The City of San José this week it has obtained two grants, totaling $8.72 million, from the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements program, managed by the Federal Railroad Administration.
San José was the only city in the applicant pool to receive two awards this cycle, according to the agency..
City officials said the grants will allow San José to move ahead with two critical transit improvement projects: the design of traffic-separated railroad crossings of key streets intersecting Monterey Road and construction of a “queue cutter” traffic signal to improve safety by keeping vehicles and bicyclists away from oncoming trains on the Bascom Avenue corridor.
“Federal investments in San José's rail infrastructure are a welcome benefit for the safety of our drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians,” San José Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement. “I’m thankful to our partners at the Federal Railroad Administration for investing in San José as we work to improve transit safety and make progress in preparation for future high-speed rail.”
“Union Pacific Railroad looks forward to working with the City of San José on the Monterey Road grade separation and the Bascom Avenue Queue Cutter projects," said Francisco Castillo, a spokesperson for Union Pacific. “We believe these projects will greatly improve pedestrian and motorist safety and support the growing regional and local economies.”
“VTA congratulates the City of San José on securing federal grant funding to advance these critical projects,” said Valley Transportation Authority General Manager and CEO Carolyn Gonot. “Like San José, VTA is vested in delivering complete street improvements throughout Santa Clara County. We are delighted to see this important work get underway to improve the safety and the efficiency of these busy intersections.”
The $7.5 million grant will fund planning, design, and environmental review for separating the Union Pacific rail line along Monterey Road from intersecting streets, including Skyway Drive, Branham Lane, and Chynoweth Avenue. The rail line currently hosts around ten Caltrain and Union Pacific trains a day, but Caltrain and High-Speed Rail are planning for up to 368 trains a day by 2040. Separating the trains from the roads would bring important community benefits, including eliminating the risk of crossing collisions, horn noise from trains going through the crossings, and emergency access and traffic impacts from crossing gates being down.
The $1.22 million grant will fund construction of a queue cutter traffic signal on Bascom Avenue, where VTA and Union Pacific Railroad tracks cross the street. The queue cutter signal will stop traffic when trains are approaching and when lines of stopped cars back up toward the tracks. This is a critical safety measure needed to support safety improvements being planned for Bascom Avenue, including a vehicle-lane reduction in each direction, a separated bicycle facility, and new traffic signals and crosswalks.
Planning for the Monterey Road corridor rail line separations may start as soon as this summer. The Bascom Queue Cutter Project will kick off design in June 2022 and start construction as early as 2023.