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Ravenswood Crossing Tragedy

From: domainremoved <Steve>
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:21:10 -0800

I mourn the tragic death of the motorist who on Monday night found herself
on the CalTrain tracks at Ravenswood. I am not judging this driver’s
decision that led to her being on the tracks without space to move forward
as the train barreled towards her. The City is negligent to have allowed
this dangerous situation to persist.

In 2000 the Council secured a $200,000 Grant from the Transportation
Authority to study grade separations in Menlo Park. In 2003 the next
council spent the Grant money on a study that resulted in no action. 12
years later, Menlo Park mourns the death of a young woman whose life should
not have ended this way. The Almanac blog has many postings calling for
answers, solutions and ideas on how to fix this problem. None of them is
different from the ideas put forth 12 or even 20 years ago. What is missing
is action.

The solutions are buried in funding issues, the Specific Plan, pending
development plans on Alma street across from the station, the High Speed
Rail, the electrification of CalTrain and the ever changing political
emotions of our city. Elevating the tracks as San Carlos did over 10 years
ago would create an intersection that allows east/west travel independent
of train speed or frequency. Elevated tracks at Ravenswood would allow for
grade separations at Oak Grove, Glenwood and Encinal and make for less
costly pedestrian/bicycle undercrossings.

Elevated tracks have been rejected by the City Council as being
unattractive, a visual offense, and an act of dividing the city in two. In
light of Monday’s tragedy, these sentiments ring hollow. What is offensive
and a visual nightmare are the images of the deceased’s automobile crushed
with the crossing gates wrapped around it. Does our city want to be known
for preferring superficial aesthetics over public safety?

I commend the posters on the Almanac Blog for their concern for safety and
willingness to look for solutions. Where is our mayor at this time? In any
other city, the mayor would have immediately held a press conference and an
full explanation of the City’s position on grade separations would be
described. What is this council’s plan to redesign this dangerous
intersection? Residents want to hear from their elected officials. Waiting
years for an issue such as this to be placed on the agenda and discussed at
a council meeting is not good enough. With the exception of Council Member
Ray Mueller, our council says as little as he or she can possibly say about
any issue. Stilted comments and silence are what we have come to expect.

Speak up and do it soon. Rather than trips to India, China and Ireland,
stay home, pay attention and be present. Tell Menlo Park residents how this
intersection will be improved so that another tragedy does not occur on
your watch.

Steve Schmidt

Former Menlo Park Council
Received on Wed Feb 25 2015 - 11:16:26 PST

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