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Palo Alto eyes contest to design new bike bridge

Original post made on Feb 26, 2013

Architects from Palo Alto and beyond could soon be asked to flap their creative wings and help the city design a new bridge that would span a busy highway and give residents in the south part of the city an elegant, year-round entry point into the Baylands.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 9:56 AM

Comments (58)

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Posted by DIXIE DAVISON
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2013 at 10:20 am

WHY DO WE HAVE TO BUILD ANOTHER BRIDGE TO THE BAYLANDS WHEN WE ALREADY HAVE ONE. THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER THINGS WE COULD SPEND THIS MONEY ON. IT SEEMS LIKE THE PEOPLE WHO ARE IN OFFICE HERE IN PALO ALTO THINK MONEY GROWS ON TREES. FIX OUR STREETS AS SOME ARE A MESS, HIRE MORE POLICE BUT DONT WASTE IT ON ANOTHER BRIDGE WE DONT NEED.


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Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 26, 2013 at 10:31 am

This expense is INSANE. WE need more police, repaired sidewalks, and the traffic mess on Embarcadero at Paly-Town and Country fixed NOW. We need the budget under control. Prior councils who helped get us into this mess are now represented on the present one....Klein and Kniss. And we've got to be GREEN at escalating expense!! Green = civic indigestion. Council...LEARN TO SAY "NO".


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Posted by as soon as possible
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2013 at 10:39 am

This is the main pedestrian and bicycle route from southern Palo Alto to the shoreline area, for both nature lovers and people trying to get to their jobs on the other side of the highway. The current path is so fragile that it has been closed since 2011! The marked detour route is 2 miles longer, making it impractical for many people, especially during the winter when rush hour in in the dark.

Please get this new bridge done as soon as possible. I don't care what it looks like. Fast and cheap is fine. The view from the bridge is mostly of a smelly noisy ugly freeway, so people are not going to linger up there.


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Posted by bikermom
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:02 am

The current bridge doesn't allow for a cargo bike to get through. We only have one car and the other day I needed to take it to the city, so my husband was going to use our cargo bike (our 2nd car) to get the kids to gymnastics at Twisters in Mt. View. However, it wouldn't fit on the bridge and going over an overpass with freeway traffic is too dangerous. So I think this would be great! Maybe simplify the design to lower costs.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:02 am

The bridge is a great idea, the contest is a great idea, but where is the other 6 million dollars coming from? A $10 million dollar project with a $4 million dollar grant still leaves Palo Alto taxpayers responsible for $6 million dollars. For a bridge, seriously?

The roads IN Palo Alto that are "bike friendly" are full of potholes, metal plates, etc. Kids and bike commuters in the City have a tough time commuting safely. How about we fix the Palo Alto roads BEFORE we build a bridge to Mountain View?


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Posted by bill g
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:14 am

Palo Alto Mom has 2 good points. Fix the present intra city bike lanes, and get the rest of the $6 million in hand before spending a dime on the bridge.

Where do people and the City Council think the additional money is coming from? Oh, yes. As always spend taxpayers money and then try to balance the budget. Our General Fund doesn't have extra money for projects not in the IBRC recommendations.


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Posted by Jeff
a resident of Duveneck School
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:14 am

Couldn't they just somehow create a biking/walking path on San Antonio for less money? You can walk over on Embarcadero and Rengstorff, why not do the same for San Antonio? Is this really how we should be spending money?

A design competition will only increase the cost with unnecessary elements. Who stops to take in a pedestrian bridge? Has anyone pulled over on 101 near Ralston to admire and enjoy the new pedestrian bridge?


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Posted by bridge equivilant to Homer Ave tunnel
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:16 am

ASAP--get thebridge done as soon as possible??? Not in Palo Alto. The article talks about end of 2017--you can add a few years to that due to the Palo Alto process.
Plus the ARB and members of the council have made it clear that this cannot just be a simple, cheap bridge--it has to be a shining gateway to Silicon valley and have a design competetion to choose the right one. It has to be aesthitically pleasing.
AS for the rest of the money--it does not matter, infrastructure will beignored for a few more years so that we can have this wonderful bridge. In fact it should be so wonderful, that drivers on 101 stop their cars to marvel at it.
That is the kind of bridge that Palo Alto wants--we do not want to be like the rest ofthe world


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Posted by j99
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:21 am

This is lunacy. We don't need any more bike lanes. We need to stop the runaway crime in Palo Alto. Spend money on more police to stop the virtually dailly armed robberies downtown and holdups of businesses.

