By Matthew Wilson, @WilsonSTComms

At Caltrain, safety around trains and train tracks is always a top priority.

There’s always the chance of danger when trains come in close proximity to vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians at street level. That’s why the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, which oversees Caltrain, recently awarded a contract that will see the construction and installation of even stronger safety improvements in areas where tracks cross through city streets.

As part of the Grade Crossing Improvement Project, new pedestrian gates and arms, pavement markings and markers, railings and signage will be installed to 10 grade crossings along the Caltrain corridor from San Francisco to Santa Clara County. Street markings and signs will warn motorists to make absolutely sure they stop completely before the tracks, gates, and arms, not on top of the tracks. Railings will help safely funnel pedestrians to appropriate crosswalks and entry gates.

In addition, medians, which deter motorists from driving around gates, will be added to five grade crossings in Santa Clara County.

You can expect to see grade crossing improvements at the following locations over the next year:

  • 16th Street, San Francisco
  • Broadway, Burlingame
  • Peninsula Avenue, Burlingame
  • 4th Avenue, San Mateo
  • Ravenswood Avenue, Menlo Park
  • Alma Street, Palo Alto
  • Charleston Road, Palo Alto
  • Rengstorff Avenue, Mountain View
  • Castro Street, Mountain View
  • Mary Avenue, Sunnyvale

Medians will be added at these locations over the next year:

  • Churchill Road, Palo Alto
  • East Meadow Drive, Palo Alto
  • Sunnyvale Avenue, Sunnyvale
  • Auzerais Avenue, San Jose
  • W. Virginia Street, San Jose

The improvements were recommended after a thorough report was released in September 2015 that identified sites that could be hazardous when people come in close contact with trains.

According to staff, the report studied the characteristics of various sites, and each site’s bike, train, vehicle and traffic volumes. In total, all 42 crossings were ranked.

Caltrain staff adds that construction at the sites will run from March through March 2019.  A specific timeline is in the works. There could be minor disruption to traffic near the crossings for a few days while construction, painting and installations are done, but there are no expected impacts to Caltrain service.

The $1.6 million contract was awarded January 4 to San Jose-based Granite Rock Company. The project is funded by contributions from the San Mateo County Transit District, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, the City and County of San Francisco, and with funds from San Francisco’s Proposition K, the Federal Railroad Administration and the State’s Proposition 1B funds.

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