28 October 2022

News Roundup, October 2022

CBOSS Dumpster Fire Update: the CBOSS case is still making its way through San Mateo County Superior Court (under case file 17CIV00786). The trial was held in April through June of this year, and closing briefs are due in December. Closing arguments are currently scheduled to be made in court on the 5th of January 2023. The latest kerfuffle is over a post-trial Caltrain/Parsons motion to seek punitive damages from Alstom for intentionally, not just negligently, lying about the status of the project based on testimony given during the trial.

Trains Without Wires: Caltrain held a VIP invitation-only unveiling of the new EMUs in San Francisco on September 24th. Four trainsets (serial production #2 - #5) have now been delivered and will collect dust (graffiti?) for a couple of years because the electrification of the corridor is far from done. The new trains were hauled to San Francisco by diesel power.

New Palo Alto downtown
grade separation

Stirring Things Up In Palo Alto: Caltrain recently briefed the city on their plan to replace the ancient bridge over the San Francisquito Creek. This is precipitating a sudden change to the city's years-long policy of kicking the can down the road on what to do about a future grade separations at downtown Palo Alto. While everybody seems to assume the bridge and grade separation projects are necessarily linked, they are not! The solution is pretty darn obvious: replace the Palo Alto Ave crossing with a new grade separation at Everett Ave, which would connect downtown to El Camino as shown in the sketch at right.

  1. Permanently close and demolish the Alma bridge over University Ave, instead connecting Alma to University via the existing cloverleaf ramps reconfigured as a signalized intersection.
  2. Build a new downtown elevated grade separation viaduct and platforms through the existing station parking lots, along the original track alignment that existed before the University Ave grade separation was opened in 1940. This viaduct would be open underneath, providing station parking, bus platforms, pick-up/drop-off areas, and other station amenities. Bonus: the new straightened track alignment removes a speed-limiting double reverse curve in the tracks.
  3. Cut over the trains to the new viaduct and elevated station. 
  4. Extend Everett Ave under the elevated tracks to the existing intersection at El Camino Real and Quarry Rd, also picking up a new connection to the convoluted and inefficient bus loop. Bonus: bus service is greatly sped up to/from El Camino, Stanford and downtown by avoiding time-consuming looping routes.
  5. Permanently close the grade crossing at Palo Alto Ave.
  6. Demolish the old University Ave rail bridge, remove the old cloverleaf ramps, and bring the University Ave / Alma intersection back up to a grade level signalized intersection.

This grade separation approach is completely decoupled from whatever happens with the San Francisquito bridge.

More CEQA Lawsuits Flying: the recent certification of the HSR San Francisco to San Jose EIR precipitated several new CEQA lawsuits. Brisbane and a private developer are upset about the sprawling HSR "light" maintenance facility planned in the city, and its impact on the planned Brisbane Baylands development. Millbrae also got in on the action due to a clash between its development plans and the planned expansion of the station footprint for HSR. Unfortunately, the Sacramento Superior Court does not allow free access to case files, so details are hard to obtain.