News

Caltrain plan to rebuild San Francisquito Bridge may upend Palo Alto's rail priorities

Agency plans to pick design for replacement structure by 2025

Caltrain is preparing to replace the San Francisquito Bridge, which is located near El Palo Alto. Embarcadero Media file photo

For more than a century, the San Francisquito Bridge has supported freight and passenger trains crossing the border between Palo Alto and Menlo Park.

Located just north of the Palo Alto Avenue rail crossing, the 104-foot steel-truss span stands at a uniquely sensitive spot, close to both the San Francisquito Creek and the city's iconic namesake redwood, El Palo Alto. But while it continues to hold up reasonably well, Caltrain has determined that it is nearing the end of its lifespan. Last week, the agency informed city officials that it is planning to begin work on replacing the bridge in about two years.

For Palo Alto, the replacement would have significant ramifications. Once construction begins, Caltrain would have to close off the area to train traffic and bus Caltrain passengers between the Palo Alto and Menlo Park stations. The project may also upend the city's ambitious plans to redesign its rail corridor so that roads and tracks would no longer intersect. It would be harder for Palo Alto to make a case for raising or lowering the railroad tracks as part of a new grade-separation design once a new bridge is built at grade, as it is currently.

Robert Barnard, Caltrain's deputy director of rail development, told the City Council's Rail Committee that recent inspections of the 1902 structure showed that the bridge is weakening in some areas and convinced the agency to consider replacement.

"We found that for a bridge of its age, the members are of good shape, and have minimal deterioration. That is good. However, the strength testing found that the material was weaker than we expected," Barnard said.

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Caltrain is taking some immediate steps to ensure that the bridge will remain safe. When a freight train is on the bridge, no other trains are allowed to pass on adjacent tracks. Inspections are more frequent, taking place every six months instead of annually. And Caltrain is installing a monitoring system to identify any cracks that may form on the bridge between the inspection periods. Ultimately, however, the bridge will need to be replaced, Barnard said.

"The bridge is 120 years old. It is nearing the end of its service life," Barnard said during the Sept. 21 discussion.

The agency is feeling some time pressure in advancing the project. Once it fully implements the electrification of the rail corridor in 2024, train frequency will increase from its current level of one train every 15 minutes during peak commute times to one every 10 minutes. It will further increase to one train every 7.5 minutes by 2029 and then to one every six minutes in 2033, Barnard said.

"The longer we wait, the older the bridge gets. The longer we wait, ridership is forecasted, we hope, to increase. And with these considerations, the bridge really needs to be replaced by 2033," Barnard said.

Caltrain is set to spend the next two years planning for the project so that it can select a preferred alternative in 2025 and proceed with environmental analysis and permitting. The agency hopes to procure contractors in 2031 and build the bridge over the following two years.

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The plan, however, throws a wrench into Palo Alto's plans for grade separation at its four rail crossings. In recent years, the council has focused almost exclusively on the Churchill Avenue crossing, where it is evaluating an underpass for cars, and on Charleston Road and Meadow Drive in the southern end of the city. Plans for the northernmost crossing, Palo Alto Avenue, have been deferred indefinitely after council members decided in 2018 that they would prefer to evaluate it as part of a planning effort for the broader downtown area, which includes the University Avenue transit station. That effort has yet to kick off.

Caltrain's plans for the San Francisquito Bridge may accelerate the city's planning for Palo Alto Avenue. Rail Committee members acknowledged after the presentation that they may need to reconsider their priorities.

"I think there will be a real question for our community over the next two years," Council member Alison Cormack said. "Are we going to use this time to focus on this particular grade separation, which to date, we really have not for a variety of other reasons and take advantage of what I would call a medium-sized window of opportunity?"

Mayor Pat Burt urged Caltrain officials to consider strengthening the bridge rather than replacing it. To date, Caltrain has been reluctant to spend time and money to reinforce a bridge that the agency believes will need to be eventually replaced anyway.

"You're spending capital money on a Band-Aid and then you're spending money again to replace the asset, and the total cost increases as opposed to doing the capital replacement one time," Barnard said.

