When public agencies embark upon projects, delays are -- unfortunately -- expected. Caltrain, however, has turned that expectation on its head by deciding that rather than needing two years to move piles of ballast rock off Chilco Street in Menlo Park, it can now accomplish that task within six months.
The ballast rock, used to support railroad tracks, has been stored along Chilco Street since 2008. Belle Haven residents who live nearby have expressed concerns about health hazards from dust released into the air from the rock piles.
Caltrain said in an email to the city on April 3 that it will be finished transferring the rock piles to an industrial site in Redwood City by Oct. 1.
"While Caltrain is still working to develop funding solutions to cover these immediate expenses, we understand the community's urgent desire to remove the material from the site and we want to assure you that we are fully committed to responding in the most expeditious way," spokesman Seamus Murphy wrote.
The Almanac's conjecture that the partnership between Facebook and Menlo Gateway developer David Bohannon to upgrade Chilco Street is responsible for cutting the ballast rock moving timeframe by 75 percent was substantiated by sources, but no one was ready to comment for attribution by the newspaper's deadline.
Caltrain sent out an announcement on Tuesday, April 7, with a bit more information -- the removal will cost $295,000, with Facebook footing part of the bill.
"Our contribution will enable Caltrain to permanently remove the unsightly rock, which has been stored there for a number of years," a Facebook spokesperson said, attributing the assistance to the social media company's "ongoing commitment" to the community.
Caltrain held a meeting on March 23 with several dozen Belle Haven residents who live near the rock piles, and said it would provide possible solutions by April 3.