High Speed Rail Authority Addresses Alignment Concerns in SF

HSR_alignment_options_for_SF.jpgPossible high speed rail alignment options for San Francisco. Image: HSRA.

Peninsula communities have made all the news with their public outcry against the alignment of the California High Speed Rail train, but today some San Franciscans got into the mix. Now that details have emerged about a possible alignment choice through the eastern portion of Potrero, some community members aren’t so thrilled with the prospect.

A number of residents in the Potrero, Dogpatch, and Showplace triangle neighborhoods addressed representatives of the High Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) today during an informational briefing of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA), decrying an option under consideration that would keep the trains at grade and would depress 16th street in a short tunnel under the tracks.

District 10 Supervisor Sophie Maxwell started off by saying she was concerned that dropping 16th under the tracks would "essentially create a freeway, creating unsafe conditions for cyclists and
pedestrians and creating a breeding ground for graffiti." She said 16th Street was the only significant connection linking the Mission, Potrero and Showplace Triangle neighborhoods with the eastern waterfront.

She clarified she didn’t want her comments to be construed as obstructionist or hindering "this huge, wonderful project," but she asked the authority to consider options that wouldn’t divide neighborhoods further.

Dick Millet, Vice President of the Potrero Boosters neighborhood group, started a wave of public comment voicing similar concerns as Maxwell, arguing the HSRA hadn’t brought detailed drawings to the limited meetings with the neighborhood, nor had they seriously considered the detrimental impact of the at-grade option.

"We’re concerned about the rail crossing at 16th Street, the only major road for two and a half miles to get to the east side," he said. "We’re separated by the 101, the 280, and now we’re going to create another one."

Josh Smith of Walden Development, which has properties near the proposed alignment, said while he is an avid supporter of High Speed Rail, he was concerned that it would be a "huge mistake" to depress 16th Street and argued that engineers have said it would be feasible to bury the rails, so it should be done. "They haven’t come to community meetings with detailed drawings. The devil is in the details, we all know that," he said.

Most of the testimony from the community suggested the best options would be to elevate the trains with aerial tracks or bury them in tunnels, both significantly more expensive than keeping the alignment at grade along existing Caltrain right-of-way.

Robert Doty of the HSRA told Streetsblog after the meeting the agency was considering various options, but warned that placing the rail lines under ground, whether in trenches or deep tunnels, would be very expensive. As a rule of thumb, the HSRA assumed that every dollar spent on at-grade construction would be seven dollars for a deep tunnel, three-to-four dollars for trenches.

Ultimately, the actual cost could be dramatically different depending on the geology constraints, though specific cost analysis wouldn’t be available for the various alignments until environmental review was further along, likely in December.

Various San Francisco departments are preparing a memo of goals and expectations to be delivered to the HSRA tomorrow, according to SFCTA Executive Director Jose Luis Moscovich. Though Moscovich didn’t provide too many specifics about the memo, he said the city family was collaborating to deal with some of the complex issues relating to the alignment of the trains.

"There’s a lot of moving parts here," he said. "I think we need to let the High
Speed Rail Authority understand our preferences for how you get from A
to B and then let them come up with the construction techniques and let
them come up with the solutions they think are going to be the most cost

Despite his assertion that he wanted to the HSRA to analyze numerous solutions, Moscovich came down on the side of the neighbors by telling Streetsblog the at-grade track alignment option through the city along Caltrain right-of-way was a non-starter.

"I don’t see a way that we should have at-grade high speed rail trains crossing the city. It doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to divide the city with rail infrastructure at this late stage," he said.

While Moscovich said vibration and noise issues from the high-volume high speed rail trains were not good for residential neighborhoods, in the end the HSRA would make the final decisions.

"Everything else is going to be more of a question of how High Speed Rail is going to be able to penetrate San Francisco with the least impact and so that we have both full use of Caltrain and its stations and the 4th and King yards, that the assets the city’s transportation system already has are preserved and enhanced."

