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Arastradero Road corridor changes planned for 2008

Original post made on Dec 12, 2007

By slimming portions of Charleston Road from four vehicle lanes to three earlier this summer, Palo Alto bucked decades of transportation convention that wider is better.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, December 7, 2007, 12:00 AM

Comments (32)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Meadow Park
on Dec 12, 2007 at 4:13 pm

I view the three-lane trial on Charleston Road as a success and I look forward to the proposed landscaping on the median. Traffic does at certain times of the day back up on East Charleston Road between Louis Road and Middlefield Road, but the speeding and unsafe lane changing on the previous four lanes was worse.

We see an increase in traffic. One source may be the Kehillah Jewish High School. The high school opened in July 2005 with 26 classrooms, including physics, chemistry, and biology labs, music and arts facilities including assembly space that seats up to 380 people.

We will see a further increase in traffic when Bridge Housing's BUILD program is completed. It will offer 103 for-sale town homes. The project will also include 56 rental units for seniors.

Finally, we will have traffic from the Taube-Koret Campus for Jewish Life - a mixed-use, cultural and residential campus that includes the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, 193 senior residential units, the regional headquarters for the Jewish Community Federation and offices for other non-profits serving the Jewish community as well as preschool facilities for 240 children; after-school K-eighth grade programs; adult and senior cultural programs and services; a gym with two full-sized basketball courts; three swimming pools; a cultural center with seating for 400 for performances and 230 for events.

I am grateful for the changes to East Charleston Road - a school commute corridor lined with eleven schools, residential neighborhoods and a senior center. Hopefully the traffic from the new high school, the Bridge Housing project and the TKCJL will choose to enter and leave using Highway 101 and the San Antonio Road overpass.




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Posted by anon resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2007 at 4:37 pm

Meadow Park Resident

Your post sounds more like a commercial than a post. Yes, we will see more traffic due to all the building along this corridor. There is no reason for you to believe that the traffic will use 101 and or San Antonio unless you are expecting the users of the schools and the new residents to primarily be travelling to and from Palo Alto and other places rather than round our own town.

The Arastradero corridor was an arterial road and is now a bottleneck at commute times and the only reason things have got better is that locals have worked out alternative routes through neighborhood residential streets rather than getting stopped in traffic. When the new projects are open, the traffic will get worse not better.

Advertising the benefits of the new developments makes it sound that you have more than a passing interest in the success of these.


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Posted by JW
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 12, 2007 at 5:29 pm

I do not consider this change a success for those living in the neighborhoods bordering Charleston. When the traffic backs up between Fabian Way and Middlefield travelling East in the morning we are unable to exit Sutherland Drive to travel West.

The landscaped raised medians will prevent those living along Charleston to exit their driveways and cross the street to travel in the opposite direction.

Unfortunately, no residents of either Charleston Gardens, Meadow Park or those living along East Charleston are being included in the decision making process. These decisions are being forced on us without any neighborhood consultations.




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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 12, 2007 at 5:55 pm

Now is the time to get busy with lobbying our City Council and other policy bodies for more and better mass transportation along this corridor.


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Posted by perspective
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 12, 2007 at 7:30 pm

Come on Jeremy..how many folks commuting south and north are going to use mass transit along Charleston? How many are going to drive their cars to the closest Charleston/Arastradero intersection, park, then take the mass transit? Very few people need to go only along the Corridor and nowhere else.


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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 12, 2007 at 7:52 pm

Now is not the future, when batter mass transit will be ridden by far more than take it now.

INtegrated mass transit will mean a longer reach in to the neighborhoods. Also, there's an opening for private "jitney" bus businesses, or vans. Think positive


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Another Observer
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 12, 2007 at 11:50 pm

I'v lived on E Charleston a long time. Things are better ,but far from what they should be.
There are not the routine drag racing of two cars going side by side anymore.
There are fewer cars passing on the right in the parking strip.
When traffic the cars can't go 40 to 60 mph as they routinly did.

The problems now are: Trucks of all sizes and shapes still use Charleston as San Antinoa is in terrible shape with tree root speed bumps.
Cars speed as they did when traffic is light.
Cars pass in the median whey a person slows down to enter their driveway.
There is still no "policing "of traffic in this area. Red light running is common at Middlefield.
With no policing people know they can do almost anything if traffic isn't backed up.
When there was policing many years ago people drove in a way they knew if they violated basic traffic laws they wound get a ticket. This is no longer true. Anything goes. Tandem dirt hauling trucks, tandem gasoline trucks, car carriers, cement trucks, oversize giant equipment trucks.
Speed humps are needed.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 13, 2007 at 9:57 am

I need to travel through here and it is horrible, backed up (partially owing to the major construction underway) and I am hard pressed to understand reducing the number of lanes available. Doesn't make sense to me.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 13, 2007 at 10:19 am

"When there was policing many years ago people drove in a way they knew if they violated basic traffic laws they wound get a ticket. This is no longer true. Anything goes."

