News

Despite calls to think smaller, Newell Road Bridge replacement plan wins final approval

Project aims to improve traffic safety, support broader flood-control plan

The proposed Newell Road Bridge, viewed here from the Palo Alto side, would be widened under a plan that the City Council approved on June 1. Rendering courtesy city of Palo Alto.

A regional effort to replace and expand the narrow Newell Road Bridge between Palo Alto and East Palo Alto reached a crucial milestone on Monday night when the City Council gave the project its final clearance.

Despite some opposition from the surrounding neighborhood, the council unanimously approved to replace the bridge — which was built in 1911 and which crosses the San Francisquito Creek between Edgewood Drive in Palo Alto and Woodland Avenue in East Palo Alto — with a wider span. The goals of the project are to both upgrade a structure that has been deemed "functionally obsolete" by the state Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and to advance a broader flood-control plan around the volatile creek.

Once the Newell Road Bridge is replaced, officials will be able to shift their focus on the more flood-prone structure upstream of Newell Road: the Pope-Chaucer Bridge, which famously failed to contain water during the February 1998 flood.

"The Newell Road Bridge has to be replaced so that we can make improvements upstream," said Michel Jeremias, an engineer with the Public Works Department who is managing the project.

"From a hydraulics perspective, we replace the downstream portions first and improve all the channel capacities before making upstream improvements."

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While the council agreed that the bridge needs to be replaced, more than a dozen Palo Alto residents implored Monday to think smaller. The current span has 18 feet of space curb to curb, barely enough space for two cars to use it at once. Its narrow alignment is the main reason why it was designated as "functionally obsolete" and thus eligible for state funding. Caltrans is expected to pay for 88.5% of the construction costs for the $9.1 million project, while the Santa Clara Valley Water District would provide the local match.

But while one of the goals is to make traffic safer, some in the neighborhood believe it will have the opposite effect. Rather than build a wider bridge, the city should replace the existing span with a one-lane bridge that would facilitate two-way traffic with signals, they argued.

Rebecca Young, who lives on Dana Avenue, said that while she supports improving flood control, she opposes creating a span that would entice commuters to use the Newell structure as a "main thoroughfare," potentially endangering children on their way to school.

"We don't need Waze and Google Map commuters zipping through our single-lane residential streets, full of young children walking and biking to and from school, just so commuters can shave off a few minutes," Young said.

David Yen, who also lives in the area, advocated for keeping the new bridge narrow to limit traffic. Choosing the one-lane alternative would "preserve our quiet neighborhoods by limiting through traffic, protect our children who ride bicycles along or across Newell Road on their way to school and help to ensure safety of families who use Newell Road," Yen said.

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The council, however, saw several major problems with the narrow alternative. Caltrans does not support this design and, as such, would not pay for it. East Palo Alto officials have also signaled that they are against the idea, Jeremias said.

Given these factors, the council agreed to move ahead with the staff proposal for a two-lane bridge. Under the design that the council approved, the bridge would be raised by about 1.5 feet to increase its flow capacity, a process that would require the raising of portions of Woodland Avenue and Newell Road. The curb-to-curb distance would be increased from 18 to 28 feet.

While all council members agreed that the bridge should be replaced and voted unanimously to approve the Environmental Impact Report for the project, they did not fully align on the issue of striping. After some debate, the council voted 5-2, with Councilwoman Lydia Kou and Councilman Greg Tanaka dissenting, to go with an alternative that creates 10-foot vehicle lanes and 4-foot shoulders with bicycle lanes in each direction.

The other striping option, which Kou and Tanaka favored, would have increased the curb-to-curb width from 18 to 20 feet to create a bit more space for vehicles. It would also create a raised, 9-foot-wide bicycle and pedestrian path on each side of the bridge.

Tanaka argued that this alternative would be safer because it truly separates bicycles from vehicles, something that road markings don't really achieve. As such, he said he would rather see bicyclists share space with pedestrians rather than with cars.

