Caltrain has broke ground on the $180-million the 25th Avenue Grade Separation Project in the city of San Mateo, CA. The safety-driven project will raise the tracks between State Route 92 and Hillsdale Boulevard and slightly lower the road (grade separate) at 25th Avenue in San Mateo. Officials says this will reduce local traffic congestion and improve safety for motorists and pedestrians at one of the most dangerous rail crossings in the state.

Construction on the project is expected to complete over the next two and a half years.

The Caltrain Board of Directors on July 6 of this year awarded Oakland-based Shimmick/Disney Joint Venture with a contract for $82.9 million to lead construction.

The first phase of work includes the clearing of shrubbery and potholing, before crews begin building the bridges and walls needed for the grade separation. In addition, the project will provide an opportunity to complete east-west street connections at 28th and 31st Avenues. As part of project improvements, Caltrain will also build a new elevated Hillsdale Station at E. 28th Avenue. The new station will offer updated amenities and will allow for better safety and reduced traffic.  

The $180 million project is included in Caltrain’s capital budget and is comprised of funding from the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, California High Speed Rail Authority, California State Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and the city of San Mateo.

Funding for the project is made up of $74 million from Measure A; $12 million from city of San Mateo; $10 million from State Section 190; and $84 million from High Speed Rail (HSR0 Prop 1A.

The California High Speed Rail Authority says it agreed to contribute the $84 million to the project once it was sure that the city of San Mateo and the County had a funding plan in place.

"This is an example of advancement in our system that is a result of partnership with local transportation authorities and that is really the way things get done," said Tom Fellenz, interim CEO of the Authority in a recent video release. With up to 800 miles of track to run on, Fellenz says the Authority is looking for opportunities to partner with other transportation agencies to combine funding and efforts to get some of these grade separations completed.

When the 25th Avenue Grade Separation Project is complete, both Caltrain and the California High Speed Rail will share the same tracks in a blended section of Caltrain's right-of-way.

The dangerous project intersection lies between the San Mateo County Events Center and a busy shopping center, and has been recognized by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) as one of its "top priorities" for safety improvement. Caltrain says that with 92 Caltrain trains passing through the project site each weekday, the new grade separation will not only reduce the potential for accidents with autos and people, but it will also reduce pollution caused by cars that would have to idle and railroad crossings.