Town Square

Post a New Topic

Newell Bridge options to be discussed Thursday

Original post made on Oct 11, 2013

Eight alternatives for replacing the 102-year-old Newell Road Bridge, which connects Palo Alto and East Palo Alto, will be discussed at a community meeting in Palo Alto on Oct. 17.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 11, 2013, 12:00 AM

Comments (78)

Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2013 at 10:41 am

Tear down the bridge. Crime will go down. There will be less traffic. It will eliminate the street parking problem. Property values will rise. It will reduce the threat of flooding. It is shockingly negligent that the bridge still stands.


Posted by Raymond, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2013 at 10:44 am

I use that bridge everyday. I don't give a damn what Palo Altans want.

I will be at the meeting to tell them so.


Posted by Remagen, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2013 at 11:08 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Aerdii, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 11, 2013 at 11:14 am

Replacing the bridge with pedestrian/bike access only is my preference. East Palo Alto residents would then have (some, healthier) access to parks, while the Palo Alto crime/car/culture clash problem would largely go away.

Even better would be if the entire slice of EPA on the PA side of the 101 was absorbed by PA, and the area redeveloped to offer market rate high end housing, and large footprint office space (the lack of which sends PA startups to San Francisco all too frequently). The long-term Palo Alto property value would rise significantly. That would require some detailed road access re-thinking beyond the scope of Newell bridge, but the presence of that sliver of EPA west of the 101 represents a tragically mismanaged bit of urban design.


Posted by Marlen, a resident of Meadow Park
on Oct 11, 2013 at 11:24 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by EPA Mom, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2013 at 11:27 am

Oh, goodness... I use that bridge at least 20 times a week. It allows me to get my children to their private Palo Alto school, 4.8 miles from our EPA house, in 25-30 minutes (versus 45-60+ minutes if we take University, Embarcadero or Oregan Avenues). I have only experienced courteous drivers yielding to one another when there are vehicles driving in both directions.


Posted by Drivin Mrs. Daisy, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2013 at 11:31 am

That bridge stands as a gateway and barrier like the water fountains of the Old South that are still standing but once had Colored and White painted on the wall behind them...Some Poor Old Hoke used to live in unincorporated San Mateo County a long time ago, in the area where Negro folk lived and had to walk across Newell Bridge every day to drive somebody's Mrs. Daisy...Now that a new class of Negroes have arrived in Palo Alto and Mrs. Daisy is driving herself, the bridge, a nuisance now, is no longer needed, and advocates want to "absorb and redevelop" a part of an officially functioning incorporated city...


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 11, 2013 at 11:58 am

> Replacing the bridge with pedestrian/bike access only is my preference.

Pedestrian access allows people to park on the other side of the creek and so does not solve that problem. The parking permit system which never should have been implemented could go away ... just tear down the bridge.

If we think something bad would happen we can test that now by just putting up chain-link fencing on both sides of the bridge for a few months and seeing if there are any problems that emerge from it. If not, tear the bridge down.

It's better to put the expense into building a really good bridge on Chaucer St.

In any case I think I can predict that whatever bridge we build wherever is going to be too little to cover what the changed in drainage all the way back to the hills is going to be so we will end up under building and then having to build another bridge again and go through this all again.

Fix it good, fix it right, and there is nothing broken about the Newell St. bridge - it just should not exist, it serves no purpose except for a very few people and cars. [Portion removed.]
TEAR DOWN THE BRIDGE.


Posted by Crescent Park Mom, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 11, 2013 at 12:02 pm

A bike and pedestrian bridge would be wonderful so our neighbors in EPA can come to the PA parks with their children and our neighbors in PA can visit the grocery and stores in EPA. It aligns perfectly with the bike/pedestrian bridge they are installing over Hwy 101.

Installing a bridge any larger than it is now, will only increase traffic down Newell Road. This road is used by all our children to access their schools, parks, library and to visit their friends in the neighborhood. Cars scream down Newell Road and run stop signs every day. Thank goodness we have a crossing guard at Dana. (Although I've witnessed her almost get run down.) No amount of "traffic calming measures" is going to keep this problem from getting worse if they install a wider bridge for vehicles than we have now.


Posted by Neighborhood Mama, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 11, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Rebuild it for cars and pedestrians/bikes without turning into a monster bridge with a circus handling the finances and timing.

32 feet wide and repositioned so it connects in a straight line to Newell EPA will definitely increase speeding.

We used it every single day and also run and bike across it on weekends. It needs to stay. Not be Kohlerized.