Stop wasting taxpayer money on this. Another idea promoted by the Green lunatic fringe.


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Posted by Nick
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:35 am

I like Jeff's idea. And make that add-on strip wheelchair-accessible too please! Wheelchair-riders--and seniors with scooters-- need an easy path to access the Baylands and trails too. To hide this one-more-chunk concrete+steel-fence item, how about thickly covering the sides with growing pampas grass in planter strips, and the exterior bottoms with barked tree-trunk sides? --Nick


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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:35 am

No matter what - pull or change the blockades in the old bridge and perhaps had some survellance cameras or something, the isolation of that bridge and it's entry and exists are a little scary.

The bridge down the freeway ... I think it's in San Carlos is pretty nice, why not use that as a model and stop this dilly-dallying and actually get something done?

Just get it done, and get it done cheaply as possible with as low maintenance costs as possible, and then shut up about it. This is another joke to make the city seem like they are democratic or are open to input ... then they go and choose something that everyone will roundly despise anyway.


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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:38 am

There is also no really good way to walk across existing overpasses, such as Embarcadero. It means that everyone that does that needs to twice pass by the on/offramps where cars are shooting by to merge and get into Palo Alto or onto the freeway. It's unnerving, and certainly not workable for children or handicapped.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 12:09 pm

This just makes me mad. I cannot rejoice in the news about this wonderful, artistic, spectacular bridge knowing that the rest of our town is suffering with crime, cut-backs on everything, higher rates on lights, water, gas, trash, just tax, tax, tax....I'm done with it. No more stupid spending!


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Posted by More and More Bridges
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Just add another $6. Million to the infrastructure bond measure in 2014. Except for the Police Building this bond measure will not have to disclose what infrastructure is covered by the additional money on the ballot. Just call it all "infrastructure" and you people will approve the bond measure!!!

This is not the only bridge being proposed a brand new bicycle/pedestrian bridge is being planned to cross Adobe Creek in Mitchell Park. The present bridge is not safe for wheel chairs and the disabled who may wish to visit the proposed Magical Bridge playground.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2013 at 12:54 pm

More and more bridges - I believe the only contribution that the City is making to the Magical Bridge is dedicating the land at the Park. The non-profit is raising $3.8 million for the construction of the playground, bridge, etc. The City is apply for a grant to help them (I think).


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Another example of our city leaders and elected officials displaying a total lack of focus and sense of priority. This bridge represents a desired, but certainly not an essential need. Just a few months ago our city leaders were crying from the rooftops over the city's ongoing budget deficit. They described the circumstances as an unprecedented financial crisis. They declared we did not have the necessary public funds allocated to pay for vital and essential needs that exist in the areas of infrastructure and public safety. And what is their response? Why nothing less than continuing to spend millions on non-essential, niche, and feel good projects.

Perhaps the most insulting thing of all, is they actually have the gall to suggest another bond measure and tax increase to pay for our vital civic needs, after they blatantly and frivolously spend millions on bike bridges, public art, playgrounds, community center renovations, and commercial district make-overs. It's more than insulting, it's offensive.

We need our elected officials to do everything possible to balance the city budget. Certain city services should be outsourced. We need to stop or eliminate spending on non-essential city services and programs wherever possible. Our city leaders must set some sound financial priorities and stop catering to every special interest group. They can no longer continue to see every grant program as an invitation to spend more. These are the steps that need to be taken if we ever have any hope of balancing our city budget, providing adequate public safety to our citizens, and strengthening our infrastructure.


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Posted by corporate donor?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 26, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Can't some of our high status residents or city officials make polite inquiries to see if any of our local corporate magnates would be willing to donate/build an artistic and functional bridge...and get their corporate name put on it (I see no reason why not) ...everyone going over it would see a plaque at each end with the corporate name and there would be a dedication ceremony and all...perhaps the bridge could even be seen as a notable "Silicon Valley feature." I see the pro and con sides of the bridge, but feel there might be a way to make it happen if our high level city officials network with key persons who like to live and work in this area of Silicon Valley.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm

I like the idea of a bridge but I don't like the cost.

I think there should also be a competition to find ways to pay for cost of the bridge.

I think we should seek corporate sponsorship for a start. I think also we should look for whether or not this can be a toll bridge.

The bike community is large and there are many clubs. They are also becoming quite political. However, apart from the cost of the bike itself and accessories such as lights and helmets, the price of bicycling around town is free. It would be worth looking into seeing how adult bike riders could be able to contribute to the cost of this bridge.