  • Jorge

    Thank you for reporting on this!

    The 280 freeway and Caltrain tracks separate Mission Bay from the rest of the city. High speed rail is an incredible opportunity! Think Park Ave in NYC

  • Jim

    If they design for ped and bicycle access, a depressed 16th St is no worse than the current Caltrain crossing. Sounds fine to me.

  • Peter M

    What possible reason could there be to want a tunnel through ALL of San Francisco for HSR, as the map and the quote from Moscovich suggest? South of 16 the Caltrain ROW is already entirely grade separated and is almost entirely surrounded by industrial areas.

  • YESonHSR

    For Gods sake Caltrain is already here and loud with horns..how in the world is quite HSR worse than that? its as bad as the babies in MenloPark.
    We cant get this built if it takes 8billion dollars just to get out the BayArea..I live right next to 101 near Market so having HSR going by is nothing compared to 24 cars and trucks and loud boom music….keep it at grade with improved crossing protection..No tunnels

  • The incompetence of Caltrain, High Speed Rail Authority and the Transbay Joint Powers Authority is mind-boggling and evidently without limit.

    First you’ll note that HSR and Caltrain are to be completely separated, with the former getting its own brand new tunnel, and the latter condemned to run according to 19th century steam railroad practice, run along the surface at 16th Street, and terminate most its trains South of Market while the former hogs the downtown terminal of the falsely advertised “Caltrain” Downtown Extension.

    So this is just about doing as piss-poor a job as possible for Caltrain — which will always carry twice as many passengers as HSR, but is ignored. HSR is out of the picture in its own shiny $$$$$ tunnel.

    Now there is of course no need whatsoever for two completely separate systems running on separate tracks, here or anywhere else on the Peninsula. And in San Francisco in particular, there is no need for a new set of tunnels just for HSR, because HSR and Caltrain will be running at almost identical speed, meaning that, with a tiny amount of operating skill (in other words, “work smarter, not harder”, in other words don’t waste billions pouring concrete when it isn’t needed) two tracks are sufficient for both.

    It’s really really straightforward to do this right.
    It’s NOT rocket science.
    See http://www.pobox.com/users/mly/TTT-2008/DTX-200805-7th.pdf

    The length of extra trenching — circa half a mile — is absolutely trivial compared to the insane, $4+ billion cost of the Transbay Terminal and Caltrain extension technical catastrophes. If anybody is banging on about the awful terrible horrible cost of putting the Caltrain+HSR COMBINED tracks under 16th and under Common Street just to the north then you know they are not being remotely honest with you.

    San Francisco and Caltrain are, as usual, being hoddwinked and shortchanged by agency staff of either extraordinarily limited skill or limited candour.

  • There are so many fatal flaws with the San Francisco portion of the project, the issue with 16th St. is actually the least of the worries.

    For example: even after building a monterously expensive $4 billion tunnel, the majority of Caltrain runs still will only go as far as 4th & King.

  • I love how trains have to run in expensive trenches or tunnels, but the massive, noisy, elevated freeway that shares the same right of way is completely acceptable. I almost want to stage mock protests demanding that local freeways be encased in deep bored tunnels to show how ridiculous these demands are.

  • Al

    “the only major road for two and a half miles”? Um, Mariposa St. is 1000 ft. south of there, and 4th St. is a mile north. Admittedly a mile is a long way to go without a crossing, but 16th St. doesn’t change that.

  • The trains shouldn’t be running all that “high speed” at this point so why can’t it stay as is? Separated-grade crossings are only needed down the peninsula where it’ll hopefully be traveling at a much higher speed.

  • Al

    I think there might be legal reasons, to do with the waiver of impact-resistance regulations or something. Also, even non-high-speed can still be 70 mph, easy.

