Posted by Martin Engel, a resident of the Menlo Park: Park Forest neighborhood, on Nov 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm
Here we go again. The camel can't seem to keep its Caltrain corridor development nose out of the tent. Grade separations were aggressively promoted by the dynamic City Council trio of Winkler, Duboc and Jellins in 2003. Studies were conducted. Consultants were hired. All four crossings were under consideration. The project was aggressively promoted by city staff and Council. The studies produced and the consultant presentations were exercises in highly misleading distortions.
None of the actual adverse consequences were considered (or were ignored when presented) since it promised to be a project involving many millions of dollars. After all, capital development funds are the most fun to spend and they lubricate the functioning of public bureaucracies.
Now, ten years later, we're back to square one. Only this time, the idea of grade separations has become contaminated with the confounding facts of the anticipated high-speed rail, which none of us who have tried have yet managed to derail.
Will the "blended" design for the corridor -- combining high-speed rail with Caltrain on two tracks -- remain the preferred option? Yes, but only until further funding materializes. The inevitable destiny of the Caltrain corridor will be four tracks elevated on a viaduct. (Please feel free to live in denial and reject this prediction.)
My point here is that any grade crossing separation project that ignores the intentions of the California High-Speed Rail Authority does so at the risk of all of us in Menlo Park. The harm that will come to the city has been outlined repeatedly in this newspaper.
With all due respect for Chip Taylor, $225 million may pay for one or two grade separations (the half-up, half-down version), but certainly no more. To grade separate at Ravenswood is enormously complex and I'm guessing that $200 million will be barely enough.
But that's not the point right now. I gather the issue is to obtain funding to do studies. After all, studies are the bread and butter of our Administration. I'm fond of quoting former Councilman John Boyle who once noted that doing studies is highly desirable because they prolong making decisions and acting on them.
Attention Menlo Park. Listen to Nancy Reagan and "just say No."