18, 2018 at 5:30 pm

"Jo Bellomo did a beautiful elevated solution - more than 20 years ago!"

"Why are its supporting pylons buckling?"


It looks like a bowlegged caterpillar to me.


musical
Palo Verde
on Jun 19, 2018 at 2:15 am
musical, Palo Verde
on Jun 19, 2018 at 2:15 am

^ Looks like before electricity. No overhead wires anywhere. Also before fencing was invented to deter pedestrians from crossing the tracks. Reality is always way more messy.


Mark
Professorville
on Jun 19, 2018 at 6:48 am
Mark, Professorville
on Jun 19, 2018 at 6:48 am

These comments are classic Palo Alto denial.

"Let's just ignore the traffic and encourage more bikes."... As if we live in on an island and no one from the outside world ever comes here.

People: the traffic problems are bad and they're not going to get any better. Stonewalling and refusing to even consider wider roadways as part of the solution is short-sighted and self-defeating.

It's delusional to think that elevating a train will solve the problem of narrow, choked crossings. Or that more bikes will magically get people who commute from 40 or 50 miles away to stop driving.

You can cover your ears and eyes now, and refuse to study the problem, but you're just setting yourself up for a lot of tears and aggravation (and higher costs) down the road.


minimize costs
Crescent Park
on Jun 19, 2018 at 8:40 am
minimize costs, Crescent Park
on Jun 19, 2018 at 8:40 am

"There are three possible solutions at Churchill:

1. Trench/tunnel/underground

2. Elevated solution

3. Do nothing"


OR, #4, close Churchill, which is the most likely solution.


ODB
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 19, 2018 at 10:46 am
ODB, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 19, 2018 at 10:46 am

"OR, #4, close Churchill, which is the most likely solution."

... which is likely to clog Embarcadero which is already too narrow, as well as clogging the stretch of Alma that connects the two.


jim
Community Center
on Jun 19, 2018 at 12:14 pm
jim, Community Center
on Jun 19, 2018 at 12:14 pm

Overhead rail could work. Check this article with photo of good looking elevated.
Web Link
Advantages
1- no crossing noises or horns blaring
2- the ability to bike or walk anywhere in Palo Alto with the division of the rail tracks. Reunify entire area between Stanford and 101.
3- Possible new bike lanes or park underneath elevation
4- Less disruptive construction than all of the overpass underpasses to be built
How would the cost of elevated throughout Palo Alto compare to the many overpasses or underpasses?


ODB
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 19, 2018 at 1:25 pm
ODB, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 19, 2018 at 1:25 pm

"It's delusional to think that elevating a train will solve the problem of narrow, choked crossings."

All grade separation will do is separate the tracks from the cross streets so auto traffic doesn't have to stop and wait for passing trains. It doesn't matter whether a trench, tunnel or elevated tracks are utilized. That's all it will do.


musical
Palo Verde
on Jun 19, 2018 at 2:41 pm
musical, Palo Verde
on Jun 19, 2018 at 2:41 pm

No Tim Draper-esque petition yet to split Palo Alto into 3 more easily governable cities? Then we could just give up on enhanced east-west connectivity across the tracks. Oregon Expressway could be the other division and we'd reopen Cubberley so there'd be a Middle and High School in each piece. Sorry, just trying to think out of the box.

Meeting this evening at six in City Hall?


Ahem
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2018 at 10:21 pm
Ahem, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2018 at 10:21 pm

Jim said:

"Check this article with photo of good looking elevated "

Sorry Jim, but that is NOT a photo (see caption). I think we are all getting a little tired of these bull$#!& "artist impressions".

These are real photos of elevated rail in the bay area:

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link





musical
Palo Verde
on Jun 20, 2018 at 1:02 am
musical, Palo Verde
on Jun 20, 2018 at 1:02 am

@Ahem, could those elevated rail examples support freight?


Elevated freight trains
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Jun 20, 2018 at 9:08 am
Elevated freight trains, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Jun 20, 2018 at 9:08 am

@ODB, you push back on my statement that elevation amplifies noise, and ask for figures.

