Newell bridge replacement project moves forward

Residents respond to three staff-selected design alternatives at community meeting Thursday night

Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park residents Thursday night aired their views on replacing the 103-year-old, 18-foot-wide Newell Road bridge over San Francisquito Creek after city staff presented three options – narrowed down from eight – selected for analysis in an Environmental Impact Report.

Last year, staff proposed eight alternatives for revamping the bridge, which crosses over the flood-prone creek, after residents had voiced strong disagreement over what to do about it. On Thursday, Palo Alto's Assistant Director of Public Works Brad Eggleston reviewed staff analysis of the eight options in light of screening criteria developed by staff late last year.

The criteria include the ability to withstand a 100-year flood of the San Francisquito Creek, impact on traffic conditions on nearby streets, and the bridge's capacity – or incapacity – to accommodate multiple modes of transportation (cars, bikes and pedestrians). Staff's analysis was based on May 2013 traffic counts in 13 intersections as well as projections for future years 2020 and 2035. Staff said an average of 3,000 cars pass over the bridge each day.

Within this criteria, staff recommended that only three designs – a one-lane bridge with traffic signals (known as alternative five), a two-lane bridge that maintains the existing alignment of Newell Road (alternative six) and a two-lane bridge with partial realignment of the bridge (alternative seven) – move forward to be further analyzed as part of an Environmental Impact Report.

All three options could accommodate the 100-year storm and have minimal or no impact on traffic levels, staff said. Each design was also awarded a number of stars, from zero to three, to represent its capacity to handle cars, bicyclists and pedestrians. Staff gave alternative five two stars, and six and seven, three stars.

Eggleston said that alternative five – a one-lane bridge with bi-directional traffic and signals – is "unlikely to carry forward" but is "worthy of more study."

It's also standard to carry forward into the Environmental Impact Report the option to keep the bridge as-is, but that route is not being seriously considered, staff said.

Multiple community members voiced disappointment that staff dropped the option to build a two-lane bridge that fully realigns Newell Road on both the Palo Alto and East Palo Alto sides (known as alternative eight).

"I'm disappointed that option eight has been taken off the table," an East Palo Alto resident said. "I don't know why the road has been aligned the way it has ... but it seems to me if were going to do a project, we might as well do it right."

Palo Alto City Manager James Keene responded frankly that Crescent Park residents on the other side of the bridge simply will not accept the increased traffic flow that a fully realigned Newell Road could bring to the neighborhood.

"We dropped off eight and used some criteria to do that," he said. "I'm sorry (but) we have gobs of people in Palo Alto that are just not going to accept that project no matter what, so we just have to be sensible."

Jane Kerschner, who lives five houses from the bridge on Edgewood Drive in Palo Alto, said she's hoping for the city to "recognize the complexity" of the project and work with the public to develop a more unified set of screening criteria.

"My point is, without us agreeing on criteria for determining important elements of the bridge ... without us understanding what goals we have and agreeing on those goals, it's going to be hard for anyone to agree," she said. "I'm appreciative of the process you guys have already gone through ... (but) I'm reluctant to adopt any of the conclusions because I don't think we have a set of criteria we've agreed upon."

She, among many others, also compared the Newell bridge process to current talks underway to replace the nearby Pope-Chaucer Street Bridge.

"I don't know there won't be a phase two down the road," she said, citing designs for Pope-Chaucer that include eventual tall floodwalls, retaining walls, roadway elevations and other controversial elements that many residents raised issue with at a January community meeting.

One man who identified himself as a father with two children at Duveneck Elementary School concurred, saying he was "horrified" at some of the proposed design elements for Pope-Chaucer and warned they have "major ramifications."

Len Materman, executive director of the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority, which is a partner in the bridge-replacement project, took to the podium to dispel concerns over this comparison.

"We don't have the money for floodwalls; we're not getting into floodwalls," he said. "Please don't get sidetracked by potential future projects down the road that may or may not come to fruition that are not funded. ... Right now we have to focus on what we can do and what we have the money to do."