Palo Alto officials noted, however, that the bridge-replacement project could significantly influence the city's actions on the intermodal transit center, which includes the downtown Caltrain station and supports a wide array of bus services. The existing car underpass at University Avenue is old, Burt said, and may require its own redesign or reconstruction. He urged Caltrain to reconsider its decision to replace the bridge in light of the broader downtown context.

"There's a downside to spending money to reinforce the existing bridge, but you add this project together and it's potentially massive," Burt said. "And coming up with a real cohesive plan for that within the next few years is going to be a real stretch if not an impossibility."

Vice Mayor Lydia Kou also emphasized the historic significance of the bridge location, particularly given its proximity to El Palo Alto.

"A lot of outreach to the community is going to be needed so that they understand that it's not going away or going to be hurt or damaged in any way," Kou said.

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Gennady Sheyner
 
Gennady Sheyner covers the City Hall beat in Palo Alto as well as regional politics, with a special focus on housing and transportation. Before joining the Palo Alto Weekly/PaloAltoOnline.com in 2008, he covered breaking news and local politics for the Waterbury Republican-American, a daily newspaper in Connecticut. Read more >>

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

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Caltrain plan to rebuild San Francisquito Bridge may upend Palo Alto's rail priorities

Agency plans to pick design for replacement structure by 2025

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Sep 28, 2022, 1:51 pm

For more than a century, the San Francisquito Bridge has supported freight and passenger trains crossing the border between Palo Alto and Menlo Park.

Located just north of the Palo Alto Avenue rail crossing, the 104-foot steel-truss span stands at a uniquely sensitive spot, close to both the San Francisquito Creek and the city's iconic namesake redwood, El Palo Alto. But while it continues to hold up reasonably well, Caltrain has determined that it is nearing the end of its lifespan. Last week, the agency informed city officials that it is planning to begin work on replacing the bridge in about two years.

For Palo Alto, the replacement would have significant ramifications. Once construction begins, Caltrain would have to close off the area to train traffic and bus Caltrain passengers between the Palo Alto and Menlo Park stations. The project may also upend the city's ambitious plans to redesign its rail corridor so that roads and tracks would no longer intersect. It would be harder for Palo Alto to make a case for raising or lowering the railroad tracks as part of a new grade-separation design once a new bridge is built at grade, as it is currently.

Robert Barnard, Caltrain's deputy director of rail development, told the City Council's Rail Committee that recent inspections of the 1902 structure showed that the bridge is weakening in some areas and convinced the agency to consider replacement.

"We found that for a bridge of its age, the members are of good shape, and have minimal deterioration. That is good. However, the strength testing found that the material was weaker than we expected," Barnard said.

Caltrain is taking some immediate steps to ensure that the bridge will remain safe. When a freight train is on the bridge, no other trains are allowed to pass on adjacent tracks. Inspections are more frequent, taking place every six months instead of annually. And Caltrain is installing a monitoring system to identify any cracks that may form on the bridge between the inspection periods. Ultimately, however, the bridge will need to be replaced, Barnard said.

"The bridge is 120 years old. It is nearing the end of its service life," Barnard said during the Sept. 21 discussion.

The agency is feeling some time pressure in advancing the project. Once it fully implements the electrification of the rail corridor in 2024, train frequency will increase from its current level of one train every 15 minutes during peak commute times to one every 10 minutes. It will further increase to one train every 7.5 minutes by 2029 and then to one every six minutes in 2033, Barnard said.

"The longer we wait, the older the bridge gets. The longer we wait, ridership is forecasted, we hope, to increase. And with these considerations, the bridge really needs to be replaced by 2033," Barnard said.

Caltrain is set to spend the next two years planning for the project so that it can select a preferred alternative in 2025 and proceed with environmental analysis and permitting. The agency hopes to procure contractors in 2031 and build the bridge over the following two years.

