News

$1.56 million to study Castro Street closure

A controversial plan to close off Castro Street at the Caltrain tracks will get formal scrutiny by Mountain View officials in the coming months. At its Tuesday meeting, the City Council unanimously approved a $1.56 million contract for a new engineering study on the downtown street closure and plans to reroute traffic along Evelyn Avenue.

The city is rehiring Kimley-Horn, the same traffic engineering firm that had previously studied the crossing, to conduct the new study. Over the next 18 months, the firm will analyze how to close off Castro Street and build a new on-ramp to link Evelyn Avenue to Shoreline Boulevard. The engineers will also plot out a new underground crossing for bicycles and pedestrians under Central Expressway.

The full cost for these modifications is expected to run $60 million, which should mostly be covered by the Valley Transportation Authority and its funding through the Measure B sales tax. Mountain View would likely be on the hook to pay $6 million, said Assistant Public Works Director Dawn Cameron.

That Measure B sales tax money is currently in limbo due to an ongoing lawsuit filed by Mountain View attorney Gary Wesley. That case is currently in appellate court, and it is expected to wrap up within six to 12 months, Cameron said. The sales tax money is still being collected, but it is being held in an escrow account, and VTA is barred from spending it.

City and transit officials have expressed confidence the tax measure will ultimately prevail in court, and they have continued pursuing transit projects that will rely on the funding. Mountain View's proposed Castro Street modifications are expected to be funded from $700 million earmarked in Measure B for grade separation projects.

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"By not letting this (study) be held up by the court decision, we'll be in the best place to compete early for the grade separation money," Cameron said to the council. "One thing VTA has valued in the past is project readiness."

Officials from Mountain View and several other cities along the Caltrain line are trying to prepare for when the train service upgrades to an electric system in 2022. That upgrade will speed up the service and serve as a precursor for building a high-speed rail line along the same corridor.

In the future, city officials are also planning what they call "Phase 2," —> a redesign of the transit center to accommodate more passengers, and include an underground parking lot and new retail space. Those plans are less certain, especially in light of the city's push to also include a new automated transit system that would likely use the downtown transit center as one of its main stations. An update on this automated system will be discussed by the council at their Feb. 27 meeting.

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$1.56 million to study Castro Street closure

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Fri, Feb 16, 2018, 10:08 am

A controversial plan to close off Castro Street at the Caltrain tracks will get formal scrutiny by Mountain View officials in the coming months. At its Tuesday meeting, the City Council unanimously approved a $1.56 million contract for a new engineering study on the downtown street closure and plans to reroute traffic along Evelyn Avenue.

The city is rehiring Kimley-Horn, the same traffic engineering firm that had previously studied the crossing, to conduct the new study. Over the next 18 months, the firm will analyze how to close off Castro Street and build a new on-ramp to link Evelyn Avenue to Shoreline Boulevard. The engineers will also plot out a new underground crossing for bicycles and pedestrians under Central Expressway.

The full cost for these modifications is expected to run $60 million, which should mostly be covered by the Valley Transportation Authority and its funding through the Measure B sales tax. Mountain View would likely be on the hook to pay $6 million, said Assistant Public Works Director Dawn Cameron.

That Measure B sales tax money is currently in limbo due to an ongoing lawsuit filed by Mountain View attorney Gary Wesley. That case is currently in appellate court, and it is expected to wrap up within six to 12 months, Cameron said. The sales tax money is still being collected, but it is being held in an escrow account, and VTA is barred from spending it.

City and transit officials have expressed confidence the tax measure will ultimately prevail in court, and they have continued pursuing transit projects that will rely on the funding. Mountain View's proposed Castro Street modifications are expected to be funded from $700 million earmarked in Measure B for grade separation projects.

"By not letting this (study) be held up by the court decision, we'll be in the best place to compete early for the grade separation money," Cameron said to the council. "One thing VTA has valued in the past is project readiness."

