News

Plan for train viaduct hits dead end in Palo Alto

City left with three alternatives for Charleston and Meadow rail crossings

The proposed viaduct would have stretched from Loma Verde to Ferne avenues in south Palo Alto. Rendering courtesy city of Palo Alto.

Faced with few good options for redesigning south Palo Alto's two rail crossings, the City Council agreed Monday to eliminate what they deemed to be the worst of the bunch: a viaduct that would elevate the railroad tracks over Charleston Road and Meadow Drive.

The council's decision to eliminate the viaduct from consideration followed an extensive debate about the pros and cons of all four alternatives that were still on the table for grade separation — the redesign of rail crossings so that the roads and the tracks would no longer intersect.

The elimination of the viaduct leaves the council with three alternatives to choose from: digging a trench for trains between Loma Verde Avenue and the San Antonio Caltrain station in Mountain View; constructing an underpass for drivers and bicyclists under the rail tracks; and advancing a "hybrid" design that combines raising the tracks and lowering the roads.

In debating its options for the two southern crossings, the council agreed that each is flawed in its own way. The trench, while the most popular alternative, is also the most expensive and, from an engineering perspective, the most complex one. It has an estimated price tag of $800 million to $900 million and it would take six years to construct. To build the trench, the city would need to divert Barron and Adobe creeks through siphons and lift stations and pump groundwater along the entire length of the alignment, which would stretch from just south of Loma Verde Avenue to just north of the San Antonio Caltrain station.

The underpass, while less expensive and more politically palatable, has its own problems. It would require more property seizures than the other alternatives and it entails a host of new turning restrictions from Meadow, Charleston, Park Boulevard and Alma Street, including elimination of through traffic on Park Boulevard near East Meadow. To accommodate vehicular traffic, the design for the underpass calls for a roundabout with two lanes on East Charleston Road, west of Mumford Place.

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The hybrid, which would create earthen berms for trains, is also relatively unpopular. Mayor Tom DuBois was one of several council members who proposed eliminating the hybrid along with the viaduct, though his colleagues generally agreed to keep it on the list, citing the uncertainties swirling around all the other options.

By a 6-1 vote, the council agreed to eliminate the viaduct and to direct city staff to further refine the underpass alternative, with the goal of addressing its shortcomings when it comes to traffic circulation. The council also directed staff to move ahead with a geotechnical study for the trench option, a step that city staff noted usually occurs later in the design process.

Council member Alison Cormack, the sole dissenter, suggested that it's premature to eliminate the viaduct, an option that she noted appears to fulfill many of the objectives that the council had adopted for its multiyear planning process on grade separations.

For the council, the Monday action represents a rare step forward in the multiyear process of winnowing down its grade separation options. In recent years, the council has consistently failed to meet its approved deadlines for selecting preferred alternatives for the city's four grade crossings: Palo Alto Avenue, Churchill Avenue, Meadow and Charleston. The Expanded Community Advisory Panel (XCAP), a citizens group that the council appointed to aide it in the selection process, had recommended closing Churchill to cars. Palo Alto Avenue, meanwhile, will be explored as part of a broader downtown plan.

The two southern crossings, meanwhile, have befuddled both the citizens panel and the council. The committee could not reach consensus on which alternatives to support for Charleston and Meadow, with none of them mustering more than three votes. They only agreed on gathering more information before endorsing any option. The XCAP report noted that every alternative has negatives and that there was "no enthusiasm for any particular one."

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"While neighborhood opposition to the above ground solutions — the hybrid and the viaduct — was vociferous and near unanimous, there was also recognition that the trench, tunnel and underpass have serious challenges," the group's final report stated.

The proposed design for south Palo Alto underpasses includes a roundabout on Charleston Road with two lanes of traffic. Rendering courtesy city of Palo Alto.

Keith Reckdahl, who served on the committee and who lives in Charleston Meadows, urged the council on Monday to eliminate both elevated alternatives — the viaduct and the hybrid — from consideration. His neighborhood, he said, "almost uniformly opposes elevated alternatives because they would drastically change the neighborhood's quality of life."

Other residents voiced similar sentiments at recent public hearings and in letters to the council.

"Large concrete viaducts and overpasses are ugly and not compatible with a residential neighborhood in a green community," wrote Deborah Ju, who lives on Whitclem Drive, close to the Charleston Road crossing. "Palo Alto would be embarrassed and ashamed by such a structure and future generations will wonder how in the world a City full of smart engineers let this happen."

