News

Palo Alto punts decisions on rail redesign, adds $500K to budget

Council moves timeline as city faces uncertainty over designs, funding

Palo Alto's tortuous effort to choose new designs for its four rail crossings shifted yet again this week when City Council members agreed to push the timeline for a decision until October and to set up a new working group to consider the big question of funding.

Convening for the first time as the Rail Committee of the Whole, council members voted 4-0 on Monday night to once again delay its looming decision over what's known as "grade separation," the physical separation of surface roads from the railroad tracks at the four crossings where they intersect. The committee also agreed to add $500,000 to its contract with the engineering firm Aecom, which is managing the process.

In shifting the city's schedule for choosing an alternative, the four members of the committee — Chair Adrian Fine and council members Alison Cormack, Tom DuBois and Lydia Kou (Greg Tanaka was absent while Mayor Eric Filseth and Councilwoman Liz Kniss were both recused) — tacitly acknowledged that the process of getting to a decision is far more complex than city leaders had initially thought. In early 2018, the council had set as its goal the selection of a preferred alternative for grade separation by the end of that year, a deadline that it failed to meet.

Three months into 2019, the decision remains elusive. On Monday, City Manager Ed Shikada proposed two options: moving the timeline to June or October. In choosing the latter option, the committee acknowledged the magnitude of the decision, which could cost more than $1 billion and which everyone agreed requires far more traffic analysis and community outreach.

Those points were underscored at Monday's meeting, where dozens of residents attended to offer their own ideas and request more study of the seven options currently on the table. Some urged council members to eliminate all options that could involve property seizures. Other said they were concerned about the proposal to close Churchill Avenue to traffic, which they argued would shift more cars to the Professorville neighborhood. Several residents of Professorville also chafed at a recent traffic analysis of this option, which did not consider the intersection of Emerson Street and Embaradero Road (even Shikada noted that the study needs more work).

The closure of Churchill is one of six proposals currently on the table in the city's grade-separation discussion (the council had previously agreed to pull the northernmost crossing, Palo Alto Avenue, out of the discussion and to consider it as part of a Downtown Specific Plan). The options include a tunnel in south Palo Alto; closure of Churchilll; a citywide tunnel; and three alternatives for the Meadow Drive and Charleston Road options: a trench, a viaduct and a "hybrid" that involves the lowering of the roads and the raising of the tracks.

The biggest change in the process that the rail committee approved on Monday is the new working group, which will likely include local businesses, representatives from Stanford Research Park and members of the current "community working group" that is working with consultants on analyzing grade-separation alternatives. DuBois argued that such a group would be necessary to conduct the necessary outreach and get "buy-in" from the community for a possible ballot measure to fund any chosen alternative.

While council members had often alluded to the prospect of a business tax in 2020 to pay for grade separation, some in the business community protested on Monday about their exclusion from the discussion.

Judy Kleinberg, president of the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, urged the council not to make any decisions about funding for grade separations until it hears from local businesses. To date, she said the chamber and business community members "have not been asked to participate in discussions on either grade separations or how to fund them."

Council members also agreed that the city needs to do far more outreach, including polling and focus groups, before it reaches the critical decision. Cormack urged the creation of a "dynamic model" that will allow residents to weigh the trade-offs between different alternatives.

"I'm not going to be prepared to make a decision to support a final decision on an alternative unless I understand how likely the community is to support a financing program for it," Cormack said.

The funding plan is further complicated by uncertainty over regional funding. The city, along with Mountain View and Sunnyvale, is eligible for a portion of $700 million in funding from the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority's Measure B, a tax measure that voters passed in 2016. City officials have long acknowledged that Palo Alto is far behind the other cities in getting to an option (Mountain View has already prepared its environmental documents and is set to receive $31 million for its projects at the Castro Street and Rengstorff Avenue crossings), which may make it harder for it to receive bond funding.

Last week, Shikada requested $4 million from the VTA to support the city's ongoing efforts: $1 million to support a "coordinated area plan" around the Palo Alto Avenue crossing and $3 million for work at the Churchill Avenue, Charleston Road and Meadow Drive crossings.

Shikada noted that residents' preferred grade separation alternative may depend on other funding sources.

"We will get great polling results if someone else is picking up the tab," Shikada said. "At the same time, if there were a share and we need to narrow the assumption on the share that could be a general tax for Palo Alto taxpayers, that might very well change the outcome."