"Paint on the ground isn't really protection; protected bike lane is," Tanaka said. "You have a 2-ton car against a bike — it's really no competition. But if you have a 30-pound bike against a pedestrian, it's not that bad to have that shared."

The council majority favored the "sharrow" design, with wider lanes shared by vehicles and bicycles. The design was approved by the Planning and Transportation Commission and is favored by East Palo Alto, largely because it connects with the broader network of bike improvements.

"It's a fairly small bridge, it doesn't have enormous traffic volumes and I think there is merit in integrating with other bicycle striping and patterns in the area already," Mayor Adrian Fine said.

Kou, however, said that keeping the vehicle lanes narrow would better address residents' concerns about safety.

"It's more than just having a transportation route — making it more easy for people to come in and out. It's also about safety. That's a big part of it," Kou said.

Despite the disagreement over lanes, the council enthusiastically supported the overall project, which has been in the planning stages for the past eight years. Staff expects the construction project to take about a year-and-a-half to complete.

Some council members also pushed back against the idea that the new bridge would worsen traffic conditions in the area. Councilwoman Liz Kniss said the new alternative will create more room for children to ride their bikes.

"Even though I know the neighborhood is somewhat concerned about it, I think it will end up being far safer for kids," Kniss said.

Norm Beamer, president of the Crescent Park Neighborhood Association, also pushed back against the idea that there would be a significant traffic increase as a result of the bridge replacement. The vast majority of his neighborhood, which was severely flooded in 1998, supports moving ahead with the project as proposed by staff, he said.

"Any further delay is just totally unacceptable," Beamer told the council. "Please approve these environmental documents and let's go full speed ahead to fix the flooding problem."

The council shared his sense of urgency. Councilwoman Alison Cormack said the city has the responsibility to keep people safe and to work with East Palo Alto in improving flood control.

"We also have the responsibility to do the right thing with and for our neighbors," Cormak said. "Because the water in that creek and in the Bay does not respect the borders that we have drawn on the map."

Councilman Eric Filseth concurred.

"Let's get this built before the next flood," Filseth said.

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Despite calls to think smaller, Newell Road Bridge replacement plan wins final approval

Project aims to improve traffic safety, support broader flood-control plan

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Jun 2, 2020, 9:48 am

A regional effort to replace and expand the narrow Newell Road Bridge between Palo Alto and East Palo Alto reached a crucial milestone on Monday night when the City Council gave the project its final clearance.

Despite some opposition from the surrounding neighborhood, the council unanimously approved to replace the bridge — which was built in 1911 and which crosses the San Francisquito Creek between Edgewood Drive in Palo Alto and Woodland Avenue in East Palo Alto — with a wider span. The goals of the project are to both upgrade a structure that has been deemed "functionally obsolete" by the state Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and to advance a broader flood-control plan around the volatile creek.

Once the Newell Road Bridge is replaced, officials will be able to shift their focus on the more flood-prone structure upstream of Newell Road: the Pope-Chaucer Bridge, which famously failed to contain water during the February 1998 flood.

"The Newell Road Bridge has to be replaced so that we can make improvements upstream," said Michel Jeremias, an engineer with the Public Works Department who is managing the project.

"From a hydraulics perspective, we replace the downstream portions first and improve all the channel capacities before making upstream improvements."

While the council agreed that the bridge needs to be replaced, more than a dozen Palo Alto residents implored Monday to think smaller. The current span has 18 feet of space curb to curb, barely enough space for two cars to use it at once. Its narrow alignment is the main reason why it was designated as "functionally obsolete" and thus eligible for state funding. Caltrans is expected to pay for 88.5% of the construction costs for the $9.1 million project, while the Santa Clara Valley Water District would provide the local match.

But while one of the goals is to make traffic safer, some in the neighborhood believe it will have the opposite effect. Rather than build a wider bridge, the city should replace the existing span with a one-lane bridge that would facilitate two-way traffic with signals, they argued.

Rebecca Young, who lives on Dana Avenue, said that while she supports improving flood control, she opposes creating a span that would entice commuters to use the Newell structure as a "main thoroughfare," potentially endangering children on their way to school.