The plan, however, throws a wrench into Palo Alto's plans for grade separation at its four rail crossings. In recent years, the council has focused almost exclusively on the Churchill Avenue crossing, where it is evaluating an underpass for cars, and on Charleston Road and Meadow Drive in the southern end of the city. Plans for the northernmost crossing, Palo Alto Avenue, have been deferred indefinitely after council members decided in 2018 that they would prefer to evaluate it as part of a planning effort for the broader downtown area, which includes the University Avenue transit station. That effort has yet to kick off.

Caltrain's plans for the San Francisquito Bridge may accelerate the city's planning for Palo Alto Avenue. Rail Committee members acknowledged after the presentation that they may need to reconsider their priorities.

"I think there will be a real question for our community over the next two years," Council member Alison Cormack said. "Are we going to use this time to focus on this particular grade separation, which to date, we really have not for a variety of other reasons and take advantage of what I would call a medium-sized window of opportunity?"

Mayor Pat Burt urged Caltrain officials to consider strengthening the bridge rather than replacing it. To date, Caltrain has been reluctant to spend time and money to reinforce a bridge that the agency believes will need to be eventually replaced anyway.

"You're spending capital money on a Band-Aid and then you're spending money again to replace the asset, and the total cost increases as opposed to doing the capital replacement one time," Barnard said.

Palo Alto officials noted, however, that the bridge-replacement project could significantly influence the city's actions on the intermodal transit center, which includes the downtown Caltrain station and supports a wide array of bus services. The existing car underpass at University Avenue is old, Burt said, and may require its own redesign or reconstruction. He urged Caltrain to reconsider its decision to replace the bridge in light of the broader downtown context.

"There's a downside to spending money to reinforce the existing bridge, but you add this project together and it's potentially massive," Burt said. "And coming up with a real cohesive plan for that within the next few years is going to be a real stretch if not an impossibility."

Vice Mayor Lydia Kou also emphasized the historic significance of the bridge location, particularly given its proximity to El Palo Alto.

"A lot of outreach to the community is going to be needed so that they understand that it's not going away or going to be hurt or damaged in any way," Kou said.

Comments

RPopp
Registered user
Monroe Park
on Sep 28, 2022 at 6:06 pm
RPopp, Monroe Park
Registered user
on Sep 28, 2022 at 6:06 pm

Gennady, please tell us this is a typo…“Caltrain is set to spend the next two years planning for the project so that it can select a preferred alternative in 2025 and proceed with environmental analysis and permitting. The agency hopes to procure contractors in 2031 and build the bridge over the following two years.”

I don’t mind a thorough and detailed planning process but the construction needs to go faster… Hoping our Council can influence a better timeline. Web Link


JR
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Sep 28, 2022 at 8:04 pm
JR, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Sep 28, 2022 at 8:04 pm

Caltrain cannot unilaterally decide to construct a new bridge without approval from the cities of Palo Alto and Menlo Park. It should be made clear to Caltrain that they need to present a proposal that is appealing to residents, otherwise it will be vetoed without consideration.


Jeremy Erman
Registered user
Midtown
on Sep 28, 2022 at 10:53 pm
Jeremy Erman, Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 28, 2022 at 10:53 pm

RPopp, pretty sure that's not a typo: the other article I read about this specifically mentioned a 9-year process for designing, approving, and building a new bridge. Even given the long timetables of Bay Area projects, it seems weird to start out with a plan that long--hard to see how it will accommodate planning all of the other crossings at the same time.


Leslie York
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Sep 29, 2022 at 12:13 am
Leslie York, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2022 at 12:13 am

"Caltrain cannot unilaterally decide to construct a new bridge without approval from the cities of Palo Alto and Menlo Park."

According to whom? Caltrain owns the right-of-way and the bridge. They can easily prove the bridge is on its last legs and is in need of replacement. Presumably the project would be financed by Caltrain so the cities don't have an economic stake in it.

"It should be made clear to Caltrain that they need to present a proposal that is appealing to residents, otherwise it will be vetoed without consideration."

Yeah, spend 10 years haggling over the design. Who has the authority to "veto" the plan? What standing do the cities of Menlo Park and Palo Alto have to "veto" it? The bridge is not on either city's property. Either the cities and Caltrain can agree to cooperate and work together or they can fight it out in court which will take even more years.

