News

Jury takes a bold stance on new Palo Alto bike bridge

Architects favor a prominent arch in a design competition for new span

Three different design teams came to Palo Alto City Hall on Wednesday afternoon, each with a bridge to sell to the city.

Their goal? To come up with the winning design for the bike-and-pedestrian bridge that will span U.S. Highway 101 at Adobe Creek, giving south Palo Alto new access to the Baylands. Their challenge? Convincing the city's Architectural Review Board, a panel of independent jurors and, ultimately, the City Council that their particular design will be functional, sustainable and iconic enough to satisfy the council's appetite for a landmark that makes people say, "Wow!"

The finalists who presented were selected from a pool of 20 competitors. Each brought a distinct vision. One team -- composed of engineering and architect firms Moffatt and Nichol, Steven Grover and Associates, Lutsko Associates, JIRI Strasky and Mark Thomas and Co. -- took the most subdued approach. In presenting the gently curving bridge, Grover emphasized its role in connecting residents to the Baylands and in staying consistent with the character of Palo Alto. The low-slung bridge, he said, aims to match the Baylands and offers "warm rich overtones, rather than a trumpet that calls attention to itself." Plazas on either side of the bridge offer pedestrians and bicyclists a chance to pause and take in the sights.

Its submission earned great praise from the jury, with nearly everyone agreeing that its light touch offers an elegant, if understated, solution to the problem the designers were asked to solve.

"Subtlety is not something we're famous for in this town," said Judith Wasserman, a former longtime member of the architecture board and the chair of the jury evaluating the bridge. "It might be a good change of pace."

By contrast, the submission from HNTB Engineering, 64North, Bionic Landscape Architecture and Ned Kahn went for the jugular. A prominent arch strung, harp-like, with a network of thin cables spans the bridge, which starts in a counterclockwise loop west of the highway and then descends as a broad circle on the east side. Wil Carson of 64North described the proposed bridge as a "cathedral-like place."

"The gesture is toward the sky," Carson said of the proposal, which ultimately took first place in the jury's rankings.

If the Moffatt proposal was the most minimalist and HNTB's was the boldest, the one submitted by Endrestudio, OLIN, SBP and Biohabitats was the most poetic. The design of the bridge mimics a kayak, with wooden sides that jut out diagonally and a water-filtration system that ferries water from the span to a specially designed eddy, which filters the water and releases it back into Adobe Creek. The proposal describes the experience of approaching the bridge and ascending and descending as "magical."

"From the distance, the bridge is distinct and looks like a floating kayak," the proposal states. "The rhythm of the bridge is informed by the experience of sky and horizon and derived from the structural system."

The kayak bridge drew heavy praise from the architecture board and the jury, but in the end it didn't get as many votes as the other two. In choosing the winner, the jury found itself struggling over the same question that has characterized prior debates over the bridge: Should the city go for simplicity or boldness? Should the bridge play a supporting role in the pedestrians' and bicyclists' experience of the Baylands or draw attention to itself as a prominent gateway to the marshy preserve?

The five-member jury wrestled with this question. Sam Lubell, an editor of The Architects' Newspaper, at first declared a tie between the arch and the "cable" bridge (as the minimalist design was referred to) but after hearing final arguments from the three teams went with the former. Wasserman went through the same quandary as she said she was "blown away" by all three designs.

"You can close your eyes and throw darts and come out good," she said.

Like most of her colleagues, Wasserman said she was torn between the "iconic business" and the "Baylands-flowing business." She ultimately went for the arch, as did her jury colleague Steve Burrows, executive vice president at WSP, who said the arch design is "deliverable" and "looks great."

Juror Susan Chin, executive director of the nonprofit Design Trust for Public Space, by contrast, went for minimalism.

"It solved the problem very elegantly, and it was economical," Chin said of the Moffatt proposal.

The five members of the architecture board did not get a vote, though each member commented. The board generally reached the same consensus as the jury: All three designs for the $10 million project are dazzling, though the arch and the cable are a notch above the kayak. Robert Gooyer, vice chair of the architecture board, posited that the cable bridge would be "too subtle" and too difficult to notice for drivers passing under it.

"If you're driving by at 70 mph on the freeway you'd think, 'Ooh. I think this is the new pedestrian bridge I just went under,'" Gooyer said of the Moffatt proposal. "What the City of Palo Alto I think would be interested in is thinking, 'Palo Alto is where you see a big arch across the freeway.'"