"We don't need Waze and Google Map commuters zipping through our single-lane residential streets, full of young children walking and biking to and from school, just so commuters can shave off a few minutes," Young said.

David Yen, who also lives in the area, advocated for keeping the new bridge narrow to limit traffic. Choosing the one-lane alternative would "preserve our quiet neighborhoods by limiting through traffic, protect our children who ride bicycles along or across Newell Road on their way to school and help to ensure safety of families who use Newell Road," Yen said.

The council, however, saw several major problems with the narrow alternative. Caltrans does not support this design and, as such, would not pay for it. East Palo Alto officials have also signaled that they are against the idea, Jeremias said.

Given these factors, the council agreed to move ahead with the staff proposal for a two-lane bridge. Under the design that the council approved, the bridge would be raised by about 1.5 feet to increase its flow capacity, a process that would require the raising of portions of Woodland Avenue and Newell Road. The curb-to-curb distance would be increased from 18 to 28 feet.

While all council members agreed that the bridge should be replaced and voted unanimously to approve the Environmental Impact Report for the project, they did not fully align on the issue of striping. After some debate, the council voted 5-2, with Councilwoman Lydia Kou and Councilman Greg Tanaka dissenting, to go with an alternative that creates 10-foot vehicle lanes and 4-foot shoulders with bicycle lanes in each direction.

The other striping option, which Kou and Tanaka favored, would have increased the curb-to-curb width from 18 to 20 feet to create a bit more space for vehicles. It would also create a raised, 9-foot-wide bicycle and pedestrian path on each side of the bridge.

Tanaka argued that this alternative would be safer because it truly separates bicycles from vehicles, something that road markings don't really achieve. As such, he said he would rather see bicyclists share space with pedestrians rather than with cars.

"Paint on the ground isn't really protection; protected bike lane is," Tanaka said. "You have a 2-ton car against a bike — it's really no competition. But if you have a 30-pound bike against a pedestrian, it's not that bad to have that shared."

The council majority favored the "sharrow" design, with wider lanes shared by vehicles and bicycles. The design was approved by the Planning and Transportation Commission and is favored by East Palo Alto, largely because it connects with the broader network of bike improvements.

"It's a fairly small bridge, it doesn't have enormous traffic volumes and I think there is merit in integrating with other bicycle striping and patterns in the area already," Mayor Adrian Fine said.

Kou, however, said that keeping the vehicle lanes narrow would better address residents' concerns about safety.

"It's more than just having a transportation route — making it more easy for people to come in and out. It's also about safety. That's a big part of it," Kou said.

Despite the disagreement over lanes, the council enthusiastically supported the overall project, which has been in the planning stages for the past eight years. Staff expects the construction project to take about a year-and-a-half to complete.

Some council members also pushed back against the idea that the new bridge would worsen traffic conditions in the area. Councilwoman Liz Kniss said the new alternative will create more room for children to ride their bikes.

"Even though I know the neighborhood is somewhat concerned about it, I think it will end up being far safer for kids," Kniss said.

Norm Beamer, president of the Crescent Park Neighborhood Association, also pushed back against the idea that there would be a significant traffic increase as a result of the bridge replacement. The vast majority of his neighborhood, which was severely flooded in 1998, supports moving ahead with the project as proposed by staff, he said.

"Any further delay is just totally unacceptable," Beamer told the council. "Please approve these environmental documents and let's go full speed ahead to fix the flooding problem."

The council shared his sense of urgency. Councilwoman Alison Cormack said the city has the responsibility to keep people safe and to work with East Palo Alto in improving flood control.

"We also have the responsibility to do the right thing with and for our neighbors," Cormak said. "Because the water in that creek and in the Bay does not respect the borders that we have drawn on the map."

Councilman Eric Filseth concurred.

"Let's get this built before the next flood," Filseth said.