What you don't want is citizens complaining that the design for a new bridge is "too ugly" and spend another 10 years fussing over the aesthetics of the thing. Just build another trestle like the existing one.

Caltrain's fantasy of a train every six minutes may never materialize. Do they have enough ridership (fare-paying passengers) to support the labor needed to operate a train every six minutes?

There are not many viable options for grade separating Palo Alto Avenue. Forget about an overhead viaduct, trench, tunnel or loop-de-loop cloverleaves. It seems to me the most straightforward solution would be to pass auto traffic under the tracks like at Embarcadero. It shouldn't take CPA another 10 years to deliberate on a solution or pay consultants to study it to death. You would also have to devise a plan for routing traffic around the construction of such an underpass.

I think Gennady did an outstanding job of reporting this story as he always does.


NeilsonBuchanan
Registered user
Downtown North
on Sep 29, 2022 at 1:20 am
NeilsonBuchanan, Downtown North
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2022 at 1:20 am

Please make the bridge evaluation a public document and seek a second opinion if warranted. This would address my concern about safety and the sagging timelines. This vague 2033 solution from the Caltrain organization is not inspiring and it is not a real surprise.

In the meantime consider one more action. 2033 is too hazy for me. I am assuming someone has asked Caltrain what they would do if an earthquake suddenly accelerated strucutural risks. We all know how rapidly earthquake damaged infrastructure can be returned to service in California with world class engineering. Find an outside, proven engineering company to "fast track" the new bridge. Avoid the 2033 risk.

PS A fresh coat of paint probably can be applied without obscuring the inspection of potential structural failures. Or maybe the very rusty image is what Caltrain wants to project. For the record, I walk on the adjacent footbridge to Menlo Park at least once a week.


CT resident
Registered user
College Terrace
on Sep 29, 2022 at 5:54 am
CT resident, College Terrace
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2022 at 5:54 am

At my job every time I want to stop some project, I try to attach it to some bigger plan or ask them to reconsider in light of some amorphous far away thing. Nice to see our city council use the same tactic by asking for reconsideration in light of both the downtown plan and the rail plan, neither of which the city council appears capable of ever executing.


Beatrice Walker
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Sep 29, 2022 at 9:23 am
Beatrice Walker, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2022 at 9:23 am

I like the old bridge. It has an 'Ode to Billie Joe' vibe that adds character to Palo Alto.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Sep 29, 2022 at 9:45 am
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2022 at 9:45 am
chris
Registered user
Ventura
on Sep 29, 2022 at 10:42 am
chris, Ventura
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2022 at 10:42 am

That bridge oldest piece of Palo Alto...can't see word "replaced" but all us heard of retrofit....best choice


Shirley 'Mac'
Registered user
Barron Park
on Sep 29, 2022 at 11:18 am
Shirley 'Mac', Barron Park
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2022 at 11:18 am

Hopefully, the need to replace the old, old railroad bridge, will force City Council to approve an underground design for Charleston, East Meadow, Churchill Streets crossing, and quit haggling about going forward.


AdjunctProfessorville
Registered user
Professorville
on Sep 29, 2022 at 11:20 am
AdjunctProfessorville, Professorville
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2022 at 11:20 am

The amount of time, money and brain cells being burned to replace a bridge not much longer than a bowling alley is dumbfounding. That is all.


Barron Park Denizen
Registered user
Barron Park
on Sep 29, 2022 at 12:45 pm
Barron Park Denizen, Barron Park
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2022 at 12:45 pm

Perhaps Caltrain is proposing a realistic timeline based on getting funding assistance and navigating the permitting process in Menlo Park and, in particular, Palo Alto. Or, if grade separation is desired, show us the funding.

Where is the City's train crossing evaluation seemingly heading?

Palo Alto Avenue--At-grade crossing; no change.
Churchill--Pedestrian undercrossing, or better, a vehicle undercrossing
Meadow and Charleston--Separation, with train elevated and roadway lowered.