The jury's recommendation will be reviewed by the Public Art Commission, the Architectural Review Board, the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Planning and Transporation Commission.

The City Council will review and possibly approve a design in early February.

Comments

9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2014 at 8:00 am

Surely the least possible consideration is what motorists driving underneath think of it. We don't want the bridge to be a distraction to cause a driver to look instead of focusing on driving.

As far as a driver is concerned, a bridge should be invisible not a distraction.


12 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 19, 2014 at 8:20 am

Wow, what is this jury thinking of? Are they thinking at all.

This would be the most pompous strutting thing on 101, and what is it ... a bridge over to the Baylands where sewage assaults your nose and airplane noise assaults your ears. Is this a case of Palo Alto insisting its sewage smells like like clouds?

On this egg-slicer looking suspension bridge alternative ... who is making the parts and where? Tell me this is not going to be another MIS-build-it-in-China fiasco like the Bay Bridge?

Resident has a good point ... that bridge is going to be a distraction while driving on 101.

If it were up to me I'd say it would be nice if it was better than the bike bridge we already have and it does not have to be arrogant and in everyone's face ... especially considering the sewage treatment plant and the airport. I would much rather the City of Palo Alto, come to its senses and realize that the Baylands are a great resource, like Mountain View's Shoreline Park and updating the sewage treatment plant so it does not make people in the Baylands want to vomit, and doing whatever it takes to either manage or shut down the airport so Baylands visitors can hears themselves think or even hear the music in the headphones is a more worthy goal than an overly designed pedestrian bridge.

Ugh. Get your feet back down on the ground ... and go talk a walk in the Baylands and think about what it could be.


13 people like this
Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 19, 2014 at 8:29 am

There's a need for fiscal prudence here. Allocate much less to this bridge and spend any 'excess' funds on street improvements or other pressing municipal needs.


18 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 19, 2014 at 8:29 am

>> "Subtlety is not something we're famous for in this town," said Judith Wasserman

We used to be ... and when that changed was when we started having the ugliness problems.

I remember when Palo Alto had the confidence not to have to try to draw attention to itself, back when it was a big deal.

The on and off ramps of Palo Alto were beautifully green pleasant portals to a city that had humble plain brown wooden signs. No sleek shiny glass multistory office buildings circled like corporate covered wagons battling the Palto Alto natives.


19 people like this
Posted by I'm Happier Next Door
a resident of another community
on Dec 19, 2014 at 9:30 am

WHAAAA????? Pompus, overly loud and WAY overdone.

Palo Alto has officially jumped the shark. Good luck to those who have not left yet. Sad.


4 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 19, 2014 at 9:52 am

Hulkamania is a registered user.

The arch bridge will be an excellent addition. Palo Alto, like St. Louis, will be one of the few cities in the world with its own handle.


5 people like this
Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 19, 2014 at 10:09 am

Totally the right choice. That supporting arch is a superb architectural statement.

It is also the safest design: there are no support pillars that could be trashed by an errant semi and weaken the bridge or bring it down. What a mess (and perhaps multiple tragedy) that would be.

Go for it, jury!


3 people like this
Posted by Allen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 19, 2014 at 10:47 am

My preference would have been for the second choice. It looks like it really addresses the needs of the bicyclists without being a monstrosity like the one they selected. At least they didn't pick the ugly one.


10 people like this
Posted by Robert McDiarmid
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 19, 2014 at 10:54 am

I'm confused why we want to spend $10 million on a bike bridge - when there is already a bike bridge .6 miles north at Embarcadero - and San Antonio 1.2 miles south - - and another beautiful brand new bike crossing at Permanente Creek 2.7 south.


17 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2014 at 10:55 am

What a bunch of egocentric, insecure clowns.

God forbid that Palo Alto choose an elegant, understated, affordable design for a public structure. No, instead the jurors wanted something that would rivet drivers' attention (!), elicit cries of "Wow!", and call attention to insecure Palo Alto.

Speaks volumes about these folks.


4 people like this
Posted by Catherine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2014 at 10:59 am

How will a bridge be a distraction? Are overpasses a distraction, too? What a ridiculous assertion.