Eggleston laid out a timeline for the project, with the next step taking the form of environmental-review preparation in March. Staff pegged final EIR certification for spring 2015 and construction to begin in summer 2016.

Staff has not yet scheduled more public meetings, but will do so throughout the environmental review process, they said.

"Ultimately, the jurisdictions are going to have to make some choices and decisions," Keene said. "All we're asking to do today is move forward with essentially three options and the no-project option for much further study and analysis."


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 28, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

This article states: "Multiple community members voiced disappointment that staff dropped the option to build a two-lane bridge that fully realigns Newell Road on both the Palo Alto and East Palo Alto sides (known as alternative eight)."

THIS is Keene's version of sensible? Pathetic. How come that house's fence on Newell/Edgewood has been allowed to take up more space, into the easement?
"We dropped off eight and used some criteria to do that," he said. "I'm sorry (but) we have gobs of people in Palo Alto that are just not going to accept that project no matter what, so we just have to be sensible."

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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 28, 2014 at 12:45 pm

These sound like good options and my guess is that none of the "Multiple community members" who were disappointed that "that staff dropped the option to build a two-lane bridge that fully realigns Newell Road on both the Palo Alto and East Palo Alto sides" were from Crescent Park.

Ms. Kershner is correct that there should be a common criteria for evaluating the design choices. The Palo Alto residents near the bridge and along Newell want to make sure that there is noincrease in traffic because of the changes in the bridge. Newell is a major bike route for students to multiple schools, including students from EPA that attend St. Elizabeth Seton on Channing. Their safety is very important.

@Hmmm - I think Mr. Keene is being sensible because of the number of Palo Alto residents who would protest and it would be a huge, potentially un winnable battle. BTW - II think that some kind of fence has been in that location (in the easement) for something like 30 years.

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Posted by Duveneck Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 28, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Not sure why there is disappointment with #8 being taken off the list. By having two lanes (25mph) and fully aligned would increase traffic for both EPA & PA. Options 5-7 would result in a new bridge and preserve the neighborhood feel as we now have. Why is there a desire to make it a main throughfare between the two neighborhoods?

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Posted by Concerned resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 28, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Sadly, the meeting last night was preoccupied more with traffic design and flow than flood control. I left very concerned that the city is loading the deck for an Environmental Impact Report outcome that favors a “superspan” approach. The City's clearly preferred alternatives to be studied in the upcoming EIR process will replace the existing Newell Bridge with a much wider footprint and re-aligned roads that the city admits will increase commute traffic in an already congested neighborhood.

The Environmental Impact Report is the next step in this process. To assure that residents fully and fairly understand all the ramifications of each of the 4 Alternatives the city must:
• Include a full study of Alternative 1 (Keep Existing Bridge) in terms of flood risk, cost, environmental impact, and traffic impact as part of the EIR so each of the 4 Alternatives can be accurately and transparently compared
• Prioritize most effective flood control recommendations for the entire San Francisquito Creek watershed in order of flood reduction impact as part of this report. The goal of the EIR should be: Where can we most effectively invest limited resources to reduce flooding?
• Find more accurate ways of predicting traffic impacts of all Alternatives based on future technology, commercial and Stanford development under construction and in the pipeline. Newell neighborhood streets are already clogged with speeding commuters (Drive down Hamilton at 4:30).

Let's be clear: solving flooding issues surrounding Newell Bridge does not have to result in more traffic on neighborhood streets.

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Posted by resident
a resident of University South
on Feb 28, 2014 at 4:18 pm

"Newell neighborhood streets are already clogged with speeding commuters." "Clogged?" "speeding?" I think not. Get a grip!

