News

Businesses balk at closing Castro Street

Chamber offers alternative to city's options for diverting traffic from train crossing

Mountain View's downtown business community finds itself in a dilemma about a crucial decision on the busy Caltrain crossing at Castro Street. In a choice between two equally unpalatable options, business leaders are making a push for Mountain View officials to hit the brakes before undertaking a potentially disruptive project to close downtown's main artery to vehicle traffic.

The city's two main options call for either tunneling Castro Street under the train crossing or closing it off to car traffic. Either option being studied by the city presents a scary proposition for the dozens of shops and restaurants lining the city's key downtown street, said Tony Siress, CEO of the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce.

"These are the golden blocks of downtown, and they would be decimated," he said. "This would close a main thoroughfare that has been here since the start of Mountain View."

The spot has long been considered a safety hazard due to the large numbers of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians who converge to cross the train tracks. At peak hours, the vehicle traffic waiting for passing trains can easily back up and spill onto surrounding streets. Those problems are only expected to worsen as Caltrain prepares to electrify the tracks and run twice as many train trips. Further compounding to these concerns, the California High Speed Rail project also will use the same train corridor for its bullet trains.

With those developments on the horizon, city officials say it will become impractical, if not also unsafe, to continue with the status quo. As far back as 2010, Mountain View officials commissioned traffic experts to study ways to construct a so-called grade separation to split Castro Street from the tracks.

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In March, the City Council began discussing the options in earnest, and members zeroed in on two starkly divergent plans for further study. On the one hand, they signaled interest in an intensive $120 million project to dig Castro Street underneath the Caltrain tracks, which would require heavy construction and road closures over the course of two years and would end up altering at least three city blocks. Alternatively, they also favored studying a simpler $45 million proposal to close off Castro Street at the train tracks and upgrade other roads to handle the traffic diversion. The City Council is expected to make a decision at a special June 22 meeting.

For business leaders, either proposal would threaten the walkable promenade dotted with outdoor dining that Mountain View has cultivated over the years, Siress said. He worries that the city is creating a "rush to judgment" for the Castro Street crossing since officials are also working on a related project to upgrade the nearby transit center. Losing access at Castro Street could create a series of new unintended problems, he said, such as limiting how delivery trucks and shuttle buses can access the downtown core.

"This whole plan seems to have been done in a bubble without understanding how downtown works," he said. "It's literally mind-boggling that no one has looked at all the effects this would have."

While city officials and consultants have acknowledged either plan would bring real impacts, they say commercial activity downtown shouldn't experience a major hit. They point to traffic studies showing that drivers would easily find new ways to access downtown. Only about 15 percent of drivers come into downtown from Castro Street, they reported, whereas the majority are coming from Shoreline Boulevard and El Camino Real.

Wanting to be sensitive to the downtown merchants' concerns, city officials commissioned a $30,000 study from the Berkeley firm Strategic Economics to investigate the potential business impacts from both Castro Street options. That study, which is set to be complete by the City Council's June 22 meeting, should provide suggestions on how to minimize the business impacts and preserve the character of downtown, said Linda Forsberg, the city's transportation manager.

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Nevertheless, the Chamber of Commerce and the Mountain View Central Business Association say they want to put forward their own counter-proposals to the city. They propose building a bike and pedestrian overpass but keeping the current road crossing open. If the city needs to limit car traffic, they recommend an automated sign system that would prohibit the road crossing during peak commute times.

They readily admit their proposal would need further study, but they say it is just one example of how other ideas need to be considered. City officials said they hadn't heard anything about the business groups' counter-proposal until the Voice asked for their response to it on Monday.

The business groups' counter-proposal wouldn't bring many of the improvements of a larger project, such as road improvements along Evelyn Avenue and the transit center upgrades, said Councilman Lenny Siegel. He said he wasn't convinced that businesses would actually see fewer customers. He pointed out that both options being considered would still create a new crossing for cyclists and pedestrians to access downtown.