12 people like this
Posted by Seriously?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 19, 2014 at 11:14 am

Keep an eye out for those meetings, folks -- places to express opinions… and thank goodness the newly-elected City Council members will be in place. Not all Palo Altans think excessive ornamentation is the way to express our values… Subtle elegance in keeping with the surrounding beauty of the badlands sounds about right to me… I'd rather see the sky than an arch...


5 people like this
Posted by mj
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 19, 2014 at 11:16 am

The comment about the arch having no pillars that could be hit by a semi was a good point, especially since this is a big budget boondoggle. I like the simplicity of their second choice. More in keeping with the baylands. But maybe that doesn't feed the egos of the people involved in deciding which design to choose.

There are a few people who commute from mountain view who want the bridge, and it will be used at the weekend. But this bridge is a very expensive proposition for the number of people who will use it. But hey, it's just tax payer money who cares about fiscal responsibility when Palo Alto egos are involved.


9 people like this
Posted by DesignsWellConsidered
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 19, 2014 at 11:26 am

Well, I reviewed the proposals in detail and I attended the meeting. I disagree with all of the negative comments above. The engineering is well thought out, the designs are light and airy/open. Focused on cyclists and pedestrians, they have also given consideration to birds as well as drivers. Construction/erection over the freeway was also a consideration, and the arch is perhaps the least intrusive and disruptive.

As to the budget ($10 million), the bulk of the money comes from grants - mostly Stanford money as part of a 14 year-ago settlement (see paragraph 5 at this Web Link). That money had restrictions on its use (bicycle transportation and access to hiking trails being a permitted use) so cannot be used for municipal projects.

To Robert McDiarmid's question - here is my answer. Adobe Creek is the main and central entrance to the Baylands (Palo Alto and Mountain View). The bridge to the north is very old, narrow, and steep - raising safety issues when more than one cyclist is there at a time. The San Antonio bridge is neither pedestrian nor cyclist friendly or safe. The traffic crossings on both sides are very dangerous. The new bridge separates pedestrian/cyclist traffic from vehicular traffic, making travel safer for both.

Finally, we can all disagree on aesthetics (e.g. arch vs flat) and functionality (e.g. whether the bridge at Embarcadaro meets the needs of the community), and even cost. But why oh why do people have to resort to name calling - pompous, egg-slicer, monstrosity, egocentric, insecure clowns, etc? Perhaps Robert's comment "Speaks volumes about these folks." applies to us posters as well.


8 people like this
Posted by jhen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 19, 2014 at 11:28 am

Design 2 (gently curving one) is best choice in terms of aesthetics as well as safety. We will lose many birds when they fly into the structure that was chosen. I hope the deciders re-consider their choice.


7 people like this
Posted by fedup
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Oh, good, another ugly, unexpected distraction on a major freeway, like the bike/pedestrian bridge in San Carlos, which makes me feel queasy. How about spending money on the animal shelter or potholes instead of this boondoggle, the remodel of the first floor of city hall, or undeserved managerial raises? Any bicycle rider can reach one of the existing bridges with a few minutes of pedaling. Give Palo Alto something we need rather than things we don't want, no matter how good these bits of frosting make the managers feel.


5 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 19, 2014 at 12:13 pm

The existing bike path is closed for the foreseeable future. What is the schedule for completing this bridge?


7 people like this
Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 19, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Gethin is a registered user.

The best bold move the council could do is to cancel this utterly worthless waste of our money. I fully agree with Robert Mc when he says: I'm confused why we want to spend $10 million on a bike bridge - when there is already a bike bridge .6 miles north at Embarcadero - and San Antonio 1.2 miles south - - and another beautiful brand new bike crossing at Permanente Creek 2.7 south. Are we really going to spend $10M so that walkers and bikers don't have to go a few extra blocks?


9 people like this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 19, 2014 at 12:39 pm

This is a joke, right? What a waste of money. There already is a bike "bridge" there under the freeway that could be open 99 % of the time if someone could just look and open the gates when it is not raining. The trail road bed could be raised for very little investment. One could even put an automated gate system in for pennies compared to this grandiose ego enhancement. But no, boring, cheap, and effective does not cut it anymore. 10 million could be used on bike trails all over the city. That we really need is a solution for the T and C mess. Someone needs to be fired over this.


7 people like this
Posted by Well done.
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 19, 2014 at 12:45 pm

I can't wait for this bridge to be built. The existing San Antonio overpass is very unfriendly to bikes. As a bicyclist going to bay trails I feel crowded and buffeted by fast moving trailer trucks and other traffic heading for the 101. It's a scary place to ride, especially during the dark, wet, fall, winter, and early spring months when the Lefkowitz Tunnel is closed. We have badly needed this connection for years.