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Posted by Norman Beamer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 28, 2014 at 4:31 pm

I am willing to support Alternative 5, the single lane bridge with traffic lights, because it would somewhat assuage those who are concerned that a two-lane bridge would increase traffic. Frankly, in my personal opinion, I don't think a two lane bridge would actually significantly increase traffic, given the context in which the bridge is located (particularly the side that feeds into a rather isolated corner of East Palo Alto). Also, I think the folks who call the two-lane bridge a "super bridge" are way off base -- it is not a super bridge, it is merely a bridge built to modern standards. However, as to traffic consequences, there is a lot of room for speculation on both sides of this issue, and so no one really knows what will happen until it's built.
The one problem with the one-lane approach is that the State DOT funding that has been made available to rebuild the bridge would not be forthcoming for this design. Therefore, I hope that imaginative efforts will be made to come up with alternative funding. Is there any chance that the folks in the neighborhood could come up with part of those funds? Perhaps form a not-for-profit organization to solicit contributions? I would be willing to contribute something to that fund.
Regarding the flood control aspect, I have been closely following this for 21 years (since the 1998 flood), and there is no doubt that the current bridge is an unnatural partial dam to the natural flow of the creek. Therefore, any flood control solution must rebuild the bridge so that it is no longer restricting the natural flow. If the natural flow of the creek is restored, then it will be able to handle the 1998 level of flooding, which would be a tremendous improvement. At the meeting, Ms. Kerschner referred to the complexity of the project and asked for a "more unified set of screening criteria." I'm not sure I understand what more is needed. There is nothing complex about it. The primary screening criteria is: "does the new bridge design restore the natural flow of the creek, thus allowing for 1998-flood levels of creek flow?" Then there are the aesthetic and traffic factors that have been the subject of the meetings. The City's report lays out a more than adequate set of screening criteria for these factors.
There is the separate issue of protection against 100-year floods. That is a goal to aspire to, but it is far off and elusive. The Newell Bridge design issues have little to do with that issue. Flood walls are a red herring. I doubt that that approach will ever be implemented. Upstream retention sounds like a good idea, until you talk to Stanford, whose officials basically have said "drop dead." Then there are underground conduits, which is theoretically possible but terribly expensive and complex. So don't count on (or worry about) the 100-year flood solutions being implemented any time soon. And no matter what, none of those solutions, even if magically implemented tomorrow, would in any way, shape or form reduce the need to rebuild the Newell Bridge so that it restores the natural flow of the creek.

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 28, 2014 at 5:27 pm

@Norman, in my mind "natural flow" means free to meander across the miles of historic alluvium. Perhaps there's a better term, like "Channelized to accommodate any future creek flow volume." I don't know...

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Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 28, 2014 at 5:39 pm

@ Norman Beamer - I wouldn't call it an isolated corner of EPA, I'd call it a densely populated neighborhood. Also, it is the most direct path to 101, so there is plenty of cut through traffic going both directions. And if you make it even easier, it will lead to even more traffic.

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Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 28, 2014 at 6:14 pm

We need to have a bridge across the creek at Newell. Preferably it would be a two lane auto bridge with a good alignment of Newell to permit free flow of traffic across the bridge.
The best choice would have been number 8. However any 2 lane for cars is acceptable.

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Posted by Duveneck Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 28, 2014 at 6:48 pm

As stated earlier, the flood question needs to be first addressed. Once that is addressed I still do not understand how #8 is the best choice for both EPA & PA. Both communities I believe would not want traffic to increase that would change the chracter of both neighborhoods. As stated Newell Road on the Palo Alto side is the main bike throughfare for students going to Duveneck, Jordan Middle & Palo Alto HS. Why are we wanting to increase the traffic on this street. It seems to me if the bridge is built to serve the two communities that should be the goal.

What am I missing that there is disappointment the #8 is off the table?

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Posted by Puzzled
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 28, 2014 at 7:03 pm

I’ve read the Screening Report and attended last night’s meeting, and it’s clear to me that the criteria on which the 8 Alternatives were evaluated were unfairly biased toward Caltrans’ adopted bridge design standards. Only Alternatives 6, 7, and 8 had any hope of satisfactorily meeting these criteria (and therefore qualifying for federal funds), so it’s no surprise that 6 and 7 were the only Alternatives to initially qualify for further study. Alternative 5, the only non-Caltrans-standards Alternative that qualified (and accepted at the last minute without much explanation), looks to be the most cumbersome and expensive of the other Alternatives due to the associated light. Brad Eggleston commented right off that this Alternative 5 had little hope of making it through the EIR. So what was the point of this exercise? If funding is the driver here, why weren’t we given ballpark cost comparisions as part of the screening analysis? Mr. Keene stated at the end of the meeting last night that there were new issues surfacing that may end up delaying plans for the bridge, and he specifically mentioned permits and funding. Could it be that Caltrans will fund only part of the complexities of Alternatives 6 & 7? Whatever these issues may be, it seems to me that the other most likely less expensive and in some cases certainly faster alternatives should not have been taken off the table so quickly or dismissed so easily.

