The City Council looked at a slew of new goals and city projects in a study session Tuesday, April 19, including a re-examination of the train crossing at Castro Street in light of recent news.
On Monday (April 18) U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) and state Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park) proposed that the state's high-speed rail line share Caltrain's rail line instead of building an additional two tracks.
The city has spent considerable time and money studying what the four-track plan would do to Castro Street and the city's downtown, but this latest proposal needs further examination, council members said. Some believe that the plan may require that the city close Castro Street. High-speed rail money may not be available for grade-separated crossings.
"To me it seems critical that we have a city position on Castro Street," said council member Ronit Bryant.
Bryant suggested that the city might have to close off Castro Street and direct cross-town traffic onto Shoreline Boulevard.
Council member Mike Kasperzak could not attend the meeting, but said in an email, "I don't think you can realistically grade separate Caltrain and Castro Street" because of engineering and financial issues. "We need to realistically look at closing Castro Street" and build a grade-separated pedestrian crossing across Central Expressway.
"You would have to go down to Shoreline Boulevard and come around, which businesses probably wouldn't like," Kasperzak said. "But I think people will get used to getting there when that's what you want to do."
Kasperzak said that Evelyn Avenue could be modified for heavier traffic flow to and from Shoreline Boulevard, especially if the Castro Street median is no longer in the way.
Other goals, capital projects
City Council members also supported, as a major new city goal, the study of a city-run shuttle system similar to Palo Alto's Marguerite service. Council member Margaret Abe-Koga said the city should be asking Google to share its shuttles when they are not in use during mid-day. She says she has been asking Google personally about it for four years, and their response has been "we are still looking at it."
According to a 1998 city staff report, running a multiple-shuttle system would cost over $1 million. Council members suggested getting money from local hospitals and possibly even Los Altos, where residents would find a shuttle to and from Mountain View very useful.
The council's other major goals mostly have to do with finances: how to come up with money for new park projects, create new revenue and balance the city's budget in the long term. But the council has also made it a goal to focus on health and wellness for residents this year by participating in regional efforts to address suicide, obesity and exposure to second-hand smoke.
The council has also asked for an Informational Technology Strategic plan to improve the city's online services for the public and city employees.
In a related study session, the public works department presented a list of new and ongoing capital projects that council members will vote on by June. Highlights included:
● $80,00 to study an extension of the Permanente Creek Trail from Rock Street to Middlefield Road.
● $1.5 million for new artificial turf at Crittenden Middle School.
● $450,000 to retrofit the city's 30-year-old police and fire building.
● $24,000 for improvements to the skate park at Rengstorff Park.
● $500,000 to study mass transit options for the office park north of Highway 101.
There are also several ongoing projects, including a new fire station on Shoreline Boulevard near Shoreline Park, which is now under construction and should be completed in February 2012.
Meanwhile, a new mini park on Del Medio Avenue will be under construction between July and November. A new bridge to take the Stevens Creek Trail over Highway 85 has broken ground and will be completed in March 2012.