Posted by Jim H., a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2013 at 12:22 pm

I'll use the same reasoning that people have used with those living near the train tracks that are opposed to HSR, or those living near Castilleja that complain about the parking. The bridge was there when you moved to Crescent Park. Hard to believe how racist these comments are.

If the city does a proper job in managing traffic (i.e. police enforcement), then there won't be many more people driving over the bridge. If there're speeding cars now, there'll be speeding cars in the future. Welcome to Palo Alto. Drive by any heavily travelled street in the city. Pretty sure the police are off dute from 7:30-9:30 am. If they weren't, there'd be cars pulled over all over the place.

If you're so afraid of the residents of East Palo Alto, then why did you move so close to them??


Posted by Kevin, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Oct 11, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Kevin is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Aerdii, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 11, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Of all the comments here, the "racist"/"ethnic clensing" comments seem wildly off the mark. People are complaining about:

1. crime
2. danger to children from speeding cars
3. parking (admittedly, its because the cars are crappy or semi-abandoned)
4. property values
5. flooding
6. resources

Of course there IS a divide between mostly Asians and whites on one side, and mostly hispanic and black on the other side, but what concerns us in PA is not the ethnicity or skin color, but the behavior.

Let's drop this canard of saying that the PA people are racist. There are valid issues here, but that is not one of them.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Interesting comparisons. Existing Caltrain vs. HSR. Castilleja parking under approved limits vs. exceeded limits.

Both point to a situation where residents purchased homes under expectations of no radical increases in neighborhood disruption.

The reasonable solution would be to build a bridge that eliminates the flood risk, provides safe ped and bike travel and maintains (controls) the same level of traffic (i.e., don't widen to increase capacity, don't re-align to make it easy to speed through *either* neighborhood).

Not very hard to do.


Posted by Rob Roy, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 11, 2013 at 1:51 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Ann Bilodeau, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 11, 2013 at 1:55 pm

It's true that the dividing line between Palo Alto and East Palo Alto can seem confusing, Aerdii, but I doubt that Palo Alto could absorb the strip between the creek and the freeway This strip is in San Mateo County, not Santa Clara County, and I don't think the state permits cities to sit in two different counties. The boundary between Santa Clara County and San Mateo County was created in the 1800s using the creek as the dividing line. The construction of the freeway in the middle of the 1900s confused many into thinking that was the boundary instead. It's an unfortunate barrier between people in the two different section of what was once unincorporated county land but is now the city of East Palo Alto.


Posted by Aerdii, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 11, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Thanks Ann Bilodeau,

OK, I admit this idea will be whacky, but why would it not work?

I'm just wondering why Palo Alto cannot just "buy" that slice of East Palo Alto and integrate in more in keeping with our current man-made geography. The 101 does make that slice of EPA into an odd pocket where tax rates/property values/services/governance/culture just clashes with the majority of Palo Alto to which common sense and traffic grids would argue it should be attached to.

If the money was raised to do it (equity offering to PA and EPA residents), the current residents of the "EPA slice" could get a significant payout to yield their ownership claims. This could be designed to go materially towards renters as well as owners. Then, swap in the higher taxes and governance process of PA, develop the entire thing in keeping with its potential (with sufficient parking, unlike the current situation), and in 10 years you have a vibrant source of tax revenues to the city, returns on the arbitrage to bondholders, and no issues with criminals/speeding. Current EPA slice residents get a fad wad of cash in their pockets, and/or equity in the future of this underutilized piece of land. Current EPA city council gets cash to invest into schools and services.

I know this never happens, but why couldn't it?


Posted by Troubled, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm

The tone of most of these comments is troubling and I doubt representative of the feelings of most of Palo Alto residents against widening the Newell Street bridge. I am against widening the bridge because of the traffic implications to our neighborhood. Period. I care less about who comes across the bridge than about the increased numbers of cars that will result from the development of another convenient way into the heart of Palo Alto. We already have too many cars on University, Embarcadero and Oregon, all heading for the high density development approved by our city planners without consideration for the traffic, parking, and quality of life implications on existing Palo Alto residents. University, Embarcadero and Oregaon are already impacted, so let's study and improve those accesses rather than create another traffic corridor out of one of our qnieter neighborhood streets. It's time to hold the city planners accountable for decisions that are not in the best interests of the community. This isn't a racial issue unless one wants to spin it that way for their own purposes. It's about responsible and thoughtful planning that will improve, not divide and overwhelm, our city.


Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2013 at 3:23 pm

@EPA Mom - if the bridge was gone, and you just continued to Bayshore, then made a right on Channing or Embarcadero, you'd be back to Newell in less than 5 minutes. If the argument for the bridge is that it is a nice shortcut through residential neighborhoods for some people, then that is not very compelling. We should be pushing commuters to use major thoroughfares.