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Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 28, 2014 at 10:24 pm

@Palo Alto Resident--I think that the fence to which Hmmm is referring is a newer one, and there was some sort of usurping an easement, or something. Sorry, I do not recall the details, but when I lived in CP, there was talk/speculation about it.

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Posted by Wendy
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 2, 2014 at 1:31 am

The Newell Bridge replacement would be safer for everyone if it was fully aligned. View corridors and pedestrian crosswalks would be better served with no curves or jogs involved while crossing the bridge by all modalities - vehicle, bike or on foot. I think that it was misconstrued that the bridge would be built to accommodate 25 mile an hour traffic because that is the City speed limit but I would assume that the East Palo Alto end of the bridge would still result in a 4 way stop. This would allow for traffic calming - as it does now - and I do not see how anyone can believe that a new bridge fully aligned could result in people driving down Newell from either direction traveling at 25 miles an hour or faster and crossing the bridge at that speed if there are full 4 way stop signs. I would also suggest that with a fully aligned bridge, traffic, even increased by 300 cars a day, would move more smoothly through the intersections at the bridge and perhaps result in a more calm traffic pattern.

I was at the meeting the other night and one question I forgot to ask was about the newly added stop sign at Hamilton and the newly painted crosswalk lines increasing visibility - has this resulted in increased traffic calming through this section of Newell and the Crescent Park neighborhood? Has there been a noticeable decrease in the speed of people moving through this area? I have found that while traveling in this area traffic seems to move slower just by the fact that an additional stop is required along this section. Isn't this the best way to mitigate speed and safety and shouldn't this type of traffic calming also be part of the plan for the new bridge? I suggest full alignment.

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Posted by Concerned about safety
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 2, 2014 at 8:57 am

I am deeply concerned about the options presented at the meeting last week and the comments on paloaltoonline. As a resident of Palo Alto for the past 30 years and a parent, the priorities for this bridge should be the following: do what is what required for flood protection, mitigate traffic to ensure a safe road along Newell on both sides of the creek, and choose a solution that does not encourage more cars to drive more quickly, resulting in a degradation of peaceful family neighborhoods.

The families whose properties were impacted by the flood in 1998 have been waiting for a long time for a solution to give them the protection they need. Some of these same people worked hard to influence the city of Palo Alto to come up a plan and money to improve water flow in San Francisquito Creek. When they failed to get local funding, they "found" Federal Funds available for different priorities but that could solve this problem. But at what price????

The bridge has to comply with specific standards if the money is to be used and these standards DO NOT reflect the priorities of our local neighborhoods. If the city of Palo Alto had provided a solution, and solved this problem prior to the identification of this federal obsolete money, in the past 15 years, we would be having a different conversation now.

We would have a local solution with an appropriate local design that meets local priorities. Please neighbors, let's not forget that this a small neighborhood bridge that is not meant to create a major cut through between two cities and counties.

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Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 2, 2014 at 10:46 am

Concerned is leaving out thousands and thousands of residents whose opinions also count for this project. How convenient.

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Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 2, 2014 at 2:10 pm

@Aquamarine - who are the thousands and thousands whose opinion should count that Concerned left out? People affected by the flood and people affected by traffic on both sides of the creek seem like residents who should be heard from primarily. Do we need to survey residents of Fremont who cut through the neighborhood to get their opinion on the bridge? Who are you talking about?

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Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 2, 2014 at 4:03 pm

Your snark is appreciated, Mr. Recycle, but it's too bad that you've also overlooked the obvious in Concerned's post. You did touch upon it more, however.

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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2014 at 9:47 pm

It's pretty clear what the outcome of this review process will be. Use of
4-way stops along Newell and more police, more enforcement are the correct
response today and in the future.