"It doesn't help businesses to have people stuck in traffic," he said. "Downtown business is threatened by high rents and a lack of way-finding for parking, not by street closure."

But the idea of changing downtown's main gateway presents too much uncertainty for many business owners. Speaking from his cafe right across the street from the Caltrain station, Galip Vural said the city's plans could damage the unique character of downtown Mountain View as well as its success as a commercial "goldmine." As the owner of Olympus Cafe and Bakery and the restaurant Ephesus, he said he was already bracing for a hit from a temporary loss in parking due to a nearby hotel project that will occupy two city-owned lots. But if city officials also decided to cut off Castro Street -- whether temporarily or permanently -- he was certain that would be a fatal blow for some businesses.

"If you close Castro, I'm sure that some businesses would end up closing down," Vural said. "Closing Castro would be the worst decision the City Council could ever make."

Email Mark Noack at [email protected]

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Businesses balk at closing Castro Street

Chamber offers alternative to city's options for diverting traffic from train crossing

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Sun, Jun 12, 2016, 5:35 pm

Mountain View's downtown business community finds itself in a dilemma about a crucial decision on the busy Caltrain crossing at Castro Street. In a choice between two equally unpalatable options, business leaders are making a push for Mountain View officials to hit the brakes before undertaking a potentially disruptive project to close downtown's main artery to vehicle traffic.

The city's two main options call for either tunneling Castro Street under the train crossing or closing it off to car traffic. Either option being studied by the city presents a scary proposition for the dozens of shops and restaurants lining the city's key downtown street, said Tony Siress, CEO of the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce.

"These are the golden blocks of downtown, and they would be decimated," he said. "This would close a main thoroughfare that has been here since the start of Mountain View."

The spot has long been considered a safety hazard due to the large numbers of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians who converge to cross the train tracks. At peak hours, the vehicle traffic waiting for passing trains can easily back up and spill onto surrounding streets. Those problems are only expected to worsen as Caltrain prepares to electrify the tracks and run twice as many train trips. Further compounding to these concerns, the California High Speed Rail project also will use the same train corridor for its bullet trains.

With those developments on the horizon, city officials say it will become impractical, if not also unsafe, to continue with the status quo. As far back as 2010, Mountain View officials commissioned traffic experts to study ways to construct a so-called grade separation to split Castro Street from the tracks.

In March, the City Council began discussing the options in earnest, and members zeroed in on two starkly divergent plans for further study. On the one hand, they signaled interest in an intensive $120 million project to dig Castro Street underneath the Caltrain tracks, which would require heavy construction and road closures over the course of two years and would end up altering at least three city blocks. Alternatively, they also favored studying a simpler $45 million proposal to close off Castro Street at the train tracks and upgrade other roads to handle the traffic diversion. The City Council is expected to make a decision at a special June 22 meeting.

For business leaders, either proposal would threaten the walkable promenade dotted with outdoor dining that Mountain View has cultivated over the years, Siress said. He worries that the city is creating a "rush to judgment" for the Castro Street crossing since officials are also working on a related project to upgrade the nearby transit center. Losing access at Castro Street could create a series of new unintended problems, he said, such as limiting how delivery trucks and shuttle buses can access the downtown core.

"This whole plan seems to have been done in a bubble without understanding how downtown works," he said. "It's literally mind-boggling that no one has looked at all the effects this would have."

While city officials and consultants have acknowledged either plan would bring real impacts, they say commercial activity downtown shouldn't experience a major hit. They point to traffic studies showing that drivers would easily find new ways to access downtown. Only about 15 percent of drivers come into downtown from Castro Street, they reported, whereas the majority are coming from Shoreline Boulevard and El Camino Real.

Wanting to be sensitive to the downtown merchants' concerns, city officials commissioned a $30,000 study from the Berkeley firm Strategic Economics to investigate the potential business impacts from both Castro Street options. That study, which is set to be complete by the City Council's June 22 meeting, should provide suggestions on how to minimize the business impacts and preserve the character of downtown, said Linda Forsberg, the city's transportation manager.

