Tonight: Menlo Park meeting on fatal crash, railroad crossings


Worried about safety while crossing the train tracks in Menlo Park? A community meeting will be held tonight (March 2) to discuss the fatal crash on Feb. 23 and ways to improve the railroad crossings.

In the crash, Jahyun Jennifer Koo, 35, of Palo Alto was killed when a southbound train struck the SUV she was driving westbound on Ravenswood Avenue.

Organized by Councilman Ray Mueller, the meeting starts at 7 p.m. and will be held at Cafe Zoe, 1929 Menalto Ave. in Menlo Park.

Representatives from the Menlo Park Police Department, city staff and other officials will be on hand.

— Sandy Brundage

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4 people like this
Posted by Cafe?
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 2, 2015 at 1:14 pm

Why is this important community meeting being held in a cafe?

1 person likes this
Posted by Ray Mueller
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Mar 2, 2015 at 1:21 pm

Dear Cafe:
Great question. Originally I organized "office hours" to discuss the issue with residents, after being contacted by those who indicated their desire to gather together. Thereafter a colleague on the City Council expressed they might want to attend the event. As I had already let members of the public know I was having office hours at Cafe Zoe, we sent out a notice for a community meeting, so we wouldn't have to worry about a Brown Act violation. Hope the information is helpful.

2 people like this
Posted by Abby Normal
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 2, 2015 at 1:40 pm

The only "noticed" meeting tonight is the bike commission meeting at city hall. Web Link

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Posted by Sandy Brundage, Almanac Staff Writer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 2, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Tonight's community meeting was noticed:

Web Link

2 people like this
Posted by Abby Normal
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 2, 2015 at 2:25 pm

If Nikki Nagaya is at the bike commission meeting, who will be on hand to answer questions about grade separations?

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Posted by James Madison
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 2, 2015 at 2:56 pm

My heartfelt sympathies for the family of the woman who recently was killed. That was tragic. It is, however, safe driving 101 not to attempt to cross the tracks at Ravenswood or any other at-grade crossing without being certain there is a "hole" to crawl into on the other side.

8 people like this
Posted by Some holes get filled
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 2, 2015 at 4:01 pm

@James Madison

I agree with your commentary but according to multiple members in this site, they've experienced a situation more than once where they've had a clear destination on the other side of the tracks and then while they're in the midst of crossing a car on the other side realizes it's not in the lane it needs to be in and changes lanes into their open spot, filling their hole.

Improvements need to be made. Thank you, Ray, for moving on this quickly! I wish you could hold this meeting in the council chambers where a large group could comfortably fit, access to transportation staff would be available, and minutes/video would be taken.

2 people like this
Posted by Chuck Bernstein
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 2, 2015 at 6:26 pm

Kudos to Ray Mueller for holding this meeting. You cannot fix a problem if you don't start talking about it. If the venue proves too small, the discussion can be continued later in the council chambers. Indeed, the discussion will probably go on for many years because the problem is so intractable.

One thing we know for sure is that the current plan is not heading toward more safety. There will be more cars, more pedestrians, more bicyclists, and more students crossing tracks that will be accommodating more and faster trains. Emergency vehicles will have substantially increased response times.

Grade separation, as it is currently envisioned (raised tracks) will create an aesthetic and environmental mess for neighbors and those traveling on city streets. As one can see from the underpasses at University Avenue and Embarcadero Road in Palo Alto, traffic separation does not guarantee the smooth flow of traffic either.

In my opinion, there is only one solution that makes sense: undergrounding (and electrifying) the train. During the development of the Downtown Specific Plan, I argued many times for the city to cost out this approach, but that was never done. "Too expensive," said the planners, who could never substantiate their conclusion with any facts, but were nonetheless steadfast in their conclusions based on ignorance. Through traffic from Stanford should also be undergrounded below El Camino.

Would it be expensive? Probably. But think of the beauty it could create, not to mention the value of the safety and amenities that could be accommodated.

Ray, I may not make the meeting tonight, but please ask the planners to look into the feasibility of tearing down the wall that is El Camino during commute hours. Let's go underground and accommodate local traffic only on the above-ground El Camino.

--Chuck Bernstein
444 Oak Court, Menlo Park

1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 2, 2015 at 7:31 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.


great idea. Just one question. Who in the heck do you think is going to pay for this? I am a builder and I have been involved with heavy civil construction, which what you're suggesting is. What you suggest is HUGELY expensive and insanely disruptive. to do what you suggest, a trench would need to be dug under an active highway. I suggest you look up the "big dig" in Boston to get a clue as to what would be involved.

I place your idea in the "pie in the sky" category. Let's come up with something more realistic. Something like Stanford adding another interconnection to 280. It would pull a lot of traffic off ECR as much of the traffic on ECR is there because of poor access to 280. Both Page Mill and Sand Hill are extremely backed up at commute times.

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Posted by MBA
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 3, 2015 at 1:19 pm

One way to pay for undergrounding El Camino traffic would be to have a Fast Track-only pathway that is underground. The amount of non-MP-local traffic is immense. The charge wouldn't need to be much, but I'll bet quite a few people would pay to avoid having to stop in Menlo Park.
The Lake Como area in Italy added tunnels through mountains so through-traffic could move quickly. Talk about cost! Why is it we can't afford this?

Undergrounding the train also makes sense. Chuck doesn't mention that development could occur where the tracks are now, bringing property taxes to Menlo Park and revenue to the developer. Grants are available. Improved crossings would benefit specific plan are property owners, esp. new developers who can build much larger projects than a few years ago and could pay more in fees for that benefit. All that should be compared to the costs. Unfortunately, our staff tends to only look at gross costs, not net.

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 3, 2015 at 5:14 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Chuck doesn't mention that development could occur where the tracks are now, bringing property taxes to Menlo Park and revenue to the developer."

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 25, 2015 at 2:36 pm
"One thought is the put the trains underground, use the surface rights above it for housing in the stretches between stations and use the surface above the stations for transit connections and parking. The surface area of the current right of way is very valuable land - particularly in Atherton - and could generate a lot of the needed capital.

Why not take this as an opportunity to design a multi-dimensional, multi-purpose system that uses the existing right-of-way that includes CalTrain, HSR, utility conduits for telephone and internet cables, surface housing with high density housing around each station. And add a pedestrian path and a separate bicycle path on the surface along the entire right of way. And include 3 or 4 12" conduits for the technology of the future.

We should think of this right of way as an integrated multi-modal communications spine for the peninsula."

Do it once and do it right.

4 people like this
Posted by Nathan Wind
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 3, 2015 at 8:13 pm

[Part removed. Please comment on the topic, not other posters.]

If you think undergrounding all of the Caltrain line is feasible, how about you ask Seattle. That project runs for all of 2 miles, it costs $4+ billion, and the FRICKIN' TUNNEL BORING MACHINE IS STUCK:

Web Link

[part removed.]

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda

on Sep 25, 2017 at 4:08 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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