Caltrain officials plan to host a public meeting on Tuesday to discuss upcoming construction at its two stations in Palo Alto.
The construction is part of the Caltrain Modernization Program, an ongoing project to replace Caltrain's diesel-hauled trains with electric ones by 2022. The electric trains are expected to improve system performance and reduce the environmental impact and average commute times.
The meeting will address concerns from residents about the impacts of the construction on the surrounding community and provide more insight into the goals and scope of the project, Caltrain said in a press release.
In the next few months, construction is expected to begin on concrete foundations for overhead poles and a paralleling station, which will help power the electric trains. The foundation for the poles will be placed along the corridor and will be completed in three months. The paralleling station will be located on Caltrain property south of Page Mill Road and is expected to take up to eight months, according to Caltrain spokesman Alex Eisenhart. In the fall, Caltrain will start installing the poles and building a bridge barrier.
These construction projects may impact the commute for local residents. "There is a potential for some grade crossing closures to facilitate foundation installation," Eisenhart said in an email. "This would be during the evening and only a few nights for each crossing."
With more trains slated to run up and down the corridor (Caltrain's draft business plan assumes having between six and 10 trains running per hour, in addition to four high-speed rail trains), Palo Alto and other cities along the corridor have been crafting plans to redesign rail crossings. The City Council has a goal of choosing its preferred alternative for "grade separation" — the physical separation of the tracks from local streets at four grade crossings — by this fall.
Efforts to redesign the city's rail corridor have been a controversial issue in recent years, with some residents advocating for a train tunnel and others protesting against any grade-separation options that would require property takings. The tunnel alternative, which is by far the most expensive one on the table, officially stalled last month in the face of financial and structural challenges. The projects have also faced pushback from residents concerned about construction diverting traffic flow onto residential streets.
The public meeting is set for Tuesday, June 4, at 6:30 p.m. in the Embarcadero Room of the Rinconada Library located at 1213 Newell Road. More information on the modernization project can be found at calmod.org.