Cost for rail plan increases

Contractors’ rates and neighborhood wish-lists have nearly doubled the estimated price of building a rail corridor between Union City and Redwood City, but officials say they will not abandon the project.

The Dumbarton Rail, a proposal that would link rail service in the East Bay and on the Peninsula, was given an initial price tag of $300 million in 2004.

Officials with the rail plan now say the cost could be as high as $590 million if grade separations and noise-abating amenities — requested by neighborhoods along the proposed route — are included in the construction plan, according to Jonah Weinberg, spokesman for the San Mateo County Transit District.

San Mateo County residents will have their first opportunity today to comment on the project’s environmental implications, including its potential effect on noise and neighborhood traffic, according to project manager Joe Hurley. Earlier meetings prompted residents in Menlo Park to ask for grade separations at Marsh and Willow roads, which could cost more than $100 million each.

Weinberg said there are no plans to abandon the project, the construction of which could get under way in 2012.

Plans call for six round trips per day to start with, carrying 4,800 passengers — a number that could rise to 6,900 by 2025.

The project would be funded in part by Measure A, San Mateo County’s transportation sales tax, and by Measure 2, a regional transit tax.

The project is expected to help alleviate traffic congestion on the Dumbarton Bridge, the only east-west Bay crossing for the southern Peninsula.

As officials hunt for ways to bring costs down, south county residents are expected to turn out today to share their concerns about increased rail traffic along the corridor, according to Menlo Park City Councilwoman Mickie Winkler.

“The noise and vibration are very big concerns to people living near the track,” Winkler said. “They’re going to have new trains added [regularly].”

A public meeting on the Dumbarton Rail project will be held tonight from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Menlo Park Senior Center, 110 Terminal Ave.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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