In terms of signage and crosswalk markings we need to reinforce
Newell as a residential collector street, not ratchet it up to the
look of a cut-through arterial. Yellow-laddered crosswalks are normally
associated with commercial districts or seen along highways, not
residential streets. If we want to highlight a crosswalk in a residential
area we should do what other cities do, like Menlo Park along Santa Cruz
Ave west of Downtown, which is use of attractive colored crosswalks,outlined
in yellow, as required under State law adjacent to schools. It looks like a
neighborhood. And consistency in the street markings along the same corridor promotes safety by conditiong driver response as opposed to
alternating yellow-laddered and white-laddered crosswalks.

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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 3, 2014 at 4:26 pm

It seems like everyone agrees that flood control should be a priority, but the big disagreement is over whether keeping traffic over the bridge close to its current levels is a priority or not. The Crescent Park neighborhood and all the bike commuters would like traffic to either remain the same or be reduced. Many other people would like the bridge to accommodate more cut through traffic.

@Wendy - I don't think the real concern is speeding if the bridge is aligned, the concern is that if it is easier to cross the bridge in a car, more people will do so.

@Duveneck Resident - You assume that people don't want traffic to increase on Newell, which for many people not right in that neighborhood, is not the case. I personally don't want traffic to be deliberately increased on any road that is a major bike thoroughfare, but I don't commute in and out of Palo Alto.

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Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 3, 2014 at 10:35 pm

@palo alto resident - Aligned bridge means more cut through traffic, which means more people in a rush to get to 101 or Dumbarton, which means more people speeding. More cars means more speeding unless there are so many cars they can't speed - either of which is a negative outcome. The narrow bridge today moderated both the amount of traffic, and the speed of the traffic.

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Posted by Palo Alto resident
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 4, 2014 at 8:27 am

@Mr.Recycle, you are probably right about people rushing to get to 101 and using an aligned bridge to get there, although there are a lot of stop signs on Newell which would help.

My point is that people near the bridge don't want more traffic and many people who don't live near there don't care about the traffic and just want the easier cut through for commuting.

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Posted by Goolrukh Vakil
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 4, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Let me comment in an alternate manner--one which addresses priorities, values, mindfulness, humanity, heritage and preservation.
1. Having decided that the "100-year flood" is not in the discussion now, we can stop considering it an excuse and focus on the above issues.
2. Do we as a community want to preserve an old, historic bridge?
3. Are we only concerned about rushing to and from over the bridge--to work, to shop, to this-and-that--in an automobile.
4. Do what plan you will, my own personal bottom-line of people driving mindlessly and acting rudely while driving over the bridge will still go on. As with downtown Palo Alto, we will still see drivers not fully stopping at any stop signs, or running yellow and red lights at the bridge.
5. This mindless way of driving is with both SES communities on either side of the bridge. Once as I jogged I saw three cars (two BMWs and a Saab) rush over the bridge from the West side at about 8 AM weekday without stopping at the stop signs. I live close to the bridge and I jog over it daily and drive over it a few times each day--very few people stop fully at the stop signs; drivers at this bridge are, for the majority part, BAD. To debate why this particular bridge area is subject to such rude drivers may be obvious (although hypothetical and theoretical without a controlled experiment) from a sociological, anthropological, and psychological point of view.
6. There are alternate routes across the creek. Why is the community and two/three cities spending so much time, energy, and money in debating and deciding on this issue? Are there not better things to do in this life, such as meditate or stop and talk with a homeless person downtown?
7. What has happened to the seed of a discussion on making this into a pedestrian and bike walkover only? No cars. There are enough joggers, bikers, and walkers both individual and families going over this bridge to warrant this dialogue. There are enough bad, thoughtless, scary drivers going over this bridge to warrant this dialogue. There are enough alternate routes to warrant this dialogue. My fantasy is a cute, antique, rustic bridge (which it is)
with a swing-gate and maybe some plants on the dirt spaces on either side. There is even enough space under the Eucalytus trees on the West Side for a couple of benches and a small garden.

