Menlo Park City Council Email Log

[ Home ] [ City Council ] [ Search ] [ 05/06 Archive ] [ 07/08 Archive ] [ 09/10 Archive ] [ 2011 Archive ] [ 12/13 Archive ] [ Watch City Council Meetings ]

Re: Menlo Park grade separations viaduct

From: domainremoved <Adrian>
Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2017 07:50:59 -0700

As I expected, it appears the most likely passing track alternative to be
chosen will span San Mateo to Redwood City. If Menlo can keep the viaduct
to 2 tracks, it will be that much easier and more viable.


Passing tracks could have the greatest impact in San Mateo County. The two
alternatives are to either not create a new set of additional tracks, or to
add nearly 6 miles where high-speed rail trains could pass Caltrain
vehicles that are slower and make more frequent stops. The proposed passing
tracks — the only in this northern San Jose to San Francisco segment —
would span from about Ninth Avenue in San Mateo to Whipple Avenue in
Redwood City, Alley said.

That stretch includes the cities of Belmont and San Carlos.

- See more at:

On Sunday, April 2, 2017, Adrian Brandt <adrian.brandt_at_(domainremoved)

> Adina, thanks for forwarding that excerpt (highlighted in yellow
> below) from the latest Ravenswood staff report.
> Regarding 0.5-0.6% maximum grade the most recent staff report cites
> <https://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/View/13307> in ruling out a
> viaduct ... let them show their calculations, assumptions, and constraints!
> Some distances measured from San Francisquito Creek Bridge where the
> tracks *are already many feet higher than Ravenswood* crossing ... which
> is easy to see as both the tracks (and even part of Alma) are on a
> downslope nearly the entire distance from the creek to Ravenswood:
> • 2,000 feet to the nearest point of the crossover approximately even with
> Burgess Drive
> • 2,300 feet to the furthest point of the crossover (i.e. the crossover is
> 300 feet long)
> • 3,700 feet to Ravenswood
> Even if you keep to the most conservative 0.5% grade across the entire
> 3,700 feet, you can only rise (or fall) 18.5 feet (from level) across 3,700
> feet. This means to get tracks 25 feet over Ravenswood, you'd have to duck
> the road down 6.5 feet. HOWEVER, I'm almost certain the tracks at San
> Francisquito are ALREADY at least 6.5 feet higher than they are at
> Ravenswood. Voila! So even with a 0.5% grade, you can now easily get the
> tracks up to 25 feet over Ravenswood ... without even dipping the road!
> If any part of that 3,700 feet can be 0.6% as the staff report suggests,
> achieving the 25-foot track height over Ravenswood becomes even easier.
> And, failing all of that ... it's also possible the crossover could be
> moved at a nearly insignificant cost of the entire project budget) since
> tracks will be under major construction anyway.
> Staff and/or Caltrain can confirm how many feet lower the tracks *already
> are* at Ravenswood with respect the San Fracisquito Creek Bridge.
> So far, it seems anyone genuinely interested in pursuing the
> feasibility of a viaduct could easily make it work. If, as I suspect, it's
> political kryptonite, then it naturally becomes quite easy to seize on and
> allude to one or more "technical" reasons why it's impossible. Much easier
> that way.
> Regards,
> Adrian Brandt
> On Sun, Apr 2, 2017 at 11:09 AM, Adina Levin <aldeivnian_at_(domainremoved)
> <javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml','aldeivnian_at_(domainremoved)
>> https://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/View/13307
>> Previous grade separation studies conducted by the City of Menlo Park
>> have analyzed the feasibility of a range of grade separation options
>> including trenching or tunneling the railroad tracks and raising the
>> railroad tracks into a viaduct. The previously completed 2003-2004 grade
>> separation study narrowed the feasible PAGE 4 Staff Report #: 17-079-CC
>> City of Menlo Park 701 Laurel St., Menlo Park, CA 94025 tel 650-330-6600
>> <(650)%20330-6600> www.menlopark.org options and found the trench/tunnel
>> and viaduct options to be infeasible within the City limits without having
>> hybrid variations at multiple crossings. This was due to Caltrain’s
>> required design criteria (which accommodate rail freight operations in the
>> corridor), which limit grade changes to a maximum one (1) percent.
>> However, the current study has further explored grade changes in the
>> corridor and has found that the existing rail infrastructure within the
>> project area, including crossover track equipment near Burgess Park and the
>> Menlo Park Station platforms, further limit railroad grade changes. The
>> preliminary concepts prepared for this study show grade changes to be
>> limited to a maximum of between 0.5 and 0.6 percent in the area of and due
>> to these physical constraints, well below Caltrain’s current design
>> requirements. This eliminates the feasibility of a trench/tunnel and
>> viaduct options within Menlo Park.
> On Thu, Mar 23, 2017 at 1:15 PM, Adrian Brandt <adrian.brandt_at_(domainremoved)
> <javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml','adrian.brandt_at_(domainremoved)
>> Here's a bit more on why if Encinal is either closed (or dipped under
>> tracks "hybrid style") a viaduct alternative appears imminently feasible —
>> even with a 1% maximum grade.
>> Of course, if the maximum allowable grade is increased, everything only
>> becomes easier and cheaper due to the resulting shortened minimum necessary
>> ramping distances.
>> Measuring out the "ramping distances" between Atherton and Glenwood is
