News

Palo Alto eyes contest to design new bike bridge

City's Architecture Review Board endorses staff idea to hold a design competition for bridge over U.S. Highway 101

Architects from Palo Alto and beyond could soon be asked to flap their creative wings and help the city design a new bridge that would span a busy highway and give residents in the south part of the city an elegant, year-round entry point into the Baylands.

The bike bridge, which would stretch from south Palo Alto to the Baylands and span U.S. Highway 101 at Adobe Creek, is one of the most ambitious and expensive proposals in the city's recently approved Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan. It seeks to replace an existing underpass at Adobe Creek, a structure that is closed for much of the year because of flooding.

The $10 million project got off to an auspicious start last year when the city succeeded in landing a $4 million grant from Santa Clara County for design work. Now, officials are preparing to delve into the nitty-gritty. Last Thursday, Feb. 21, the Architectural Review Board held a public hearing on the proposed overpass and heartily endorsed the staff proposal for a design competition -- an exercise that city officials hopes will lead to a surge of creative ideas.

"I'm very much in favor of a design competition," member Randy Popp said. "There are only things to be gained from it and nothing to be lost."

On Thursday, the board considered some parameters for the competition, including the judging process and the criteria designers will have to follow. Board member Lee Lippert said the design should strike the fine balance between functioning as a "gateway" to Palo Alto and Silicon Valley and blending in with the natural beauty of the Baylands. It should be a landmark, he said, without becoming a blemish.

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

"It can't be overdesigned," Lippert said. "It can't impose itself on the open space."

Lippert called the design competition an "incredibly good idea" and proposed that the city adopt four criteria: simplicity of design, sustainability, compatibility with natural open space and enhancement to the pedestrian and bicycling experience.

Board Chair Clare Malone Prichard voiced support for Lippert's criteria and shared his enthusiasm for the competition, urging staff to cast as wide a net as possible. The contest, she said, should be "really inclusive."

"You can be surprised at some of the ideas that come from students, locals or internationals," Malone Prichard said. "You don't want to limit the opportunities by selecting just a few design professionals to compete."

While the competition idea is still being worked out, city staff is busily proceeding with other aspects of the bridge project. Elizabeth Ames, project manager with the Public Works Department, said staff is working with the state Department of Transportation to complete the mandated federal and state environmental reviews.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Staff and its consultant, Casey Hildreth from the firm Alta Planning + Design, are also considering, in broad terms, the type of bridge the city should seek.

At Thursday's meeting, Hildreth presented three alternatives: a "landscape" bridge that emphasizes the natural setting; a "signature" bridge that is fancier and functions more as a landmark; and a "post-modern" bridge -- a catch-all term to describe highly eccentric ideas that a design competition will likely attract.

Hildreth acknowledged that given the location of the new structure, he is slightly biased toward the first of these options.

"Really, we shouldn't be thinking about this bridge intruding," Hildreth said. "It should really be an extension of the park over the highway and into the community."

While the board didn't vote on the project Thursday, members said they were enthusiastic about the project. Board member Alex Lew, a bicyclist and frequent Baylands visitor, said he uses bridges throughout the Peninsula and finds many of them too narrow or deficient in how they were designed. Like Hildreth, he said he supported emphasizing the bridge's Baylands setting. This could mean "more horizontal and less vertical," he said.

According to a report from Public Works staff, the environmental review for the new bridge is set to be completed later this year, in the fall or winter. If the City Council opts to proceed with the design competition, it would take place between summer and winter of this year, with the final design completed some time in 2014. The city's goal is to secure all the needed permits and begin construction in fall 2015 and to have it completed by late 2017.

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now
Gennady Sheyner
 
Gennady Sheyner covers the City Hall beat in Palo Alto as well as regional politics, with a special focus on housing and transportation. Before joining the Palo Alto Weekly/PaloAltoOnline.com in 2008, he covered breaking news and local politics for the Waterbury Republican-American, a daily newspaper in Connecticut. Read more >>

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Palo Alto eyes contest to design new bike bridge

City's Architecture Review Board endorses staff idea to hold a design competition for bridge over U.S. Highway 101

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Feb 26, 2013, 9:56 am

Architects from Palo Alto and beyond could soon be asked to flap their creative wings and help the city design a new bridge that would span a busy highway and give residents in the south part of the city an elegant, year-round entry point into the Baylands.

The bike bridge, which would stretch from south Palo Alto to the Baylands and span U.S. Highway 101 at Adobe Creek, is one of the most ambitious and expensive proposals in the city's recently approved Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan. It seeks to replace an existing underpass at Adobe Creek, a structure that is closed for much of the year because of flooding.

