News

As rail proposals split community, City Council struggles to find a solution

Council members suggest they are not ready to close the Churchill Avenue rail crossing

A partial underpass on Churchill Avenue is one of the options that Palo Alto is considering for the rail crossing. Rendering courtesy city of Palo Alto.

Ever since Palo Alto launched an effort to redesign its rail crossings nearly a decade ago, city leaders have emphasized the need to strengthen east-west connections, improve safety and prepare for a future that includes more trains and worsening traffic jams at places where tracks intersect with local streets.

But picking a solution for "grade separation" at Churchill Avenue, East Meadow Drive and Charleston Road has been a contentious and arduous process. Over the past three years, the city has considered nearly 40 designs for separating the rail tracks from local streets. To date, the council has discarded about three-quarters of them.

Even the most promising options still on the table carry their own problems, complications and uncertainties, a conundrum that the council acknowledged on Tuesday night during a special meeting devoted to grade separation. The discussion was the council's first since the Expanded Community Advisory Panel (XCAP), a specially appointed citizen committee, released a highly anticipated report that evaluated the pros and cons of various design options and recommended a preferred alternative: closing Churchill Avenue to traffic, building an underpass for bicyclists and pedestrians and creating a host of road modifications to relieve traffic conditions at Embarcadero Road and Oregon Expressway — two thoroughfares that would need to accommodate more cars if Churchill is closed.

The release of the XCAP report, which has been in the works since fall 2019, is a major milestone for the city's grade-separation effort, known as Connecting Palo Alto. But if the council's plan is to improve connections throughout the city, the Tuesday meeting made it clear that the planning effort is so far having the opposite effect. Even though the council praised the panel for its report — the product of nearly 50 meetings, considerable technical analysis and dozens of wonky debates — its proposal to close Churchill received a decidedly mixed reception both among council members and in the broader community.

Many in Southgate, a residential neighborhood nestled between Alma Street and El Camino Real, just south of Churchill, see the proposed closure as a measure that would cut off their access to the eastern portion of the city. Steve Carlson, who lives in Southgate, said he and other neighborhood volunteers have sent out surveys to 212 homes in the neighborhood and received responses from 59% of them. Of those who responded, 36% said they favored closure while 56% said they did not, Carlson said.

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"Residents not in favor are concerned about being disconnected from their neighbors and schools directly across the tracks and downtown, resulting in a change in the culture and character of the neighborhood over time," Carlson said.

Susan Newman, who spoke for a group of Southgate residents, also suggested that the closure of Churchill would worsen traffic, both in her neighborhood and at other major streets.

A proposal to close Churchill Avenue includes as a key element the construction of a bike and pedestrian tunnel. Rendering courtesy city of Palo Alto.

"Eliminating Churchill as a way to cross the tracks will add inconvenience and stress to residents' routine trips throughout the day and on weekends by making traffic on El Camino Real, Oregon/Page Mill and Embarcadero that is currently bearable during nonpeak hours more like peak-hour commute traffic," Newman said.

To assuage these concerns, the closure option includes a list of traffic mitigations, including traffic signals and modifications at the Alma overpass at Embarcadero and the addition of a right-turn lane from eastbound Embarcadero to Kingsley Avenue. The mitigations also include a left-turn lane from Alma to Kingsley and a northbound right-turn lane from Oregon to El Camino Real.

In recommending the closure of Churchill by a 6-3 vote, XCAP members concluded that the option is the least expensive of those on the table (it has a price tag of about $65 million, while other options range from about $200 million for the underpass to $400 million for a viaduct) and that it would make the rail crossing both safer and more aesthetically pleasing.

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"It's very clear that the closure is way, way, way less expensive than its alternatives and may well be much more appealing to people who are going to provide the funding, whether it's local funding, state funding or federal funding," said Larry Klein, vice chair of XCAP and one of the six members who favored this option.

Some residents shared that view. Terri Llach, who lives near the tracks, suggested that closing Churchill would have a far less dramatic effect on the area than building "big ditches and viaducts that are ugly and look into someone's home."

