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$120M Rengstorff train crossing nearly shovel-ready

Original post made on Feb 13, 2014

While it seems unlikely to be built anytime soon, a plan for a Rengstorff Avenue under-crossing at the Caltrain tracks was given a preliminary go ahead by council members Tuesday — just in case $120 million dollars become available for such a project.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, February 14, 2014, 12:00 AM

Comments (47)

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Posted by Jes' Sayin'
a resident of Bailey Park
on Feb 13, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Would depressing the railroad track be that much more difficult? Possibly easier to depress one thing than two (streets)? Then you wouldn't get the disruption to the driveways either.


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Posted by Martin
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 14, 2014 at 12:10 am

There are two reasons why depressing a street is cheaper.
1) Tallest trucks are only 16' tall, while trains are about 20' tall + clearance for electrification
2) Trains need gradual slope, so amount of land excavated will be very high compared to dipping the road.

Construction is also easier since cars can take sharper turns fo detours. Trains need straighter alignment, so while not impossible, it's trickier.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 14, 2014 at 12:27 am

Another option is to elevate the train tracks, like what they are doing right now in San Mateo County.


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Posted by Martin
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 14, 2014 at 9:26 am

You could. San Antonio station is not too far north, and I bet wheel chair users have something against sloping stations. If you don't slope it, then you need to make sure tracks can still dip down below the San Antonio overpass.
The grade separations in San Mateo actually do both - tracks rise and road dips.

I personally like it when road dips like in Palo Alto by University Ave.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 14, 2014 at 11:50 am

Wheelchair users (as well as pedestrians and bicyclists) will likely also complain about tunneling the road underneath the train tracks. Some of the tunneled roads in Palo Alto are very unpleasant for pedestrians and bicyclists because of the dark, narrow, and steep paths that they are forced on to.


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Posted by Mik
a resident of Bailey Park
on Feb 14, 2014 at 1:06 pm

can you upload concept B?

thanks


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Posted by I need more Cow Bell
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 14, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Very interesting article. I think the design looks better than I ever imagined it could. Especially, the fly over bridge dedicated to pedestrians.

Could the Voice please post higher resolution pictures next time? Perhaps this is a request that needs to be made upstream to city staff that is providing these pictures to you.

Personally, and even with my glasses on, I find it hard to ferret out the details at the posted resolution.

Again, thanks for the article and the pictures. Just hoping you can improve the pics a bit.


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Posted by Monta Loma Resident
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 14, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Your article says that no one is happen with the intersection. No so! As a 81 year resident of Mountain View I am Happy with the intersection. We do not need to disrupt everything and lets hope the farm killer of Central Valley, the useless high speed rail project dies!

Happy with steady state.

Old resident.


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Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 14, 2014 at 5:20 pm

I am eager to see the at-grade railroad crossing with Rengstorff end. The idea of depressing both Central Expressway and Rengstorff so that Rengstorff goes under the railroad and stays at-grade with the Expressway is acceptable to me, though I am not enthusiastic about it.

The Shell Station, Mi Pueblo, and three houses are mentioned as being demolished or losing value and they must be fairly reimbursed for their losses, as indicated in the article. Are those costs part of the estimated $120 million?

I'm wondering if it might be the best option for the city to move the Mi Pueblo business (probably not the building) and its parking lot to the driveway entrance for "Leland Avenue Connector". The remaining open area near the railroad might be open space like the end of Crisanto or perhaps developed as apartments. (I would not like to live in an apartment with a railroad at my back door, but it is done.)

Maybe the "Leland Avenue Connector" is a bad idea. Leland Avenue can still be reached on Fair Oaks Avenue from Stanford Avenue.

As for the Shell Station, perhaps the least cost option would be to lower it to the level of the Central-Rengstorff intersection.

No doubt there are many other options. I'm just thinking the City should talk to the property owners and developers and make sure they find the best option.


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Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 14, 2014 at 5:41 pm

USA is a registered user.

How much would it cost to raise the train above grade? Caltrain did it in San Carlos and other places recently.

If they have a billion to piss away on electrification, they should be able to scrape up some money for raising the tracks.