The $10 million project got off to an auspicious start last year when the city succeeded in landing a $4 million grant from Santa Clara County for design work. Now, officials are preparing to delve into the nitty-gritty. Last Thursday, Feb. 21, the Architectural Review Board held a public hearing on the proposed overpass and heartily endorsed the staff proposal for a design competition -- an exercise that city officials hopes will lead to a surge of creative ideas.

"I'm very much in favor of a design competition," member Randy Popp said. "There are only things to be gained from it and nothing to be lost."

On Thursday, the board considered some parameters for the competition, including the judging process and the criteria designers will have to follow. Board member Lee Lippert said the design should strike the fine balance between functioning as a "gateway" to Palo Alto and Silicon Valley and blending in with the natural beauty of the Baylands. It should be a landmark, he said, without becoming a blemish.

"It can't be overdesigned," Lippert said. "It can't impose itself on the open space."

Lippert called the design competition an "incredibly good idea" and proposed that the city adopt four criteria: simplicity of design, sustainability, compatibility with natural open space and enhancement to the pedestrian and bicycling experience.

Board Chair Clare Malone Prichard voiced support for Lippert's criteria and shared his enthusiasm for the competition, urging staff to cast as wide a net as possible. The contest, she said, should be "really inclusive."

"You can be surprised at some of the ideas that come from students, locals or internationals," Malone Prichard said. "You don't want to limit the opportunities by selecting just a few design professionals to compete."

While the competition idea is still being worked out, city staff is busily proceeding with other aspects of the bridge project. Elizabeth Ames, project manager with the Public Works Department, said staff is working with the state Department of Transportation to complete the mandated federal and state environmental reviews.

Staff and its consultant, Casey Hildreth from the firm Alta Planning + Design, are also considering, in broad terms, the type of bridge the city should seek.

At Thursday's meeting, Hildreth presented three alternatives: a "landscape" bridge that emphasizes the natural setting; a "signature" bridge that is fancier and functions more as a landmark; and a "post-modern" bridge -- a catch-all term to describe highly eccentric ideas that a design competition will likely attract.

Hildreth acknowledged that given the location of the new structure, he is slightly biased toward the first of these options.

"Really, we shouldn't be thinking about this bridge intruding," Hildreth said. "It should really be an extension of the park over the highway and into the community."

While the board didn't vote on the project Thursday, members said they were enthusiastic about the project. Board member Alex Lew, a bicyclist and frequent Baylands visitor, said he uses bridges throughout the Peninsula and finds many of them too narrow or deficient in how they were designed. Like Hildreth, he said he supported emphasizing the bridge's Baylands setting. This could mean "more horizontal and less vertical," he said.

According to a report from Public Works staff, the environmental review for the new bridge is set to be completed later this year, in the fall or winter. If the City Council opts to proceed with the design competition, it would take place between summer and winter of this year, with the final design completed some time in 2014. The city's goal is to secure all the needed permits and begin construction in fall 2015 and to have it completed by late 2017.

Comments

DIXIE DAVISON
Midtown
on Feb 26, 2013 at 10:20 am
DIXIE DAVISON, Midtown
on Feb 26, 2013 at 10:20 am

WHY DO WE HAVE TO BUILD ANOTHER BRIDGE TO THE BAYLANDS WHEN WE ALREADY HAVE ONE. THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER THINGS WE COULD SPEND THIS MONEY ON. IT SEEMS LIKE THE PEOPLE WHO ARE IN OFFICE HERE IN PALO ALTO THINK MONEY GROWS ON TREES. FIX OUR STREETS AS SOME ARE A MESS, HIRE MORE POLICE BUT DONT WASTE IT ON ANOTHER BRIDGE WE DONT NEED.


Kate
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 26, 2013 at 10:31 am
Kate, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 26, 2013 at 10:31 am

This expense is INSANE. WE need more police, repaired sidewalks, and the traffic mess on Embarcadero at Paly-Town and Country fixed NOW. We need the budget under control. Prior councils who helped get us into this mess are now represented on the present one....Klein and Kniss. And we've got to be GREEN at escalating expense!! Green = civic indigestion. Council...LEARN TO SAY "NO".


as soon as possible
South of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2013 at 10:39 am
as soon as possible, South of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2013 at 10:39 am

This is the main pedestrian and bicycle route from southern Palo Alto to the shoreline area, for both nature lovers and people trying to get to their jobs on the other side of the highway. The current path is so fragile that it has been closed since 2011! The marked detour route is 2 miles longer, making it impractical for many people, especially during the winter when rush hour in in the dark.

