News

Editorial: A Good bridge approach

With delicate and competing interests at stake, plan for thorough analysis of Newell bridge alternatives is on the right track

By the time the Palo Alto and East Palo Alto City Councils decide on what to do with the old Newell Road bridge, it may be the most studied bridge of its size.

The narrow, substandard, 102-year-old bridge crossing San Francisquito Creek and connecting a portion of East Palo Alto with the Crescent Park and Duveneck area of Palo Alto has long been identified as a major flood hazard in need of removal and, most people assumed, replacement.

The bridge and its abutments constrict the passage of water during high storm flows and can cause severe flooding. And of equal if not greater importance, until the old Newell Road bridge is removed, other needed flood-control work and bridge replacements upstream cannot be done since they will have the effect of raising water levels downstream.

Palo Alto city staff and its consultants initially believed the solution was pretty straightforward: replace the 18-foot-wide bridge with a modern 32-foot-wide bridge that included proper car and bike lanes and sidewalks for pedestrians. But a turnout of more than 200 concerned residents at a January outreach meeting convinced City Manager Jim Keene to put on the brakes and expand the analysis to include other alternatives and a full environmental and traffic assessment. Residents expressed a variety of concerns, including whether a new bridge would attract more traffic and if a replacement bridge was needed at all.

Last week, at another community meeting, the staff offered up eight options for further study, including doing nothing (leaving the current bridge as is), a full-scale replacement similar to what was initially envisioned, and several alternatives that would limit or prevent automobile traffic on a new bridge. The idea of changing the placement of the bridge to better connect the Newell roads in each city, which do not align, was also offered.

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The hope was to reduce the number of alternatives, but residents from both sides of the creek expressed widely differing views, with each alternative having supporters. As a result, the city staff will take the input and return to the community in January with its recommendations for which options should remain under consideration.

The city staff deserves credit for pivoting in response to initial reactions to its proposed bridge replacement, and for recognizing that time spent now involving the affected residents in crafting alternative solutions is well worth it.

We have criticized previous missteps by the staff in community education and outreach, but its efforts on this issue and the direct involvement of City Manager James Keene should be a model for future controversial issues.

Too often these issues wind up in front of the City Council at a meeting with an audience full of upset and/or fearful residents and a staff and council on the defensive. This process is designed to avoid that outcome and create a proposal that has the support of most neighbors when it goes to the two councils.

The flood-control problem is real and urgent, important to both cities, and we can't afford a long, drawn-out process. But future plans for the bridge will require the approval of both the East Palo Alto and Palo Alto city councils, so the more this process includes residents and officials from both cities now, the more likely a solution will ultimately emerge that meets both cities' needs.

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For the moment, however, the goal isn't to pre-judge the outcome, but to get going on the environmental and traffic studies for as limited a number of options as possible. The city staff is on an encouraging path to accomplish that in the next two months.

Clarification

In last week's editorial opposing Palo Alto Measure D, the distance between the proposed single-family homes was incorrectly cited. The current zoning requires at least 12 feet between homes and the proposed new zoning would reduce the distance to 10 feet, on average, for the 12 single-family homes in the project. Lot sizes under current zoning must be at least 6,000 square feet, but are estimated to range from approximately 2,700 to 4,600 square feet under the proposed zoning.

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Editorial: A Good bridge approach

With delicate and competing interests at stake, plan for thorough analysis of Newell bridge alternatives is on the right track

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Oct 25, 2013, 9:36 am

By the time the Palo Alto and East Palo Alto City Councils decide on what to do with the old Newell Road bridge, it may be the most studied bridge of its size.

The narrow, substandard, 102-year-old bridge crossing San Francisquito Creek and connecting a portion of East Palo Alto with the Crescent Park and Duveneck area of Palo Alto has long been identified as a major flood hazard in need of removal and, most people assumed, replacement.

The bridge and its abutments constrict the passage of water during high storm flows and can cause severe flooding. And of equal if not greater importance, until the old Newell Road bridge is removed, other needed flood-control work and bridge replacements upstream cannot be done since they will have the effect of raising water levels downstream.

