San Bruno worries Caltrain electrification will delay grade separations
- 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
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