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Posted by Monta Loma Resident
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 14, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Your article says there is no one happy with that intersection. Not so!
As a 81 year resident of Mountain View I think the intersection is just fine and there is no need to disrupt the area Lets keep it steady state and hope that the useless high speed rail does not kill the farming area in the Central Valley. Hopefully it will never be built!

Old time resident


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Posted by Ben
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 14, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Your article says no one is happy with the intersection. No so! I am an 81 year resident of Mountain View and am happy with the intersection. I am for steady state and think that the area should not de disrupted. Hopefully the useless high speed rail never gets built to kill the farming community of the Central Valley.

Ben


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Posted by Ben
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 14, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Your article says no one is happy with the intersection. No so! I am an 81 year resident of Mountain View and am happy with the intersection. I am for steady state and think that the area should not de disrupted. Hopefully the useless high speed rail never gets built to kill the farming community of the Central Valley.

Ben


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Posted by tommygee54
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 14, 2014 at 6:06 pm

I have been waiting for this with bated breath since 1970 when I began driving here in Mtn. View. I am one of those people in Mountain View that EXTREMELY HATE THIS INTERSECTION due to the wait when the trains come zipping by, then another train comes zipping by, then another train comes zipping by. I hate this intersection so much that (while on El Camino) I continue to Shoreline then turn left. And eventually drive over the tracks at the bridge. Or I take San Antonio over the tracks to Middlefield then turn right to my house. But boy do I HATE THIS INTERSECTION ALOT. I assume that I will still have to wait for this 'fix' to happen.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ben
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 14, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Your article says no one is happy with the intersection. No so! I am an 81 year resident of Mountain View and am happy with the intersection. I am for steady state and think that the area should not de disrupted. Hopefully the useless high speed rail never gets built to kill the farming community of the Central Valley.

Ben


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ben
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 14, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Your article says no one is happy with the intersection. No so! I am an 81 year resident of Mountain View and am happy with the intersection. I am for steady state and think that the area should not de disrupted. Hopefully the useless high speed rail never gets built to kill the farming community of the Central Valley.

Ben


 +   Like this comment
Posted by BEN
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 14, 2014 at 6:09 pm

Your article says no one is happy with the intersection. No so! I am an 81 year resident of Mountain View and am happy with the intersection. I am for steady state and think that the area should not de disrupted. Hopefully the useless high speed rail never gets built to kill the farming community of the Central Valley.

Ben


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Posted by Brad A
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 14, 2014 at 9:23 pm

Yikes! $120 million to overhaul one Mountain View intersection? Yes, people do not like the current intersection (me, included) but gimme a break. I can name 5 other intersections I dislike more and I wouldn't want to spend $120M to fix them all, let alone one of them.

If we are ever given the chance, let's invest such funds in ways that have a far broader benefit. Speaking of which, I would love to see the cost-benefit analysis used to justify this proposed expense.


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Posted by Andy
a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2014 at 11:33 pm

Everyone should understand that the only correct option here is to sink Caltrain tracks. Why the heck people want to spend hundred million bucks on a project that will not solve anything. Just bury freaking Caltrain and be done with it.

I do understand that this crap only possible due to federal money, god I wish that Feds bankrupted already and we could start thinking of the projects that make sense instead.


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Posted by Garrett83
a resident of another community
on Feb 15, 2014 at 6:55 am

Garrett83 is a registered user.

This needed to be done in the 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, this century. Do it, quit talking.


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Posted by @andy
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 15, 2014 at 9:55 am

@andy - we can't sink the train tracks because of all the toxic waste flowing underneath Mountain View. Digging will release it into the atmosphere and cause our cancer rate to soar (even higher than it is already).


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Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 17, 2014 at 9:57 am

Well the good thing with this design is the train tracks remain at grade level, not elevated.


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Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 17, 2014 at 9:59 am

Well the good thing with this design is the train tracks are not elevated which would create an noisy ugly division of Mountain View.


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Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 17, 2014 at 10:00 am

Well the good thing with this design is the train tracks are not elevated which would create an noisy ugly division of Mountain View.


