With no rain in sight, Adobe Creek undercrossing to stay open

Palo Alto decides not to close down flood-prone entry into the Baylands

As California's drought persists, Palo Alto is preparing to leave open an undercrossing at Adobe Creek that normally gets shut down this time of the year because of flooding.

The undercrossing, which traverses U.S. Highway 101 and connects south Palo Alto to the Baylands, is typically open only from April 15 to Oct. 15. With rain particularly light this year, the path will remain open beyond the usual shut-down date, the city announced.

"The City has opted to leave it open for now as long as there is no rainfall or no rainfall forecasted over 1/2 inch," the city's announcement stated. "However, the undercrossing may be closed at any time without notice."

The undercrossing is currently one of very few options that bicyclists and pedestrians in the southern half of the city have for crossing the highway. To improve the situation, Palo Alto officials hope to build a bike bridge that would span the highway.

The new bridge, which has an estimated price tag of about $10 million, is one of the more recent additions to the city's list of infrastructure priorities. Last month, the council approved a design competition for the new bridge, which is also one of the main components of the city's recently adopted bicycle and pedestrian master plan.

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3 people like this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2014 at 9:37 am

It would seem like a no brainier when to close the underpass, but then I guess we are talking about the city. This would really increase their work load to go see if it is flooded and close on a day to day basis. Way too much work!

3 people like this
Posted by Cycler
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2014 at 10:15 am

I bike to work using this underpass on a daily basis, since it looks like it's going to take years to get a bridge built, I do hope it stays open as much as possible. I'm glad it is going to stay open past Oct. 15th.

12 people like this
Posted by detours
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2014 at 10:29 am

This is a major commuting route between southern Palo Alto and the north Shoreline area (Google, etc). The official city detour is to take the overpass at Embarcadero Road, which is miles out of the way. Most commuters would rather drive than tripling their commute time, thus putting many more cars on the road. Until the city can finally build a year-round pedestrian/bicycle bridge, how about banning cars from the existing San Antonio Road bridge when this underpass is closed? There are lots of other routes that cars can use, but the alternatives for bicyclists and especially pedestrians are all terrible.

1 person likes this
Posted by A neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 13, 2014 at 11:15 am

Thank you Palo Alto!
Finally someone in the city thought about the issue and realized how absurd it is to close this underpass at this time year after year for almost no reason. It should be closed a few days/weeks a year when the underpass gets flooded but not for months on when there is no flooding.

5 people like this
Posted by is there a website for status?
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 13, 2014 at 11:22 am

Is there a location with the current status for the underpass? That sure would be helpful for commuters, especially if there is a chance it would stay open or re-open during the winter if rain is temporary.

3 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2014 at 12:32 pm

How about putting another one of these creek monitoring cameras on the east side of this underpass?

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by JOHN
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 13, 2014 at 12:34 pm

If the City were to close it only when required and kept some records we would have a better idea of the necessity of building an overpass.

11 people like this
Posted by The Shadow Knows.........
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 13, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Perhaps this is one time when folks should stop and do a little background work before engaging in a knee jerk reaction to blame the City for anything they don't like.

The facts of the matter are that this location is not owned or controlled by the City; it is under the jurisdiction of the Santa Clara Valley Water District who owns, operates, and maintains the Adobe Creek right of way. The City had to originally petition the District to get permission for the bike use. The District established the standard annual closure date, not the City. As I understand it that was done for reasons of potential liability, a decision driven by risk mangers and attorneys.

More recently the City has been the advocate for extending the use dependent on weather conditions, and the District has been cooperative.

How about we all try replacing a condition of default negativity with some factuality?

1 person likes this
Posted by Line 'em up and knock 'em down
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 13, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Thank you The Shadow Knows. I can look at the posts above one by one and note about the authoers: "You don't have a clue,...and you don't have a clue, have no idea at all,'re hilarious because you THINK you have a clue"
Thanks again Shadow. Some of us did know this already.

Like this comment
Posted by walter
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 13, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Thanks Shadow for the information. Don't see much point to the comments in the following message. Only the first post could be construed as being anti-City. In any event we can all reach our own conclusions on the commentators. As I see it the City could have approached the Water district anytime in the last 25 years and got this decision. Apparently the Water district did not resist. Perhaps I am missing something but as I see it the City has the responsibility to be our representative to these and other organizations. They can get things done when an individual cannot.

1 person likes this
Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 14, 2014 at 9:28 am

Shadow is right. As for opening and closing it repeatedly during the winter, that is a lot of work. The walkway is very close to the water level, so it doesn't take a lot to flood it. When it does flood, it is not just water, but very slimy mud that covers the path. It has to be shoveled off and swept thoroughly to reduce the slipping hazard enough to open it to the public. Also, the plastic fencing needed to keep people from falling in the water needs to be taken down in the winter so it doesn't get clogged up with debris and reduce the flow in the creek. It is a lot of work to do this over and over.

Like this comment
Posted by John galt
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 14, 2014 at 10:42 am


2 people like this
Posted by Residen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2014 at 12:39 pm

We have to stop looking at this tunnel as a recreational trail to get to the Baylands. We must start looking at it as an essential commute corridor for many people on a daily basis. When it is closed, it causes commuters to find an alternative commute. Some will use an alternate bridge, but many will instead go to their cars.

With more and more jobs appearing at Google, Shoreline area, Embarcadero E area, etc., this tunnel will become an even more crucial commute corridor. It is shameful that for 6 months of every year it is out of commission. If it is being replaced by a bridge, that bridge is needed now, not some distant time in the future.

1 person likes this
Posted by Boris Foelsch
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 14, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Hooray! This makes my commute much safer and more enjoyable. For those of us that work south or east of Palo Alto, this is a wonder access point to safe, convenient and enjoyable trails. I cross underneath that underpass 100-200 times a year and I see more and more people getting to work that way each year.

6 people like this
Posted by Debbie Mytels
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 14, 2014 at 6:39 pm

To the person who claims that the bridge over San Antonio is safe, I respectfully disagree.

First, going from the Baylands into Palo Alto, one has to approach the bridge by crossing a line to cars that are heading into the freeway on-ramp. Then there is a VERY narrow sidewalk with uneven cement panels and often some broken glass. Then, coming down on the other side, there is a steep downhill and one has to cross the onslaught of cars whizzing off of 101 onto San Antonio. Lastly, a cyclist has to compete for lane space with cars coming out of the JCC complex parking lot -- all this before getting to the major San Antonio/Charleston intersection. I've done this quite few times -- and it's always harrowing -- enough so that I don't choose to do it anymore.

Coming in the other direction, from Palo Alto to the Baylands, there is NO sidewalk on the bridge at all -- and the need to compete with freeway exit and entrance ramps that have even less visibility.

Suggesting that people take this bridge route is irresponsible. We need the underpass to be open -- and as someone suggests above, some public website where a notice can be placed that it is temporarily closed due to a storm, etc.

And we certainly DO need to new, year-round bridge -- sooner rather than later!

Like this comment
Posted by Paco
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 14, 2014 at 7:41 pm

So when is the last time we had flooding problems in October..........?

Like this comment
Posted by The Shadow knows.....
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 16, 2014 at 9:14 am

It's not an issue of flooding per se. The bike path is low enough down in the channel that it gets inundated when the creek is only at less than half capacity. Also, that creek has a fairly rapid rise in its levels, so closing the path when the rainy season has actually materialized is the prudent thing to do.

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

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