I like the arch design--especially because it is engineered to minimize disruption of 101 traffic when it is installed. It is also beautifully designed to integrate with the natural baylands open space environment it connects to. It separates bike and pedestrians safely. It considers the needs of birds--which is very important in one of the nation's most important marsh bird habitat areas.

I think the designers did a good job responding to comments that members of the public made in the early outreach meetings. They were listening. Good job. Now, build it!


7 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2014 at 12:54 pm

@DWC

People need to stop foolishly believing that grants are "free" money. Taxpayers need to remember while we are getting grant money for boondoggles in our town, we are also PAYING for boondoggles in other cities all over the state.


9 people like this
Posted by Not what we want
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 19, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Seems the ARB hasn't done enough damage to Palo Alto. Now this. "Subtlety is not something we're famous for in this town," said Judith Wasserman. Thanks to you and the ARB.

> pompous, egg-slicer, monstrosity, egocentric, insecure clowns, etc <

I would add ostentatious, overpriced, overblown, incompatible, inappropriately bold. and not what we want.


3 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2014 at 1:11 pm

This design looks like a great place to hang protest signs. Just climb up the arches and let them fly in the wind over the freeway just like the Golden Gate Bridge protests.


9 people like this
Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 19, 2014 at 1:34 pm

@DesignsWellConsidered

"As to the budget ($10 million), the bulk of the money comes from grants - mostly Stanford money as part of a 14 year-ago settlement (see paragraph 5 at this Web Link)."

Incorrect. $4 million results from monies originating at Stanford. See paragraph 5 at Web Link :

"The bridge project would receive $4 million ..."

There's no need -- absolutely no need -- for a $10 million bike bridge here. Instead, simply redesign it to meet the $4 million budget.

This topic -- fiscal prudence for this new bike bridge -- has been amply discussed before. I believe the new Palo Alto City Council will not embrace the expenditure of significant City funds here above the $4 million grant.


5 people like this
Posted by Rose
a resident of Mayfield
on Dec 19, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Let's take the sleek and gently curving first choice. If it's economical all the better. It's just a bridge -- building a landmark shouldn't be a goal in this location. Functional and attractive, YES. An ostentious landmark--NO.


5 people like this
Posted by Just build it.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2014 at 2:01 pm

I don't see this as "free" money. I see this project as needed infrastructure that must be paid for.

I have spent years paying taxes which were (and continue to be) mostly spent on auto infrastructure. It is about time we started spending a fraction of transportation dollars on bike infrastructure. The existing crossing at this location is not sufficient to support the many bicyclists who are on the road today.

This is an important (and way overdue) project. How many tens of millions did they just spend adding lanes on 101 for increasing numbers of carbon belching cars? This project will be a TINY fraction of that. It's about time.


4 people like this
Posted by Check the map
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 19, 2014 at 2:52 pm

" when there is already a bike bridge .6 miles north at Embarcadero "

Well, actually Adobe Creek is 1.4 miles from the Embarcadero crossing (and that's along 101). Now, San Antonio is much closer, but it's hardly bike friendly and requires travelling a significant distance on a busy road to get from the residential neighborhoods to any trail.


5 people like this
Posted by Justin
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 19, 2014 at 2:57 pm

@Just build it.
How many people is this useful for? As another poster mentioned, $10 million could get you a lot of good bike infrastructure. Maybe a bridge that could get tech workers to work would be good, but that's not even what this is for. Additionally, it is overly extravagant just to make use of (not even)"free" money.


2 people like this
Posted by Larry
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 19, 2014 at 3:48 pm

We need a bridge at university avenue area more than the multiple bridges in the proposed area. The usage there will be much higher. The arch there would be a great entrance symbol for Palo Alto. We could join up with Menlo Park and save some money.


5 people like this
Posted by helene
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 19, 2014 at 5:29 pm

This is another joke on the citizens of Palo Alto. How could one ever approve this design? We don't need to compete
with St. Louis. Let them have their arch as we don't need to be second to any city. I think Design 2 is more pleasing
to the eye and is not a distraction. I would hope the members of the jury who made this horrible choice would let us know their reasoning and be able to take the heat for doing so. Another reason to be disappointed with the
changes taking place in Palo Alto. Definitely not for the best!


