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Kniss' plan for new bike bridge meets Stanford resistance

Original post made on May 21, 2012

A proposal by Santa Clara County Supervisor Liz Kniss to use funds contributed to the county by Stanford University for a new bike bridge over Highway 101 in Palo Alto is facing resistance from the Stanford community, where residents and officials are urging the county to slow down and consider other alternatives for the funds.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, May 21, 2012, 5:04 PM

Comments (40)

Posted by RogueTrader, a resident of Green Acres
on May 21, 2012 at 6:07 pm

1. Think of all the great bridges in the Bay Area. The costs are recovered by charging those who benefit most from using the bridge - i.e. charging a toll for bridge users. Granted, this might be difficult to do logistically for a bike bridge, but the point is that those who benefit most from the bike bridge should be asked to shoulder much of the costs.

2. The city estimates that the proposed bridge might be used 100 times per day. Palo Alto has a population of around 60,000, and Stanford has a population of perhaps 20,000. That means 1 person in 800 might use this bridge, while the other 799 pay for it.

Sounds like a classic boondoggle to me.


Posted by Idiots Unite!, a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on May 21, 2012 at 6:09 pm

...and now Stanford wants sole rights to the taxpayer "windfall"
Never mind that Kniss forgets that Santa Clara County has a $250,000,000 deficit. Stanford could care less, as long as they get the money. Kniss could care less cause it's not her money being spent. Silicone Valley Bicycle Coalition could care less because it's not their money being spent. Lets just keep spending money as long as it benefits my interests. Never seen such small minded people. Idiots Unite!


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2012 at 6:16 pm

And she wants to sit on the PA council? Please protect us from someone like this.


Posted by Stanford sucks, a resident of College Terrace
on May 21, 2012 at 6:29 pm

How slow does Stanford want to go? They promised to build these trails more than TEN YEARS ago. Endless stalling is making local residents madder and madder at Stanford's bullying. Get it done already so at least the next generation of kids can enjoy it.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Liz Kniss has been criticized in the past for only listening to her "circle of supporters", and excluding input from everyone else.

This whole episode is so typical of Liz, and is an example of how she will operate if she gets elected to the Palo Alto city council.

If you want Jim Baer and developers, who have supported Liz in the past will the one the key voices whispering in Liz's ear.

Please don't vote for Liz in the upcoming election


Posted by Stanford sucks, a resident of College Terrace
on May 21, 2012 at 6:41 pm

If Ms. Kniss can make this happen, I will vote for her. We badly need a new pedestrian/bike route in southern Palo Alto since the old trail is so unreliable (closed all of this year). Get it done already before pedestrians get killed trying to walk over the San Antonio Road freeway interchange. This is a tremendously important route for bicyclists and pedestrians and no one but Ms. Kniss seems to be trying to fix the glaring problem.


Posted by no Liz, a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2012 at 7:04 pm

This is all about Liz getting back on the council. If it does not benefit Liz directly, she is not interested. Do we want Liz back on the council? I think not. And people are right, it is not Liz's money so she does not care.


Posted by Bruce Lee, a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2012 at 7:08 pm

You would think that the 5+ million, after cost overruns, could be used for something more productive than a bicycle/pedestrian bridge over 101, when there's already a similar bridge about a mile or so away. I agree that other options should be explored.


Posted by Stanford sucks, a resident of College Terrace
on May 21, 2012 at 7:14 pm

There is no similar bridge within 1 mile of this location. The closest pedestrian-safe crossing is at Embarcadero Road, which is more than 2 miles away (4+ mile round trip). That is way out of range for all pedestrians as well as the majority bicycling families with kids. The route to get there is not child-friendly, either.


Posted by BikerDudeAl, a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2012 at 7:18 pm

This bike bridge being proposed is a crucial link in the recreational and commuter links from Mtn View, Menlo Park and Palo Alto and makes perfect sense. Why hop the fence and go under 101? If you ride the trails you will see how safe these bridges are in comparison to fighting traffic and obstacles on top of all the seasonal issues. Biking saves fuel and is great exercise...these bridges will help us connect and save our resources and will pay for themselves in terms of environmental benefits, traffic safety and overall health. I am all for it.