"What (the residents in these homes would be) going to go through is just huge in comparison to what a few minutes of extra drive is going to be for other people," Llach said.

The council, for its part, showed little appetite Tuesday for making any decisions about Churchill. Even as council members acknowledged the importance of making progress on grade separations, no one was willing to commit to — or eliminate — any alternatives. Most council members indicated, however, that they are unlikely to support the closure of Churchill unless the city undertakes additional traffic studies and conducts further engineering work on the partial underpass.

Nadia Naik, chair of the panel, acknowledged during the discussion that none of the options is particularly popular. Even though XCAP ultimately voted to recommend the closure of Churchill, it hit a stalemate when deliberating over the two south Palo Alto crossings, where not a single design alternative managed to win support from the majority of the committee. She was one of the three XCAP members — along with Phil Burton and Keith Reckdahl — who dissented in the Churchill vote because they felt further study is warranted.

"There are no super sexy alternatives that people are excited about," Naik said. "Nobody has the one alternative that they know will work financially and is going to work from an engineering standpoint and will leave everybody very happy."

Klein concurred. No one will ever come to Palo Alto to view and praise the city's grade separations, he said.

"It's not going to be a tourist attraction," Klein said. "Whatever the council ultimately decides — or another authority decides for us — it's not going to be something that everyone is excited about."

But while Klein and the XCAP majority concluded that the closure of Churchill is an adequate — if imperfect — option, the council majority felt otherwise. Council member Greer Stone agreed with residents who questioned the city's traffic studies and suggested that the city does not have enough information about how closing the rail crossing at Churchill would impact the city's traffic network.

"I'm really concerned about us redirecting traffic to other areas in Palo Alto, especially streets like Lincoln and other residential streets in that region — and just the ripple effects that it will cause," Stone said.

Vice Mayor Pat Burt noted that the traffic studies only consider traffic levels up to the year 2030, which he argued is not sufficient for a project that is meant to accommodate decades of regional growth. He said that he is "very concerned that the closure of Churchill diminishes it for vehicles" and suggested that the city consider advancing biking improvements — including a new underpass for bicyclists and pedestrians in south Palo Alto — without decreasing access for cars.

South Palo Alto presented the committee with another menu of unappetizing options: trench, viaduct, underpass, a "hybrid" design in which the tracks are raised and the road is lowered and two different tunnel designs. The panel ultimately eliminated both tunnel alternatives from consideration, deeming them too costly. Other options were deemed less than ideal because of high costs (trench), significant property impacts (underpass), engineering challenges (trench) or visual impact (viaduct and hybrid).

While most of the public comments Tuesday focused on Churchill, Mayor Tom DuBois and council member Eric Filseth both suggested that the city should devote more effort on Meadow and Charleston, though neither came out in favor of any of the alternatives on the table.

"The need is so much higher on Charleston and Meadow, just because there's so much traffic on Charleston," Filseth said.

Despite the glacial pace of progress on grade separations, council members, XCAP members and city staff stressed the importance of picking a preferred alternative. Choosing an option would, for one thing, make it possible for the city to apply for grant funding to proceed with design, environmental analysis and, ultimately, construction. And achieving grade separation would both help the city deal with both the projected increase in gate-down time at the crossings once Caltrain expands its service and with ongoing safety problems at the crossings.

XCAP member Gregory Brail cited the high rates of accidents at the Churchill and Charleston crossings, which he said are among the most dangerous in the nation. During the course of the panel's deliberations, Brail noted, one person died at the Churchill crossings and numerous accidents that did not involve injuries occurred elsewhere on the rail corridor.

"Almost nowhere else in the United States are there trains going that fast, passing that many cars and bicycles and, God forbid, high school students," Brail said. "So I think we have to keep in mind that the longer we don't do anything about these grade crossings, the longer we are rolling the dice in having something terrible happen."

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As rail proposals split community, City Council struggles to find a solution

Council members suggest they are not ready to close the Churchill Avenue rail crossing

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Mar 24, 2021, 12:38 am

Ever since Palo Alto launched an effort to redesign its rail crossings nearly a decade ago, city leaders have emphasized the need to strengthen east-west connections, improve safety and prepare for a future that includes more trains and worsening traffic jams at places where tracks intersect with local streets.