  • Al, oh ok. But at this spot those trains will be approaching a major right hand turn within a couple hundred feet (probably less), I doubt they will be traveling any faster then Caltrain travels now.

  • marcos

    So the clarion call of housing near transit seems to blind itself to the concept that housing and transit are sometimes conflicting land uses.

    Just so long as the housing gets developed by the gullible who buy into “smart growth,” the impacts get shifted onto existing residents as “stupid growth.”

    I’d rather see a chunk of change dropped to make the last few miles of HSR less slow and to keep surface streets safer than to go the cheap route and hope for the best.


  • How is building housing near transit stupid? marc, you confuse more often then you don’t. And everything is a conflicting land use. How is building wide suburban roads or even sorta wide urban roads not a conflicting land use with housing? People have to move around, why not on transit instead of streets?

    The only thing I can see about it being stupid is that currently TOD is usually built with ample parking and then some. This gives the residents zero incentive to take the transit that is right next to them.

  • marcos

    @mikesonn, don’t contemporary high speed trainsets (ICE, Acela) know how to roll with curves and maintain some degree of speed?


  • I’m sure they do. But it’s not like they come flying to the station at 70 mph. Or maybe they do and I just don’t know it.

  • marcos

    @mikesonn, land use controls are supposed to anticipate and avoid conflicts in land uses rather than encourage them assuming that a religious precept will intercede and obviate those clashes. Housing, which has an increased development envelope in Dogpatch under the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, right next to heavy rail which is slated for intensification, is inviting a conflict in land use.

    You might not remember when Willie Brown was rewarding developers with bogus “live work lofts,” on the east side back in the 1990s. This Housing/Not Housing land use was allowed in industrial zones and that led to all sorts of whining by well heeled new owners of these condos when they had to deal with the industrial uses adjacent. The presumption from the previous economic bubble, as if that were normative, is that light industrial is toast because “the new economy” is here to stay.

    Not so fast.

    Housing along transit corridors is only a positive development when it is likely that residents in that housing will use transit and not drive and when private auto ownership from that housing does not delay transit. Current infrastructure indicates by the numbers that such a conclusion is based on wishful thinking:

    See: http://www.fogcityjournal.com/wordpress/2010/04/infra-destructure-san-francisco-breaks-the-bank-for-developers/


  • marcos

    @mikesonn, rounding the 7th street curve at 30-40mph would still be three times faster than CalTrain.


  • but 30-40 mph is not screaming grade separation to me.

  • marcos

    @mikesonn, we know that heavy rail on the surface is a clash, that such a mix is dangerous and kills people. We also know that planners slate that section of San Francisco for more intensive residential development. Wasn’t it Richard from Rescue Muni who tried to make the case that this was okay, these deaths were all suicide? It is death by design. If you like the previous treatment at Cesar Chavez, Bayshore and US-101, then you’ll love what HSR has planned for 16th Street.

    For a moment, can you all please try to step outside of your narrow transit-only 16 color analytical frame and contemplate the bigger picture of the real, more complicated 24 bit color world?

    I’d assume that HSR would travel faster along the straight aways south of 16th street, and that is where the tunnel treatment would bring a win. Some of that is where denser residential development is encouraged, the rest of that is adjacent to an established residential neighborhood.

    Some of that is SFHA properties, interests the residents of which are not legitimately designated to be at the table.


  • I don’t see how grade separation is going to stop people from committing suicide on the tracks, but if cross traffic is an issue then maybe spend a few extra $100k and put in extra crossing guards.

    And as for housing and mixed use etc, so we have to build in order to ensure that people will never complain? Talk about pie in the sky. And you need to expand on saying treatments to CC and 101 are going to be like 16th Street.

    Also, 16th’s Caltrain crossing is still under the 280 spur so heavy rail is the problem?

  • marcos

    @mikesonn, HSR is a SYSTEM that includes total separation of the guideway in addition to the special trainsets.

