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Re: Menlo Park grade separations viaduct

From: domainremoved <Adrian>
Date: Sun, 2 Apr 2017 13:45:55 -0700

Adina, thanks for forwarding that excerpt (highlighted in yellow
below) from the latest Ravenswood staff report.

Regarding 0.5-0.6% maximum grade the most recent staff report cites
<https://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/View/13307> in ruling out a
viaduct ... let them show their calculations, assumptions, and constraints!

Some distances measured from San Francisquito Creek Bridge where the
tracks *are
already many feet higher than Ravenswood* crossing ... which is easy to see
as both the tracks (and even part of Alma) are on a downslope nearly the
entire distance from the creek to Ravenswood:

• 2,000 feet to the nearest point of the crossover approximately even with
Burgess Drive
• 2,300 feet to the furthest point of the crossover (i.e. the crossover is
300 feet long)
• 3,700 feet to Ravenswood

Even if you keep to the most conservative 0.5% grade across the entire
3,700 feet, you can only rise (or fall) 18.5 feet (from level) across 3,700
feet. This means to get tracks 25 feet over Ravenswood, you'd have to duck
the road down 6.5 feet. HOWEVER, I'm almost certain the tracks at San
Francisquito are ALREADY at least 6.5 feet higher than they are at
Ravenswood. Voila! So even with a 0.5% grade, you can now easily get the
tracks up to 25 feet over Ravenswood ... without even dipping the road!

If any part of that 3,700 feet can be 0.6% as the staff report suggests,
achieving the 25-foot track height over Ravenswood becomes even easier.

And, failing all of that ... it's also possible the crossover could be
moved at a nearly insignificant cost of the entire project budget) since
tracks will be under major construction anyway.

Staff and/or Caltrain can confirm how many feet lower the tracks *already
are* at Ravenswood with respect the San Fracisquito Creek Bridge.

So far, it seems anyone genuinely interested in pursuing the feasibility of
a viaduct could easily make it work. If, as I suspect, it's political
kryptonite, then it naturally becomes quite easy to seize on and allude to
one or more "technical" reasons why it's impossible. Much easier that way.

Adrian Brandt

On Sun, Apr 2, 2017 at 11:09 AM, Adina Levin <aldeivnian_at_(domainremoved)

> https://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/View/13307
> Previous grade separation studies conducted by the City of Menlo Park have
> analyzed the feasibility of a range of grade separation options including
> trenching or tunneling the railroad tracks and raising the railroad tracks
> into a viaduct. The previously completed 2003-2004 grade separation study
> narrowed the feasible PAGE 4 Staff Report #: 17-079-CC City of Menlo Park
> 701 Laurel St., Menlo Park, CA 94025 tel 650-330-6600 <(650)%20330-6600>
> www.menlopark.org options and found the trench/tunnel and viaduct options
> to be infeasible within the City limits without having hybrid variations at
> multiple crossings. This was due to Caltrain’s required design criteria
> (which accommodate rail freight operations in the corridor), which limit
> grade changes to a maximum one (1) percent.
> However, the current study has further explored grade changes in the
> corridor and has found that the existing rail infrastructure within the
> project area, including crossover track equipment near Burgess Park and the
> Menlo Park Station platforms, further limit railroad grade changes. The
> preliminary concepts prepared for this study show grade changes to be
> limited to a maximum of between 0.5 and 0.6 percent in the area of and due
> to these physical constraints, well below Caltrain’s current design
> requirements. This eliminates the feasibility of a trench/tunnel and
> viaduct options within Menlo Park.
On Thu, Mar 23, 2017 at 1:15 PM, Adrian Brandt <adrian.brandt_at_(domainremoved)