Posted by Stanford sucks, a resident of College Terrace
on May 21, 2012 at 7:19 pm

In addition, the Embarcadero pedestrian bridge is too steep and narrow for wheelchairs. And it has a series of traps that prevents use by bicycles with child trailers. Forcing the whole city to use that one obsolete bridge is just a real bad idea.

The Adobe Creek bridge be built to modern accessibility standards and also open up the Baylands to all of southern Palo Alto that is too far away to use the Embarcadero bridge.

Car drivers have it easy with so many freeway crossings (University, Embarcadero, Oregon, San Antonio). Why are there so few for pedestrians and bicyclists? Pedestrians bridges are extremely cheap compared to motor vehicle bridges.


Posted by Campus resident, a resident of Stanford
on May 21, 2012 at 8:13 pm

As a resident of Stanford campus housing for the past 13 years, I have seen the impacts of the additional Stanford University development on the quality of life for residents of both Stanford and nearby College Terrace. In particular, more traffic congestion, reduced open space, the elimination of dirt running trails, and increased crowding of existing recreational resources and parks are just some of the results of these development plans that residents experience on a daily basis.

As an avid runner, hiker and bicyclist, I was very disappointed when the proposed trails in the Stanford foothills did not materialize as promised. However, there are many other critical needs that would help to directly mitigate the impacts of the development for the residents in Palo Alto and Stanford that are actually living with the consequences of this development.

For example, the dangerous traffic congestion on Stanford Avenue, where many Palo Alto residents come to park to hike the Stanford Dish could be addressed with these funds. Alternative parking areas could be created to reduce the constant demand for parking, which would greatly improve the lives of the nearby residents, who daily content with illegally and double park vehicles. The county could provide additional trails in the foothills to link Stanford and Palo Alto to parks such as Arastradero Preserve for the benefit of all county residents.

The projects proposed by Liz Kniss are located very far from the area of development and do nothing to mitigate recreational losses suffered by the residents near the Stanford campus as the original proposal calls for. When funds have been designated for a particular purpose, they should not be hijacked for unrelated proposals, worthy though they may be. Funding for these projects should be procured from other more appropriate sources.


Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on May 21, 2012 at 8:51 pm

The animosity here toward Stanford is troubling, but ever predictable.

Liz Kniss has some nerve. The funds were not designated for her project, which would do little to benefit the campus or residents. I hope it will be soundly rejected by the Board of Supervisors.


Posted by Stanford sucks, a resident of College Terrace
on May 21, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Nothing in Stanfords original promise said the projects had to be for Stanford residents only. Stanford has had plenty of opportunity to build trails closer to campus if they really wanted that, such as the tunnel under I-280 that everyone was expecting in the first place. It is now ELEVEN years later and Stanford has been stalling and whining for the whole time. Liz Kniss is right about taking charge to get something down now. If Stanford remains in charge, nothing will ever get done.

The proposed bridge is something that meets the letter of Stanford's promise and is something that the community needs and wants. All of Stanford's proposals other are things that either no one wants or that the local community is strongly opposed to (like the Alpine Road sidewalk). I have to believe that Stanford knows those are never going to happen, so Stanford is just stalling by proposing them over and over. ELEVEN years is stalling is long enough.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on May 21, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The proposed bridge is something that meets the letter of Stanford's promise"

Wrong, what Stanford committed to were improvements which would be used to reduce "the adverse effect on recreational opportunities for existing or new campus residents and facility users that will be caused by the housing and academic development approved by the GUP, which will reduce the availability of recreational facilities, while increasing the demand for such facilities." This bridge does not meet ANY of those criteria.


Posted by svatoid, a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2012 at 5:59 am

"This bridge does not meet ANY of those criteria."

But it meets the criteria for a situation that Liz Kniss can hijack in order to get herself re-elected to the city council. If anyone or no one benefits, if it costs the city millions of dollars is not relevant. What is relevant is Liz getting back on the council. It is all about her 24/7.


