Safety upgrades slated for Caltrain tracks 

Meeting scheduled on delayed grade separations

SAN BRUNO — The city might be six years away from its coveted grade separations at the Caltrain tracks, but the transit agency says it will be able to provide interim safety improvements promised months before.

Despite a postponement of work on a grade separation originally scheduled to start this year, Caltrain officials say they will complete an interim safety improvement project along the tracks at Scott Street and San Bruno, San Mateo and Angus avenues by early 2008. This project, which Caltrain spokeswoman Rita Haskin said is needed to prepare for the large-scale grade separations work, would involve straightening out the streets at that intersection so they don’t curve at an angle and confuse drivers.

Other improvements include fencing and safety medians that will almost completely block a driver’s ability to drive around a lowered crossing arm that alerts drivers of oncoming trains. Similar barriers for pedestrians — which Haskin said present a bigger safety problem than drivers — are also in the cards.

Resident and CAC member Alice Barnes fears that the interim improvements severely impact First Avenue residents. Councilman Ken Ibarra, meanwhile, is concerned that the safety improvements might stop with these interim fixes.

"We hope this is definitely just phase one of the project," Ibarra said.

Caltrain, which bought the former San Bruno Lumber building in 2002, will demolish the structure as part of the temporary improvements. Ibarra said the area has a number of empty buildings, and he looks forward to it finally realizing its economic potential after the safety and resulting circulation improvements are complete.

"It hasn’t gotten better and if anything, it’s gotten worse," Ibarra said. "Our primary motivation is safety — we don’t like being the fourth most dangerous at-grade crossing in the state."

Construction on grade separations — which separate the train tracks from the street at certain intersections — in San Bruno and South San Francisco were scheduled to begin this year.

But in August, Caltrain announced that work would be posted to start in 2010 and finish in 2012. Officials said a number of system-wide upgrades were a higher priority than grade separations including repairing and replacing old infrastructure like the nearly 100-year-old overcrossing bridges along the line.

It has been six months since San Bruno’s Citizens Advisory Committee on the grade separations met. They’ll reconvene on Oct. 11 to discuss these improvements, Haskin said. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in City Hall.

tramroop@examiner.com

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