But picking a solution for "grade separation" at Churchill Avenue, East Meadow Drive and Charleston Road has been a contentious and arduous process. Over the past three years, the city has considered nearly 40 designs for separating the rail tracks from local streets. To date, the council has discarded about three-quarters of them.

Even the most promising options still on the table carry their own problems, complications and uncertainties, a conundrum that the council acknowledged on Tuesday night during a special meeting devoted to grade separation. The discussion was the council's first since the Expanded Community Advisory Panel (XCAP), a specially appointed citizen committee, released a highly anticipated report that evaluated the pros and cons of various design options and recommended a preferred alternative: closing Churchill Avenue to traffic, building an underpass for bicyclists and pedestrians and creating a host of road modifications to relieve traffic conditions at Embarcadero Road and Oregon Expressway — two thoroughfares that would need to accommodate more cars if Churchill is closed.

The release of the XCAP report, which has been in the works since fall 2019, is a major milestone for the city's grade-separation effort, known as Connecting Palo Alto. But if the council's plan is to improve connections throughout the city, the Tuesday meeting made it clear that the planning effort is so far having the opposite effect. Even though the council praised the panel for its report — the product of nearly 50 meetings, considerable technical analysis and dozens of wonky debates — its proposal to close Churchill received a decidedly mixed reception both among council members and in the broader community.

Many in Southgate, a residential neighborhood nestled between Alma Street and El Camino Real, just south of Churchill, see the proposed closure as a measure that would cut off their access to the eastern portion of the city. Steve Carlson, who lives in Southgate, said he and other neighborhood volunteers have sent out surveys to 212 homes in the neighborhood and received responses from 59% of them. Of those who responded, 36% said they favored closure while 56% said they did not, Carlson said.

"Residents not in favor are concerned about being disconnected from their neighbors and schools directly across the tracks and downtown, resulting in a change in the culture and character of the neighborhood over time," Carlson said.

Susan Newman, who spoke for a group of Southgate residents, also suggested that the closure of Churchill would worsen traffic, both in her neighborhood and at other major streets.

"Eliminating Churchill as a way to cross the tracks will add inconvenience and stress to residents' routine trips throughout the day and on weekends by making traffic on El Camino Real, Oregon/Page Mill and Embarcadero that is currently bearable during nonpeak hours more like peak-hour commute traffic," Newman said.

To assuage these concerns, the closure option includes a list of traffic mitigations, including traffic signals and modifications at the Alma overpass at Embarcadero and the addition of a right-turn lane from eastbound Embarcadero to Kingsley Avenue. The mitigations also include a left-turn lane from Alma to Kingsley and a northbound right-turn lane from Oregon to El Camino Real.

In recommending the closure of Churchill by a 6-3 vote, XCAP members concluded that the option is the least expensive of those on the table (it has a price tag of about $65 million, while other options range from about $200 million for the underpass to $400 million for a viaduct) and that it would make the rail crossing both safer and more aesthetically pleasing.

"It's very clear that the closure is way, way, way less expensive than its alternatives and may well be much more appealing to people who are going to provide the funding, whether it's local funding, state funding or federal funding," said Larry Klein, vice chair of XCAP and one of the six members who favored this option.

Some residents shared that view. Terri Llach, who lives near the tracks, suggested that closing Churchill would have a far less dramatic effect on the area than building "big ditches and viaducts that are ugly and look into someone's home."

"What (the residents in these homes would be) going to go through is just huge in comparison to what a few minutes of extra drive is going to be for other people," Llach said.

The council, for its part, showed little appetite Tuesday for making any decisions about Churchill. Even as council members acknowledged the importance of making progress on grade separations, no one was willing to commit to — or eliminate — any alternatives. Most council members indicated, however, that they are unlikely to support the closure of Churchill unless the city undertakes additional traffic studies and conducts further engineering work on the partial underpass.