Posted by It's-Time-For-Her-To-Go, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2012 at 7:10 am

It would be a really great thing if Stanford could donate money to any/all of the candidates opposing Kniss's in the upcoming election. At the very least, endorsing one of the candidates would be a wonderful.

Kniss is just another Democratic machine player. She has never shown anything close to independent thought, carrying the water for one special interest after another.

This bridge is all about her return to local Palo Alto city government.


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 22, 2012 at 9:00 am

Just another example of a career politician padding her way back into local office. If she had the best interests of everyone in mind, she wouldn't be catering to the special interests. With the city in the midst of a financial crisis and facing annual budget deficits, how could Kniss, or anyone else for that matter enter into a venture like this that could cost the city millions of dollars. All for a non-essential project that will provide her with a symbolic victory that she can carry into the election.

Stop catering to the niche groups and special interests. Find a way to pay for our vital and long overdue infrastructure and public safety needs that doesn't involve another tax increase. The voters are watching.


Posted by Herb Borock, a resident of Professorville
on May 22, 2012 at 10:24 am

The money should be used to implement the original trail proposal of the Stanford Open Space Alliance to provide a direct correction from the campus residential area to the Arastradero Preserve and then continuing to Foothills Park using the Dish trail system.

Many Stanford residents believe they should be entitled to use Foothills Park. It is now legal for anyone to hike into Foothills Park from the Arastradero Preserve that would be accessed from the trail through the Dish area originally advocated for by the Stanford Open Space Alliance. If any hikers returning from Foothills Park to the Stanford campus arrive at the Dish area after it is closed for the evening, those hikers can always return on the S-1 trail that the Stanford Open Space Alliance agreed to after saying that the San Mateo County trail that has since been rejected was the more important of the two trails.


Posted by Outraged, a resident of Stanford
on May 22, 2012 at 10:26 am

Liz Kniss spent her previous time on the PA city council trying to extort as much money as she could from Stanford University. Now she is trying to steal from the Stanford community and our nearby neighbors. She is intolerable. Please do not allow her to get away with this.


Posted by janet, a resident of Menlo Park
on May 22, 2012 at 10:34 am

Just how devious can Stanford get? This has been going on for 12 years. Stanford refused to have a mitigating trail on its own land as it had agreed to in the GUP. Then Larry Horton pushed the Alpine "trail" in San Mateo County arguing the benefit to Portola Valley and Ladera residents. Now they want to claw back the money to do something they could have done 12 years ago. Enough already.


Posted by Campus Resident2, a resident of Stanford
on May 22, 2012 at 10:35 am

I would be willing to use part of that Stanford money to be used to give Stanford drivers license holders access to Palo Alto's Foothill Park. Then Palo Alto can use the money for improvements up there. I agree that providing parking relief at Page Mill/Stanford Ave. is another priority for us. And safe parking spaces at the Deer Creek trail.

NOT for a bike bridge that will benefit so few people.


Posted by svatoid, a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2012 at 10:55 am

"Just how devious can Stanford get? "
Not as devious as Liz Kniss and the Palo Alto/Menlo PArk residents who see Stanford as a cash cow.
I think Stanford made clear what the money should be used from based on wording from the agreements. Enough already


Posted by Lateran, a resident of Portola Valley
on May 22, 2012 at 11:09 am

Stanford was ready to fund the connector trail between Menlo Park and Portola Valley, along Alpine Road in unincorporated San Mateo County, right along the much used biking "Loop.".

The Supervisors missed that opportunity by ONE vote, much influenced by the Committee for Green Foothills (CGF) & specific individuals who are pros at community organizing. A big majority supported the Lower Alpine Trail; a small group (later shown to be disingenuous) messed things up.

As part of this same GUP, Stanford has funded trail improvements in Menlo Park & Portola Valley along Alpine Road, which runs along San Francisquito Creek, roughly the border between the two counties. They proposed to finance a link between the two, whatever SM Co designed. That would have been great, and would benefit many in both our counties. I fear that the CGF agenda derailed that near-agreement, and we're working toward this agenda all along.

