Connecting Palo Alto, the city's outreach project aiming to address long-term changes to the 4-mile rail corridor, will host several community roundtables in the coming weeks to discuss potential grade separations at Palo Alto's four rail intersections.
As both the state's high-speed rail project and Caltrain's electrification plan loom over the city, Palo Altans are grappling with different options to separate railroad tracks from nearby streets. Connecting Palo Alto has hosted two open workshops to discuss potential options, including a Caltrain trench, submerged roads and hybrid options, but the four upcoming roundtables will address each crossing location more specifically.
According to Claudia Keith, the city's chief communications officer, these roundtables are meant to be part of the data-gathering that Connecting Palo Alto will use to guide its planning process. While the larger workshops engaged people in the general issues of grade separation and Measure B funding, Keith said the upcoming meetings are meant to "narrow the universe of alternatives" of grade separations for each location and hear from residents who have not yet participated in the discussion.
This could mean discussing logistics, monetary constraints; grade separation possibilities that residents want to eliminate from consideration and any other concerns that residents near the tracks may have. On the whole, Connecting Palo Alto hopes to trim the number of options up for debate.
Keith stressed that although the roundtables will have staff in attendance and potentially facilitators, the point is to hear from residents rather than focus on presentational materials from the city.
All meetings are scheduled from 6-8 p.m. The first meeting on the Charleston Road and Meadow Drive rail crossings will be on Tuesday at the El Palo Alto Room, Mitchell Park Community Center, 3700 Middlefield Road.
The second will focus on the Churchill Avenue crossing on Nov. 16 at the Aspen Room, Palo Alto Unified School District, 25 Churchill Ave.
The third on Nov. 28 will cover the Palo Alto Avenue crossing at the Community Room, City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave.
A final meeting was originally scheduled for Nov. 30 to garner community opinions on trench and tunnel options, which were widely considered the preferred alternative among past workshop participants despite a $1.15 billion estimated cost. The discussion has since been postponed to early next year.
As an incentive, Connecting Palo Alto is providing city of Palo Alto notebooks and "For the Love of Palo Alto" lapel pins to attendees. Visit cityofpaloalto.org for more information and brownpapertickets.com to RSVP.