San Mateo County offers grade separation funding

On Thursday, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority Board (SMCTA) agreed to solicit proposals to fund Caltrain grade separations.The SMCTA is requesting cities to respond by late November about their interest in grade separation funding. For details see item 11(c) in the meeting packet.

San Mateo County’s Measure A half-cent sales tax has about $200 million that can be used as “local match” for grade separation projects, along with other State and Federal sources and developer fees.  For comparison, the grade separation in San Bruno cost about $150 million, of which $29 million was supplied by San Mateo County Measure A funds. Belmont and San Carlos cost $170 million, and the proposed San Mateo 25th Avenue Grade Separation is estimated at $200 million.

With the upcoming implementation of electrification by 2019, and the prospect of high speed trains after 2028, there will be more trains crossing local roads. The Caltrain Electrification project does not *require* any grade separations, but cities may want them to reduce traffic congestion and improve safety.  Grade separations are legally required if train speeds exceed 125MPH (higher than the planned speed of the blended system), and may be recommended by CPUC for sections that have passing tracks.

The Mayor and Public Works director of San Mateo spoke in favor of the funding; the City of San Mateo is planning to request funding a grade separation at 25th Avenue near the San Mateo County Expo Center.  Grade separation has been investigated in other San Mateo County cities including Menlo Park  (which conducted a Feasibility Study in 2004 about the options for Ravenswood, Oak Grove, Glenwood and Encinal, and Burlingame, which had studies done to grade separate its crossings in 2009.
While San Mateo County is moving forward to fund grade separations that cities request, Santa Clara County does not yet have funding dedicated for grade separations.

Ravenswood Grade Separation Options, Menlo Park

Upcoming meetings
There are at least two meetings this week that will touch on these issues. The Menlo Park High Speed Rail Committee is meeting on Monday September 10 at 5:30 pm to discuss potentially increasing its scope to cover Caltrain electrification and related topics.  And the Palo Alto City Council Rail Committee will receive a presentation on Thursday September 13 on the ongoing study of grade crossings and traffic impact.
Participate in grade separation planning
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Are there upcoming local meetings on this topic that are not listed above?  Mention them in comments for addition to the Adopt-a-Station Calendar.