Our communities are the delay, not Stanford.


Posted by John Murphy, a resident of another community
on May 22, 2012 at 11:14 am

Adding more parking to Stanford/Foothill will only prompt more people to drive there - the only thing keeping the traffic in check are the number of people deciding not to drive there because of a lack of parking.

Adding more parking never mitigates traffic, it induces more traffic.

Who will benefit the most from the new bridge? Google and Facebook. Guess who gives oodles of money to Stanford? Google and Facebook.


Posted by svatoid, a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2012 at 11:23 am

"Who will benefit the most from the new bridge? Google and Facebook. Guess who gives oodles of money to Stanford? Google and Facebook."

Guess who is against this bridge? Stanford. SO what is your point?


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 22, 2012 at 11:28 am

As stated in another thread - I'm no Kniss fan. The ultimate local-career-politician. Where there's money to be made or taken, she is there.

She's already had her time on the CC. Do not let her come back.

Kudos to Stanford.


Posted by Biker/Hiker, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on May 22, 2012 at 11:40 am

Palo Alto and the surrounding communities need a safe pedestrian/bike bridge to access the Baylands.

Everyone who bikes/hikes could benefit from a safe way to get across 101

As slow as stuff gets done in Palo Alto, I just hope it gets completed in my lifetime.


Posted by Biker mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2012 at 11:59 am

The Adobe Creek Bridge would provide safe, year-round access between residential Palo Alto, including Stanford, and the Bay lands nature preserve. The Dumbarton link would form the final link in the Bay Trail between Redwood City and Alviso, providing 27 miles of uninterrupted shoreline trail. Both of these trail projects would benefit bicycle commuters as well as recreational users, and would be environmentally beneficial in multiple ways: reducing automobile traffic, providing access to shoreline open space, encouraging increased biking and hiking, and drawing attention to the natural beauty of our Bayfront.

The frequent flooding and closure of the existing Lefkowitz Tunnel is a barrier that pushes bike commuters onto congested streets, which is especially scary in winter when commuters are forced to then ride in the dark and the rain. On days when the current tunnel is not closed or flooded, bay trails provide a much safer route and a therapeutic time to connect with nature after a stressful work day. (It also amusing to see that trail bikers are moving faster than bumper-to-bumper peak hour traffic on 101.)

Our whole family enjoys riding bay trails for pleasure, but current access is not safe for young kids when the Tunnel is closed as it is for much of the year. This is an opportunity to make this better, safer with both of these projects.

BTW, I have Stanford friends who use these trails to get to work and to the bay lands. So Stanford is not being entirely forthright about what their employees and residents want. I am sure they can find a few peopel to speak their piece for them, but I hope a few bay trail lovers will show up and write letters in support of the proposal.

I hope the county will approve the proposed funding for the Adobe Creek Bridge and the Dumbarton link to the Bay Trail now. I hope the county will not permit further delay of payment for the required public benefit mitigation. It's time. Eleven years is really quite long enough.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on May 22, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As much as some people would like to have this $8-10 million bridge it is NOT Stanford's responsibility to either pay for it directly or to agree that this is an appropriate use of the funds which Stanford provided to the county. The Stanford funds provided to the county were MUTUALLY agreed to be used for improvements which would be used to reduce "the adverse effect on recreational opportunities for existing or new campus residents and facility users that will be caused by the housing and academic development approved by the GUP, which will reduce the availability of recreational facilities, while increasing the demand for such facilities." This bridge does not meet ANY of those criteria.

Many keep looking to Stanford to solve all of the problems created by the city's fiscal irresponsibility and the city's failure to adequately fund infrastructure improvements and upkeep but neither are Stanford's responsibility.

The Kniss bridge is a bridge to nowhere.