Posted by Jim H., a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2013 at 3:24 pm

@ Aerdi
Do you not hear what you are saying? [Portion removed.] You actually say that you want to buy that part of EPA and buy out the residents and turn it into Palo Alto? Also your 5 complaints are listed as:
1. crime
2. danger to children from speeding cars
3. parking (admittedly, its because the cars are crappy or semi-abandoned)
4. property values
5. flooding
6. resources

So you're saying that only those from EPA speed down Newell? I often use Newell going in to and out of Palo Alto. It might be crowded and people might speed down it, but are they all from EPA? Really?

Your complaint isn't so much about parking, but the quality of cars that are parked on the streets? [Portion removed.]

Property Values? Sounds a lot like the suburbs in the 60's when the "unwanted" African Americans started moving in. [Portion removed.]

Flooding? Are you saying they can't build a bridge that will help the flooding problem? I think that's one of the main goals.

Resources? Well, if you want to alleviate the flooding, it's gonna take some resources. I think you're just reaching for reasons, now. And, then you talk about buying a slice of EPA. Where would those resources come from?

Pretty sure there's a way to build a bridge to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists, won't dramatically increase traffic and alleviate any flooding issues.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by Jim H., a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2013 at 3:30 pm

@ Mr. Recycle,
So, putting that traffic through the neigborhoods on Channing is better than on Newell? Wonder how the families on Channing feel about that? Or even those on Embarcadero?


Posted by Sarah, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Let's keep the old bridge for bikes/runners/walkers etc and
build a new bridge right next to it for cars. If necessary community could use the emminant domaine law to access the land necessary.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 11, 2013 at 3:54 pm

So who actually owns the bridge? The city of palo alto or EPA? Or do they both own it? Can palo alto decide to tear down the bridge and not replace it in a unilateral move?
Be careful. The city may get tied up in court for years to come with a huge financial cost.
Jim H.-- very good comments. Some of these comments are really disturbing coming from our city


Posted by old timer, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 11, 2013 at 3:55 pm

There were few (if any) blacks or latinos in East Palo before the 1950s; the town was made up of nurseries and farms, industries and car wrecking yards, a few businesses (like the ballroom dance school the kids were sent to), and lots of open land. We didn't move here to be close to anyone, and all we want to do now is protect ALL the homes, PA and EPA, from flooding and burglery.


Posted by Equality, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 11, 2013 at 4:43 pm

I'd like to see the bridge removed, myself, but I admit that I'm not aware of all the ramifications.

@Jim H, I don't think you really believe property values and cars have a race, do you? When you say that people are "racist", I think you mean to say, "I'm frustrated that a difference exists, and the difference is correlated with race, therefore anyone who acknowledges the difference is racist."

The word "racist" typically means something more specific.

I think most of PA is pretty international; this does not seem like a racial discussion to me. There's no need to make it one.


Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 11, 2013 at 4:54 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

Underground the Creek and put up Senior Housing in its place. Be sure to include a bike route through the ground floor level


Posted by Aerdii, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 11, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Jim H, please don't race bait. Its counter-productive. You're reading into things that were never said, meant, or intended. That said, sorry if I offended.

Another point: by some of these bridge options, the flooding probability changes, which could move some PA houses out of the flood zone. That's a really attractive outcome that should be prioritized.


Posted by D, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Hey Sarah! How would you like eminent domain used to claim your home for a bridge? BTW, this doesn't even come close to affecting you so what do you care? More input from nearby residents, on both sides of the bridge, would be helpful.


Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 11, 2013 at 5:41 pm

The bridge has to be removed for flood control purposes, the questions are whether or not to replace it and if so, with what. That all depends on the goals aside from flood control.. If traffic increasing elsewhere is a concern, the idea of a temporary closure and measuring traffic changes on University and Embarcadero make sense. I think most Palo Alto residents in that area would be delighted if the bridge was closed, less trash and less crime and less traffic.


Posted by D, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Hi Drivin Miss Daisy! I liked what you said. All of us need to be reminded to reflect a little more carefully.

Time has changed the necessity and function of the current bridge. I'd love to see a EPA/PA Residential Coalition formed instead of the usual PA vs EPA to address the issues. This bridge affects both sides and we should work together. I digress, but don't our schools teach our children to be inclusive and work together? We adults need to do the same and be good role models for our children and future generations!

Who is with me?


Posted by Marlen, a resident of Meadow Park
on Oct 11, 2013 at 7:02 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Frank, a resident of another community
on Oct 11, 2013 at 7:13 pm

This has been an ongoing dispute since I was a child living in East Palo Alto in the mid-1950s, riding my bicycle over the 101 overpass, to go see movies at the Stanford and Varsity theaters. Nothing changes.


