Recall that track stacking, besides entailing very intensive and profitable construction of complicated earthquake-resistant civil structures on the taxpayer's dime, is intended to reduce the right-of-way width required to build a four track corridor, presumably to appease neighbors and minimize residential property takes. A brief glance at the above drawing (which should also reinforce fears of a separate-but-equal approach that is disastrous for Caltrain) necessarily leads to ONE of the following two conclusions:
- The planners have lost sight of what they were trying to achieve, in effect destroying our village in order to save it. The stacked solution on the left requires "only" 87 feet of ROW width, while the one on the right requires 119 feet of ROW to make room for a Caltrain platform down in the trench. These elephantine structures, making use of enormous amounts of concrete, seem to miss the whole point of stacking: to save space. If you were to nibble back just 4 feet out of the 13 feet (thirteen!) devoted to drainage and third-party utility easements, you could simply stick all four tracks down in that trench on 15-foot centers. Dear peninsula communities: do you prefer 13 feet for drainage and utilities, and oh, by the way, a viaduct that looms 30 feet above ground level (16 feet of road vehicle clearance, 10 feet of viaduct box + rails, and 4 feet of sound wall) with another 30 feet of overhead wires towering above that? Or would you rather we cut back to 9 feet for drainage and utilities, and the viaduct disappears entirely? Let's think it over, for about a microsecond.
- The planners are not so subtly trying to sand-bag the stacked options to gain community buy-in for property takes. Making the stacked alternative look this bad on paper fulfills the dual goal of giving it environmental due diligence under CEQA and ensuring that public opinion will be "stacked" against it, setting it up for being "not carried forward" in a way that is impervious to future litigation. These are the lengths to which we must go to take 5 feet of somebody's back yard.