Railyard Alternatives and I-280 Boulevard Feasibility Study (RAB)

UPDATE: RAB Citizen Working Group

Minutes from Meeting #6 for the Citizen Working Group (CWG) held at the Old Firehouse Station 30 Community Room, 1275 3rd Street on March 28, 2018 are now available. For a brief review of what was covered in Meeting #6 please see the Minutes linked here. Download the presentation from Meeting #6 here.

Meeting #7 will be scheduled prior to the Public Meeting. Please stay tuned for further updates on the Study and opportunities for engagement as information becomes available.

Learn more about the CWG

aerial overhead view of railyard and train tracks



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The Railyard Alternatives and I-280 Boulevard Feasibility Study (RAB) is a multi-agency program studying transportation and land use alternatives in the most rapidly growing areas of the City.

The Study

The RAB study is divided in two phases:

  • Phase I: Technical Feasibility Assessment; and
  • Phase II: Alternatives Development

Phase I of the RAB studies four distinct components. Each component will include a thorough analysis of existing conditions and prepare conceptual design alternatives within three study areas: the 16th Street grade separation, the 4th and King Railyard, and I-280. The study will also analyze the possibility of new transit-oriented development and public amenities in the overall area of the City to accommodate growth as the fifth component.

Click on image for larger map.

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1. Rail Alignment into the Salesforce Transit Center (SFTC)
This component seeks to answer the most time sensitive question of the RAB: how to bring both Caltrain and High-Speed Rail from the county line into the Salesforce Transit Center.

2. Transit Center (SFTC) Loop/Extension
This component seeks to explore future scenarios for train connections and operations beyond the initial connection to the SFTC. The RAB study tests the design of a loop track/extension to enhance operational capacity of the Salesforce Transit Center and providing potential alignment(s) for a conventional rail crossing to the East Bay.

3. Railyard Reconfiguration/Relocation
This component considers reknitting the fabric of the City by modifying or relocating some or all of the activities at the 4th/King Railyard. It would allow Caltrain to operate on a smaller footprint, while potentially freeing up land for open space and future development, and open space.

4. Boulevard I-280
This component analyzes replacing the end of I-280 north of Mariposa with an urban surface boulevard, similar to the Embarcadero or Octavia Boulevard, could create new open space, improve circulation, and allow connectivity throughout the area that is currently separated by 1.2 miles of an elevated freeway (I-280).

5. Create Opportunities for the Public's Benefit
Relocating the Caltrain Railyard and/or creating a surface level boulevard instead of the elevated freeway makes new land available for housing, commercial development, and open space.

Phase II of this study will combine options from each of the components from Phase I and conduct further analysis of up to three refined alternatives before a preferred alternative is determined.

Please note: While each component has its own timeframe and is independent of each other, Component #1 is on the most aggressive time schedule. With the completion of Phase I of the Salesforce Transit Center in June 2018, the alignment to get trains into the Salesforce Transit Center is becoming critical.


The study underway is Phase I and II of a five phase project.

Phase I – Options for further analysis 9-12 months (Jan 2015 – Jan 2016)
Phase II – Alternatives Development 12-15 months (Fall 2016 – Spring/Summer 2018)


Funding for Phase III, IV, and V have not be secured but are anticipated.

Phase III – Determination of Preferred Alternative 12-18 months
Phase IV – Environmental Clearance Undetermined at this time
Phase V – Implementation As money and priorities allow


At this time, the study is not expected affect the construction schedules of the Transbay Transit Center, Downtown Rail Extension (DTX), Caltrain electrification, and/or High Speed Rail coming to the City. As the preferred alternative (Phase III) is determined, there may be modifications to projects depending on the preferred alternative. Potential costs and time impacts will be preliminarily examined under Phase II and in more detail in Phase III.


Meeting Materials

February 23, 2016/March 30, 2016 - Community Discussion on the first phase of the Railyard Alternatives and I-280 Boulevard Feasibility Study


The study currently has received approximately $1.7 million through the following:

  • Two MTC Priority Development Area (PDA) competitive planning grants of $519,940 (Phase I) and $700,000 (Phase II)
  • Strategic Growth Council (SGC) Sustainable Communities Planning grant of $490,672 (Phase II)
  • Planning General Funds $125,000 for additional rail operations sketch modeling (Phase II)


Agency Coordination

The study has a technically advisory committee (TAC) which includes representation from Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), Caltrans, California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA), Caltrain, Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA), California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and various City and County Departments including: San Francisco Planning, San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA), San Francisco Port Authority, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA), San Francisco Department of Public Works (DPW), San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure (OCII), San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), and San Francisco Mayor's Office.

We are working with the TAC to ensure that all users of the area are accommodated. More technical analysis is being completed through Phase II and in conjunction with each member of the TAC.

The San Francisco Planning Department has also contracted with international engineering firm CH2M Hill to aid the City in this effort.



For comments or suggestions related to this project, please contact:
Susan Gygi, PE
San Francisco Planning Department
(415) 575-9194



This project is funded in part by two grants from the Priority Development Area (PDA) program of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and a Sustainable Community Planning Grant from the Strategic Growth Council.


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