Posted by Janet Boggs, a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 11, 2013 at 8:04 pm

I was born and raised in PA and have lived in EPA, near the bridge, for the last 7 years. I love it here. I drive over the bridge on a frequent basis. I see many people driving, walking and bike riding over the bridge, so it's only logical that the bridge should be replaced with a bridge that will safely accommodate cars, pedestrians and bike riders.

Out of all of the comments so far, the one I like the best is forming a EPA/PA Residential Coalition.


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Tear the bridge down. By the far the least costly option. Other routes are available. It would also help with flood control.


Posted by PA Dweller, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 11, 2013 at 9:10 pm

I think this issue needs to be put up for a vote, much like Measure D. Let the people decide.


Posted by Chuck, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 11, 2013 at 9:37 pm

I wish the NIMBys from Crescent Park would grow up and accept that they live in a city. I routinely drive through "your" part of "my" city, including Center Street and Newell Road. I think a new bridge should be built, realigned to join with the East Palo Alto segment of Newell Road. The bridge should have two full lanes, bicycle paths, and sidewalks. And stop signs. "Traffic calming devices" are a manifestation of childish NIMBYist denial.


Posted by Chuck, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 11, 2013 at 9:39 pm

By the way, removing the bridge won't move traffic onto University or onto Embarcadero. It'll move onto Center Street and Channing.


Posted by OPar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2013 at 11:33 pm

I actually used to commute using the Newell St. Bridge--from PA to 101. It was a while ago, so I didn't see the parking overflow problem.

It *is* convenient to have a bridge there and I've never seen a huge flood of traffic from Newell resulting from it.

Would there be more if a two lane bridge were built? Some, but I don't see why there'd be a flood. The populations on both sides of the bridge wouldn't change.

Maybe what's really needed is a new bridge and some sort of agreement that EPA would create more parking for the apartments near the creek.

Oh, and those of us by Embarcadero get too much traffic as it is. Not only is Embarcadero a residential road, it also has three schools on it. Dumping more traffic here is reckless.


Posted by Old bridge, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2013 at 7:27 am

It's 102 years old. if that Edgewood shopping plaza was trying to be saved at only 50 years, seems to me this bridge is easily more historic. Leave it alone, it's the cheapest alternative.


Posted by Steve Kennedy, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2013 at 8:33 am

Flood insurance that is greenest, fastest and cheapest will always be vegetation management in the upper watershed at Wunderlich Park to create fuel breaks that mitigate the spread of a wildfire. I


Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 12, 2013 at 10:21 am

@old bridge, keeping the bridge is not really an option. It needs to be removed for flood control reasons.


Posted by Drivin Mrs Daisy, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2013 at 11:03 am

I am with you D!...even if you ride in the back seat, on the top of the car or behind the wheel, as long as we arrive to someplace productive...the bridge is a historical relic and should be preserved and enhanced...We tear down too many bridges between people as it is now...

People should realize that only a small percentage of EPA resident live close to Newell Bridge access and the majority of folks from EPA(those saddled with the perception of coming to AP for crime and nefarious activity) actually travel across the bridge on University avenue, and the majority of workers streaming into and out of palo Alto remain on University...In other words few people divert their bicycles, feet or car from University to drive into East Palo Alto/Palo Alto from Newell...

This is not about crime or race unless that is what people want it to become, and for those that do grow up and move to a place where there are more people like you, and it ain't East Palo Alto or palo Alto...


Posted by Drivin Mrs. Daisy, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2013 at 11:10 am

To Oldtimer...You are most correct about the arrival of Negroes to the Bay Area during the mass migration of workers from the South to work in ship yards and othter defense related industry, but I would certainly guess that quite a few domestic workers walked across Newell to palo Alto to cook, clean change diapers or drive the cars of white folk in Palo Alto...And don't act like this still does not happen with the large number of Latino gardeners and construction workers PA residents seem to need on Hamilton and other neighborhoods...


Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 12, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Palo Alto just can't 'buy out' the area between the Creek and 101. The issue first goes to the cities involved then to Santa Clara and San Mateo counties then if they all agree, to the State Assembly then the Senate then the governor. Complicated. The Creek is the county line. I think this may have come up before and got nowhere. There's a lot of tax money involved in this land, something San Mateo County doesn't want to lose! Take a look at the real estate between 101 and the Creek near University Avenue all the way to the Menlo Park city limits in the Willows district and along the Creek. HIgh rise buildings including a ***** hotel, law offices, etc.


