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Grab your earplugs: Caltrain starts 4 weeks of night work this Sunday

Original post made on Aug 22, 2009

Residents living near the Caltrain tracks and their intersections with Encinal, Glenwood, Oak Grove and Ravenswood avenues can expect to have their sleep disrupted beginning Sunday, Aug. 23, for the next four weeks as Caltrain works on railroad crossings.


Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 21, 2009, 6:10 PM

Comments (26)

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Posted by No, Please, No
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 22, 2009 at 11:43 am

Poorly timed with the start of school in Menlo Park. So we will have a bunch of sleep-deprived parents and kids for the first week - oh joy. The timing of the announcement is interesting as well - 5:02pm on a Friday - timed so that there can be no complaints during business hours prior to the start. Amazing.

Given the horrendous noise of the train horns lately, I don't have much faith that Caltrain is all that interested in making "every effort to work as quickly and quietly as possible to minimize any disturbance to neighbors."

Pay attention people - this will be just a taste of the noise if HSR is built through the peninsula, only the disruption will last MUCH longer than one week.


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Posted by disgusted
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 22, 2009 at 1:03 pm

No please no, you should note that the project is planned to last FOUR weeks, not one. But that's OK, it's your sleep at stake, not that of the bureaucrats who were too cowardly to announce the project before going home for the weekend. Sweet dreams ...


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Posted by Jeremy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 22, 2009 at 4:41 pm

While I won't deny that the construction required for high speed rail will take much more time and be much more disruptive than this current job, the noise and disruption caused by rail in Menlo Park will be significantly lessened by grade separation, electrification, and other improvements gained from the change. And, for what it's worth, my home abuts the tracks - I am painfully aware of every Caltrain action. :)


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Posted by scott
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 23, 2009 at 12:18 am

Sorry to burst "Jeremy's" good hearted notion but if high speed rail comes through Menlo Park and his house currently abuts the tracks - he won't have a house! There will be eminent domain takings up and down the Caltrain corridor. Current plans include 4 to 6 elevated tracks with a 120 foot wide right of way. We'll also get a lot more noise then we're getting now. Don't kid yourself.


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Posted by Doc Savage
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 23, 2009 at 1:56 am

Stop the High Speed Rail. The referendum was passed without informing anyone of the huge land grab. The last thing we need with all the Caltrain suicides already is to have 120mph trains running through our neighborhoods, blowing their horns.


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Posted by Bianca
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 23, 2009 at 8:45 am

To clear up some of the Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt:

Scott, you need to read this: Web Link

There is a lot more room on the Caltrain corridor than people think. To run four tracks you only really need 75 feet, and 94% of the Caltrain right of way is at least 75 feet wide. Current plans along the Caltrain right of way only call for four tracks, not six. (If the Altamont alignment had been chosen instead of Pacheco, that alignment would have required six tracks in places because of BART.)

Doc Savage, High Speed Rail would bring with it grade separations, and the end of trains blowing their horns. The notion that we will have trains going by at 120 mph blowing their horns is nonsense.

The real issue here is continuing heavy freight. Heavy freight requires longer approaches to grade separations than Caltrain or HSR do. Heavy freight can only handle a 1% grade, whereas Caltrain and HSR could handle 3.5% grade. It's the freight trains that are making the grade separation designs so bulky and overpowering. For how many trains? Three trains a day. Web Link

Finally, and to get back on to the subject of article, I have a question. Caltrain has to do maintenance on the tracks. When, precisely, do they think track maintenance should be done? Should they disrupt the entire schedule of train service? Or take advantage of the block of time when relatively few trains are coming through?


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Posted by scott
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 23, 2009 at 10:24 am

Bianca -- I'm not sure where you're getting your facts but they are way off. Since we live in Felton Gables we're a little more motivated - than someone who lives in the Allied Arts - to know what's really happening. We are also working with rail consultants and environmental attorney's who tell us the link you provided is nonsense. Kind of like the Rail Authority's business plan which was blasted by the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO)- an highly respected and independent review board. Also - if the route through Altamont is chosen - it would NOT require 6 tracks - and would not share tracks with BART. It would be using the same right of way as Hwy. 580 and require only two tracks. It would also bypass the peninsula altogether, pick up all the congestion in the East Bay, and get to LA faster. -Scott


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Posted by Bianca
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 23, 2009 at 11:24 am

Scott- I don't know where you are getting your information, because you aren't providing any links to back up your assertions. I did.

You are going to have to come up with something more fact-based than just saying it is "nonsense."

Please explain to me how living in Felton Gables gives you a stronger grasp on objective truth than living in Allied Arts does.


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Posted by scott
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 23, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Bianca, I'm happy to give you all sorts of objective data but going back and forth on this bulletin board is pointless. You are welcome to contact me directly. I will give my contact information to the editor of the Almanac and look forward to your call. -Scott


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Posted by Bianca
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 23, 2009 at 2:22 pm

Scott, I'm happy to do that, but it doesn't provide the information you have to other readers. Do you have sources that you can link to on the internet, so that others can read it as well?