Posted by svatoid, a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Web Link

"Santa Clara County supervisors hit the brakes Tuesday morning, May 22, on a proposal by Supervisor Liz Kniss to spend $5 million on a bike bridge over U.S. Highway 101 in Palo Alto, opting instead to delay the decision on the project until August."

Poor liz. Betrayed by her fellow supervisors. August may be too late for her to exploit this issue for her council run. What happens if they so no in August. What will she be able to exploit to show Palo Alto voters that she deserves to be back on the council? Remember money is no object> After all she is owed an elected office--she is a career politician.
Por Liz


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 22, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Bike Mom, there are vital and essential needs in infrastructure and public safety that have been delayed, ignored, and dismissed a lot longer than eleven years. It's all about priorities first. Even with the grant money, it still leaves Palo Alto tax payers with an estimated 3-5 million to fully complete this project, and that is a conservative figure. One only needs to look at the Mitchell Park library project to see how the cost overruns could dramatically change.

Besides, no matter what the figure it is public money that we cannot afford to spend. Not under the current financial circumstances, and not when so many priority areas have not been attended to. We're in a financial crisis and continue to face annual budget deficits. It's time to curb the non-essential spending and focus on the priorities.


Posted by Gethin, a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm

This bridge is a complete and utter waste of money. I am amazed that in these times of financial hardship anyone would support this useless expenditure. I don't blame Stanford at all for their reaction. I doubt they expected their money would be used so worthlessly.
There is a long list of infrastructure needs much more important than this.


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm

You're absolutely right Midtown Gethin. There is a very long list of public safety and infrastructure needs, which by no surprise our city leaders and elected officials have apparently chose another bond measure and tax increase to pay for. How could anyone not resent this move? Especially after all these years of poor planning and spending on non-essential projects. This is the highest form of financial irresponsibility and an insult to tax payers.


Posted by Jan Brown, a resident of Stanford
on May 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm

As one who frequently drives to Ladera along Alpine Rd, I'm struck by the hundreds of bikers riding along pebble strewn narrow bike lanes to get to & from Portola Valley. It's impossible to widen that road in San Mateo Co. Therefore, Stanford should provide a paved bike path & dirt running/hiking path parallel to Alpine, but on the South side of the Creek on Stanford land in Santa Clara Co with a couple of bridges to cross over.


Posted by Liz is running, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 22, 2012 at 2:17 pm

>What will she be able to exploit to show Palo Alto voters that she deserves to be back on the council?
She is working demographic groups- old people, young people, and bikers, we'll see who is next. I'll guess, parents of young children. She already has the developers, her old allies.
Someone said she managed to change the election year cycle to fit with her own plan to run. I wondered why she turned up at the City Council advocating for an year change.


Posted by Aquamarine, a resident of Stanford
on May 22, 2012 at 8:36 pm

I think Liz still owes me babysitting money from back in the day. She was never considerate about these small details, because she was too busy being available for the developers, er, um, I mean The People.


Posted by Stanford overflowing with $$$, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 22, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Ya know, seems not all that far back we locals were inflicted with repeated brags of how Stanford raised the most $$$ -- of any university, I believe, (I guess calendar yr 2011) - at least, it certainly is frequent that ultra luxury/named buildings/projects materialize there -- and the student newspaper just had an article about how luxurious and fab their student housing is, how they will do anything to recruit top athletes, etc.-- they are overflowing with $$$, from alums as well as nearby (and sometimes, far away) hightech execs/companies and the LEAST they can do is provide the funds for this bike bridge over 101. It is a project that would be used and enjoyed and it should be built to appropriate aesthetic and earthquake standards. These things cost money. The PA Baylands are a wonderful resource for Palo Altans to enjoy. I notice the City of PA plants fancy roses in Stanford colors all over the city, a nod to Stanford.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on May 22, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Many keep looking to Stanford to solve all of the problems created by the city's fiscal irresponsibility and the city's failure to adequately fund infrastructure improvements and upkeep but neither are Stanford's responsibility.

The Kniss bridge is a bridge to nowhere.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Never ceases to amaze me as to how many people think they should have a say in how to spend other people's dinero.


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