    Perhaps you are of the antebellum libertarian Republican bent that Houston is a model for it has no zoning, it is a free for all, that land use conflicts don’t exist, only whining does?


  • Yes marcos, I am a republican libertarian houstonian (insert all other names you can think of that represent the depths of hell). But really, I have been around this blog for long enough that you should know I am none of those.

    I agree that building mix used loft/housing in a light industrial area is stupid. Were those people promised that the light industry around them would be gone in a few years? Or did they buy a really cheap place and just pray to “flip this house” gods that they would live in a suburban wonderland in 5 years?

    I also agree that HSR should be grade separated when it needs to be. However, when you have all that Caltrain ROW completely separated with one cross street, then you do what you can do make that street a non issue. Yes, tunneling it would be a pain, but tunneling 5 miles of Caltrain when there are other MUCH cheaper options is foolish.

  • marcos

    @mikesonn, planners dream that San Francisco will end up as a bedroom community of Silicon Valley with a population of 1.2m, augmented by hundreds of thousands more luxury condo dwellers, which will more than swamp working class San Francisco politically.

    Land use is corruption crystallized in California, popular opposition to the designs of properly educated planners and their political masters is dismissed with techniques such as marginalizing us as NIMBYs.

    Please take time to read Section 101.1 of the San Francisco Planning Code for a hint of what the people want when we get to vote on how development should proceed.

    Notice that those lofty words cannot compete with the mountains of cash attendant with development.

    The only places where dense residential development is compatible with reliable, rapid public transit is where those transit lines have been buried in tunnels.

    It is as if so many here are willfully oblivious to the past 125 years of the history of development of urban space and transit.


  • I’m glad you are the only enlighten one among us!

    And in no way am I arguing for luxury condos, wow you missed a lot while you were gone. And we probably agree a lot more then you think since I’m now your new straw man to knock down. TOD now is built with excessive parking driving up the cost and the impact (spatially, environmentally, and on infrastructure).

    I’m not going to argue with you more cause you see things your way and think I see them the exact opposite.

  • marcos

    I live in the RTO zone in the North Mission, allegedly Residential Transit Oriented. Parking maxima here are at .75:1, a really, really big win over 1:1 minimums, even though we’re spitting distance from transit as well as the freeways.

    The cost of construction of housing has no bearing on the market price of housing, parking or not, the price of housing is what the market will bear, just as what you owe on your mortgage has no bearing on what the price of that house is on the market at any given time.

    TOD and “smart growth” are greenwashing tools used to entitle crappy lucrative housing which does not cover its costs on transit or other city services, leaving residents to clean up the messes while developers run wild.


  • You are only going to make enemies by being so confrontational with someone who agrees with you. This may surprise you, but I’m really pissed that Newsom now wants to waive what little fees developers still have to pay.

    And parking raising the price because people will pay more for a parking space, that is the market. If a parking space isn’t included, then people aren’t forced to buy something they don’t need. Seems pretty simple to me.

  • marcos

    The incremental price boost of a parking space is minimal, insignificant, and has no impact on the aggregate price of housing.

    Didn’t see where my statements about development in #25 were confronting you.

    I do speak truths brashly that many find discomforting.


  • $20k is insignificant?

    And I can handle it, but don’t find it endearing.

  • marcos

    @mikesonn, $20K on $700K is nothing. We overbid by $10K on our house in 2002 when prices were much lower and that percentage was higher.


  • I guess, I’ll never be able to afford here if it’s $20k or $100k cheaper. I guess since it’s all unachievable I have a skewed view.

  • marcos

    We lucked into it.


  • Jeez

    Thanks Marc and Mike for your enlightening dialogue. Maybe you two should get a room

    Can we bring this discussion back to high speed rail and 16th Street?

  • Jeez, you could have just skipped past it. And you added so much too.

    And yeah, it was about HSR and 16th. I still believe that at grade will ok for 16th because it is the approach into the station. But if bringing the tunnel all the way back to the 22nd street stop will help the tunnel that is going to be starting at 4th and King then drop it down.

