20 March 2011

Millbrae, Half a Billion Cheaper

The powers that be have determined that the Millbrae intermodal station does not have sufficient right-of-way width to accommodate four tracks of Caltrain and HSR, in addition to BART. That is why the Supplemental Alternatives Analysis from last August and the Millbrae preliminary station footprint from October consider only one solution: three tracks at grade and the fourth track sent down into a trench and covered tunnel, along the profile shown below:

This 2.5-mile trench and covered tunnel facility would dive up to 60 feet below grade, passing below the Hillcrest Blvd underpass (itself passing under the at-grade tracks) and nearby storm drains, as well as under the Mills Creek to the south. It would also pass directly under the existing Millbrae station, requiring the excavation of an underground cut-and-cover "train box" as shown in the section drawing at right. If the cost estimates are to be believed, this one-track trench and tunnel facility would cost about $500 million more than at-grade tracks.

There may be legitimate reasons why a four-track at-grade arrangement can't fit in the existing Millbrae station. But are they half billion dollar reasons? For that kind of money, you'd imagine there would be some serious pencil-sharpening going on.

Shoehorning It In

One of the very first issues covered in these pages, way back in 2008, was the amazing lack of foresight embodied in the design of the Millbrae station. The structural grid of the station mezzanine was laid out so narrowly, and so far to the west of the sprawling BART facilities, that it now precludes four tracks from being built through the Caltrain side of the station without major impacts to the structure itself and to residential areas adjacent to the west.

If the going-in assumption is that BART facilities cannot be impacted by HSR construction, no matter what the resulting cost, then we do indeed end up with the solution proposed by the CHSRA.

But we live in a world where cost matters.

That's why it's worth exploring a significantly cheaper option: converting one BART platform track (of three) for use by Caltrain and/or high-speed rail. The diagram at right shows what the Millbrae might look like under such a scenario. The structural grid is preserved, and no encroachments occur outside the right of way to the west of the station (to the top in the diagram.)

The diagram below shows the wider context of the track layout, including station approaches and tail tracks. (Warning: 2.1 MB image)

What are the pros and cons?

Impact to existing Millbrae station structure
Extensive, with cut-and-cover excavation below existing tracks and below foundations and support columns of existing mezzanine.None.
Impact to BART operations
None.Removes one BART platform track and one tail track, leaving two platform tracks and three tail tracks. This facility should be perfectly adequate, considering its similarity to other BART terminals at Pittsburg, Dublin/Pleasanton and Fremont.
Impact to BART tunnel box
None.Portal of BART tunnel must be modified and additional reinforcement provided to support loads from adjacent track and freight trains.
Impact to passenger convenience
Forces Caltrain passengers to use additional vertical circulation to reach underground southbound platform track. Preserves northbound cross-platform transfer between Caltrain and BART, but removes at-grade Caltrain access from west side, where TOD is planned.Removes northbound cross-platform access between Caltrain and BART, but creates two new bi-direction cross-platform transfers between Caltrain and HSR. Preserves Caltrain access from west side, where TOD is planned.
Impact to residential areas
Regulatory challenges
None.Requires Caltrain and possibly freight trains to occupy a track immediately adjacent to BART trains, with no room for a traditional separation wall. Violates CPUC GO-26D side clearances. This could realistically be mitigated by passive and active safety measures, such as a thin but strong steel crash barrier and a permanent speed restriction on that track. This PTC-enforced speed restriction would be about 20 mph for freight and 40 mph for Caltrain, with no impact to Caltrain trip times since all trains stop at Millbrae. Additionally, sensors could be provided to detect shifted loads on freight trains before they pass through the Millbrae station.
Cost to taxpayers
About $500,000,000 (for example, the entire amount of the funding shortfall for the Caltrain electrification project, if it were spent instead to dig a hole in the ground)Minimal, although some expense in the tens of millions would be incurred for modifications to BART facilities.
Profit to engineering & construction firms
A cut of $500,000,000.A cut of nothing.

Yes, there are difficult design constraints. Yes, this proposed design violates a few engineering specifications and even some regulations. Yes, it will be politically challenging to infringe on BART. But when a half billion dollars hangs in the balance, it's time to work smarter and not harder. It would be reckless and irresponsible not to explore a compromise solution, through a carefully considered combination of design exceptions, regulatory waivers, and inter-agency agreements. Taxpayers should demand it.

