News

Ross Road improvement OK'd by council

New traffic signal would link Midtown and North Palo Alto for bicyclists

A long-awaited traffic signal that is key to the future Ross Road Bicycle Boulevard received the green light by the Palo Alto City Council on April 23.

The council voted unanimously on the $410,000 budget amendment, which is the city's fair-share contribution to the $3.1 million Oregon Expressway Improvement Project, planned by Santa Clara County. Changes to the intersections along the expressway are intended to increase safety and traffic flow along the corridor.

The $410,000 will provide funding for work on intersections at Ross and Louis roads -- adding a specialized bicycle light at Ross and equipment that uses microwaves to detect bicycles as they approach Ross and at Bryant Street. The devices would extend the length of the green lights when bicycles are present. Bryant is already a bike boulevard.

The signal will allow bicyclists and pedestrians to cross Oregon while restricting traffic on Ross Road to "right turn only" onto Oregon Expressway. Cars on Oregon would be allowed to turn left onto Ross through new left- and right-turn signals. Residents expressed approval for the new signals during 2008-2009 community-outreach meetings for the overall Oregon Expressway project, according to a city staff report.

Louis Road improvements include modifying the existing "rolled" curbs to vertical curbs on the south side between Oregon and Warren Way.

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Bicycle-boulevard proponents have pushed for years for a traffic light at the busy intersection of Oregon and Ross to link the Midtown area to North Palo Alto.

Pam Radin, a member of the Palo Alto Bicycle Advisory Committee, said she was thrilled the light could become a reality.

"Ross Road Bicycle Boulevard will be a foothold for biking and walking across town. … This project is a huge public benefit to Palo Alto residents and their health and safety and a way to maintain our community values of biking and walking while creating a safer Oregon Expressway.

"A capital investment in the infrastructure of our community in our area of town is unprecedented, and it demonstrates both a city and county commitment to the new Palo Alto Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan implementation.

"Our new Palo Alto Bike Plan revision will become a well-distributed and balanced plan with the implementation of Ross Road Bike Boulevard as a foothold. This public benefit will be enjoyed by so many Palo Altans decades into the future," she said.

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City staff recommended approval of the budget amendment. Funding would come from previously collected traffic-impact fees from the Stanford Research Park Transportation Impact Fee Program, according to the staff report. The council approved the item as part of its consent calendar. Construction could begin in the fall, according to city staff.

Sue Dremann is a veteran journalist who joined the Palo Alto Weekly in 2001. She is a breaking news and general assignment reporter who also covers the regional environmental, health and crime beats. Read more >>

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Ross Road improvement OK'd by council

New traffic signal would link Midtown and North Palo Alto for bicyclists

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Apr 23, 2012, 9:56 am
Updated: Tue, Apr 24, 2012, 4:57 pm

A long-awaited traffic signal that is key to the future Ross Road Bicycle Boulevard received the green light by the Palo Alto City Council on April 23.

The council voted unanimously on the $410,000 budget amendment, which is the city's fair-share contribution to the $3.1 million Oregon Expressway Improvement Project, planned by Santa Clara County. Changes to the intersections along the expressway are intended to increase safety and traffic flow along the corridor.

The $410,000 will provide funding for work on intersections at Ross and Louis roads -- adding a specialized bicycle light at Ross and equipment that uses microwaves to detect bicycles as they approach Ross and at Bryant Street. The devices would extend the length of the green lights when bicycles are present. Bryant is already a bike boulevard.

The signal will allow bicyclists and pedestrians to cross Oregon while restricting traffic on Ross Road to "right turn only" onto Oregon Expressway. Cars on Oregon would be allowed to turn left onto Ross through new left- and right-turn signals. Residents expressed approval for the new signals during 2008-2009 community-outreach meetings for the overall Oregon Expressway project, according to a city staff report.

Louis Road improvements include modifying the existing "rolled" curbs to vertical curbs on the south side between Oregon and Warren Way.

Bicycle-boulevard proponents have pushed for years for a traffic light at the busy intersection of Oregon and Ross to link the Midtown area to North Palo Alto.

Pam Radin, a member of the Palo Alto Bicycle Advisory Committee, said she was thrilled the light could become a reality.

"Ross Road Bicycle Boulevard will be a foothold for biking and walking across town. … This project is a huge public benefit to Palo Alto residents and their health and safety and a way to maintain our community values of biking and walking while creating a safer Oregon Expressway.

"A capital investment in the infrastructure of our community in our area of town is unprecedented, and it demonstrates both a city and county commitment to the new Palo Alto Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan implementation.

