Caltrain studying further grade separations
- 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
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
Caltrain will renovate the Burlingame Avenue platforms because of the
same problem. The initial plan was to have both platforms done at the
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
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
"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
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