I was out late last night for work, but Voice correspondent Betsy McGinn went to the big Broadway grade separation meeting and has filed this roving report and photo. A big thank you, Betsy.
Last night’s Broadway Grade Separation meeting at the Burlingame Rec Center was better attended than the planners predicted. With 80 or more community members plus all Council members, the consulting team and several city department heads attending, it was SRO. There were lots of new faces, which is always a good thing for community involvement.
There was skepticism and concern by many, on topics ranging from “why is the city spending money to study to do a study?” (they are not - the city received $1 million for the study) to “Is this going to mean construction for countless years at this interchange given the current 101 project?” (good question!). Several residents expressed concern about a grade separation promoting more traffic in the Broadway corridor and opening the door for high-speed Rail. There was universal concern about the safety issues confronted by pedestrians and cyclists, not to mention what seems to be an increasingly common occurrence on the Peninsula – drivers unwisely stopping on the tracks with sometimes fatal consequences.
After an initial presentation by the consulting team from Apex Strategies and Burlingame Transportation Engineering Programs Manager Augustine Chou, groups were formed around tables covered with area maps, to come up with a list of issues and concerns. The group then tried to come up with solutions to those issues. There was universal agreement on the desire for underground or a trench for Cal Train. There was a wide variety of issues that demonstrated that we cannot look at this project in a vacuum as is it will have many impacts throughout Burlingame.
Regardless of our personal feelings about this issue, the fact remains that traffic will continue to increase from an already extreme 27,000 vehicles per day at this crossing and the number or trains is projected to increase from 98 today to 120 per day by 2020. And if high-speed rail comes our way the number is projected to increase to 340 trains by 2030.
There is no easy solution but this was a first step in opening the conversation about this tough topic. The next meeting will take place in May and a final meeting is expected in November in order for City Council to approve a plan by early 2016.