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Caltrain studying further grade separations

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  • 2/18 SMCo. Times
    Published Saturday, February 18, 2006, in the San Mateo County Times Weekday service on hold for Broadway Caltrain s study on grade separations has passengers
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 18, 2006
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      Published Saturday, February 18, 2006, in the San Mateo County Times

      Weekday service on hold for Broadway
      Caltrain's study on grade separations has passengers waiting

      By Christine Morente

      BURLINGAME -- A new Caltrain study could hinder re-opening the Broadway
      station for weekday train service.

      Caltrain officials recently hired Parsons Brinckerhoff, an
      international firm, to do a footprint study of Broadway, Redwood City,
      Menlo Park and Atherton as possible sites for grade separations -- a
      structure that either raises train tracks above the road or forces the
      street below the train.

      Until the study is completed, Caltrain won't consider reconfiguring
      the Broadway station's platforms, spokesman Jonah Weinberg said. The
      study would look at the potential to install extra tracks, acquire
      land, move tracks closer or farther apart, whether to have tracks
      above or below ground, and costs.

      "We're going to look at all sorts of possibilities and see what would
      be required to do any of them," he said. "It will be a preliminary
      study of options available."

      Results of the study -- paid for with Measure A money -- are expected
      this summer.

      In April, Caltrain's board of directors suspended service to Broadway
      on weekdays because of its close proximity to the Millbrae and
      Burlingame Avenue stations. Its platform also allowed only one train
      to come into the station, while another had to wait, delaying travel
      time.

      Caltrain will renovate the Burlingame Avenue platforms because of the
      same problem. The initial plan was to have both platforms done at the
      same time.

      The potential for grade separation at Broadway won't affect the
      Broadway Interchange project, said Syed Murtuza, the city's assistant
      public works director.

      In the future, the existing Highway 101 overcrossing at Rollins Road
      would be torn down for a new bridge with new on- and-off-ramps.

      Regarding a grade separation, Murtuza said he prefers the tracks to be
      raised.

      The last fatality at the Broadway tracks was in 1995, when a bicyclist
      rounded the lowered crossing arms and was hit by a train, Weinberg
      said.

      "Our goal is to have minimal impacts to the city and its residents,
      but obviously we have to look at what the study shows," Murtuza said.
      "Tracks cannot be below the road itself. It will look very ugly. I
      don't want us to be boxed into a position or be limited in our
      options."

      Belmont and San Carlos have completed grade separations, and San Bruno
      is in the process of designing one. Redwood City officials said they
      prefer tracks to be above ground; Menlo Park and Atherton officials
      want tracks below ground.

      In Burlingame, some residents are opposed to grade separations --
      likening it to a Berlin Wall going through the city, said Ross Bruce,
      president of the Broadway Merchants Association.

      Instead, he wants Caltrain to renovate the Broadway station platform
      to bring back the train and serve commuters who live in the area.

      "We think it's going to take a while to get funding for a grade
      separation should they even choose to go in that direction," Bruce
      said. "In the meantime, with the ever-increasing cost of gasoline,
      (re-opening the station) would allow Broadway to once again be a
      transit village which it is less so now."


      Staff writer Christine Morente covers Burlingame, Millbrae, San Bruno
      and Hillsborough. She can be reached at (650) 348-4333 or at
      cmorente@...
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