Palo Alto city staff and its consultants initially believed the solution was pretty straightforward: replace the 18-foot-wide bridge with a modern 32-foot-wide bridge that included proper car and bike lanes and sidewalks for pedestrians. But a turnout of more than 200 concerned residents at a January outreach meeting convinced City Manager Jim Keene to put on the brakes and expand the analysis to include other alternatives and a full environmental and traffic assessment. Residents expressed a variety of concerns, including whether a new bridge would attract more traffic and if a replacement bridge was needed at all.

Last week, at another community meeting, the staff offered up eight options for further study, including doing nothing (leaving the current bridge as is), a full-scale replacement similar to what was initially envisioned, and several alternatives that would limit or prevent automobile traffic on a new bridge. The idea of changing the placement of the bridge to better connect the Newell roads in each city, which do not align, was also offered.

The hope was to reduce the number of alternatives, but residents from both sides of the creek expressed widely differing views, with each alternative having supporters. As a result, the city staff will take the input and return to the community in January with its recommendations for which options should remain under consideration.

The city staff deserves credit for pivoting in response to initial reactions to its proposed bridge replacement, and for recognizing that time spent now involving the affected residents in crafting alternative solutions is well worth it.

We have criticized previous missteps by the staff in community education and outreach, but its efforts on this issue and the direct involvement of City Manager James Keene should be a model for future controversial issues.

Too often these issues wind up in front of the City Council at a meeting with an audience full of upset and/or fearful residents and a staff and council on the defensive. This process is designed to avoid that outcome and create a proposal that has the support of most neighbors when it goes to the two councils.

The flood-control problem is real and urgent, important to both cities, and we can't afford a long, drawn-out process. But future plans for the bridge will require the approval of both the East Palo Alto and Palo Alto city councils, so the more this process includes residents and officials from both cities now, the more likely a solution will ultimately emerge that meets both cities' needs.

For the moment, however, the goal isn't to pre-judge the outcome, but to get going on the environmental and traffic studies for as limited a number of options as possible. The city staff is on an encouraging path to accomplish that in the next two months.

Clarification

In last week's editorial opposing Palo Alto Measure D, the distance between the proposed single-family homes was incorrectly cited. The current zoning requires at least 12 feet between homes and the proposed new zoning would reduce the distance to 10 feet, on average, for the 12 single-family homes in the project. Lot sizes under current zoning must be at least 6,000 square feet, but are estimated to range from approximately 2,700 to 4,600 square feet under the proposed zoning.

Comments

CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Oct 25, 2013 at 12:03 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Oct 25, 2013 at 12:03 pm
Like this comment

> The flood-control problem is real and urgent, important to both cities, and we can't afford a long, drawn-out process.

After almost 15 years of doing nothing, that's an interesting comment.


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Oct 25, 2013 at 12:06 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Oct 25, 2013 at 12:06 pm
Like this comment

If you announce that traffic studies are being done, people know it, and can see the traffic counters on the road, they will go over it and over it and over it drive the number of cars up - which is what I suspect happened the last time they did a traffic study. Talk to a statistician and figure out a good population of random samplings and go video one side of the bridge and count the cars so that people do not game the system.


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Oct 25, 2013 at 1:04 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Oct 25, 2013 at 1:04 pm
Like this comment

A good bridge approach ...

Since by definition the main and urgent problem is > The flood-control problem is real and urgent, important to both cities, and we can't afford a long, drawn-out process. < THEN REMOVE THE BRIDGE FIRST. It's been almost 15 years since the last real flood, there is no guarantee there will not be a flood this year, and in fact last year the streets near the Chaucer bridge were overflowed. What are the cities/countries thinking with a 15 year delay on flooding. Is our local government actually trying to reproduce flooding like we've seen in other parts of the country? What is the delay - why the incompetence? If we have a flood before anything can be done - can the cities be held financially liable for damage?