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Posted by scott
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 23, 2009 at 2:52 pm

The right-of-way and set backs to build this system require multiple eminent domain takings along the corridor through Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto.

For a good visual example, take a look at the video produced by Palo Alto architect, Jim McFall on: www.hsr-letsdoitright.com

The Peninsula Cities Consortium (PCC) will be hosting a "Teach-In" on high speed rail and make a concerted effort to deliver BOTH sides of this issue on 9/12/09. For more details visit: Web Link


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Posted by Bianca
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 23, 2009 at 3:35 pm

I'm very familiar with that video already. That video depicts the tracks a full six feet higher than the initial CHRSA documents do. It places the catenaries much closer together than necessary, and it depicts the area completely denuded of all vegetation, including all the trees a block away from the ROW that would not be affected by construction.

It's a misleading video, and if that's your "good visual example", I remain unconvinced. The website you referenced also contains that ridiculously misleading scare-mongering rendering of what the Menlo Park train station would look like with a giant concrete wall.

Another problem with that "let's do it right" website is that there is no ability to comment or question any of the information presented. The page about Altamont says it would "save $2 Billion" but it doesn't say how or back that claim up with a cite, and there isn't any way to point that out.

Finally, that "let's do it right" website makes a lot of scary statements about how the Pacheco alignment would "destroy" the Peninsula towns without explaining how, exactly, the Altamont alignment would not do the same thing to Fremont, Pleasanton, or Livermore. The obvious conclusion is that the argument for Altamont over Pacheco is based solely on NIMBY-ism and not that Altamont is actually inherently superior.

If you oppose HSR because you don't want it in your backyard, fine, that's your prerogative, but be honest about that. I respect honesty.

I'm already signed up to attend the HSR teach-in. I believe that there are ways we can positively engage with the process so that the outcome is something that is reasonably acceptable to most of us.


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Posted by scott
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 23, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Wow. That's quite a reaction "Bianca" -- wonder who you REALLY are? -- wonder if you REALLY live in this town. Your reaction sounds a lot like some of those nasty bloggers who want high speed rail at all costs -- not someone who is actually concerned about the devestation it will do to our communities or that the route was politically motivated. Your tone and message is all too familiar.


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Posted by Bianca
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 23, 2009 at 4:19 pm

As I said before, Scott, I've already signed up for the HSR teach-in.

I look forward to meeting you there.

I'm not sure why you have to doubt who I really am.

Let me also repeat what I said above: I believe that there are ways we can positively engage with the process so that the outcome is something that is reasonably acceptable to most of us.

Does that sound like "nasty bloggers who want high speed rail at all costs"?


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Posted by mary kennedy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 24, 2009 at 7:59 am

Don't you all think this is just a tad suspicious?

First we vote for the high speed train - then come to find out it means the construction of a 4-track, elevated structure with concrete sound walls and grade seperations at every intersection (think Belmont).

Then we are "blasted" and called names by Ron Diridon, Quentin Kopp and their henchmen (aka: bloggers) if we "dare" object.

Then the California High Speed Rail Authority forms an unholy alliance with Caltrain. Caltrain will get all the money it needs for improvements and the Rail Authority will get to develop the corridor. They just forgot one little itsy bitsy detail: neither one of them has the legal right to make these plans. Untion Pacific owns the right-of-way!

Suddenly - Caltrain moves their horns and turns up the volume! We are once again "blasted" and told that if we had grade seperations they wouldn't have to be so loud (as if this is the only solution).

Now, we have Caltrain workers at every intersection in Atherton and Menlo Park working all hours of the night for weeks? What is so important that they have to do this all at once at every intersection in the middle of the night? And why didn't we know about this until 5 PM last Friday?

Pay attention people - this will be just a taste of the noise if HSR is built through the peninsula, only the disruption will last MUCH longer than one week.

KIND OF LIKE THE PERMANENT STATE OF WAR HAS BEEN DECLARED.


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Posted by laughing hysterically
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 24, 2009 at 9:15 am

Why is it ALWAYS the people who buy homes near the airport that complain about the airplane nose...or the people who buy a home on the coast and then complain about the fog horn...HELLO...you people bought a home near the train tracks!! Deal with it!!! The only time the work can get done is after hours! Quit whining about it or move away from the train tracks!!!!!


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2009 at 10:06 am

While it is not as interesting as some of the conspiracy theories that are flying around, given the fact that the article clearly stated that the work was to upgrade the pedestrian crossings, fences and gates that this work was put onto the front burner due to the rash of suicides and other fatalities that have occurred between RC and PA in the past year. I know Caltrains got some fed stimulus funding, and I'll be their legal/insurance folks have been pressing them to do all they can to make the tracks more secure. I realize HSR is an emotional issue, but so is safety, and I would like to think the people who work at Caltrain are, for the most part, sincere, honest folks just doing their job. If the work results in safer ped crossings, I'm all for it!