Please get this new bridge done as soon as possible. I don't care what it looks like. Fast and cheap is fine. The view from the bridge is mostly of a smelly noisy ugly freeway, so people are not going to linger up there.


bikermom
Evergreen Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:02 am
bikermom, Evergreen Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:02 am

The current bridge doesn't allow for a cargo bike to get through. We only have one car and the other day I needed to take it to the city, so my husband was going to use our cargo bike (our 2nd car) to get the kids to gymnastics at Twisters in Mt. View. However, it wouldn't fit on the bridge and going over an overpass with freeway traffic is too dangerous. So I think this would be great! Maybe simplify the design to lower costs.


palo alto mom
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:02 am
palo alto mom, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:02 am

The bridge is a great idea, the contest is a great idea, but where is the other 6 million dollars coming from? A $10 million dollar project with a $4 million dollar grant still leaves Palo Alto taxpayers responsible for $6 million dollars. For a bridge, seriously?

The roads IN Palo Alto that are "bike friendly" are full of potholes, metal plates, etc. Kids and bike commuters in the City have a tough time commuting safely. How about we fix the Palo Alto roads BEFORE we build a bridge to Mountain View?


bill g
Barron Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:14 am
bill g , Barron Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:14 am

Palo Alto Mom has 2 good points. Fix the present intra city bike lanes, and get the rest of the $6 million in hand before spending a dime on the bridge.

Where do people and the City Council think the additional money is coming from? Oh, yes. As always spend taxpayers money and then try to balance the budget. Our General Fund doesn't have extra money for projects not in the IBRC recommendations.


Jeff
Duveneck School
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:14 am
Jeff, Duveneck School
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:14 am

Couldn't they just somehow create a biking/walking path on San Antonio for less money? You can walk over on Embarcadero and Rengstorff, why not do the same for San Antonio? Is this really how we should be spending money?

A design competition will only increase the cost with unnecessary elements. Who stops to take in a pedestrian bridge? Has anyone pulled over on 101 near Ralston to admire and enjoy the new pedestrian bridge?


bridge equivilant to Homer Ave tunnel
Stanford
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:16 am
bridge equivilant to Homer Ave tunnel, Stanford
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:16 am

ASAP--get thebridge done as soon as possible??? Not in Palo Alto. The article talks about end of 2017--you can add a few years to that due to the Palo Alto process.
Plus the ARB and members of the council have made it clear that this cannot just be a simple, cheap bridge--it has to be a shining gateway to Silicon valley and have a design competetion to choose the right one. It has to be aesthitically pleasing.
AS for the rest of the money--it does not matter, infrastructure will beignored for a few more years so that we can have this wonderful bridge. In fact it should be so wonderful, that drivers on 101 stop their cars to marvel at it.
That is the kind of bridge that Palo Alto wants--we do not want to be like the rest ofthe world


j99
Barron Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:21 am
j99, Barron Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:21 am

This is lunacy. We don't need any more bike lanes. We need to stop the runaway crime in Palo Alto. Spend money on more police to stop the virtually dailly armed robberies downtown and holdups of businesses.

Stop wasting taxpayer money on this. Another idea promoted by the Green lunatic fringe.


Nick
Midtown
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:35 am
Nick, Midtown
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:35 am

I like Jeff's idea. And make that add-on strip wheelchair-accessible too please! Wheelchair-riders--and seniors with scooters-- need an easy path to access the Baylands and trails too. To hide this one-more-chunk concrete+steel-fence item, how about thickly covering the sides with growing pampas grass in planter strips, and the exterior bottoms with barked tree-trunk sides? --Nick


Anon.
Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:35 am
Anon., Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:35 am

No matter what - pull or change the blockades in the old bridge and perhaps had some survellance cameras or something, the isolation of that bridge and it's entry and exists are a little scary.

The bridge down the freeway ... I think it's in San Carlos is pretty nice, why not use that as a model and stop this dilly-dallying and actually get something done?

Just get it done, and get it done cheaply as possible with as low maintenance costs as possible, and then shut up about it. This is another joke to make the city seem like they are democratic or are open to input ... then they go and choose something that everyone will roundly despise anyway.


Anon.
Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:38 am
Anon., Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:38 am

There is also no really good way to walk across existing overpasses, such as Embarcadero. It means that everyone that does that needs to twice pass by the on/offramps where cars are shooting by to merge and get into Palo Alto or onto the freeway. It's unnerving, and certainly not workable for children or handicapped.


Anonymous
Barron Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 12:09 pm
Anonymous, Barron Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 12:09 pm

This just makes me mad. I cannot rejoice in the news about this wonderful, artistic, spectacular bridge knowing that the rest of our town is suffering with crime, cut-backs on everything, higher rates on lights, water, gas, trash, just tax, tax, tax....I'm done with it. No more stupid spending!


More and More Bridges
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2013 at 12:33 pm
More and More Bridges, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Just add another $6. Million to the infrastructure bond measure in 2014. Except for the Police Building this bond measure will not have to disclose what infrastructure is covered by the additional money on the ballot. Just call it all "infrastructure" and you people will approve the bond measure!!!