Nadia Naik, chair of the panel, acknowledged during the discussion that none of the options is particularly popular. Even though XCAP ultimately voted to recommend the closure of Churchill, it hit a stalemate when deliberating over the two south Palo Alto crossings, where not a single design alternative managed to win support from the majority of the committee. She was one of the three XCAP members — along with Phil Burton and Keith Reckdahl — who dissented in the Churchill vote because they felt further study is warranted.

"There are no super sexy alternatives that people are excited about," Naik said. "Nobody has the one alternative that they know will work financially and is going to work from an engineering standpoint and will leave everybody very happy."

Klein concurred. No one will ever come to Palo Alto to view and praise the city's grade separations, he said.

"It's not going to be a tourist attraction," Klein said. "Whatever the council ultimately decides — or another authority decides for us — it's not going to be something that everyone is excited about."

But while Klein and the XCAP majority concluded that the closure of Churchill is an adequate — if imperfect — option, the council majority felt otherwise. Council member Greer Stone agreed with residents who questioned the city's traffic studies and suggested that the city does not have enough information about how closing the rail crossing at Churchill would impact the city's traffic network.

"I'm really concerned about us redirecting traffic to other areas in Palo Alto, especially streets like Lincoln and other residential streets in that region — and just the ripple effects that it will cause," Stone said.

Vice Mayor Pat Burt noted that the traffic studies only consider traffic levels up to the year 2030, which he argued is not sufficient for a project that is meant to accommodate decades of regional growth. He said that he is "very concerned that the closure of Churchill diminishes it for vehicles" and suggested that the city consider advancing biking improvements — including a new underpass for bicyclists and pedestrians in south Palo Alto — without decreasing access for cars.

South Palo Alto presented the committee with another menu of unappetizing options: trench, viaduct, underpass, a "hybrid" design in which the tracks are raised and the road is lowered and two different tunnel designs. The panel ultimately eliminated both tunnel alternatives from consideration, deeming them too costly. Other options were deemed less than ideal because of high costs (trench), significant property impacts (underpass), engineering challenges (trench) or visual impact (viaduct and hybrid).

While most of the public comments Tuesday focused on Churchill, Mayor Tom DuBois and council member Eric Filseth both suggested that the city should devote more effort on Meadow and Charleston, though neither came out in favor of any of the alternatives on the table.

"The need is so much higher on Charleston and Meadow, just because there's so much traffic on Charleston," Filseth said.

Despite the glacial pace of progress on grade separations, council members, XCAP members and city staff stressed the importance of picking a preferred alternative. Choosing an option would, for one thing, make it possible for the city to apply for grant funding to proceed with design, environmental analysis and, ultimately, construction. And achieving grade separation would both help the city deal with both the projected increase in gate-down time at the crossings once Caltrain expands its service and with ongoing safety problems at the crossings.

XCAP member Gregory Brail cited the high rates of accidents at the Churchill and Charleston crossings, which he said are among the most dangerous in the nation. During the course of the panel's deliberations, Brail noted, one person died at the Churchill crossings and numerous accidents that did not involve injuries occurred elsewhere on the rail corridor.

"Almost nowhere else in the United States are there trains going that fast, passing that many cars and bicycles and, God forbid, high school students," Brail said. "So I think we have to keep in mind that the longer we don't do anything about these grade crossings, the longer we are rolling the dice in having something terrible happen."

Comments

Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2021 at 8:56 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Mar 24, 2021 at 8:56 am

Why is the Alma crossing not part of the discussion? If that were improved traffic flow from south Palo Alto to Stanford would be greatly increased. It is about time to help through traffic from Alma to Sand Hill.

Is it going to be left as the only crossing without any changes?


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 24, 2021 at 9:03 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Mar 24, 2021 at 9:03 am

I saw a underpass created in about a week up in San Bruno where the car rental places are. They shored it up and then created a underpass that was appropriate for cars and SUV's. It was not for big delivery trucks. This can be done. You all need too understand the big busses and big trucks will be required to use Embarcadero, Oregon and San António. You can block them from University. Signage for trucks weight and truck height needs to be posted.


