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San Mateo - TLC Main Street / Railroad Avenue Streetscape Project

Client: City of San Mateo

The City wanted to extend Downtown’s walkable look and feel from the Caltrain station and Century 12 Cinemas area across the Caltrain tracks through a belt of industrial and service businesses towards its residential neighborhoods beyond.

Railroad Avenue after: decorative fencing and streetlights from the train station were installed along with improved paving.


Railroad Avenue before: a service alley with its Caltrain edge and fence in disrepair, highly visible from downtown.

  • Service and repair businesses (and several retail and restaurant uses) occupied a two block area just north of downtown’s Caltrain track edge.
  • The wide streets and narrow sidewalks were utilitarian, treeless, and poorly lit at night.
  • Railroad Avenue’s missing curbs and battered chain link fence looked unkempt from adjacent Downtown Cineplex and parking structure sidewalks and passing Caltrain windows.


  • Use the Transportation for Livable Communities (TLC) grant to introduce streetscape upgrades that encourage walking, bicycling and transit use and connect downtown with neighborhoods.
  • Extend downtown’s public realm design character but modify it to acknowledge the working character of the district.
  • Support neighborhood businesses, including maintaining existing truck loading access.
  • Make the highly visible Railroad Avenue edge more appealing and add value to properties.


  • Brick-paved corner bulb-outs and trees in curbed wells between parked cars (due to narrow sidewalks) were added.  New pedestrian-height streetlights with white lighting were located along 1st, 2nd , 3rd and Railroad Avenues.  The City implemented the streetscape concepts.
  • FTB designed metal picket fencing with a patterned top profile and added a row of decorative twin-headed streetlights along Railroad Avenue (the same model as used at the train station).
  • The improvements struck a balance between pedestrian/landscape features and retention of loading zones and driveway access.

In collaboration with:

SFE Landscape Architects (cost estimating)