Resetting back to the status quo ante-bridge, and asking the surrounding residents on both sides after the bridge is gone if they think they need a bridge there, and if the city, county and state want to pay for it to serve the small group of LOUD voice answer in the affirmative is the only fair objective way to get objectivity in this matter -- and the flooding problem solved.


member
Charleston Meadows
on Oct 25, 2013 at 1:43 pm
member, Charleston Meadows
on Oct 25, 2013 at 1:43 pm
Like this comment

Flood control on the Creek starts at the top on Stanford Property to remove the dam and remove excess vegetation and dead trees. During heavy rains the excess vegetation moves down the creek and stalls / backs up so that water is incrementally dammed. I have seen the back-up at the bridges. The whole creek needs clean up and possible dredging at the point below 101 so water can flow more freely from top to bottom into the bay. Removal of the dam at the top will allow more water to spread out at the top and disperse in a more even distribution.


Crescent Park Dad
Crescent Park
on Oct 25, 2013 at 3:21 pm
Crescent Park Dad, Crescent Park
on Oct 25, 2013 at 3:21 pm
Like this comment

"If you announce that traffic studies are being done, people know it, and can see the traffic counters on the road, they will go over it and over it and over it drive the number of cars up - which is what I suspect happened the last time they did a traffic study."

Honestly, who has that much time on their hands?


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Oct 25, 2013 at 8:01 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Oct 25, 2013 at 8:01 pm
Like this comment

[Post removed.]


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Oct 25, 2013 at 8:16 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Oct 25, 2013 at 8:16 pm
Like this comment

Member, I think the changes in the hills presage less natural holding and absorption of the water up above in the hills and at Stanford and more water draining downhill ... clearing the flow upstream just means more water going downstream and more backup and more violent backup.

With too much water flow EPA gets the brunt of it too, meaning they really need to take action and will be the victim of more and more water flowing downstream from the hills and Stanford, as well as the areas in South East Palo Alto where the water tends to flow and collect over by Greer.

Have you taken a look at what the "creek" looks like when it turns into a river? It's pretty scary to see, and it is really scary to get caught trying to drive through. Also every bit as scary as it makes its way towards your house.

While all of it needs to get fixed, removing any local area of restriction will help that area. I remember in EPA along the creek the houses on Woodland got swamped. That's why they had to put up those walls along there.

Just last year a big rain flooded all the streets around the Chaucer St. bridge. I just drove through there ... it would be useful to hear what people who actually live there experienced, if they had any damage or had to evacuate? If I recall the water filled the streets all the way back to University and were blocked off.

The city/county/state has had almost 15 years to do something, and least year was cutting it pretty close, too close.


Mr.Recycle
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 25, 2013 at 11:56 pm
Mr.Recycle, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 25, 2013 at 11:56 pm
Like this comment

Step 1 - remove the bridge ASAP to save both EPA and PA from flooding. Step 2, if there is funding, build a bicycle bridge with bollards that can be lowered for passage of emergency vehicles.


Leo Tolstoy
Midtown
on Oct 26, 2013 at 1:51 am
Leo Tolstoy, Midtown
on Oct 26, 2013 at 1:51 am
Like this comment

All his life Alexey Alexandrovitch had lived and worked in official spheres, having to do with the reflection of life. And every time he had stumbled against life itself he had shrunk away from it. Now he experienced a feeling akin to that of a man who, wile calmly crossing a precipice by a bridge, should suddenly discover that the bridge is broken, and that there is a chasm below. That chasm was life itself, the bridge that artificial life in which Alexey Alexandrovitch had lived.


SpeakTruth
East Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2013 at 10:51 am
SpeakTruth, East Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2013 at 10:51 am
Like this comment

Just as I suspected - bridge removal. The solution to all the problems.


realist
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2013 at 11:26 am
realist, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2013 at 11:26 am
Like this comment

The "analysis" will lead to the closest the staff can get to their original proposal which met with vehement opposition requiring this "outreach". The
editorial says the staff deserves credit for responding to resident complaints- that's interesting in itself- with a new study.