This is not the only bridge being proposed a brand new bicycle/pedestrian bridge is being planned to cross Adobe Creek in Mitchell Park. The present bridge is not safe for wheel chairs and the disabled who may wish to visit the proposed Magical Bridge playground.


palo alto mom
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2013 at 12:54 pm
palo alto mom, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2013 at 12:54 pm

More and more bridges - I believe the only contribution that the City is making to the Magical Bridge is dedicating the land at the Park. The non-profit is raising $3.8 million for the construction of the playground, bridge, etc. The City is apply for a grant to help them (I think).


Marrol
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2013 at 1:37 pm
Marrol, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Another example of our city leaders and elected officials displaying a total lack of focus and sense of priority. This bridge represents a desired, but certainly not an essential need. Just a few months ago our city leaders were crying from the rooftops over the city's ongoing budget deficit. They described the circumstances as an unprecedented financial crisis. They declared we did not have the necessary public funds allocated to pay for vital and essential needs that exist in the areas of infrastructure and public safety. And what is their response? Why nothing less than continuing to spend millions on non-essential, niche, and feel good projects.

Perhaps the most insulting thing of all, is they actually have the gall to suggest another bond measure and tax increase to pay for our vital civic needs, after they blatantly and frivolously spend millions on bike bridges, public art, playgrounds, community center renovations, and commercial district make-overs. It's more than insulting, it's offensive.

We need our elected officials to do everything possible to balance the city budget. Certain city services should be outsourced. We need to stop or eliminate spending on non-essential city services and programs wherever possible. Our city leaders must set some sound financial priorities and stop catering to every special interest group. They can no longer continue to see every grant program as an invitation to spend more. These are the steps that need to be taken if we ever have any hope of balancing our city budget, providing adequate public safety to our citizens, and strengthening our infrastructure.


corporate donor?
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 26, 2013 at 1:47 pm
corporate donor?, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 26, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Can't some of our high status residents or city officials make polite inquiries to see if any of our local corporate magnates would be willing to donate/build an artistic and functional bridge...and get their corporate name put on it (I see no reason why not) ...everyone going over it would see a plaque at each end with the corporate name and there would be a dedication ceremony and all...perhaps the bridge could even be seen as a notable "Silicon Valley feature." I see the pro and con sides of the bridge, but feel there might be a way to make it happen if our high level city officials network with key persons who like to live and work in this area of Silicon Valley.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm

I like the idea of a bridge but I don't like the cost.

I think there should also be a competition to find ways to pay for cost of the bridge.

I think we should seek corporate sponsorship for a start. I think also we should look for whether or not this can be a toll bridge.

The bike community is large and there are many clubs. They are also becoming quite political. However, apart from the cost of the bike itself and accessories such as lights and helmets, the price of bicycling around town is free. It would be worth looking into seeing how adult bike riders could be able to contribute to the cost of this bridge.

There is no such thing as a free lunch and this bridge would be far from free. The funding of this bridge is a big question and should not be ignored.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2013 at 2:17 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2013 at 2:17 pm

One idea for paying for the bridge, start ticketing bikes that don't stop at stop signs or don't have lights at night.


Another Gateway?
Evergreen Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 2:18 pm
Another Gateway?, Evergreen Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Good grief, not ANOTHER gateway! It's the word of the month for developers. The office building on Alma and Lytton is a "Gateway" and Jim Baer is calling his proposal for El Camino and Oregon a "Gateway."
What a lot of hot air.


Bob
Community Center
on Feb 26, 2013 at 2:47 pm
Bob , Community Center
on Feb 26, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Invite Arrillaga to pay for it. He seems to have "Money to Burn". He offered to pay for new
playing fields at the Baylands acc. to the Weekly.. (Golfers, golf staff all vetoed extravagant Plan "G" - but not our excessive spending Council".) Did Arrillage want something in return for his offer? Arrillaga has multiple Stanford buildings with his surname on them - but he doesn't have a bridge!! This bridge is something Palo Alto cannot afford right now. There are many things the City can't afford now- reminds me of my own life.But that doesn't stop this Council OR City Hall. ....known around town as "Silly Haul".


Easy Peazy
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2013 at 2:56 pm
Easy Peazy, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Just make it safe and useful to all and get the job done. Asking what everyone wants only delays the job getting done. How to make this decision simple... Just make it look like the other bridges to the north and south of this location. Job done.


Jim H.
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 26, 2013 at 3:18 pm
Jim H., Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 26, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Bob,
Arrillaga wanted concessions on his project at the MacArthur Park site and only then would he give the money for the playing fields at the golf course. City is not giving in and his money is being withdrawn, so no fields. He also wanted to buy a slice of Foothills Park that abuts his estate. Public caught wind of it and how it was secretly being dealt with, so now that seems to be off the table as well.

