Removing El Camino lanes from parking or vehicle movement >> HSR v BART | Deep Menlo | Stuart Soffer | Almanac Online |

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About this blog: Growing up in Brooklyn, NY I lived in high-density housing and experienced transit-oriented services first hand. During high school and college summers I worked in Manhattan drafting tenant floor plans for high-rise office buildi...  (More)

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Removing El Camino lanes from parking or vehicle movement >> HSR v BART

Uploaded: Oct 6, 2015

As the council considers the biennial review of the Downtown Specific Plan, and the General Plan update, it's good to keep the present traffic state in mind.

Remove a lane for bikes; take a lane for busses; take a lane of construction for projects along El Camino. All will have at least a temporary negative impact.

Consider this Waze view of El Camino traffic during rush hour – without the above improvements - temporary or not. This photo portrays a weekday rush hour. Highlighted in red is El Camino from San Francisquito Creek to Valparaiso. Also in red is a short section on Willow (south of Middlefield) capturing traffic that was previously diverted down Ravenswood while the Right Turn on Alma was blocked.

We know that some development takes a lane of parking/vehicles from Palo Alto downtown projects: the Survey Monkey project, and nearly completed two projects on Hamilton. Temporary loss of a traffic lane would likely happen for the major projects contemplated on El Camino in Menlo Park.

Regarding the General Plan, I recommend keeping the Bart option down the peninsula.

(Note: The comments below raise consideration of which transit approach is more beneficial to the Peninsula, High Speed Rail to LA, or a BART extension SFO/Millbrae to San Jose. Worthy of its own post.)
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Posted by more lanes = more traffic, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 7, 2015 at 10:01 am

No city commissioner, council member or city staff member has proposed taking away El Camino vehicle lanes as part of the currently proposed experiment. Unless the economy tanks, the blockage on 101 isn't going away. Your Waze screenshot illustrates how more traffic (that would otherwise we on 101) will be attracted to El Camino Real, if parking is removed to be replaced with vehicle lanes.

If residents are tired of sitting in traffic, they need to get serious about raising taxes to improve transportation infrastructure. Once the BART extension is completed to Santa Clara Station, there will be only 33 miles to the Millbrae BART station.

Posted by Reality Check, a resident of another community,
on Oct 8, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Reality Check is a registered user.

As part of the their electrification project, Caltrain is on the verge of being upgraded to use new, state-of-the-art EMUs. Obscenely costly BART's remaining advantages at the point will be level-boarding (roll on, roll off) and better service frequency. Caltrain is already planning for conversion to level boarding and service frequency is merely a financial/political matter of how much service we collectively want to pay to run.

In light of the foregoing, well-intentioned/meaning talk of ripping out Caltrain and replacing it with BART -- a multi-billion-dollar proposition -- is ill-advised and misguided.

Posted by Stu Soffer, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks,
on Oct 8, 2015 at 4:14 pm

Stu Soffer is a registered user.

I visualize that BART should go along/align with 101, where the major office growth is planned. I don't recall suggesting ripping out Caltrain. However, the efficiencies, reach and improved mobility options provided by Bart, let Caltrain compete. Yes BART would be expensive. However, I think that having BART available to use down the peninsula would be much more useful to the whole Bay Area than high-speed rail.

BART or HSR? Discuss.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 9, 2015 at 6:51 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Why BART wasn't originally constructed to ring the bay boggles the mind. One only need look to packed trains coming out of the east bay to know there is high demand. If it was built many people would use it. It would get cars off the freeways.

Posted by My 2cents, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown,
on Oct 9, 2015 at 9:13 am

I recall reading the peninsula vetoed extending BART years ago. They did not foresee the explosion in silicon valley traffic. Time to revisit that BART plan.

All the highways are miserable, El Camino is a parking lot, our roads and pulic transit have not grown with the population.

Caltrain has rarely been convenient for my personal commuting situation. Takes twice as long as driving and doesn't get me where I need to go.

It's best to add BART in other locations that disperse the population, rather than concentrating even more onto El Camino.

Posted by my 2 cents, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown,
on Oct 9, 2015 at 9:20 am

On a related note, I use Alameda frequently in my commute these days. Traffic is pretty heavy during commute times. Last night a young boy about 12-13 crossed Alameda at a very busy intersection in the during dusk, and he was barely visible, and cars were not paying attention. I feared for his life.

Roads everywhere are being used as highways, and no one wants to put in safety measures like traffic lights because it takes away from the mirage that we live in a rural, family friendly environment.

Heavy traffic everywhere has unintended consequences in neighborhoods where kids are out in force.

Posted by Stu Soffer, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks,
on Oct 9, 2015 at 10:14 am

Menlo Park council has a review underway of circulation in the General Plan amendment. It's not too late to include consideration for BART.

As an added bonus to the BART 101 approach, the SP tracks, who Caktrain uses, could ultimately be repurposed to a greenway/bike path. I saw this happen in Madison WI. Having a greenway/bike path instead of the freight Right-of-way makes El Camino more palatable.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Oct 10, 2015 at 1:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I just came back from lovely walk on New York City's High Line:

Web Link

Wouldn't it be great if we could vertically separate pedestrians and bicycles from automobiles on ECR or from trains on the CalTrain right of way?

Oh yes, I know it would be expensive but cheap solutions don't seem to provide a long term answers.

Posted by Stu Soffer, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks,
on Oct 10, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Stu Soffer is a registered user.

That's right, Peter, the High Line is a great example of repurposing an aging elevated rail right-of-way/ Law and Order outdoor set, into an urban resource. The project exceeded expectations, and transformed the industrial area alongside, like the Meatpacking District. When we were there in August is was nearly impossible to walk due to its popularity.

BART down 101 for commuting and connecting jobs and housing; then repurpose the SP Right-of-way for bikes and pedestrians.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Oct 10, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" then repurpose the SP Right-of-way for bikes and pedestrians."

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 25, 2015 at 2:36 pm
"One thought is the put the trains underground, use the surface rights above it for housing in the stretches between stations and use the surface above the stations for transit connections and parking. The surface area of the current right of way is very valuable land - particularly in Atherton - and could generate a lot of the needed capital.

Why not take this as an opportunity to design a multi-dimensional, multi-purpose system that uses the existing right-of-way that includes CalTrain, HSR, utility conduits for telephone and internet cables, surface housing with high density housing around each station. And add a pedestrian path and a separate bicycle path on the surface along the entire right of way. And include 3 or 4 12" conduits for the technology of the future.

We should think of this right of way as an integrated multi-modal communications spine for the peninsula."

Do it once and do it right.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks,
on Oct 13, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Mr. Carpenter makes some excellent points. It's time to think in terms of what makes sense for this growing area. I think putting Caltrain underground and making good use of the property above should be considered. I ride my bike and the idea of riding it on ECR along with cars, trucks and buses is not something I would consider even if the bike lane is protected. I would much rather see a north/south bike lane along the Caltrain corridor along with parks, houses and commercial properties. Caltrain should be placed underground. I also like the idea of BART along 101 as it is in other communities such as Pleasanton and other East Bay areas.

Posted by Triona, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Oct 14, 2015 at 8:44 pm

Removing a lane from El Camino will result in more autos on the residential streets. I regularly commute to work on my bike. I always avoid ECR. It is just not safe enough and there are great alternatives such as Alma in MP or Park Blvd or Bryant St. in PA. I would like to see a bike path along the railroad tracks. A straight, level path away from autos.

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