The city of Menlo Park is moving forward with plans to build a grade-separated bike and pedestrian rail crossing at Middle Avenue, which will finally provide cyclists and pedestrians a connection between El Camino Real and Alma Street in Menlo Park between the Palo Alto border and Ravenswood Avenue.
A community meeting is scheduled tonight (May 13) for members of the public to learn about different proposals for the crossing and provide feedback.
The meeting will take place in the Elm Room at the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center at 700 Alma St. and will include a 30-minute open house to review concepts for the crossing starting at 6:30 p.m., followed by a presentation and a question-and-answer session beginning at 7 p.m.
The project is in the engineering phase, which also includes public outreach, environmental impact analysis and preliminary design plans.
In an email to the Menlo Park City Council, former mayor Steve Schmidt questioned the sequencing of pursuing a bike and pedestrian crossing at Middle Avenue without having a clear grade separation plan, saying he believed the city was "putting the cart before the horse."
The current designs for the bike and pedestrian rail crossing assume the Caltrain rail line will stay at its current elevation, which isn't a given, he points out. The city is exploring the option of a fully elevated grade separation, which would raise the rail line, and conversations are still happening about the possibility of lowering the rail line via a trench or tunnel, he wrote.
According to Schmidt, "Were either the fully elevated design or the tunnel design chosen, the two undercrossing options now being discussed at this community meeting would be obsolete and if constructed, would have to be demolished. ... Involving the community in this process at this time exacerbates an already baffling process. Please put together a program that includes a reasonable sequence of decisions so that the final project is the most user-friendly and the most economically viable project."