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Embarcadero Road fixes coming

Original post made on Aug 29, 2014

Few road segments in Palo Alto flummox commuters and traffic engineers like the short but bustling stretch of Embarcadero Road between the train tracks and El Camino Real.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 29, 2014, 12:00 AM

Comments (68)

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2014 at 8:00 am

Giving drivers better options to get around town to avoid this intersection would help the situation too.

Many drivers use El Camino as a through route and others use Embarcadero an alternative to Alma so that they can get onto Sand Hill Road. By enabling through traffic from Alma to Sand Hill at El Camino, it would remove cars from the T & C/Paly altogether.

This blockage of a through route is another situation of assuming that when a route is blocked the traffic disappears. It doesn't disappear, it just causes a problem or adds to a problem elsewhere.

Open up the bottleneck and allow traffic to flow freely where it wants to go efficiently.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 29, 2014 at 8:21 am

>> This blockage of a through route is another situation of assuming that when a route is blocked the traffic disappears.

When was that ever a through route?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2014 at 8:44 am

Musical

I believe back in the 50s or 60s, it was a through route. It was then altered for some political reasons between Stanford/Menlo Park/Palo Alto. The fact that in the past 30+ years it wasn't in use as a through route doesn't alter the fact that this bottleneck stops drivers getting where they need to go efficiently.

Central Expressway ends abruptly in Palo Alto for more historic reasons. The Expressway traffic could continue straight through to Sand Hill, but instead with this bottleneck adding to the melee, we have drivers looking for options which involve, Churchill and Embarcadero as well as U turns on ECR in Menlo Park and the University loop.

Traffic engineers look for efficient traffic flow and we are forever thwarting that in Palo Alto with the assumption that traffic moves elsewhere. It doesn't it just looks for alternatives instead.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2014 at 8:46 am

typo, sorry.

Last sentence should read "traffic disappears, it doesn't, it just looks for alternatives instead."


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by perspectives
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2014 at 8:54 am

The process to get something done about this intersection is beyond painful. And should be embarrassing to the Planning and Transportation Commission. It was probably about....6 years ago... that the traffic patterns around T&C and Paly on Embaradero became dangerous and very problematic. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out, nor 6 years of "discussions". Talk about getting mired in public policy red tape. What happened to noticing a major problem in a city and then fixing it before 6 years goes by? Instead, what should have been a straightforward call to action to get a plan in place asap, they've taken years to come up with a plan to... come up with a plan! All in the name of "process" and meetings and commissions and giving everyone an equal say.... Traffic officials should do their job making people safe here. It's not a town hall discussion.

I see no excuse for the city taking this long to start doing something about it. Just now they're synchronizing the traffic signals? Is it so complicated to do this that it takes years to reprogram the lights? It also appears that real change is not even slated until after all of these studies STILL have to be carried out. Shouldn't have taken this long. Period.

As for Paly students being forced to walk over the bridge- really? I can't understand why a privilege for high schoolers at lunchtime (where is this for Gunn?...), should cause any holdup with a solution to a major traffic issue. If it means safer roadways for THEM and others, let them walk 10 more minutes. This isn't about accommodating lunchtime eating options for Paly, it's about a major traffic problem affecting "12,000 cars each day" and countless other pedestrians!


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by paly parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 29, 2014 at 9:39 am

One easy and FREE step we can implement immediately -

Turn off the pedestrian light for a few weeks and monitor it (it gets turned off for Stanford games, so it can't be that hard). It there is signage on both sides (cross at El Camino, cross over the bridge) then those routes will get used. Paly kids are ALREADY using the bridge next to the train tracks to cross Embarcadero because of the construction so that is a done deal.

Simple and not too expensive safety upgrade (thanks Bob Wenzlau) add railings along the Embarcadero sidewalk to keep both bikes and pedestrian safely away from the street (there is already a short section of railing, just extend it).

See how these two things work and go from there.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 29, 2014 at 9:52 am

> few people attended the meeting.

Why should we residents have to drive to a meeting, sit for who knows how long waiting to perhaps speak for 2, or 3 minutes, on why we believe that the City should make changes to this intersection so that it is no longer choke-point in the transportation flow of that part of the city?

Why shouldn't peoples' emails be sufficient to get their views about the need for change through to the Commissioners? Why shouldn't meetings like this be streamed on the Internet, with the ability for people to interact with the proceedings via web-meeting software? Why is it that the people running this City constantly claim to be the "leaders" of everything that suits their fancy, yet they can not demonstrate that they know how to orchestrate a state-of-the-art meeting using the NET/WEB?