Camera surveillance of traffic speed and intersection behavior would be welcome here; this would be a perfect place to start. We need to *nail* unsafe drivers, and make the roads safe for law-abiding citizens.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 13, 2007 at 3:06 pm

I had to drive along Charleston to get to Costco mid morning today. It was really bad due to the construction. I hope that this construction is not going to make these sort of problems for long. I don't use this route much, but I don't remember it being that bad before at that time of day. Yuck.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 13, 2007 at 5:43 pm

When the Campus for Jewish Life is fully operational the Environmental Impact Report indicates that they anticipate thousands of vehicles going to and from the facilities daily; that does not include the residents.

It was premature to reduce Charleston from 4 to 2 lanes with turning lanes until all the facilities at 901 San Antonio are fully operational. No one knows what the traffic impacts will be, not even our Transportation Department.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2007 at 6:47 pm

While we are at it, the intersection of Louis and Charleston is very confusing. I use it often and find that there are many cars trying to turn various ways with no idea how to deal with it. I feel sure that many give up and go and do a u turn which must add to the traffic. This is very confusing for visitors and locals alike, and probably an accident waiting to happen.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Meadow Park
on Dec 14, 2007 at 8:28 am

Meadow Park Resident. Advertising the benefits of the new developments makes it sound that you have more than a passing interest in the success of these. Posted by anon resident

Thank you for your response, I see I need to make changes in my post. Because I drive on East Charleston Road daily, when a new post goes up about the road I usually add a comment because sometimes misinformation is posted. Because East Charleston/Arastradero has been designated a school commute corridor, its purpose is no longer enabling speeders – its purpose is safety. Therefore it is not an arterial road in the same way as an arterial road not designated a school commute corridor.

Although it is fine to talk about East Charleston Road as it is today, some context needs to be added. I wrote in great detail about the huge projects under development because they will have an impact on East Charleston. I oppose the size of the Campus for Jewish Life Project; the high school was approved before I could oppose it. I wrote to city council long ago asking that all projects, before entering the pipeline, be put on the table for voters. Instead, these South Palo Alto projects were considered one by one.

I think highway 101 will be under-utilized by the Campus for Jewish Life; highway 280 is under-utilized by Stanford University. We will need speed bumps near the schools. We need the landscaping in the median. Although the city council approved projects that will work against the safety of the corridor, they will have to approve speed bumps etc to compensate for their error in judgment.


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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 14, 2007 at 8:56 am

" I wrote to city council long ago asking that all projects, before entering the pipeline, be put on the table for voters. Instead, these South Palo Alto projects were considered one by one."

This is the kind of shenanigans that Palo Alto has had to put up with for too long, from 'residentialists' who worry themselves to death over every car trip without ever thinking there might be a better solution that costing our taxpayers money for their. Their party is over.

Just look at the opportunities that Palo Alto has lost - *all* the large retail (excepting Stanford Mall, which is essentially a Stanford development) in this area is somewhere else!

We've become a community that has to depend on high-end boutique (and expensive) specialty retailers.

It's hard to believe that anyone would object to the fantastic Campus for Jewish Life project, which will make a wonderful southern gateway into our city.



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Posted by Henry W
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 14, 2007 at 10:19 am

It will make a wonderful southern gateway into our city. R-r-right.
Especially for those of you who don't live near it.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 14, 2007 at 10:36 am

I have no real objection to this and I do live fairly close to it, provide that it has adequate provisos for traffic. We need to increase the number of lanes of traffic, provide right/left turn only lanes, adequate road signage, and expect a method of dealing with the increased traffic (not slowing everyone down to a crawl). I fear that this is not going to be the case. What is needed is to turn Charleston/Arastadero into an expressway, banning bikes, and treating this as something that will get the traffic where it wants to go as expediently as possible. It is not a neighborhood backstreet, it is a thoroughfare and should be treated as such. For those who live on it, they knew that when they moved there and their property values show it, so they can't expect special treatment. If they can't reverse out of driveways and go the way they want to travel then they will have to drive to the next light and u turn, as anyone who lives on busy streets learns to expect to do.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 14, 2007 at 10:41 am

Henry, try adaptation, it's good for what ails you.


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Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 14, 2007 at 10:51 am

There are some in this city that believe if you narrow down streets that were built to carry two lanes of traffic in each direction to one lane, then the excess traffic will disappear.
despite the fact that this has proven to be wrong, some people believe that traffic issues will be solved by decreasing capacity. I suggest that we combine all the desired "traffic claming" measures (narrowing Embracadero, Middlefield, Charleston, San Antonio to one lane each way, closing University avenue from Alma to Middlefield, traffic claming measures in College Terrace and Downtown North) and wait for the "excess" traffic to magically disappear.


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Posted by An Observer
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 15, 2007 at 1:28 am

Resident: where is Palo Verde neighborhood?
Park Ave, along the tracks, was or is closed to thru traffic. I useto drive it to the Calif Ave area long ago. How did it get to be totally closed to traffic. I guess the people who lived along it got their way. It wasn't voted on by all those other people.

Also Hanover went thru College terrace. When I worked in that area I could drive directly to Stanford campus. The few people who objecte to outsiders driveing on this public street got their way. Now people drive long distances and clog ElCamino to get to Stanford.