Comments

Newell Bridge Neighbor
Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2020 at 10:06 am
Newell Bridge Neighbor, Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2020 at 10:06 am
19 people like this

Thank you City Council for finally approving the bridge redevelopment. It's been 22 years since the devastating flood in this neighborhood and the progress has been very slow. Next up is the Chaucer bridge. Let's all work together to protect Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, and Menlo Park from any further flooding.


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2020 at 10:37 am
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2020 at 10:37 am
22 people like this

Not a good time to spend money on something like this. This is why in the intervening DECADES since the flood we should have done sometime earlier. File it on the back-burner and pick it up when we know more about what the economy is going to look like.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2020 at 10:45 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2020 at 10:45 am
15 people like this

>> Rebecca Young, who lives on Dana Avenue, said that while she supports improving flood control, she opposes creating a span that would entice commuters to use the Newell structure as a "main thoroughfare,"

Unfortunately, it is bound to happen.


Healthy Lifestyle
Mayfield
on Jun 2, 2020 at 10:49 am
Healthy Lifestyle, Mayfield
on Jun 2, 2020 at 10:49 am
1 person likes this

Our cities and counties need to come up with public transit That serves all our neighborhoods if we really want to protect our neighborhoods. And WE NEED to stay out of our cars. Ride your bike to the gym; pick up a few groceries on your way home; take the train to visit friends in San Carlos. To make our neighborhoods safer, quieter and to enjoy cleaner air, we have to change the way we move in the world.


Norman Beamer
Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2020 at 10:57 am
Norman Beamer, Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2020 at 10:57 am
21 people like this

RE: "Not a good time to spend money on something like this." The Caltran grant is already in place, and cannot be used for general fund expenditures. So the current fiscal problems have nothing to do with this. The folks who say they are for flood control but want a one-lane bridge are in reality against flood control, because no funding exists for a substandard one-lane bridge. Neither Caltrans nor any other public source of funds would give any money for such a bridge that would instantly be functionally obsolete. Not to mention that a one lane bridge would be intolerable to East Palo Alto. Indeed, the residents on Newell would quickly find that the one-lane bridge would cause the same backups on Newell that currently occur on University -- where residents are basically trapped in their houses during rush hour.


Max
another community
on Jun 2, 2020 at 11:13 am
Max , another community
on Jun 2, 2020 at 11:13 am
12 people like this

Cars are the safest and cleanest way to travel for me. Public transit is not an option


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2020 at 11:16 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2020 at 11:16 am
6 people like this

Posted by Norman Beamer, a resident of Crescent Park

>> The folks who say they are for flood control but want a one-lane bridge are in reality against flood control, because no funding exists for a substandard one-lane bridge.

It is effectively a one-lane bridge now. I'm not unhappy with that myself. Too bad it creates flooding problems. "Substandard" just means that nobody builds one-lane bridges any more.

>> Neither Caltrans nor any other public source of funds would give any money for such a bridge that would instantly be functionally obsolete.

I know that Caltrans would never fund that bridge as a one lane bridge, but, "functionally obsolete" just means that you want a wider bridge -- and more traffic.

>> Not to mention that a one lane bridge would be intolerable to East Palo Alto.

Could be. I haven't talked with "East Palo Alto" about it, but, plenty of people on the north side of the bridge don't want to attract even more traffic through there, which is what will happen.

I'm not saying that it isn't inevitable that the wide bridge will go in and. there will be more traffic. But, there is nothing to celebrate about attracting more traffic. Let's not pretend that we aren't stuck with a traffic-increasing compromise.

>>Indeed, the residents on Newell would quickly find that the one-lane bridge would cause the same backups on Newell that currently occur on University -- where residents are basically trapped in their houses during rush hour.

Unfortunately, some of us can't help noticing the big picture. The root cause of the traffic isn't the one-lane bridge. It is the massive commute traffic into Palo Alto from all directions.


Crescent Park Mom
Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2020 at 11:22 am
Crescent Park Mom, Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2020 at 11:22 am
19 people like this

Norman Beamer - [Portion removed.] Why would anyone be against flood control? That's a stupid comment. We are not against flood control. We simply don't want heavy traffic down Newell where our children bike and walk to school. In fact, as Tanaka and Kao pointed out, 2B would have been a good compromise. One we could have lived with.