People lead very busy lives. How many times do we have to say that to the City, and the Weekly? Moreover, the general sense of the public is that the City is going to ignore most of anything we have to say, so why bother spending our time making an appearance?

We desperately need change in the leadership of the City Administration. Hopefully some of these issues about why the City is so backward when it comes to using the Net, and Information Technology, in general, will be front and center during the upcoming campaign.

Putting the technology issue aside, it will be interesting to see what, if anything, any of the candidates have to say about traffic in Palo Alto. I am particularly interested in seeing how many candidates endorse the City's proposals for more bicycle, and public transportation, use by residents, and visitors, alike. Let's hope some of them will actually answer questions like this one.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 29, 2014 at 10:08 am

What are Jamie Rodriguez's credentials to run the Transportation Department? Seems to me things have gotten worse during his administration or continuing 'worse things' stay the same.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Southgate
on Aug 29, 2014 at 10:27 am

I agree with Bob. I sent a letter with photos to Rodriguez some time ago stating concern of "safety" issues with respect to Southgate parking and bike traffic. Result: nothing, not even a response that letter was received. Poor relationship with the public who pays his salary.


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Posted by Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 29, 2014 at 10:45 am

Other part of Embarcadero need attention, but for safety reasons, not delay mitigation. For many years, I lived near the Community Center and used the "Embarcadero Speedway" between 101 and Middlefield almost daily. I was on that road recently and observed that speeds in excess of 40 mph are still routine and way too fast for the narrow streets and large bicycle traffic.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 29, 2014 at 10:48 am

I haven't reviewed the proposals, but this is one area that is in desperate need of a separate dedicated bike/pedestrian solution as well.

The immediate area bordering Paly's campus and the challenge of so many people moving through that area (by whatever means - feet, bikes, cars) is downright dangerous. It's not just Embarcadero and El Camino. It includes Churchill, too, and is further exaggerated by the rush hour train crossings. Now, more than ever frustrated drivers are cutting through the neighborhoods to avoid signal backups and ignoring neighborhood stop signs. Yes, cyclists are frustrated and ignore stop signs, too; but cyclists are always on the losing end of the deal regardless of who is at fault.

The construction at Paly has many more students on bikes now and this will continue for years. I'm extremely concerned that there will be serious accidents without more attention to cyclists and pedestrians in any proposed solutions.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Sandra Escovedo
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2014 at 10:56 am

I agree with @Wayne Martin's point that to criticize community members (who are busy with work, children, families, and other civic responsibilities) to fail to appear at one particular city council meeting to hope for a sliver of a minute or two of time while the rest of the two-hour plus session is taken up with administrative minutia so as to use their absence as an indication of their lack of involvement on this issue is infuriating.

Thousands of Palo Altans like my neighbors and I have made it clear to the City Council as a whole, to our elected Councilmember(s), and to the City Manager's office, that this particular intersection and its traffic problems have been a persistent difficulty for us for the better part of the last decade.

I made my first call about it back in 2003.

There is no good reason to tell taxpayers that solving this issue will take more discussion and planning (and cost us more time and money) when that is all that city administration has been doing on this matter for years now.

@Wayne Martin's other point (that Council meetings should be livestreamed for residents) is another good one. This city has many people that are willing and able to help, both to guide policymaking, and to aid in understanding issues critical to Palo Altans.

It's 2014. The digital streaming technology to allow more Palo Altans to become civically involved is more than a decade old and is less costly than ever to implement. It should be unquestioned that all City Council sessions are available to the public in real-time.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 29, 2014 at 10:58 am

>> Sandwiched between Palo Alto High School and Town & Country Village, the road attracts more than 12,000 cars per day

The quality of the reporting here is annoying.

How many cars drive Embaracadero each way in a day? This kind of language is really noncommittal and ambiguous. If about 12,000 cars per day drive Embarcadero ... what is blazes is wrong with saying that instead of hinting that it is a larger number and possible much larger? What does that mean? When I went to school they taught us that journalism articles should contain facts about who, what, when, where and why. That was like 3rd grade ... I am sure the Palo Alto Online can do as well.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Christine
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2014 at 11:09 am

As someone who used this route for about 25 years to commute onto campus, I am well familiar with the traffic. It seemed to get worse when the signals at Embarcadero and El Camino were changed so that Embarcadero traffic turning left onto El Camino south and from Galvez left onto El Camino north were green arrows simultaneously, then straight thru traffic. The choke point is the single lane under the Caltrain overpass. When folks who want to turn left are stuck there it all backs up. If the signals could be returned to their previous configuration of Embarcadero traffic both left turns and straight all at the same time, then Galvez traffic, both left turns and straight, it might help the traffic. Worth a try as this is an almost NO cost trial and seemed to keep traffic moving before.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Silly
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 29, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Let me echo Palo Alto Parent and remind you that they've been debating this for 9 -- NINE years --when they were easily able to shut the ridiculous light OFF. Just Mr. Rodriquez' salary alone is for that period is $1,575,000. Throw in other staff members, consultants, benefits, etc. etc.