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Posted by Mr Advice
a resident of Bailey Park
on Feb 17, 2014 at 1:29 pm

I'm sure Google would be more than Happy to fund this endeavor as it would benefit their employee's.


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Posted by Garrett83
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

Why should Google have to pay for everything. City street, county expressway, state railroad and this intersection is used by more then just Google employees.


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Posted by Mr Advice
a resident of Bailey Park
on Feb 17, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Shut up Garrote, you'll jinx the deal.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2014 at 7:11 pm

I just don't thing Google should foot the bill on everything, in fact if they think that, they will take their offices, payroll, talent and leave. We might end with a bunch of warehouses and other back offices or become a giant parking lot for their workers while the shuttles take them to more friendly cities.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gallego2006
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Feb 17, 2014 at 8:29 pm

They just finished updating the traffic lights at this intersection. Let it be for a while!

I'd rather have $120M spent towards affordable housing, to be honest.


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Posted by AR
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2014 at 10:54 pm

I had no idea this was in motion but as someone who crosses this intersection twice daily I'm quite excited. It will make central more useful and potentially lighten the traffic coming off of the old middlefield 101 exit. It will be painful to re-route my commute while this is going on but it's a good trade off in the long term.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 18, 2014 at 9:33 am

The population of Mountain View is 74,000. $120 million is $1600 per person, including children. Who's ready to pay up? Remember that this is just one intersection.


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Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 18, 2014 at 10:22 am

Safety: The current (new) light arrangement at Rengstorff and Central Expressway / Caltrain Tracks is dangerous. Vehicles coming north on Crisanto and turning right onto Rengstorff find themselves turning right on a green arrow and instantly finding a red light at Central. In every case I've watched (over a dozen to date) at least one vehicle ends up STOPPED ON the railroad tracks, frequently honking madly and trying to move forward.

It is a wretched design flaw and likely to kill somebody.

If you want a cheap solution simply block off Crisanto and Leland - completely. Stop all Rengstorff traffic short of the tracks and let them pass en-masse when the light changes, giving them a clear crossing, free of the possibility of getting blocked and whacked by Caltrain.

Our traffic / rail interchanges are ancient and dangerous but we have neither the desire, nor the dollars, to make them truly safe.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 18, 2014 at 10:24 am

Safety: The current (new) light arrangement at Rengstorff and Central Expressway / Caltrain Tracks is quite dangerous. Vehicles coming north on Crisanto and turning right onto Rengstorff find themselves turning right on a green arrow and instantly being stopped by the red light at Central. In every case I've watched (over a dozen to date) at least one vehicle ends up STOPPED ON the railroad tracks, frequently honking madly and trying to move forward.

It is a wretched design flaw and likely to kill somebody.

If you want a cheap solution simply block off Crisanto and Leland at Rengstorff - completely. Stop all Rengstorff traffic short of the tracks and let them pass en-masse when the light changes, giving them a clear crossing, free of the possibility of getting blocked and whacked by Caltrain.

Our traffic / rail interchanges are ancient and dangerous but we have neither the desire, nor the dollars, to make them truly safe.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 18, 2014 at 11:57 am

How many pedestrians were hit by cars along California Ave in recent years (including several fatalities)? If safety is a priority for the city, that street can be made dramatically safer for a small percentage of this $120 million price tag.

The Rengstorff project is primarily about increasing car speeds, not about safety. Of course, higher car speeds create even more dangerous streets for pedestrians, right in the middle of a residential neighborhood.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Rengstorff/Central project could be about improvement traffic flow, safety and just making it easier to cross the street. Instead we have people trying to beat the light because you might have to wait longer if a train comes through.

This intersection was planned for this kind of improvement years ago.


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Posted by A lot of the traffic around town
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 18, 2014 at 2:45 pm

A lot of the traffic around town can be solved by simply reprogramming the signals. A lot of the signals need to be adjusted. And side streets should not automatically turn the lights immediately for a car that comes there when going onto a major thoroughfare.

For Rengstorff/Alma intersection, the best bet would be to close the streets that go into Rengstorff at the intersection, where Mi Pueblo store is next to and the street directly opposite of it. Major shortcut and bottleneck would be eliminated.