Nevertheless, the Chamber of Commerce and the Mountain View Central Business Association say they want to put forward their own counter-proposals to the city. They propose building a bike and pedestrian overpass but keeping the current road crossing open. If the city needs to limit car traffic, they recommend an automated sign system that would prohibit the road crossing during peak commute times.

They readily admit their proposal would need further study, but they say it is just one example of how other ideas need to be considered. City officials said they hadn't heard anything about the business groups' counter-proposal until the Voice asked for their response to it on Monday.

The business groups' counter-proposal wouldn't bring many of the improvements of a larger project, such as road improvements along Evelyn Avenue and the transit center upgrades, said Councilman Lenny Siegel. He said he wasn't convinced that businesses would actually see fewer customers. He pointed out that both options being considered would still create a new crossing for cyclists and pedestrians to access downtown.

"It doesn't help businesses to have people stuck in traffic," he said. "Downtown business is threatened by high rents and a lack of way-finding for parking, not by street closure."

But the idea of changing downtown's main gateway presents too much uncertainty for many business owners. Speaking from his cafe right across the street from the Caltrain station, Galip Vural said the city's plans could damage the unique character of downtown Mountain View as well as its success as a commercial "goldmine." As the owner of Olympus Cafe and Bakery and the restaurant Ephesus, he said he was already bracing for a hit from a temporary loss in parking due to a nearby hotel project that will occupy two city-owned lots. But if city officials also decided to cut off Castro Street -- whether temporarily or permanently -- he was certain that would be a fatal blow for some businesses.

"If you close Castro, I'm sure that some businesses would end up closing down," Vural said. "Closing Castro would be the worst decision the City Council could ever make."

Email Mark Noack at [email protected]

Comments

Me
Willowgate
on Jun 12, 2016 at 5:39 pm
Me, Willowgate
on Jun 12, 2016 at 5:39 pm

some businesses end up closing no matter what.


resident
Rengstorff Park
on Jun 12, 2016 at 6:40 pm
resident, Rengstorff Park
on Jun 12, 2016 at 6:40 pm

No matter what the city decides to do the Castro & Central intersection, we really need to build a new high volume route from Shoreline Blvd into downtown Mountain View. This could include building a new parking garage between Shoreline and Castro and then funneling car traffic to the parking garage instead of to Castro Street. I agree that all the cars looking for parking on Castro make the street very unsafe for pedestrians.


Live
Stierlin Estates
on Jun 12, 2016 at 9:23 pm
Live, Stierlin Estates
on Jun 12, 2016 at 9:23 pm

Don't divide the city, an underpass should have been built long time ago. Shoreline is at capacity for most of the day, maybe us who live on the 'wrong' side of the tracks should start charging tolls to drive through our neighborhoods. The rest of the city needs to remember that we are impacted unrealisticty be all the traffic that comes through our neighborhood. Find a solution for Moffet/Castro and it is not putting all the traffic onto Shoreline.


Tony
Willowgate
on Jun 13, 2016 at 12:54 pm
Tony, Willowgate
on Jun 13, 2016 at 12:54 pm

Why is there not a study that looks at the benefits of closing Castro Street. City's everywhere are creating transit only/pedestrian corridors along busy retail districts. Removal of parking does not mean a reduction in business. Improvement of a street to accommodate more people/ make it a better place to visit would benefit merchants and the City as a whole. This should be looked at as an opportunity to improve castro street.


TPE
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2016 at 3:45 pm
TPE, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Folks should look at downtown Sunnyvale as an example of a non-grade crossing of the tracks. Their downtown was basically decimated and is just beginning to rebound on a much smaller scale.


MV resident
Monta Loma
on Jun 13, 2016 at 4:16 pm
MV resident, Monta Loma
on Jun 13, 2016 at 4:16 pm

Mark Noack - This article was unfortunately not clear about important features of the two alternatives that have been presented to the neighborhoods and to the city council:

1) The tunneling alternative would involve sinking Castro Street beginning at Villa, then going under the expressway, then surfacing around Jackson St. on the Moffett side. This would pretty much ruin the streetscape of the 100 block of Castro, and likewise ruin the streetscape of Moffett in front of the entire new complex of apartments that is going in, almost as far as Central Avenue.

