The distance between 28th and 31st avenues may seem negligible on a map, but city leaders say that distance of three blocks could mean the difference for drivers and pedestrians between getting into their cars and hopping onto public transit.
At last night’s study session between the City Council and Planning Commission, the two parties looked at possible locations for the Hillsdale Caltrain station, given that rising costs have shown that they won’t be able to move it as far north — closer to 28th — than previously hoped.
A group of city leaders and Bay Meadows developers were hoping to move the station to a location between proposed underpasses at 28th and 31st Avenues, but increased costs — from $106 million to $400 million — will likely lead to a location closer to its current home at Hillsdale Avenue, four blocks from 31st Avenue.
The Planning Commission and City Council recommended to the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board that the 31st Avenue location is as far south as the station should be located. Any farther, the group of politicians said, and it would be too far for the public to access the Bay Meadows Phase II development site.
Councilman Brandt Grotte urged the board to push the location up north, to bring more of the Bay Meadows site into a quarter-mile radius of the station. At 31st Avenue, the planned acre of low-income housing will be outside that radius.
Commissioner Kelly Moran says that if pedestrians cannot get to the station within five to eight minutes, they’ll likely use their cars, defeating the purpose of the city’s goals of transit-oriented developments.
“If we have to add another three minutes to [their travel time] we’re going to lose a lot of people on the outside,” she said.
A move farthernorth, without other funding sources, could cost San Mateo as much as $20 million.
Costs for the grade separation project and improvements will be shared between San Mateo, the state and the Joint Powers Board, through Measure A half-cent sales tax, state and federal funds.