Arrillaga has done a lot for the community and Stanford. It'd be nice if he did it out of the kindess of his heart (as he seems to do with his Stanford donations) instead of the thickness of his wallet.


IWantABridge
Palo Verde
on Feb 26, 2013 at 3:54 pm
IWantABridge, Palo Verde
on Feb 26, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Note - some/most of the money is coming from funds that *cannot* be used for police, roads, etc. It is money from an agreement with Stanford (someone can provide a link).
This does not mean that we do not need money for those other things (only that their discussion does not belong in this thread).
This does not mean that we need to spend $10 million on a 'gateway' bridge - the one down the road in Mt. View cost $3 million (but it *is* far simpler because it could be built in a straight line).
As to adding 'safe passage' across the San Antonio bridge I see several problems. One, safe access (for children especially) *TO* the bridge itself on both sides (too much traffic). Two, I wonder for how much longer that bridge will stand as-is before being replaced.


DC
Old Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2013 at 3:57 pm
DC, Old Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2013 at 3:57 pm

I like "corporate sponsor"'s idea. Google might like a huge multicolored "Entering GOOGLE Territory" sign on the southbound side of the bridge in return for sponsorship. Stanford, per the local paper, was just lauded for getting the most money in contributions EVER. Would they be willing to sponsor part of the construction in order to create something for the northbound side? We have students and people of all ages who have amazing ideas to offer who wouldn't charge hundreds of thousands of dollars. What someone else said about not limiting the field of applicants, making it open to those who live and work here seems so simple. Why does it need to be limited to one designer, for that matter? Take the many good/best cost-effective + creative ideas, allow the public to vote on them, and incorporate the winners to make the most amazing bridge ever. I am also ready to gag re "gateway" this and "gateway" that. Get over it. It's a BRIDGE. I needs to be safe, functional for years to come, and cost-effective. Which takes me to this; If city officials had to give up something, like half their salary for 3 years to put towards the project, would they be so eager to push it? And why do they get to make decisions w/o citizen okay? Don't they answer to us? Are there rules they're supposed to follow (with consequences if they don't) about spending tax dollars? I don't understand the process.


Not an issue
Community Center
on Feb 26, 2013 at 5:12 pm
Not an issue, Community Center
on Feb 26, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Before the city spends a penny of this or launches a design contest, they need to do a study looking how many people will actually use this bridge. Just because the biking coalition says we need a bridge does not mean we need one. And if we do need one, then it should be a simple, nexpensive one. No big discussions on color or shape or design, no blue ribbonanels or consultants.


Gary
Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2013 at 5:44 pm
Gary, Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2013 at 5:44 pm

"Just because the biking coalition says we need a bridge does not mean we need one"

I agree.


Donald
South of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2013 at 6:44 pm
Donald, South of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2013 at 6:44 pm

The old Adobe Creek undercrossing that was only open in the summer and has now been closed for over a year was very heavily used, and I expect a new bike/ped bridge will also get a lot of use. I don't see what a design contest will bring in the way of benefits, though.

As far as improving the San Antonio overpass, that is not a viable option because it is owned by Caltrans. The City has no control over that, and Caltrans will not do anything.

The existing overpass at Oregon dates from the 1970s and is woefully inadequate and does not meet today's safety or accessibility standards. The narrow barricades can't simply be removed or modified because they are structurally significant. If it was easy to make that overpass accessible to wheelchairs, cargo bikes, trailers and tandems it would have happened many years ago.

A new bridge is important. Some people want it and some people NEED it (emphasis for Marrol). Nobody needs a work of art, though.


Not an issue
Community Center
on Feb 26, 2013 at 6:47 pm
Not an issue, Community Center
on Feb 26, 2013 at 6:47 pm

I am sure some people wanted and needed the homer avenue tunnel.


Linda
Old Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2013 at 7:05 pm
Linda, Old Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Our city leaders are out of touch with the wishes of the majority of its citizens. They cater to a vocal minority. Palo Alto's government leadership is fiscally irresponsible.


Marrol
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2013 at 7:13 pm
Marrol, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2013 at 7:13 pm

And so Donald South of Midtown, what of the ongoing budget deficit? What of the projected 50-plus million dollar price tag on absolutely critical infrastructure needs? What of the vital public safety needs that remain unfunded? These should be the fiscal priorities. A bike bridge definitely takes a back seat, especially when the tax payer portion could involve several million dollars. It's time to cater to the greater good and not the vocal minorities and special interest groups.


Donald
South of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2013 at 7:31 pm
Donald, South of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Marrol,
I agree with you that we have critical infrastructure and public safety needs, but cancelling this project is not going to help those because it is being paid for with funds that cannot be used for those purposes.


