This week I watched the Menlo Park City Council approve the study of a promising approach to eliminating the ground-level rail crossings at Ravenswood, Oak Grove and Glenwood Avenues. Grade separations are required to improve safety and reduce the local traffic congestion that otherwise would occur when Caltrain significantly increases the number of trains it runs each weekday starting in 2022. I encourage all residents to view a short online video of the study session (see access info below) and expect you will also be impressed by how well the Council has represented all of us. The challenge of selecting the best grade separation strategy for our city remains extremely difficult. The stakes are high and both alternatives the city has already studied have major drawbacks. Also, some members of one neighborhood not only strongly oppose an alternative that would fully elevate tracks above streets without lowering them, they have continually opposed studying it due to fears about noise and visual impacts on their properties. As expected, the Council has assured them the study will address their major concerns. The majority of the council members recognize that neither they nor our community can fairly evaluate and compare grade separation alternatives without fully understanding the pros and cons of the FEGS* alternative. In particular, Councilmembers Ray Mueller, Catherine Carlton and Drew Combs - those most knowledgeable about the history and current status of Menlo Park’s grade separation planning – made significant contributions to the study session. Although each council member may favor a different grade separation alternative at this time, they placed the interests of our community ahead of their own personal preferences. That’s true leadership.
Thanks for doing the right thing.
* Fully elevated grade separation
Study session video
View Study Session Video
Note: Select Item J1; The FEGS study session starts at 2:23:00
Motion To Approve FEGS Study
FEGS Study Scope of Work
The scope of work for the FEGS study can be viewed online
at the Menlo Park city website
Purpose Of My Blog
I believe Menlo Park residents deserve a first-rate “downtown” that is a wonderful place to shop, dine, relax, stroll and work, places with both unique character and appeal. This area includes the central business district, El Camino Real and the up-incoming train station area.
I also believe this on-going transformation requires city leaders who are focused on this mission and are committed to making necessary plans and taking necessary actions. Success also requires the extensive participation of well-informed city residents and business owners.
This blog is dedicated to informing and educating the Menlo Park community about the opportunities, pros and cons, and trade-offs associated with large public and private investments in downtown. I hope my posts and reader comments motivate residents and business owners to not only share their ideas, concerns and preferences but also constructively engage in city planning by contributing their expertise, knowledge, and time. Our city leaders need this help.
More information about specific public and private plans and projects can be found at my website