Marrol
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 26, 2013 at 11:27 am
Marrol, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 26, 2013 at 11:27 am
Like this comment

Remove the bridge entirely for the greater good of both communities. Flood control takes precedent over any issue that people have with the commute or social statements. Take it down. Do not replace it.


seems to me
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2013 at 12:15 pm
seems to me, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2013 at 12:15 pm
Like this comment

Not replacing it has nothing to do with flood prevention.


palo alto resident
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 26, 2013 at 12:20 pm
palo alto resident, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 26, 2013 at 12:20 pm
Like this comment

Just curious - the bridge needs to be removed before it can be rebuilt (or not). Why not remove the bridge so flooding is no longer an issue (and they can start moving upstream with the flood control measures) then decide whether to build and new bridge and if so, what kind.


Midtown
Midtown
on Oct 26, 2013 at 1:08 pm
Midtown, Midtown
on Oct 26, 2013 at 1:08 pm
Like this comment

This is another easy one. Remove the bridge pronto, then turn the replacement over to the Palo Process. (I would prefer that only the users get to pay for it.) 15 years from now there will still be no new bridge.


Eileen Altman
East Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2013 at 2:42 pm
Eileen Altman, East Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2013 at 2:42 pm
Like this comment

Removing the bridge will cost money, a lot of money. That's why it hasn't been done yet. The San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority has been looking for pockets of money to finance the whole flood protection plan and found money from the state to replace old bridges with modern bridges. This is a way to pay for the removal of the old bridge, but comes with the requirement that a new, more functional bridge replace it. All of us who live in the neighborhood of EPA just on the other side of the bridge will tell you that the bridge is important.

Those who argue that the bridge should just be removed might have more leverage for their argument if they addressed two questions that this approach raises:
1) How will the removal be paid for?
2) How will the transportation and safety challenges the bridge's removal creates for residents on both sides of the bridge be addressed?

While Palo Alto residents certainly have a lot of influence on this decision, the needs EPA also must be considered. Any decision to remove the bridge without replacing it in some form is likely to lead to painful and expensive litigation.


Pas de Deux
Crescent Park
on Oct 26, 2013 at 4:51 pm
Pas de Deux, Crescent Park
on Oct 26, 2013 at 4:51 pm
Like this comment

Has this bridge ever caused flooding? I do not recall ever reading or hearing of it, even in 1998, though we lived in another neighborhood at the time. I do remember reading and hearing about the Chaucer St bridge being flooded out more than a few times, however; What is being or has been done about that?


seems to me
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2013 at 5:36 pm
seems to me, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2013 at 5:36 pm
Like this comment

According all the documents I can find flood waters came from 4 places and this bridge was not one of them.


Aquamarine
Stanford
on Oct 26, 2013 at 6:18 pm
Aquamarine, Stanford
on Oct 26, 2013 at 6:18 pm
Like this comment

In 1998 the creek didn't flood at Newell Bridge, nor did it flood there last year. Why Crescent Park Anon seems to think creek walls were built in response to that is confusing. Those creek walls on the Woodland side of the creek, in East Palo Alto, have been there for many years. I think the latest info from last year's big storms indicate that some spots on creek walls are leaking, which is to be expected if they're not maintained.


rhondavw
another community
on Oct 26, 2013 at 6:43 pm
rhondavw, another community
on Oct 26, 2013 at 6:43 pm
Like this comment

These composite bridge beams would provide low-maintenance, 100+ year structures: Web Link


resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2013 at 7:04 pm
resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2013 at 7:04 pm
Like this comment

In 1998 water came rushing down Newell, like a river, then down Channing
into DeSoto Dr and then down Channing to Bayshore.


seems to me
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2013 at 8:35 pm
seems to me, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2013 at 8:35 pm
Like this comment

yes, but that water did not come from the newell bridge.

Web Link

It came down Hamilton from the University bridge.