There is no such thing as a free lunch and this bridge would be far from free. The funding of this bridge is a big question and should not be ignored.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2013 at 2:17 pm

One idea for paying for the bridge, start ticketing bikes that don't stop at stop signs or don't have lights at night.


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Posted by Another Gateway?
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Good grief, not ANOTHER gateway! It's the word of the month for developers. The office building on Alma and Lytton is a "Gateway" and Jim Baer is calling his proposal for El Camino and Oregon a "Gateway."
What a lot of hot air.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 26, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Invite Arrillaga to pay for it. He seems to have "Money to Burn". He offered to pay for new
playing fields at the Baylands acc. to the Weekly.. (Golfers, golf staff all vetoed extravagant Plan "G" - but not our excessive spending Council".) Did Arrillage want something in return for his offer? Arrillaga has multiple Stanford buildings with his surname on them - but he doesn't have a bridge!! This bridge is something Palo Alto cannot afford right now. There are many things the City can't afford now- reminds me of my own life.But that doesn't stop this Council OR City Hall. ....known around town as "Silly Haul".


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Posted by Easy Peazy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Just make it safe and useful to all and get the job done. Asking what everyone wants only delays the job getting done. How to make this decision simple... Just make it look like the other bridges to the north and south of this location. Job done.


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Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 26, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Bob,
Arrillaga wanted concessions on his project at the MacArthur Park site and only then would he give the money for the playing fields at the golf course. City is not giving in and his money is being withdrawn, so no fields. He also wanted to buy a slice of Foothills Park that abuts his estate. Public caught wind of it and how it was secretly being dealt with, so now that seems to be off the table as well.

Arrillaga has done a lot for the community and Stanford. It'd be nice if he did it out of the kindess of his heart (as he seems to do with his Stanford donations) instead of the thickness of his wallet.


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Posted by IWantABridge
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 26, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Note - some/most of the money is coming from funds that *cannot* be used for police, roads, etc. It is money from an agreement with Stanford (someone can provide a link).
This does not mean that we do not need money for those other things (only that their discussion does not belong in this thread).
This does not mean that we need to spend $10 million on a 'gateway' bridge - the one down the road in Mt. View cost $3 million (but it *is* far simpler because it could be built in a straight line).
As to adding 'safe passage' across the San Antonio bridge I see several problems. One, safe access (for children especially) *TO* the bridge itself on both sides (too much traffic). Two, I wonder for how much longer that bridge will stand as-is before being replaced.


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Posted by DC
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2013 at 3:57 pm

I like "corporate sponsor"'s idea. Google might like a huge multicolored "Entering GOOGLE Territory" sign on the southbound side of the bridge in return for sponsorship. Stanford, per the local paper, was just lauded for getting the most money in contributions EVER. Would they be willing to sponsor part of the construction in order to create something for the northbound side? We have students and people of all ages who have amazing ideas to offer who wouldn't charge hundreds of thousands of dollars. What someone else said about not limiting the field of applicants, making it open to those who live and work here seems so simple. Why does it need to be limited to one designer, for that matter? Take the many good/best cost-effective + creative ideas, allow the public to vote on them, and incorporate the winners to make the most amazing bridge ever. I am also ready to gag re "gateway" this and "gateway" that. Get over it. It's a BRIDGE. I needs to be safe, functional for years to come, and cost-effective. Which takes me to this; If city officials had to give up something, like half their salary for 3 years to put towards the project, would they be so eager to push it? And why do they get to make decisions w/o citizen okay? Don't they answer to us? Are there rules they're supposed to follow (with consequences if they don't) about spending tax dollars? I don't understand the process.


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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 26, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Before the city spends a penny of this or launches a design contest, they need to do a study looking how many people will actually use this bridge. Just because the biking coalition says we need a bridge does not mean we need one. And if we do need one, then it should be a simple, nexpensive one. No big discussions on color or shape or design, no blue ribbonanels or consultants.


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Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2013 at 5:44 pm

"Just because the biking coalition says we need a bridge does not mean we need one"

I agree.


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2013 at 6:44 pm

The old Adobe Creek undercrossing that was only open in the summer and has now been closed for over a year was very heavily used, and I expect a new bike/ped bridge will also get a lot of use. I don't see what a design contest will bring in the way of benefits, though.