How ludicrous that this costs SO much and takes SO long to respond.


One easy and FREE step we can implement immediately -

Turn off the pedestrian light for a few weeks and monitor it (it gets turned off for Stanford games, so it can't be that hard). It there is signage on both sides (cross at El Camino, cross over the bridge) then those routes will get used. Paly kids are ALREADY using the bridge next to the train tracks to cross Embarcadero because of the construction so that is a done deal.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stuart Berman
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 29, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Aside from a few commenters there is little discussion of the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians.

The stretch of Embarcadero under discussion is the primary traffic corridor for bicycle traffic between Palo Alto and Paly, and between Palo Alto and Stanford. Currently, the bike lanes at Stanford stop dead when they hit El Camino. Palo Alto needs to install bike lanes to create a safe situation in this currently hazardous area.

I agree that the first step must be synchronizing the three sets of traffic lights in this approximately 300 foot long area. I also agree with the commenter who stated that the introduction of left turn signals from Embarcadero to El Camino significantly worsened the traffic situation. I vaguely recall that the change may have been done to protect pedestrians crossing El Camino. Maybe someone can confirm or refute this?

This huge mess has been with us for too long. I hope that the city will finally make the effort to solve it.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 29, 2014 at 12:09 pm

I agree with "Menlo". I run along Embardadero in the early mornings and the traffic is incredibly fast and dense even at 6 to 7 am. Most seem headed for Stanford (making the right at the Y. I wish the commuters treated our neighborhoods as if they were their's - watching for kids. Then, when they get to the T&C intersection, I see a lot of light running and encroaching in crosswalks. And this is before school starts in the morning!


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Silly
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 29, 2014 at 12:09 pm

How much will it cost and how long will it take to synchronize the El Camino / Embarcadero light?

Just synchronize it already! Don't wait to prepare the RFP for consultants; Mr. R. has been talking about this RFP and getting community input for years already.

Will this take another 9 years, too?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Expedite!
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 29, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Hurry the heck up with this fix before someone has a cerebral hemorrhage from the boiling raise in blood pressure this causes!


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Take out all the left turns, rip out the lights and put in a pedestrian bridge, fence off the south side of embarcadero.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by perspectives
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2014 at 1:27 pm

Nice how Rodriguez says this is one of the city's hardest puzzles.... yet his answer to this is to do nothing for years. If it's one of the hardest puzzles, then get to work. This is what his group is paid to do, and it shouldn't take this long. Seems to me the Embarcadero issue would take precedence over repainting curbs or putting in trees on other certain streets.

Having just come back from T&C an hour ago, I'm freshly reminded of how shockingly bad, and absurd, the situation is. Quite honestly, I think reading this article has made me more upset. Before, I was outraged that this intersection has been left to fend on it's own with no city intervention. Now, I'm all of the above but also upset that this has been just sitting around despite Rodriguez thinking it's his biggest challenge.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Silly
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 29, 2014 at 1:30 pm

I'm signed up for email alerts from the city and got NO notice about any meeting on this.

I'd dearly love for the Council and our officials to start reading the posts here.

Anyone want a betting pool on how long it will take to synchronize the ECR and Embarcadero light? Another 9 years?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Mike Alexander
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Aug 29, 2014 at 1:41 pm

I agree with everyone who says this particular mess has gone on far too long, and that the responsible city employees have been negligent.

And I agree with Christine that flow and backup at ECR/Embarcadero got worse when the separate left-arrow interval was added for Embarcadero.

There is another new light in PA that causes similar problems. The new light at Alma Plaza is 1,000 feet from E. Meadow, is apparently not synchronized with that light, and causes unnecessary delays during commute times.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike Alexander
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Aug 29, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Re: Wayne Martin's comments: people with influence in local government are people who are involved. They are people who study issues and candidates and then vote carefully; who participate in meetings other than those with hot-button issues; who develop personal relationships with Councilors and Commissioners; and who find ways to get their messages out to the public. Letters to editors and emails to members are 2 useful tools, but probably aren't enough to be very effective. Democracy flows from the interaction of people, not from pushing buttons or yelling into a megaphone.