And if that doesn't work out, stop everything, tear down the whole station and start over from scratch with a proper track layout. The entire Millbrae Intermodal station complex, including 3,000 parking spaces, cost $75 million to build ten years ago. In today's dollars, it would be about $100 million, ONE FIFTH of the cost of the below-grade "solution".


  1. This is government money we're talking here. Nobody needs or wants to be efficient. If they run out, the government will just print more or tax more. Besides, these days the government can't wipe its ass for less than a billion dollars.

  2. One other possibility, though probably a less feasible one due to curve radius, is having Caltrain/HSR take over the easternmost BART track, thus preserving potential cross-platform transfers from Caltrain/HSR to BART. Either way, BART only ever uses one station track anymore, so having only two is no huge loss. I don't even know that they use the tail tracks to full capacity overnight, but if they do, they could store some trains in the platforms or in the tunnels. And incidentally, the Caltrain "turnback platform" is not entirely unused, as I have personally used it within the past month. It was used to park a train being taken out of service due to mechanical issues, and it would be nice if there were a couple more places like that where a broken down train could be stored out of the way to keep the rest of the service moving.

    Also, I find the CPUC clearance requirements somewhat confusing. Why do they care, especially with this level of detail? Why isn't it possible to make standards that are sane for passengers? Why hasn't this been updated since 1948? Incidentally, Caltrain's existing tunnels 1-4 and the 22nd Street station would not be allowed under these rules, and they might also be what is keeping the speed limit so low at the San Jose station.

  3. Money is no object for a project that will not be built.

  4. Arcady wrote:

    "Also, I find the CPUC clearance requirements somewhat confusing. Why do they care, especially with this level of detail? Why isn't it possible to make standards that are sane for passengers? Why hasn't this been updated since 1948?"

    What Arcady said.

  5. Clem, I think you should add to the top of your corridor to-do list:

    1. Fix antique and obsolete CPUC rules.
    2. Fix antique and obsolete FRA rules.

    Some progress is being made on #2, but I see no signs of progress on #1, which is *critically* important.

  6. The fast tracks go on the outside.

  7. If BART took over local service from Caltrain then an even smaller and cheaper station would be possible.

  8. Having HSR tracks on the inside is a good idea, as CAHSR has already decided this issue; it gives them one less reason to object to this plan. Also, a long HSR platform on the outside of the station would probably mean more eminent domain takings.

    Clem- are you going to formally submit this idea to CAHSR for consideration? If so how?

  9. "Having HSR tracks on the inside is a good idea, as CAHSR has already decided this issue"

    Well, time to close up the Caltrain-HSR compatability blog then, because all the decisions have been made, and were made 5 years ago. (Or 100 years ago, depending on whether count from the Time Of Innovation or the Time of Reaffirmation.)

    Here's a handy guide. Print it out and keep it in your wallet for reference.

    IF "CHSR or PCJPB has decided an issue"
    THEN "the wrong decision has been made".

    Works every time!

  10. Well, it depends whether you care about influencing the decisions that are still to be made, or are just masturbating aimlessly into the transit blogsphere.

    Personally, I think the rational for SFFS (less station footprint) was a valid one- the important thing is that SSFF was eliminated from consideration.

  11. I have since found out the entire station (including 3,000 space parking lot) cost $75M to build, or about $100M in today's dollars. That puts the proposed trench/tunnel into an even worse light... who makes these alternative "analysis" decisions, anyway?

    @Anon256: the notion of BART replacing Caltrain has already been discussed here.

    Anon, yeah, yeah... fast tracks on the outside would be great. But I'm a realist, much more than an idealist or a perfectionist or a purist.

    Jon, as far as submitting this idea for consideration, it won't work. I already put it into scoping comments and it was unsurprisingly ignored. The only way this will be remotely considered is through a taxpayer lawsuit, or near collapse of the project. The game of maximizing construction pork is a risky one if you go too far and nothing gets built...

  12. As a side note, we have already spent enough on this little incursion into Libya to rebuild a few Millbrae's. Tax dollars well spent, of course...

  13. That sucks. You could try sending your plan to the city of Millbrae, with a cover letter pointing out how much less construction disruption would be caused by an at-grade station, and see if they have any influence on the process.

    Generally speaking I think it's nuts how people like yourself have do this sort of analysis, unpaid, just to get the stakeholders talking about more sensible design options.

  14. It is just insane to not just get rid of that 3rd BART track. Get rid of the switch in the tunnel, build a new wall, fill in with dirt and lay the new track through the station. As for separation, I bet you could chop off a foot of the Caltrain/HSR platform, move the tracks over, then build a cement barrier between BART and heavy rail.

