Menlo Park joins queue for grade separation at Ravenswood without design yet

Last night the Menlo Park City Council agreed to send a letter asking to be considered for grade separation funding, for participation in the San Mateo County call for Grade Separation projects. The Council is prioritizing the Ravenswood crossing which has the highest vehicle traffic by far, and not picking any design.

There were three public comments in favor (including Fran Dehn of the Chamber of Commerce and this blogger as a Menlo Park resident), as well as letters in favor.

Like the Burlingame City Council last month, the city decided to start participation without a preferred design, citing the need for more public input and further study.

Designs studied back in 2004 included overpass, underpass, part-up-part-down, and trench options.

Council members reported community concern about designs that include elevation increase. One problem with the “trench” alternative that people initially prefer is that it very expensive (The trench design for Broadway in Burlingame was estimated at $500M+ in a 2009 study). Another problem highlighted in the City Council meeting is that the “trench” would require cutting off streets parallel to El Camino and creating cul de sacs instead. This would make it hard to walk or bike to and from the train, and create detours for people trying to walk or bike to the library or gym. The 2004 study looked at 4 tracks, so it is possible that a slimmer 2 or even 3 track option might not require cutting off the side streets.

It will require more design and feedback and debate for Menlo Park to come to a decision on a design. Hopefully as the community learns more about the issue, station access will be highly valued in the decision to grade separate Ravenswood.