Developers, to name one influential group, know this, and work very hard to push their agendas. But the same access is available to anyone who cares enough to work it effectively.

That said, Council meetings can be watched live on cable tv or streamed (Web Link), and can be listened to or streamed on KZSU radio. Commission meetings can also be watched or streamed live. And, the Media Center archives the meetings, for viewing at other times.

Letters and emails to Councilors and Commissioners are included in the relevant meeting packets (if they are received in time), and these are available to the public at the meeting, or in the City's online archive.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Dogbert
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Don't bother writing to Mr. Rodriquez. He doesn't care what you think or have to say. He does what he wants no matter what anyone says. Write to City Manager Jim Keene or Planning Director Hilary Gitelman about his behavior and lack of response to public opinion. I think that Rodriguez is planning bike projects that will enhance his reputation and portfolio without any concern for whether they really benefit Palo Alto bicyclists. He is painting green decorations on the pavement all over town because that earns points with outside reviewers, while he ignores bike traffic through this important intersection.


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Posted by perspectives
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Thanks Mike for the link and info.

What still befuddles me is why this issue even needs community members to weigh in. I mean, this is a no brainer. Even my kids in elementary school know that the T&C traffic flow is unacceptable. Rodriguez and his team should be able to figure this out on their own.

I'm not saying all the final intricacies of pathways for Paly lunch, do we fence off the sidewalk, etc. aren't tricky and wouldn't benefit from the voice of the people. But getting a basic flow of traffic that is even HALFway acceptable should have been done quickly by these paid "experts". If our Chief Transportation official and the Planning and Transportation Commission need pressure and voices from the community to do something to fix a public safety concern, we are in worse shape than I thought. I don't recall a democracy regarding the planning of the Edgewood Shopping Center traffic flow (which is an entirely separate problem, but I digress....)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Vanessa Warheit
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 29, 2014 at 3:37 pm

I'd like to say a big "ditto" to the folks encouraging the city to put bike & pedestrian safety first in this assessment. I'd also like to add that making this stretch of road BETTER for bikes and peds (i.e. not just keeping them safe from cars, but making their travel through this area easier/faster) is better for all of us. (Last I checked, no one's kid got asthma from bike pollution, and walking hasn't caused any ecological disasters.)

I'd also like to gently point out that the idea of treating traffic like a liquid - an analogy which the anonymous Resident alluded to in the first comment - is simply not accurate. Traffic behaves more like a gas - if you limit the roads, it compresses, and if you build more roads, it expands. A recent in-depth transportation study goes into great detail on how and why this is true: Web Link.

There is also a fascinating episode of the PBS series e2: Transport, which discusses the ongoing efforts at reducing congestion in London (UK): Web Link). We will also be screening it later this year at the Fourth Friday Films of Vision & Hope, at UUCPA (uucpa.org and transitionpaloalto.org).


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 29, 2014 at 3:38 pm

re: Alma/ECR/Sand Hill:

The intersection was "closed" as part of an agreement with Stanford to allow Sand Hill to continue from Arboretum to ECR...before then, SHR dumped into the parking lot. Downtown/North PA residents threatened a lawsuit if the connection was made with the new 4-lane road --- all because of the traffic that would ensue. And frankly, they had every right to be concerned. People would storm through their neighborhood as an alternative of taking University to 101. Anyone who thinks otherwise isn't being honest.

Previously, the Alma/ECR/Stanford Shopping Center intersection had no through route to Sand Hill - at least in terms of being a normal thoroughfare. You were driving through the shopping center parking lot.

I think the only way that intersection will ever get opened up is if Menlo Park agrees to finally doing their fair share in managing East-West traffic and connect Willow (aka Willow Expressway) at that intersection as well. (There are absolutely 0 roads that run East-West directly from ECR to 101 in MP). Since we all know that MP refuses to play nice with traffic (narrowed ECR from 6 lanes to 4; refused to let Caltrans sync traffic lights on ECR; waited until the last minute to allow the Sand Hill/Alameda/Alpine section to be 4 lanes)...don't count on this intersection ever opening up.

And even though I don't live near DTNPA - I would fully support their position that opening up the intersection would be an unmitigated disaster.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by A
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 29, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Before the pedestrian light was put in there was one signal light at Embarcadero Road and El Camino Real that controlled all the traffic. What is happening now is an increase in traffic, two more lights and a very old bridge that doesn't accommodate the amount of traffic through it (only 3 lanes). High school students used to cross at the Embarcadero Road/El Camino Real intersection to get to T&C for lunch. It was very doable to get lunch and be back in time for class.

