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Recommendations For Initial Menlo Park FEGS Study

From: domainremoved <dana>
Date: Fri, 4 Jan 2019 11:58:18 -0800

Menlo Park residents deserve a *politically unbiased *evaluation of fully
elevated grade separations (FEGS) so all can judge the FACTUAL trade-offs
between this alternative and the Ravenswood-only underpass approved by the
previous City Council. To that end, the design of the FEGS study – and
on-going evaluations - must reflect a genuine interest in identifying a
FEGS solution that best accomplishes the following objectives.

• Improves vehicle traffic circulation and safety
• Improves east-west bike and pedestrian connectivity (convenience, safety)
• Improves the vitality of the up-and-coming Train Station Area Business
District
• Minimizes the amount and duration of negative effects caused by
construction
• Mitigates negative impacts on nearby neighborhoods
• Secures sufficient state and county funding
• Completed in the shortest possible calendar time, e.g. 2030, not many
years later

*Unfortunately, the scope of an initial FEGS study proposed by staff at the
December 4, 2018 does NOT reflect this attitude.* A group of residents
believes city staff has artificially constrained the technical feasibility
evaluation of rail profiles, and thereby, eliminated potentially desirable,
practical FEGS solutions. This fact is clearly known by city staff and 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)*

A *positive approach* requires the City Council and staff to abandon its
“traditional” negative attitudes towards elevating tracks above existing
grades. These were formed with insufficient (a) facts about actual
trade-offs and (b) informed feedback from current residents. *Our
city council must ensure that residents have a clear and sound
understanding of practical solutions, and their voices are heard.*

The first step should be the completion of an initial FEGS study that
evaluates the three primary areas of concern repeatedly raised by
residents.
• The *technical feasibility* of various possible fully elevated rail
profiles
• The *noise implications* of these profiles versus existing conditions
• The *aesthetic impacts* of these profiles

We believe the initial study should determine whether a FEGS 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, either fully elevated or hybrid with
minor street lowering
• Built entirely within Menlo Park city boundaries
• Have maximum grades acceptable to Caltrain, greater than its standards.
• Acceptable visual and noise impacts on south end and north end
neighborhoods
• Encinal might be closed to vehicle traffic only; pedestrian and bicyclist
crossings would be provided

In addition to the proposed noise analysis, the study deliverables should
include the following:
• Rail profile designs that use 1%, 1.25% and 1.5% maximum average grades
• Elevation drawings and CAD images for the most promising rail profile (s)
that illustrate
o Train bridges
o The northern and southern grades
o A fully elevated structure that connects Ravenswood and Oak Grove.
        Note: All elevation drawings should include “ghost tress” (current
and planned) that visually screen the elevated structure and train
electrification equipment.
• A preliminary layout for train station area
• Comparative matrices for Alternative A, C and FEGS similar to the ones in
the enclosed document with clear explanations for all technical ratings.
• Project cost estimates assuming grades can be either viaducts or
stabilized embankments

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

We encourage you to revise the scope and deliverables for the FEGS study
and ensure its completion in the shortest possible time. We believe an FEGS
alternative MIGHT be far superior to Alternative A, and our city should be
well prepared for this outcome to avoid additional project delays.

We have spent at least a hundred volunteer hours in our efforts to assist
our city during the past year, and we continue to welcome opportunities to
discuss our findings with the Rail Subcommittee and other council members.
Our invitation remains open.


Received on Fri Jan 04 2019 - 11:56:00 PST

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