Starting as soon as late March, Caltrain is going to begin work to electrify its rail line in Menlo Park, according to Caltrain spokeswoman Tasha Bartholomew.
The construction is expected to last between four and eight months and involve construction during the day, with some nights and some 24-hour weekends, Caltrain officials told attendees at a Menlo Park meeting on Feb. 28.
The $1.98 billion project, funded by federal, state, regional and local sources, will switch the power source for the Caltrain line from diesel to electricity and is aimed at boosting the efficiency, capacity, safety and reliability of the regional rail service between San Francisco and San Jose. The plan is to launch electrified services in 2022, according to the project website.
Caltrain plans to do work on the northern half of the city first, the 0.9 mile stretch of the rail line between Ravenswood Avenue and the Menlo Park/Atherton border, followed by work on the southern 0.7 miles of the rail line between Ravenswood Avenue and the Palo Alto border.
The work will involve preparing for and laying foundations for the electric poles, removing and pruning trees, and eventually installing the needed poles and wires.
One question raised by some of the meeting's roughly 30 attendees was how the project will impact local trees. In order to have the needed 10 feet of clearance between vegetation and Caltrain's electrical components, the agency plans to remove 30 trees on the Caltrain right-of-way, said Greg Parks, a public involvement manager subcontracted by Caltrain.
More trees are planned for significant pruning – they are targeted for scaling back by more than a quarter: 72 on Caltrain property, nine on private property, and four on other public property. Yet more trees will need to be pruned by less than a quarter: 244 trees on Caltrain property, 26 trees on city property and 76 trees on private property. The agency plans to replace 115 trees as close to their original locations as possible, said Casey Fromson, Caltrain director of government and community affairs.
According to Mr. Parks, the agency plans to install 51 poles through Menlo Park, placing one every 180 feet along the Caltrain line.
There are three types of poles that Caltrain plans to install: single-track cantilever, two-track cantilever and center poles. The single-track cantilever and center pole types are 30 to 35 feet tall, and the two-track cantilever pole type is about 45.5 feet tall.
Nighttime work in some instances could reach the noise level between that of a vacuum cleaner and a garbage disposal. Workers can install three to four poles a night, so no one area should be too impacted by construction noise for more than a night or two, according to Mr. Parks.
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