T&C has increased in popularity (business is booming) with the change of ownership coupled with a brand new clinic next door. That makes for added traffic flowing through and around it to get to the PAMF. The school needs to make the students use the path by the tracks or the light at Embarcadero Road/El Camino Real.

Palo Alto School should not allow kids to drive to school and not allow left hand turns out of the Embarcadero Road driveway.

Let's face it. There is toooo much traffic in general!


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Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 29, 2014 at 6:14 pm

I attended Paly in the early 80s and have children who are at Paly. Student safety is most important in this discussion. We had no traffic signal at all at the T&C/Paly parking lot area - there was simply an island and crosswalk. The only reason to go to T&C was The Cheese House, otherwise there were offices and a few irrelevant stores. Students have only 40 minutes for lunch and some have prep periods (no class, formerly called "resource period"). With all that T&C offers students, they will find a way to get there and back even if it means risking their safety. To ask them to walk at the Alma bridge or El Camino is too far. Forty minutes at lunch gives them about 10-15 minutes to eat after waiting in lines since it's about 15 minutes round-trip from campus.

What is a life worth? The solution is to build a pedestrian bridge right where the crosswalk/pedestrian signal is located now.

And to make a right turn lane on Churchill/El Camino since there is room on the corner property of the PAUSD district office. The Churchill signal is such a long wait that it gets backed up, when right-turners could move if there were a right turn lane.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 29, 2014 at 6:26 pm

1. Paly pre-dates anything else at that intersection. Including the football stadium.

2. The Paly ped-crossing light has been in place for more than 20 years.

This entire cluster mess is entirely due to the TC light. Silly statements like make the kids walk the long way or don't let them drive are out of the question. The school and its norms pre-date all that otherwise exists at the intersection.

The smartest thing to do is eliminate the ped-crossing and combine it with the TC light. Continue the ped safety railing on both sides of Embarcadero up to the new cross walk. Sync TC with ECR. Bring back the traffic flow arrows at the underpass and change the lanes for the evening commute. Manually move a set of traffic comes as they do for Stanford football games as well. If necessary, use a traffic cop to manage the intersection to prevent gridlock by the trolls who insist on parking in the intersection when traffic ahead has stopped.


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Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 29, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Crescent Park Dad: I like your "We were here first" chant and opinion on "silly statements". However, to bring back the traffic flow arrows at the underpass would be a disaster. There are way too many outsiders and immigrants for that to work smoothly now. All it takes is one person out of step to lead to a head-on collision.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Please hurry
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 29, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Hurry up with this already--it took me 40 minutes to get to PAMF today because of this horrific pileup on Embarcadero-- a distance of under 2.5 miles!


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by voter
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 29, 2014 at 11:46 pm

The traffic is horrendous in this town these days and you can thank the planning commission and city council for recklessly up-zoning many areas of town to allow for a massive buildup of office towers and Stanford hospital and ancillary buildings. These people operate in a vacuum where the total impact of all of these developments, so obvious to others, was ignored by them as they did the bidding of developer friends. We are now living the result. Look carefully at the new candidates running for city council. Vote for those who support residents and their concerns - DuBois, Filseth, Kou, Holman.


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Posted by Silly
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 30, 2014 at 3:35 am

Please hurry,

Where / when was the horrific pileup?

I noticed huge backups Thursday at around 6PM on Charleston, Oregon, etc. all for traffic coming from 101 but haven't been able to find out why.


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Posted by Bob Wenzlau
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 30, 2014 at 7:50 am

Bob Wenzlau is a registered user.

Do not close this pedestrian crossing.

As folks rush to propose the remove the pedestrian crossing signal, remember that more citizens than Paly students use the crossing. The crosswalk serves any person who needs to access the southern side of Embarcadero to Town & Country (T&C). This constituency includes residents biking to shop at T&C just south of Embarcadero, students from Castilleja walking to T&C, and bikers from Stanford to T&C. Only Paly students now can use the gate on campus that allows access to the bike bridge across Embarcadero (unless one heads to Churchill to get access.)

A new pedestrian - bike bridge is a poor improvement.

The bridge would not be at grade, and therefore not be convenient, and would replicate the existing bridge that lacks connectivity on the south side to Embarcadero. Efforts should point to retrofitting the existing bridge by creating bike and pedestrian access on the south side so that it could be a reasonable alternative. A new bridge also kicks the ball down the field, and allows unsafe conditions to persists because an elusive capital project is promised into the future.

I was charmed with this video vision of what this area could look like in the future if we focused on making bike alternatives to this area.