2) The "close Castro at the tracks" alternative does NOT involve a dead end at all. Evelyn would be turned into a continuous street, parallel to the tracks, from Sunnyvale to Shoreline. At Shoreline there would be an on-ramp. Castro would meet Evelyn at a "T" intersection.

The second of these alternatives is by far the better one. It's pretty clear that this intersection will be non-functional in a few years if no change is made (read the consultant's study). It seems to me that the merchants are not looking at the future, and are needlessly alarmed.


Duane
another community
on Jun 13, 2016 at 4:17 pm
Duane, another community
on Jun 13, 2016 at 4:17 pm

Close Castro at the tracks, make it a Pedestrian Mall,use Shoreline,build fly over the tracks ramps further down Evelyn that connect to Central Express Way,might be less expensive than tunneling Castro at the tracks,and more parking structures.


Common sense
Old Mountain View
on Jun 13, 2016 at 4:17 pm
Common sense, Old Mountain View
on Jun 13, 2016 at 4:17 pm

@Me: I believe the logic is that fewer businesses forced to close is better than more.

@Tony: The fact that many people say they "don't know any reason" Castro can't be closed to vehicles -- becoming an idyllic pedestrian mall -- is precisely the insidious problem. I'd love to see a successful pedestrian-only downtown. However it doesn't automatically work, and for reasons not obvious to City Council members or casual Town-Square commenters (who always envision a downtown business cluster just like now, only without cars). That's what Tony Siress, the business owners (who, unlike the general public, have their livelihoods at risk), and impartial experts are concerned about.

A regional expert on downtown retailing was invited recently to speak before a committee that advises the Council. Among many subiects, she mentioned that the most effective use of a street like Castro is as a slow thoroughfare -- even slowing traffic deliberately. Drivers wanting just to pass through choose faster parallel streets, while those driving on Castro got a good look at the downtown and its attractions. But when someone asked about closing Castro to cars, she warned "I'd think long and hard before closing Castro to auto traffic. That's high-risk." It is a hard step to undo, yet the "complexion and needs" of downtown retailers can change greatly in the 30-50 years that a hard physical change tends to last. Instead, she suggested slow reversible steps, to see how well the idea works in reality. (As opposed to fantasy.)


Steve
Old Mountain View
on Jun 13, 2016 at 4:43 pm
Steve, Old Mountain View
on Jun 13, 2016 at 4:43 pm

Some of you are not reading carefully, or not understanding the proposal. NO ONE is proposing closing Castro to traffic. The proposal is to end Castro before the railroad tracks. You can still drive there, and there will be new bike and pedestrian access under the train tracks.

Speaking as a resident and someone who spends a lot of money on Castro businesses, I would find Castro MORE attractive with the road ending at Evelyn and providing a safer, somewhat quieter place to walk around and eat. Certainly, the backups caused by trains blocking Castro and the long lights are not helpful and make everything dangerous, not to mention polluted.

The other proposal, to tunnel under Central, is three times as expensive, still requires 2-3 years of closures, and as someone earlier pointed out, it requires the roadway to begin sinking down two blocks early, making it impossible to walk across the street and ruining the atmosphere. Check out the artist renderings and you'll see.

The only practical (and affordable) solution is to end Castro at the tracks. Downtown businesses will not suffer -- in fact, I'll bet business will increase.


Malcolm
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2016 at 4:51 pm
Malcolm, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2016 at 4:51 pm

They subway option is best but to minimize the depth they need to look at also raising track level by about 10ft yes it would create a view block but also limits the length of the roadway that has to be dug out to get enough room under the tracks for buses and such to pass.

This method has been used world wide for such problems also this would also require Alma/central express way to be lowered in same location which if done would make the traffic noise less and easier access to the light rail station area.