"Our new Palo Alto Bike Plan revision will become a well-distributed and balanced plan with the implementation of Ross Road Bike Boulevard as a foothold. This public benefit will be enjoyed by so many Palo Altans decades into the future," she said.

City staff recommended approval of the budget amendment. Funding would come from previously collected traffic-impact fees from the Stanford Research Park Transportation Impact Fee Program, according to the staff report. The council approved the item as part of its consent calendar. Construction could begin in the fall, according to city staff.

Comments

Judith
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 23, 2012 at 10:14 am
Judith, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 23, 2012 at 10:14 am

I think this is a great idea, but I wonder where the northbound bikes will go once they cross Oregon? Ross ends at Garland and there's no northbound continuation unless a bike path is opened through the old easement and the school yard.


Good point, Judith
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2012 at 10:46 am
Good point, Judith, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2012 at 10:46 am

To Judith,

Right. And it won't be. PAUSD has policies restricting that kind of access for security reasons.


Excited Midtown Resident
Midtown
on Apr 23, 2012 at 10:53 am
Excited Midtown Resident, Midtown
on Apr 23, 2012 at 10:53 am

Excited this is finally getting underway. It will be a great addition!


Mr Anderson
Palo Verde
on Apr 23, 2012 at 10:59 am
Mr Anderson, Palo Verde
on Apr 23, 2012 at 10:59 am

I live on Ross and wonder what's the point of the no-left-turn for cars (is that for north or south bound on Ross?). People doing the cut through from Middlefield want to go right onto Oregon anyway I thought.

Can a biker comment on why this light is useful? As Judith said, Ross doesn't seem to go anywhere useful on the north side of Oregon. I always go over to Bryant earlier (on Colorado, say) if I want to get downtown.


bike routes
Palo Verde
on Apr 23, 2012 at 11:09 am
bike routes, Palo Verde
on Apr 23, 2012 at 11:09 am

I'm glad that this project is progressing. The city badly needs better bike routes in the eastern part of town (between Middlefield and Hwy 101). Remember that these bike routes are mostly for kids biking to schools, so having the routes end at schools is a good thing, not a bad thing.


hey
Midtown
on Apr 23, 2012 at 11:24 am
hey, Midtown
on Apr 23, 2012 at 11:24 am

No more traffic lights! Palo Alto is like a police state already.


carol
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 23, 2012 at 11:45 am
carol, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 23, 2012 at 11:45 am

I can't figure out why a traffic light is necessary at Ross and Oregon.
Bikes can't continue north past Garland...Then what do they do?
Why not use Louise as the bike route? A traffic light already exists at Louise


Brian
Evergreen Park
on Apr 23, 2012 at 11:49 am
Brian, Evergreen Park
on Apr 23, 2012 at 11:49 am

I am another one who wonders how useful this bike crossing will be. Northbound cyclists will continue on either Middlefield or Louis. Middlefield is not a bike boulevard, and Louis ends at Embarcadero. I suppose it will help a few kids get more safely to Jordan MS via Middlefield Rd and Garland Elementary via Louis Rd.


Leslie
Green Acres
on Apr 23, 2012 at 12:26 pm
Leslie, Green Acres
on Apr 23, 2012 at 12:26 pm

$410,000 - for what. This is typically Council's way of wasting money. No wonder Palo Alto is going in the hole so far as the City budget is concerned when they dream up money wasters like this.

Just don't vote for any further tax increases when Council spends money like a drunken sailor!!!


Kerry
Midtown
on Apr 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm
Kerry, Midtown
on Apr 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm

As a Ross Rd resident who works downtown and prefers to commute by bike, I am so eager to see this go in. There are a few ways to continue North once across Oregon Expressway. I appreciate the work of the County and Council to work with the residents to get this improvement. Thanks to the Council for seeing the vision and the need for those of us in South PA, East of Middlefield!


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2012 at 2:58 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Can't see how this will help our school kids. Very few Jordan kids come from south of Oregon and Ross will not help Paly kids who probably use Bryant.


Parent
Midtown
on Apr 23, 2012 at 3:25 pm
Parent, Midtown
on Apr 23, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Oh, I would be so happy if this happens. To people who wonder who uses this intersection while bike riding, look no further than high school students going from South of Oregon to Palo Alto High School. My son is one of them, along with his friends. Then, they go down Garland and California Avenue to the underpass before taking Park Blvd and beyond.

Every day, he crosses that intersection on his bike and, every day, I fear for his life. He won't go to Middlefield and Oregon to cross. This is more direct and convenient for him.

