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Help for troubled Rengstorff crossing

Original post made on Jul 6, 2016

As Mountain View City Council members focused on fixing the troublesome Castro Street train crossing, a number of people pointed out that the city ought to be doing something at another spot that may be even worse.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 6, 2016, 10:23 AM

Comments (20)

Posted by elevate the tracks
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jul 6, 2016 at 10:49 am

Please elevate the train tracks all the way through town. Allow level crossings under the tracks for both cars and pedestrians at all the street crossings. Do this to the San Antonio Road crossing, too, which is currently extremely hazardous for pedestrians.

Posted by Andrea
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 6, 2016 at 11:50 am

I hate crossing at Rengstorff and avoid it at all costs.

Posted by Ed
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 6, 2016 at 11:52 am

Ed is a registered user.

To fill in some details lacking in the article: in 2014 the MV City Council reviewed several concept designs for grade separation at Rengstorff Avenue. No funding had been identified, but the point was to have a design ready to go when funding materializes someday. Web Link

The design favored by the council in 2014 is shown as Concept A in this staff report. Web Link

Posted by Dale S
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 6, 2016 at 12:07 pm

Everyone relax...insider information here. They are going to lower the intersection at Rengstoff and Central Expwy. It is in the master plan. Just because they haven't put it out doesn't mean it's not in the plans. Shut down Castro to thru traffic and lower Rengstoff. NOW STOP CRYING EVERYONE.

Posted by Dale S
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 6, 2016 at 12:11 pm

And to Mrs. Elevate the tracks. Caltrans VTA will not do that sort of thing. Ever been to Chicago? Imagine elevated train noise coming thru MV. Caltrans VTA stated what ever happens the tracks cannot be disturbed.

Posted by elevate the tracks
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jul 6, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Caltrain has been elevating the tracks in San Mateo County for years. This design has greatly improved traffic flow there. Why are we special?

Regarding noise, removing at-grade crossings eliminates the need for the loud train whistles and the new lighter-weight electric trains should be much quieter than the old diesel trains.

Posted by Rebecca B
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2016 at 2:06 pm

What people need to do is have some common sense! DO NOT block the train tracks intersection train or no train in plain sight. Trying to be the third car on the other side of the tracks just in case railing comes down, come on now. I am now 29 years old and crossed that section from kindergarten to end of high school and nothing ever happened. Why? Because I always looked never was in the way.

Posted by Paul K
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 6, 2016 at 2:20 pm

While we wait for grade separation, how about making the right lane of the westbound Rengstorff a "right turn only" lane. The wait is forever as it is, and one person going forward ahead of you -- instead of turning right -- can bottle up the whole place unnecessarily. That's why you see so many cars cutting through the shopping center. This is a change we could make right now to alleviate headaches at the intersection.

Posted by Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 6, 2016 at 3:13 pm

@ elevate the tracks: Have you noticed the amount of real estate is gobbled up by the elevated tracks through San Mateo County? If you think $120 Million is a lot, try buying up enough prime real estate in Mountain View to accomplish this end and it will be closer to a billion.

Grade separation is coming. It won't happen overnight or soon, but by 2020 we will have it in place and traffic will flow smoothly again.

Keep in mind, the process takes time to study, report, gain acceptance, gather funding, go out for bid, award the bid, begin the work....I think you get it. In this age of instant gratification you'll need to suck it up for a couple of years before relief shows up. If that isn't possible, move.

Posted by No easy fix.
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2016 at 3:55 pm

The Shoreline-Evelyn interchange is a model for what would probably the lowest-cost interchanges to eliminate the grade-crossing problems at Rengstorff and at Castro, but take a look on the map at how much land those interchanges require!

Web Link

Posted by chmaynard
a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2016 at 11:13 pm

Fixing Caltrain grade crossings is like rearranging deck chairs. The money would be better spent on completing BART.

Posted by Threefeet
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 7, 2016 at 9:13 am

The undergrads street crossing is the only thing that makes sense!

Wondering if we will lose or all of the shopping center (with the *original Hobee's!), the gas station and across the way, Mi Pueblo?

Paul K, please rethink a right-only lane from Rengstorff onto Central-the backup in the remaining lane would be massive during rush hour times. Take San Antonio during those times. Forget cutting through Monta Loma, too -thtat's why we have speed bumps!

Posted by Kyle
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 7, 2016 at 11:11 am

Anyone opposed to the grade separation is an ass. A quarter of Mountain View has suffered through delays and re-prioritization because it doesn't help YOU. Not having the grade separation is a huge impact on the quality of life and safety of a lot of residents. We pay taxes too. It's our turn

Posted by Handytech2004
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jul 7, 2016 at 4:17 pm

I had to literally bulldoze an old drunk guy in his '69 Impala off of the rail road tracks at Rengstorff & Central with my own truck in order to escape being hit by a train (he was on his way to 'Fred's Tavern' on Old Middlefield (I followed him when the light changed). It scared the crap out of me! The train crossings are ALL way too close to the actual Central Ave intersections. It's like playing musical chairs with traffic lights and motor vehicles instead. If you're on the tracks when the 'music''re screwed!

Posted by Me
a resident of Willowgate
on Jul 7, 2016 at 6:20 pm

don't pull unto the tracks until you can go and clear the tracks, and it will be virtually impossible to get stuck on the tracks.

Posted by Tricked
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 10, 2016 at 3:05 pm

Never pull on the train tracks until you have full clearance on the other side! However the signage and street markings are VERY deceptive at this intersection and can dupe drivers who are not well acquainted with it. I wrote about my experience in an earlier MV Voice article about the proposed Castro St plans, but it is more relevant here:

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.

Posted by Lan
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jul 11, 2016 at 9:43 am


How is it that Mountain View can be home to some of the most successful tech companies in the world, the presence of which has caused major traffic problems in Mountain View, particularly on Rengstorff, and yet Mountain View continues to be too cash poor to effectively and efficiently improve traffic flow and safety?

Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2016 at 3:50 pm

AC is a registered user.


The city doesn't own grade crossings. JPB owns the tracks, and the crossings. The city doesn't own state roads. It's a messy maze of who is responsible for the upkeep of what road and what intersection.

Just answering your question....

Posted by True
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 11, 2016 at 4:31 pm

Grade separation is a fantasy. It ain't gonna happen.

I'd be happy if they'd just figure out a way to intelligently synchronize the lights at Castro & Rengstorff to the train crossings.

....and that bike/vehicle lane interface at the Rengstorff crossing has to be the worst example I've ever seen.

Posted by Shane
a resident of The Crossings
on Jul 13, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Solving the Rengstorf crossing doesn't need $100 million for a grade separation. What it needs is an engineering study to figure out better ways to sync the traffic signal with the train crossing. Right now, when a train goes by, it seems to just override the current phase of the signal, making Rengstorf traffic lose "green light time". Instead, what should happen is that Rengstorf always gets a green light after the train passes, to make sure that Rengstorf always gets a proportional amount of green light time even if there are a lot of trains.

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