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 19, 2014 at 5:43 pm

I'd also prefer number two. Don't like the arch at all.


4 people like this
Posted by John Galt
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 19, 2014 at 6:06 pm

I see the redundant Liz Kniss Commemorative Bridge is being rammed through relentlessly. Oh well, "God grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change"


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Well, I am confused altogether.

First we had Submission 1, 2, and 3, or was it A, B and C. Now they are talking about the first and the second.

Please can we keep the same discussion points. I liked Submission 3, or C. No idea if that is the first or the second.


6 people like this
Posted by jerrry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 19, 2014 at 7:18 pm

This is idiocy. Palo Alto does not need a bike bridge over 101 or at all. Walk the bike over University Ave.
Palo Alto resident's money is really burning a hole in City Council's pockets. How about starting an austerity program and buying what the city residents want, improving the safety downtown after dark, finding parking places downtown, kicking out the people that live on the street and stopping all new construction of office buildings and hotels and condos.


3 people like this
Posted by Keep it simple
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2014 at 8:11 pm

Of the three... I prefer the simple C shaped bridge.
No to the the arch it sticks out like a sore thumb calling all Pigeons.
No to the last one with the wings. If it flexes in our evening winds it would scare anyone crossing it.


2 people like this
Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 19, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Arch - WOW!


4 people like this
Posted by Matt Austern
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Dec 19, 2014 at 9:14 pm

I'm puzzled by phrases like "multiple bridges in the proposed area", and by suggestions that an alternative is to cross the freeway "over University Ave." I wonder how many of the people commenting on this have looked at a map to see where the proposed bridge is supposed to be? There really isn't any existing or proposed bike crossing anywhere near it. (Unless you count San Antonio, which I don't. San Antonio would be a reasonable bike crossing if we removed one lane of automotive traffic and replaced it with a bike lane, but not as it is now.)

As for why anyone is proposing that there should be a bike crossing somewhere near San Antonio, when bicyclists could instead just be asked to go two miles out of their way to the nearest bridge and then another two miles back once they get to the other side... Well, I'd think that's fairly obvious. It's for the same reason one doesn't usually demand that cars take a four-mile detour to go a couple hundred feet — only more so, since a four-mile detour is more of a burden for bicyclists than for drivers.

This isn't to say that I'm happy about the city's vision for a grand landmark bike bridge. We need a replacement for the Adobe Creek underpass today, not in 2020. I'd far rather see a boring, forgettable bridge with no architectural qualities, as long as it can get me across the freeway next winter.


6 people like this
Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 19, 2014 at 10:28 pm

Given the city's last library project, I wouldn't be surprised if the City purchases the Brooklyn Bridge.


4 people like this
Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 19, 2014 at 10:30 pm

Given the City's last library project, I wouldn't be surprised if the City purchases the Brooklyn Bridge.


7 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 19, 2014 at 11:40 pm

The best benefit of simplicity... simplicity. simplicity of construction, simplicity of maintenance, and cost (reduced chances of cost overruns / delays / defects). None of these are significant concerns of our city government apparently. Hopefully they at least reviewed the engineering behind the designs and didn't make the decision just based upon pictures.


2 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 19, 2014 at 11:45 pm

I bet Palo Alto could get a better deal on the old Tappan Zee bridge vs the Brookline bridge.


6 people like this
Posted by A
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 20, 2014 at 12:36 am

A bridge here is definitely needed, but this is a gateway to a natural area. So why do some people think a monumental structure is just what the Baylands need to enhance the view?!


1 person likes this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 20, 2014 at 1:36 am

Going to a nature reserve it should be built with the products of nature. How about a rope bridge. Definitely a lot cheaper.
Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 20, 2014 at 2:03 am

Curmudgeon:
>> It is also the safest design: there are no support pillars that could be trashed by an errant semi and weaken the bridge or bring it down.

i was going to say that was a good point ... then I thought how often has any bridge been hit let alone knocked down by a semi-crashing into a support? I don't think a lack of pillar supports from below is a "feature" of this bridge.


2 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 20, 2014 at 7:27 am

It's amusing to read concerns about the bridge being a distraction to drivers. I cross 101 at least twice a day and traffic in both directions is most always moving at a crawl. I doubt it will dangerously distract drivers. In fact, it might give peninsula drivers something interesting to look at while stuck on the road.