In addition to removing the viaduct from consideration, the council agreed that the city should advance bike projects, including an underpass near Loma Verde, that would allow bicyclists to cross the tracks during the extensive construction period.

Vice Mayor Pat Burt and council member Eric Filseth both said they would support moving ahead with bike improvements in advance of the broader grade separation project.

"With half of our kids biking to school every day, we need to get a bike and pedestrian plan in place early, before we proceed and potentially shut down major pieces of the current bike and pedestrian infrastructure for a period of multiple years while construction goes on," Filseth said.

The city's effort to redesign the tracks, which began roughly a decade ago and which has proceeded in fits and starts, aims to both improve safety along the tracks and to address the long traffic delays that are projected to occur on and around Alma Street once Caltrain completes its effort to electrify its train service and adds more trains to its fleet.

The effort received a boost with the passage of Measure B in 2016. The Santa Clara County tax measure dedicated $700 million for grade separation in Palo Alto, Mountain View and Sunnyvale. The three cities recently agreed to split the amount based on the number of rail crossings in each jurisdiction. Palo Alto, which has four crossings, would get half of the total sum under the agreement, while Mountain View and Sunnyvale, which have two crossings, would each get 25%.

While the recent agreement between the cities have alleviated some local anxieties about funding for grade separation, the council broadly acknowledged that it would need to pick an alternative before it could access the county cash or apply for state and federal grants.

Both Burt and DuBois also suggested they are unlikely to support the hybrid, which Burt described as "an earthen wall separating the two halves of Palo Alto in that area," the council agreed to keep this option in the mix.

DuBois, who made the motion to eliminate both the viaduct and the hybrid, said both designs go "fairly high into the sky" and have fairly low public support.

"I'm pretty convinced I don't think those options are going to be supported by the community," DuBois said.

Others were more hesitant to abandon the hybrid, which is the cheapest option on the table, with an estimated cost ranging from $190 million to $230 million (the underpass would cost between $340 million and $420 million). Cormack and Filseth both suggested that given its comparatively low costs — and the many unanswered questions pertaining to the other options — eliminating the hybrid would be premature.

Council member Lydia Kou, meanwhile, supported further evaluating the trench option and getting a second opinion on the potential cost of this alternative. The council adopted her suggestion by a 6-1 vote, with Cormack dissenting.

"At this time, it is necessary to find ways to make sure that options do work," Kou said. "If a trench is the way to work and cost is the only thing that's standing (in the way), and there are questions about the costs presented to us, we should have a second opinion on that."

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Plan for train viaduct hits dead end in Palo Alto

City left with three alternatives for Charleston and Meadow rail crossings

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Aug 23, 2021, 11:52 pm

Faced with few good options for redesigning south Palo Alto's two rail crossings, the City Council agreed Monday to eliminate what they deemed to be the worst of the bunch: a viaduct that would elevate the railroad tracks over Charleston Road and Meadow Drive.

The council's decision to eliminate the viaduct from consideration followed an extensive debate about the pros and cons of all four alternatives that were still on the table for grade separation — the redesign of rail crossings so that the roads and the tracks would no longer intersect.

The elimination of the viaduct leaves the council with three alternatives to choose from: digging a trench for trains between Loma Verde Avenue and the San Antonio Caltrain station in Mountain View; constructing an underpass for drivers and bicyclists under the rail tracks; and advancing a "hybrid" design that combines raising the tracks and lowering the roads.

In debating its options for the two southern crossings, the council agreed that each is flawed in its own way. The trench, while the most popular alternative, is also the most expensive and, from an engineering perspective, the most complex one. It has an estimated price tag of $800 million to $900 million and it would take six years to construct. To build the trench, the city would need to divert Barron and Adobe creeks through siphons and lift stations and pump groundwater along the entire length of the alignment, which would stretch from just south of Loma Verde Avenue to just north of the San Antonio Caltrain station.

The underpass, while less expensive and more politically palatable, has its own problems. It would require more property seizures than the other alternatives and it entails a host of new turning restrictions from Meadow, Charleston, Park Boulevard and Alma Street, including elimination of through traffic on Park Boulevard near East Meadow. To accommodate vehicular traffic, the design for the underpass calls for a roundabout with two lanes on East Charleston Road, west of Mumford Place.

The hybrid, which would create earthen berms for trains, is also relatively unpopular. Mayor Tom DuBois was one of several council members who proposed eliminating the hybrid along with the viaduct, though his colleagues generally agreed to keep it on the list, citing the uncertainties swirling around all the other options.