Not an issue
Community Center
on Feb 26, 2013 at 7:46 pm
Not an issue, Community Center
on Feb 26, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Donald--will the entire cost Be covered by this money? Knowing palo alto and the comments of the ARB and previous comments by Holman they want something special and expensive-- something that we will end up funding.


Donald
South of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2013 at 7:55 pm
Donald, South of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2013 at 7:55 pm

I don't know what the outcome will be, but Marrol's claim that it will use millions of dollars in general fund money is a made-up claim with no support. For the record, I support a functional and cost-effective design like that chosen by Sunnyvale for their 101 and 237 crossings.


Carrot
Meadow Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 8:47 pm
Carrot, Meadow Park
on Feb 26, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Right on Donald,
Stick to the facts, not verdant imaginations.
And pick something functional and economical.


Marrol
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2013 at 9:07 pm
Marrol, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Not true Donald, Palo Alto tax payers will most definitely be left on the hook for cost overruns beyond what's covered by the grant and Stanford contributions. We all know that Palo Alto is famous for never completing a project on time and within the allocated budget. The potential and exposure in this project for these elements are too great and too expensive. We can't afford it.


musical
Palo Verde
on Feb 26, 2013 at 9:17 pm
musical, Palo Verde
on Feb 26, 2013 at 9:17 pm

I'll vote for functional and economical and easily maintainable. Was wondering when we'd vote for whom to name the bridge. But I wouldn't mind naming it by sponsorship as suggested above.

My only trepidation is that a bridge, even this limited, will lead to yet more development of the remaining bayside open space. ABAG is looking for thousands of new housing units, and this bridge would be the perfect set-up for a ludicrous claim that all new residents will ride bikes rather than drive cars.

@Donald, were the bike barricades on the old bridge near Oregon there at the original opening? Don't know how they could be structural. I vaguely recall riding freely (and without a helmet) across that bridge and also through the Cal Ave tunnel, but must have been half a century ago.


Crazy
Community Center
on Feb 26, 2013 at 9:58 pm
Crazy, Community Center
on Feb 26, 2013 at 9:58 pm

This is a total waste of money no one has. The feds, the state, the county, transit everyone is barrowing money they dont have and some of it will end up on this project. Our grand kids will pay for the Taj Mahal.

It would be cheaper to buy everyone who will use this bridge a new car or daily rides in a limo versus building what will be a 20 million dollar boondogle.


Actually you can't legally
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2013 at 8:47 am
Actually you can't legally, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2013 at 8:47 am

@jeff

" You can walk over on Embarcadero ...

     No pedestrian shall cross Bayshore Freeway upon Embarcadero Road Overpass.
(Ord 2496 § 2, 1969: Ord. 2470 § 3, 1968)


Out of Control Spending
Barron Park
on Feb 27, 2013 at 9:39 am
Out of Control Spending, Barron Park
on Feb 27, 2013 at 9:39 am

And the city council will be shocked when their precious infrastructure bond fails in 2014, after spending who knows how much in taxpayer $$ to promote it.

1. Stop spending on stupid pet projects.
2. Control the spiraling pension obligations, and if you're too afraid of the unions to do so, start outsourcing everything except police.
3. Stop using PA utilities as a cash cow for the city. It's bad government and borderline corrupt. Repeal the utility users tax.


Underpass Fan
Mountain View
on Feb 27, 2013 at 10:28 am
Underpass Fan, Mountain View
on Feb 27, 2013 at 10:28 am

What's the holdup with the existing Adobe Creek and 101 underpass? It has been closed for a long time -- it is way overdue that you open it again! Get to work on that, City of Palo Alto.

$10M sounds like a LOT for a pedestrian/bike bridge. It doesn't matter that $4M comes from somewhere else, we paid those taxes, too. Waste is waste, no matter where the money comes from.

The underpass works fine. Yes, it might flood once in a while but so what? Just out up a sign or come orange cones, for Pete's sake.


county taxpayer
Old Palo Alto
on Feb 27, 2013 at 10:47 am
county taxpayer, Old Palo Alto
on Feb 27, 2013 at 10:47 am

Thanks to the County of Santa Clara for spending $4,000,000 of county taxpayers money on yet another wishful project that only increases the current county government skyrocketing deficit to $216,000,000. Who cares that this project won't ever be paid in full long after those demanding the overpass have passed on of natural causes leaving only a bridge to access the Palo Alto Landfill Park. What a great legacy to leave our grandchildren who will be left to pay for this nonsense.


June
Old Palo Alto
on Feb 27, 2013 at 11:16 am
June, Old Palo Alto
on Feb 27, 2013 at 11:16 am

City Council member Liz Kniss wants this bridge as a monument to herself.


Crescent Park Dad
Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2013 at 12:05 pm
Crescent Park Dad, Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Wouldn't it cost less to fix and/or upgrade the existing underpass than to build a new bridge? Just asking.

