« Spring Thinking | Main | SFO: Noise Blowing Our Way »

March 27, 2015



Grade separation is already desperately needed here in Burlingame, as last night's hour-long delay after a car drove onto the tracks downtown makes abundantly clear. And once that's accomplished, will having four tracks instead of two really make that much of a difference to folks at street level? Opposing these necessary improvements is a call for Burlingame residents to have grueling commutes for decades to come.


The fight should be in keeping it to two tracks through town instead of four. There's so many benefits to elevating the tracks - no horns, diminished train noise, no traffic jams/delays, no accidents, less deaths/suicides. I have a hard time understanding the dividing the town and view obstruction arguments. It could be done properly and fit into the town and be aesthetically pleasing but for some reason this is completely taboo.


Very simple, Fred. A raised structure will be a filled berm, el cheapo style. The berm issue and what it does to a city (how it divides a city, 'not just talking aesthetics) whether two, or four track, is very clear in San Bruno, and all along Belmont southward, just take a field trip. Burlingame would have to foot the bill to get anything decent, just like San Carlos did many years ago for their two track system underpass. The only type of raised structure that would not create a berm is on stilts, and if memory serves, this was in a similar price category as a trench......

For Teapot, there is a lot of information on this site and others explaining the pitfalls of a 4-track system (this is at least 110 ft. wide) on the SF Peninsula. In other cities, it would involve some property takings.

A 2-track system will have other issues related to limiting the number of Caltrain trains but I won't go into that-- Caltrain got themselves into a pickle, methinks but that is another topic.

Fool fear to tread

Ha! diminished train noise. That is a fool's perspective or maybe just someone right next to the tracks. The rest of town will hear more noise since the loudspeaker will be higher off the ground. Fool.


A berm through Burlingame is not the answer. I highly doubt an elevated structure would have anywhere near the cost of a trenched system. An elevated two track system in Burlingame and downtown San Mateo makes the most sense. That is what the two cities should demand from the high speed rail authority.

If the system was elevated similar to what BART has in many locations a low retaining wall maybe three feet high would keep the sound from reverberating out and around town. Most of the noise on electric train cars comes from the wheels and brakes. Thus, with a sound barrier, diminished train noise.


Also, to the lady or gentleman who called me a fool, I don't know what you mean by loudspeaker. I'm guessing you mean the train horn. If you take the train tracks away from traffic crossings there is no need for a loud horn. The only horn use would be when a train is pulling into a station and that horn is much quieter, like the ones they have on BART trains.


Fred, I'm not so sure about the low retaining wall solving the 120 mph steel wheels-on-steel tracks plus air mass noise issue. One of the challenges with the noise walls on 101 is the near neighbors get good protection from the near sound wall (the western one, in our case) but the eastern sound wall just reflects the highway noise back over all of B'game.


I don't think Burlingame has an eastern soundwall on 101.


I didn't say we did. But plenty of sections of 101 do. And if you try to apply the same design to HSR you would need one on both sides of the tracks--nice echo chamber.


You can put a pound of lipstick on the HSR pig and it will still be a pig. Soundwalls, berms, raised tracks, blah blah blah. Still a really expensive pig that you can't eat.


The peninsula like it's name implies, is a narrow strip of land and can't handle HSR/4 tracks system. If we're foolish enough to build HSR (120 year old technology gussied up to appear futuristic), then it should travel 40 feet underground or through the east bay under the bay. The soil here is alluvial(clay, sand, chalk--very easy to bore through). It's expensive, sure, but so was the fiasco of the eastern retro-fit of the bay bridge. Just to run HSR year to year will make BART look like a lemonade stand.


Remember this one? It was so good, I'm reposting.


This bus concept actually already exists (minus the HSR snout and barf bags)-- extremely cheap shuttle between LA and SJ . My kid has takes it frequently for about $20 each way. Yes, 6-7 hour drive, but you can't beat it for economy.


I voted against the HSR bond. I agree High Speed Rail is a waste of money and there are better things to spend it on. But all you have to do is go into the city and take a look at the construction of the Transbay Transit Terminal and realize HSR is coming whether we want it or not. I also agree a tunnel or covered trench is the best option, it's not going to happen, too expensive.