I don't have them. It's well established that various materials like concrete dampen sound, and similarly that the removal of sound barriers, which exist at lower elevations, amplifies sound, with the size of the effect depending on the types of structures and materials. I've even seen a study comparing heights with different ground covers (grass vs concrete). Noise from freight is particularly problematic, and a study I saw suggested adding insulation to houses. Elevation also results in secondary effects from wind, which carries sound even longer distances, and temperature inversions, which reflect in sound bouncing off the ground and amplifying it.

But, sorry, no figures.


Ahem
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2018 at 10:34 am
Ahem, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2018 at 10:34 am

@Musical,

BART was designed for BART cars only, which are lighter and better maintained than freight cars.

The structure for freight would probably have to be much more sturdy and stout to withstand a the full weight of a gondola care loaded with crushed rock hammering the rails with a flat spot on one of its wheels.


jim
Community Center
on Jun 20, 2018 at 10:54 am
jim, Community Center
on Jun 20, 2018 at 10:54 am

Ahem,

Sorry, I should have said artist depiction- but the article does clearly state that. I'm just suggesting that elevated rail can perhaps look good. I think we could do better than decades old Bart structures. Elevated is used worldwide. We live in a community with lots of prejudgment about it.

There are so many elevated trains in Europe. To me, they fit with the urban and suburban landscape along with buses and streetcars. Nothing so beautiful about underpasses and overpasses.

We don't have many "good" solutions here.


Timothy Gray
Charleston Meadows
on Jun 20, 2018 at 12:27 pm
Timothy Gray, Charleston Meadows
on Jun 20, 2018 at 12:27 pm

We seem to forget -- or don't want to acknowledge, that we can solve any imbalance by managing supply OR demand.

If we are concerned about traffic, how about a few less jobs in town. That helps the traffic and also helps solve the jobs to housing imbalance.

Of course, if you just want growth for greedy purposes, then you really don't want to secure a balance. You would support office growth, which equates to increased workers, which exacerbates the housing shortage and traffic problems, and justifies the end means of growth at any cost -- totally ignoring the historical balance and beauty that makes people want to come to Palo Alto in the first place.

We all agree on wanting a jobs-to-housing balance, yet our office growth rate of the last 15 years has only intensified the imbalance. The rationale and correct approach is to advocate for increased housing while preventing office development from doubling its growth rate as is currently allowed in our Comprehensive Plan. Those who are sincerely pursuing balance will support actions on both the supply and demand side of the equation -- other who ignore this balanced approach have the clear intent of creating greater housing shortages to manipulate the politics and build at any cost. Beware of those that give lip service to the worthy goal of jobs to housing balance yet "throw fuel on the fire" by supporting unlimited office growth.

In this town of smart people, we will not be deceived by those that sport the badge of housing advocates or traffic calming advocates, yet advocate for doubling of office growth rates. This duplicity must be exposed. Let's grow with balance. Solutions first!

Respectfully offered. Palo Alto is a community, not a commodity.

Timothy Gray


Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 20, 2018 at 12:54 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 20, 2018 at 12:54 pm

What was that off-topic screed all about.


Timothy Gray
Charleston Meadows
on Jun 20, 2018 at 1:53 pm
Timothy Gray, Charleston Meadows
on Jun 20, 2018 at 1:53 pm

Root cause analysis. Non-systems thinkers discuss issues in a silo, and never come up with solutions since it is all interconnected. If we did’t Have a traffic problem, the solution to the rail crossings would be easy.

What does the root cause of an issue have to do with finding a unified solution that serves the greater good? Everything.

Any other discussion just deals with the symptoms. We all know the futility of that approach. What is your hypothesis of a root cause. In a constructive community conversation there are no bad answers nor room for criticism. It is not about being right but finding solutions that are truthful and serve the many.


Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 20, 2018 at 2:50 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 20, 2018 at 2:50 pm

What you call root cause here to me is exceedingly reductionist. To take your line of thinking all the way to its logical conclusion you could say the problem is the fact that we turned farmland and orchards into housing. By not doing that, we would have zero traffic -- and zero residents.

Whatever.

This topic is about avoiding eminent domain by removing hybrid options off the table. Caltrain is going to Caltrain, regardless of the number of jobs in Palo Alto. And oh by the way, the reason why there's an jobs/housing imbalance is the fact that Prop 13 makes commercial development more revenue generating than housing.