  • patrick

    @marcos “we know that heavy rail on the surface is a clash”

    nope, grade separated heavy rail on the surface is not a clash, just noisy when compared to subway, it’s perfectly safe and much cheaper than a subway. The area is not dense enough to warrant a subway (nor is it in the Peninsula), so doing so would be benefiting the few residents at great cost to the state.

    ALL of those residents moved in LONG after the rail line was built, so to complain about it splitting the neighborhood is ridiculous. In fact leaving the line at grade but grade separating will in some ways serve to better connect the east and the west, as there will no longer be trains impacting the flow of traffic. On the other hand it will make it more difficult for cyclists, as they will now have to climb a slope to cross the tracks, so there is some argument briefly lowering the rail line below the street to cross 16th, but certainly that is no reason to trench or tunnel the entire SF route.

    Putting housing next to transit is not smart growth or TOD unless it has nearby access to said transit, so your rant against smart growth and TOD is without merit.

    “planners dream that San Francisco will end up as a bedroom community of Silicon Valley”

    what planners are you talking about? perhaps you mean San Jose planners, certainly not SF planners.

  • I’m a member of the board of the Potrero Boosters, and while I missed this meeting — I was at our open meeting last night we this topic was discussed with the entire organization. I did a write up as well, found here:

    As a staunch supporter of HSR, daily Caltrain commuter and Potrero Hill resident, I firmly believe that HSR will be immensely beneficial for Potrero Hill, the city, the region and the state. That being said, just because I support the project doesn’t mean I don’t want to see Potrero Hill remain as fantastic a neighborhood as it is today. Surely, grade-separations will be an improvement, and I’ve seen many underpasses that function well for all parties (University Avenue underneath Caltrain in Palo Alto comes to mind).

    I hear residents’ concerns though, that sinking 16th could create issues. It’s likely they would also need to depress Mississippi and Seventh streets. That could be a mess for cars, bikes and pedestrians, so I think it would be very helpful for CAHSR to help residents understand what this could look like.

    As other commenters have pointed out, the Caltrain right of way is 100% grade separated and wide enough the entire distance between Bayshore and 16th Street, so spending upwards of hundreds of millions of dollars on tunneling seems like an unnecessary expense to me. But, that should be an option on the table and schematics to understand what this will look like would be really helpful.

    I say just knock 280 back to Mariposa or 18th Street — that solves a lot of these problems. My old house overlooked 280 around 20th Street, and the last stretch of the highway isn’t all that well-used compared to 101. If that means saving billions and creating a much better public space, I’m all for it.

  • Oh, and no way this can be kept at grade. I walk the inter section all the time, and that would be immensely dangerous — and defeat the purpose of HSR, a fast, TOTALLY grade-separated railroad.

    There are many places that “could” remain at grade, but one of the greatest benefits to this project is getting rid of all those at-grade crossings. You try crossing the tracks at 16th on foot with a Caltrain coming at just 20mph, and you’ll see what I mean.

  • marcos

    @Evan: “I say just knock 280 back to Mariposa or 18th Street — that solves a lot of these problems.”

    Great idea.

    @patrick, intensification of land uses is only no issue if it happens far away from your house.

    The safety record of above ground versus below ground rail should speak for itself.


  • patrick


    “intensification of land uses is only no issue if it happens far away from your house”

    exactly what does that mean? are you suggesting I am promoting intensification only if it’s not by me? Then you are completely incorrect, I’m all for it. I’d love to see more development, right next door, around the corner, I welcome it! I’d love a faster transit line on my street, I’d be happy to see offices or more retail built, even in my own building if necessary. If you mean something else, then you need to be more clear.

    “The safety record of above ground versus below ground rail should speak for itself.”