Posted by Old bridge, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Palo alto resident,

Removing it won't stop the flood risk.
That's just an excuse that people that want to remove the bridge for other reasons claim.


Posted by peggy, a resident of another community
on Oct 12, 2013 at 7:31 pm

we lived on Newell road for 1 and a half years. I pushed my daughters stroller over that bridge to go to the park. What's the big deal, Palo alto needs to get real.


Posted by mrapartheid, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 13, 2013 at 12:41 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Jan Ell, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2013 at 1:04 am

Keep bridge same size. Make structural repairs. If necessary, modify only to prevent flooding. If it ain't broke don't fix or change it. To widen bridge would encourage cars to speed...Crossing the street in front of tennis courts, Rinconada park, Art center is treacherous as is. Drivers don't slow down or stop for pedestrians.


Posted by JA3+, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 13, 2013 at 12:22 pm

I'm a strong supporter of bridge removal.

Today, 15 years after the '98 floods, there's nearly no physical improvements to the drainage infrastructure associated with San Francisquito Creek since such time. The near-floods late last year were a further wake-up call: it's time for Palo Alto and other Joint Powers cities to do something here.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 13, 2013 at 1:30 pm

The bottom line is that if there was not a flooding problem there would be no need for anything to change and that is the one driving problem - FLOODING - the bridge backs up water and will cause costly flooding that could affect thousands.

The flooding problem is the issue driving the whole situation. The flooding problem means AT LEAST that the bridge must be taken out - that is the cheapest, best solution.

IF the bridge is taken out, the question then becomes - IS THERE A NEED, AND WOULD WE SPEND THE MONEY TO BUILD A BRIDGE THERE NOW.

The answer has to be no. There is no reason to build a bridge across Newell that would serve only a small number of people on a small number of trips.

Aside from a very few people who live right next to the bridge and want to get to a destination immediately on the other side - any other trip from these areas using Embarcadero or University would be about the same amount of time, gas or traffic. Look at a map .... pick two points in PA and EPA and do the math ... the current bridge serves very little purpose.

Do the experiment ... remove the bridge and wait a year or two for things to settle down and I think we will all that no bridge is needed in that spot. People will get used to using Embarcadero and University and will not miss the bridge at all.

The compromise of a pedestrian bridge is a reasonable discussion. I would be against it because it would assist people that have parking deficits in EPA to park over in Palo Alto in front of other people's houses that do not want to be EPA's parking lot ... but at least that is a reasonable discussion that we can have instead of bringing into the issue allegations of bad intentions on the part of various people. EPA should have to take responsibility for providing parking in EPA.

My best compromise would be to tear the bridge down and then wait until there is no problem with parking on the EPA side is that ever happens, and then decide to build a pedestrian bridge or not. A pedestrian bridge would be a good idea if it were not for the abuse of that connection to push cars over to the Palo Alto side.

My feeling is that for the people of Palo Alto to have to institute a parking permit system is a burden that they should not have to face ... why should anyone need a parking permit to park in their own community?

A bridge in this location serves a small number of people who are thinking of no one else other than themselves, not about the money it costs the city, county or state, or the problems it leaves their neighbors with. With the bridge gone the outcry and aspersions on various people of bad intentions will cease and people will go about their lives finding equivalent routes to their favorite locations. If there is a bigger problem, the option of building a pedestrian bridge or a new vehicle bridge always exists, but then the costs of it will be come apparent and real and stakeholders will have to justify the expense instead of trying to fold a new bridge into the issue of removing a flood threat.


Posted by Old Bridge, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Eliminating this bridge would not have prevented last years flood. It would not have prevented the flood 15 years ago. If you truly want to lessen the flood danger, get a comprehensive plan together. People knowingly bought in a flood zone, guess what happens in flood zones. Eliminating this one bridge won't stop it.


Posted by ndnorth, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 14, 2013 at 9:47 am

The "difference" that Palo Altans on this forum believe exists due to race is due to poverty overwhelmingly. Some even believe that they will be able to buy parts of EPA in the same way as colonialists "bought" parts of the US from the native peoples...Shame on you. This is NOT about the bridges at all. No amount of discussion will disguise the "traffic" talk as one of essentially racist.

I, who live in PA, will say that I do want a new bridge with unffetered access to both communities. That's the right thing to do.


Posted by JA3+, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 14, 2013 at 9:49 am

"Eliminating this bridge would not have prevented last years [sic] flood."

Correct; but, removal of the bridge -- coupled with other improvements now planned to the Creek's drainage infrastructure -- would have significantly lessened the flood danger.

Flood prevention is absolutely crucial here; more must be done with some urgency and pace.