Me
Willowgate
on Jun 13, 2016 at 5:57 pm
Me, Willowgate
on Jun 13, 2016 at 5:57 pm

cost is also a factor. The simplest plan is about 50m or 70m, there are better plans if you have a few billion to spend. Are more expensive plans really worth all that extra money?


Jim
Rex Manor
on Jun 13, 2016 at 9:40 pm
Jim, Rex Manor
on Jun 13, 2016 at 9:40 pm

@Steve, maybe the reason some folks are commenting on closing Castro Street to traffic is the misleading headline. Although it is not one of the alternatives the City Council is currently exploring I have to say I can picture it and think it would make downtown MV a unique Bay Area destination, similar to a pedestrian street in Copenhagen. (You could still leave some of the cross streets open, like California Ave and Church St.) Anyway I can dream but I know it will never happen. (I also do not have my livelihood depending on this decision!)

IMHO tunnelling under the tracks would just destroy the character of downtown. The problem with making Castro a dead end at Evelyn is that it would divert even more traffic to Shoreline. Thanks to the traffic with Google, LinkedIn/Microsoft during the day and Shoreline Amphitheater in the evenings Shoreline is way too busy as it is. How about building a flyover between Hope St. and Central Expy? :-D


member
Rengstorff Park
on Jun 13, 2016 at 9:46 pm
member, Rengstorff Park
on Jun 13, 2016 at 9:46 pm

Why not just bury the CalTrain? The amount of disruption, noise, danger and sheer land use of that makes no sense for a booming urban area.


ivg
Rex Manor
on Jun 13, 2016 at 10:04 pm
ivg, Rex Manor
on Jun 13, 2016 at 10:04 pm

Good points on all sides. But here's one fact that we all need to come to terms with. The grade crossing is already nearly impassable during rush hour. Caltrain expansion alone will double the number of trains in a decade or two, and then high-speed rail will add a bunch more. At the time that the most people want to get in and out of downtown, it just won't matter whether or not there's a roadway, because nobody will be able to drive through it.

"Folks should look at downtown Sunnyvale as an example of a non-grade crossing of the tracks."

Can you clarify, for those of us who haven't lived here for decades? Are you talking about Mathilda?

"Why not just bury the CalTrain?"

This has been discussed before, and apparently it's not feasible. It might work for Caltrain, but not for the high-speed rail, supposedly coming soon, which has very strict limitations on the grade of the tracks.


Adam
Rex Manor
on Jun 13, 2016 at 11:16 pm
Adam, Rex Manor
on Jun 13, 2016 at 11:16 pm

First, as other commenters have correctly pointed out, neither proposal involves making Castro Street a pedestrian only zone.

Which is too bad, because frankly we should be doing exactly that. I know that I'd spend a TON more time and money at Castro St businesses. Because, let's be honest, once you've enjoyed pedestrian-only streets -- free from car exhaust spewing just a few feet from your face, car noise, etc. -- you'll wonder how and why we Americans are content to deal with this mess.

"I'd love to see a successful pedestrian-only downtown" wrote 'Common sense.'

Well, CS, maybe you should visit the bustling and thriving town of Boulder, CO. Or that not-so-sleepy-burb of Santa Monica. Or pretty much any successful, alive, joyful pedestrian plaza found in nearly every major European city. All of these places have pedestrian-only streets that are not only a pleasure to visit, but they're also a pleasure to LINGER around for hours... grabbing a coffee, then doing some shopping, then having an ice cream, then visiting another store, etc.

Contrast that with Castro Street. I know it still attracts some good crowds, but personally (and speaking for many of my friends), I tend to go there, order something to go, and then eat somewhere more peaceful and car-free (like a park or my house), so I end up spending a lot less time and money on Castro than I otherwise would.