By a 6-1 vote, the council agreed to eliminate the viaduct and to direct city staff to further refine the underpass alternative, with the goal of addressing its shortcomings when it comes to traffic circulation. The council also directed staff to move ahead with a geotechnical study for the trench option, a step that city staff noted usually occurs later in the design process.

Council member Alison Cormack, the sole dissenter, suggested that it's premature to eliminate the viaduct, an option that she noted appears to fulfill many of the objectives that the council had adopted for its multiyear planning process on grade separations.

For the council, the Monday action represents a rare step forward in the multiyear process of winnowing down its grade separation options. In recent years, the council has consistently failed to meet its approved deadlines for selecting preferred alternatives for the city's four grade crossings: Palo Alto Avenue, Churchill Avenue, Meadow and Charleston. The Expanded Community Advisory Panel (XCAP), a citizens group that the council appointed to aide it in the selection process, had recommended closing Churchill to cars. Palo Alto Avenue, meanwhile, will be explored as part of a broader downtown plan.

The two southern crossings, meanwhile, have befuddled both the citizens panel and the council. The committee could not reach consensus on which alternatives to support for Charleston and Meadow, with none of them mustering more than three votes. They only agreed on gathering more information before endorsing any option. The XCAP report noted that every alternative has negatives and that there was "no enthusiasm for any particular one."

"While neighborhood opposition to the above ground solutions — the hybrid and the viaduct — was vociferous and near unanimous, there was also recognition that the trench, tunnel and underpass have serious challenges," the group's final report stated.

Keith Reckdahl, who served on the committee and who lives in Charleston Meadows, urged the council on Monday to eliminate both elevated alternatives — the viaduct and the hybrid — from consideration. His neighborhood, he said, "almost uniformly opposes elevated alternatives because they would drastically change the neighborhood's quality of life."

Other residents voiced similar sentiments at recent public hearings and in letters to the council.

"Large concrete viaducts and overpasses are ugly and not compatible with a residential neighborhood in a green community," wrote Deborah Ju, who lives on Whitclem Drive, close to the Charleston Road crossing. "Palo Alto would be embarrassed and ashamed by such a structure and future generations will wonder how in the world a City full of smart engineers let this happen."

In addition to removing the viaduct from consideration, the council agreed that the city should advance bike projects, including an underpass near Loma Verde, that would allow bicyclists to cross the tracks during the extensive construction period.

Vice Mayor Pat Burt and council member Eric Filseth both said they would support moving ahead with bike improvements in advance of the broader grade separation project.

"With half of our kids biking to school every day, we need to get a bike and pedestrian plan in place early, before we proceed and potentially shut down major pieces of the current bike and pedestrian infrastructure for a period of multiple years while construction goes on," Filseth said.

The city's effort to redesign the tracks, which began roughly a decade ago and which has proceeded in fits and starts, aims to both improve safety along the tracks and to address the long traffic delays that are projected to occur on and around Alma Street once Caltrain completes its effort to electrify its train service and adds more trains to its fleet.

The effort received a boost with the passage of Measure B in 2016. The Santa Clara County tax measure dedicated $700 million for grade separation in Palo Alto, Mountain View and Sunnyvale. The three cities recently agreed to split the amount based on the number of rail crossings in each jurisdiction. Palo Alto, which has four crossings, would get half of the total sum under the agreement, while Mountain View and Sunnyvale, which have two crossings, would each get 25%.

While the recent agreement between the cities have alleviated some local anxieties about funding for grade separation, the council broadly acknowledged that it would need to pick an alternative before it could access the county cash or apply for state and federal grants.

Both Burt and DuBois also suggested they are unlikely to support the hybrid, which Burt described as "an earthen wall separating the two halves of Palo Alto in that area," the council agreed to keep this option in the mix.

DuBois, who made the motion to eliminate both the viaduct and the hybrid, said both designs go "fairly high into the sky" and have fairly low public support.

"I'm pretty convinced I don't think those options are going to be supported by the community," DuBois said.

Others were more hesitant to abandon the hybrid, which is the cheapest option on the table, with an estimated cost ranging from $190 million to $230 million (the underpass would cost between $340 million and $420 million). Cormack and Filseth both suggested that given its comparatively low costs — and the many unanswered questions pertaining to the other options — eliminating the hybrid would be premature.