This bridge is only being fixed because if the real problems upstream are fixed, it is believed it will become a problem. So it does stand in the way of fixing the upstream issues, but as long as the upstream bridges remain issues, they protect this bridge from becoming one. Hurrying to fix this does nothing if the others are not fixed afterwards


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Oct 26, 2013 at 8:36 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Oct 26, 2013 at 8:36 pm
Like this comment

I did live in this area during the flood of '98 and the area around the Newell Bridge flooded out. Specifically the houses right alongside the creek near the bridge had water damage. I don't live too far from it right now.

If the flooding was on Chaucer, it was absorbed as it spread out, but had it gone on to the Newell bridge the flooding there would have been greater. Houses all down Channing and Greer south of Oregon were flooded, as well as the other creek along there ... Matadero?, I think it is. In '99 and 2000 houses all over that area were being remodeled and repaired from flood damage.

The responsible thing to do is not to wring out hands, but to do something about a problem we know exists and is a ticking time bomb. To say this is a money problem when the city goes off on hiring all kinds of unnecessary "professionals" and doing superficial changes to trees and other things is just a red herring.

The government's job is to fix problems in some kind of prioritized way ... and Palo Alto has not done that in almost 15 years now. Maybe they do not understand what a 100 year flood plane means because it does not mean that the next flood is scheduled 86 years from now. We had a small taste of this just last year around the Chaucer bridge.

If the Chaucer bridge is fixed and nothing is done at Newell we'll see the same problem ... only them maybe it will be called racism because it will really badly affect EPA.

Here is a You-Tube video from 1998 and EPA in case you want to see what happened with EPA at that time:

Web Link

These EPA residents who claim they are worried about the effects of the bridge on EPA are really misguided when they prioritize a new bridge ( which cannot "align" Newell - look on a map of the area ) over fixing the flooding problem.

Maybe we need a Palo Alto sequester, and cut all the salaries over everyone over a certain amount and take the money out of that to fix the bridges and creek - because these are the folks who have not been doing their jobs for 15 years?


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Oct 26, 2013 at 8:55 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Oct 26, 2013 at 8:55 pm
Like this comment

Here is some more online video of the 1998 Palo Alto flooding:

The airport and environs (posted in 2008, not an f-ing thing done):
Web Link

SanFrancisquito Creek from 2005:
Web Link

Also SanFrancisquito Creek from 2005:
Web Link


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Oct 26, 2013 at 8:56 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Oct 26, 2013 at 8:56 pm
Like this comment

Some more interesting viewing ... apparently Palo Alto Online limits the number of URLs you can post in one comment?????

This looks like East Palo Alto:
Web Link

Last year (remember this creeks rose so high in about a day, if the rain had kept up it would have been much worse):
Web Link

One from 2005 showing Chaucer Bridge aperture
Web Link

Pretty interesting viewing.


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Oct 26, 2013 at 9:03 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Oct 26, 2013 at 9:03 pm
Like this comment

NBC BayArea Recap of 1998:

Web Link

This gives a good history of what happened in 1998.

Commentary from Len Matterman of the Sanfrancisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority.

The said the Joint Powers Authority was working on plans where construction could begin next year? So what happened?

Where are these people now?

If they widen the creek but do not do anything about changing the aperture under the bridges, does it really matter?


Seems to me
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2013 at 9:35 pm
Seems to me, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2013 at 9:35 pm
Like this comment

I lived here in 98 as well, so in all those links where does it say this bridge caused the flooding?


Aquamarine
Stanford
on Oct 26, 2013 at 10:11 pm
Aquamarine , Stanford
on Oct 26, 2013 at 10:11 pm
Like this comment

Seems - you and I are correct - the Newell Bridge didn't flood in '98. It remained passable. It flooded at University Ave and that added to the heavy rainwater traveling down Woodland and surrounding streets. The sound wall on W. Bayshore made it worse, too. It flooded at W. Bayshore on the border of E. Palo Alto and Palo Alto, also? That was prior to the condos being built, when there was a mobile home park. I think it flooded there, as well as on East Bayshore where the creek flows under that part of the road.

The bridge at Newell hasn't flooded after '98, either.


