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San Bruno worries Caltrain electrification will delay grade separations

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  • 6/20 SMCo. Times
    Published Tuesday, June 20, 2006, by the San Mateo County Times Bridge project still on track Grade separation plan should not be delayed By Todd R. Brown
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 26 5:13 PM
      Published Tuesday, June 20, 2006, by the San Mateo County Times

      Bridge project still on track
      Grade separation plan should not be delayed

      By Todd R. Brown
      Staff Writer

      SAN BRUNO -- Transportation officials said Monday that the priority
      given to making Caltrain run on electric power will do nothing to
      slow down San Bruno's grade-separation project.

      Fuel prices have brought renewed attention to Caltrain's plan to
      stop using diesel by 2014, which has prompted some worry that
      smaller improvements in San Mateo County could be put on the slow

      Ian McAvoy, chief development officer for SamTrans, said the bridge
      projects along the Peninsula line are at the top of the list for
      transit agencies, even as he was set to speak about electrification
      today in San Francisco.

      "It's more of a time issue," McAvoy said. "We've been planning for
      these projects for quite a while. Obviously, the longer we leave
      them, the higher the costs get."

      In January, San Bruno residents learned that Caltrain was
      determining its long-term budget priorities and could push back the
      grade-separation project by up to five years.

      McAvoy said Monday that Project 2025 is still in draft stage and
      should be ready for Caltrain's Joint Powers Board meeting Aug. 3.
      He said until the group meets, any notion of whether the San Bruno
      project could be delayed is just speculation.

      "Well, it could stay on the schedule that it has right now, or it
      could be pushed back," he said. "No official decision's been made."

      City Councilman Jim Ruane, who co-chairs the project's Concerned
      Citizens Committee, said as it now stands, the two-year construction
      is set to begin in 2007 at a cost of about $150 million to $200

      Although he wondered whether the push for electrification could
      lessen the urgency of Peninsula projects, he had confidence in
      where San Bruno stands.

      "We have been assured by them pretty emphatically that we are the
      absolute top priority.

      We're just waiting to hear," Ruane said. "We are all the way to
      station design now, as far as what the station will look like."

      But the history of delays for the project and investigations into
      how it should proceed have sowed the seeds for continuing doubts
      about when it will become a reality.

      "We are in our 11th year trying to get these grade separations,"
      said Alice Barnes, a longtime backer of the plan. "Had we more
      aggressive Caltrain and City Hall support ... we would be using
      elevated tracks through San Bruno right now, and saving lives."

      Last month Caltrain said four deaths on its lines this year were
      suicides and announced a fund-raising drive for suicide prevention.
      In April, a Burlingame teen died while cutting across the tracks.

      McAvoy said the agency has been pushing for a grade separation at
      the San Bruno station to improve safety for two or three years.

      "Obviously, we're very concerned about the incidents that have been
      happening, and these projects certainly would help," he said.

      McAvoy said other Peninsula priorities for Caltrain include
      rebuilding bridges at the north end of San Mateo, making pedestrian
      safety improvements between the Broadway and Burlingame stations,
      and finishing the bridge rebuilding in Redwood City.

      Staff writer Todd R. Brown covers Brisbane, Colma, Daly City,
      Millbrae, San Bruno and South San Francisco. Reach him at
      (650) 348-4473 or tbrown@...

      [BATN: See also:

      Rising diesel costs lend urgency to Caltrain electrification

      Caltrain may delay San Bruno grade separations up to 5 years

      Caltrain Redwood City bridge replacement has neighbors upset

      Caltrain to replace Redwood Creek Bridge in Redwood
      Cityhttp://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/29620 ]
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