Council member Lydia Kou, meanwhile, supported further evaluating the trench option and getting a second opinion on the potential cost of this alternative. The council adopted her suggestion by a 6-1 vote, with Cormack dissenting.

"At this time, it is necessary to find ways to make sure that options do work," Kou said. "If a trench is the way to work and cost is the only thing that's standing (in the way), and there are questions about the costs presented to us, we should have a second opinion on that."

Comments

Cedric de La Beaujardiere
Registered user
Barron Park
on Aug 24, 2021 at 3:28 am
Cedric de La Beaujardiere, Barron Park
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2021 at 3:28 am

Removal of the Viaduct option is a disaster, in my opinion. Residents along the track have mostly been opposed to the elevated options and are cheering tonight, but I predict they will ultimately be disappointed by the outcome.

Rail neighbors have generally been advocating for trench or tunnel, which were both insanely expensive, approaching and exceeding a billion dollars, respectively. I hope I'm wrong but I think it's unlikely that another economic analysis by a different firm will substantially reduce the price tag, and even if it does, will the savings persist through construction, or be eaten up by the usual cost over runs?

The trench has multiple major flaws:
1) PRICE: enormous $800M cost noted above
2) CREEK: Matadero and Adobe creeks will both need to be pumped over or under the trench. We've already severely mistreated the creeks by sticking them in concrete channels. We should be restoring the ecological damage of our forefathers, not making it worse. Anyone who cares about the health of our waterways should be vocal in their concerns about these impacts of the Trench option.
3) TREES: the Trench walls require ground anchors to keep them in place and protecting these anchors will require removal of many trees along the trench and prohibit new ones from being planted. In addition to the environmental degradation of losing this much canopy, this will be a huge visual impact for the neighbors. The trees in view from my backyard are a blessing and the neighbors will mourn the loss of their trees.
4) VIEWS: As a lifelong rail rider, the segments in tunnels are generally not as interesting visually as the at-grade or elevated segments. Below-grading the tracks will degrade the riding experience.


Cedric de La Beaujardiere
Registered user
Barron Park
on Aug 24, 2021 at 3:29 am
Cedric de La Beaujardiere, Barron Park
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2021 at 3:29 am

The Underpass option is a mess: unsafe for bikes, terrible flow for cars, and requires a few people to lose their homes to a big roundabout. It's only an option due to the (IMHO misguided) opposition to the Viaduct. If you care about your biking or driving experience along Meadow or Charleston you really need to look at the Underpass and let people know what you find.

The Hybrid was my 2nd choice, because it is less expensive than the other choices and less disruptive to travel. But the Hybrid is elevated on a berm or a wall, whereas the Viaduct is elevated on pillars and open underneath. The Hybrid is like the San Carlos rail crossings. Another difference is that the Viaduct alignment would have shifted the train tracks 30 feet further away from the houses along Park (this was actually my suggestion because it permitted the viaduct to be constructed while an existing track stayed in service, reducing construction time, costs, and impacts to Alma). So with the Hybrid, even if the segment between Meadow and Charleston can be put on a slightly less-tall viaduct, it will be closer to the homes than the original Viaduct would have been. If the Hybrid stays on a berm or wall (which is cheaper to construct) this continuous plane will propagate more surface vibration from the trains to adjacent buildings than the viaduct would with its discrete pillars (though the Hybrid would have less surface vibration than the at-grade trains).

The Viaduct would be less expensive than the Trench, less noisy than the current trains, the least vibration, much shorter construction time and little or no permanent impacts to Alma, no impacts on the creeks, and the best traffic flow through the intersections. In my opinion it was the best option and I'm sorry to see it go.


Keri
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Aug 24, 2021 at 3:30 am
Keri, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2021 at 3:30 am

Thank you Council Members for eliminating the viaduct option, which would completely sever our city from east to west. The viaduct option has NO support from any neighborhoods near the rail line. Let's work toward a solution that will benefit the city, enhance our neighborhoods, and improve access for cars, bikes, and pedestrians.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2021 at 8:17 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2021 at 8:17 am

What strikes me is that when this was first discussed a decade ago, the council at the time was very different to the council we have now. When this is finally decided, the council will probably be equally different, and they will take the credit.

The people who make this decision should not be unqualified elected officials, but ultimately should be the experts, the professionals, the qualified, and those who put their professional credentials on the line. Our council members cannot be trusted to make decisions on this that they have no qualifications and no experience to do so. They are much more likely to be in the pocket of the various developers and are quite likely to be aspiring to greater office or to end up being nobodies when their term is up.