Posted by Old Bridge, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2013 at 11:39 am

JA3+

So then you are in favor of replacing the bridge with one that does not interfere with water flow.
I am ok with that, or leaving it alone. My preference is to leave it alone until a real flood plan is adopted.
To me, eliminating the bridge, is a non-starter, my personal observation is that it gets a lot of use.


Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 14, 2013 at 11:58 am

Ole Bridge - removing the bridge IS part of the flood plan, which included replacing it with a much larger bridge. The replacement (or not) is what is being debated.


Posted by old bridge, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2013 at 12:25 pm

oh, I was not aware there was a plan, please point me at the plan.
What will be done? What is the schedule for completion?
thanks


Posted by Jay Five, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 14, 2013 at 12:41 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Old Bridge -

From the City Web Link

More info on the SFCJPA website

Web Link


Posted by Old Bridge, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2013 at 1:06 pm

thanks for the pointer, I did manage to find it as well

traffic survey shows 3000 car crossings a day.

Looks like a lot of people use that bridge.


Posted by aerdii, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 14, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Here's some helpful data:

Survey of 145 PA residents about their bridge concerns:
Web Link

Here's the traffic study that was done in 2012. Peak hour Newell bridge traffic is 177 vehicles per hour into PA, compared to 468 comping out of EPA onto University at Woodland, and only 88 onto Embarcadero. All of these should be contrasted to the peak hour flow of ~1900 coming into PA from University at Woodland (ie - from Dumbarton/101/rest of EPA). If I'm reading that correctly (please someone who is more experienced correct me; the maps are a bit arcane), the bridge does not carry that much traffic, relative to the other alternatives (Embarcadero and University) that are better suited to be transit corridors.

Web Link

Great resource: Web Link

I've been trying to find (unsuccessfully) anything to quantify PA resident fears about speeding/crime/children safety. Does anyone know of anything factual? Its easy to find crime rate differences between PA and EPA, but is there anything documented about EPA crime inside PA?

My gut says the decrease in crime/speeding is a good tradeoff for the inconvenience of EPA drivers going to the easy alternative routes... but if the crime/speeding could be quantified that would be much better.


Posted by Midtown, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 15, 2013 at 11:21 am

Take a look at the bridge on Street View. You can't really see it. There is a jungle growing in the creek. Suppose that has anything to do with flooding??? Also, when the bridge was built there was no freeway. Once the freeway was built there was not a need for a bridge at this point. If the freeway had been there when the bridge was originally built it would not have been built. Why rebuild it now? If the folks in the area want a bridge take a collection up for the new modern bridge. That should decide the issue. Maybe even charge a toll to pay for it. Are there enough folks willing to pay to use it for what it would cost to build it? If it is not even close it is unfair to foist the cost onto the community in general who get no benefit from the bridge.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 15, 2013 at 11:26 am

I have lived on both sides ... previously in college lived on Newell over by the 7-11 and today live in Crescent Park have always found that number of 3000 crossings of this bridge rather suspect ... and I'll explain why.

Look at the statistics.

3000 crossings per day equals 125 crossings per hour.

125 crossings per hour is slightly over 2 crossings per minute or about 1 crossing every 30 seconds.

All you have to do is think about it a little to realize that there is something really funny about this claim of 3000 crossings per day. At random someone might go at the busiest time of day and video the bridge for an hour and see 125 cars go across that bridge, but even if they did, the idea that this would continue day in and day out every hour seems unlikely.

BUT, even if that was the case, 2 cars per minute folded into Embarcadero and University traffic is insignificant which indicated that the bridge does not serve a traffic relief function.

Looking at the destinations directly on both sides of the bridge there is a 7-11 and a Mexican restaurant on the EPA side, and almost nothing directly on the PA side - meaning that any trip across that bridge is only marginally shorter or more efficient than going on University or Embarcadero.

If this bridge did not exist today, there would be no reason to build it. Building a new bridge here is an expensive project that would serve only a very small number of people - and those people seem to not consider the cost-benefit ratio to the city, county or state.

It is almost as if the deal is, build the bridge to prove that PA is not racist. There may or may not be racists in Palo Alto or East Palo Alto, but that is not a reason to build a bridge or a way to improve race relations.


Posted by JA3+, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 15, 2013 at 5:03 pm

"...even if that was the case, 2 cars per minute folded into Embarcadero and University traffic is insignificant which indicated that the bridge does not serve a traffic relief function."

Agree in full; this point hits the nail squarely on the head.

I note TJKM's Appendix B -- entitled 'Traffic Count Information' -- is apparently missing from the report posted to the City of Palo Alto's website.