Officials from Mountain View and several other cities along the Caltrain line are trying to prepare for when the train service upgrades to an electric system in 2022. That upgrade will speed up the service and serve as a precursor for building a high-speed rail line along the same corridor.

In the future, city officials are also planning what they call "Phase 2," —> a redesign of the transit center to accommodate more passengers, and include an underground parking lot and new retail space. Those plans are less certain, especially in light of the city's push to also include a new automated transit system that would likely use the downtown transit center as one of its main stations. An update on this automated system will be discussed by the council at their Feb. 27 meeting.

Comments

A Talking Cat
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Feb 16, 2018 at 11:21 am
A Talking Cat, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Feb 16, 2018 at 11:21 am

Nice things about closing off Castro:
* Trains won't need to blare their horns as they pass by anymore
* Traffic won't get backed up on Castro as cars wait for train after train to go by
* Less at-grade rail intersections means less injuries and deaths
* It might actually help the area be more pedestrian and bike friendly

Let's do this thing.


Another great plan by city council
Rex Manor
on Feb 16, 2018 at 11:43 am
Another great plan by city council, Rex Manor
on Feb 16, 2018 at 11:43 am

...NOT
They are really just spending money anyway they can. First with paying Google $28,000,000 to build some roads to help with google employees commute and now this. A $1.56 Million study. A STUDY!!! The city council is getting out of control. I could think of a lot better ways to spend the combined $29.56 million that would actually improve the city for its residents and its businesses.

Let's remember these decisions come election time!


Al
Rex Manor
on Feb 16, 2018 at 12:04 pm
Al, Rex Manor
on Feb 16, 2018 at 12:04 pm

The tax money is held in an escrow account. What if the tax is found to be illegal? What happens to the money then? Are we all supposed to turn in receipts to get refunds?


AllYouCanEat
Monta Loma
on Feb 16, 2018 at 1:48 pm
AllYouCanEat, Monta Loma
on Feb 16, 2018 at 1:48 pm

@A talking cat

Get off the bike and pedestrian-friendly rant. I live 3 blocks from downtown Castro Street and rarely see anyone walking to and from other than commuters. And believe it or not not everyone wants to ride a bike.

If this goes through my neighborhood is going to be a parking lot and threaten the safety of the children that live here.


@Another great plan by city council
Cuesta Park
on Feb 16, 2018 at 2:20 pm
@Another great plan by city council, Cuesta Park
on Feb 16, 2018 at 2:20 pm

The City Council thinks they are swimming in cash because they do not consider the unfunded retiree pensions and medical insurance payments. The next downturn in the local economy, and Silicon Valley always has cycles, will dry up the tax revenues and the government will have to cut back services to pay the liabilities these big spending politicians committed us to.


Sarah
St. Francis Acres
on Feb 16, 2018 at 2:20 pm
Sarah, St. Francis Acres
on Feb 16, 2018 at 2:20 pm

I actually wish all of Castro could be a pedestrian zone and completely closed off.


More congestion on Shoreline
Jackson Park
on Feb 16, 2018 at 2:36 pm
More congestion on Shoreline, Jackson Park
on Feb 16, 2018 at 2:36 pm

This plan funnels even more traffic going to 101 on Shoreline instead of spreading over two freeway entrances (Shoreline and Moffett).
The city refuses to even seriously study the possibilty of a road undercrossing at Castro. The removed it from consideration during the early study sessions because it was deemed too expensive, without any regards to the potential of traffic improvements (or at least not worsening) in the area.
Palo Alto keeps pushing for road undercrossings or Caltrain tunneling/trenching. While they might not get it, we in Mountain View aren't even looking at these options. Why?


Steve the long time resident
Cuesta Park
on Feb 16, 2018 at 2:50 pm
Steve the long time resident, Cuesta Park
on Feb 16, 2018 at 2:50 pm

I don't know why CalTrain and MV don't look around at other cities to see what they've done to make the trains run smoother without having congesting crossing signals and pedestrian crossing issues. Think: San Mateo and Belmont and their
well designed auto undercrossings and train overpasses. Yes the cost would be more than simply blocking off Castro but in the long term we would all be better off.
By the way, doing something like the north peninsula would greatly improve the Rengstorff mess as well.


reader
Waverly Park
on Feb 16, 2018 at 2:58 pm
reader, Waverly Park
on Feb 16, 2018 at 2:58 pm

"...rehiring Kimley-Horn, the same traffic engineering firm that had previously studied the crossing, to conduct the new study."

