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.