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Please support 3-street grade separation option

From: domainremoved <Adina>
Date: Tue, 10 Oct 2017 10:12:25 -0700

Honorable Council Members,

Thank you very much for considering a preferred alternative for Menlo
Park’s Caltrain at-grade crossings. As you know, I am a member of the
Complete Streets Commission, writing as an individual.

I urge you to support the Complete Streets Commission recommendation in
favor of the three-street option.

Looking at the upcoming increase in Caltrain frequency with
electrification, and anticipated demands for frequent rail service to
relieve congestion and address growth, we in Menlo Park and the corridor as
a whole will benefit from more grade separations sooner.

If Ravenswood alone was grade-separated first and other projects were
deferred, those other projects would become even more costly and disruptive.

Another issue supporting the 3-street solution is that the detours required
to get to the library and community facilities, coming around Laurel
instead of directly from Ravenswood onto Alma were extremely unpopular with
residents when those flows were required as part of a set of pilot measures
to reduce the number of drivers stopping on the Caltrain tracks. That part
of the pilot was removed due to many complaints. As Commissioners, we
heard those concerns, and want to preserve the vehicle connection from
Ravenswood to Alma.

I also urge you to support renewed funding for Caltrain grade separations
in the 2018 San Mateo County Transportation Ballot Measure, as well as
state and regional sources

At the moment, there is not funding available for either of the options on
the table in Menlo Park. As you likely know, with the most recent projects
(San Bruno and San Mateo/Hillsdale under construction), San Mateo County
has pretty much run down its grade separation fund. Currently there is not
enough money for either of the next projects in the queue (Burlingame
Broadway or Menlo Park). San Mateo County’s Measure A funds will regenerate
somewhat over the next decade or so as more sales taxes come in under the
existing transportation sales tax.

Therefore, renewing Caltrain grade separation funding is among the
important categories for potential funding in a San Mateo County
transportation ballot measure for 2018. I urge the City, Council Members
and residents to strongly support grade separation funding in the spending
plan for the 2018 San Mateo County Transportation Ballot Measure.

I recently attended the public launch meeting for the California State Rail
Plan. The Plan’s authors mentioned in their presentation that frequency and
capacity on the Peninsula Corridor as strategic for the state's rail
program, which should support state funding to fully grade separate the
corridor. In addition, fully grade separating the corridor should be a
priority for Caltrain’s Business Plan which is being developed.

With County, Regional, and State support, we should raise funds for this
project and the full project of separating the remaining 39 at-grade
crossings that will remain when Hillsdale is done in 2020.

Please make a decision now

I would urge you to make a decision now, and not defer once again to more
ideal projects that show no signs of being feasible. There has been
community discussions about other options that would separate all four
crossings: a viaduct, or a 12-mile tunnel that would separate Atherton,
Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Sunnyvale.

With regard to the viaduct, staff reported that this would require elevated
tracks in Atherton, an option that Atherton opposes and shows no signs of
changing position.

With regard to a tunnel, this would cost an additional billions of dollars,
including the cost of underground stations.

In Palo Alto, where there has been vocal support for trench or tunnel
designs, a variety of council members and community leaders have talked
about funding options including local bonds, value capture mechanisms to
raising money from development on or near the corridor, and business
taxes. As part of their current process of assessing grade separation
options, Palo Alto is hiring a financial consultant to assess options raise
additional local funding for grade separations to pay for options that
would be more costly.

So far, we have not heard any active discussions in Menlo Park about
funding mechanisms to pay for the extra cost of a tunnel. Meanwhile in the
towns further south, Mountain View has two council-approved designs for
Rengstorff and Castro, neither of which is tunneled, and Sunnyvale is
considering non-tunnel options for Mary and Sunnyvale Avenue. So, outside
of Palo Alto, there seems to be little momentum for a tunnel.

While separating all four streets would be ideal there are no signs that
this would be feasible. Therefore I urge you to make the best practical
decision and support the three-street option.


Adina Levin
Menlo Park resident
Received on Tue Oct 10 2017 - 10:17:54 PDT

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