Posted August 25, 2010

San Francisquito Creek bridge

San Francisquito Creek bridge

This steel through-truss bridge, built in 1902, carries the tracks across San Francisquito Creek between Palo Alto and Menlo Park. It’s one of my favorite railroad structures on the peninsula, but at age 108 it’s a wonder the thing still stands, and its days are almost certainly numbered. No doubt it will be replaced with some modern ferroconcrete thing that will be stronger, safer, vastly cheaper to maintain, and utterly lacking in character.

Actually, I have a suspicion that the main thing keeping it out of the scrap yard is the uncertainty surrounding the California High-Speed Rail Project, whose gaspingly astronomical price tag, city wrecking right-of-way appetite, and passenger traffic projections drawn up by Hollywood accountants have turned it into the biggest public works football since the California Water Project (the latter being the vast system of dams, reservoirs, and aqueduct plumbing whereby Northern California bribes Southern California with water to keep the Angelenos down there thankyouverymuch). The current high-speed rail plans propose to run the line under the creek with a tunnel, but the future of the whole project grows murkier as each time the plans get more specific, new environmental impacts are revealed to disgruntle the liberal peninsula residents who originally supported the thing but who never stopped to think that it meant bulldozing new right-of-way through their cities and then running trains on it. As long as the fate of these grand plans remains unclear, I’m betting Caltrain won’t make any long-term plans for what to do with this bridge.

Shot with the Nikon D70s and the 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 zoom at 70mm, ISO 400, f/4.5, shutter 1/80 sec. Exposure, contrast, saturation, and levels adjustments in Aperture.

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