Leslie York
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 24, 2021 at 10:32 am
Leslie York, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Mar 24, 2021 at 10:32 am

The City Council did the right thing by eschewing the closure of Churchill.

Whatever happened to Mike Price's "partial underpass" idea? It seems to have evaporated. I examined it and the only fly I could find in the ointment was that it encroached on the Caltrain right-of-way, which is a strict no-no. I don't know if a redesign would fix that problem and keep it completely off the right-of-way.

Another idea conspicuously absent from these deliberations is the "do-nothing" approach. The "do-nothing" approach would essentially keep the crossing as is except for the addition of quad gates, making it among the cheapest options.

Building a ped/bike underpass is a good idea but is a separate undertaking from eliminating the contention between automobile and train traffic.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 24, 2021 at 11:16 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Mar 24, 2021 at 11:16 am

A traffic light at the Alma entrance from Embarcadero will mitigate practically nothing since maybe 1 out of 60 cars ever uses that entrance. Instead the ridiculously big Botts Dots force them to swerve around them and back into the gridlocked Embarcadero traffic. I've observed this for the 15+ years that I've been stuck in Embarcadero traffic waiting for the mis-timed Paly / Town & Country lights to be fixed.


Evan
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Mar 24, 2021 at 11:23 am
Evan, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Mar 24, 2021 at 11:23 am

I look forward to reading the next 14 studies and meetings that will happen on this topic for the next 20 years. Maybe in 2045, we can finally come to a consensus about to do.

What a joke this town is.


Samuel Jackson
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Mar 24, 2021 at 11:36 am
Samuel Jackson, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Mar 24, 2021 at 11:36 am

Needs to have an asterisk: people are worried about not being able to get everywhere by CAR. This would make it easier or the same to get around by bike and foot. (Crossing Churchill as a pedestrian today sucks).

Make Palo Alto better for non-car transport, and the story looks different!

Demand modeling often doesn't accurately capture induced demand from increased throughput / reduced demand from reduced throughput; many "traffic-pocalypses" never actually materialize.


BGordon
Registered user
Midtown
on Mar 24, 2021 at 11:40 am
BGordon, Midtown
Registered user
on Mar 24, 2021 at 11:40 am

Berlin has attractive viaducts. Some parts are enclosed and the space below is used in many different ways.


WilliamR
Registered user
another community
on Mar 24, 2021 at 12:40 pm
WilliamR, another community
Registered user
on Mar 24, 2021 at 12:40 pm

Leave Churchill open, and do nothing 'structural' (underpass, etc.), but concentrate on safety improvements. Install quad gates for the tracks, move the traffic signal to the west side of the tracks so cars don't wait between the tracks and Alma, perhaps modify the traffic signaling to prevent turns when pedestrians have the Walk signal to keep the intersection clear. If delays from more-frequent trains become a problem, some people will find alternate routes.


Peter C
Registered user
Southgate
on Mar 24, 2021 at 1:58 pm
Peter C, Southgate
Registered user
on Mar 24, 2021 at 1:58 pm

All those train horns haven't managed to prevent dozens of accidents in the years I've lived here. Has the city considered a railroad quiet zone for the Churchill crossing, as Atherton has just done? Web Link.


Leslie York
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 24, 2021 at 4:40 pm
Leslie York, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Mar 24, 2021 at 4:40 pm

"All those train horns haven't managed to prevent dozens of accidents in the years I've lived here."

How many of those non-suicide accidents involved a train, i.e. train vs. car, train vs. ped, train vs. bike? Would those dozens of accidents have occurred in the absence of a train?

ISTR a woman was killed in her car by an oncoming train a couple of years ago. Her husband got out of the car in time to avoid the impact but the woman didn't get out of the car quickly enough, if I recall the details correctly.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 25, 2021 at 3:03 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Mar 25, 2021 at 3:03 pm

We had to laugh at the headline in the other paper "City reaches a crossing: Traffic study will precede a decision."

Fact finding BEFORE a decision! Golly, what a good idea.

