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Fwd: Railroad Crossings in Downtown Menlo Park

From: domainremoved <menlo>
Date: Sat, 7 Oct 2017 20:20:41 -0700

On Sat, Oct 7, 2017 at 11:58 AM, Menlo Park's Future <menlofuture_at_(domainremoved)
wrote:

> *Railroad Crossings in Downtown Menlo Park*
>
> *Fellow Residents*
>
> *Two weeks ago I sent you an email describing the two options before
> Council re: railroad crossings in our City as Bad and Worse. *
>
>
>
> *Since then, the Planning Commission, Complete Streets commission and
> Chamber of Commerce have all weighed in, The Planning Commission voted 4-2
> for Option A (two opposed both options).*
>
> *Complete streets voted for 6-3 for option B. And the Chamber split. Not
> happy. *
>
>
>
> *But what if they had a third alternative :*
>
> *·* * that would not snarl the city in construction for years,
> negatively impacting traffic and retailers.*
>
> *·* *Would not create a solid wall along the tracks.*
>
> *·* *Would not create up and down hills under the tracks that would
> be difficult to bike.*
>
> *·* *One that would open up--improve-- the city, yes, and allow us
> to have vendors, or bike lockers, or parking, and to freely bike and walk
> where the tracks are now.*
>
> *·* *One that could look attractive,*
>
> *·* *And that could overcome neighbor fear of train noise by being
> noise mitigated with buffers and privacy by using glass that can be coated
> on demand and privacy mitigated by glass that becomes opaque in a
> residential zone.*
>
> *That is why we are asking to Council to spend the money and explore that
> third alternative--a beautiful –to- behold raised viaduct supporting the
> tracks.*
>
>
>
> *The questions are:*
>
> *1. **Can completely raising the tracks be done—as there is good
> engineering reason to believe.*
>
> *2. **What are the comparative construction impacts on traffic?*
>
>
>
> *Steve Schmidt and Henry Riggs have petitioned City Council to study the
> viaduct option for this all- important issue. I urge you to read their
> informative and convincing letter below. This Tuesday, Oct.10, the City
> Council decides.*
>
>
>
> * Thanks as always, Lee Duboc (menlofuture_at_(domainremoved)
> <menlofuture_at_(domainremoved)
>
>
>
>
>
> From Steve Schmidt and Henry Riggs to the Menlo Park City Council
>
> *A complete analysis of Menlo Park grade separations of the Caltrain right
> of way should include a study of a viaduct that separates all four of the
> city’s at-grade crossings. To do less is financially shortsighted.*
>
>
>
> The $750,000 funded by the County on this study deserves to be used to
> investigate *all* practical alternatives. Menlo Park should not resist a
> complete planning process for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Why
> would the City spend tens of millions on a project that will not pass the
> test of time and will need updating in the future?
>
>
>
> Grade separating all four MP crossings utilizing an open viaduct is a
> clear value to Menlo Park and to Caltrain.
>
>
>
> *1. Elimination of Noise* - The greatest source of train noise in Menlo
> Park is the sounding of horns at each at-grade crossing required by federal
> railroad regulators. This nuisance would be eliminated by grade-separating
> all four of our existing crossings. At-grade crossings at Watkins in
> Atherton and Alma/Palo Alto Ave in Palo Alto would remain minor sources of
> noise in Menlo Park and nothing like what we now experience
>
>
>
> Mechanical noise from the rail interacting with the wheels can be buffered
> with a 18 inch curb along the viaduct edge. The electric propulsion system
> will be considerably quieter than the diesel engines currently in use.
>
>
>
> *2. Increased east-west connectivity* - A viaduct would offer increased
> opportunities for pedestrian and bicycle circulation in the vicinity of the
> Caltrain right-of-way which is now a barrier. A viaduct is more a series of
> doorways versus a solid wall, which would indeed separate the east from the
> west. In addition we would miss opportunities to utilize the land
> underneath. Four grade-separated crossings would complete the vision of the
> Specific Plan and Safe Routes to School. The design of Stanford’s ped/bike
> under-crossing at 500 El Camino would also be simplified by this approach.
> With a viaduct design a bike route parallel to El Camino could be included
> in the project.
>
>
>
> *3. Increased safety* - With increased frequency of Caltrain service,
> there will be more conflicts with cars, bikes and pedestrians at all
> remaining at- grade crossings. Elevated tracks on a viaduct offer less
> opportunity for those in distress seeking to end their lives or for the
> inattentive to endanger themselves.
>
>
>
> *4. Elimination of gates* - Warning bells currently associated with
> at-grade crossings are another source of noise. Back-ups and clogged
> turning movements of vehicles occur whenever the gates are down and will
> increase with greater frequency of trains. A viaduct at all four crossings
> will eliminate this problem in Menlo Park.
>
>
>
> *5. Protection of property access* - The 2003-4 grade separation study
> concluded that property access impacts are significantly reduced as the
> Caltrain track elevation is raised: a fully elevated Caltrain viaduct would
> be of greatest benefit to all adjacent property owners (short of a tunnel).
>
>
>
> *6. Construction Impacts *-The best approach for a project of this
> magnitude would be to construct all four grade separations in a logical
> sequential order to reduce the severity of construction impacts that will
> disrupt the City for years.
>
>
>
> *The Atherton position that Caltrain remain at grade through their town
> seems a political one and subject to future negotiation.*
>
>
>
> Staff has stated that separating Encinal is not feasible because a hybrid
> at that site would cut off street access to one or more residential
> properties in Felton Gables and that the tracks could not be returned to
> grade before reaching the Atherton town limits. Calculations on Google maps
> combined with the track elevations and required gradients question this
> conclusion.
>
>
>
> However for the sake of complete evaluation, assuming there a limited
> vertical clearance at Encinal, a grade separation for pedestrians and
> bicycles use only is an option that must be considered. This type of grade
> crossing would be preferable to closing the street, depriving access to
> residential properties, or keeping the at-grade crossing.
>
>
>
> Also a concern raised in both Atherton and Menlo Park is the issue of
> privacy for residents along the ROW. There currently exists smart glass
> technology for train cars that allow the windows to switch instantaneously
> between opaque and transparent modes. When a train travels through
> sensitive residential neighborhoods, opaque windows can solve privacy
> issues.
>
>
>
> I hope that MP Staff and Council takes this issue up with the Town of
> Atherton, reminding them of the benefits to their residents of cooperating
> with us and possibly grade-separating Watkins, which is already about 4’
> above grade and a source of horn noise for Atherton as well as Menlo Park.
> We should have the resolve to lobby for what is best for Menlo Park.
>
>
>
> *Maintaining the Status Quo is not an option. Menlo Park should have the
> benefit of a study that includes a viaduct over all four Menlo Park
> crossings.*
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> ---
>
>
>
Received on Sat Oct 07 2017 - 20:25:52 PDT

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