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Re: Menlo Park grade separations viaduct

From: domainremoved <Adrian>
Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2017 23:09:20 -0700

Hi Mickie and all,

As mentioned, I was unable to attend tonight's meeting ... I'm back home
now and upon seeing your email, I checked the "Watch Public Meetings
<http://menlopark.org/694/Watch-public-meetings>" area of the
city's website, but didn't see video there yet. Maybe it's too soon, so
I'll check back in a day or so.

You mentioned you heard it was not possible, for reasons that are unclear,
for the tracks to be on a viaduct across Ravenswood. Those reasons need to
be laid out clearly in printed form with basic diagrams and elevation/slope
calculations along with whatever assumptions or constraints are being
claimed to apply.

As you know from my prior emails, I see no reason why or how this would be
since there are just over 3,700 feet (see image below) between the San
Francisquito Creek bridge and Ravenswood, which is significantly lower than
the creek bridge (it's easy to see that the tracks actually slope downward
from the creek toward Ravenswood). Even if the track was perfectly flat
between the creek and Ravenswood, a 1% grade would allow the tracks to rise
to 37 feet.

There was mention of a crossover starting about even with Burgess Drive and
extending about 360 feet toward Ravenswood. Even if that area had to be
level (which it doesn't), that would still allow the track to rise to about
33 feet at Ravenswood.

But as mentioned, and plainly visible to anyone casually surveying the
area, the tracks at San Francisquito are *already* significantly higher
than they are at Ravenswood ... so getting the tracks up high enough for a
full viaduct without changing the grade of Ravenswood, Alma, Oak Grove,
Merrill or Derry Lane should easily be possible even with only a 0.5%

(As a matter of choice, the best option may still be to only raise the
tracks enough to allow the bike/ped paths/sidewalks to remain at grade and
dip the roads down a few additional feet to cross under the tracks in order
to keep the viaducts just a bit lower, and yet still keep Alma and Merrill
and Derry at wholly or mostly at-grade in the vicinity of the crossings. A
matter TBD.)

[image: Inline image 1]

As for why a handful of Felton Gables residents are being allowed to
dictate or foreclose certain alternatives is not a technical issue, so I
will only say that makes no sense because this is a decision for the entire
city and everyone who travels in and through it for the next century or


On Wed, Jun 7, 2017 at 8:34 PM, mickie650 <mickie650_at_(domainremoved)