In other words, if we chose to fix the existing underpass - would we be able to use just the grant money and not city money?


Sally
Midtown
on Feb 27, 2013 at 1:25 pm
Sally, Midtown
on Feb 27, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I agree with above poster. Either use the plan for the new San Carlos bike bridge or the new one in Mt View (from Crittendon Middle School, under Old Middlefield, and over 101). Either of those should work. They could even use the plan for the new one over 85 (but I think too fancy) Why spend extra $ to design a fancy one?


Alan
Greenmeadow
on Feb 27, 2013 at 2:42 pm
Alan, Greenmeadow
on Feb 27, 2013 at 2:42 pm

>>The bridge down the freeway ... I think it's in San Carlos is pretty nice,
>> why not use that as a model and stop this dilly-dallying and actually
>> get something done?

I agree with this comment by Anon. The bike path near Ralston Rd. on 101 is rather nice. Just use that design and move on. Maybe someone can submit a design based on it.


We Get What We Deserve
Midtown
on Feb 27, 2013 at 2:51 pm
We Get What We Deserve, Midtown
on Feb 27, 2013 at 2:51 pm

This is a terrific example of how our money is being wasted. There are so many projects that need to be done. Budgets that need to be balanced. And somehow the city council knows that they can continue wasting money on frivolous projects that benefit few but saddle the majority with debt that needs to be repaid. Since all that most of us will us will ever do is to complain on this board, we definitely deserve the extra tax that is coming to pay for this, and other such stupid wastes of money.


Annette
College Terrace
on Feb 27, 2013 at 3:12 pm
Annette, College Terrace
on Feb 27, 2013 at 3:12 pm

I wonder if the public will be asked to vote on the finalists. Doing that sounds like a good idea - until you recall how the outcome of the vote on the California Avenue fountain was ignored.

And a question: does the Bicycle Coalition contribute $ to projects such as this or is their role limited to promotion?


Do It
Meadow Park
on Feb 27, 2013 at 4:04 pm
Do It, Meadow Park
on Feb 27, 2013 at 4:04 pm

I guess we can get by with this. Build it and pass out tissues to the snivelers. Onward.


Marrol
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 27, 2013 at 4:45 pm
Marrol, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 27, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Nothing sniveling about a budget deficit that has been running for nearly a decade. Nothing sniveling about having to increase taxes in order to fund our essential and vital civic needs. If that be the case, then better to be sniveling than completely out of touch with reality.


100% bicycle commuter
Mountain View
on Feb 27, 2013 at 5:56 pm
100% bicycle commuter, Mountain View
on Feb 27, 2013 at 5:56 pm

I personally favor a cheap and sufficient solution. I've heard the Adobe Creek underpass has been closed indefinitely due to roadway construction. Can anybody confirm that? If it were possible to keep open most of the year, as has worked for many years in the past, why not restore it to that condition as soon as physically possible? I suppose there might be liability issues, which are often the undoing of efficiency. Anybody know anything about liability issues re: the underpass?

I have no involvement with the Bicycle Coalition, but I'm guessing their support for the bridge doesn't mean they actually want to spend a lot of money on it. My guess is that, just like pretty much all cyclists and pedestrians, they support some means of getting non-motor vehicles across the highway in a safe way, whatever the means. This particular method just happens to have come along, so they support it. Here's an old blog post from the SVBC that seems to accord with my opinion:

Web Link

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure most bicyclists feel the same way as most drivers: keeping things safe, efficient, and commensurate with a limited budget. To me, the underpass seems to meet these criteria, but, again, there may be a deeper story to that.


Richard
Midtown
on Feb 27, 2013 at 6:24 pm
Richard, Midtown
on Feb 27, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Palo Alto does not have a Bicycle Commission.

The Adobe Creek undercrossing has been closed for over a year because of the 101 construction. Prior to that it was open during the dry season, but it does not meet safety standards for width, height or slope and it is not handicap-accessible. You could not build that today, and you could not modify it without bringing it up to modern standards. That was investigated as part of the feasibility study, and making that a year-round crossing that meets mandatory safety and accessibility standards would cost more than building the overpass. Furthermore, many people felt that a dark tunnel would be less secure than an open bridge and they are not comfortable with an underpass (don't make me defend that, I am just repeating public comments).


100% bicycle commuter
Mountain View
on Feb 27, 2013 at 7:05 pm
100% bicycle commuter, Mountain View
on Feb 27, 2013 at 7:05 pm

@Richard, thanks very much for the information. This paper ought to quote your comment, or something like it, every time there is an article about this issue, as it would make unnecessary a lot of (very reasonable) debate in this forum. More generally, I think it would help if this paper (to the extent that it wants to facilitate community discussion) would have an FAQ page for every contentious issue it reports on. That way there would be some continuity in the discussion between articles, and we could avoid some of the understandable, but ultimately redundant and futile, outrage every time the issue is reported on.