William Hitchens
Registered user
Mountain View
on Aug 24, 2021 at 11:25 am
William Hitchens, Mountain View
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2021 at 11:25 am

Just like a viaduct, the trench option is a hugely expensive and ugly non-starter . So that leaves only properly designed non-hybrid or hybrid underpasses at Charleston and East Meadow. Personally, I prefer the underpass option because the train tracks can be left at grade, just as at the Page Mill and University Ave underpasses.

Complaints about disruption to pedestrian and bicycle traffic can be addressed by installing temporary (or permanent?) pedestrian and bicycle only grade separation crossings at convenient locations away from the construction sites before construction begins, either tunnels or bridges. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Personally, I don't like ped/bike tunnels due to security concerns because bad guys can hide in them.


Anonymous
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Aug 24, 2021 at 11:54 am
Anonymous, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2021 at 11:54 am

I really fail to see why grade separation is needed at all. If there turn out to be too many trains, the rail crossings at Churchill, Meadow and Charleston can simply be closed for vehicle traffic and new bridges and/or underpasses can be built for pedestrians and bicycles. There are already underpasses for vehicles at University, Embarcadero, Oregon Expressway, and an overpass at San Antonio. They should suffice. Not only a lot of money can be saved this way, but the traffic in many residential neighborhoods can also be reduced.


valorie25
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 24, 2021 at 12:55 pm
valorie25, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2021 at 12:55 pm

What's wrong with what we have now? It works. And, has for decades. Why are we looking for ways to bankrupt the city or pay huge interest payments for eternity.


BGordon
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 24, 2021 at 1:38 pm
BGordon, Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2021 at 1:38 pm

I agree with Cedric. Worldwide there are many examples of attractive viaducts that manage sound. And having parkland over your back fence would be a big improvement over having Caltrain thundering so close.


Jeremy Erman
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 24, 2021 at 1:51 pm
Jeremy Erman, Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2021 at 1:51 pm

I don't understand why public officials insist all the train crossing need to be rebuilt. It's not because of fears of electrocution from a third rail (the connectors would be high up in the air, as I understand it) but because people worry that the train schedules would be so busy they would disrupt traffic. But we have no idea what the train schedules will be in the future, and at least one crossing, Palo Alto Avenue, does not seem physically capable of being rebuilt or even widened where it crosses the creek.

Isn't there a way to time light changes on Alma Expressway so they more or less fit into the train schedule? People worry that there will be trains every 6 minutes or something, but lights usually turn red faster than that, so can't the timings be integrated to keep traffic flowing?


Reid
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 24, 2021 at 2:28 pm
Reid, Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2021 at 2:28 pm

This is a huge mistake. From my understanding from attending these meetings in person two years back, the viaduct option was one of the easiest to construct and least disruptive, despite being slightly more expensive than the hybrid option. The viaduct option was also the most flexible. Bike lanes can be widened or rerouted as needed in the future. Once you dig an underpass, the cost to change it is immense. The viaduct also created the option to have a parallel set of tracks running at ground level.

Regarding Deborah Ju's comments, I would say that proper, safe mass transit is what is most compatible with residential, green neighborhoods. Elaborate, expensive underground earthworks that exist mainly to facilitate crosstown car traffic are not compatible with a green neighborhood.


Me 2
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 24, 2021 at 2:32 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2021 at 2:32 pm

"The people who make this decision should not be unqualified elected officials, but ultimately should be the experts, the professionals, the qualified, and those who put their professional credentials on the line. "

Great. Are you suggesting leaning on technocrats who don't answer to residents? And who gets to decide who's the expert?


mickie winkler
Registered user
University South
on Aug 24, 2021 at 2:35 pm
mickie winkler, University South
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2021 at 2:35 pm

I can't believe that this City Council opted for six years--(6!)-- of construction on Alma.


JC
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Aug 24, 2021 at 5:16 pm
JC, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2021 at 5:16 pm

This is crazy - we already have a city bisected by railroad tracks with NOISY trains blaring their horns. We can elevate with quieter electric trains and use landscaping to soften the look AND maybe create some parkland underneath AND it is cheaper. Win Win Win!. But we have a council that is afraid to offend the people who want the rest of us to subsidize their "view" and prevent their false assumption that an elevated tract will be noisy and ugly. Well I object to paying hundreds of millions of dollars to placate their false desires.....


Leslie York
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 24, 2021 at 5:33 pm
Leslie York, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2021 at 5:33 pm

Palo Alto continues to pursue a rail trench WITHOUT ANY GUIDANCE from Caltrain.