    Agreed, and rail is quite safe. The vast majority of collisions are at grade crossings, or where lines are easily accessible, which would be solved in this situation by grade separation at 16th St, no tunnels required. If you have some data that contradicts that, feel free to provide it here.

  • marcos

    @patrick, what I’m saying is that people who have moved into that area expect for it to have a residential character, and for any intensification of nonresidential uses to be mitigated. Long term residents likewise wish for their neighborhood character to be respected as per the planning code.

    Almost all train deaths and injuries in the Bay Area have been due to CalTrain and Amtrak, not BART, Muni Metro or Santa Clara LR.

    There are also issues facing HSR that their guideways must be not just grade separated, but protected because any flaw in or on the track can damage a wheel which can be disastrous when running at speed.

    It sucks planning for a city that is already 85% built out, but expecting it to be anything like planning for the burbs is just not going to get you very far.

    I guess “comprehensive land use and transportation planning” means nothing.


  • Luc


    “As other commenters have pointed out, the Caltrain right of way is 100% grade separated and wide enough the entire distance between Bayshore and 16th Street, so spending upwards of hundreds of millions of dollars on tunneling seems like an unnecessary expense to me”

    @drunk engineer

    “There are so many fatal flaws with the San Francisco portion of the project, the issue with 16th St. is actually the least of the worries”

    I live in Potrero Hill and really do want to see HSR succeed because of what it would mean for California infrastructure in 21st century but the 16th street issue is so minor compared to the downtown San Francisco problems that are still only poorly addressed. There are facts on the ground that will dictate how HSR is built and chief among them is that Caltrain right of way is already grade separated in San Francisco except for the 16th street crossing. Sinking the entire railroad to address that one crossing would be a colossal waste of transportation resources. Once the final at-grade crossings are eliminated there is no reason to believe that the railroad would be any less safe than either BART or Muni for accidents- eliminating an at-grade automobile crossings will reduce the vast majority of problems.

    As for the particular solution that 16th street will require- the complicated intersection of Mississippi and 7th will surely make things somewhat difficult but the current intersection can hardly be described as ideal either. And even if HSR doesn’t come into being- the future growth (20 yr timeframe) of Caltrain will require an eventual grade separation anyway- better to do it now before the new UCSF hospital and other development further congests the area.

  • Al

    Really? I’m sure there have been a number of suicides on BART, and some deaths on Muni Metro as well.

    Another factor is that trains must blast a horn when approaching grade crossings. I don’t even know if high speed trains have horns (though I suppose they do for emergencies). Still, I’m guessing people nearby won’t miss them when they’re gone.

    I also seem to recall that the train regulatory agency has requirements for impact resistance, which = a lot of weight. Modern high speed trains are necessarily lightweight, and in order to run them CAHSR needs a waiver of the rules. That might require total grade separation as well (to make sure that vehicles never cross the tracks).

  • Luc


    You’re right about regulations for crash worthiness. The FRA (Federal Rail Administration) requires passenger trains to be very heavy to protect passengers in case of an accident with automobiles or freight trains. This adds a lot of weight to American trains and is fundamentally at odds with HSR technology. Therefore HSR must be completely grade separated and not share any tracks with freight rail. A waiver will still be required in for CAHSR because of phase-in issues but the system will require complete separation to be fully functional.

    And eliminating crossings will eliminate trains horns. Not a bad trade if you ask me.

  • Andy Chow

    The FRA requirement mostly is to reduce risk on train to train collisions. Lighter weight trains can is sufficient on most train-auto collisions (light rail is not FRA compliant yet there are many grade crossings where LRV run over 60mph.)

    The 16th Street should be grade separated because it is the main entryway to and from Transbay Terminal. Any incident at that crossing would have a significant service disruptions.