What that has to do with a train ROW that predates the founding of Palo Alto is beyond me.


Rainer
Registered user
Mayfield
on Jun 21, 2018 at 11:23 am
Rainer, Mayfield
Registered user
on Jun 21, 2018 at 11:23 am

I saw in the Palo Alto Weekly this excellent contribution. Excellent for discussion, because it is all wrong.:
Web Link">Web Link
Posted by Paly Grad
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 15, 2018 at 10:07 am
There is no good reason to close to Churchill at Alma. Just leave the crossing as it is! Motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians who don't mind waiting a bit will continue to use it. Others who are in a hurry can choose a different route!
This contribution is a classical case where a thread could be / should be started. PAW does not enable threads. Look at NYT, WP, Daly Kos, Quora, who all have good and different ways to allow a thread. PAW why don’t you, the impact of the paper on civil discourse would be larger?
I have worked as a University City Planner a long time ago, during a leave of absence from my PhD work. We did not use any consultants, we went through the problems one-by-one, and did not hide behind consultants we cherry-picked to verify our prejudices; which is my take on the use of consultants in Palo Alto. Cowards! My neighbors and I saw that most clearly me during the scandalous approval of 2555 Park Blvd. And even when pointed to obvious lies, Councilors we approached refused to act
This is what I would have answered to communication #1:
1. No high speed rail system in the whole world (France, Germany, Japan, China, etc.) has same level crossings. For a reason!
2. No HSR anywhere shares tracks with commuter trains, because at 80mph a 8 car train needs 1 mile to stop. That is about 2 minutes. No, it is not linear, since the train slows down; it is more than 1/80 hours. That means for safety the crossing has to close 3 minutes before the HST time of arrival.
3. The train track already divides the city; fter 3PM I will not go anywhere near shops or businesses east of the track. Neither will I visit the self-strangulating San Antonio Shopping Center.
4. Population growth estimates say a) more people, b) a larger percentage has to take public transportation because streets already close to being clogged, and are only passable because people already leave home at 5AM instead of 7AM. That means the people mover part of the track users will have to run at increased frequency. First every half hour, than every 15 minutes, 10 minutes, etc. Consequently the opening times of crossings would go down to a few minutes per hour.
5. Experts know effective use of public transportation depends on a simple, regular, reliable schedule. Otherwise people will think they can beat the time by taking a car.
6. The stupidity of Palo Alto the planning is exacerbated by building a central police station on one side of the rail divide. First of all, it kills community policing. And during rush hours and at lunch time the California Ave are is already self-strangulating. A adding up of parking and trips 3 years showed were short 600 parking spots, [Web Link">Web Link , page 50] by allowing builders to underpark big style, because of paper credits they had.
7. A few years ago several people wrote in PAW, and spoke in Chambers to alternative ways, for example using the Fire Station as local Police locals, Japanese style. Or they gave names of cities who had gone to moving head quarters, based on extensive use of iPads. They were ridiculed in the most abject form by Councilors, I especially remember Larry Klein being vicious. I watched from home, so I could not scream at him.
8. I myself sent the Chief of police articles from 911 (a trade journal). He promised to follow up with those cities. As far as I can tell he did not contact them, he wanted this big building.
My conclusions are:
1. Extending the HSR from LA beyond San Jose is one of the dumbest system things possible. This is as dumb as the general idea of having an LA-SJ-Sacramento connection is smart. The general HSR will help 2 of the most polluted areas in California: pollution from a) car traffic in Central Valley, b) air traffic in the Bay Area. The SJ-SF connection will help nobody, will barely save time for the few people vising Silicon Valley who want to stay in San Francisco.
2. In stupidity it is only matched by the 130M$ spent on the mini bullet train instead of working on a people mover.
3. All local money should go to improving the people mover, like working on dwell time, which requires no steps to get into the train.
4. For the people mover, one should also look at a modern, faster, version of the suspended, 75 dB (at 30 feet), mono rail train like the Wuppertal Germany 120 years old system, leaving the tracks as is for freight trains during the night. The mono rail could be built over El Camino, or over the train tracks.
5. On the dwell time, absurd entrance height requirements (absurd for level entry people movers) of HSR will cost extra money and delay boarding. Let them steam in their own stew if they insist on extending HSR to San Francisco.


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