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Construction Finally Set to Start for Grade Separation Project

Officials and residents kicked off the construction today with a celebration at the the site of the former San Bruno Lumber yard.

For Teresa McIntosh, Doris Maez, Bob George and other residents who were at the grade separation kick-off event, it was more than just a celebration of a project finally coming to fruition.

It was a reunion.

The residents sat on the citizens advisory committee for several years during the planning stages of the project, and worked with—sometimes wrestled with—Caltrain officials month after month until everyone agreed upon the that was unveiled today in a ceremony at the site of the former San Bruno Lumber yard.

"It's taken a decade to get here, and I'm pleased with the outcome," said Maez, who lives in the Rollingwood area. "Yes, there's going to be pain (when the construction starts). But in the end, I'll be very happy to have it here."

When completed in December 2012, the project will elevate the railroad tracks above San Bruno, San Mateo and Angus avenues, which is expected to eliminate safety hazards and cut down on traffic congestion.

A new train station will also be built between San Bruno and San Mateo avenues, 201 new parking spaces will be added and pedestrian underpasses will be constructed at the new station at Euclid and Sylvan avenues.

The project also is being built with a foundation that can accommodate two additional tracks for , paid for by the California High Speed Rail Authority.

Additionally, elevators will be incorporated into the station to provide access for all Caltrain customers.

This is one of the features Maez said she had to fight for. During the planning process, an emergency meeting was held, she said, and elevators just so happened to be on the agenda but no one knew about it.

She found out about the meeting at the last minute, she said, and decided to show up to represent the points of view from people with disabilities.

If she hadn't showed up to that meeting, Maez said, elevators might not have been included in the design of the new station. And that would have stopped the entire project, she said.

At the kick-off event, local and regional officials applauded one another in their efforts to stay the course in making sure the project got off the ground.

Omar Ahmad, the vice mayor of San Carlos who sits on the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, said he knew how it felt to wait for years to have a grade separation project completed.

San Carlos was the last city to have a grade separation project, which Ahmad said has proven its effectiveness by eliminating the number of train-related accidents there and boosting economic development.

Having the grade separation project in San Bruno, he said, will further benefit the entire Peninsula and especially Caltrain.

Initial construction is expected to begin this month on a "shoo-fly," which will temporarily divert trains around work being on the tracks. Work on the actual grade separation and train station is expected to begin in December 2011. 

Correction: This story incorrectly stated that it was unclear how the two additional tracks being added to the grade separation project for high-speed rail would be handled. The construction of the tracks will paid for with high-speed rail funds.

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