Shikada also noted that assembling the new working group will be a complex endeavor that will require more staff work and expenditures. Even so, DuBois argued that creating a new group is a critical step to getting community buy-in.

"A working group is a key issue," DuBois said. "How will we get to something that a community will support?"

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Comments

10 people like this
Posted by Just wait for the flood
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 20, 2019 at 10:34 am

Just wait for the flood is a registered user.

They push out decisions on the train that is imminent but move forward with plans to deal with the rising sea levels that might affect the city sometime in the mid to late century.

If it's green, politicians will do just about anything. They'll all be long gone by the time the water hits 101


25 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 20, 2019 at 10:46 am

More delays will just increase the costs of all the options and decrease the possibility of funding the more expensive options.


15 people like this
Posted by Dennis Smith
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 20, 2019 at 10:50 am

For a rough estimate on tunnel costs, assume $2 billion cost, 50,000 residents of Palo Alto. That means $40,000 per person. Probably not worth the City's time in considering a tunnel as part of "... the big question of funding."


14 people like this
Posted by We can wait
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 20, 2019 at 11:03 am

No problem, the world will wait for palo alto. Filséth has more important things to do like preventing implementation of SB50


14 people like this
Posted by How do we get there from here?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 20, 2019 at 12:17 pm

How do we get there from here? is a registered user.

The Citizen Advisory Panel (CAP) was a misnomer from the start since they weren't allowed to "advise" on anything. I went to a meeting once and the consultant told them they can't make recommendations as a group- so what was the point? It seems like the City and consultants were just trying to act like they got input, when really, they just want to do whatever they want and is easier....

The CAP was made up of people living right up against the tracks - how can that be the right group to make recommendations?

This new Working Group will delay things but it is much better to have a group that includes businesses, Stanford and the residents - and even better that they are required to come up with a consensus recommendation (that was in the motion Monday night).

People keep complaining this is taking too long - but this project (or rather these projects) are HUGE. They need to strike a balance between what is fundable and what the community will accept.

Most people wanted the tunnel, but if it costs billions AND requires taking people's homes, then people won't vote for it. The trench runs into the creeks and the sea level rise people who spoke before the rail issue on Monday night said it would be a significant impact to ground water. That only leaves elevated options and if that's what we're left with - then it will take careful planning to make that the nicest possible elevated train - especially if we are going to pay for it.

I like the idea of the business community and Stanford helping with this problem, but how much money can they put in? Does anyone know where they've explained how much can be raised by taxes?


14 people like this
Posted by Davis Fields
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 20, 2019 at 12:19 pm

Another delay for MORE study and MORE debate? The slowness of this process is incomprehensible. Other cities are marching ahead and, as pointed out in the article, claiming some of the funding that might have been available to Palo Alto - and, of course, nothing about the design and construction work is getting cheaper. What can we do to get this project on track? (Pun intended!)


6 people like this
Posted by It’s So Simple
a resident of University South
on Mar 20, 2019 at 1:14 pm

Sounds like the city council came to the realization that HL Mencken warned about, “for every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, clear and wrong”. Of course many posters think the rail solution is simple and clear, if only everyone else will just see the light and agree with their solution and then pay for it.


17 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 20, 2019 at 2:52 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

There's an important point that I think might have been missed.

Not only is Caltrain fully loaded at the moment, but the 20-30% extra capacity that will be added by electrification is also pretty much spoken for, by Stanford and transit-oriented developments that are already under way elsewhere.

SB 50 (and some other unlimited-growth measures under consideration) depend on a dramatic increase in the use of mass transit. The only way this can happen for Caltrain is to increase the number of tracks, and in fact exactly that has been proposed. I gather we'll learn more about it in Caltrain's 2040 business plan that's under development.

That means two-track-only plans for tunnels or trenches, like the ones we have on the table now, are dead on arrival. Nadia Naik referred to this issue during the public comments, but she might have been a little too subtle.


2 people like this
Posted by RalphE
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 20, 2019 at 6:28 pm

As someone else has previously pointed out, if you did not allow turns on and off of Alma street at 3 of the train crossings, you could get a lot more cars across the tracks in the limited time that you have. Pedestrians in the crosswalks slow down the turning process. Put in some pedestrian tunnels.