I suggest the local group -- PaloAltoForResponsibleNewellBridgeDevelopment -- hire a third-party traffic engineer to conduct new counts; I'd wager TJKM's numbers just don't hold up.
_____

"There is a jungle growing in the creek. Suppose that has anything to do with flooding???"

+1


Posted by Old bridge, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2013 at 8:39 am

So the problem is where will these cars go to get where they are going? I suspect the cars will end up cutting through Cresent Park streets off university, I know I'll be forced to. So if you think Center and Lincoln and Hamilton are better streets for this traffic, eliminate the bridge.


Posted by sunshine, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 16, 2013 at 9:39 am

Keep Newell Bridge open for vehicles.
Since the city has not addressed the impossible traffic on University westbound from 101, Newell Bridge is necessary.
Until the residents of the University Ave and nearby neighborhoods are willing to allow 2 lanes each way at a decent speed (35 mph) from 101, Newell Bridge must remain open.
The city and Menlo Park have made it impossible to get from 101 to downtown shopping in either city when shops are open. This needs to change.


Posted by OPar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 16, 2013 at 1:29 pm

The existence of the Newell Bridge meant that I could commute over the Dumbarton and not get on the very busy 101 to get to Embarcadero or continue on University until I could make a left in heavy traffic, wander about Crescent Park and find my way home in North Palo Alto. So, yes, the bridge's existence was a huge time and frustration saver for me. Few people are going to want to get on 101 for an exit at rush hour, so this means more traffic on the residential part of University and more traffic in Crescent Park.

Newell, at least, is designed for a certain amount of traffic--it's relatively wide, crosses Channing and Embarcadero, which are both roads leading to the downtown and/or Stanford. A major park and the main library are en route. It's probably better designed for its load than is Embarcadero or University. (I consider Embarcadero the worst as it combines schools, parks, residential and a freeway artery--not surprising there have been pedestrian fatalities on it. For fun and entertainment, try going the speed limit--25 mph.)


Posted by Eileen Altman, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 16, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I am a homeowner in the neighborhood of EPA next to the bridge and work in Palo Alto. My work commute is usually down Bayshore to Embarcadero to my church near 101, but I use the bridge when I want to go shopping at Town & Country, Stanford, or in downtown PA, or to go to the hospital to visit parishioners. I also use the bridge to go on walks or bike rides into PA.

The bridge needs to be replaced. The current bridge is a flood hazard and must go as soon as possible. A new and improved bridge is not likely to have significantly more traffic than does the current bridge, but it is an important link for those of us who use it now.

I attended the community meeting in January, which was largely dominated by residents of Crescent Park, most of whom wanted the bridge gone. I was concerned about the kinds of things that some PA residents said or implied about those of us who live in EPA, comments that indicated that there is more work to do on "loving one's neighbor as oneself". EPA residents were often cast as a fearful "other". My white skin probably helped me to "pass" as a Palo Altan, giving me the "privilege" of hearing some painful under-the-breath and aside comments about those of us who live in EPA. The few EPA folks there all emphasized the need for the bridge as a key point of access for work, etc. in PA.

I am unable to attend Thursday's meeting. I suspect that the attendance percentages between the two communities are likely to be the same. It is more difficult for less affluent people to attend community meetings, because of the difficulty in paying for child care or work hours that are not 9 to 5, but that does not mean that those of us living in EPA do not care about the bridge and want to find a good solution for it. I am hopeful that all who attend the meeting will demonstrate respect for all of the neighbors who live on both sides of the bridge.

Any decision about the bridge must consider the needs of both communities.


Posted by Aerdii, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 16, 2013 at 10:05 pm

@Eileen Altman, though I'm in favor of the bridge not being there, I too cannot make the meeting. The lack of our two voices will cancel out.

I just wanted to thank you for the civil and thoughtful nature of your words. If there is any animosity against EPA residents, you are doing the best possible thing to lessen it; being rational and considerate.


Posted by member, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 16, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Everyone has a right to access to city streets. Fight against those in Palo Alto who want to block access to public streets including the Newell the bridge.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 17, 2013 at 11:43 am

> Fight against those in Palo Alto who want to block access to public streets including the Newell the bridge.

No one wants to, or can, block access to public streets, "member".


Posted by Release the hounds!, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 17, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Can we remove the bridge already? While we are at it lets extend the creek channel so that it forms a moat all the way around Palo Alto. Then we can better control who enters and exits the City limits.


Posted by OPar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 17, 2013 at 2:00 pm

I have to say the animosity toward the Newell St. Bridge is a little questionable. I don't remember a large hue and cry for tearing down the Chaucer St. Bridge when that was an issue (and the actual spot for flooding). I suspect the Newell St. Bridge gets more, not less traffic than Chaucer.