  15. The platform currently shared by BART and CalTrain is wider than it needs to be for most of its length anyway. That is largely because of the angle between the BART and CalTrain tracks, but you might be able to get 8 feet or so for additional clearance.

  16. One thing to keep in mind with CHSRA environmental docs is that there are many areas where ridiculous schemes have been proposed, but which face zero chance of funding. For example: the Altamont "overlay", the Oakland segment.

    So just to play Devil's Advocate: Millbrae could be yet another location where gold-plated plans were drawn up, but the 4th-track trench is deferred indefinitely.

  17. I am simply incredulous. The main problem here is not that it will get built, but that there is a possibility that it will get built. Option one should have been changing up the station layout, option two should have been a new Millbrae station, and this stupid, costly "plan" should have been laughed out of the room! The idea that they are even spending taxpayer money studying and planning for this concept is absurd.

  18. Adirondacker1280023 March, 2011 08:36

    Think outside the box Anon. One of the options is to not do anything at all to Millbrae. Well nothing significant. Abandon BART to Millbrae. Build a new station a few hundred yards west of the spaghetti bowl of BART, highway and people mover at the airport.

    Plenty of space for a well designed station. Cross platform transfers between Caltrain and HSR. Increased frequency on BART for airport users and people using BART to transfer to Caltrain or HSR. Probably increased frequency on the people mover for anyone who uses BART, Caltrain or HSR to get to the airport. One less BART station to maintain. Probably cheaper than building a tunnel under Millbrae.... I've been told that was one of the option explored when BART was extended to the airport... which means it won't get considered because that would mean the thundering herds of people who transfer between BART and Caltrain at Millbrae would be clogging the station,....

  19. Another way to have Caltrain/HSR be at-grade is to put BART completely below-grade, that is, extend the tunnel into Millbrae station and essentially lowering the eastern island platform, with the BART trackwork the same as other terminus stations.

  20. Anon,
    Option 3: Caltrain is disbanded. Ergo, no need for the 4th track trench.

    See, they do have a plan.

  21. Since the SF-SJ EIR is on hold, perhaps we still have a chance to convince CAHSRA and Caltrain to study Clem's solution.

    What if it is BART that stands in the way of adapting Clem's solution, not CAHSRA or Caltrain? The current station structure is owned by BART, which I doubt is a bargaining right that BART is willing to give up so easily.

  22. Adirondacker1280023 March, 2011 22:06

    BART is a creature of the state. The state can have a little chat with BART.

  23. Adirondacker12800,

    The state is a creature of BART's contractors.

    They've had a number of full and frank discussions of views, and the state has assumed the position, its ankles grasped firmly in its hands and its wallet obediently surrendered.

    This is how it has worked for 40 years and this is how it works today. It's a good system.

  24. @Clem --

    I love this - great work! Looks very doable. Hopefully it can be built this way.


    "Jon, as far as submitting this idea for consideration, it won't work. I already put it into scoping comments and it was unsurprisingly ignored."

    Clem, you were ignored because you are not aware of how the law works. The Environmental Impact Statement and Environmental Impact Report laws are not Financial Impact Statements, nor Engineering Impact Statements. Every comment must be focused on Environmental Impacts.

    The EIR/EIS process is not intended to find "solutions". EIR/EIS is a process intended to discover unintended consequences or issues that have not been considered. It is not a process to find engineering alternatives!

    Money very specifically is not considered. Otherwise, the "cheapest" solution to be built. And "cheapest" invariably is the most destructive to the community ( see Robert Moses's work in NYC)

    You can rant all you want about "government" but it would be helpful if you understood the law.

    Clem, you need to think in terms of "jeopardy". You have to pose things as a question.

    Do not include the answer you want. Any agency is allowed to ignore answers in EIR/EIS comments. Everyone has their own answers.

    Instead, submit comments that are questions. Pose a set of questions with data to back it up. For example,

    The CHSRA when proposing to underground a track at the Millbrae station has not considered these facts: .....

    Then list facts, ie. earthquake faults, subsidence, global warming and rising sea levels. Anything you can find that makes the tunnel a bad idea.

    But telling the CHSRA in the EIR/EIS that there is a "cheaper" way of doing something ignores the purpose of the EIR/EIS laws.

