Cal Amtrak Wants Safer Ballpark Plan | Streetsblog SF

The head of Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor (CCJPA) service, which runs trains between Sacramento and San Jose via Oakland, wants rail safety improvements to the designs of the Oakland A’s proposed ballpark development at Howard Terminal in Jack London Square. From a memo obtained by Streetsblog, written by Robert Padgette, Managing Director of the CCJPA:

"The proposed Oakland Waterfront Ballpark would be the only MLB stadium where patrons will cross the mainline heavy rail tracks at grade at all five nearby railroad crossings. Long freight trains can block multiple crossings regardless of the time of day, and these trains can sometimes be stationary for an extended period of time, during which roadway users (motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists) would have no access across the tracks and may be tempted to navigate around crossing gate arms and the stationary train unsafely. What behaviors patrons will exhibit before or after events in such a scenario has grave implications for the safety and operations of trains along the entire CCJPA route."

The lead image capture and the video below demonstrates the concerns: this is what happens around Petco Park, the baseball park in San Diego, on game days. Petco is adjacent to a busy rail line, much like the proposed Oakland A’s park. Sometimes long freight train will stop on the tracks between the stadium and the ocean, hotels and car parking. As reported in the San Diego Union Tribune, impatient baseball fans regularly go over and under parked trains, as seen here: 

Long freight trains can start to move suddenly, as happens about two minutes into the video. In Oakland’s Jack London Square, in addition to freight trains, there are “Capitol Corridor, San Joaquins, and Amtrak Long Distance trains, running on two parallel tracks,” explained Padgette in his memo. This already leads to occasional injuries and deaths in Jack London Square, a situation railroad managers fear could get worse on game days with tens of thousands of fans pouring out onto the right of way after games.

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