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Oct 26, 2013 at 11:48 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Oct 26, 2013 at 11:48 pm
Like this comment

Aquamarine, the bridge flooded. The fact that it was not underwater is not the point, go to the location, the bridge itself is higher than the surrounds. The roads around the bridge were flooded, the homes even lower, and if the water from Chaucer had been able to move down to Newell would have been ever higher. If every part of the bridge had flooded it would have been really back.

The key is that the bridge backs up water causing flooding of the neighborhoods. There is no denying or wiggling out of the fact that the Newell bridge has to be removed because it is a flood hazard.


Seems to me
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2013 at 12:40 am
Seems to me, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2013 at 12:40 am
Like this comment

Just saying in 98, it did not cause flooding. The concern is that if the other bridges were fixed, Newell might be an issue. Why is that fact such a problem for you?


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2013 at 2:09 am
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2013 at 2:09 am
Like this comment

> Just saying in 98, it did not cause flooding.

It flooded, and it will again at some point, water backs up behind it when there is too much. Why do you supposed they are saying it needs to be removed? You don't get it? if you know something the experts don't, better get in touch with them.


Aquamarine
East Palo Alto
on Oct 27, 2013 at 8:05 am
Aquamarine , East Palo Alto
on Oct 27, 2013 at 8:05 am
Like this comment

No, it didn't flood at Newell Bridge in 1998. Your revisionist history won't make it so. I used that bridge several times that night, and so did others. It flooded at University Ave, not at Newell. It was the only passable bridge. I was helping grad students without cars around town. I distinctly recall when Newell was flooding all the way to Embarcadero but that the bridge was still passable. Emergency vehicles parked on it intermittently all night.

The experts know this. Why they think it needs to be replaced has nothing to do with past floods.


Aquamarine
Stanford
on Oct 27, 2013 at 8:12 am
Aquamarine, Stanford
on Oct 27, 2013 at 8:12 am
Like this comment

And you're still wrong about the creek walls being built after the storm in 1998. Were you around when they built those walls much earlier?


Seems to me.
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2013 at 8:40 am
Seems to me., Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2013 at 8:40 am
Like this comment

Like aquamarine, I used that bridge in 98. What the experts are saying is if the university bridge is fixed and Chaucer street bridge is fixed, then this bridge will become an issue. I do believe that analysis. Right now it is not an issue because upstream the creek does not have the capacity to deliver too much water to this bridge, the creek goes over its banks first. That will change if upstream is fixed, then the newell bridge will be challenged. Also, the experts also say that even fixing all these bridges, we are still be flooding. I don't know what your real issue is with this bridge, but as long as the channel that passes under 101 is not fixed, and the university and Chaucer bridges aren't fixed, the 98 flood is very repeatable because this bridge did not come into play in 98.. Last season's flood demonstrated that Chaucer overflows its banks first. My point is that demoing this bridge now without a replacement plan does not buy us any flood prevention and hurts people that use that bridge trying to go about their lives. It's too late in the season to demo it this year anyway. Now when the University bridge is being fixed, I believe we will appreciate having a bridge at Newell to get in and out during the university bridge reconstruction.


Crescent Park Dad
Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2013 at 9:00 am
Crescent Park Dad, Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2013 at 9:00 am
Like this comment

Step back and understand the overall plan for the creek. The JPA and the Army Corp of Engineers have determined that the flow capacity at both Chaucer and Newell are below what's needed. Same can be said at other points up and down stream.

The plan has always been to increase capacity starting at the bay and then work up stream. You cannot remove/rebuild Chaucer before you remove (and/or rebuild) Newell. The planned flow capacity for the new Chaucer Bridge would overwhelm the current Newell bottleneck as it is built today. You must remove the current Newell Bridge before the current Chaucer Bridge is removed as well.

Arguing over whether Newell flooded in 1998 is a (very) moot point.


Seems to me
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2013 at 9:14 am
Seems to me, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2013 at 9:14 am
Like this comment

You misunderstand me if you think I was suggesting we should wait on the other bridges. I agree fix it now while funding is available in spite of 101 not being fixed. I just don't agree with the push to rip it out without a replacement plan.