As far as improving the San Antonio overpass, that is not a viable option because it is owned by Caltrans. The City has no control over that, and Caltrans will not do anything.

The existing overpass at Oregon dates from the 1970s and is woefully inadequate and does not meet today's safety or accessibility standards. The narrow barricades can't simply be removed or modified because they are structurally significant. If it was easy to make that overpass accessible to wheelchairs, cargo bikes, trailers and tandems it would have happened many years ago.

A new bridge is important. Some people want it and some people NEED it (emphasis for Marrol). Nobody needs a work of art, though.


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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 26, 2013 at 6:47 pm

I am sure some people wanted and needed the homer avenue tunnel.


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Posted by Linda
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Our city leaders are out of touch with the wishes of the majority of its citizens. They cater to a vocal minority. Palo Alto's government leadership is fiscally irresponsible.


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2013 at 7:13 pm

And so Donald South of Midtown, what of the ongoing budget deficit? What of the projected 50-plus million dollar price tag on absolutely critical infrastructure needs? What of the vital public safety needs that remain unfunded? These should be the fiscal priorities. A bike bridge definitely takes a back seat, especially when the tax payer portion could involve several million dollars. It's time to cater to the greater good and not the vocal minorities and special interest groups.


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Marrol,
I agree with you that we have critical infrastructure and public safety needs, but cancelling this project is not going to help those because it is being paid for with funds that cannot be used for those purposes.


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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 26, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Donald--will the entire cost Be covered by this money? Knowing palo alto and the comments of the ARB and previous comments by Holman they want something special and expensive-- something that we will end up funding.


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2013 at 7:55 pm

I don't know what the outcome will be, but Marrol's claim that it will use millions of dollars in general fund money is a made-up claim with no support. For the record, I support a functional and cost-effective design like that chosen by Sunnyvale for their 101 and 237 crossings.


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Posted by Carrot
a resident of Meadow Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Right on Donald,
Stick to the facts, not verdant imaginations.
And pick something functional and economical.


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Not true Donald, Palo Alto tax payers will most definitely be left on the hook for cost overruns beyond what's covered by the grant and Stanford contributions. We all know that Palo Alto is famous for never completing a project on time and within the allocated budget. The potential and exposure in this project for these elements are too great and too expensive. We can't afford it.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 26, 2013 at 9:17 pm

I'll vote for functional and economical and easily maintainable. Was wondering when we'd vote for whom to name the bridge. But I wouldn't mind naming it by sponsorship as suggested above.

My only trepidation is that a bridge, even this limited, will lead to yet more development of the remaining bayside open space. ABAG is looking for thousands of new housing units, and this bridge would be the perfect set-up for a ludicrous claim that all new residents will ride bikes rather than drive cars.

@Donald, were the bike barricades on the old bridge near Oregon there at the original opening? Don't know how they could be structural. I vaguely recall riding freely (and without a helmet) across that bridge and also through the Cal Ave tunnel, but must have been half a century ago.


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Posted by Crazy
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 26, 2013 at 9:58 pm

This is a total waste of money no one has. The feds, the state, the county, transit everyone is barrowing money they dont have and some of it will end up on this project. Our grand kids will pay for the Taj Mahal.

It would be cheaper to buy everyone who will use this bridge a new car or daily rides in a limo versus building what will be a 20 million dollar boondogle.


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Posted by Actually you can't legally
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2013 at 8:47 am

@jeff

" You can walk over on Embarcadero ...

     No pedestrian shall cross Bayshore Freeway upon Embarcadero Road Overpass.
(Ord 2496 § 2, 1969: Ord. 2470 § 3, 1968)


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Posted by Out of Control Spending
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 27, 2013 at 9:39 am

And the city council will be shocked when their precious infrastructure bond fails in 2014, after spending who knows how much in taxpayer $$ to promote it.

1. Stop spending on stupid pet projects.
2. Control the spiraling pension obligations, and if you're too afraid of the unions to do so, start outsourcing everything except police.
3. Stop using PA utilities as a cash cow for the city. It's bad government and borderline corrupt. Repeal the utility users tax.


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Posted by Underpass Fan
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 27, 2013 at 10:28 am

What's the holdup with the existing Adobe Creek and 101 underpass? It has been closed for a long time -- it is way overdue that you open it again! Get to work on that, City of Palo Alto.

$10M sounds like a LOT for a pedestrian/bike bridge. It doesn't matter that $4M comes from somewhere else, we paid those taxes, too. Waste is waste, no matter where the money comes from.