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Posted by Hopeful
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 4, 2014 at 4:26 pm

Like many of you, I have read the reports and attended the meetings and I am disheartened by how easily the City of Palo Alto is allowing what was supposed to be a solution to a flooding problem, become a back door into providing a smoother “cut through” path for commuters, at the expense of the safety for our children, who commute on bikes to the various schools that the Newell bike route serves.

In my opinion, it is irresponsible of the City of Palo Alto and East Palo Alto to, by design, bring in more traffic on roads that are heavily used by our children to commute to schools, especially since this conflicts with Palo Alto’s stated goal of, “Palo Alto is committed to promoting and encouraging bicycling as a safe, healthy, economical, environmentally friendly mode of transportation that is a viable and convenient alternative to the automobile.” Plus, with increased traffic, it will be impossible for automobiles to meet the new law that requires automobiles to pass at least 3 feet away from bikes. With bikes travelling on both sides of the road, sometimes biking 2 or 3 abreast, and cars traveling in both directions, cars will not be able to share the road in a safe, lawful way. This problem will be further exasperated when the city increases the cross-town bus system threefold.

I send out a plea to the City of Palo Alto to seize this opportunity and take a leading role in promoting and encouraging SAFE streets for all bicyclists. Palo Alto needs to address how to curb traffic along school bike routes, but certainly not increase it. This bridge project has presented itself as an ideal opportunity for the City of Palo Alto to make a stand and say, “we are serious about the safety for our children” and “we are serious about encouraging commuters to use bikes, rather than cars.” Bring back alternatives 2-4 of the Alternative Screening Analysis Report and remove alternatives 6-8. I’d hate to see option 6, 7, or 8 implemented, just to have barriers and diverters (like what you find on Bryant street and Park Blvd) placed along Newell, to compensate for the increased traffic, which would seem the inevitable outcome.

Additionally, I agree with Puzzled, that it is very clear that the Screening Report criteria and how the criteria are being evaluated were developed in such a way to unfairly result in only adopting a two-lane bridge option. My concerns are threefold:

1) The criteria used are not focused on the problem at hand, or solving the flooding problem, but rather the criteria used are mainly about evaluating traffic changes,
2) The recommendations were solely based on a pass or fail of the criteria, rather than providing a scale or weighted criteria, which would have been more appropriate, and lastly,
3) The criteria were evaluated using different standards for some of the options, which resulted in directing the answers to options 6-8.

It appears that the recommendation being made by the study does not evaluate the best solution to our flooding problem. A two-lane bridge is being recommended, yet there has been no evidence presented or evaluation performed that shows a two-lane bridge versus a one-lane bride or no bridge, is a better solution to deal with the flooding situation. First and foremost the flooding issue needs to be addressed and it is not sufficient to only ask "Does Alternative Accommodate the 100‐Year Storm Flow?" Other, more thorough criteria, need to be used, so that each alternative can be assessed in detail, as to which alternative is better. At a minimum, a more relevant question might be, “which alternative accommodates the 100-year storm flow at the lowest cost?” Other questions might be about the aesthetics of each solution to the immediate vicinity. But assessing traffic flow has absolutely NO impact on the storm flow. Shouldn't we first come up with a short list of recommendations that best satisfy the storm flow problem, using more detailed criteria, and then after that, evaluate the short list against other criteria, like changes to the current traffic?

When a pass/fail system is solely employed, the results are very misleading, as it is easy to write questions and define the "acceptable" answers to these questions in such a way that the pre-desired result is the only option that passes all criteria. For example, in the Screening study, only the options with 2-lanes could receive 3 stars for "multi-modal" traffic. When did the community decide that it values most a bridge with 2 lanes? We didn't, but this criterion assumes this, because it gives the highest rating to only those options that include a 2-lane bridge. The criterion for "LOS" follows the same logic. By definition, if you define the status quo as the minimum level of service, then any option that is lesser would not pass. In order for this criterion to be valid, we first need to decide if we will accept nothing less than a replacement bridge that accommodates traffic, as it does today. I wasn’t aware that Palo Alto had made this an absolute requirement, yet the study makes it an absolute requirement.

