Caltrain earmarks $1.5M for safety barriers

Residents living along the Caltrain corridor could soon see new fencing to prevent people from illegally crossing the tracks, following a year that has seen nine deaths so far, including that of a 13-year-old Burlingame boy in April.

To reduce the number of deaths on the tracks, the agency has earmarked $1.5 million for new fencing in the current budget and plans to construct road medians that will keep drivers from circumventing railroad crossing arms and increase outreach to school students this fall, officials said Thursday.

“We did that based on the public concern and potential need in certain areas,” said Jerry Hill, president of the Board of Supervisors and a Caltrain board member, referring to the allocation. It is the first time Hill can recall Caltrain has specifically earmarked funds for fencing, he said.

Much of the impetus for additional safety measures came after Fatih Kuc, of Burlingame, was struck and killed by a train on April 18, as he walked along the tracks with friends just south of the Broadway train station after school, Hill said. On April 6, two people were killed on the tracks in one day.

Caltrain is working to cull a list of sites submitted by cities where pedestrians frequently trespass and cross the tracks, Caltrain spokesman Jonah Weinberg said. A final list of where new fences will be installed is expected in the fall with the kickoff of rail safety outreach efforts at many area schools, Weinberg said.

He expects the first fence installations to begin within six months, Weinberg said.

In addition to fencing, Caltrain plans to increase safety at all of its street-level crossings, adding crossing arms at sidewalks and installing street medians in the center of the roads near railroad crossings to prevent drivers from maneuvering around lowered crossing arms, Weinberg said.

Caltrain has contacted 150 principals at Peninsula schools as part of its “don’t shortcut life” program. Many have already expressed interest in Caltrain coming to their schools soon after school begins, Weinberg said.

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