If you really want to divide the town keep the rail at grade, we'll have Broadway and maybe Peninsula for car traffic, pedestrians and bicycles. So the only practical option is an elevated track. The fight for the city comes down to two tracks vs. three vs. four and berm vs. an elevated structure.

I bet in the end we settle on three tracks and elevated from North Lane to Peninsula. With a Broadway overpass and a pedestrian tunnel at Oak Grove.


Not to mention the immense amounts of water this project will waste. How much concrete are we talking about that will need water for mixing? Surely this will raise the price even higher. I wouldn't be so sure it's going to happen whether we want it or not. The Transbay terminal has already been scaled back in scope and could just as easily handle a BART stop and Caltrain extension when it's done.


The Daily Post's Dave Price serves up some pointed critiques on a regular basis and it is even easier when some public official hands him material to work with.

Caltrain/SamTrans public spokesman Mark Simon is the latest one to do so. Caltrain recently purchased 16 used train cars to help with the rise in ridership. A Post reporter called him to confirm the purchase and ask when the cars might arrive, get refurbished and go into service. From here I quote the Post:

He (Simon) said the information about refurbishing the cars was available online.

"We don't need to do your work for you," Simon said curtly.

Either Simon didn't know the answers to Nowell's questions or couldn't be bothered to provide the information.

You'd think Simon would want to make the most of what could be a positive story for Caltrain. Think of all negarive stories that have come out about that agency -- questions of financial irregularities, whistleblowers, ridiculous salaries and a new CEO who doesn't meet the minimum requirements of the job described in the recruitment ad. ....

Simon has responded this way to our reporters before. I guess his behavior would be OK if he worked for a private company, and his boss felt the company should be represented that way. But Simon works for a public agency, and his job is to provide information to the public through the news media.

End quote.

There is actually government code to the effect of employee courtesy to the public. It is GC 19572 excerpted as follows:

19572. Each of the following constitutes cause for discipline of an
employee, or of a person whose name appears on any employment list:
(a) Fraud in securing appointment.
(b) Incompetency.
(c) Inefficiency.
(d) Inexcusable neglect of duty.
(e) Insubordination.
(f) Dishonesty.
(g) Drunkenness on duty.
(h) Intemperance.
(i) Addiction to the use of controlled substances.
(j) Inexcusable absence without leave.
(k) Conviction of a felony or conviction of a misdemeanor
involving moral turpitude. A plea or verdict of guilty, or a
conviction following a plea of nolo contendere, to a charge of a
felony or any offense involving moral turpitude is deemed to be a
conviction within the meaning of this section.
(l) Immorality.
(m) Discourteous treatment of the public or other employees.

There is more, but you get the point.

Bruce Dickinson

Joe, reading about Mr. Simon's behavior makes me sick to my stomach. As a public agency leader, he should know better to at least give the illusion of being courteous, especially to the local press. If he cannot master this basic of basics, when what else will he be unable to master? Mr. Simon, think of Bruce Dickinson as E.F. Hutton. When I talk, people listen, or in your case, need to listen. And you can take that advice right to the bank!

Keep on voting for Big Gov't

The inevitable $100B rail on elevated tracks won't be so bad. The El in Chicago makes a huge racket, but gets people around nicely from stop to stop.

The $100B rail will also be a huge racket, but it just won't help many people get around.

"We don't need to do your work for you," Simon said curtly.

Ahh, a classic gov't worker quote. That was in their public relations training manual in 1976.

Keep on voting for Big Gov't, and that's exactly what you'll get.


I'm glad someone is keeping an eye on the High-cost Rail Authority:


One wonders what issue would cause a “private discussion with a member of Authority staff” attended by four board members – less than the Authority’s five-member quorum.



And these are the folks who will be overseeing High Speed Rail construction (?)

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

About the Voice

  • The Burlingame Voice is dedicated to informing and empowering the Burlingame community. Our blog is a public forum for the discussion of issues that relate to Burlingame, California. On it you can read and comment on important city issues.

    Note: Opinions posted on the Burlingame Voice Blog are those of the poster and not necessarily the opinion of the editorial board of the Burlingame Voice. See Terms of Use

Contributing to the Voice

  • If you would like more information on the Burlingame Voice, send an email to [email protected] with your request or question. We appreciate your interest.

    Authors may login here.

    For help posting to the Voice, see our tutorial.