Rail Grade Separation Options Narrow

Rail Grade Separation Options Narrow

The  City Council reduced a long list of rail grade separation ideas from 34 to 10 at its meeting on May 29. The 10 concepts grew out of the Connecting Palo Alto community based rail process and came recommended by the Rail Committee. Reducing the list of options helps keep Council on track to meet its goal of choosing a grade-separation alternative for each crossing by the end of the year. Council will now explore the following concepts in further detail:

Palo Alto Avenue Crossing

Two options at the northernmost rail crossing consist of:

1.)  closing Palo Alto Avenue to traffic in conjunction with yet-to-be-determined transportation improvements (these could include a widened University Avenue or a new bike tunnel at Everett)

2.)  a "hybrid" option that would slightly depress the road and partially elevate the tracks

Churchill Avenue Crossing

Three options here include:

1.)  closing Churchill Avenue (with related transportation improvements)

2.)   the "hybrid" option with a slightly raised road over somewhat depressed tracks

3.)  the "reverse hybrid" featuring raised tracks and a lowered road

Meadow Drive and Charleston Road Crossings

1.)  the "hybrid" option for the two crossings

2.)  a "reverse hybrid" option for the two crossings

3.)   a trench or a tunnel that goes through both crossings

4.)   a viaduct that would create an elevated rail line in south Palo Alto

The final idea of a deep bore tunnel encompassing all the crossings offers a citywide solution but also comes with the highest price tag— a recent analysis found it could cost between $2.4 billion and $4 billion.

Next steps, the City will now enhance its citizen outreach and appoint a group to come up with preferred solution by the end of the year. The long-term goal calls for starting construction by 2023.

Caltrain electrification is expected to be complete by 2021, which means by 2025 there could be 20 trains per hour during peak times. Without grade separation options in play, the gates at rail intersections could be down 25% of the time during daily peak periods with traffic congestion doubling by 2030.


Last Updated: June 4, 2018