Web Link


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Please. Hurry
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 30, 2014 at 9:12 am

The backup of traffic on Embarcadero was on Friday at 1:30 pm.....after lunch. various groups of Paly students trying to get back to school were pushing the cross buttons every minute or so. Traffic would move forward a couple of yards and then come to a complete stop. When that light would finally go green, the light ahead of it would turn red, and no cars could move forward.

This westbound trip to PAMF would take less than ten minutes during the summer when there was no school, but it took forty minutes to just get to the corner of Embarcadero and El Camino from Waverly! As a result, I was late to my appointment, and PAMF forced me to reschedule. Unfortunately, my doc spreads himself between three PAMF clinics, so I am stuck with the same day and time NEXTweek--ridiculuous. I will have to find a different path to get there, since I am unable to walk the distance at this time ( usually I walk to PAMF and cut through the T and C parking lot to get there).


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Posted by paly parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 30, 2014 at 9:43 am

@Please Hurry - Paly got out of school at 12:20 yesterday (minimum day because of Back To School Night), so you shouldn't have the same problem next week. Lunch on Friday's is usually 11:35-12:15.

I agree with Crescent Park Dad "The smartest thing to do is eliminate the ped-crossing and combine it with the TC light. Continue the ped safety railing on both sides of Embarcadero up to the new cross walk. Sync TC with ECR."

The Paly kids could use the Caltrain path and everyone else either use T&C or El Camino.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 30, 2014 at 10:11 am

Ask the city 'planners' for help? City Haul staff is clueless. Most don't live here. They can't do anything without
hiring consultants. And they DON'T LISTEN. Neither does the city manager.We need a new one. Hopeless. Just hope you don't have a 911 call between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 30, 2014 at 10:21 am

Just had a thought. May Mr. Arrillaga could build the overpass bridge for students. We could name it the Arrillaga Bridge, put his name on it -he'd like that. He puts his name in BIG letters on buildings, gardens all over Stanford, the VA, Menlo Park. And it would probably be designed and built by Christmas!!


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Re: Mike Alexander's Comments

On "democracy" --

Democracy is a poorly defined system—with no universally accepted handbook.
Democracy is not a system which historically has not lasted very long.
Democracy is a system that can be easily hijacked by special interests, often fueled by "money under the table".
Democracy in Palo Alto elections often means typically no more than 30% of the registered voters actually vote.
Democracy is a system where the majority of the voters make decisions. This means that too often only about 15% of the registered voters are responsible for the complexion of the local government.


Mr. Alexander's list of NET/WEB City of Palo Alto access is true, but it is hardly state-of-the-art. During the last ten years, the development of advanced video/audio-based technologies offer a different world to the status-quo of "local politics"—long characterized by too many local governments' listening only to the "people of influence". In Palo Alto, the towering influence of the "Developers" is coming to a head again, as it did in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Certainly 27 University is an example of how local politics works here in Palo Alto, when "people of influence" get together in secret meetings to forge plans that have proven to be unacceptable to most of the residents.

There are about 37,000 registered voters, and perhaps 150,000 non-residents that work/visit Palo Alto daily. Mr. Alexander's dismissal of suggestions that WEB/Meeting software would allow more people to attend these sorts of meetings seems to be the vision of a person who believes more in "backroom politics" than good, open, governance. One can only wonder how all of these people could be expected to attend all of the public meetings on the various issues facing Palo Alto?

Using technology to open up access to those who simply do not have time to attend public meetings—which frequently are timed for the advantage of Staff, rather than the public. More often than not, these meetings are heavily attended by older people, who are most likely retired, and can afford time during the day for these meetings.

My comments were intended to suggest ways toward more open governance, not more "politics". We shouldn't have to hire a lobbyist to get the City to try to fix this intersection. We should not have to "politic", or schmooze, the City Council in order for them to take notice of this unacceptable situation. There should be some meaningful way to alert the Traffic Engineers, and Council, about problems around town, other than through "politics". We can report pot holes on-line, so why can't we report traffic problems also?