The underpass works fine. Yes, it might flood once in a while but so what? Just out up a sign or come orange cones, for Pete's sake.


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Posted by county taxpayer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 27, 2013 at 10:47 am

Thanks to the County of Santa Clara for spending $4,000,000 of county taxpayers money on yet another wishful project that only increases the current county government skyrocketing deficit to $216,000,000. Who cares that this project won't ever be paid in full long after those demanding the overpass have passed on of natural causes leaving only a bridge to access the Palo Alto Landfill Park. What a great legacy to leave our grandchildren who will be left to pay for this nonsense.


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Posted by June
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 27, 2013 at 11:16 am

City Council member Liz Kniss wants this bridge as a monument to herself.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Wouldn't it cost less to fix and/or upgrade the existing underpass than to build a new bridge? Just asking.

In other words, if we chose to fix the existing underpass - would we be able to use just the grant money and not city money?


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Posted by Sally
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 27, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I agree with above poster. Either use the plan for the new San Carlos bike bridge or the new one in Mt View (from Crittendon Middle School, under Old Middlefield, and over 101). Either of those should work. They could even use the plan for the new one over 85 (but I think too fancy) Why spend extra $ to design a fancy one?


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Posted by Alan
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 27, 2013 at 2:42 pm

>>The bridge down the freeway ... I think it's in San Carlos is pretty nice,
>> why not use that as a model and stop this dilly-dallying and actually
>> get something done?

I agree with this comment by Anon. The bike path near Ralston Rd. on 101 is rather nice. Just use that design and move on. Maybe someone can submit a design based on it.


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Posted by We Get What We Deserve
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 27, 2013 at 2:51 pm

This is a terrific example of how our money is being wasted. There are so many projects that need to be done. Budgets that need to be balanced. And somehow the city council knows that they can continue wasting money on frivolous projects that benefit few but saddle the majority with debt that needs to be repaid. Since all that most of us will us will ever do is to complain on this board, we definitely deserve the extra tax that is coming to pay for this, and other such stupid wastes of money.


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Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 27, 2013 at 3:12 pm

I wonder if the public will be asked to vote on the finalists. Doing that sounds like a good idea - until you recall how the outcome of the vote on the California Avenue fountain was ignored.

And a question: does the Bicycle Coalition contribute $ to projects such as this or is their role limited to promotion?


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Posted by Do It
a resident of Meadow Park
on Feb 27, 2013 at 4:04 pm

I guess we can get by with this. Build it and pass out tissues to the snivelers. Onward.


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 27, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Nothing sniveling about a budget deficit that has been running for nearly a decade. Nothing sniveling about having to increase taxes in order to fund our essential and vital civic needs. If that be the case, then better to be sniveling than completely out of touch with reality.


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Posted by 100% bicycle commuter
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 27, 2013 at 5:56 pm

I personally favor a cheap and sufficient solution. I've heard the Adobe Creek underpass has been closed indefinitely due to roadway construction. Can anybody confirm that? If it were possible to keep open most of the year, as has worked for many years in the past, why not restore it to that condition as soon as physically possible? I suppose there might be liability issues, which are often the undoing of efficiency. Anybody know anything about liability issues re: the underpass?

I have no involvement with the Bicycle Coalition, but I'm guessing their support for the bridge doesn't mean they actually want to spend a lot of money on it. My guess is that, just like pretty much all cyclists and pedestrians, they support some means of getting non-motor vehicles across the highway in a safe way, whatever the means. This particular method just happens to have come along, so they support it. Here's an old blog post from the SVBC that seems to accord with my opinion:

Web Link

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure most bicyclists feel the same way as most drivers: keeping things safe, efficient, and commensurate with a limited budget. To me, the underpass seems to meet these criteria, but, again, there may be a deeper story to that.


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Posted by Richard
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 27, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Palo Alto does not have a Bicycle Commission.

The Adobe Creek undercrossing has been closed for over a year because of the 101 construction. Prior to that it was open during the dry season, but it does not meet safety standards for width, height or slope and it is not handicap-accessible. You could not build that today, and you could not modify it without bringing it up to modern standards. That was investigated as part of the feasibility study, and making that a year-round crossing that meets mandatory safety and accessibility standards would cost more than building the overpass. Furthermore, many people felt that a dark tunnel would be less secure than an open bridge and they are not comfortable with an underpass (don't make me defend that, I am just repeating public comments).