Lastly, the study should fairly evaluate all criteria against each alternative. For example, under a fair evaluation, the TIRE criterion should have eliminated options 6-8. Options 2-4 were eliminated instead, for not meeting this criterion, because the study indicated that the diverted traffic would be anticipated to increase the level of vehicular noise and speed on some streets. Although this is true, what the study left out was that noise would be reduced on other streets, yielding ZERO net new noise. Options 6-8 will increase traffic and noise in all streets in the surrounding Newell bridge area, with a large bulk of the increase on the span of Newell between Woodland and Embarcadero, yet options 6-8 passed this criterion. Don’t the results seem flipped? The study seems to be ignoring the traffic infusion on Newell Road itself. All residential roads need to be included in this evaluation and fairly estimating the new infusion of traffic and related noise brought on by a 2-lane bridge needs to be considered. I suggest if you consider net new noise in all neighborhoods and by assigning a fair estimate to the increase of traffic brought on by a 2-lane bridge (4% to 10% is ludicrously low), options 6-8 would prove not viable.

I further suggest the screening study should be redone, in an unbiased manner. It should separate criteria into the pass/fail category (with these categories being pre-approved by the community) and then it should apply another set of criteria (also pre-approved by the community) to the options that pass the first set of criteria. The second set of criteria should also be detailed and weighted as to their relevance.

If Palo Alto has decided it needs to address traffic in our city, then I suggest this should be studied apart from the flooding project and it should evaluate the most impacted traffic areas in Palo Alto. Whether or not the Newell Bridge area would make this short list, I don't know, but I do believe that mingling a traffic analysis with the flood project is a back door way of avoiding a "true" traffic analysis and changes that Palo Alto residents can get behind and endorse.

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Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 4, 2014 at 8:44 pm

Hopeful - to which community are you referring and directing your comments?

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Posted by Hopeful
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 5, 2014 at 7:57 am

Palo Alto

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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 5, 2014 at 7:58 am

Get rid of the damned bridge ... that would just be too effective and easy though. Maybe we could get the same contractor to do it as did the Mitchell Park Library, at least then we might have to wait about half a century.

If you look at the bridge in Google Maps you can see there is no way you can align the two legs of Newell St. ... barring a perfect earthquake that slips along the creek and juggles everything into position. They are misaligned by about 30 degrees and 50 feet.

There is no way that traffic is not going to increase over time so whatever happens this bridge is going to be a problem, unless it is just removed. It serves no real purpose and just encourages people who cut through along Woodland and speed along there trying to avoid traffic on the larger arteries that are meant to bear that traffic.

It also allows and even encourages people to park in residential Palo Alto and all the attendant abuses of that, trash, noise and crime, and causes Palo Alto to have to patrol the area and waste time with parking permits and policing the area that would not be necessary without a useless bridge in that spot.

You know almost every decision the city, both cities, have made regarding growth and infrastructure has been problematic to say the last, so if the cities design and build a new bridge you can bet very soon something will demand another expensive change and we will be at this all over again because of another unforeseen problem. This is how these slackers maintain their full employment. Cut it out and simplify everything.

No, that would just be too easy and solve too many problems, besides what would we do if we did not have all the normal whining and bickering to listen to?

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Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 5, 2014 at 9:07 am

Hopeful - of *course* it was directed to just Palo Alto. In a nutshell, that's the problem with your town.

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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 5, 2014 at 9:26 am

@ CrescentParkAnon - If you read through the docs in the original post, Option 8 would required the bridge to be moved significantly in order to align both roads, it would not be in the location the bridge is now. It would be about as wide as the existing Newell road.

@ Aquamarine - What is wrong with Hopeful directing her comments to the community she resides in? Her opinion is valid, as is those of other people that would actually be affected by the changes. All the residents of EPA, Palo Alto and Menlo Park who could be affected by flooding have a say in making sure any one of the options that would control the flooding are implemented, which option is implemented doesn't necessarily affect them if reduces the risk of flooding. The people living near the bridge, on both sides, and those who use that as a bike or walking commute and want to remain safe, deserve a greater say in what happens. People who just want to use the bridge as an easier commute route should be farther down on the list of "whose opinion gets the most weight". Safety - both from floods and speeding traffic first, convenience second.