Thank You Council
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 2, 2020 at 11:48 am
Thank You Council, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 2, 2020 at 11:48 am
25 people like this

Since the bridge will maintain its current alignment (unlike the original proposal) it means traffic from the East Palo Alto side will be entering the bridge very slowly. Just add a speed bump on the Palo Alto side and you're done if speed and traffic are your primary concerns.

The one lane bridge would not be eligible for any state or federal funding because it does not meet any of the required design standards. In addition, because East Palo Alto will not agree to a one lane bridge. Thus, folks requesting the one lane bridge are in effect requesting the no project, no increased flood protection alternative.


Norman Beamer
Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2020 at 12:26 pm
Norman Beamer, Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2020 at 12:26 pm
16 people like this

RE: "We are not against flood control. We simply don't want heavy traffic down Newell where our children bike and walk to school. In fact, as Tanaka and Kao pointed out, 2B would have been a good compromise. One we could have lived with."
Sorry to offend, but you and others who pushed for a one-lane bridge knew or should have known that it would have doomed the flood control project. I am representing the vast majority of the neighborhood, who are demanding flood control after 22 years of dely. The notion that a slightly wider bridge (the lanes will be 10 feet rather than 9 feet, and in addition 4' bike lanes, adding to safety) would significantly add to traffic is totally without merit, as shown by the traffic analysis of the EIR. In contrast, the one lane bridge with traffic lights would obviously cause back-ups like the traffic lights at the end of University have created. Talk to the homeowners on University, and the nearby side streets, to see how they like that.


Norman Beamer
Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2020 at 12:29 pm
Norman Beamer, Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2020 at 12:29 pm
5 people like this

Also, I'd be fine with the 2B option, although Councilmember Filsitch was convincing as to why 2A was superior.


Norma
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 2, 2020 at 1:24 pm
Norma, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 2, 2020 at 1:24 pm
14 people like this

That bridge should have been with a bike/ped bridge. Safer for all, better for the creek ecosystem.


George
Midtown
on Jun 2, 2020 at 1:26 pm
George, Midtown
on Jun 2, 2020 at 1:26 pm
1 person likes this

This is great news! Glad to see it finally moving forward.


Crescent Park Mom
Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2020 at 1:39 pm
Crescent Park Mom, Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2020 at 1:39 pm
9 people like this

Norman Beamer - Filsitch admitted to never riding a bike over the bridge, while Tanaka, who preferred 2B as a bike route, does regularly. Also, no matter how many ways they asked it, none of the council members could ever get the Traffic Engineer to say 2A was better than 2B for bike safety.


Resident of Newell
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 2, 2020 at 4:06 pm
Resident of Newell, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 2, 2020 at 4:06 pm
3 people like this

On Newell, during commute and school commute, we are ALREADY locked in our driveways. We can't get out or across the street with the current flow and speed of traffic. Our neighbors on the other side of the bridge are just as impacted and sometimes can't get out of their driveways with the evening commute even in a pandemic with the backups. I see your kids every day biking to multiple elementary, middle and high schools and watch the drivers swerve and even PASS others by going in the incoming lane (and bike lane) in their hurry to get to avoid the MIddlefield/Embarcadero traffic.

They certainly aren't all parents - trucks, single drivers in business clothes, etc. Put some more stop signs up. That will keep traffic slower and maybe WAZE won't pick the bridge as an alternative. Maybe Newell at Embarcadero becomes like Bryant - a right turn only?


John
East Palo Alto
on Jun 2, 2020 at 4:20 pm
John, East Palo Alto
on Jun 2, 2020 at 4:20 pm
10 people like this

Great news!! The gate of shame between the rich and the poor will soon be gone!!


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2020 at 5:34 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2020 at 5:34 pm
9 people like this

Posted by John, a resident of East Palo Alto

>> Great news!! The gate of shame between the rich and the poor will soon be gone!!

