Jannah Theme License is not validated, Go to the theme options page to validate the license, You need a single license for each domain name.
Local News

California state funding shortfall casts doubt on Burlingame Broadway train intersection project

Burlingame, California – The plan to address California’s most hazardous train intersection at Broadway in Burlingame is currently uncertain. This is because $70 million needed from the state for building a grade separation was missing in the latest budget update in May. State Senator Josh Becker highlighted the need for these separations during a press conference on May 28, explaining they are crucial for improving safety and easing traffic by modifying roadways to pass above or below train tracks. These projects are also pivotal for securing additional federal funds, according to Becker.

“Obviously we have to make difficult trade-offs,” he said of an upcoming $28 billion state deficit causing program cuts across California. “But we’re trying to communicate that this is necessary for federal matching funds.”

Additionally, two other important grade separation projects in Palo Alto and Mountain View saw a reduction in their expected state funding, losing $23.79 million and $20 million respectively. Burlingame, on the other hand, has invested $2 million and plans to contribute another $15 million toward the $316 million project, despite facing financial pressures and needing funds from other government levels, as stated by Burlingame Vice Mayor Emily Beach.

The city is especially eager to push forward with the grade separation to address severe safety issues and frequent delays at this intersection, which was also linked to a lawsuit after a fatality occurred in 2021. The lawsuit claimed that Burlingame and Caltrain did not take adequate steps to prevent the incident. The lack of state funding now poses a significant risk of indefinite delays for this project, which has been in development for about 25 years.

Read also: San Mateo County officials installed public Narcan dispenser at Maguire Correctional Facility in Redwood City

“It’s devastating to the project,” Beach said. “A year ago, the governor and the state committed that funding … It is part of our capital stack to get this project built. To learn that money was taken back in the May revise is absolutely devastating.”

U.S. Representative Kevin Mullin from South San Francisco has also expressed his worries, labeling the grade separation as a “critical safety improvement” in a recent statement.

Mullin acknowledged the tough fiscal situation of California’s state budget but expressed strong disappointment about the potential withdrawal of state funding from this crucial project. He noted that projects with both local and state financial contributions stand a better chance of receiving federal support. Mullin confirmed his commitment to keep advocating for the people of Burlingame and others in his district who use this route.

According to Vice Mayor Emily Beach, funding for the project presently includes about $160 million pledged by the San Mateo County Transportation Authority and an additional $15 million from the California Public Utilities Commission, which is contingent on the project being ready to start. Beach also mentioned that securing the $70 million from state funds would significantly increase the likelihood of obtaining federal funding. However, the recent exclusion of the grade separation project from the state budget has intensified advocacy efforts to secure these necessary funds.

Read also: Oakland Unified School District pioneers fully electric school bus fleet

“We’ve seen what happened in other places. This could be another 10 years until there’s more federal money or the state fortunes improve,” Becker said.

Improving the safety of the intersection, which has experienced seven train and automobile collisions since August 2021, is a top priority for Burlingame, according to Mayor Donna Colson.

Read also: San Francisco breaks ground on Transbay Blocks 2 West and 2 East, paving the way for affordable housing

Colson highlighted that the intersection is not just hazardous for drivers but also for bicyclists and pedestrians. Additionally, the recent surge in housing developments in Burlingame and surrounding areas is increasing the number of people who need to cross this point regularly. She also pointed out that the upcoming electrification of Caltrain, scheduled for September, will lead to faster and more frequent train services at the Broadway crossing, further emphasizing the need for safety enhancements.

Related Articles