Maybe I missed something and didn't read the article closely enough, but what was the outcome of the FIRST study? How long ago was that and what did they find out? It seems like every time I read about city council, they are paying someone to do a study. Is this beyond the realm of the traffic engineer, city planners, and public works folks we already have on staff? Seriously I'd like to know if this is typical for how governments and large organizations operate, or if we have a city council that's a little too eager to spend other people's money?

At the very least, could the Voice provide a link to the report from the previous study?


NO TECHFAN
Blossom Valley
on Feb 16, 2018 at 4:39 pm
NO TECHFAN, Blossom Valley
on Feb 16, 2018 at 4:39 pm

It makes complete sense to close off Castro to traffic and start segregating modes of transportation. This is a great first step by the city council!

Some things that are being done in private companies in Silicon Valley are truly cutting edge. But unfortunately when it comes to quality of life in our cities and efficient, clean and reliable modes of transportation we are a far cry from where you would expect us to be...

Mountain View has a chance to offer some fresh perspective on how to get things done. Let's hope this effort succeeds!


Reside
Stierlin Estates
on Feb 16, 2018 at 6:19 pm
Reside, Stierlin Estates
on Feb 16, 2018 at 6:19 pm

This council needs to travel daily on Shoreline and see now bad the traffic is at this time. They are dividing the city in half, none of us on the north of the tracks count anymore. Oh yes and they are approving 700 to 900 new housing units on Middlefield between Moffet and Shoreline. And all the new North Bayshore developments. These residents need to be counted for their trips to stores, post office and also those restaurants downtown. Those Amazon packages need to be picked up or returned. But everyone will walk, use bicycles, and this council is dreaming a good nightmare for us residents.


swissik
another community
on Feb 16, 2018 at 7:24 pm
swissik, another community
on Feb 16, 2018 at 7:24 pm

There is nothing more fun than spending other people's money.


Haluko
Waverly Park
on Feb 16, 2018 at 7:58 pm
Haluko, Waverly Park
on Feb 16, 2018 at 7:58 pm

I have seen Belmont and consider it very unsightly. Something similar at Castro would change the character of Castro. I am for closing it off.


Haluko
Waverly Park
on Feb 16, 2018 at 8:05 pm
Haluko, Waverly Park
on Feb 16, 2018 at 8:05 pm

But the housing development is going to suffocate this city...


Todd
Shoreline West
on Feb 16, 2018 at 8:06 pm
Todd, Shoreline West
on Feb 16, 2018 at 8:06 pm

Anyone who lives near the tracks would appreciate the lack of a train whistle. But if pedestrians and bicyclists can still cross, wouldn't the trains still blow their whistles?


Dave
Old Mountain View
on Feb 16, 2018 at 9:13 pm
Dave, Old Mountain View
on Feb 16, 2018 at 9:13 pm

I agree with Sarah -- making Castro a pedestrian walkway would be best. It would be so nice to be able to eat lunch and dinner on the sidewalk to a pedestrian walkway. Quieter, less pollution, safer. Cross traffic from Villa, Dana, California and Mercy could continue. But ending Castro at Evelyn is the next best thing, and I fully support it.

And to the previous comment, a road undercrossing was studied, and it's a horrible and expensive solution.


Russian Troll Farm
Old Mountain View
on Feb 16, 2018 at 9:20 pm
Russian Troll Farm, Old Mountain View
on Feb 16, 2018 at 9:20 pm

I vote yes! I'd like to see a Santana Row look for Castro.