10 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 20, 2019 at 7:17 pm

Delay is the sensible thing to do because there is no urgency to rush and build something that we won't need. Caltrain's rider projections are vaporware, much like HSR's. If the day comes that Palo Alto residents complain that the Meadow, Charleston, and Churchill crossings are too congested, the city council should consider the options at that time. We're not at that point and we may never be at that point.

One thing we can all agree on is more bike / ped crossings. Hundreds of kids cross the tracks each day at Meadow and Charleston, and it would be a safety and congestion improvement for everyone (drivers included!) to get those kids onto a separate bike / ped overpass (or underpass). That's what the council should focus on -- the problem that exists today, not the imaginary problem that may or may not exist sometime in the future.


21 people like this
Posted by Tim
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 20, 2019 at 7:22 pm

Goodness, the notion of a completly appropriate business tax is spoken at a council meeting! The problem, way too many people commuting to PA to work, and thanks to this council, more are on the way as a result of lifting that commercial development cap, is self evident. As such, they should, indeed must, help pay for the fix.


9 people like this
Posted by Tim
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 20, 2019 at 8:03 pm

The big winner: AECOM. They have been paid pretty well, beyond $1M I think, and it would seem have not helped the city come towards anything resembling a concensus, let alone a solution.

The big looser: PA residents. Delays increase the likelihood that the VTA funds PA is counting on get spent elsewhere on projects that are actually happening. And then what?


8 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Mar 20, 2019 at 9:14 pm

Analysis paralysis / leaders unwilling to take a stand

Most people could see that the most expensive alternatives are not feasible but council has been unable to tell that to the small faction who whine about everything.

The whiners are never going to be satisfied. Just move on and let hem have their hissy fit. The sooner they are told no, the sooner they will get over it.


18 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 20, 2019 at 10:18 pm

A rare wise move by Palo Alto City Council. Caltrain electrification will probably never be completed.

Like Hawaii's HART and California's CalHSR, PCJPB's Caltrain electrification will go way over budget. Unfortunately for PCJCP the taxpayers have lost their patients with these rail boondoggles and neither the taxpayers nor the federal government are going to be blackmailed into paying 2-3x the initial budget for this obsolete technology.

The contractors that received the sweetheart contracts for this boondoggle are already revising their plans to suck as money as possible out of the initial budget knowing that it will never be completed and never have to actually function.

Unfortunately, Hawaii's HART, California's CalHSR, and PCJPB's Caltrain electrification have never been about transportation. They have always been first and foremost a way to funnel taxpayer dollars through connected contractors and into the political campaign coffers of developer friendly politicians.

Like HART and CalHSR, Caltrain electrification is sadly just another real-estate scam.


1 person likes this
Posted by WhatAboutHSR
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 21, 2019 at 8:14 am

With all these planning on grade separation, do they put high speed rail in consideration at all. The last thing I want is to spend so much effort, time and money, to do the grade separation and later we have to repeat/redo for high speed rail in the future.


2 people like this
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of another community
on Mar 21, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Reality Check is a registered user.

@WhatAboutHSR: By prior agreement (and law), HSR will use the same tracks as Caltrain on the Peninsula. Caltrain will and must ensure all current and future projects on its right of way – including electrification, grade-separations, and passing tracks – are HSR compatible.


4 people like this
Posted by TBM
a resident of another community
on Mar 21, 2019 at 4:56 pm

@ "Caltrain will and must ensure all current and future projects on its right of way – including electrification, grade-separations, and passing tracks – are HSR compatible."

Yes. Even before the electrification poles were in the ground, the High Speed Rail Authority paid Caltrain $1 million to re-locate them:

"CHSRA Early Pole Relocation: Relocation of 196 OCS poles as part of PCEP.
Implementing these pole relocations minimizes future cost and construction
impacts. This scope is funded by the CHSRA." Web Link

There is no way Caltrain/HSR will ever agree to a two track tunnel. Just ask them.


16 people like this
Posted by Mathews of Yongstown
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 21, 2019 at 6:42 pm

I say wait.
Something better will come along. Rushing never helps.


10 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 21, 2019 at 7:44 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Justifying SB50 on the basis that Palo Alto is transit rich is a political hoax.


12 people like this
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 21, 2019 at 7:52 pm

All of the options are unattractive. They're either technically infeasible or too expensive or face too much citizen opposition. It's a no-win situation.

HSR is dead and the coming onslaught of demand for Caltrain is likely vaporware.