Cost? 3 x $300 million = $0.9 billion? The entire original High Speed Rail proposition was sold to the public as being $10 billion. This cost is without Palo Alto Avenue included. Or a widening of the Embarcadero overcrossing. Measure B funding?--other cities to our south are getting there way ahead. Hard to see how this gets solved by a modest-sized city of 67,000.


MyFeelz
Registered user
another community
on Sep 29, 2022 at 12:56 pm
MyFeelz, another community
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2022 at 12:56 pm

"bus Caltrain passengers between the Palo Alto and Menlo Park stations"

After I stopped laughing at the above proposal, that riders would actually be down for getting off the train, and then waiting for a bus, that takes them to the next station past the bridge, then wait for another train to take them to wherever their original destination was ...

ok actually I'm still laughing.

NONE of this could be completed when CalTrain wasn't even running due to COVID? We are going to have to engineer another deadly plague to put a stop to ridership altogether to re-build that bridge. No way will people add an hour to their commute time, both ways, to accommodate this. They'll just drive cars. And won't it be snuggly on the 101 while everyone fights for space in the one "free" lane of the freeway their tax dollars bought years ago? Because with more cars on the road, converting all lanes but one to fastrak will be the one thing they can implement with zero dollars and zero advance notice. Well, they will have to spend more money on cameras that reach all across the lanes. But that's cheap and easy and they can do it in one night.

Even Carnac The Magnificent could see this one coming, in his grave.

Note to NeilsonBuchanan, remember the Embarcadero freeway in SF which was a bone of contention since it was built? It took an earthquake to get something done about that, too. Sometimes it requires a major shakeup to supercede earlier faulty (no pun intended) decisions.


Anonymous
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 29, 2022 at 1:01 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2022 at 1:01 pm

One wonders about quake risk….it’s clearly an old structure.
I think planning and action should be accelerated.
Don’t keep kicking the can on down the road, like with the other at grade rail crossings in Palo Alto. This is worthy of our politicians’ attention NOW.


ndn
Registered user
Downtown North
on Sep 29, 2022 at 1:10 pm
ndn, Downtown North
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2022 at 1:10 pm

There are people with very valid concerns (Neilson Buchanan for one) and very workable solutions. . But it seems to me that many of the commenters are of the opinion that their desires should trump safety. But safety is paramount and temporary bussing is perfectly acceptable. Of course, for people who think only themselves count any whiff of temporary very minor change and safety for others is a trifling matter. I understand that. It seems self defeating to me. CALTRAIN rebuild that Bridge!


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Sep 29, 2022 at 1:45 pm
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2022 at 1:45 pm

This claims my attention: "while it continues to hold up reasonably well, Caltrain has determined that it is nearing the end of its lifespan . . ."

Good for Caltrain for monitoring this bridge and being proactive about improvements. This is exactly what they should be doing. It's hardly Caltrain's fault that Palo Alto has done nothing more about grade separation than talk, hold meetings, and pay consultants. There are, no doubt, people in Minneapolis who wish the proper authority had been proactive about the 35W bridge that collapsed into the river.


LongtimeResident
Registered user
Downtown North
on Sep 29, 2022 at 3:18 pm
LongtimeResident, Downtown North
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2022 at 3:18 pm

Here is another option, which I presented to Caltrain and the City council, at the meeting:

1) Extend Alma St over the creek into Menlo Park

2) Use the initial bridge infrastructure as a platform of a 2-track shoo-fly to rebuild the actual rail bridge

3) Once the new rail bridge is completed, pave shoo-fly bridge for autos

4) Close the current Palo Alto Ave rail crossing


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2022 at 3:18 pm
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2022 at 3:18 pm

Safety issue. Have to fix it. Period. It is really too bad they didn't do this during Covid when many fewer train riders would have been impacted. Oh, well.

That said, according to Caltrain reps at the meeting where this was discussed, there are multiple jurisdictions that have to be engaged: San Mateo County, Santa Clara County (VTA), City of Menlo Park, Joint Powers Authority (JPA), City of Palo Alto, and Stanford. That'll take a while.