    Lowering the tracks (or putting tracks underground) has problems. First the Mission Bay area has wastewater station by the train tracks. If the trains were to go underground, the underground pipes would likely have to be relocated. Second, Caltrain and HSR need 4th & King as a second terminal. If the tracks stay at grade, then the trains to Transbay can go undergound at 7th Street/Townsend. If all trains are to go underground, then trains to 4th & King would have to come back to the surface, or stay surface all the way from the tunnels (with the grade crossing at 16th Street). Third, if trains were to go underground at 16th Street. Keeping 22nd Street station may not be an option.

    There should be enough empty lands in the area to allow an underpass with least impact to already built properties facing the street. Another alternative is to improve Pennsylvania Avenue and Mariposa Street so that traffic from 16th Street can be diverted. The 16th Street crossing itself would be closed to auto traffic. Bike and ped would use a smaller underpass. That way there will be no visual and property impacts.

  • patrick


    “Almost all train deaths and injuries in the Bay Area have been due to CalTrain and Amtrak”

    Notice that those happen at grade crossings, which as I mentioned above would be no issue as the grade crossing would be eliminated. Grade crossings are where any danger lies, not merely running the trains at grade. And as I mentioned before, death by train is still very rare.

    “There are also issues facing HSR that their guideways must be not just grade separated, but protected because any flaw in or on the track can damage a wheel which can be disastrous when running at speed.”

    don’t need a tunnel for that, just a fence or a wall. Plus, they are not nearly as fragile as you think, the actual reason they need separation is that the trains are going so fast people will not even realize a train is coming, it’s for preventing collisions, not for protecting the rails from damage. HSR trains have derailed before at full speed without causing any serious injuries.

  • Al

    If you’re going to put in a crossing, it makes more sense to do it further north instead, for a more even spacing of crossings, like at Berry St. Also, where do the tracks go underground? At the end of the 4th & King station? Maybe the tracks will already be descending at Berry–that could make an overpass easier.

  • marcos

    HSR seems to require a level of security along the trackways that is going to involve at least fencing in if not walling off the entire route.

    These facilities are going to last for hundreds of years, so a little money spent now to plan for the future will go a very long way. Shortcuts that appear to save money in the immediate term often portend recurring costs many times greater than that over the long lifespan of the system.

    If our goals are to take down freeways and increase livability, then it makes sense to underground HSR through cities where crafty individuals are able to secret themselves into the most unlikely of places.

    I say we plan for the post-I280 era by underg rounding the train lines where they run under the freeway.

    At some point, the security of these stations is going to have to be taken seriously because primarily HSR has to be a completely segregated to ensure track integrity and prevent collisions along the line, a secure system, a secondary safety goal is to ensure that track integrity is maintained at the highest levels to as to prevent damage to rolling stock.

    All of the open air unattended SF CalTrain stations are going to have to be secured and locked down when the system is not running. It is just going to be simpler and safer to secure underground stations than to risk it with what appears to be planned.


  • 0101!

    Undergrounding the trains will exponentially increase the cost of the entire project, not just be a “a little money spent now.”

  • marcos


    Undergrounding in San Francisco would cost incrementally more but not exponentially more.

    We seem condemned to value engineer our capital systems to the lowest common denominator of cheap.


  • 0101!

    ok maybe not exponentially, but it will definitely double or triple the cost. i dont know how you can deny that. even putting parking underground doubles the cost of the structure.

  • Al

    I suspect undergrounding is probably not going to be on the table unless the city is willing to pay for it. However, that might be a possibility– they could sell the rights to build on some of the land made available from the undergrounding, which could conceivably be enough. Would solve the 16th St. issue nicely.

    What is the current plan? Trains go through the 4th St. station, then to Transbay? Is the station at 4th St. going to be lowered, since the tracks have to go underground? I think I remember seeing a plan to put a mid- or high-rise on top of the future 4th St. station. If this is the case, it might not cost a great deal more to keep the tracks underground until they go under the freeway, and you could fund it by selling/leasing the land on top. After that, the tracks are in a trench, which could be covered either now or later.


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