    EIR/EIS laws came about to stop another Robert Moses from destroying cities to build the "cheapest solution" to congestion which was freeways.

    Next time, understand the law before falling into the easy and lazy "gubernant is stoopid" rant.

  25. Glad that the plaintiffs are People Who Understand The Law, then... not my forte.

    To whom shall I direct my rant?

  26. @Clem --

    You don't "rant" anywhere. Just like yelling at a kid, spouse, or employee it will not work.

    What you do is:

    1. reverse engineer the $500 million dollar cost.
    2. focus on the impacts to the surrounding community.
    3. look up the EIR/EIS for the BART-to-SFO project.

    Every issue that showed up in that project that would make the tunnel worse/impossible/difficult make sure you ask the same questions of the CHSRA. Obviously we don't want to try to kill HSR entirely, so you want to be selective.

    Almost certainly, the consultants for the CHSRA have not even looked at the EIR/EIS for the BART-to-SFO project. Surprising maybe but very likely. Since the BART-to-SFO was certified and built, the CHSRA people cannot just deny the conclusions they are bound by those conclusions.

    Look for things like did BART-to-SFO make any promised mitigations, trails, pedestrian accesses, etc. For example, did BART-to-SFO commit to any ped tunnel or access over the tracks?

    EIR/EIS promise all sort of "mitigations" that usually never happen because the law is weak when it comes to enforcing that the promised mitigations get built in a timely manner (its always "next year").

    But it doesn't matter, if a mitigation is promised then CHSRA has a more difficult time building a project that makes a promised B2SFO mitigation impossible.

    So don't rant but do understand that the purpose of the Environmental Impact Statement/Report laws is Environmental.

    Oh and no, I am not a plaintiff - you really should not assume such things. Poor assumptions make the assumer look... ridiculous.

    Robert C. is loose with the NIMBY label. I am "NIMBY" in the same sense you are. I want a cost-effective project with maximum utility, minimal environment impacts and maximum environmental benefit. In my case I want HSR to go over the Dumbarton Bridge and serve the communities of Livermore, Pleasanton with a mainline junction at Fremont to serve San Jose and Gilroy.

    An expensive tunnel in Millbrae is bad, but its even worse to have even more expensive tunnels in the Pacheco Pass.

    Its up to you if you want to listen to me, but I am telling you what I know about the law. Rants are not effective legally. Fun emotionally perhaps. I guess it is up to you if you want to vent or if you want to influence.

    Sometimes NIMBY's aren't.

    If you really want to impact the way the project is built, you have to build coalitions with your "enemies".

  27. ....or, if you are in Sacramento sometime, stop by the authority's office and talk to someone. Drop by a small packet with info you posted.

  28. Adirondacker1280027 March, 2011 12:15

    An expensive tunnel in Millbrae is bad, but its even worse to have even more expensive tunnels in the Pacheco Pass.

    As if a Bay crossing is going to magically appear and using Altamont can be done without tunnels

  29. "Almost certainly, the consultants for the CHSRA have not even looked at the EIR/EIS for the BART-to-SFO project."

    Errrrrr, non.

    Almost certainly those criminals responsible for BART to Millbrae are up to their eyeballs in controlling the CHSRA process, that is, in maximizing their private profit and designing the most expensive and least useful system.

    "Not even looked at" the EIR/EIS? Try "wrote it"!

    What was the four-letter name of the firm that did the ridership studies (off by a factor of 3) and rigged the alternatives analysis (costs off by a factor of more than 2) for that BART extension again? If I recall, it seemed to have started with a "PB" and ended very badly indeed. It sounds familiar somehow, but it's hard to place. Besides, they ought to be out of business by now, their repuation in tatters, sued into the ground, and unable to win any contracts, no?

    Sadly however nothing succeeds like failure around here. Nothing. The bigger the faiure the better. And BART to Millbrae was about the biggest we've seen ... at least until HSR to Los Banos and BART to Santa Clara and eclipse it by a factor of 10 ($20 billion to a piddling little trial effort $2 billion.)

  30. I will agree with Richard on some points, but I think ridership will drastically increase with gas prices going up, BART and the like. Sadly, high gas prices are the only way for most Americans to see alternatives to driving in a different and positive light and I think that is a good thing about gas being more expensive.