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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 5, 2014 at 11:56 am

Palo Alto Resident:
> @ CrescentParkAnon - If you read through the docs in the original post, Option 8 would
> required the bridge to be moved significantly in order to align both roads, it would not
> be in the location the bridge is now. It would be about as wide as the existing Newell road.

One of the requirements was that it not increase traffic ... such a bridge would disrupt the
properties of the people who live right there on the creek, i.e. to move the bridge they
would have to in some way impinge on someone's property. Then, creating an aligned
regular residential street there would beg for increased traffic. That should be a no-go.

There's no need for it, and doing that would be a big negative.

In fact it really does not matter what you put there, because as long as you leave a path
over the creek all the problems remain save perhaps the flooding to a lesser degree - but
we do not even know that. In coming years with climate change Palo Alto might get bone
dry and not ever flood or it could turn into a pattern like the rest of the Pacific Northwest,
i.e. lots of rain. If we have lots of rain, and I'd bet on that at some point, the whole think
might have to be rethought ... unless as was mentioned in the article a few weeks back,
Stanford takes it share of responsibility and builds overflow ponds or whatever they
called them. Apparently, Stanford was supposed to do this and has not.

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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 5, 2014 at 12:00 pm

One other thing occurred to me. Because Newell is in the middle of a residential area, it does not get the police attention, and so betting dollars to donuts that any new bridge would create more traffic problems as people's habits get worse, patrolling occurs less, and that intersection becomes easier to negotiate. I see people on the other side of that bridge speed up to get on the bridge when someone is coming across the EPA side. It should be gone.

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Posted by Hopeful
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 5, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Hopeful is a registered user.

Hi Aquamarine, I'm not sure what "problem" you are saying we have in our town of Palo Alto, but at least let me address why I directed my comments at Palo Alto. First, I live here, so I feel I have a say in my community, and I don't feel I have a say in any other community, including EPA. Personally I am opposed to a 2-lane bridge because I don't want to see increased traffic in my town, for various reasons, including safety. If people who live in EPA, on the other side of the bridge, don't mind increased traffic in their neighborhood, it's not for me to say. They can easily speak up as to what is valuable to them. Also, just fyi, many of my comments were directed at the City of Palo Alto, and I am hopeful that they read this thread, although I'm not counting on it. My comments were not complimentary to the City, as I feel the City of Palo Alto has not done a fair job evaluating this project. The analysis that was performed is simply not valid, because it was not performed fairly. I don't believe the City of Palo Alto should accept this analysis and I think they should demand it be redone, in an unbiased manner. I think the City of East Palo Alto should demand this as well. We should all want to see a "fair" analysis. In my original thread I'm suggesting that a fair analysis would yield different results, but I have an open mind, I'd like to see the analysis redone and the results of that analysis.

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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 5, 2014 at 4:36 pm

From the Environmental Impact Report - the criteria for choosing an alternative include:

1) Accommodate the 100‐year storm flow of San Francisquito Creek
2) Maintain existing traffic volumes and speeds
3) Not increase traffic on surrounding residential streets
4) Safely accommodate multi‐modal traffic.

Pretty simple. It does not include increasing traffic or making it easier to commute over the Bridge.

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Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 5, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Hopeful - that's exactly what I meant - you've posted here in thoughtful detail and your city hadn't been clear as to how/why it's pursued solutions from a particular context. It's confusing to many, it seems.

Are you considering following up with your city to communicate your points?

I'm confused why so many think some of the solutions will increase traffic. Since there's a long bottleneck at University/Woodland, to get to 101 or Dumbarton, I can't see that being attractive to many unless they're already local. For those on the EPA side of the creek, they either use University/Woodland, the current bridge or Embarcadero/St. Francis/Chaucer, depending on where exactly they're going. So where will the alleged traffic increase be coming from and going to?

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Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 5, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Channing, sorry, I meant Embarcadero/St. Francis/Channing.

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