I guess this is a bit of a moot suggestion, though :(. It looks like our council is set on non-pedestrian-focused alternatives. But on the off chance there's still, well, a chance for our leaders to consider: let's give more serious consideration to a pedestrian-only street, please!


member
Rengstorff Park
on Jun 14, 2016 at 7:47 am
member, Rengstorff Park
on Jun 14, 2016 at 7:47 am

Thanks for the reply ivg - by 'bury the CalTrain, I was meaning starting somewhere like San Fransisco and coming up in San Jose, give or take. Pretty sure that whatever parks, offices, or housing replaced it would go a long way towards paying the cost of putting it underground, and allow them to expand as they see fit. I know that not long ago it made sense to have high speed freight trains running through small towns on the peninsula, but it no longer does - and will even less in the coming years.


resident
Rengstorff Park
on Jun 14, 2016 at 9:26 am
resident, Rengstorff Park
on Jun 14, 2016 at 9:26 am

Tunneling Caltrain all the way down the peninsula is impractical for many reasons that have been discussed repeatedly in the past. A big problem is all the streams and creeks and flood control channels that are currently under the train tracks. The tunnel would have to be even lower than these (for 40 miles), causing tremendous engineering as well as cost problems. More practical is to elevate the train tracks above the street crossings all the way down the peninsula. Elevated tracks already exist through much of northern San Mateo County.


Mark Noack
another community
on Jun 14, 2016 at 3:12 pm
Mark Noack, another community
on Jun 14, 2016 at 3:12 pm

Hi folks,

Some of you have rightly pointed out that the city's proposal to close off Castro Street wouldn't be a "dead-end" per se. Sorry if I wasn't descriptive enough here -- Evelyn will still remain open for cross-traffic and drivers turning off Castro.

We had spent some time in past articles laying out these proposals, which I think it's fair to say are pretty complicated.

Web Link


Common sense
Old Mountain View
on Jun 14, 2016 at 5:25 pm
Common sense, Old Mountain View
on Jun 14, 2016 at 5:25 pm

Adam: You misread me above. I'm sorry if this was unclear (I thought it would be clear enough in its context), but I would truly LOVE it if a pedestrian-only downtown worked out in Mountain View. I've experienced many successful ones elsewhere, and lived at an apartment on one of them.

Here's the problem: It doesn't always work out that way. I would NOT want a well-meaning pedestrian-mall attempt to kill off the very businesses people expected to enjoy. (It happens some of the time, from factors invisible to people now expressing offhand enthusiasm for the idea.)

That aspect isn't even controversial. No one else wants to see the downtown businesses killed off, either. What's controversial is whether "liking" the pedestrian-mall idea assures its success. Currently, the people most knowledgeable (business owners, cited in the article, and various planning experts, one of whom I mentioned) judge it "high-risk," which is why I raise this whole issue.

I also know (and am thankful) that a "pedestrian" downtown won't happen anyway, on a basis merely of casual observers liking the idea. City Council may show insensitivity to some downtown business realities today, but they're not utterly reckless. And, the current topic is the Castro/Central intersection, not pedestrian-mall notion.


MV resident
Monta Loma
on Jun 14, 2016 at 5:28 pm
MV resident, Monta Loma
on Jun 14, 2016 at 5:28 pm

Raising the tracks would be ugly, expensive, would transmit train noise further, and would cut the city in two. Palo Alto would never stand for it, and neither should Mountain View. It's not a good idea, and it's not necessary.

The best solution as regards HSR - if in fact it is ever built - is for it to terminate in San Jose, and not run up the Peninsula. I'm guessing that this may very well happen, just because of the economic reality of the HSR project.


True
Blossom Valley
on Jun 14, 2016 at 6:08 pm
True, Blossom Valley
on Jun 14, 2016 at 6:08 pm

MV resident,

Don't worry. High Speed Fail will never ever get past San Jose if it gets that far. BART has been trying since the early 60's to gain right of way South of SFO and has failed. There's no way Gov Moonbeams 200mph (lol) fantasy super choo-choo is going up the Peninsula.


