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Menlo Park's Rail Policy

From: domainremoved <Steve>
Date: Mon, 13 Jan 2014 18:25:50 -0800

City Council:


Menlo Park’s Rail Policy prohibits consideration of a third set of tracks
in the City. This needs to change. Room for the third track is essential if
Caltrain is to expand to meet ridership and service expectations. The TA is
justified in withholding support for the grant requested until the policy
is fixed. We should not intentionally create a bottleneck for Caltrain on
the Peninsula.


Menlo Park should withdraw its application for a $750K grant to study a
Caltrain grade separation project at Ravenswood. In addition to the
question of a third passing track, there is also the question as to the
best design for the best price.


Menlo Park’s Rail Policy is not the only obstacle to the success of this
project. The Blended Plan for High Speed Rail has a provision that
prohibits any increase in the existing Caltrain track elevation.


The 2003 Menlo Park Ravenswood Grade Separation study attached to Staff’s
Report describes in detail the project design that the City currently
favors: This design assumes tracks stay at grade which is the most
disruptive to local businesses and circulation for pedestrians, bicyclists
and motorists. There will be a sloping trench up to 20’ deep starting at
El Camino and extending to near Laurel Street that cuts off Alma and
Merrill, access to the Big Five/Schwab Center, the Civic Center and some
apartments east of Merrill. It would require the condemnation of many
properties in the Caltrain station area.


The 2003 study indicates that raising the tracks would reduce the
disruption of a grade separation project, a fact not only true in MP but
Atherton, Burlingame, Redwood City and other towns along the Peninsula.


The Blended Plan must also be changed to permit raised tracks so that any
undercrossing design study is able to consider the option of a project that
may be less costly and certainly less harmful to the Ravenswood/Alma
intersection, the businesses and residents nearby and Civic Center access.
No option should be precluded. A design study is a waste unless all viable
options are available for evaluation.


Correcting these policies that were made at a time of heightened fear of
High Speed Rail will take time and calm leadership. I ask that you do not
tie up San Mateo County tax dollars at this time. Take this opportunity to
withdraw this grant application, work cooperatively to fix the policies and
prepare for next funding cycle.


Steve Schmidt

Former Mayor Menlo Park


cc SMCTA
Received on Mon Jan 13 2014 - 18:24:01 PST

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