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Posted by Sleepless
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 24, 2009 at 11:20 am

Move away from the train tracks...don't I wish! However, with the passage of high speed rail, the newspapers and real estate brokers report that our houses are essentially unsaleable. Many of us have lived in these homes and neighborhoods for 20 or more years, when half the number of trains went by and no incredibly loud horns. What used to be an minor inconvenience for affordable housing is now intolerable. Rather insensitive comment from laughing hysterically in Sharon Heights.


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Posted by Sasha
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 24, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Hey...when you people bought your houses or moved in to the area, NEAR train tracks....did you expect there would NEVER be any work done. I live behind Safeway and work at home during the day, and had to listen to LOTS of noise EVERYDAY from 7:58a.m. until 6pm. It's just part of the deal when you live in an area that needs constant improvements. If there were no improvements, you would probably complain as well.

I think they were smart not advising people until late Friday. Why give them more headaches by listening to all your complaints that won't change anything anyway.


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Posted by Railfan
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Aug 24, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Never heard so much from people who are ill informed on high speed rail. First with grade separations there will be no horns. Second the electric locomotives will be much quieter and fume free than the current diesel Caltrain units. Third the high speed rail trains will be built with current technology(See ATV train under development in France by Alstom), current Caltrain cars are 30 year old technology at least. Best bet is that HSR may be quieter than current Caltrain, bring it on!.




















































































































































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Posted by Clem
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2009 at 6:24 pm

@scott -- you said:

> We are also working with rail consultants and environmental attorney's who tell us the link you provided is nonsense.

Since I am the author of "the link", I hereby request your help in setting the record straight. I take great pains to research all the material for the Caltrain - HSR blog. I intend my blog to be an educational tool, and if I happen to be spreading misinformation it is very important that you help me correct it. Please contact me at your earliest convenience, clem AT tillier DOT net


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Posted by Another train neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 26, 2009 at 12:48 pm

After experiencing the current noise/light disruption from the Cal-Train work, the increase in teen-age suicides nowhere near where the "suicide prevention" work is being done and hearing about the proposed HSR plans and the potential for destroying our Peninsula communities, does anyone else think that any train - high speed, commuter rail or freight - has outlived its usefulness along the current rails? When that rail line was built, the peninsula was a different place, and the tracks provided the main connection between the communities that were isolated from one another. The need to cross the tracks and the number of trains were miniscule compared to our current situation. The safety issues, the property devaluation, the noise, the lack of profit for Cal-Train and the frustration of the communities with the whole rail situation all point to an outdated method of transportation. It seems that instead of removing the problem, the HSR will only be whitewashing the problem. They want to superimpose a "modern" method of travel on an antiquated right of way. When the San Francisco Airport was built, it was built away from the existing communities and wasn't located on the 101 and it wasn't sold to the communities as a great alternative to automobile travel to places they would want to go. The point is, the HSR by itself may be a good alternative for medium distance travel, but it has no use in replacing short distance travel along the Peninsula and therefore should not occupy short distance travel right of ways. Just as it would not have made sense to replace the 101 right of way for cars with airport runways. Additionally, Cal-Train is now an outdated method for short distance travel and as such should be replaced by BART or some type of underground rail system with more stops and more trains utilizing the current right-of-way. No one can argue that our current short distance transportation methods along the peninsula need an upgrade. Would anyone else like to see this done in a way that enhances our children's safety, our communities, our property values, and our environment?


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Posted by Clem
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Not a peep from "scott"...


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Posted by Scott
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Sep 3, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Just a head's up to those of us that actually own property here in Menlo Park, Atherton and Palo Alto: Beware of HSR internet bullies on these bulletin boards. Their only goal is to discredit and insult anybody who disagrees with them. Here are a few: "Clem" "Bianca" "Sasha" "Railfan" and "Cruickshank"


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Posted by Bianca
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 4, 2009 at 11:30 am

Right above the box where I am typing this are the words "a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion."

I live and own property in Menlo Park. I am sharing my opinion. I will indeed attempt to discredit statements that I believe to be factually incorrect. I'm not interested in insulting people, but if you find it insulting to have misstatements corrected, I really can't help that.

I've never met Clem, but I understand that he takes great care to present factual information on his blog. I've never seen him direct a personal insult at anyone on these boards or on his own blog.

If you think we are "internet bullies", you really need to get out more.


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Posted by Bianca
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 4, 2009 at 11:52 am

I should also add that concerns about noise and aesthetics are valid concerns and we need to find solutions for them. Changing the alignment to Altamont doesn't solve the problem, it merely shifts the problem to a different set of Menlo Park homeowners. It's important to keep in mind that the Altamont alignment also runs through Menlo Park, and actually would impact a larger number of houses in Menlo Park than the current plan does. So the noise and aesthetics issues have to be resolved one way or another.

I'm confident though that here in Silicon Valley, in an area filled with very creative problem-solvers and innovators, we can come up with a solution that most of us are reasonably satisfied with.


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