BayRail 3/18 general meeting notes on San Bruno Grade Separation

We would like to thank Rafael Bolon from Caltrain for speaking at our meeting on March 18. Here’s some notes taken at the meeting:

  • Project was proposed in the early 2000’s to eliminate crossing hazard because of a number of pedestrian/vehicle collisions with trains in the area. San Mateo Avenue was particularly dangerous because it crosses the tracks at an angle.
  • Grade separations have to be elevated because of the adjacent BART tunnel. The tracks cannot be lowered because the BART tunnel crosses under Caltrain at the current San Bruno station. If the tracks were to put underground it would have to be over 100 feet deep to get under BART. BART tunnel also ruled out the option of lowering the roads.
  • This project would build a new elevated station at San Bruno Avenue, which would provide better downtown access and transit connections. Vehicular crossings would be separated at Augus, San Mateo, and San Bruno avenues. Pedestrian crossings would be built at Sylvan and Euclid avenues. Scott Avenue is not included. If HSR is built, that vehicular crossing would be eliminated and be replaced with a pedestrian underpass.
  • Project was delayed for 5 years due to lack of funding at that time.
  • After Prop 1A passed in 2008. JPB found an additional $30 million available in Prop 1B funding. No ARRA nor Prop 1A monies would be used.
  • The project had a 35% design before JPB froze the project. However this project is different than the previous one:
  • This project ends at the 380 freeway because of funding constraint. The previous project was planned to end at north of Linden Ave in SSF. Linden was included in the older version so that the dirt removed in the southern part of the project would be used to build an embankment at Linden. By not including Linden, HSRA can consider additional alignment options in that area.
  • The relationship with the City of San Bruno has been positive.
  • The current construction timetable was defined largely by the available funding opportunity. Usually the engineering work takes 18 month has now been compressed to 6 months.
  • Embankment would be 18-feet high
  • Embankment would be filled by low weight concrete (1/2 weight of water) so that no additional weight would be added onto the BART tunnels adjacent to Caltrain.
  • Low weight concrete material was used in new Bay Bridge touchdown in Oakland. Low weight concrete is easy to pump and quick to dry.
  • The project is currently designed to separate 2 tracks because JPB does not have money to build 4 tracks. However, it must not preclude HSR
  • The project would leave room for extra two tracks. (which would be used for the shoofly tracks during the construction of the first two tracks). Part of the construction package is to build the bridge foundation for the other two tracks.
  • Because of HSR, there are three station options. The first is to build a 2-track station on a 2 track embankment. The second is to build a 2 track station on a 4 track embankment. The last is to build a 4 track station.
  • Without knowing whether the two tracks would be built, Caltrain is keeping the northbound platform as an option in the construction bid package, and will make a decision in 2012 whether to build it. If there’s a commitment to build the other two tracks, the northbound platform would not be built on the 2 track structure.
  • The project went out to bid earlier in March and is waiting for an award in July. Construction would begin in August.
  • The curve at 380 is designed for 90 mph, which exceeds HSRA’s expectation.

Construction steps:

  • Build shoofly tracks to the east of the current tracks. Build temporary platforms south of the current station.
  • Transfer rail operations to shoofly
  • Create detours at road crossings to build embankment and bridge foundations.
  • Build final road alignment
  • Construct rail bridges
  • Transfer rail operation to new tracks and remove shoofly.
  • Decision would be make whether to build the embankment for the other two tracks.

See this page for project rendering: