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The planning process for Menlo Park grade separations appears badly broken

From: domainremoved <dana>
Date: Tue, 4 Dec 2018 10:41:25 -0800

Menlo Park City Council


There is resident concern that the planning process for future grade
separations in Menlo Park lacks the strong sense of urgency warranted for
an unprecedentedly large project that will have big positive and negative
impacts on the quality of life in our community. The proposed study of a
design alternative that includes fully elevated grade separations (FEGS) at
some locations is the latest example. And city staff has just introduced
design constraints that will prove counterproductive.



In May, the City Council instructed city staff to request a FEGS study
proposal from a technical consultant (AECOM) and were told it could be
available in the July-August timeframe. At that time, this schedule seemed
unnecessarily long as AECOM had already studied three other grade
separation alternatives and developing a proposal is a relatively simple
task. SEVEN months later city staff plans to review an initial scope for
the FEGS study at the December 4 City Council meeting. Unfortunately, this
overdue document fails to effectively address two important concerns
previously raised by residents, city staff and council members – technical
feasibility and aesthetic impacts, and city staff has introduced two
arbitrary design constraints that would eliminate the possibility of any
desirable FEGS solution. *This fact is clearly known by city staff
and unnecessarily puts the very objectivity of the study scope into
question.*



“A track profile analysis to determine the maximum grade needed to provide
sufficient elevation to *avoid*roadway excavation at Glenwood Avenue (span
completely over the street); while simultaneously *avoiding *impact to
Encinal Avenue. (Source: Staff Report: December 4, 2018)



The FEGS study should determine whether a solution could be designed that
meets the following criteria:



· Fully elevated grade separations at least at Ravenswood and Oak Grove

· Some type of separation at Glenwood

· Built entirely within Menlo Park city boundaries

· Have maximum grades acceptable to Caltrain

· Acceptable impacts on south end and north end neighborhoods

· Encinal is closed to vehicle traffic only; pedestrian and bicyclist
crossings are provided

· Enhance the core train station business district



The FEGS study should evaluate conceptual designs for a number of structure
profiles and deliverables should include the following, in addition to the
proposed noise analysis.



· Structure profiles designs that use 1% and 1.25% maximum grades

· Elevation drawings and CAD images for the grade separations

· Elevation drawings and CAD images for the northern and southern grades

· Elevation drawings for the fully elevated structure that would pass
through the train station area and a preliminary layout for the space
between Merrill, Alma, Ravenswood and Oak Grove.

· All elevation drawings should include “ghost tress” (current and
planned) that

visually screen - either fully or partially - the elevated structure and
train electrification equipment.

· A comparative matrix for Alternative A, C and FEGS similar to the
enclosed example. All ratings must be supported with clear justifications.



Finally, this study should also identify all potential impacts to south end
and north end neighborhoods and suggest design mitigation alternatives.



I encourage you to revise the scope and deliverables for the FEGS study and
ensure its completion in the shortest possible time. It is likely that we
will learn a FEGS alternative is far superior to Alternative A, and our
city should be well prepared for this outcome to avoid additional project
delays.


Received on Tue Dec 04 2018 - 10:39:05 PST

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