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Posted by 100% bicycle commuter
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 27, 2013 at 7:05 pm

@Richard, thanks very much for the information. This paper ought to quote your comment, or something like it, every time there is an article about this issue, as it would make unnecessary a lot of (very reasonable) debate in this forum. More generally, I think it would help if this paper (to the extent that it wants to facilitate community discussion) would have an FAQ page for every contentious issue it reports on. That way there would be some continuity in the discussion between articles, and we could avoid some of the understandable, but ultimately redundant and futile, outrage every time the issue is reported on.

For example, I think the underpass is fine and would like to see it restored to its former level of utility, but (based on @Richard's information) I can understand why the city government is not permitted to do so. So I guess I have to support a highway overpass, since there appears not to be an alternative, and I always support safe rights of way for non-motorists. Now my only concern in the future is that the overpass be built without unnecessary cost for aesthetic considerations, as it is, after all, crossing a highway. It can't be any uglier than a typical motorist overpass, right? And motorist overpasses aren't a big eyesore relative to any other part of road systems.

As for funding, it looks like Stanford is paying for some part of this one. But why was there not a requirement for part of the funding for the 101 construction to go toward maintaining a preexisting non-motorist right of way? I feel like there is in general a state requirement for right-of-way mitigation of that sort. Was the project let off the hook because the existing right of way isn't considered up to standard? More questions that could be answered on an FAQ and thereby provide a foundation for constructive and non-redundant future debate.


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Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 28, 2013 at 4:32 am

Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a registered user.

@"100% bicycle commuter": great idea to have PA online issue an FAQ on repeatedly referenced controversial topics.

@Richard, Thanks for your comments. I confirm that the Palo Alto Bicycle Advisory Committee pursued more affordable options, but they were not feasible. See some of the ideas pursued and their issues at my first posting in the article "Palo Alto makes bid for bike-bridge funds" at Web Link. On the feeling secure question, often women feel more secure where they can be seen and they can see into, like an overcrossing, than a hidden undercrossing where they can't see who's lurking around the bend.

On the costs and budget balancing issues, there is a good chance that the city will get significant funding from the Bicycle Expenditure Program (BEP) portion of the Valley Transportation Plan (VTP) 2040, which is a periodically-updated 25-year countywide long-range transportation plan. (VTP 2040 is in the public review stage with upcoming community meetings, see: Web Link) This bridge is on the draft plan, and past iterations of BEP have funded similar projects. For instance the VTP 2035 plan had allocations of between $5M to $10M each for six bike/ped overcrossings (Web Link).

BEP funds are earmarked for bike projects, they can't be used for Palo Alto's significant infrastructure backlog needs, and if PA doesn't apply for them in our community, they will be allocated to other cities. There has been a historical imbalance, with Palo Alto, as a wealthy community, paying more than it receives. So tax hawks should be pleased that their tax dollars will come back to benefit their own community.

If any purely city funds are used for this project, keep in mind that the current undercrossing is not free, as the current maintenance to clear the mud after each flooding season is on the order of $0.1M, and it would be much more if we tried to keep the path open year round and repeatedly clear mud. So if the city has to pitch in $1M, 10 years of bridge life will more than pay for itself. I would expect the bridge to have a life closer to 50 years.

@"Not an Issue", who wrote, the city needs "to do a study looking how many people will actually use this bridge." They have already done that study, and found that the Adobe Creek location would generate the most usage. Search for early community and/or Council meetings on the topic to find that info.

It is not just the bicycle community that wants this, but also the people that live in the Adobe Meadow and surrounding neighborhoods Web Link, for whom this connection was a popular item in community meetings on local infrastructure needs.


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Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 28, 2013 at 5:04 am

Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a registered user.

Oh, I forgot to add that site constraints prohibit just taking an OverCrossing design from up or down the 101 and plopping it in. There's the creek, the bay, private properties, and high voltage power lines. All of those are why some of the designs have squiggly ramps, not for a fancy look but because straight simple doesn't fit.


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Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 28, 2013 at 9:56 am

Applaud the idea of corporate sponsorship; esp like the "Entering Google Territory" idea. I'd bike south just to use that bridge just to see that sign and show it to friends. Terrific idea!


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Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 28, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a registered user.

Lest anyone get incensed about money set aside for bike/ped projects, I'll point out that the draft VTP 2040 plan (which is county-wide for 25 years) has on the order of $440M for bike/ped compared to $4,400M for car projects.


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Posted by sabrina
a resident of Southgate
on May 8, 2013 at 10:42 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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