>> simple for anyone using the measure distance tool in Google Maps
>> <https://support.google.com/maps/answer/1628031?hl=en&co=GENIE>.
>> Measuring northbound along the tracks from Glenwood Ave., anyone can
>> easily confirm it's:
>> • 1,000+ feet to Encinal Ave.
>> • 2,100+ feet to nearest edge of Holbrook-Palmer Park
>> • 2,500+ feet to the Atherton city limit line
>> <https://goo.gl/maps/RSRXU3wkqWp> (red line in image below)
>> • 2,700+ feet to Watkins Ave.
>> Sloping down at 1% toward Atherton from 25-foot high tracks over
>> Glenwood, you'd be down to:
>> • 15 feet high at Encinal (25 ft - (1,000 ft * 1%))
>> • 4 feet at nearest edge of H-P Park (25 ft - (2,100 ft * 1%))
>> • 0 feet (at-grade / ground-level) at Spruce Ave and northward to Watkins
>> So this perfectly satisfies the constraint of returning the tracks to
>> "at-grade" (ground level) within Atherton's city limits.
>> Since the tracks are 15 feet up across Encinal, you can either close
>> Encinal or just be duck it down a few feet and, voila!, you have
>> grade-separation #4 and a 25-foot viaduct over Glenwood, Oak Grove and
>> Ravenswood without any re-grading of any approaching or surrounding streets
>> or sidewalks.
>> Adrian
>> [image: Inline image 1]
>> On Thu, Mar 23, 2017 at 1:05 AM, Adrian Brandt <adrian.brandt_at_(domainremoved)
>> <javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml','adrian.brandt_at_(domainremoved)
>>> Regarding Caltrain and CA HSRA's requirement that your project designs
>>> do not preclude the future addition of a 3rd track: it appears that only 1
>>> of the 4 passing track alternatives under consideration involves Menlo Park
>>> (see "*Middle 3 Track*" on page 28
>>> <http://www.hsr.ca.gov/docs/programs/statewide_rail/proj_sections/SanFran_SanJose/San_Francisco_CWG_PPT_020217.pdf>, and
>>> depicted below).
>>> It is my understanding that HSRA will choose only one of the 4
>>> alternatives in the near future. Provided they do not choose "Middle 3
>>> Track", then it's quite possible you may be relieved of this requirement.
>>> [image: Inline image 1]
>>> On Thu, Mar 23, 2017 at 12:32 AM, Adrian Brandt <adrian.brandt_at_(domainremoved)
>>> <javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml','adrian.brandt_at_(domainremoved)
>>>> Honorable Councilmembers,
>>>> I am just now watching the recorded video of your February 7, 2017,
>>>> study session on the Ravenswood Grade Separation Project
>>>> <http://www.menlopark.org/169/Ravenswood-Avenue-railroad-crossing-proj>
>>>> with staff project manager Angela Obeso and consultants from AECOM.
>>>> Councilmember Carlton asked a question on behalf of an unnamed "a
>>>> former mayor" as to why the fully elevated (i.e. viaduct) alternative was
>>>> eliminated from consideration.
>>>> The answer provided was that due to the 1% maximum grade limitation,
>>>> there was insufficient ramp-up distance from the Palo Alto side to achieve
>>>> a 25-foot track elevation at Ravenswood. And that, similarly, there was
>>>> insufficient ramp-down distance between Glenwood Ave. and Atherton to
>>>> return the tracks to ground-level. (Atherton opposes any track elevation.)
>>>> As per this article on railroad grades and curves
>>>> <http://trn.trains.com/railroads/abcs-of-railroading/2006/05/grades-and-curves>,
>>>> a 1% grade exists when a track rises (or falls) 1 foot per 100 feet. This
>>>> means for a track to rise or fall 25 feet at a 1% grade requires 2,500 feet
>>>> (1% of 2,500 feet).
>>>> The track distance from the San Francisquito Creek bridge to Ravenswood
>>>> Ave. is over 3,600 feet, and the distance from Glenwood to Atherton's
>>>> Watkins Ave. crossing at over 2,700 feet.
>>>> So, clearly, there *is* more than enough "ramping" space to
>>>> grade-separate Ravenswood, Oak Grove and Glenwood with a 25-foot high open
>>>> viaduct while returning the tracks to ground level at Holbrook-Palmer Park
>>>> in Atherton to the north and at the San Francisquito Creek Bridge to the
>>>> south.
>>>> Note that the foregoing means that tracks will be sloping low across
>>>> Encinal (the least trafficked Menlo Park grade crossing), which must
>>>> therefore either be closed or dipped down a bit ("hybrid style") in order
>>>> to provide a fourth grade separation there too.
>>>> This is an exciting possibility worthy of further study because it
>>>> functionally provides a high degree of openness and connectivity across
>>>> (under) the elevated tracks for much of its length ... allowing for
>>>> landscaping and/or bike/ped paths alongside or underneath ... while also
>>>> eliminating *all four* of Menlo Park's at-grade crossings and
>>>> eliminating the need to change road or driveway elevations in the vicinity
>>>> of Ravenswood, Alma, Merrill, Oak Grove or Glenwood, thereby allowing for
>>>> maximum bicycle/pedestrian friendly and safe streetscaping.
>>>> The historic Menlo Park station can stay right where it is, as occurred
>>>> with the historic San Carlos station during their multi-street grade
>>>> separation project in the 1990s.
>>>> Respectfully and with kind regards,
>>>> Adrian Brandt
>>>> Redwood City (Menlo Park native)
>>>> [image: Inline image 1]
>>>> [image: Inline image 2]

(image/png attachment: image.png)

(image/png attachment: 02-image.png)

(image/png attachment: 03-image.png)

(image/png attachment: 04-image.png)

Received on Wed Apr 05 2017 - 07:56:52 PDT

[ Search ] [ By Date ] [ By Message ] [ By Subject ] [ By Author ]

Email communications sent to the City Council are public records. This site is an archive of emails received by the City Council at its city.council_at_(domainremoved)