Simple programing should solve most of the issues, this is something GOOGLE can help with, after all network traffic is very similar to car traffic.


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Posted by SER
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Feb 18, 2014 at 8:31 pm

Go for it, it's about time to build the grade separation. This should have been done 30 years ago, when there was money available from the state and the railroads for safety. Nothing is safer than a grade separation.
And finally it would take some of the traffic from Shoreline (it has been separated for a long time), no more waiting for trains.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2014 at 9:02 pm

We aren't just talking about a simple reprogramming of signals, this intersection is plagued by trains, always has. Daytime freight trains, Southern Pacific trains and Caltrain.

45 mile speed limits, traffic lights doesn't stop bad drivers. We had to pass a law stated that lower speed limits around schools. Will it help?

Adding lanes won't help, making turn lanes bigger won't help, making the lights greener longer, making peds have less time to cross the street. It is about those trains, get rid of the trains you might fix the problem.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 18, 2014 at 11:17 pm

Getting rid of crowded commuter trains will put more cars on the road, which certainly won't solve a traffic problem.

Elevating the train tracks all the way through town is the best option. Streets can go under the tracks at-grade, without the steep tunnels and narrow paths that pedestrians and wheelchair users really hate. Elevated tracks won't divide the town any more than Central Expressway already does. If anything, elevated tracks will unite the town since the tracks will be much easier to cross if we don't have to constantly wait for trains to pass.


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Posted by Scott Lamb
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 19, 2014 at 8:08 am

I can understand why the city wasn't eager to get out the checkbook for $120M by itself. Why are civil engineering projects always so expensive? This one might not even be disproportionately so. It's easy to believe this is 1000X harder than putting up a bunch of speed limit signs. Apparently those are $137k. Web Link (If they put up four signs for each of the 15 schools, that's $2,300 per sign. The materials cost less than a tenth of that. Web Link .)


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2014 at 8:25 am

I was being funny about the commuter trains, we need them, they aren't going away. The intersection does need big improvements, this is the best options.

Whatever options is decided on, it will be costly.


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Posted by Segregation
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Feb 19, 2014 at 2:34 pm

SEGREGATING SPANSH COMMUNITY!

Web Link


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Posted by reader
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 20, 2014 at 10:34 pm

I really don't understand how HSR can dictate how it wants to do things, requiring major work by local cities, and then require that work be done and paid by the local city people. This is around $1600 / mountain view resident. Also, if HSR design is not fixed, what happens if they choose something that doesn't work with the work done?
Personally, I think HSR shouldn't be on caltrain tracks just because there are tracks there--unless it can use the existing tracks. If it has to rebuild things including stations and is suppose to reduce commuter load, it would make more sense to build a new line down the center of 101 replacing two lanes (or all above the freeway), that can be state of the art and quieter, and not bissect and destroy communities. These changes to intersections to accomodate HSR will severly restrict walking, handicapped, elderly--many of the current paths are too steep and/or difficult for these people.


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Posted by archive reader
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 20, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Note: in 2004, this was estimated at between $45 - $65 million.
Web Link


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Posted by Garrett83
a resident of another community
on Feb 21, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

Forget HSR, this project needs to be built, 45 million in 2004. 120 million dollars in 2014.


Question of the Day. How much in 2024?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joanne
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Feb 24, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Whatever the cost, this is a very dangerous intersection, particularly now with all the signal timing and lane changes just before you cross the tracks going towards 101. I live next to Rengstoff Park and have witness numerous near collisions; not to mention I can't leave my driveway between 5-6:30pm Monday - Friday due to the back-up. People are going to get seriously injured if nothing is done.


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Posted by Weird Mountain View
a resident of Castro City
on Feb 28, 2014 at 5:14 pm

I am the "resident who lives nearby" as quoted in this article. This is not about pedestrian or bicycle access. It's about People in "less favorable" neighborhoods possibly losing their homes so that People in Cars driving through their neighborhood will not have to be inconvenienced by having to slow down. Eminent domain. You can read my take on this and also download the full study session with all 3 concepts at this link here: Web Link


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