So, make it happen quick! ... In two years it will be too late for my son who will be graduating. It will still help others, however.


Parent
Midtown
on Apr 23, 2012 at 3:26 pm
Parent, Midtown
on Apr 23, 2012 at 3:26 pm

When you live East of Middlefield, crossing Oregon at Ross is much more convenient than taking the little street all the way to Bryant. Believe me, lots of kids cross at Ross, mine included.


Louis Rd Resident
Green Acres
on Apr 23, 2012 at 4:05 pm
Louis Rd Resident, Green Acres
on Apr 23, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Great idea! Also remove the light at Louis and Oregon. Put speed bumps or traffic circles on every intersection on Louis. Let's move all of the traffic to Ross.

Adding congestion to a busy expressway when there are already through roads on each side of Ross is dumb and wasteful.


PA Neighbor
Palo Verde
on Apr 23, 2012 at 5:10 pm
PA Neighbor, Palo Verde
on Apr 23, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Most of the kids on bikes I see going to and from school use the sidewalk. I heard third hand that the "schools" encouraged this for safety. Even with bike lanes on Arastradero and Charleston, cars are going so fast I don't blame the kids for staying on the sidewalk.

Riding an extra block or two to find a safe route shouldn't be a hardship. The exercise will do all riders good.


Ross Rd resident
Midtown
on Apr 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm
Ross Rd resident, Midtown
on Apr 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm

This is such a dumb idea. There are sidewalks from Ross to the lights at Middlefield and Louis, and that's where you have to go anyway once you hit Garland. The county recommended NO light at Ross, just eliminating the left turns across Oregon. When pushed they recommended a pedestrian/bike crossing light. The PLANNING COMMITTEE decided they should put a traffic light in.

Ross Rd. can make a nice bike route, but it doesn't need to have a light to cross Oregon since you can't go any further. Make it a nice southern route and use the lights at Middlefield and Louis to connect to north. Another light at Ross (which btw was the safest intersection on Oregon) just adds to the urbanization.

Finally, while the new Oregon work should reduce cut-through traffic by fixing the light timing and preventing traffic backups, the speeds on all the local roads are still too fast, especially with the number of children living here. The speed bumps have been a vital addition. Any effort to make Ross a bike boulevard MUST consider how to further reduce reckless driving on Ross and make it a safe route for kids to bike to school.


Lily
Midtown
on Apr 23, 2012 at 8:06 pm
Lily, Midtown
on Apr 23, 2012 at 8:06 pm

The speeds in the area are too fast, and there are an increasing number of children in the neighborhood. My family has lived on Ross Rd. since the 1950s. Many trucks daily use Ross to avoid traffic on Louis and Middlefield. They defy the speed bumps and careen down the street at will. Putting a stoplight at Ross and Oregon will make Ross similar to Middlefield and Louis, and perhaps that is the point, unfortunately. As it is, with barely tolerable street traffic, Ross near Oregon is a liveable neighborhood for families. It is be one thing to ease conditions for school children. It is be quite another thing for trucks to line up in front of homes on Ross and wait for the signal to change. A stop sign at Ross Rd. and Oregon Ave. seems like a very poor idea for the folks living on Ross Rd. near Oregon Ave.


Ross Resident
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 23, 2012 at 9:00 pm
Ross Resident, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 23, 2012 at 9:00 pm

This idea would never have been approved if the "planners" had taken the time to observe the morning commute. When traffic backs up on Oregon heading West, as it does every morning, all of the cars turn right onto Ross in order to avoid the back-up. They barrel down the one block of Ross that leads to Garland, then speed down winding Garland towards Middlefield. I bike to work along this route and have almost been hit more than once by cars avoiding the light. Putting a traffic light at this intersection will only compound both compound the problem as both bikes AND cars compete for the limited street space on Ross and Garland.


Donald
South of Midtown
on Apr 24, 2012 at 6:46 am
Donald, South of Midtown
on Apr 24, 2012 at 6:46 am

Oregon Expressway is operated by Santa Clara County Roads and Airports Department. Palo Alto can't make any changes on their own. The County engineer approved of the new signal at Ross as part of the whole expressway plan, and he is the one responsible for maintaining good traffic flow as well as safety. The County has cameras at every intersection and they monitor traffic all the time so they know the situation very well. Claiming that Palo Alto "planners" did this without considering traffic flow is absolutely false.


Bright Side
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2012 at 9:54 am
Bright Side, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2012 at 9:54 am

Its good to see more positive people than negative ones on this board. What a change from the usual sour puss comments by Palo Altans!


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