> Here's a bit more on why if Encinal is either closed (or dipped under
> tracks "hybrid style") a viaduct alternative appears imminently feasible —
> even with a 1% maximum grade.
> Of course, if the maximum allowable grade is increased, everything only
> becomes easier and cheaper due to the resulting shortened minimum necessary
> ramping distances.
> Measuring out the "ramping distances" between Atherton and Glenwood is
> simple for anyone using the measure distance tool in Google Maps
> <https://support.google.com/maps/answer/1628031?hl=en&co=GENIE>.
> Measuring northbound along the tracks from Glenwood Ave., anyone can
> easily confirm it's:
> • 1,000+ feet to Encinal Ave.
> • 2,100+ feet to nearest edge of Holbrook-Palmer Park
> • 2,500+ feet to the Atherton city limit line
> <https://goo.gl/maps/RSRXU3wkqWp> (red line in image below)
> • 2,700+ feet to Watkins Ave.
> Sloping down at 1% toward Atherton from 25-foot high tracks over Glenwood,
> you'd be down to:
> • 15 feet high at Encinal (25 ft - (1,000 ft * 1%))
> • 4 feet at nearest edge of H-P Park (25 ft - (2,100 ft * 1%))
> • 0 feet (at-grade / ground-level) at Spruce Ave and northward to Watkins
> So this perfectly satisfies the constraint of returning the tracks to
> "at-grade" (ground level) within Atherton's city limits.
> Since the tracks are 15 feet up across Encinal, you can either close
> Encinal or just be duck it down a few feet and, voila!, you have
> grade-separation #4 and a 25-foot viaduct over Glenwood, Oak Grove and
> Ravenswood without any re-grading of any approaching or surrounding streets
> or sidewalks.
> Adrian
> [image: Inline image 1]
> On Thu, Mar 23, 2017 at 1:05 AM, Adrian Brandt <adrian.brandt_at_(domainremoved)
> wrote:
>> Regarding Caltrain and CA HSRA's requirement that your project designs do
>> not preclude the future addition of a 3rd track: it appears that only 1 of
>> the 4 passing track alternatives under consideration involves Menlo Park (see
>> "*Middle 3 Track*" on page 28
>> <http://www.hsr.ca.gov/docs/programs/statewide_rail/proj_sections/SanFran_SanJose/San_Francisco_CWG_PPT_020217.pdf>, and
>> depicted below).
>> It is my understanding that HSRA will choose only one of the 4
>> alternatives in the near future. Provided they do not choose "Middle 3
>> Track", then it's quite possible you may be relieved of this requirement.
>> [image: Inline image 1]
>> On Thu, Mar 23, 2017 at 12:32 AM, Adrian Brandt <adrian.brandt_at_(domainremoved)
>> wrote:
>>> Honorable Councilmembers,
>>> I am just now watching the recorded video of your February 7, 2017,
>>> study session on the Ravenswood Grade Separation Project
>>> <http://www.menlopark.org/169/Ravenswood-Avenue-railroad-crossing-proj>
>>> with staff project manager Angela Obeso and consultants from AECOM.
>>> Councilmember Carlton asked a question on behalf of an unnamed "a former
>>> mayor" as to why the fully elevated (i.e. viaduct) alternative was
>>> eliminated from consideration.
>>> The answer provided was that due to the 1% maximum grade limitation,
>>> there was insufficient ramp-up distance from the Palo Alto side to achieve
>>> a 25-foot track elevation at Ravenswood. And that, similarly, there was
>>> insufficient ramp-down distance between Glenwood Ave. and Atherton to
>>> return the tracks to ground-level. (Atherton opposes any track elevation.)
>>> As per this article on railroad grades and curves
>>> <http://trn.trains.com/railroads/abcs-of-railroading/2006/05/grades-and-curves>,
>>> a 1% grade exists when a track rises (or falls) 1 foot per 100 feet. This
>>> means for a track to rise or fall 25 feet at a 1% grade requires 2,500 feet
>>> (1% of 2,500 feet).
>>> The track distance from the San Francisquito Creek bridge to Ravenswood
>>> Ave. is over 3,600 feet, and the distance from Glenwood to Atherton's
>>> Watkins Ave. crossing at over 2,700 feet.
>>> So, clearly, there *is* more than enough "ramping" space to
>>> grade-separate Ravenswood, Oak Grove and Glenwood with a 25-foot high open
>>> viaduct while returning the tracks to ground level at Holbrook-Palmer Park
>>> in Atherton to the north and at the San Francisquito Creek Bridge to the
>>> south.
>>> Note that the foregoing means that tracks will be sloping low across
>>> Encinal (the least trafficked Menlo Park grade crossing), which must
>>> therefore either be closed or dipped down a bit ("hybrid style") in order
>>> to provide a fourth grade separation there too.
>>> This is an exciting possibility worthy of further study because it
>>> functionally provides a high degree of openness and connectivity across
>>> (under) the elevated tracks for much of its length ... allowing for
>>> landscaping and/or bike/ped paths alongside or underneath ... while also
>>> eliminating *all four* of Menlo Park's at-grade crossings and
>>> eliminating the need to change road or driveway elevations in the vicinity
>>> of Ravenswood, Alma, Merrill, Oak Grove or Glenwood, thereby allowing for
>>> maximum bicycle/pedestrian friendly and safe streetscaping.
>>> The historic Menlo Park station can stay right where it is, as occurred
>>> with the historic San Carlos station during their multi-street grade
>>> separation project in the 1990s.
>>> Respectfully and with kind regards,
>>> Adrian Brandt
>>> Redwood City (Menlo Park native)
>>> [image: Inline image 1]
>>> [image: Inline image 2]

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Received on Sun Apr 02 2017 - 13:52:32 PDT

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