@Russian Troll Farm
Jackson Park
on Feb 17, 2018 at 11:09 am
@Russian Troll Farm, Jackson Park
on Feb 17, 2018 at 11:09 am

Santana Row has a vehicle street going through it, so you're for keeping Castro open and cars being able to cross Central/train tracks?


MV Resident
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2018 at 2:06 pm
MV Resident, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2018 at 2:06 pm

I am definitely not for pedestrianizing Castro Street completely. It seems to function fine with cars on it and lots of people come to visit regardless. If you pedestrianize it, there is definite risk of ruining the street. There are examples of cities who de-pedestrianized streets because it stagnated the street. In terms of closing Castro Street at Central - I don't think it takes into account just how bad that street is at rush hour without additional traffic added onto it.


Amelia
Old Mountain View
on Feb 18, 2018 at 9:16 am
Amelia, Old Mountain View
on Feb 18, 2018 at 9:16 am

I am in favor of this closure. It’s less expensive / less ugly than other alternatives. And, if it turns out to hurt businesses, it can be remedied with a more expensive solution.

Which brings me to my next point...

Why do we need a tunnel for bikes and pedestrians? The traffic for these groups is not that large and not as problematic as vehicles. Create a well designed crossing area and be done with it. If this turns out to be a problem, build the tunnel.


lan
Rengstorff Park
on Feb 18, 2018 at 5:41 pm
lan, Rengstorff Park
on Feb 18, 2018 at 5:41 pm

Though a car-free Castro seems like a great idea, Mountain View has other equally important traffic problems that need to be solved. Rengstorff at Central is traffic hell, and for a street that is a main artery towards Mountain View, and towards Google, the lack of attention to redesigning this intersection is appalling. And the sharp and exponential increase in red-light runners throughout the City, but particularly at intersections along Shoreline and Rengstorff, and at El Camino and 237/Grant Road. I would be much more supportive of changes to Castro and Central if the City Council would also take action towards solving these other traffic problems.


Nico
Monta Loma
on Feb 19, 2018 at 8:40 am
Nico, Monta Loma
on Feb 19, 2018 at 8:40 am

This change is to accommodate more trains which will mean more blaring of those overly noisy horns. We need them for safety but this 1950s technology and approach needs to be changed.

There is no need to blare those horns at 3am multiple times which can be heard 2 miles away. Reduce the volume of those horns and continue to change how they are used. This is already worse than the jet noise and will only get more annoying with more trains.


Car
another community
on Feb 20, 2018 at 9:03 am
Car, another community
on Feb 20, 2018 at 9:03 am

The tracks are such a huge roadblock as there are right now for the city and now they’re trying to get rid of another important crossing to make commuting around the area even more obnoxious? What a disappointment.

What we really need is someone to fix the red lights all over the city! They stay green for way too long. 99% of cross traffic is gone after 30 seconds. 40-50 cars shouldn’t have to sit and watch cross traffic for another minute or more to watch 3-5 cars droll through. So much time wasted light after light.


Nathan
Jackson Park
on Feb 20, 2018 at 11:28 am
Nathan, Jackson Park
on Feb 20, 2018 at 11:28 am

Why study. The first hash of this came back from Caltrans with, 'you cant change the trains grade' and you can't have gates for the train anymore. There is no up or down for the train.

So its under, or over, or to the side for the cars and peeps folks, that's the choice. If you look to Lafeyette Street in Santa Clara, you'll see what a deep and narrow under pass looks like, and its really awful. The over solution needs a lot more room than Central and the tracks offer unless its a moon launch and a sharp landing. Also, the new Prometheus apartments and the historic Adobe building are a problem for either the over or an under solution. You could build a real expensive dungeonuss car garage under with some crazy ramp solutions to Central that people will speed through to get to downtown even though there will be all sorts of speed bumps, but the city will be in debt forever from that solution.

So its up West Evlyn to a nice intersection at Shoreline. A little bicycle pedestrian overpass. Simple and cheap. This is similar to the 'historic downtown Sunnyvale' solution and it will be just fine long term for Mountain view too.

