Menlo Park train NIMBY calls for inexpensive Caltrain fencing
- Published Wednesday, May 17, 2006, by the Redwood City Daily News
Residents call for inexpensive Caltrain fencing
By Liz Harrelson
Daily News Staff Writer
A sturdy type of fencing used by Caltrain to keep trespassers off
the tracks is a costly barrier some Peninsula residents say can be
achieved with less expensive fencing.
"Gaza"-style fencing, as it is called by Caltrain officials, was
invented and first used in the Middle East for its resistance to
being cut, pushed down or climbed over. It is expensive to install
and maintain -- two key considerations Caltrain officials have said
limit their ability to use the $100-per-foot fencing along the
70-mile rail corridor.
Yet fencing off the train tracks running from San Francisco to
Gilroy is a "no-brainer" to one resident who has challenged
statements made by Caltrain officials that erecting a fence along
the rail corridor would be too expensive.
"If it was all fenced, that would make a huge difference in the
mortality rate," said Martin Engel, a Menlo Park resident who called
several commercial fencing companies to inquire about the cost of
fencing. "I don't know why they're not doing it," Engel said.
An 8-foot-high chain-link fence with barbed wire along the top can
be installed for about $30 a foot, according to Engel's research.
At that rate, the cost of fencing the entire rail corridor would
be around $22 million -- nearly one-quarter of the cost of one
$100-million grade separation, Engel said.
"Vis-a-vis any other option, $22 million for full, secure fencing is
a cost/benefit bargain," he said.
Caltrain officials maintain that the Gaza-style fencing is the most
"In a way, it's a money saver because we don't end up having to
patch it as often," Caltrain spokesman Jonah Weinberg said. "There
may be cheaper types of fencing, but when you have to repair a
fence ... you've just paid the same amount to do it twice."
In Burlingame, Traffic Safety and Parking Commission members urged
Caltrain officials during a May 11 public meeting to install new
fencing, which they said will prevent future deaths like that of
13-year-old Fatih Kuc, the seventh Caltrain fatality of 2006.
Yet others say the burden of preventing more deaths is not
Caltrain's sole responsibility.
"The focus is always on blaming the trains," said Geri McGilvray,
an artist and Palo Alto resident. "People do need to teach their
children not to play dare with the trains and you can't stop all
suicides, as wrong as it is."
"I don't think you can make the world completely death-proof,"
"There's no way you could fence all of the railroad tracks," she
Reach Liz, Harrelson at lharrelson@... or at (650)
571-9900, ext. 139.
[BATN: See also:
Caltrain about-face on "strategic" fencing, taking suggestions
Letter: NIMBY train foe hints Caltrain plot behind fencing gaps