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Ravenswood/Alma Intersection and Railway Crossing Concerns

From: domainremoved <Allison>
Date: Wed, 10 Jun 2015 18:19:49 -0700

Dear Council Members,

We are writing to express our concern and disappointment regarding the
project at the Ravenswood/Alma intersection. As the Owner and Managing
Director of AXIS Personal Trainers, which has been located at this
intersection for almost 20 years, this directly affects our business and we
are intimately familiar with the dangers in this area.

First, in the last week since the median was put in place, there has
definitely been an increase in traffic. By taking out options to turn left
or right on Alma, all traffic must continue east on Ravenswood. This has
caused longer backups when the Laurel St. traffic light is red which has
lead to more cars backing up close to or on the train tracks. This is an
even bigger problem when pedestrians are crossing Ravenswood. The crosswalk
has always been the biggest danger, both to the pedestrians, as well as to
the drivers who often get backed up onto the tracks. Now with more traffic
going through the intersection, it has become more dangerous than ever.
Just to give a few examples of what we have seen in the past week; not only
are cars backing up to the tracks, we have seen people try to go around the
median via u-turns at the alley, we have had several cars turn left into
the alley and cut through our parking lot by going around the barrier we
have in place. We have also seen people doing u-turns on the train tracks
in order to go east.

We do realize that there will always be a bit of chaos when changes are
made. We are frustrated with the lack of communication that we had about
these changes, which directly affect traffic to and from our business. We
were not sent a letter about any meetings and we were not given an
opportunity to voice our concerns prior to this change. Even a few days
prior to the median being put in, we had a hard time getting any
information when we went to the City of Menlo Park. We finally were put in
touch with Jesse Quirion who was helpful in giving us the correct
information. We have read through pages and pages of information on this
issue and it is our hope that the City Council will come up with a proper
long term solution to make this area safer for everyone. It seems that the
median was put up to satisfy the public, to make it seem as though
something was being done, after the most recent fatality in the tracks.
However, this does not solve the real problem, and has seemingly made it

Data collected by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) shows that in
the last 10 years, 5 incidents have occurred at the Ravenswood Avenue
crossing, 2 of these resulting in fatalities. Being right outside our door,
we were first responders in both of these horrible accidents. In the most
recent fatality where the young woman's car was struck by the train, she
was heading westbound. The only thing that could've prevented that tragedy
was possibly a traffic light before the train tracks, or if she had paid
better attention to the traffic ahead. The median would not have saved her,
nor would it have saved the pedestrian who committed suicide awhile back.
The idea of putting up a barrier to ease traffic seems like a band-aid that
isn't even working! It's frustrating that traffic to our business is being
re-routed now, which will cause more issues in other areas, and it's not a
solution at all.

We do understand that this is a trial and more decisions will be made.
Being witness to the fatalities that happened here and the daily vehicle
and pedestrian traffic, we are of the opinion that the barriers should be
removed. Moving the crosswalk further down will not solve the problem
either. We feel that a traffic signal at the intersection of Alma and
Ravenswood is the best option. It would allow traffic to move freely on the
side streets to get to and from businesses on Alma and Burgess Park, the
library, etc. It would also free up the increased traffic through the
Laurel St. neighborhood. And most importantly, it would allow pedestrians
to cross the street with the light.

A good example of this is in San Mateo where the train runs street-level
through a very busy downtown, with many pedestrians and vehicles at all
times of the day. The train is timed with the traffic lights and it works
really well. Why can't the City of Menlo Park and Caltrain work to make
this happen at the Ravenswood/Alma intersection?

Lastly, we would like ask that the surrounding businesses and the community
be informed on the progress as this project moves forward. we were not
informed at all of what was happening and this directly involves our
business and the safety of our community. We would very much like to be a
part of the solution.

Thank you for your time.

Scott Norton, Owner
Allison Allen, Managing Director

AXIS Personal Trainers
550 Ravenswood Ave
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Received on Wed Jun 10 2015 - 18:16:27 PDT

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