I'm sure there are more examples of blocking traffic. such as Park Ave N of California. No thru traffic in that area. Also University Ave was a four lane street but has been narrowed down many years ago.

The city funded police in S palo Alto in the past to control traffic.
They stopped this waste of money years ago. Narrowing Charleston is one way to slow traffic so people can't drive 50 to 60Mph as they were useto doing. No police probably saves the city 2 or 3 million $$ a year. Charleston needs speed humps as there is still speeding when the traffic is light.

There should be right turn lanes only, at the major intersections. No need for 4 lanes suddenly narrowing to 2 lanes and a bus stop right there also in the 4 lane section at several locations. The busses block the outside lanes.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 15, 2007 at 8:26 am

An observer, it doesn't help when you exaggerate. Vehicles did not go through Charleston at 50 - 60 mph. The Police have very accurate records of speed. The 85th percentile for Charleston was 34 mph.


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Posted by A Neighbor
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 15, 2007 at 9:01 am

Charleston and Arastradero will never have "speed bumps" for many reasons; one of which is the Fire and Police Departments would never approve them, they cut down response times.

The A/C corridor is designated an arterial; if you go into the City's website you will see that only "collector streets" can be considered for "speed tables". Speed bumps are no longer installed anywhere in Palo Alto.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2007 at 12:21 pm

Observer

If you click on the not sure in the list of communities you will find maps of the different neighborhoods. Not sure exactly of the definition of Palo Verde offhand, but I think it is the LomaVerde/Louis/Bayshore/Charleston area.


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Posted by eric
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 17, 2007 at 1:02 pm

Neighbor, that's pretty funny- in most cities, if the 85th percentile is less than 10 mph over posted speed, you cant get any traffic mitigation work! The Charleston corridor was pure politics, with no good data behind it!


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 17, 2007 at 3:19 pm

I am all for traffic mitigation measures that work to enforce posted speed limits. In my view, that is an enhancement of our streets and neighborhoods. Some say speed bumps are a degradation, but how can that be if they cause cars to obey the law?

I like the speed bumps, even the traffic circles in College Terrace. I hope we keep them. There is no rational reason to avoid putting speed bumps on arterials. The emergency vehicles have their lights ans sirens, and traffic pulls over to let them through, and they are allowed to break the speed limit, and they are skilled drivers, so what's the issue? Here's a radical idea: 25 mph means 25 mph. Dig it?


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2007 at 9:58 am

Craig, the posted 25 mph signs are difficult to enforce because Traffic Courts will not uphold that low speed. For enforcement purposed the speed limit is the 85th percentile; a complicated formula which all Police Departments in California use.

Speed bumps will not be placed on any arterial such as Charleston in Palo Alto. For one reason fire trucks are very heavy with lots of moving parts and they cannot negotiate them at high speeds.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 18, 2007 at 11:36 am

There are now two 25 mph speed bumps on California Ave., which is used frequently by fire engines from the Hanover St. station.

My impression is that speed bumps have slowed traffic speeds on College Terraace streets, including California Ave. However, I do not have the data to prove it.


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Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 18, 2007 at 11:41 am

College Terrace seems to get all and any of the traffic calming measures they want. Why is that?


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 18, 2007 at 11:59 am

"College Terrace seems to get all and any of the traffic calming measures they want. Why is that?"

Marvin, College Terrace is not protected, like many South Palo Alto neighborhoods, by planned neighborhoods, with winding streets and cul-de-sacs. CT was a quicky development, by Mrs. Stanford, to house her workers, as they built and served Stanford. Over time, it got surrounded by the Stanford Industrial Park (now SRP). Special circumstances deserve special solutions. Also, CT is well organized, largely becasue of the special pressures it feels.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2007 at 12:04 pm

Craig I believe California Avenue is designated a collector street not an arterial. They are not speed bumps, they are speed tables. They are designed to comply with State law and allow vehicles to travel at 25 mph in a residential neighborhood.


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Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 18, 2007 at 12:10 pm

I'll go with the "CT is well organized" reason--they know how to work the city council and get what they want--there never will be enough traffic calming measures to satisfy College Terrace.
I doubt that these days the circumstances of College Terrace are any more special than the traffic issues facing other parts of the city.
There needs to be a more equitable division of traffic calming measures THROUGHOUT the city


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 18, 2007 at 12:36 pm

Neighbor,

Point taken (speed bumps vs. speed tables). However they still operate to slow traffic to 25 mph, and fire engines go over them, sirens and all, on a regular basis.

If traffic is mitigated to only allow the posted speed limits, and the stop lights are syncronized to this speed, what is the problem?. There would be no particular reason to try to speed, even if someone was willing to destroy their suspension...they would just sit there and wait at the the next stop light. In fact, Charleston is already mitigated, to a large extent, by several stop lights (even without speed tables).

I think the goal should be to get a smooth flow of traffic, at low speeds. JMO


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 18, 2007 at 4:28 pm

There are many sleeping policemen (bums or tables) in Palo Alto which necessitate crossing at no more than 10 mph without breaking eggs in groceries or spilling coffee in cupholders. I am not sure about fire trucks, but my car cannot cross many of them at 25 mph without major disruption to me and mine.


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