  31. Pat the "NIMBY" who wants HSR built right ... over the Altamont. said...
    “The EIR/EIS process is not intended to find ‘solutions’. EIR/EIS is a process intended to discover unintended consequences or issues that have not been considered. It is not a process to find engineering alternatives!”
    The April 2004 Caltrain Electrification Program EIR document presumably a response to EIR Report Laws in addition to containing a detailed description of the project’s effect on air pollution, noise, etc but also discusses performance, schedules, rolling stock alternatives and costs. It appears this EIR is a through compilation of data any competent engineer or interested citizen worth his salt must consider in order to find solutions needed to develop an intelligent design.

  32. @John Bacon --

    "It appears this EIR is a through compilation of data any competent engineer or interested citizen worth his salt must consider in order to find solutions needed to develop an intelligent design."

    Err in part, never said that the professional engineers couldn't create a quality solution. But will they? What you point out is irrelevant to Clem - unless Clem can find environmental issues to raise.

    Keep in mind that these are solutions to raised environmental issues. Unless Clem can raise environmental issues wrt the Millbrae tunnel, the engineers don't have to alter their design. Maybe there is an engineer jones-in for building a tunnel, you are assuming that the engineers would prefer a non-tunnel solution.

    As a side note this is why DBOM contracts have much to recommend with a project that really needs excellent ridership numbers.

    @Richard -

    True but we both know that PB will not address any issues mentioned in the B2SFO document unless forced to. Also just because that firm wrote the B2SFO document doesn't mean that the individuals within PB are working on this project. Memory can be so ... forgetful sometimes. And who wouldn't want to forget Bart2SFO :)

  33. I doubt PB really cares how gold plated the Millbrae station is. Their engineering group gets paid about the same no matter what the final plan is.

    Having worked with these types of consultants before, however, I'm absolutely sure that if you tell them to come up with a plan without parameters they'll come up with the politically safest, structurally overbuilt thing possible. They don't want to (and can't) be the ones making the call to have BART give up platform space. That has to come from project leadership. They design given the constraints that exist today, not with all the options politically possible.

    The problem is that no one in the project leadership seems to have previously been willing to realize where these cost bottlenecks are and start finding solutions to them. At least van Ark is showing some signs that this may change in the Valley.

  34. So to be try to be brief(!) and on-topic, Clem's scheme is deficient and perhaps unbuildable (less so than Doty's tunnelled track unlimited lunacy, but still infeasaible).

    * Doesn't fix curve radii. Significant parts of the BART train parking lot (aka "tail tracks", in reality explicitly laid out as the camel's nose of southward extension) have to be lost, and perhaps replaced elsewhere or otherwise, for any of this to make the slightest sense.

    * Doesn't allow any train on any platform. What's proposed is just about the same as the crazy CHSRA "shared track" LA-Anaheim nonsense, in which separate but unequal stations are laid out side by side. Different platform lengths, different platform heights almost certainly to go along with it.

    Operationally it is a big deal at through stations at which a majority of trains stop and at which non-trivial dwells can be expected -- all of which are likely to hold at Millbrae -- that following trains are able to "overlap" at stations by being assigned flexibly to either side of an island platform depending on what's available. You want a following train to be have the option to enter while the leader is departing because otherwise dwell irregularities propagate all the way back up the congested line.

    Not building the higher passenger volume, least expressed-through, most dwell-variable stations as fully flexible facilities with universal track-to-platform crossovers is not just crazy, but also contrary to universal rail engineering practice.

    * SFFS should be a non-starter. Just FYI Doty and his HNTB buddies were outright lying about additional ROW takes required for laying out the peninsula corridor and stations in an operationally rational way. (Except in the most trivial cases, in locations where there's no way to build anything without easements much larger than trivial extra track edge to track edge size.) I have the geometrical data and Clem's seen it, but I don't have the expository skills or the blog audience to get it out there. But rest assured, they're lying. I mean, look at their record: on the basis of past outcomes the odds are just about perfect that they'll lie every single time!

    * The right solution is still to completely abandon BART south of SFIA and to extend the airport people mover (fare free!) to Millbrae to provide that connection. Better service, lower costs for all operators, better connections, a win on every front.

    * The UIC/BART crash wall thing doesn't really work space-wise, and since platforms and tracks are going to have to be moved about anyway, might as well just go crazy and knock stuff down and do it right. It's doing anything to an operating rail facility that costs ... how much you do can disappear in that overhead!