I don't want to divert this important discussion about needed fixes for this critical intersection with a much larger discussion about how access to City Hall could be implemented using the existing NET/WEB. People who work with technology understand the issues, even if the politics-as-usual crowd does not.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Impatient
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 30, 2014 at 12:53 pm

I seem to recall that when T and C was remodeled and all these problems arose, the CC hired their usual consultants, their "experts" to resolve the traffic problem , to coordinate the traffic signals, especially the backup onto ECR. And as usual with this incompetent CC, the situation has gotten worse. I now believe that this CC sees itself as the awarders of studies to various groups who waste our taxes, solve nothing, and support the CC members who want nothing more than to say they are council members. A city like PA should be leading, not having a council that is a joke in the area.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 30, 2014 at 1:09 pm

The traffic situation is not correctly managed on Embarcadero near and at the El Camino Real intersection. This has been a time waster and gasoline waster for too long for no good reason. This is a major route for local residents as well as Stanford and visitors to the city. I suggest the City Council should direct city staff to take active steps to improve this clearly visible city problem NOW. This should be a priority. It is crystal clear as a problem that has worsened over time to anyone who even casually travels through this route. There are many other things in the city that should have lower priority and attention. I have been totally unimpressed with Mr. Rodriguez's traffic "improvements" such as removing auto lanes etc. that have led to obvious problems.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 30, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Bob, good idea! Arrillaga has helped our community so much. I see nothing wrong with him putting his name on his donations - I think most people would do the same.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by paly parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 30, 2014 at 5:23 pm

@Paly Alum - I just want Arillaga to manage our projects - Mitchell Park would have been done years ago!


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 30, 2014 at 5:43 pm

To Paly Alum? What has Mr. Arrillaga already done for Palo Alto? He built a gym for Menlo Park and a gymnasium for the VA- also a VA garden. Also the building for the Stanford Eye Hospital across from MIng's which was an Arrilaga -Peery endeavor acc. to the sign. For Palo Alto he wanted to build the monster development very tall buildings at 27 University plus theater. Are there others in Palo Alto? If you are thinking of the new and forthcoming Paly athletic complex, that's the Peery family - closely associated with Arrilaga. So let him have a bridge and get this street thing fixed. Maybe make the underpass four lanes. But still - no 27 monstrous 27 University. Also we need a new chief of Transportation - now. Jamie Rodriguez has to go.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Dogbert
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2014 at 5:57 pm

I agree that Rodriguez must go, but the question is how to make this happen. I suggested writing to Keene, but apparently that won't do any good. I guess complaining to City Council is our only choice, and hope that they can put enough pressure on Keene to can Rodriguez.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Oh Well
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 30, 2014 at 7:28 pm

The overall problem is Palo Alto has a management administration who have limited qualifications thanks to a city manager who continues to hire his out of work East Bay friends. Indeed, what are the qualifications of Transportation Manager Jamie Rodriguez? Simply stating a problem that has existed for decades is now a priority and requires further review only shows the continued ignorance of city management. Maybe the problem is we hired the wrong people and it is time for a change. It has become quite obvious that city management has no idea what our community needs are.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2014 at 11:10 pm

The huge basement excavation and dewatering at the corner of Newell and Northampton, which began just at the time the State enacted new water
landscaping conservation measures last month, adjacent to a large beautiful oak tree on the neighbor's property, is symbolic of everything that has
gone on here the last 10 years. Four signs were posted this week warning
that video surveillance is in place to prosecute all crimes against this
facility. This sums it up in so many ways.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Rosalind
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 31, 2014 at 12:53 pm

All these comments have merit and should be redirected to the CC. A forum like this one is a good one to vent frustration, but we would be better served by flooding the CCs inbox with emails detailing our frustration, suggestions and expectations. It's an election year. There might be some hope.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 31, 2014 at 1:18 pm

@observor - both the Newell property and one nearby on Barbara are no longer dewatering.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Whodunnit?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 31, 2014 at 2:46 pm

The "modern" long box on the corner of Seale and Cowper was dewatering for months. Architect was Dan Garber.
Who are the architects of the structures you mention, Observer? Vague complaints have no effect.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2014 at 3:37 pm

@palo alto mon @Whodunnit
Architect at Newell and Northhampton is Kohler Associates. The dewatering
was about 5 weeks and ended last week. For the first time in a dewatering,the City diverted some of the water for use in City equipment like streetsweepers. Keene pointed this out to the Council after he noted that a local TV station investigated this project following citizen complaints. So how many gallons were saved and how many were lost?
Regardless, the heritage landmark oak tree adjacent to the excavation on
the neighbor's property appears to be dead.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Silly
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 31, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Write and demand answers! An election is coming.

city.council@cityofpaloalto.org
Jaime.Rodriguez@CityofPaloAlto.org,
Hillary.Gitelman@CityofPaloAlto.org,
James.Keene@CityofPaloAlto.org

Also, go to the City Council Candidate sites and request lawn signs for Dubois, Fiseth, Kou and Holman. Start showing you care.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 31, 2014 at 5:18 pm

The PA Medical Foundation is now asking patients to arrive and sign in fifteen minute before the scheduled appointment. Wise patients pleaded years ago when the new clinic was built to make sure the 'tunnel to nowhere' on Alma accommodated autos to get to the Clinic. It was getting bad then, but as usual, no one listened.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Regarding oak tree adjacent to excavation at Newell and Northampton,
let's hope that the tree while under stress can survive - we will see.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Jean
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 2, 2014 at 7:29 am

All I can say is that I am SO glad I moved away from that hell hole 27 years ago. Palo Alto will NEVER be the same great town it used to be. How sad...