There I saved you 1.5 million in study money, as this will probably be the conclusion. You can mail me my 10%.


Bill
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Feb 20, 2018 at 4:11 pm
Bill, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Feb 20, 2018 at 4:11 pm

Closing Castro Street is the least worst option.


Citizen84
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Feb 20, 2018 at 7:26 pm
Citizen84, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Feb 20, 2018 at 7:26 pm

Close Castro to traffic and use $1.56 million for other traffic improvements.

Whatever you do, can you get rid of obnoxious presence of funeral houses on Castro? Just does not go along with a spot of Pino and a salad.


Daniel Howard
another community
on Feb 22, 2018 at 2:59 pm
Daniel Howard, another community
on Feb 22, 2018 at 2:59 pm

In Sunnyvale, we are also looking at closing Sunnyvale Avenue at the Caltrain tracks and leaving it bicycle/pedestrian access. I used to live in Downtown Mountain View and was so glad I could walk and bicycle everywhere. The train crossing on Castro is pretty absurd. Just take Shoreline!


reside
Stierlin Estates
on Feb 22, 2018 at 9:27 pm
reside, Stierlin Estates
on Feb 22, 2018 at 9:27 pm

Do not cut the city in half, we are all residents of Mtn View. Just because we live on the wrong site of the tracks doesn't give the city council the right to cut us off. Not everyone is able to walk or bicycle, all of us are getting older. Plus don't forget they are trying to take two lanes away from Shoreline for a dedicated bus lane. The traffic is bad enough right now. So good luck to go anywhere from north of the tracks to downtown like the post office we may need to visit once in the while. Restaurants will no longer have our business. We might as well travel to Palo Alto or Sunnyvale.


netflixlogin
Registered user
Bailey Park
on Feb 22, 2018 at 10:24 pm
netflixlogin, Bailey Park
Registered user
on Feb 22, 2018 at 10:24 pm

Though the only thing which might work for you is a legitimate & active Netflix account login and passwords. Moreover, this would even keep you away from harmful and malicious programs which you might encounter on your hunt, that usually ends up messing up things for you eventually


Love my city
Cuesta Park
on Feb 23, 2018 at 3:10 pm
Love my city, Cuesta Park
on Feb 23, 2018 at 3:10 pm

I believe it’s painfully clear by now that our Council has no idea how to manage or plan a city. Hire an Urban Designer to solve our infrastructure challenges throughout all of Mountain View. All neighborhoods should be connected to the city center. We should not have communities physically cut off from the heart of town at Central, Shoreline or El Camino. This is not rocket science- big cities solve problems like this all the time. They hire experienced Urban Designers- not planners. There is a big difference!


Unbelievable
North Whisman
on Feb 23, 2018 at 8:21 pm
Unbelievable, North Whisman
on Feb 23, 2018 at 8:21 pm

Um. How are they going to study closing that intersection at Castro and Moffett Blvd? And why is it 1.56 million to stand there and look at it? And why are we using the same person who already did the study? We are already paying Google 26 million to fix our streets that they are responsible for helping to deteriorate. I give up. It’s like everyone is thinking like Trump...spend money on things that aren’t necessary, screw long time residents and don’t care about children moving away as it’s too expensive to live here. Of course council members don’t care. Why should they. Power and greed. Same ol’ story. Not voting for any of them again. Not a caring one amongst them.


Whismanian
North Whisman
on Feb 23, 2018 at 8:26 pm
Whismanian, North Whisman
on Feb 23, 2018 at 8:26 pm

How are they going to study closing that intersection at Castro and Moffett Blvd? And why is it 1.56 million to stand there and look at it? And why are we using the same person who already did the study? We are already paying Google 26 million to fix our streets that they are responsible for helping to deteriorate. I give up. It’s like everyone is thinking like Trump...spend money on things that aren’t necessary, screw long time residents and don’t care about children moving away as it’s too expensive to live here. Of course council members don’t care. Why should they. Power and greed. Same ol’ story. Not voting for any of them again. Not a caring one amongst them.


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