The city of Menlo Park has taken initial steps on two major transportation projects designed to improve east-west connectivity and enhance safety at the Ravenswood Avenue railroad crossing.
One project would build a bicycle and pedestrian undercrossing of the railroad tracks at Middle Avenue. The other would build a grade separation separating the roadway from the railway at Ravenswood Avenue.
On Dec. 15, the City Council formalized its support for the Middle Avenue undercrossing, designed to improve connectivity on both sides of the tracks, including between the Civic Center and the downtown areas, for walkers and cyclists.
The council passed a resolution supporting the project and authorized city staff to apply for $490,000 in San Mateo County Measure A sales tax funds. That amount, together with $210,000 from the city, would pay for preliminary engineering work on the project.
Funds for design and construction of the undercrossing, which the city estimates will cost about $11 million in total, "will need to be pursued in the future," the city said in a staff report.
In November, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority called for pedestrian and bicycle projects that could be funded by Measure A money.
The undercrossing is expected to be built in conjunction with Stanford University's plan to develop its 8.4 acres along El Camino with offices, apartments and retail. Stanford has said it will make a "substantial contribution" to fund the undercrossing, but has not been more specific.
City staff has begun its search for engineering consultants to lead the preliminary engineering and design work for a "grade separation" project at the Ravenswood Avenue crossing of the tracks. In a grade separation, the roadway runs either above or under the tracks.
Of the four rail crossings in Menlo Park at Ravenswood, Oak Grove, Glenwood and Encinal avenues the Ravenswood crossing has the highest volume of traffic, at about 24,000 vehicles per day, according to city data.
Also, Ravenswood Avenue serves as the city's main east-west connector between U.S. 101 and El Camino Real, making it the highest-priority crossing to be considered for a grade separation, city staff said.
In February 2015, it was also the site of a fatality when a train struck a car on the tracks and killed the driver, a 35-year-old woman.
Proposals from engineering consultants are due Jan. 21 and the consultant is expected to be selected in February. The projected completion date for early engineering, public outreach and design work is February 2017.