Tricked
Cuesta Park
on Jun 15, 2016 at 5:18 am
Tricked, Cuesta Park
on Jun 15, 2016 at 5:18 am

The crossing at Rengstorff Ave and Central Xwy (in front of the Mi Pueblo Market) with its poorly marked double left lanes is more dangerous in my opinion. I don't use this street much but almost got caught with my car on the tracks when I thought traffic in front of me was advancing straight ahead on a green light, but then abrubtly stopped at the red left turn arrow. Thankfully my habit of not driving onto RR tracks until there is total clearance on the other side saved me (the RR gates came down soon after). After the Caltrain went by, I still had to make a left onto Central when I wanted to continue going straight on Rengstorff. Please fix this one too before Castro crossing where its less dangerous because the trains are moving more slowly in and out of the station.


bill mcfarland
Willowgate
on Jun 15, 2016 at 3:09 pm
bill mcfarland, Willowgate
on Jun 15, 2016 at 3:09 pm

How about only closing the intersection during rush hour AM and PM Monday thru Friday? Then it could be open during the day when there is only one caltrain per hour in each direction, and open on weekends.

A strong gate system and automated warning signs could be installed. The traffic lights could also be configured accordingly.


Kyle
Monta Loma
on Jun 15, 2016 at 9:33 pm
Kyle, Monta Loma
on Jun 15, 2016 at 9:33 pm

If there isn't tooooons of parking as part of either solution then everyone involved is bad (and should feel bad).

Parking is idiotic in downtown. The only acceptable alternative is running the city-wide shuttle until 10pm. Or *gasp* run a damn bus along Central.

I can walk 2mi to downtown faster than any of my current options. So I drive. And I have to stash my car in front of your house. Sorry (not sorry).

Let's run a Bus from Sunnyvale to Palo Alto and make the VTA pay for it. Make transit great again!


Phil Cali
Rengstorff Park
on Jun 16, 2016 at 6:40 am
Phil Cali, Rengstorff Park
on Jun 16, 2016 at 6:40 am

Nobody I know goes anywhere near Castro Street anymore. Its a destination for tourists.


Business Lunch
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2016 at 6:49 am
Business Lunch, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2016 at 6:49 am

Yah, that's why it's so unbelievably crowded all the time.
Nobody _YOU_ know is the operative statement.


James Thurber
Registered user
Shoreline West
on Jun 16, 2016 at 2:09 pm
James Thurber, Shoreline West
Registered user
on Jun 16, 2016 at 2:09 pm

This is where it would pay to try something cheap and see if it works.

Using concrete barricades simply block off Central and Rengstorff Ave - completely - shutting off the stoplights - and then . . . watch what happens.

Leave the barricades in place for a set period - say four (4) weeks. By that time you'll know if it works . . . or if you have an open rebellion on your hands!


rainbow38*
Martens-Carmelita
on Jun 16, 2016 at 2:43 pm
rainbow38*, Martens-Carmelita
on Jun 16, 2016 at 2:43 pm

Blocking off the access to Central Expressway from the west side of Mountain View at Castro and Rengstorff before there's access across Castro via Evelyn would create more problems. Traffic would have to use Villa to get to Shoreline (already overloaded) to get to the east side of Mountain View via 101 or Central or Middlefield. This is a long way around for many drivers - more driving time, more gas used. As already suggested, blocking Castro to Central during specific weekday hours (10am-2pm) would probably work and not inconvenience so many people the rest of the time but this should be done only after access across Castro via Evelyn is possible.


Pilot closing Castro
Whisman Station
on Jun 16, 2016 at 5:00 pm
Pilot closing Castro , Whisman Station
on Jun 16, 2016 at 5:00 pm

The city council needs to find a way to pilot the option of closing down Castro for however long it takes to be representative of a potential future state before doing it irreversibly. They will find this to be a terrible option for business to continue to thrive and we will lose our beautiful downtown forever.


pedestrian
Old Mountain View
on Jun 16, 2016 at 8:02 pm
pedestrian, Old Mountain View
on Jun 16, 2016 at 8:02 pm

I know they haven't studied closing all of castro to vehicle traffic, but they should. That would be so beautiful and make a nicer place for festivals, eating outside, etc. More street food, etc. The road between cross streets could be replaced with a park area with bike and wide pedestrian walks and art works too. Maybe even a piano or two in the summer. It would really make a great place for families and little children and pets and be quite a draw and memorable--something different from other downtowns in the area. Something to make Mountain View special. Currently it is just another crowded downtown like many others with, to be honest, no special places at the moment. Even San Francisco is trying out closing many streets on weekends in alternating neighborhoods just for families to enjoy walking without cars.


