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Caltrain trenching study wins green light

Original post made on Nov 5, 2013

Declining to stand idle while change arrives along the Caltrain corridor, Palo Alto officials on Monday agreed to commission a study that would evaluate the cost of digging a trench for trains in the southern half of the city near the Mountain View border.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 5, 2013, 10:55 AM

Comments (6)

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Posted by Susan
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I think someone should consider the water table in the area. San Antonio can't be more than 75 feet above the water table Dig a 30 foot deep trench and I bet there would be seepage. Where will all the dirt go?


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Posted by konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Mountain View can benefit from this study. While our situation is not identical to that of Palo Alto, we have crossing issues at both Rengstorff and Castro streets.


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Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm

1. Contracting for any rail study, for Palo Alto or anywhere else on the Peninsula, should not be conducted by HMM, or any other company that seeks business with high-speed rail development. Since all studies are biased, the study that Palo Alto should seek is one that looks out for Palo Alto's needs and identifies -- honestly -- possible adverse consequences of any construction.

2. Just looking at trenching only is already more conclusion-based than appropriate. Palo Alto needs to study ALL alternatives to Caltrain corridor development, up and down, good, bad and indifferent. What are the upsides and downsides of each option? What deleterious effects will each option have on the city? What are the cost/benefits of each option? What can be anticipated if HSR does not appear on the Caltrain corridor in any configuration? What will the impacts of electrification be for Caltrain only? For both Caltrain and HSR? What trackage expansion can be expected, including passing track additions? There are surely many more questions that an independent study should find answers for. (Menlo Park has rail elevation alternative option studies dating back to 2003. What was the point of those studies? They certainly didn't look out for Menlo Park's interests.)

3. Larry Klein is right. Decide what to do after Judge Kenny hands down a firm, unambiguous decision. If there's to be no Prop. 1A funding even for local rail transit development, that's a major game changer.

4. Final point: Transit and rail studies tend not to be worth much, since they usually ignore the political realities behind government sponsored development. Remember, the CHSRA has NEVER been interested in solving transit problems, locally or state-wide. They were interested in launching and operating a mega-project that would involve mega-dollars. And, that's exactly where they are today, when they scramble to start digging up the Central Valley.

Caltrain has been pursuing the wrong business model since forever. They love spending big bucks on big projects; note their pursuit of super expensive CBOSS as a PTC solution when off-the-shelf technologies, used universally, are far cheaper. As I've been saying since forever: "It's not about the train; it's about the money!" All that needs to be kept in mind when bureaucracies seek to fund studies.


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Posted by Rossta
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Rossta is a registered user.

Mountain View might benefit from the study, but it has different constraints. Just a short distance east of Castro, Stevens Creek crosses just below grade with high water close to grade, so I doubt there is any way to lower the CalTrain tracks at that point. This could force Mountain View to look at grade separation the same way as most of the other cities have - by elevating the tracks and having other traffic cross underneath. Hey, maybe that is where the dirt Palo Alto digs up would go?

Elevating should be studied, too, though less desirable. You have to cross a train 30 feet below (26 feet clearance), but you don't have to raise it nearly as much. And, there may be solutions by blending raising tracks and lowering the roads that can work together for minimizing the work.


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Posted by chas
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 6, 2013 at 11:00 am

chas is a registered user.

I think it is unrealistic to have the high speed rail system terminate in San Francisco. The Peninsula is just too high density to put something like that in place. High Speed Rail should terminate in San Jose at a terminal that also has a connection to BART.


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Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 8, 2013 at 12:29 pm

It's funny seeing people discuss "high speed rail" like it's ever going to happen.


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