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Palo Alto to celebrate fixes to dangerous intersection

Original post made on Oct 11, 2011

One of Palo Alto's busiest and most dangerous crossings got a little safer this week when the construction workers completed a host of renovations to the intersection El Camino Real and Stanford Avenue. A ceremony will take place Wednesday from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, October 11, 2011, 1:11 PM

Comments (23)

Posted by McGrude, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 11, 2011 at 2:52 pm

And yet the massive amount of traffic congestion due to Starbucks will never be eliminated.

Posted by about time, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2011 at 3:22 pm

The city has known how dangerous that intersection was for years. How many people were injured or killed there before they finally did something about it? The old design encouraged drivers to run red lights in all directions, causing havoc for pedestrians in crosswalks and cars proceeding legally. I am very glad that the city finally fixed this intersection.

Posted by robit noops, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 11, 2011 at 4:21 pm

The intersection is still dangerous as people fail to use turn signals or yield the right of way when making left turns. I have lived here for over a decade and never heard of a fatality, but the typical accident involves left turns..

Posted by about time, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2011 at 4:59 pm

A lot of crashes at this intersection involve cars running red lights to make right turns without stopping, even when there are pedestrians in the crosswalks or cars approaching on a green light.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Perhaps a pedestrian over-crossing or tunnel?

Posted by Did it wrong, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 11, 2011 at 8:28 pm

They need to do something about the lane on El Camino (South)reserved for parked cars because when there are no cars parked there, people think they can use that lane for a right turn, when they cannot because the curb sticks out on the approach to Stanford Ave. Therefore, a car in that parking lane has to merge back into the right lane to make a right turn.

Posted by Alex, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2011 at 8:37 pm

I think the general outcome here is that it shows off our city's concern. That increases property values and safety. Snarky and irrelevant comments notwithstanding.

Posted by parking spaces, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Driving through a row of parking spaces is illegal and stupid. Do people really do that?

Posted by Speed Limit, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 12, 2011 at 6:19 am

With terms like "encourages drivers to run red lights" its clear so many drivers still won't accept responsibility for how dangerously they drive.
If people stopped driving like they were racing for the open checkout line at the grocery store before anyone else gets there, we might stand a chance.
99% of the time it boils down to how we are driving. Time to slow down and relax.

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 12, 2011 at 8:11 am

The intersection at El Camino and Stanford Avenue is by no means the "most dangerous in Palo Alto".

Using the publicly available traffic accident data from the CHP (1995-2009), the most dangerous intersection in Palo Alto turns out to be the Hamilton and Middlefield, by actual accident count.

The following is a list of intersections and their accident counts:

Most Dangerous Intersections In Palo Alto:
Web Link

El Camino/Stanford is not near the top of the list.

The links are to videos of traffic at these two intersections:

No. 1 Most Dangerous Intersection In Palo Alto:
Web Link

Traffic On El Camino And Stanford Avenue:
Web Link

It's a shame that the "Palo Alto Process" is not more transparent. It would be very interesting to review the decision process inside the Traffic Engineering Department that led to the decision to do this work.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2011 at 8:21 am

The real problem with Stanford Avenue is that it is necessary to have so much traffic use it. Particularly in view of Escondido school and its choice program and also Hoover School, it is a main thoroughfare for traffic. It also takes people to the Dish and probably other Stanford destinations.

As a result this small street has a lot of traffic which has no alternative way to get to Escondido school and since the school is time sensitive, motorists are likely to catch a light rather than wait the few minutes until the next one. This is the difference of their child being on time for school or tardy and tardy 5 minutes usually means missing 10 minutes of classtime as they have to first go to the office before going to class to get a late slip.

The big problem is not the intersection, in my opinion, but the need for people to get to school in a 10 minute window. Schools don't want kinds there more than 10 minutes before school starts and since it is a commuter school they have a lot of kids coming to school by car.

Get rid of the need for so many kids arriving at school within a 10 minute window and it might make a big difference at that time of day. Likewise, after school.

Alternatively, get rid of the barriers in College Terrace so that there are more than one way to get to school.

Posted by Open streets, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 12, 2011 at 10:07 am

aGREE. Open up the closed College Terrace streets. Time for College Terrace to share in the problems and solutions to them that we all face in Palo Alto.
Palo Alto has been too busy placating College Terrace for too long.

Posted by Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2011 at 10:39 am

One of the problems is that Starbucks does not have adequate parking at that location, so frustrated drivers loop around trying to take another pass at the lot.

Posted by kongjie, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 12, 2011 at 10:46 am

kongjie is a registered user.


I've been concerned about that right-hand lane going south, too, but it looks like they finally painted a line that makes it clearer that trying to squeeze around on the right is not cool. I've yet to see how it works out during rush hour but it might be better than in the initial stages when the lanes were unpainted.

Posted by David Pepperdine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2011 at 11:13 am

Hey Resident,
Hoover School is on Charleston. Did you mean Nixon? :)

Posted by $1.3M-IS-A-LOT-OF-MONEY, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2011 at 11:46 am

> Perhaps a pedestrian over-crossing or tunnel?

A tunnel was tried some time in the past, near the intersection of El Camino and Page Mill/Oregon Expressway. However, seems that the "homeless" began to snatch purses, the police did not see how they could monitor the tunnel, and it flooded, from time-to-time. So, it was closed down. The overpass would probably be rejected by the "Palo Alto Pretty Commission" as being to functional, or too utilitarian, for their delicate views on the aesthetics of that part of town.

Posted by How long?, a resident of another community
on Oct 12, 2011 at 11:48 am

Does anybody else find it amazing that this project took 9 months? February to October. I knew it had been going on for a while but sheesh.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2011 at 12:53 pm

David Pepperdine.
Yes, I did mean Hoover - thanks for spotting that.

Posted by Longer Memory, a resident of Stanford
on Oct 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Those who complain about the traffic abatement measures in College Terrace have succumbed to tunnel vision. The Stanford Industrial Park is the elephant in that living room. Employees of the various companies that are located there would use side streets through College Terrace because Page Mill Road, which is designed for traffic, gets congested at rush hours. Compound that with the opening of the 280 Freeway, many motorists would find shortcuts through College Terrace--and the Stanford Campus. Convenience is a deceptively coy obfuscation when it's used as a cover for undisciplined time management.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2011 at 1:50 pm


I will get it right, Nixon. Yes, Nixon not Hoover.

Posted by Bill, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 12, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Why was money spent on "improving the safety" of this intersection? It is peculiar since the most dangerous intersection is Middlefield and Hamilton with more than twice the accident rate of 82/Stanford Ave.

Is it possible that a College Terrace squeaky wheel made enough noise at City Hall that caused this intersection to be "fixed" first?

Posted by Rabbit, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I would surmise that PA Transportation wisely chose this intersection to improve because it has proven to be dangerous to people on foot and on bikes, ie-outside of vehicles. The intersection at Middlefield and Hamilton probably has primarily accidents involving vehicles which may be more numerous, but are less likely to cause major injury.

Posted by annoyed, a resident of another community
on Oct 13, 2011 at 9:54 pm

El Camino is a State Highway and therefore a Cal Trans project, not the City's. It was chosen and paid for by the state. Get your facts straight before you complain.

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