For example, I think the underpass is fine and would like to see it restored to its former level of utility, but (based on @Richard's information) I can understand why the city government is not permitted to do so. So I guess I have to support a highway overpass, since there appears not to be an alternative, and I always support safe rights of way for non-motorists. Now my only concern in the future is that the overpass be built without unnecessary cost for aesthetic considerations, as it is, after all, crossing a highway. It can't be any uglier than a typical motorist overpass, right? And motorist overpasses aren't a big eyesore relative to any other part of road systems.

As for funding, it looks like Stanford is paying for some part of this one. But why was there not a requirement for part of the funding for the 101 construction to go toward maintaining a preexisting non-motorist right of way? I feel like there is in general a state requirement for right-of-way mitigation of that sort. Was the project let off the hook because the existing right of way isn't considered up to standard? More questions that could be answered on an FAQ and thereby provide a foundation for constructive and non-redundant future debate.


Cedric de La Beaujardiere
Registered user
Barron Park
on Feb 28, 2013 at 4:32 am
Cedric de La Beaujardiere, Barron Park
Registered user
on Feb 28, 2013 at 4:32 am

@"100% bicycle commuter": great idea to have PA online issue an FAQ on repeatedly referenced controversial topics.

@Richard, Thanks for your comments. I confirm that the Palo Alto Bicycle Advisory Committee pursued more affordable options, but they were not feasible. See some of the ideas pursued and their issues at my first posting in the article "Palo Alto makes bid for bike-bridge funds" at Web Link On the feeling secure question, often women feel more secure where they can be seen and they can see into, like an overcrossing, than a hidden undercrossing where they can't see who's lurking around the bend.

On the costs and budget balancing issues, there is a good chance that the city will get significant funding from the Bicycle Expenditure Program (BEP) portion of the Valley Transportation Plan (VTP) 2040, which is a periodically-updated 25-year countywide long-range transportation plan. (VTP 2040 is in the public review stage with upcoming community meetings, see: Web Link This bridge is on the draft plan, and past iterations of BEP have funded similar projects. For instance the VTP 2035 plan had allocations of between $5M to $10M each for six bike/ped overcrossings (Web Link

BEP funds are earmarked for bike projects, they can't be used for Palo Alto's significant infrastructure backlog needs, and if PA doesn't apply for them in our community, they will be allocated to other cities. There has been a historical imbalance, with Palo Alto, as a wealthy community, paying more than it receives. So tax hawks should be pleased that their tax dollars will come back to benefit their own community.

If any purely city funds are used for this project, keep in mind that the current undercrossing is not free, as the current maintenance to clear the mud after each flooding season is on the order of $0.1M, and it would be much more if we tried to keep the path open year round and repeatedly clear mud. So if the city has to pitch in $1M, 10 years of bridge life will more than pay for itself. I would expect the bridge to have a life closer to 50 years.

@"Not an Issue", who wrote, the city needs "to do a study looking how many people will actually use this bridge." They have already done that study, and found that the Adobe Creek location would generate the most usage. Search for early community and/or Council meetings on the topic to find that info.

It is not just the bicycle community that wants this, but also the people that live in the Adobe Meadow and surrounding neighborhoods Web Link for whom this connection was a popular item in community meetings on local infrastructure needs.


Cedric de La Beaujardiere
Registered user
Barron Park
on Feb 28, 2013 at 5:04 am
Cedric de La Beaujardiere, Barron Park
Registered user
on Feb 28, 2013 at 5:04 am

Oh, I forgot to add that site constraints prohibit just taking an OverCrossing design from up or down the 101 and plopping it in. There's the creek, the bay, private properties, and high voltage power lines. All of those are why some of the designs have squiggly ramps, not for a fancy look but because straight simple doesn't fit.


Annette
College Terrace
on Feb 28, 2013 at 9:56 am
Annette, College Terrace
on Feb 28, 2013 at 9:56 am

Applaud the idea of corporate sponsorship; esp like the "Entering Google Territory" idea. I'd bike south just to use that bridge just to see that sign and show it to friends. Terrific idea!


Cedric de La Beaujardiere
Registered user
Barron Park
on Feb 28, 2013 at 1:07 pm
Cedric de La Beaujardiere, Barron Park
Registered user
on Feb 28, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Lest anyone get incensed about money set aside for bike/ped projects, I'll point out that the draft VTP 2040 plan (which is county-wide for 25 years) has on the order of $440M for bike/ped compared to $4,400M for car projects.


sabrina
Southgate
on May 8, 2013 at 10:42 pm
sabrina, Southgate
on May 8, 2013 at 10:42 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.