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Menlo Park train NIMBY calls for inexpensive Caltrain fencing

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  • 5/17 Redwood City Daily
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , May 18 6:21 PM
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      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
      cost-effective option.

      "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,"
      McGilvray said.

      "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
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/30339 ]
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