> Steve
> I did not see council members, but they might have come after I left.
> Nikki attributed the decision not to grade-separate encinal to Felton
> Gable's objections--not to Atherton--although Atherton might still be a
> stumbling block.
> I am told that the participants at tonight's discussion would be asked to
> weigh in on whether Ravenswood and Oak Grove should be cut off, or whether
> one lane should be open to during construction. Keeping one lane open
> delays construction time. Did not stay to hear how long construction would
> be. What a terrible--AND UNNECESSARY--choice. If the tracks were completely
> raised as they obviously should be, we would be spared the expense and
> disruption of lowering roads.
> The argument for: *Completely raising the tracks.*
> · raising the tracks with an aquaduct style construct will improve
> our city.
> · It will open up access between two sides of town.
> · It is the least disruptive alternative, no need to lower the
> roads. This is a big deal.
> · And not only does it benefit the City, it is by far the least
> expensive way to go.
> · Allows encinal to be grade separated which Felton Gables AND
> Atherton should want. Otherwise they don’t separate and get to keep the
> train noise.
> Mickie Winkler
> 650-473-9722 <(650)%20473-9722>
> 650-335-5540 <(650)%20335-5540> cell
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Steve Schmidt <menloparksteve_at_(domainremoved)
> To: mickie650 <mickie650_at_(domainremoved)
> Cc: Adrian Brandt <adrian.brandt_at_(domainremoved)
> city.council_at_(domainremoved)
> arobeso_at_(domainremoved)
> Richard Cline <rcline_at_(domainremoved)
> clem <clem_at_(domainremoved)
> Sent: Wed, Jun 7, 2017 8:11 pm
> Subject: Re: Menlo Park grade separations viaduct
> Hi Mickie,
> I agree with your two concluding thoughts and with Adrian's thinking that
> promotes examples of viaducts.
> With limited vertical clearance Encinal could be a bicycle under-crossing.
> A bigger question might be why does Atherton's provincial attitude dictate
> a half-measure design for Menlo Park with 5 times Atherton's population?
> Were Rich and Kirsten at tonight's gathering?
> Thanks for your thoughts.
> Steve
> On Wed, Jun 7, 2017 at 7:20 PM, mickie650 <mickie650_at_(domainremoved)
> Dropped in but did not stay for Grade Sep presentation at the Rec Center.
> Heard that:
> There is some reason why full grade cannot be achieved over Ravenswood
> from the creek. not clear.
> No grade separation or closure is planned at Encinal.
> HSR has said it does not want 3rd track in MP, but noone is sure where
> Caltrains stands on this.
> Drop down construction is fast but more expensive. The consultant talked
> to her own firm on this.
> Aquaduct concept is a matter of design and will be discussed in the
> future. Is the expense justified if there is only 10-foot high clearance?
> don't know.
> *My thought: *
> *The city council must go to felton Gables and demonstrate why grade seps
> will reduce noise, especially with a noise buffer.*
> *The city council has to say to staff: We want a fully separated system.
> Show us how we can get it. *
> Mickie Winkler
> 650-473-9722 <(650)%20473-9722>
> 650-335-5540 <(650)%20335-5540> cell
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Adrian Brandt <adrian.brandt_at_(domainremoved)
> To: city.council <city.council_at_(domainremoved)
> Cc: Adina Levin <aldeivnian_at_(domainremoved)
> arobeso_at_(domainremoved)
> Winkler <mickie650_at_(domainremoved)
> Rich Cline <rcline_at_(domainremoved)
> Clem Tillier <clem_at_(domainremoved)
> Sent: Fri, Jun 2, 2017 6:29 pm
> Subject: Re: Menlo Park grade separations viaduct
> Just FYI ...
> Gilroy Citizens Group "Gilroy Growing Smarter
> <http://www.gilroygrowingsmarter.org>" chooses HSR viaduct over berm:
> *Guest Column: Build the High Speed Rail Above Downtown Gilroy
> <http://www.gilroydispatch.com/news/guest-column-build-the-high-speed-rail-above-downtown-gilroy/article_b8605a6c-47d1-11e7-b107-eb37b6d98d77.html>
> *
> Downtown Viaduct Alternative – Would be about 30 feet above street level
> on posts allowing for visual access. The land underneath could be used for
> a park, bike path, farmer’s market, or parking. Construction would be much
> less disruptive. Both downtown alternatives would provide the most
> connectivity by locating the station just east of our Caltrain station.
> At our May 23 meeting more than a dozen members of Gilroy Growing Smarter
> met to consider this issue. After much discussion, we voted nearly
> unanimously to support the downtown viaduct (aerial) alternative for
> Gilroy’s High Speed Rail alignment. We reached this conclusion primarily
> from the information contained in the May 15th report.
> This alternative best supports the objectives of Measure H: preserving
> farmland and stimulating economic activity downtown. We felt it was
> important to take the long term view, knowing that the construction period
> would be difficult, but that the expected result would generate increased
> demand for office space, retail uses and housing within walking distance of
> the station.
> On Wed, Apr 5, 2017 at 7:50 AM, Adrian Brandt <adrian.brandt_at_(domainremoved)
> wrote:
> 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.
> http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/lnews/2017-04-05/high
> -speed-rail-plans-unveiled-agency-plans-peninsula-meetings-
> on-alignments-6-mile-passing-track-from-san-mateo-to-
> redwood-city/1776425178337.html
> 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: http://www.smdailyjournal.com/
> articles/lnews/2017-04-05/high-speed-rail-plans-unveiled-age
> ncy-plans-peninsula-meetings-on-alignments-6-mile-passing-
> track-from-san-mateo-to-redwood-city/1776425178337.htm
> l#sthash.FJphSx8i.dpuf
> 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)
> 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)
> wrote:
> 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)
> wrote:
> 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)
> wrote:
> 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]

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Received on Wed Jun 07 2017 - 23:14:12 PDT

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