New grade separation work plan calls for new working group and decision by October

May 5, 2019 – Palo Alto Matters

An effort to eliminate the popular, but complex and expensive citywide tunnel option for rail grade separations failed on a 3-2 (Kou, Tanaka dissenting) vote on April 22. (Because Councilmembers Filseth and Kniss are recused from grade separation decisions, four out of the remaining five votes are required for a motion to pass.) Along with retaining the citywide tunnel option, the council approved an updated work plan targeting adoption of a preferred grade separation alternative this October and including steps to engage the business community in planning for a potential ballot measure to raise revenues.

Council also agreed to a new 18-member working group, to be appointed by the City Manager, to help guide progress toward a final decision. The group will include the 12 members of the current Community Advisory Panel plus one representative each from Stanford University, Stanford Research Park, the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, the Palo Alto Unified School District and the Friends of Caltrain board. The final member will be a representative from either Stanford Health or Stanford Shopping Center.

The citywide tunnel question will return to City Council on May 13 when the council will decide whether to abandon it, refine the alternative to include a shortened tunnel from Channing Avenue to the southern city limit, or leave the alternative on the table as is. At that meeting the council will also consider an initial weighting scale for evaluation criteria in order to create a more dynamic model to guide discussion and decision making. The May 13 discussion will begin at 8:30 pm. Click here to view the staff report.

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