04 August 2010

Elevated Blight in San Mateo

The elevated structure spans across several blocks of San Mateo, like a gash through the heart of downtown. Its 67-foot width casts vast shadows onto downtown shoppers, like a freeway overpass, although women and children seem to pass underneath without being attacked. The concrete structure, strangely free of graffiti, provides a full 16 feet of free clearance underneath it for trucks. Three stories up above, the side walls of the elevated bridges loom a full 25 feet over the street. To add insult to this injury, metallic poles tower another 18 feet above the structure, bringing its overall height to an incredible 43 feet!

If you know San Mateo, you might have guessed this describes the Central Parking Garage, a structure with presence, visual impact, and context-sensitivity resembling the elevated, four-track high-speed rail corridor that residents fear.


  1. Excellent! I hope columnist Horgan and the San Mateo Council see this posting.

  2. I'm sure this argument plays much better with people who don't remember the old Main Street Parking Garage...

    Getting rid of that was almost as good as getting rid of the Central Freeway in SF.

    San Mateo doesn't want it back, thanks anyway.

  3. Blight is really dependent on usage and (lack of) maintenance. The central garage is well used and well maintained, and the other garage was not.

    Even something that used to look nice (old Transbay Terminal) became blight because of lack of usage and maintenance.

  4. Caltrain First06 August, 2010 11:35

    In the "post-freeway-revolt" era, wide, elevated structures are never going to be politically popular with locals. They can be made more pretty and "context-sensitive", but they will never be loved or embraced. Local community opposition should always be expected, which is why the lack of community engagement by CHSRA and its contractors has provoked a predictable outrage. CHSRA can only blame themselves for their lack of strategic planning.

    At-grade solutions will be more feasible both financially and politically, but the absolute forced mandate from CHSRA for a fully-grade-separated, four-track corridor will only spell trouble for CHSRA.

  5. Clem, is it just me, or did you become a lot more supportive of the whole process once they bagged SSFF?

  6. Clem, I find you to be a very practical guy, so was a bit surprised to see you reach so far on this one. A short overpass is hardly a Peninsula-long elevated rail. And I agree with Andy that since this area is highly used, it is less likely to fall into the category of urban blight.

  7. Ted, quite a reach, yes... there is a lot of reaching going on lately, and I thought a little bit of satire was in order. All in good fun of course.