Crescent Park Dad
Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2013 at 9:25 am
Crescent Park Dad, Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2013 at 9:25 am
Like this comment

Sorry - didn't intend for you. I look at those arguing whether Newell flooded in 98 and shake my head. It doesn't matter. What does matter is that Newell must be fixed before Chaucer is fixed.


JA3+
Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2013 at 12:04 pm
JA3+, Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2013 at 12:04 pm
Like this comment

"Why not remove the bridge so flooding is no longer an issue (and they can start moving upstream with the flood control measures) then decide whether to build and new bridge and if so, what kind."

Yes; agreed. This is the best alternative.

"Removing the bridge will cost money, a lot of money."

I politely disagree; demolition is relatively inexpensive. To boot, it's relatively quick.

"The plan has always been to increase capacity starting at the bay and then work up stream."

+1

[a very minor quibble: I'd likely change the verb from 'has always been' to 'is'. After the 1998 floods, the JPA considered many alternatives; unfortunately, the wisdom of 'start at the bay and work your way upstream' originated a tad bit later]

I'm a strong advocate of bridge removal now; demolition of the current structure does not preclude later construction of a new bridge. Given the severity of the 1998 floods and the passage of fifteen years of time now, it's time to remove all impediments to flow within the Creek. At present, there's too much at stake to hold back Creek improvements. Flood control tops all, in my opinion.

That said, I'm intrigued by this idea:

"Step 1 - remove the bridge ASAP to save both EPA and PA from flooding. Step 2, if there is funding, build a bicycle bridge with bollards that can be lowered for passage of emergency vehicles."


Aquamarine
Stanford
on Oct 27, 2013 at 12:11 pm
Aquamarine, Stanford
on Oct 27, 2013 at 12:11 pm
Like this comment

It does matter, Crescent Park Dad. It may not matter when it comes to the overall plan to fix the flooding issues, of course. It doesn't matter to you, perhaps because you're not writing revision history! You're trying to clarify, not confuse.

So this is how it matters: when it comes to attempts to rewrite history, as I've seen in these threads about Newell St. bridge. A good many cuurrent residents didn't live around here then. Many don't know that that bridge has never caused a problem with flooding, but has been a great solution. They also don't know why leaving it as is doesn't work for the new overall plan.

What I'd like to know is how come Palo Altans haven't been complaining about the need to get rid of the Cfaycer St. Bridge? It's been very problematic ever since Stanford expanded and 100 year floods happen every decade.


Bob
Community Center
on Oct 27, 2013 at 1:16 pm
Bob, Community Center
on Oct 27, 2013 at 1:16 pm
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The HUGE flood of December 23, 1955 came in the dark with no warning. Residents were rescued by boat. The Red Cross set up a big shelter in the Jordan gym. Much of DSFNA between Newell/ Embarcadero and Channing was devastated. Can't remember about Crescent Park area. But I do think those flood walls built later along the east side of the Creek in EPA were the result of that flood. And flood water did come down Newell in 1998. - not over the bridge but along the sides and over. The water that flooded Duveneck School, the Eichlers on DeSoto, etc., Walter Hays, Lois Lane, Channing, etc. did come from the Creek overflow at Chaucer, etc. and backed up storm drain at Heather and Channing and flooding from the Creek overflow going 'downhill' throughout Crescent Park. It was a super high-high tide that receded about 4:00 a.m. It is a flood plain - it was a huge "truck garden" farm waaaay back when, and up to its transformation in the late forties and fifties into huge tracts of housing - Barrett and Hilp builders for one, vegetables were grown. There are still operating wells in the area.


