Published Thursday, November 6, 2008, by the San Francisco Examiner
Caltrain project calls for beefed-up safety
By Mike Aldax
In the wake of two fatal collisions last month, Caltrain is moving
ahead with a $250 million plan to limit car and pedestrian access to
The project would eliminate five street-level crossings in San Bruno,
creating underpasses for vehicles and pedestrians to pass through,
and would also replace aging railroad bridges in San Mateo and San
Francisco, among other work, Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn
The key improvements, known as grade separations, are part of the
transit agency's efforts to improve safety on tracks, where more than
180 people have died since 1992, including 12 this year, said Dunn.
Last week, a train struck a pickup at a San Mateo crossing just
before the morning commute, killing the driver and dragging his
mangled truck about 200 feet.
Today, the transit agency's board of directors will authorize a
funding agreement in which the California Department of
Transportation will provide $45 million toward the improvements.
The funding comes as a result of Proposition 1B, approved by voters
in 2006. The agency will foot the rest of the bill, Dunn said.
As part of the project, streets would be lowered beneath the tracks
at the San Bruno crossing of South Linden, San Bruno, San Mateo and
The safety improvements are welcomed by engineers, who say they feel
helpless and anguished by the fatalities.
"Engineers are as much victims of [the fatalities]," said Tim Smith,
the state chairman of the union representing Caltrain engineers.
"These grade separation projects or improvements at the grade
crossing are not only good for [engineers], but good for the public
along the right-of-way, as well."
Additionally, several railroad bridges in San Mateo that are more
than 100 years old will be replaced with new, seismically retrofitted
structures, as well as an old steel bridge at Quint Street and
Jerrold Avenue in The City, she said.
In recent years, Caltrain has also embarked on a campaign to limit
and discourage pedestrian access to the tracks, and has worked to
discourage suicides, said Chris Payne, the agency's safety officer.
Train fatalities will also drop once Caltrain electrifies its rail
system, Dunn said.
On the right track: Caltrain to make $250 million in rail safety-
* Construction to begin in 2012
* Lower streets below tracks at crossing of South Linden, San Bruno,
San Mateo and Angus avenues
* Raise tracks on Scott Street, closing it to traffic
* Building pedestrian underpasses at Scott Street and Euclid and
* Construction to begin in 2009
* Replace 100-year-old bridges that cross Tilton Avenue, Monte Diablo
Street, Santa Inez Street and Poplar Avenue
* Bridge crossing Poplar Avenue will be raised to allow emergency
vehicles such as fire trucks to pass through
* Construction to begin in 2009
* Replace steel bridges at Quint Street and Jerrold Avenue
* Reconstruct tracks, streets and pedestrian sidewalks
[BATN: See also:
Caltrain to begin $4.3m revamp of all 4 San Bruno grade crossings
Safety upgrades planned for Caltrain San Bruno grade crossings
San Bruno may straighten angled Caltrain crossing
Road crossing upgrades slated for Caltrain in San Bruno
Meeting on delayed San Bruno Caltrain grade separations
Caltrain OK's 2025 plan, delays San Bruno grade separations
Caltrain promotes electrification, delays San Bruno grade seps
Caltrain hits car driving around crossing gate in San Bruno
San Bruno worries Caltrain electrification will delay grade separations
Caltrain may delay San Bruno grade separations up to 5 years
Caltrain studying further grade separations
Mis-designed San Bruno Caltrain grade sep may be deferred