Maybe the city could even apply that type of innovative thinking to Casti and do a traffic study BEFORE its decision. Why, the city could even take a similar approach to the proposed Town & Country changes and define Medical/Retail services BEFORE they approve a variance and cycle through review processes.

Who knows where that type of innovation could lead: fewer midnight CC sessions, fewer PTC reviews. less money wasted on consultants and staff time, more satisfactory results,....


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 25, 2021 at 3:08 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Mar 25, 2021 at 3:08 pm

Amazing - PA is struggling with a decision as to what to do. Guess what - not the cities decision. It is Caltrain's decision. Has anyone talked to them? Will some one who is "in Charge' please set up a meeting with Caltrain - explain the problem, the ask what they intend to do about it.


Mary Ruth Leen
Registered user
Midtown
on Mar 25, 2021 at 5:03 pm
Mary Ruth Leen, Midtown
Registered user
on Mar 25, 2021 at 5:03 pm

This closure would affect all of Midtown and those neighborhoods south of Oregon and north of Loma Verde.
Do nothing! That!s the cheapest solution of all!!


Leslie York
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 25, 2021 at 11:40 pm
Leslie York, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Mar 25, 2021 at 11:40 pm

"not the cities decision. It is Caltrain's decision. Has anyone talked to them? Will some one who is "in Charge' please set up a meeting with Caltrain - explain the problem, the ask what they intend to do about it."

Caltrain must approve anything that affects its tracks, right-of-way, stations, or the construction of which would affect its train service such as shoofly tracks. Examples include a tunnel, trench, viaduct, berm, underpass or ramp, etc. Cities may propose grade sep plans to Caltrain who will then approve them or not, but ultimately the cities are responsible for the design, construction and financing. Read up on grade separation in San Carlos and Sunnyvale.

That said, CPA has been spending money studying trenches and tunnels without any idea whether they would meet with Caltrain's approval.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 26, 2021 at 11:21 am
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Mar 26, 2021 at 11:21 am

FYI: Lydia Kou did not know the definition of Train Grade Separation when pressed during her 2016 CC campaign and what she would do. Did not stop her train wreck work on the CC. Real Estate, Attorneys and Tech Stock is what PA CC care about. It's all crow talk and COVID excuses, on and on. How about take some real action like at the corner of the deadly ECR and California . The ECR CAL Ave. The closure is confusing at best with on going luxury housing construction and city soccer field. Traffic backs up to all hours of day and night. This section Lacks warning signals, the intersection reduced by 75% access points taken away by impulsive bad signage, low visibility cones and barriers. Sidewalk signage blowing down and useless -- flimsy non reflective banners blowing around in the middle of ECR. No one is safe until physically within the inside of the East CAL ave street closure. A young boys life was taken a year ago, at this very SW corner...the City turns it's blind eye, except working from computer screens, pushing blame of their inaction onto CalTrans, justifying few cones as helping failing retail commerce as "helping" support what has been lost to early, collective, immediate, organized foresight. Installation of A round-about would be awesome at this ECR 4 way intersection. As it stands now, it's an unsafe mess for on foot workers, near by residents who like to walk to shop, bicycles, families with dogs and strollers and skateboards, scooters ...


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Mar 26, 2021 at 11:28 am
Native to the BAY, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Mar 26, 2021 at 11:28 am

PS One of the simplest ECR / Cal Ave solutions: No right turn on a red light on to ECR from Cal Ave. Instead three cut offs with little warning or visibility.


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2021 at 4:48 pm
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Mar 26, 2021 at 4:48 pm

I greatly respect Larry Klein, do not agree re: Churchill closure low cost. I view Churchill and Embarcadero as the same project. They work systemically. Whatever the city does at Churchill will impact Embarcadero. The true cost of mitigating Churchill closure, including Stanford GUP expansion impacts (not yet approved, but likely will be) and Casti expansion impacts is unknown.