Why would the poor(er) people on the north side of the bridge desire more commuter traffic into and out of Palo Alto to go past their driveways?

The reality is that there is already too much traffic north and south of the bridge, and now, there will be even more.


Anon
East Palo Alto
on Jun 3, 2020 at 4:00 am
Anon, East Palo Alto
on Jun 3, 2020 at 4:00 am
3 people like this

This is a great time to spend *someone else's* money (while it is still available) on something like this. The smaller bridges would not have been funded by anyone else, and would be vehemently opposed by EPA (putting hundreds of EPA kids at risk who cross daily under Tinsley). The alternative bridges would not have been built, putting both Palo Alto and East Palo Alto neighborhoods at greater risk of flooding.

Yes, there's likely going to be more traffic across this bridge, but transferred from the traffic that was already going to Palo Alto via West Bayshore. University Ave won't take any more traffic and will always get all it can take.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2020 at 11:05 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2020 at 11:05 am
1 person likes this

Posted by Anon, a resident of East Palo Alto

>> (putting hundreds of EPA kids at risk who cross daily under Tinsley).

Perhaps some time after it is completed, we can restrict it to pedestrians, bicycles, and schoolbuses.

>> putting both Palo Alto and East Palo Alto neighborhoods at greater risk of flooding.

I agree that flooding is an issue. But, so is traffic.


Martin
Downtown North
on Jun 4, 2020 at 10:50 pm
Martin, Downtown North
on Jun 4, 2020 at 10:50 pm
Like this comment

Hmmm. I predict with all the crazy happening now that once the bridge is removed an endangered species will prevent a new bridge from being built. Thereby distancing EPA from PA. BTW, the pedestrian crossing over 101 was maybe not the brightest idea. Who benefited?


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2020 at 10:36 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2020 at 10:36 am
Like this comment

Posted by Martin, a resident of Downtown North

>> Thereby distancing EPA from PA.

US-101 did that.

>> BTW, the pedestrian crossing over 101 was maybe not the brightest idea. Who benefited?

People without cars. People who have 1 family car which gets driven to work. People who live in the housing along East Bayshore who want to visit 7-Eleven or the Taco shop. People who live in the off-Newell neighborhood who work at Ikea, Home Depot, Target, Cardenas, &etc. Anybody who doesn't have a car, or, who doesn't want to waste an hour driving over and back across 101 via University or Embarcadero...


Martin
Downtown North
on Jun 5, 2020 at 11:01 pm
Martin, Downtown North
on Jun 5, 2020 at 11:01 pm
2 people like this

The bike bridge cost $8.6M. $8,600,000. This is from the data I just Googled. It probably overran the cost. I digress. The entire population of EPA, 28,000 people, traversing the bridge to go to the 7-11 would be a boom for 7-11. The number of employees at the IKEA/Target stores going the other way would be insignificant. The money could have been better spent. It equates to $3071 per EPA person. Not EPA family, but person. Now the bike bridge has been used to shut gown 101 hwy.


Martin
Downtown North
on Jun 5, 2020 at 11:58 pm
Martin, Downtown North
on Jun 5, 2020 at 11:58 pm
1 person likes this

To Anon.. The 101 did not divide classes of people. There is written history of the Bayshore Bypass. Joining San Jose and San Francisco. The 101 did not divide.


Rebecca
Crescent Park
on Jun 6, 2020 at 4:05 pm
Rebecca, Crescent Park
on Jun 6, 2020 at 4:05 pm
5 people like this

The city council was very disappointing during the meeting this past Monday night. It felt like a fait accompli from the get-go. Both options managed the flood issue. All those supporting the larger bridge kept saying they wanted flood relief. Both options gave it. So, why on earth didn't the council listen and act more thoughtfully to the residents who called in and hundreds more who signed a last-minute petition with sincere pleas? The council's leanings were obvious. They were tired and wanted to go home and made the easy choice, for themselves. Only two council members seemed to understand the concerns of the resident (Tanaka and Filseth). Mayor Fine was not impressive or thoughtful of the children.