So is this really about bridge traffic or the difference between EPA and the Willows?


Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 17, 2013 at 3:51 pm

@OPar - I think the Newell Bridge issue is more about the perceived issues of crime than it is about traffic - although if they enlarge and straighten the bridge, traffic will be a legitimate problem on Newell. A lot of kids use Newell to get to school, including kids from EPA going to St. Elizabeth Seton, so not increasing the traffic levels should be one of the goals.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 17, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Contrary to the opinion above, Palo Alto can choose to block access to a city street. Case in point is that PA put gates on the Chaucer Bridge and closed it to cut through traffic in the early 90's. perfectly legal


Posted by DuvMom, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 21, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Great, lets put the gates up and see what happens. If there really is a need for a new bridge we Know it. It makes much more sense to tear down the bridge to prevent flooding and then see if we need the bridge - but apparently that is politically incorrect. I for one never use the bridge. Why would I drive over a tiny little bridge onto a tiny little street when there are several other options? Never made much sense to me.


Posted by OPar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 21, 2013 at 11:57 pm

DuvMom,

I've explained how it's used in the other thread--it's a quick route to the Dumbarton that avoids backtracking and a lot of traffic for the north Duveneck/Community Center/Crescent Park neighborhoods. It's a low-traffic way for EPA residents to get to the downtown and community center (parks, library), thus, helpful for Stanford students and others who work in PA but can't afford to live here. Newell's a wide street, so it's not a bad feeder street.


Posted by Pal O'Alto, a resident of another community
on Oct 28, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Congratulations to City of Palo Alto officials for putting down the request from Palo Alto Crescent Park residents for a new construction Newell bridge as a drawbridge with a moat and crocodiles.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 29, 2013 at 8:27 am

>> it's a quick route to the Dumbarton that avoids backtracking and a lot of traffic for the north Duveneck/Community Center/Crescent Park neighborhoods.


A "quick route", for how many people, saving how much time, used how often?


>> It's a low-traffic way for EPA residents to get to the downtown and community center (parks, library), thus, helpful for Stanford students and others who work in PA but can't afford to live here. Newell's a wide street, so it's not a bad feeder street.


Having lived in this strip of EPA and in Crescent Park now I can see this from both sides. I never went downtown via the bridge because it would take longer and be more of a pain in the neck. This would only be true at certain times of the day anyway, otherwise you just get on University and go downtown, or on Embarcadero and go to the park, Town & Country, Stanford, etc. The only pain is that for some reason East Palo Alto or whomever seems to never fix the whole of the very bumpy West Bayshore Road!

And again, for how many people saving how much time, used how often?

The fact that Newell is a "wide street" is a bit misleading. it is a single lane, which bicycle lanes, throughout, so it is not really a feeder artery except for a small neighborhood - and the fact that it goes by schools, parks, community center means that there are a lot of pedestrians, bicyclists and kids walking around the area. Planning on more traffic or even the same traffic for Newell is not an improvement.

Just as I thought, when people get specific on these miracle speedy routes that are enabled by this bridge they are an insignificant benefit for a few people to a few destinations and only during rush hour. How does this justify a new bridge? By the time they tear it down, and rebuild it, everyone using the bridge would have developed new habits and other routes to their destinations.

And look at the map of this area, the two Newells are 50 feet from each other, and misaligned by approximately 30 degrees ... there doesn't seem to be a way to create a new bridge that is going to appreciably rationalize that intersection to make it easier. There is also a good chance that the area of the bridge will be increased, and the opening under it will eventually be problematic again ...ugh, can you imagine going through this again after another flood?

The logical thing to do would be to demolish the bridge, take that step in the right direction, ASAP, for flood control - begin the process. Do "something" Palo Alto, and then see what happens. Even if some urgent need was determined for another bridge, the time without the bridge would probably not be extended by much, and the important step of doing something for the flood control would be taken, possibly creating some momentum for more and to get on with doing something about the Chaucer St. bridge, which flooded as recently as last year.

This is a must-do, not an option - get busy Palo Alto. Quit wasting time on things like flashing billboards, do your jobs please.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Palo Alto quietly gets new evening food truck market
By Elena Kadvany | 3 comments | 3,157 views

On Tour - The Highly Selective Liberal Arts Colleges: Occidental, Pitzer, and Scripps
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 1 comment | 1,900 views

See Me. Hear Me. Donít Fix Me.
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 1,617 views

Foothills Park: a world away
By Sally Torbey | 9 comments | 1,487 views

Candidate Kickoff Events: Public, not just for supporters
By Douglas Moran | 6 comments | 876 views