1 person likes this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 20, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Hulkamania is a registered user.

helene sez: "We don't need to compete with St. Louis. Let them have their arch as we don't need to be second to any city."

Awww come on helene, where's your sense of humor?


2 people like this
Posted by Alan
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 20, 2014 at 1:45 pm

I like minimalist one the best myself. The curve of the ramp and a place to stop and enjoy the view would have been nice. For a bike bridge, I would vote for the one that gives the best experience for the bicyclist/jogger/walker going across it, rather than trying to draw the attention of someone driving along highway 101.

Regardless, I'm just glad to have a bridge there.


4 people like this
Posted by History Buff
a resident of another community
on Dec 20, 2014 at 2:59 pm

> Alto, like St. Louis, will be one of the few cities in the world with its own handle.”

Palo Alto already has its own handle: Shallow Alto. This behemoth bridge just confirms it.

It certainly fits in with most of the city’s public “art” and the Cheesecake Factory. All it needs is the display of lights like that on the Bay Bridge. I think that could be added for a mere $5M.

Anyone ready to start a pool on what the final costs will be?


6 people like this
Posted by bridge too far
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2014 at 3:14 pm

We all laughed at "the bridge to nowhere" but this on takes the cake. Grant money is not free money and should not be used lightly.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 20, 2014 at 4:35 pm

City of Palo Alto site -- Web Link -- provides more detailed fodder for discussion. Click on the photo thumbnails of submission A, B, or C for links to "design boards."

I don't know where there's any summary of the full pool of 20 competitors. Wish I could see the educated opinions of experienced engineers on the merits and pitfalls of each design, with respect to functionality and maintenance. Gotta admit that aesthetics are important too, though beauty is in the eye of the beholder as any new building in Palo Alto will attest. But wanting a bridge that makes a statement just invites discord.

If the arch version is built, only then will we find out what the birds think about it. I question providing bench-seating for pedestrians over the freeway. Loitering mid-span should not be encouraged. Motion activated lighting seems problematic. Will the proposed restrooms be locked up at night? Will there really be a bike fix-it station with air-pump?

Funding fungibility and the necessity of a bridge at this location will surely come up again before City Council makes any decisions.


1 person likes this
Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 20, 2014 at 4:43 pm

"how often has any bridge been hit let alone knocked down by a semi-crashing into a support?"

To me, the first time a foreseeable, preventable mishap occurs is too often.

I don't have the actual vehicle-pillar collision stats, but the presence of those yellow plastic barrel cushions defending many existing mid-roadway pillars indicates they are a significant risk.

"We will lose many birds when they fly into the structure that was chosen."

Excellent point. The suspenders need to be made more visible.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 20, 2014 at 4:57 pm

The suspenders are planned to have brushed stainless steel disks glittering in the breeze.

I recall a semi knocking down the Cupertino bridge while under construction.


3 people like this
Posted by PissedOffbyClowns
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 21, 2014 at 12:28 pm

With one word? Atrocity.

1. Is it needed? No. Well ... maybe by a few people. Who did the study of the bike traffic?

2. Do we have essential projects that could use the money? You bet we do. How about the Palo Alto Animal shelter barely hanging in there? Way more people are using it to take care of their pets at the clinic and adopt then will ever use the bridge.

3. Design? Pompous and overall ugly. Number two, if you really want a bridge.

Restrooms and seats? Did I hear that right?

When people making that kind of decisions will start at least being fired?
Do we need another citizen coalition and ballot measure to overturn the idiocy and stop reckless spending?


4 people like this
Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 21, 2014 at 1:15 pm

"Do we need another citizen coalition and ballot measure to ... stop reckless spending?"

If the Palo Alto City Council allocates any City monies to this project -- that is, any monies above & beyond the prior County grant of Stanford-sourced monies -- there will very likely be significant political consequences. Fiscal prudence is a highly-held value among many in Palo Alto. $4MM would buy a great bike bridge here; re-do the design to meet this grant-funded budget threshold.


2 people like this
Posted by PAn
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Great to see both architecture and pedestrian/bike infrastructure developing in Palo Alto.

Kudos to the jury. Let's hope the next City Council follows through.


3 people like this
Posted by ouch
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2014 at 4:12 pm

PAn

"Great to see both architecture and pedestrian/bike infrastructure developing in Palo Alto."

