Caltrain Undergrounding

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Local infrastructure such as public transportation is an important priority to help residents in the district. As the economy starts to recover post-COVID, we need to start investing in innovative, long-term solutions to help with issues like alleviating traffic congestion, reducing greenhouse gases, and improving quality of life in Silicon Valley

One such part includes Caltrain, a commonly-used rail line in Santa Clara Valley and San Francisco Peninsula. Grade separations, physical separation between railroad tracks and a roadway, are being considered for safety and circulation concerns. Caltrain should be completely underground (in the form of a tunnel) -- ideally, all the way from San Jose to San Francisco. With high prices of land in District 18, building underground makes sense financially. Undergrounding the railroad would improve quality of life as safety concerns would be addressed and there would be less noise/congestion. This solution also frees up land in cities for public projects like affordable housing, retail space and office space, green spaces (i.e. parks/gardens), bike/pedestrian pathways, and sidewalks lined with new trees. For example, undergrounding Caltrain would open up 60 acres of land in Palo Alto alone.

Northbound_train_at_San_Carlos_station,_

Caltrain Picture By Pi.1415926535 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74841029

To fund this undergrounding project, we want to “capture” the value of the land by selling development rights. Again, with the high property value and demand of cities in the Bay Area, the development rights could help fund a significant amount of the cost. This idea of value capturing can be used to help pay for the Caltrain undergrounding. We should also pursue  funding from Biden’s proposed $2.3T infrastructure plan, as I believe federal money should go towards projects in highly populated, economically active areas like the Bay Area.