How does Caltrain feel about having its tracks, trains and two stations submerged, and only in Palo Alto? How will a trench be kept dry? Electric pumps do fail — CPA is proof of this. Burlingame studied a trench/tunnel and abandoned the idea; keeping a trench dry was a major concern. There is no natural drainage along the ROW. Palo Alto is the only peninsula city even considering a submerged solution. If Caltrain (PCJPB) as owners of the ROW say "no" then it's game over for the trench. It wouldn't matter what this or that councilperson or committee member prefers if PCJPB nixes the idea. First reach out to Caltrain (PCJPB) and feel them out about a rail trench in Palo Alto before studying it any further.

A viaduct would have been very controversial and would likely have failed at the ballot box.

"What's wrong with what we have now? It works. And has for decades. Why are we looking for ways to bankrupt the city or pay huge interest payments for eternity?"

"I don't understand why public officials insist all the train crossing need to be rebuilt ... because people worry that the train schedules would be so busy they would disrupt traffic. But we have no idea what the train schedules will be in the future"

The City has been suckered into believing the P.R. put out by Caltrain and CAHSRA. A train every six minutes with ridership down 90%? That doesn't pass the sniff test.

Grade separation in Palo Alto has been studied to death for about 10 years by three different engineering firms and several private citizens, and no one has come up with a solution that's satisfactory in every way. What does this tell us?

The big secret is that after a decade of study, there is no satisfactory solution for grade separation in Palo Alto. What we have now is time tested and works without spending millions of dollars and without disruptive construction.


Ray
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2021 at 9:36 am
Ray, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 25, 2021 at 9:36 am

This is why other countries can build extensive rail networks and high speed rail and it takes decades and major cost overruns to do anything here, too many nimbys and too many cooks in the kitchen.

The cheapest and best options eliminated because people want to micromanage specialty designs for their neighborhood even though the current crossings are ugly , dangerous, and disruptive to traffic. literally any replacement would be better. But no, let’s spend another decade bickering and driving more delays and cost overruns.

For the same reason, we’re having a housing crisis in CA, because no one wants any new construction near their homes or any changes to traffic, or the view, or anything.

I mean, good lord, the crossing at the rear of Paly is a disasterous jam in mornings and afternoons, a wall of bikes and cars trying to squeeze through, grade separation is obviously needed as the traffic in Palo Alto is much higher than when the Railroad crossings were originally built.

The perfect is the enemy of the good.


BGordon
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 25, 2021 at 9:59 am
BGordon, Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 25, 2021 at 9:59 am

A viaduct would have fewer vehicle accidents and suicides.


Reality Check
Registered user
another community
on Aug 25, 2021 at 10:27 am
Reality Check, another community
Registered user
on Aug 25, 2021 at 10:27 am

Beginning in just a few days (August 30), Caltrain will begin running 4 trains per hour per direction during 3-hour a.m. and p.m. weekday peak periods. So that’s 8 trains per every 60 minutes, or every 7.5 minutes on average.

More complete details and the actual schedules are linked here: Web Link


Leslie York
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2021 at 3:58 pm
Leslie York, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 25, 2021 at 3:58 pm

"Beginning in just a few days (August 30), Caltrain will begin running 4 trains per hour per direction during 3-hour a.m. and p.m. weekday peak periods. So that’s 8 trains per every 60 minutes, or every 7.5 minutes on average."

Will those trains be occupied anywhere near capacity or will they be more empty than full (less than 50%)? It's a valid question.

If the trains are sparsely occupied, it would make sense to run fewer trains.


Old Steve
Registered user
St. Claire Gardens
on Aug 25, 2021 at 4:26 pm
Old Steve, St. Claire Gardens
Registered user
on Aug 25, 2021 at 4:26 pm

We've travelled on Caltrain a couple of times recently. Other than masking up the whole ride, not much different than earlier baseball seasons. Also less drinking now. It would be correct, in January or so to evaluate ridership again. Since the operation of electric trains has been delayed by supply chain and other issues, demand forecasts may indeed get adjusted. Just remember, the original reason for beginning grade separation discussions was related to pedestrian safety around the tracks. Since 2008, Caltrain has moved forward on Electrification, CAHSR has moved forward on new tracks in the Central Valley, and Palo Alto is still struggling to move forward with old ideas. So much for being really smart, as in: How many highly educated residents does it take to jam up simple civil engineering concepts?


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