Leaving the crossings as they've been for decades is an attractive option. Maybe install quad gates. Install crossing cams to snap photos of cars that are in the crossings when they shouldn't be.

I don't think anybody would be unhappy with that decision, except AECOM.


10 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 22, 2019 at 7:45 am

Annette is a registered user.

There are many contradictions emanating from CC (the majority), the State, and ourselves.

We are told we are transit rich but in fact there's a transit deficit and time-sucking highway gridlock.

We have had serious issues with grade separation for years yet we postpone decisions about that.

We need public support for whatever rail decision is made yet public meetings have been wheel-spinning exercises.

We need housing yet we removed the downtown cap, favoring commercial development.

We need affordable housing badly yet the thrust is for workforce housing.

A justification for lifting parking restrictions is that people in the planned housing will use public transportation or alternative modes of transportation yet there's no reliable evidence of that and empirical evidence suggests otherwise.

We bemoan GHG yet overlook that when it comes to development, particularly commercial development.

We pride ourselves on being green, require residents to sort all waste, yet make no demands on companies to reduce their landfill-filling packaging or politicians to forego wasteful, environmentally unfriendly glossy fliers and copious amounts of junk mail.

We are in this housing/transportation mess largely b/c of rampant approval of unmitigated commercial development approved by development oriented CC majorities, yet we re-elect the same people and expect them to solve the big fat problem that they constantly feed.

Lots of problems, not a lot of good solutions, but one thing is clear: it is ludicrous to think that problem creators are the right people to legislate solutions. If they were, our problems would not be consistently getting worse. I think we need to vote much more carefully and to also support leaders who are willing to take a stand against bad "solutions" such as our mayor recently did regarding SB50.


5 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2019 at 2:05 pm

Posted by Maurice, a resident of Old Palo Alto

>> HSR is dead and the coming onslaught of demand for Caltrain is likely vaporware.

I assume that you mean that HSR won't be coming to the Peninsula any time soon. I agree. HSR is planned to be completed between Merced and Bakersfield and at this point will have to integrate with Amtrak. That could bring "125" service to parts of existing routes (pretty fast for those segments, if you're familiar with that speed in Europe; not nearly as fast as originally planned HSR). Web Link

>> Leaving the crossings as they've been for decades is an attractive option. Maybe install quad gates. Install crossing cams to snap photos of cars that are in the crossings when they shouldn't be.

Agree with that.


3 people like this
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 22, 2019 at 4:42 pm

OK, so Palo Alto sells bonds, raises property taxes and spends billions on whatever grade-separation scheme, the ROW is electrified but Caltrain doesn't significantly increase rush-hour service, at least not enough to justify billions for grade separation. At the same time, HSR is nowhere in view on the peninsula. So CPA has been suckered out of billions for this grand traffic jam that never materializes.

If Palo Alto grade separates, the ROW will have to be electrified twice. The first time will be at Caltrain's (JPB's) expense like all other peninsula cities. Once Palo Alto builds its trench/tunnel/viaduct/hybrids, whatever, the new construction will have to be electrified a second time at CPA's expense, adding millions to the cost to Palo Alto residents. If Palo Alto were already grade separated, as is the case in San Carlos, the entire cost of electrification would be borne by JPB. The city would not have to pay again to electrify new construction.

Not doing grade separation and better managing traffic on surface streets seems to be the better option.


1 person likes this
Posted by TBM
a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2019 at 12:55 am

@Maurice

The obvious solution is to not spend $billions.
Spend a mere $100 million on a simple road underpass like every other city is doing Web Link .
Low cost, low risk, no need to re-build rail electrification.

In China they can wait for the traffic jam to materialize and then fix it because it only takes 10 months to do a grade separation. In the US it takes 10 years to do a grade separation, so either the problem needs to be imagined in advance, or everyone is held back by gridlock for 10 years while a solution is being litigated.


18 people like this
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 23, 2019 at 2:03 am

"Spend a mere $100 million on a simple road underpass like every other city is doing"

That was studied for Palo Alto years ago. It would require taking numerous private residences through eminent domain at several million dollars apiece.

Try to keep up.

If there were a simple solution that would please everybody, why do you think it's taking years and costing the half-million dollars the city just paid the engineering firm?