Bob
Community Center
on Oct 27, 2013 at 1:16 pm
Bob, Community Center
on Oct 27, 2013 at 1:16 pm
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The HUGE flood of December 23, 1955 came in the dark with no warning. Residents were rescued by boat. The Red Cross set up a big shelter in the Jordan gym. Much of DSFNA between Newell/ Embarcadero and Channing was devastated. Can't remember about Crescent Park area. But I do think those flood walls built later along the east side of the Creek in EPA were the result of that flood. And flood water did come down Newell in 1998. - not over the bridge but along the sides and over. The water that flooded Duveneck School, the Eichlers on DeSoto, etc., Walter Hays, Lois Lane, Channing, etc. did come from the Creek overflow at Chaucer, etc. and backed up storm drain at Heather and Channing and flooding from the Creek overflow going 'downhill' throughout Crescent Park. It was a super high-high tide that receded about 4:00 a.m. It is a flood plain - it was a huge "truck garden" farm waaaay back when, and up to its transformation in the late forties and fifties into huge tracts of housing - Barrett and Hilp builders for one, vegetables were grown. There are still operating wells in the area.


Crescent Park Dad
Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2013 at 2:33 pm
Crescent Park Dad, Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2013 at 2:33 pm
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Believe me, we have complained about the Chaucer Bridge since 1998. Including our local neighborhood association. But we all know that until Newell is fixed, Chaucer stays as is. Stinks. But that is the answer.


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2013 at 9:22 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2013 at 9:22 pm
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If you prefer to phrase it as "it doesn't matter if the Newell St. bridge has ever flooded because if work is started on the flood solution and flow is increased to it enough that it will flood" you will get the same pushback and denial I got when I said it flooded - i.e. it didn't flood, it won't flood, prove it, it never flooded.

It flooded, I saw it and some of the lower houses in that area had water damage and had to be evacuated. Say it however you like, but I'd say Bob's got it right.

Yes, Crescent Park Dad, it is good to remind people that the work has to proceed upstream, starting with Newell, and since it is has been 15 year pretty much next month, I'd prefer to see more action and less talk. Or even SOME action. What is the hold up .... FOR FIFTEEN YEARS? DO SOMETHING ALREADY.

Does anyone know what I am talking about when I mention the Chaucer bridge backing up last year? Did anyone go, or try to go over there. If I'm able I always try to go and get photos, and I could not get within a block of the bridge last year because it was cordoned off by the police and ER.

It would be ideal if they could actually do something constructive, or more accurately destructive, and remove the Newell bridge ASAP before this coming rainy season in fact! Pull it down and patch the sides of the creek.

Even if they did build a new bridge, that bridge will be out of commission for a long time ... so test it out now by demolishing the bridge to see what the real results are. I think we'll see 4 or 5 people come out and scream their heads off for a while, and then we'll all get used to it and ho-hum, back to normal.




JA3+
Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2013 at 9:39 pm
JA3+, Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2013 at 9:39 pm
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15 years of meetings, JPA formation, JPA staffing & funding, studies, funding proposals, public hearings, more studies, funding delays and the like. Enough already. It's time to fix the Creek flooding problem; 15 years is simply too long to wait.


Aquamarine
Stanford
on Oct 27, 2013 at 10:23 pm
Aquamarine, Stanford
on Oct 27, 2013 at 10:23 pm
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How excellent that Crescent Park Anon can recall a flood from 1955 and how is specifically affected Newell Street bridge. Impressive memory.


Aquamarine
Stanford
on Oct 27, 2013 at 10:30 pm
Aquamarine, Stanford
on Oct 27, 2013 at 10:30 pm
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It's been nearly 16 years and no, next month isn't the anniversary of the flood, Crescent Park Anon. I think you're lyIng. I'm recalling from other threads you didn't know if it flooded at Newell 15 years ago. Unless you're talking about 1955, which you witnessed.


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2013 at 10:39 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2013 at 10:39 pm
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Aquamarine ..I did not say I recalled anything from 1955, I was not even alive. Whatever, I just rented a house on Metro Circle off Greer and that whole area flooded. I thought it was Thanksgiving, but it may have been more towards Christmas .. the whole incident is a bad memory ... which apparently you want either deny or force other people to relive. Anyway, don't you think your bickering is a waste of time? Why don't you take on some of the real points.


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