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Silly
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 3, 2014 at 2:48 pm

So how's the work coming on shutting off that cross-walk light?

We walked to Town & Country for dinner the other night at Mayfield Bakery.

All you could see were red brake lights in the backed up shopping center traffic, on Embarcadero and on El Camino.

Want some exhaust fumes with dinner? Maybe that's PA's idea of being green!

How long does it take to shut off one light???


 +   2 people like this
Posted by ...and furthermore...
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2014 at 5:27 pm

While they are at it, it would be great if the city would either remove or synchronize the traffic light on Alma at Alma Village.

It causes major backups morning and evening in both directions. All it takes is one single car coming out of Grocery Outlet or whatever to cause a major jam.

None of the other cross streets between E Meadow and Churchill have their own light, and most of them have more need for one.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2014 at 5:35 pm

On Alma at Alma Plaza, take out the light and put in a roundabout.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 3, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Alma plaza light - just get rid of it. There's no light at Alma and Embarcadero yet there is one into a plaza with a tiny grocery store and a Starbucks?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by read the report
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Love the uninformed potshots by armchair traffic engineers who haven't actually read the report that was presented at the study session. Here's the direct link to report, which is called "Embarcadero Road & Palo Alto High School-Town and Country Traffic Signal Modification": Web Link

In fact, the reporter shows no evidence of having even skimmed the report or looked at the agenda to see that this was a study session, not an action item. Either that, or he was deliberately misleading readers when he wrote "no formal vote was taken" when this was a study session on signal improvements that will go out to bid soon.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Silly
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 3, 2014 at 11:26 pm

I read the report. It's pretty much what Gittelman and Rodriquez sent me back in January when I complained about the light timing.

9 months later no one has even bothered to experiment with shutting off the cross-walk light. How hard can it be to turn a switch off and on??

How much more gridlock and community anger does it take to get them to DO anything? And I don't mean waiting another year to commission another expensive study on the crosswalk or the El Camino light!

All City Council candidates, please post here!


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 3, 2014 at 10:08 pm

It's been more than a month since August 29th when we were promised "imminent" changes. This past Thursday Nancy Shepherd was bragging about all the progress at the PAN CC Candidates forum.

So what's happening? What progress? I thought one of the lights was going to be shut off during September.

But all three lights are still there. They're still not synchronized. Traffic is still gridlocked and stuck in the intersection, preventing people from getting into the El Camino turn lane.

A progress report on Embarcadero would be nice, especially before Mr. Rodriquez decides to "fix" Page Mill which he's given a failing grade so we're not deprived of 2 of the 3 major arteries at once.

What grade does he give the Embarcadero mess? I'd give that an F and Page Mail a B or C. Curious to hear what others think,.

"Among the most imminent changes will be consolidation of two non-synchronized traffic signals, which currently march to their own rhythms. The change means there will now be one signal coordinating cars as they pass the Town & Country driveway and the pedestrian crossing into Paly just to the east. The new signal will be placed on the high school side of the street, near the intersection with the Town & Country driveway.

The change will improve movement along Embarcadero and entering and exiting Town & Country, Rodriguez wrote in a report.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:42 am

I'm informed by the city today that the "imminent change" consolidating the two non-synchronized traffic signals will be to put out a proposal to synchronize the lights in December.

That's 4 months since this August article and how many years since this boondoggle started?


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:50 am

Just take the lights out and eliminate the left turns. The dear little HS students can WALK up to El. Casino to to cross.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 7, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Dear Midtown,

Please write and tell them that. Or tell them to put in a cross-walk at the driveways.

Also ask them how long it takes to write a proposal to shut off or synchronize one lousy light.

I shudder to think how long it's going to take when they actually have to construct something.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 8, 2014 at 11:33 am

Not only has the light not been changed, but due to the construction at Paly, lots of students are crossing at the light at the entrance to Town and Country where there is no crosswalk. Most of the students are using the bridge and path next to the train tracks, but since the walking path out of Paly ends at the light at Embarcadero and Town and Country, of course kids cross there.

@Midtown, if you take out both the lights and left turn lanes, how are cars supposed to get in to the Paly parking lot. Without that light, you will have more traffic back ups in the morning.


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