    * If BART stays at Millbrae -- uneconomically, irrationally, unhelpfully, unproductively -- I fairly strongly believe that putting it underground (a very short extension of the existing crazy cut and cover tunnel that surfaces right before the station) to a pair of tracks (BART won't accept fewer, though service levels will only ever require one) around an island platform, with some trenched ($$$) storage yard tracks to the south, partly under a curve eased Caltrain/HSR alignment. Crazy, but a few hundred of million less crazy than their scheme, while being much more workable and flexible for Caltrain/HSR than what Clem shows.

  35. Adirondacker1280028 March, 2011 14:25

    The right solution is still to completely abandon BART south of SFIA and to extend the airport people mover (fare free!) to Millbrae to provide that connection. Better service, lower costs for all operators, better connections, a win on every front.

    It's a much better solution. But probably one they won't think of. Passengers would lose the Caltrain or HSR to BART connection, Well they culd get on the people mover.
    Thinkng outside of the box ( and no they won't think of this either ) Abandon BART to the airport too. Build a station outside of the airport. Where you can transfer between all three. Someplace in there build a really nice bus stop. All the buses that now circulate in the the airport would be outside of the airport. Means you could take the airport shuttle bus to the HSR station..... nah, won't happen...

  36. Abandon BART to the airport too. Build a station outside of the airport. Where you can transfer between all three.

    If taking one platform at away from BART at one station isn't politically feasible, this certainly isn't going to happen. Tearing down/abandoning infrastructure you built just a decade or so earlier doesn't look very smart.

    Best (realistic) solution: Millbrae is built as per Clem's plan. Airtrain is extended out to Millbrae following 101 and terminates at elevated platforms in the middle of the bus loop, at right angles to the other platforms, with a walkway into the station at mezzanine level. Caltrain and HSR passengers get a free transfer direct to their terminal, BART keeps (almost) all of it's existing infrastructure, and the bank isn't broken.

  37. No need to build another BART station. Jon's solution seems the most feasible when everything is weighed.

  38. Adirondacker1280028 March, 2011 23:00

    Tearing down/abandoning infrastructure you built just a decade or so earlier doesn't look very smart.

    Spending a half billion dollars to save a 50 million dollar station isn't very smart either.

  39. Then the question is, how much does it cost to extend AirTrain to Millbrae?

  40. No idea, but we're talking about a 1.5 mile extension to a 6 mile system that cost $430m in 2002/3. Call it $500m in 2011 dollars. Cost of the extension would be in new track, new Millbrae platforms, and new rolling stock to keep frequency at the same levels.

    Maybe around $100-$150m for the extension? You could probably leverage the 'connecting transit' funds in prop 1A to help pay for it.

  41. One of the original ideas for BART to SFO was to have BART go to San Bruno Caltrain instead of Tanforan. AirTrain would have gone to San Bruno BART/Caltrain. It would have been trivial to extend AirTrain to where the new San Bruno Caltrain station will be, and the new station could have been planned to accomodate HSR.

    Instead we're stuck spending way too much money to accomodate HSR at Millbrae because no one thought of doing so earlier. The mere fact that Millbrae could be torn down and rebuilt for cheaper shows how ridiculous the current thinking is.

  42. I did the final design of the tracks at the BART/Caltrain station on the Airport project.

    You don't need any crash barrier between BART and the Caltrain/HSR tracks. This is just a made up requirement serving no real purpose, and that is not followed anywhere else in the US where this very type of situation exists.

    Look at how WMATA is built down either side of CSX up to Silver Spring, how the MBTA Orange Line runs next to the Northeast Corridor in SW Boston and the B&M in Chelsea, or the MBTA Red Line through Quincy next to the MBTA commuter rail, or how the CTA Orange line runs right next to multiple freight roads on the way to Midway Airport, or how PATCO operates right next to New Jersey Transit from Haddonfield to Lindenwold, or how PATH operates 13 ft. from the Amtrak Northeast Corridor through Harrison, NJ. No crash barriers anywhere.

    Anyone who tells you you need crash barriers is just blowing smoke up your ass to pick your pocket. ITS NOT DONE ANYWHERE ELSE.

  43. Andrew slams it.

    Just to be pedantic and nitpicky, PATH is actually legally an FRA-compliant railroad, albeit with a crapton of waivers.

    All the other examples are spot on. When I was looking at some commuter rail stuff in Houston, UP was telling all the consultants they required a 25' separation between tracks, based on the need to drive a truck between any two adjacent rail tracks.

    It's very difficult to get this stuff out of the plans, once someone inserts it. As another posted stated on another thread, consultants don't really have the authority to get this stuff out, and at any rate are often too timid to propose changes.