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Caltrain grade separation options - new Palo Alto data re: trench/tunnel

From: domainremoved <Adina>
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2018 12:51:47 -0800

Honorable Council Members,

Regarding the ongoing consideration of grade separation options for Menlo
Park, following is some information from a recently published study on the
costs and methods of paying for a variety of grade separation design
options in Palo Alto.

Summary of Palo Alto study results

In Palo Alto, many residents prefer options where the train is underground
(in a trench or tunnel). These options are typically more costly than
other designs by hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars.

As shown in a recent study, the cost estimates in Palo Alto suggest that an
open trench design in South Palo Alto, for Meadow and Charleston, would
cost approximately $400 to $500Million more than other design options, and
tunnels with underground stations would be at least $2Billion more. (see

Based on the analysis in Palo Alto's financing report, Palo Alto could
realistically pay for a trench - if citizens are willing to take on the
cost and/or land use changes required. Palo Alto’s Financing Study explores
a variety of funding mechanisms including property taxes (which would need
voter approval), and value capture tools that would raise money from the
increased value of development in areas that would benefit from grade

In order to raise the hundreds of millions of supplementary local funding
that would be required to pay for a trench:

* Palo Alto homeowners would need to pay an additional $1,750 to $6,500
annually in property taxes. ( The lower estimate is based on the average
residential assessed value in the City of $700,000. The higher end is based
on average market value in the City of about $2.6 million), and/or

* Palo Alto would need to permit 2,000 units of housing and 750,000 square
feet of commercial development to raise $235,000,000 in funds (The city’s
newly adopted Comprehensive Plan calls for up to 4,420 new housing units
across the city by 2030 and caps new non-residential development at 1.7
million square feet)

The report notes that timing of funds raised by a general obligation bond
funded by a property tax increase would be more predictable. Value capture
funding would depend on the timing of real estate development; Palo Alto
has some of the most valuable real estate in the country. San Francisco has
generated substantial revenue using Value Capture for its Transbay Terminal

Grade separations on the Peninsula Corridor typically are paid for multiple
funding sources. For example, the construction budget for the Hillsdale
project in San Mateo is $165 million (not counting earlier design). To fund
construction, the City used $84 million from the High-Speed Rail Authority,
$65 million from the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, and $10
million from the California Public Utilities Commission, and $6 million in
developer fees from development in the Bay Meadows/Rail Corridor plan area.

The option of a trench or tunnel is a recurring question in Menlo Park.
Factors to consider for Menlo Park Council regarding whether to revisit
such designs include:
* Would Menlo Park residents be willing to take on an additional $2,000 to
$6,000 in property taxes, or
* Would Menlo Park be interested in raising money from the value of 2,000+
units of housing and/or 750,000+ square feet of development?

For more information, see attachments.

Thank you for your consideration,

- Adina
Adina Levin
Friends of Caltrain

(image/png attachment: pa-gradesep-prelim-costs.png)

Received on Mon Jan 29 2018 - 10:12:18 PST

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