The council voted unanimously on the $410,000 budget amendment, which is the city's fair-share contribution to the $3.1 million Oregon Expressway Improvement Project, planned by Santa Clara County. Changes to the intersections along the expressway are intended to increase safety and traffic flow along the corridor.
The $410,000 will provide funding for work on intersections at Ross and Louis roads — adding a specialized bicycle light at Ross and equipment that uses microwaves to detect bicycles as they approach Ross and at Bryant Street. The devices would extend the length of the green lights when bicycles are crossing. Bryant is already a designated bike boulevard.
The signal will allow bicyclists and pedestrians to cross Oregon while restricting traffic in both directions on Ross Road to a "right turn only" onto Oregon. Cars on Oregon would be allowed to turn left onto Ross using new left-turn signals.
Residents expressed approval for the new signals during 2008-09 community-outreach meetings for the overall Oregon Expressway project, according to a city staff report.
Louis Road improvements include modifying the existing "rolled" curbs to vertical curbs on the south side between Oregon and Warren Way.
Bicycle-boulevard proponents have pushed for years for a traffic light at the busy intersection of Oregon and Ross, saying it would help link the Midtown area to North Palo Alto.
Pam Radin, a member of the Palo Alto Bicycle Advisory Committee, said she was thrilled the light could become a reality.
"Ross Road Bicycle Boulevard will be a foothold for biking and walking across town. ... This project is a huge public benefit to Palo Alto residents and their health and safety and a way to maintain our community values of biking and walking while creating a safer Oregon Expressway.
"A capital investment in the infrastructure of our community in our area of town is unprecedented," she said.
Michael Aberg, a Midtown resident and a father of three young boys, told the council Monday he's looking forward to the new traffic light on Ross, which will help school children cross the busy Oregon thoroughfare.
"I think this will be the first step to getting a nice Ross Road bicycle boulevard that will help us and a lot of our neighbors who also have young kids in the community," Aberg said.
City staff had recommended approval of the budget amendment. Funding would come from previously collected fees from the Stanford Research Park Transportation Impact Fee Program, according to the staff report. The council approved the item as part of its consent calendar. Construction could begin in the fall, according to city staff.