Some six years ago, Warren Slocum was amazed at what Facebook’s staff members presented him with; he stared down one of the company’s biggest infrastructural plans ever since they rooted themselves in San Mateo County.
What he saw was a high-detail rendering of the company’s HQ, which seemed to plan for breathing some new life into a hundred-year-old railroad that was nearby.
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What made this even stranger was the fact the railway crossing hadn’t been used for 40 years at this point; it gave hope to the people of the country that had fond memories of the Dumbarton Rail Bridge.
— Rohit Chouhan Rajput (@itsrohitchouhan) January 8, 2023
However, the project turned out to be far too ambitious for the small county, and it needed much more funding than any municipality in the area could provide.
The only reliable way to take up such an endeavor would be with the help of a multi-billion company like Facebook and they were willing to make Slocum’s dream into a reality.
After a series of conversations with Facebook’s staff and those with the jurisdiction to make the renovation possible, Slocum was feeling optimistic about the project, adding he was amazed at how similar his and the company’s vision for the bridge was.
According to Facebook’s current local policy director, the revitalization of the rail line was a win-win scenario for both parties; it would improve work-related commutes in the area, as well as increase the company’s real estate value.
Facebook is hatching a billion-dollar plan to help restore the Dumbarton Rail Bridge for commuter trains as a means for easing traffic woes in the region. https://t.co/gFDBIdz5LT pic.twitter.com/ArPYD7EoaY
— Stephen Ellison (@sj_ellison) March 1, 2019
Unfortunately, three years and $20 million later, the project still had its training wheels on. The futuristic designs that were presented to Slocum were slowly shifting into something that was very clearly out of his reach.
Had things not gone south, the rail line was expected to be in full operating condition by 2028, or even sooner, but that ship has already sailed.
Murphy’s law worked its magic and whatever could’ve gone wrong, did.
The pandemic came at the worst time possible, forcing Facebook employees back into their homes and decreasing traffic at the crossing to a historical low, to the point where continuing the project just felt like a waste.
I found a photo of a train on the Dumbarton rail bridge. Dated 1913. pic.twitter.com/nRfwgJ2gPL
— kue 💋 (@_kueller) February 23, 2021
Many have argued the project was a long shot from the start; interviews with those who worked on it revealed it was falling apart long before COVID happened.
Sooner or later, Facebook, now known as Meta, would begin to downsize and one of the projects destroyed was the rejuvenation of the Dumbarton Rail.
Now, tourists in the area can see the relic while driving past it on the modern toll bridge next to it; only a few stop by to take a picture next to a monument from a better time that could’ve been, but wasn’t.This article appeared in Our Patriot and has been published here with permission.