Please direct staff to investigate the aggregate impacts of these major projects and break out the Casti and Stanford contributions to those impacts so that they can be required to pick up some of the cost of their impacts.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 26, 2021 at 6:38 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Mar 26, 2021 at 6:38 pm

@Native to the Bay, totally there are traffic problems but Cal Ave has been closed to through traffic for months because of outdoor dining, Maybe you;re thinking ECR and Oregon Expressway/Page Mill where housing is being built? Or perhaps you mean San Antonio with the huge amount of construction there which often has only a single lane open>

Other ECR problems like the light timing at Embarcadero and Town & Country date back 3 PA Traffic heads ago to the days of Jaime Rodriquez long before Lydia Kuo was elected and DECADES ago was planning on scheduling a meeting with "the big stakeholders -- Stanford, the county and the state since ECR isn't a local road, and others. DECADES later we're still waiting.

Lydia Kuo is one of the few if not the only council member to meet with residents over traffic concerns while others like former Mayor Fine ignored our complaints and former Mayor Kniss denied we even had traffic problems, provoking such amazed outrage the CC had to call a special session and waste our money on yet another useless consultant study.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 26, 2021 at 7:53 pm
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Mar 26, 2021 at 7:53 pm

@Online Name. The closure at Cal Ave for outdoor dining has created more traffic/ped/bike headaches and worry. I live near this spot. Very unsafe before closure and now more so while traversing the in and around this intersection. U turn at Cal Ave and right turns onto ECR from W Cal Ave deadly. Easy fix. Striping and cross walk count down and moving the horrible Clear Channel VTA bus shelter at Well Fargo on ECR. Stupid. There is already an overhanging roof there and just creates more trash and outdoor bathrooms. It's awful and the City has only made it worse with barricades and cones. Make it attractive and inviting. Like I wrote. Once on the inside of the closure barrier is all good. It's being on the outside that's is unsafe beyond. I understand commerce is really hurting in this town. Make it work instead a quick band-aid to appease a few such measures serve.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 26, 2021 at 8:47 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Mar 26, 2021 at 8:47 pm

" The closure is confusing at best with on going luxury housing construction and city soccer field"

Isn't the soccer field and the new housing construction at ECR and Page Mill for the soccer field and Oregon for the housing construction? That's what got me confused.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 26, 2021 at 9:20 pm
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Mar 26, 2021 at 9:20 pm

@online name. The corridor on both sides of ECR and between Oregon/Page Mill and Cal Ave, Palo Alto has been under construction/development for many years (8 yrs orf so?). Including the soccer field. With all the ongoing building there has not been any traffic calming / traffic mitigation. Including only one entrance / exit to City Soccer field. It's the usual. Build with out consideration to increased foot/bike/car travel. I understand ECR is a State Hwy yet MV, RWC,MP and other towns have been able to work to address the ECR scenic state HWY/CalTrans. So if its not Stanfords fault its CalTrans and so on..

It could be that the City of PA just does not know how to facilitate and work with private public partnerships. So vital to getting projects done ... and we are still the only Penisula City that does not charge a business tax. The section of ECR running through our town gets little or no attention.

In fact, the City wants to halt the final phase of the Charleston Arast. project And this only took 17 years to realized and real action taken. As time moves forward work is getting done in front of computer screens and Zoom meetings, emails and Apps. All inaction and pushing the proverbial email around.

I'd suggest the City get this section of the ECR roadway/hwy corridor road upgraded before the public service building goes up on Sherman. I'd like to find out how much power CalTrans actually has or is it just shoving the responsibility on to another badly run government agency.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 26, 2021 at 9:23 pm
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Mar 26, 2021 at 9:23 pm

@online name. The corridor on both sides of ECR and between Oregon/Page Mill and Cal Ave, Palo Alto has been under construction/development for many years (8 yrs orf so?). Including the soccer field. With all the ongoing building there has not been any traffic calming / traffic mitigation. Including only one entrance / exit to City Soccer field. It's the usual. Build with out consideration to increased foot/bike/car travel. I understand ECR is a State Hwy yet MV, RWC, and other towns have been able to work with address the ECR Scenic State HWY/CalTrans or Stanford.

It could be that the City of PA just does not know how to facilitate and work with private public partnerships. So vital to getting projects done ... and we are still the only Penisula City that does not charge a business tax. The section of ECR running through our town gets little or no attention.