Old Steve
Registered user
St. Claire Gardens
on Sep 29, 2022 at 4:09 pm
Old Steve, St. Claire Gardens
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2022 at 4:09 pm

Until we passed the sales tax in Nov 2020, Caltrain had no idea whether they would even continue to operate. When that money started to flow, they could put this on a list and get it going. All of those agencies do need to be engaged, for various reasons, but Caltrain will be paying so they will have the largest say.


Marie
Registered user
South of Midtown
on Sep 29, 2022 at 7:31 pm
Marie, South of Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2022 at 7:31 pm

What about the legal obligation to provide train tracks for freight trains continuously, which is one reason the costs for grade separations are so high?

We have some great plans for grade separation but it is my understanding that Caltrain has quietly said they won't approve any grade separations that won't accommodate four tracks, even though their current proposed solution is for two tracks in South Palo Alto. They want to be ready if things "change" in the future. Palo Alto has made all their plans based on the two track blended solution through South Palo Alto. If Palo Alto has to accommodate four tracks, it is back to the drawing board and probably quad gates and gridlock.

The problem is not Palo Alto. The XCAP working group has come up with some great solutions. The problem is Caltrain and Union Pacific (and the looming presence of HSR).


Reality Check
Registered user
another community
on Sep 30, 2022 at 10:55 am
Reality Check, another community
Registered user
on Sep 30, 2022 at 10:55 am

Watch the Caltrain’s full San Francisquito Bridge presentation to Palo Alto City Council’s Rail Committee here (beginning at the 49:45 mark): Web Link

There is clearly space for a temporary “shoofly” bridge to be dropped in (or built) across the creek on the upstream (El Camino) side of the existing 1902 bridge. Even if it was only a single-track bridge, this would still allow for coordinated two-way train traffic to continue, and therefore avoiding the “bus bridge”, while the old bridge is replaced … ideally with a pre-fab bridge that one or more carefully-placed cranes could more quickly drop into place than building a new bridge from scratch onsite.

Menlo Park’s dead-end of Alma at the creek could provide an ideal temporary equipment and materials staging area for this project. Ideally the bike-ped bridge could remain open with a detour around the staging area … but if not, a temporary closure and longer detour to the next downstream Palo Alto Ave. bike/ped bridge may be required.


NeilsonBuchanan
Registered user
Downtown North
on Sep 30, 2022 at 10:57 am
NeilsonBuchanan, Downtown North
Registered user
on Sep 30, 2022 at 10:57 am

to Marie: I like your rationale.

And I encourage PA Weekly to deploy its ace reporter to summarize the rather clear powers of agencies involved in this scrum. Some have absolute power. Others have only the right to be consulted.

If we understood railroads and their powers, we all would be posting more rational comments when we understand those powers. Passenger and freight powers seem rather absolute. The wild card is who in the scrum has financial powers to buid new bridge or even paint the failing one.

Meanwhile every level of government has its hand out for funding from someone else. That is the proverbial description of a scrum.

My thanks go to Gennady for this summation.... and to Randy Popp for the Canadian video on how-to-fastrack a rail bridge.


Mildred Johnson
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Sep 30, 2022 at 11:28 am
Mildred Johnson, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Sep 30, 2022 at 11:28 am

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

This bridge has been around since I was a child and it has served its purpose well.


Chase Belker
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Sep 30, 2022 at 3:43 pm
Chase Belker, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Sep 30, 2022 at 3:43 pm

If the bridge structurally unsound, then replace it.

But if this is purely aesthetic measure, it is a waste of taxpayer money.


Leslie York
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 1, 2022 at 7:59 am
Leslie York, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 1, 2022 at 7:59 am

"If the bridge structurally unsound, then replace it.

But if this is purely aesthetic measure, it is a waste of taxpayer money."

Did you read the article or watch the video? The bridge is on its last legs. It's 120 years old. Time for replacement.

Pat Burt wants to put a band-aid on it by "strengthening" it, even after a Caltrain rep explained to him why that's a bad idea — essentially you would have two major expenditures instead of one, but he kept coming back to "strengthening" instead of replacing. Get with it, Mr. Mayor.


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