Friday
August
01
2014
2:53 am
Weather

  Home
  Local News
  State / National / World
  Sports
  Opinion / Letters
  Business
  Arts / Entertainment
  Lifestyle
  Obituaries
  Calendar
  Submit Event
  Comics / Games
  Classifieds
  DJ Designers
  Archives
  Advertise With Us
  About Us
 
 
 
 

Check out our archive of Dining Guides - Yum!

Caltrain electrification on track: Draft environmental impact report released for modernization plans
February 28, 2014, 05:00 AM By Samantha Weigel Daily Journal

Daily Journal file photo
The Caltrain Modernization Project will help it save money on fuel, allow six more trains on the track per hour for faster service and have substantial environmental benefits.

Rendering of the electrified Caltrain.

Caltrain is a step closer to becoming electrified after releasing a draft of its environmental impact report Friday that indicates it could need to acquire up to 1.5 acres outside of its right-of-way for substations and 18 acres for an electrical buffer zone along 51 miles of its tracks.

The public will have until April 29 to submit written comments and attend meetings before the draft EIR is voted on by the Joint Powers Board in the fall, according to Caltrain officials.

The approval of the EIR is an important step for it to become 75 percent electrified by 2020 and fully by 2040, according to Caltrain officials.

In the worst-case scenario, supporting the electrification infrastructure could require Caltrain to purchase or arrange easements for 1.5 acres for substations in South San Francisco and San Jose, up to 18 acres throughout constrained areas along the 51 miles of electrified tracks from San Jose to San Francisco and the removal of up to 2,200 trees and pruning of another 3,600, according to Caltrain officials.

The regional rail anticipates its current 1.3 million monthly ridership will double in 30 years and keeping up with the demand will require a $1.5 billion revamp, according to Caltrain officials.

The Caltrain Modernization Project will help it save money on fuel, allow six more trains on the track per hour for faster service and have substantial environmental benefits, said Caltrain communications manager Jayme Ackemann.

“First, because it’s directly tied to the long-term sustainability of Caltrain, we’re nearing maximum capacity in our peak commute hours,” Ackemann said. “It’s also an important regional benefit because it provides some substantial greenhouse gas reductions and it’s going to pave the way for high-speed rail to operate on this corridor once they have completed their EIR process.”

Caltrain’s project became intertwined with the development of high-speed rail when the two agreed to a blended track system; however, this draft EIR solely refers to Caltrain’s electrification and does not approve any regional development of high-speed rail, Caltrain officials said.

The Caltrain electrification includes Communication Based Overlay Signal System and Positive Train Control, a federally required GPS-based safety technology capable of preventing train-to-train collisions; pole-supported electric wires and new trains.

The installation of Positive Train Control is already underway and, although only 35 percent of the entire project design is complete, this draft EIR encompasses worst-case scenarios allowing it to move forward once a final design is chosen, according to Caltrain officials.

“We’ll be more project ready if we have to come up with plan b,” said Marian Lee, executive officer for Caltrain’s Modernization Project.

Right-of-way

Caltrain will work with property owners along the corridor whose homes, trees or backyards may be encroached upon by an up to 10-foot buffer zone from the electrical wires and poles, according to the draft EIR.

There are at least two designs to support the electrical wires with both requiring 23-foot poles in 200-foot intervals, Lee said.

One is for a single pole centered between the tracks and the other, considered the worst-case scenario, is for two poles on the outsides of the tracks.

Based on the worst-case scenario, Caltrain would need 10 acres of private residential, commercial or industrial property, eight acres of public roads and .3 acres of parklands, according to the draft. The total acreage of its encroachment is only in confined sections that are spread throughout the 51 miles of track, Lee said.

Trees

In some cases, all it could require is an easement on private property and the owner agreeing to leave up to 10 feet of their property vacant. There are 19,000 trees in the Caltrain right-of-way and it may need to remove or prune up to 5,800 of them, according to the draft.

“When we get to trees, it’s going to be a hard discussion to have with folks,” Lee said.

Caltrain would pay to remove, relocate or prune the trees and, depending on negotiations with individual cities, may develop a “tree fund,” Lee said.

Based on the draft EIR’s worst-case scenario model, up to 420 trees in San Mateo will be either pruned or removed, 239 in Burlingame, 231 in San Carlos, 201 in Redwood City and 629 in Menlo Park.

Caltrain will work with property owners to mitigate possible impacts, Lee said.

“The path of least resistance is the path we will choose,” Lee said.

Owners of properties that border the tracks and may be affected can expect to receive letters in the mail in the coming days, Ackemann said.

Environmental impact, funding

Going electric is expected to improve the regional air quality by up to 84 percent by 2020, take more than 600,000 daily vehicle mile’s off the region’s roads by 2040 and reduce up to 177,000 metric tons of green house gas emissions by 2040.

Half of the funding of Caltrain’s $1.5 billion electrification price tag was anticipated to come from the High-Speed Rail Authority, which would benefit from the electrification of the tracks. However, with the High-Speed Rail Authority’s legal battles and a July 1 deadline to earn state money before losing federal grants, Caltrain cannot currently claim any dedicated funds for future construction. Put simply, if high-speed rail does not move forward, Caltrain will have to look for another source of funding for half of this electrification project.

But Caltrain is working with a 150-year-old house and although it has given many of the trains a mid-life upgrade, it’s now in a position where it needs to start preparing for upgrades, Caltrain officials said.

To review a copy of the Caltrain Modification Project draft Environmental Impact Report or to review a list of scheduled meetings visit www.caltrain.com/electrification. The first meeting is 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday, March 18 at the Caltrain offices, second floor auditorium, 1250 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos.

samantha@smdailyjournal.com

(650) 344-5200 ext. 106

 

 

Tags: caltrain, draft, according, project, acres, trees,


Other stories from today:

 

 
Print this Page Print this Page  |  Bookmark and Share
<< Back
 
Return To Archives
 
  


 
 
 
Daily Journal Quick Poll
 
What's a good rate for an hour of parking?

A dollar
50 cents
A quarter
Free
Depends on where you are

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
Police: Elderly driver hits five pedestrians in downtown Palo Alto
Six people were injured, one critically, when a car crashed into a café during lunchtime in Palo Al..
State senator pleads not guilty to racketeering
SAN FRANCISCO — A California state senator previously charged with bribery pleaded not guilty Thur..
Appellate court overturns high-speed rail rulings
SACRAMENTO — A state appellate court has handed a big win to California’s high-speed rail projec..
Woman imprisoned for stabbing estranged husband in Redwood City
The 53-year-old woman convicted of stabbing her estranged husband inside their Redwood City construc..
West Africa Ebola outbreak tops 700 deaths
DAKAR, Senegal — The worst recorded Ebola outbreak in history surpassed 700 deaths in West Africa ..
More >>  
 
 
  
 
  
 
©2014 San Mateo Daily Journal
San Mateo County obituaries