Reviving discussions of a rail crossing for the Dumbarton Bridge

- There is talk again of reviving the age-old rail crossing along the Dumbarton Bridge corridor that would would cost nearly $1.3 billion to connect Caltrain in the South Bay to the Altamont Corridor Express and Capital Corridor in the East Bay.

Facebook  largely funded a SamTrans study to be released on Tuesday that outlines just how that southern rail crossing could work. The renewed push comes as more jobs have been increasing in the mid-Peninsula, but a lack of housing has pushed more workers out of the Bay Area to the Central Valley.

SamTrans, the bus service operator in San Mateo County, owns the Dumbarton rail bridge, which runs parallel to and lies just south of Highway 84. Built in 1910, the single-track rail bridge was the first to span the San Francisco Bay and was used mostly for freight, with limited passenger service, Melissa Reggiardo, a principal planner for SamTrans, told the Bay Area News Group. It fell out of service and was then damaged in a fire in the 1990s, she said.

But interest in rehabbing the bridge didn’t die.

In 2015, Facebook expanded its Menlo Park campus, which touches the bridge and the company spent $1.2 million on funding this new study.

Ultimately, SamTrans would like a a new railroad as wells as improvements to the highway bridge such as expanded express bus service connecting Union City with Menlo Park, Redwood City, Mountain View and Sunnyvale by 2020, the newspaper reported. HOV lanes could follow as an intermediary step to speed up bus service, she said.

SamTrans’ plans include rebuilding the railroad connection along the Dumbarton rail bridge that would be phased in over time, first connecting Newark to Redwood City with diesel trains, followed by an extension to Union City by around 2030, with a combined estimated cost of nearly $1.3 billion.

The rail bridge would be electrified to allow Caltrain’s new electric trains to cross the bridge and connect to the Altamont Corridor Express and Capitol Corridor by 2035, for an additional $327 million.

There will be two public hearings on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Union City library and on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the East Palo Alto library. 

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