MV resident
Monta Loma
on Jun 16, 2016 at 8:28 pm
MV resident, Monta Loma
on Jun 16, 2016 at 8:28 pm

@rainbow38* - Connecting the 2 sides of Evelyn would not be possible unless Castro is closed permanently at the tracks. Also, opening/closing the intersection at various hours would cause too much confusion with drivers who would not be aware of the hourly schedule.

The "pilot project" closure that some have suggested would not provide any useful information, as it would not replicate the "final" effects (say, in ten years) of the changes that are proposed. That situation would include trains running at least 50% more often, with more train cars per train; a much busier transit center, generating more traffic; the population of Mountain View vastly increased as perhaps 20,000 more rental units are occupied; Evelyn connected across Castro with an on-ramp to Shoreline; and drivers fully educated as to the new configuration. In this case I'm more inclined to trust the projections that the consultants have come up with.

If it were an option, I'd say leave the intersection as is and build ped/bike underpasses - Unfortunately, it is clearly not an option, with a future population and traffic density that is all too easy to foresee.


JJ
North Whisman
on Jun 21, 2016 at 1:57 pm
JJ, North Whisman
on Jun 21, 2016 at 1:57 pm

Either solution is better than status quo and I really don't think that it would impact the business. Don't get why the business is so up in arms about the proposals after reading the article. I don't even drive through Castro street anymore when I go grab a eat. It's stressful and takes forever to get through Castro, trying to avoid all of the pedestrians crossing the streets. It doesn't take me much longer to go there via either W. Dana or Shoreline. I also agree that the increasing train volume would make the status quo unsustainable any way. Let's have the right long term strategy to have a safe and prosperous down town.


Resident
Jackson Park
on Jun 21, 2016 at 2:37 pm
Resident, Jackson Park
on Jun 21, 2016 at 2:37 pm

I am for keeping Castro Street open to vehicle traffic.
If you must make a change, leave one lane of vehicle traffic coming into the downtown from Moffet and Central Expressway open and close off Castro from El Camino. This option would make it less confusing for visitors entering our City from the Bayshore/Moffet entrance and Central Expressway. Those entering the downtown from the other direction can use the side streets, Shoreline and Calderon.

But then again this means that there will be more vehicle traffic filtering into the residential neighborhoods which is not safe for bikes or pedestrians either.

I would think that the City council would have learned from their poor decisions in the past. All you have to do is look to the overflow of traffic in the Jackson Park area between Moffet and Stierlin Rd.

Now they want to create more traffic and make it less safe in the residences near Shoreline and surrounding neighborhood streets between Castro and Calderon. All this to make it a more pleasant experience to walk downtown.
What a waste.
It's not fair to the communities not the businesses downtown


Owned in Mtn. View for 30 years.
Old Mountain View
on Jun 30, 2016 at 6:54 pm
Owned in Mtn. View for 30 years., Old Mountain View
on Jun 30, 2016 at 6:54 pm

Why don't we come up with something "classy" for once. Block off Castro St. from the tracks all the way to El Camino (or to California or Church St.) and turn it into the Mtn. View version of Santana Row. There would be a lot of foot traffic for restaurants, shopping, and generally hanging out in the beautiful weather we have here in Mtn. View. Families could walk safely, young people would have a nice place to meet, and older folks could could enjoy the community they created without having to worry about traffic and congestion. Lose the cars, the exhaust, and chaos. Address the parking by having enough parking structures, and develop Castro Street in such a way that the citizens of this community can actually enjoy their own downtown.


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