Like this comment
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 23, 2019 at 2:43 am

A citywide tunnel would be unbelievably expensive, i.e. multi billions, due to engineering hurdles having mainly to do with water tables and creek crossings. There is also the non-trivial challenge of bringing the trains back to grade before they reach the northern city limit/county line.

Last time I checked, the northern half of Palo Alto starting at Embarcadero is already grade separated. So why spend billions tunneling under ROW that is already grade separated?

How does JPB, owners of the rail infrastructure, feel about this citywide tunnel plan?

That a citywide tunnel is still under consideration at all is testament to the abject ignorance of the rail committee.


1 person likes this
Posted by TBM
a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2019 at 2:59 am

Taking numerous private residences at several million a piece adds only few tens of millions to the cost.

The real estate that is acquired by the city is not lost, the vacant lots with severed road access can be combined and re-developed as multi-family apartments, thereby achieving grade separations and increasing the cities housing density.

Lowering the road 7 feet and raising the rails 10 feet is the optimal low cost solution.


4 people like this
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 23, 2019 at 3:14 am

"Lowering the road 7 feet and raising the rails 10 feet is the optimal low cost solution."

How long have you worked for AECOM?

In your last post you were touting a "simple road underpass". So which is it, the hybrid crossing or the underpass?

Good luck dealing with the public furor over displacing families from their homes and selling an "ugly hybrid crossing that divides the city". We've heard it all before.

And good luck getting an unpopular grade sep scheme to pass at the ballot box when it comes time to finance the project.


1 person likes this
Posted by TBM
a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2019 at 4:21 am

I'm not trying to sell anything. It is a scientific fact that the least expensive grade separation option will be some combination of lowering the road and raising the rail.

If you are worried that traffic jams may fail materialize, choosing the lowest cost grade separation option is the prudent way to proceed.

The rail crossings are owned by the Public Utilities Commission, so ultimately they can use State sovereignty to impose the low-cost grade separation option on Palo Alto.


6 people like this
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 23, 2019 at 6:10 am

The lowest-cost option is to do nothing and leave the crossings at grade.

CPUC forcing CPA to spend millions on grade separation when the existing configuration works at a cost of 0 will make for an interesting court battle.


1 person likes this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 23, 2019 at 6:50 am

Annette is a registered user.

Stanford didn't become a top university by accident. Stanford gets things done and its built environment is much more sensible and attractive than Palo Alto's. And per the GUP, the university's projected growth will essentially absorb the added capacity projected for CalTrain following electrification. This means the train resource is a Stanford issue every bit as much as it is a Palo Alto issue. And Stanford has numerous world class engineering departments. Instead of, or in addition to, spending mega dollars on consultants, why not engage our neighbor's expertise?

Maybe doing nothing is the right call. I don't know but it makes no sense to me that other communities can advance on this and Palo Alto cannot. Cormack's comments suggest to me that politics is at least part of the answer as to why this city cannot make a decision about this. And why we have the problems we have.

Our inability to reach a conclusion on rail and our failure to build in a balanced way so as to avoid being in the crosshairs of housing advocates eager to eliminate local control is the equivalent of a very bad report card. And yet we constantly pat ourselves on the back and tell ourselves what a stellar example we are. To the world! I think it's time we get over ourselves and accomplish a few things.


4 people like this
Posted by It’s So Simple
a resident of University South
on Mar 23, 2019 at 9:02 am

Beware of TBM’s “facts”.
It is a fact that the grade crossings are not owned by the PUC, although they have certain authority to review changes. The land is owned by Caltrain.
Also, the lowest cost option was estimated to be around $175M each, five years ago. The current consultants expect the cost to be much higher. And the example in his link appears to be an underpass rather than a hybrid.
Lastly’ there is not “no way” HSR and Caltrain will agree to a two track option. There is a half truth to that claim though. Caltrain is currently reviewing their business/strategic plan. The highest growth scenario could include four tracks in south Palo Alto for “passing”. We won’t know the answer to whether they will chose that plan for a couple of months at best. That is why the staff and consultant plan to make a decision next month on Charleston/Meadow made no sense and was reckless or uninformed. Thanks to the council for recognizing that problem. To date, no evaluation has been made of the comparative cost or impacts of four track alternatives. And we don’t know if HSR or Caltrain will be sharing the additional costs if they impose four tracks in south PA. Another key reason why it is not nearly as easy as everyone assumes for their “easy solution”.