We don't want commuter cut-through traffic where the kids ride to and from school. It's not about keeping EPA and PA separated. That's nonsense! Ten percent of the kids that attend Duveneck come from EPA. We want all locals who live on both sides of the bridge to be safe and use it as an access point to school or home. What we don't want is the commuters trying to shave off a few minutes getting to and from 101.

The slide presentation had holes and bias throughout. It was clear the town engineers (who probably don't even live in our town) and council members were pushing the larger bridge option. The only rendering shown was of the larger bridge with insufficient data saying traffic would go up marginally. Did they admit their traffic study did not account for Waze or Google maps users? Nope. Why not even show the second option visual? Also, there was no breakdown of expenditures between the two options with a clear number of what the shortage is without Caltrans. Only one statement with little data saying traffic lights would drive the cost up. Hmmm, I didn't quite get that logic. A smaller bridge by 30% should have a smaller budget at least for materials. To scrap a project because using traffic signals is too costly doesn't make any sense!

So, the town wants funding from Caltrans. I get it, but since when does Caltrans get to dictate policy for our residential neighborhoods? IMHO the council was tired of the issue and lazy because they were unwilling look for other sources of funding.

It's beneficial for communities on BOTH sides of the bridge to cut down on commuter cut-through traffic. Newell has been designated as a "safe school bike route." Well, not anymore. When another child is hit and killed like earlier this year it's going to be hard not to say "I told you so". In fact, the locals begged to keep the bridge small to protect the children and residents of both EPA and PA communities. There are THREE schools that serve k-8 within less than a mile of the bridge.

I am sorry about the traffic on Oregon, Embarcadero and University around rush hour. But those are the major arteries with double lanes that are the planned for easy access to 101, away from "safe school routes."

It was also said that EPA officials wanted the larger option. Who negotiated that? I would have liked to be privy to those conversations. A smaller bridge protects their children and residents too!

And if anyone else was on the call, who caught the quick pivot to discuss how the lines would be painted over a real discussion as to why a smaller bridge was better? The debate and concern from us was never about the lane painting! It was a complete red herring! It's like the concept of child safety was applied and given vain lip service only while discussing how to paint lines over why not rethink a smaller bridge option. It was the bait and switch with some hollow appeasement so they didn't seem tone-deaf.

I would ask you all to personally consider how you would feel if Caltrans paid for an easy access point to circumvent traffic to the freeway where your children rode their bikes to and from school each day. I guess the saying, "follow the money" should be applied here. The town sold out its children and moral judgment to just get it over with. I'll be voting them out next time they're on the ballot. Maybe I'll even run myself!


F.A
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 7, 2020 at 9:14 am
F.A, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 7, 2020 at 9:14 am
1 person likes this

I find the title misleading. It should have read the city finally took the first step to prevent flooding 1400 homes. There are 1400 homes at the risk of flooding. The call from the majority who live here was not make it smaller it was enough already, approve it and move on. We want out lives back. Did anyone attend the 2015-2016 meeting on flooding in the art center when a couple of hundred people showed up, a few livid that after almost 20 years nothing was done? This is a click bait to rile up people. This is not responsible journalism. There was not 2 option either agree or let the flooding continue for another 20 years. Also, the narrower bridge would have made no difference to the traffic. It is bike lane that gets its own dedicated lane.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2020 at 2:04 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2020 at 2:04 pm
1 person likes this

Posted by F.A, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis

>> It should have read the city finally took the first step to prevent flooding 1400 homes.

Everyone is in favor of reducing the risk of flooding.

>> Also, the narrower bridge would have made no difference to the traffic. It is bike lane that gets its own dedicated lane.

Replacing the auto bridge with a bike/pedestrian bridge would have had the advantage for EPA of not attracting heavy commute traffic through that EPA neighborhood (not sure if it has a specific name, but, "NSF" maybe? (North of San Francisquito); "Woodland" is not specific enough, since the other side runs all the way across to Middlefield).

Think about it -- without that bridge there, all those cars that use it as a short cut would stay out of that EPA neighborhood.


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