In fact, the City wants to halt the final phase of the Charleston Arast. project And this only took 17 years to realized and real action taken. As time moves forward work is getting done in front of computer screens and Zoom meetings, emails and Apps. All inaction and pushing the proverbial email around.

I'd suggest the City get this section of the ECR roadway/hwy corridor road upgraded before the public service building goes up on Sherman. I'd like to find out how much power CalTrans actually has or is it just shoving the responsibility on to another badly run government agency.


Shameful conduct of PTC
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 27, 2021 at 2:17 pm
Shameful conduct of PTC, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Mar 27, 2021 at 2:17 pm

The Palo Alto process has run amok again after four years of city Council approval, consultant traffic studies and hundreds of thousands of dollars the city council decides to do nothing about Churchill. There were hundreds of hours spent by a committee to come up with a decision about the great separation in town. They were tasked with making a decision and eliminating various options to present to city Council. They have produced 153 page report which the city Council had set up to do a study session on Tuesday night. There was no study session, there were two members of the committee one the chairman who was against the decision and the other Larry Klein who presented the vote for the decision the decision was 6 to 3 in favor of Churchel closure with mitigations. The mitigations were definitely part of the churchill or closure proposal and the city Council did not even look at them, not once. They had lots of criticism about the process, peoples rights, more traffic but not once did they actually look at the traffic studies that they had paid for by a EECOM. Disgusting how city can waste $$$$ and staff time and not even “study” the basis for XCAP DECISION s.basically won’t make a decision. I hope Caldrons does what it finds necessary to do for safety reasons and to improve the rail corridor. As we will have more suicides, cars stuck on tracks and unsafe conditions for Paly students, I wonder who is speaking on their behalf.system


William Hitchens
Registered user
Mountain View
on Mar 30, 2021 at 3:10 pm
William Hitchens, Mountain View
Registered user
on Mar 30, 2021 at 3:10 pm

Increased Caltrain traffic due to electrification alone justifies putting full grade separations at Charleston, East Meadow, Alma at El Camino and probably at Churchill. If the Churchill grade separation does not allow entrance and exit to and from Alma, then this will just force traffic to detour through Old Palo Alto to get from Alma to Churchill and vice versa.

As for the mythical Bullet Train rolling disaster? Its chance of ever coming near the Peninsula on Caltrain tracks is nil to zero within our lifetimes. If it's ever built, and that's very questionable, then it'll probably stop at Gilroy or Morgan Hill and transfer passengers to Caltrain expresses. If it comes further, then San Jose Diridon is its furthest possible practical terminus.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 31, 2021 at 10:07 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Mar 31, 2021 at 10:07 am

A large article on the HSR discussed some of the issues which impede the development of the HSR. Start with the fact that a foreign company is doing the building. That is a big WHY. They are complaining that that state is not buying up property fast enough. That is LAND Grab. If you look at all of the people who are involved in this venture which directly affects our rails you are looking at a bunch who are busy destructing the inner CA agricultural riches. If they were going to do this correctly they should have had Bechtel come in and manage this job - or some other American Company. We need to make sure that we have some control over what ever process takes place on the peninsula and US Companies the are people doing the jobs.


Leslie York
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 1, 2021 at 2:53 pm
Leslie York, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Apr 1, 2021 at 2:53 pm

Speaking of HSR, I don't think we'll ever know for certain how much "influence" was exerted over der Gubernator, Cash-and-Carry Jerry and Newsom, but we do hear rumors. They all seem to champion HSR just a little too much. We do know that Gubernator was wined and dined on a trip abroad to see bullet trains in action and he even got to DRIVE a choo-choo! He was all aglow over HSR when he returned from his trip.

The fact remains that in 2021, if you want to go from the bay area to soCal in a red-hot hurry you jump on an airplane, saving the state from building this multi-billion-dollar boondoggle.

California has not seen its last water shortage, guaranteed. It would be a much wiser investment to build some desalination plants than to build a passenger rail service which is guaranteed to lose money. Wisdom seems to be in short supply in Sacramento when "influence" checks are being handed out.


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