3 people like this
Posted by TBM
a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2019 at 9:11 am

@ " Stanford has numerous world class engineering departments."

It's not a problem of engineering.
The problem is a fractured socio-political environment with a propensity for litigation. Stanford has no solution for that.
Stanford get things done right because within its own grounds it is a socialist dictatorship with loads of cash.


Like this comment
Posted by TBM
a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2019 at 9:39 am

@ "grade crossings are not owned by the PUC, although they have certain authority to review changes."

They don't own the land directly but they effectively own the crossing:
-----
The commission has the EXCLUSIVE power ... to alter, relocate, or abolish by physical closing any crossing: Web Link
-----


Like this comment
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 23, 2019 at 10:01 am

JPB owns the right of way. They have the authority to approve or reject any grade-separation scheme CPA or any city comes up with. If it needs to have four tracks then so be it.

Fact is, CPA is so far away from making any kind of decision on grade sep, having spun its wheels and dragged its a** for so many years, that JPB will have long since finalized its business/strategic plan by the time CPA figures out which way is "up".

Enter Gavin Newsom. It remains to be seen whether his decision to kill this section of HSR will stick or whether it will be litigated and come back to life. So JPB faces some uncertainty over whether the "blended approach" on the peninsula (HSR using Caltrain tracks) will remain dead and buried forever. This will certainly factor into their planning.


Like this comment
Posted by TBM
a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2019 at 10:52 am

@ "It remains to be seen whether his decision to kill this section of HSR will stick or whether it will be litigated and come back to life."

The High Speed Rail Authority asserts that there has been no change to the 2018 business plan: Web Link

Only a state wide ballot can override the statuary obligation for HSR to terminate at Transbay Terminal (eventually).


Like this comment
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 23, 2019 at 12:59 pm

"Only a state wide ballot can override the statuary obligation for HSR to terminate at Transbay Terminal (eventually)."

If Newsom were smart he would have HSR re-voted.


2 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 23, 2019 at 2:09 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

Follow-up information on the "four tracks" issue...

Under the "moderate growth" scenario, there would be a four-track station expansion at Palo Alto, California Ave, San Antonio or Mountain View. California Ave is the one used in the current analysis.

Under the "high growth" scenario, there would be a new four-track segment somewhere between Palo Alto and Mountain View stations. California Ave to north of Mountain View is the area used in the current analysis.

For a good introduction to the current version of the plan, see Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 23, 2019 at 4:34 pm

"For a good introduction to the current version of the plan, see" Web Link

Is this the one that is currently being revised? Is it expected to change in the next few months?


2 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 23, 2019 at 4:49 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

@Maurice: Yes, it will keep changing for a while yet.


2 people like this
Posted by It’s So Simple
a resident of University South
on Mar 23, 2019 at 5:44 pm

@TBM
Actually the PUC has the authority to approve, reject or require modifications to grade separations based on safety issues. That is their purview and that is how it has worked on every grade separation on the Caltrain corridor for some time. They do not design, fund or even initiate a project, although they do now administer supplemental funding under Section 190. Unfortunately, the PUC will not rule on the safety of a separation design until one is settled on by the lead agency, the city.
Caltrain’s primary focus is its operational needs and they want to assure that separations initiated by the cities do no constrain their plans which are yet to be determined as Allen Aikin notes above.
The cities are the lead agencies in designing and funding grade separations on the Caltrain corridor, not Caltrain or the PUC.
Just a reminder, there are still 41 at grade crossings on the Caltrain corridor. Most of those have not even begun a process to design a separation. However, Charleston, Meadow and Churchill are ranked by the FRA as among the highest safety risks of any in the state.
It’s all so simple.


Like this comment
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 23, 2019 at 6:19 pm

"Charleston, Meadow and Churchill are ranked by the FRA as among the highest safety risks of any in the state."

Where does the safety risk lie, aside from people intentionally walking in front of moving trains or the occasional car winding up on the tracks due to a faulty nav system in the car?

I can't remember any car vs. train incidents when I was a student at Paly high decades ago.


1 person likes this
Posted by Michael
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 23, 2019 at 9:58 pm

Palo Alto should take the prudent, measured course and wait for plate tectonics to solve this issue. Frankly, it is politically impossible, just as BART down the peninsula was in the 1960s. High speed rail will never happen along this corridor. Perhaps, something along I280 or over the Bay will bypass this problem along with Palo Alto, too.


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

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