I had to laugh, these have been the City specials for some time now - architecture and bike infrastructure,



2 people like this
Posted by Paco
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Thanks Liz Kniss! Thanks to the Santa Clara county taxpayers who will fund this boondoggle project. Palo Alto currently has three bike freeway overpasses and one freeway underpass. Thanks to Liz another bike freeway overpass will be created. Where are all these bike riders going? What a pity and waste of taxpayer money.


3 people like this
Posted by Jon botelho
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 21, 2014 at 9:26 pm

Of course we must have a contest to design the most special bridge in the world- isn't Palo Alto the center of the universe?!? Keep it simple and put the balance toward the Animal Shelter or any number of other things that need fixing in town.


Like this comment
Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 21, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Will be looking forward to next season's Silicon Valley to see if they have any allusion to it, ala the Chicano muralist near same name as famous stained glass artist.


1 person likes this
Posted by Map check
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 22, 2014 at 9:21 am

"Palo Alto currently has three bike freeway overpasses and one freeway underpass."

Huh? Where? I only see one bike overpass and one underpass that the new bridge will replace. If you mean San Antonio and University, where are the bike lanes there?


4 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 22, 2014 at 11:37 am

Hulkamania is a registered user.

Anyone riding a bike over the University, Embarcadero or San Antonio overpasses has a death wish.


4 people like this
Posted by James
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 22, 2014 at 1:14 pm

I would find this evaluation a bit more credible if the congruence of utility and aesthetics was considered from the point of view of the intended users: what does the bridge look like and how does it work if you are riding or walking over it? Instead, we see side-on pictures and comments about having drivers underneath say "Wow!"

And there seems to be some discussion of having benches on top for lingering: are they serious? Have they actually been on one of the existing bridges on foot or on bike? I can't imagine anyone would want to linger any longer than they had to to get to the other side of what is still a noisy, stinky, ugly freeway.


Like this comment
Posted by Ugliness problem
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 22, 2014 at 2:47 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment.]


1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 22, 2014 at 3:03 pm

I learned here a somewhat unnerving term, "missile barrier", for the 8-foot chain link fencing that shall border the portion of bridge over freeway. Too many miscreants loose in our society. Design spec says minimum opening 1-inch square; I assume they meant maximum opening.

Another spec says target design speed for cyclists is 25 mph. Say what? More reasonable are the minimum design speeds of 12 mph on the west ramp (41-foot radius) and 15 mph on the east ramp (65-foot radius). I'll be pleasantly surprised if a 10 mph speed limit sign is not posted for the whole shebang.

ps: I get 1g or a 45-deg lean for 25 mph on a 41-foot radius. Can't tell whether the ramp is banked.


2 people like this
Posted by History Buff
a resident of another community
on Dec 22, 2014 at 5:31 pm

> “If the Palo Alto City Council allocates any City monies to this project … there will very likely be significant political consequences. Fiscal prudence is a highly-held value among many in Palo Alto.”

If only.

PA loves to spend taxpayer money. In 2004, the Homer bike tunnel was more than a year behind schedule and rivaled the eastern span of the Bay Bridge for being over-budget, percentage-wise.

In 1998, the original estimate was $2.3M In 2002, it was bumped up to about $4M. Ultimately it cost about $5.4M.


Like this comment
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 22, 2014 at 8:08 pm

The "grants aren't free" argument makes a lot of sense to me and I hope those tasked with reviewing this design will ask if the bridge really needs to be as big as it is. Why can't it simply span 101 instead of "looping" as it does? If it were scaled back a bit, perhaps some of the grant money could be used on other projects.


3 people like this
Posted by Itz our turn now Southern PA
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 22, 2014 at 9:12 pm

I am so excited to hear about the Bridge competition choices and the project going forward.

The bridge should be a wow bridge and distinguish Palo Alto as the bike community it is.

Time for Midtown to share in the city funding of bike projects by getting a great bike bridge and time for North Palo Alto to share the funds for the bike network that includes the new bike bridge in the southern half of the city.

Bravo ARB and thanks for all your work along with the planners.

Old Palo Alto comments above try to evoke less spending on bike projects in the South end while North Palo Alto reap so many projects with the bike funding Like the new bike light at Lytton.

Stand up South Palo Alto and let the City know what bridges you like it is your turn now for a great bike project!


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 22, 2014 at 9:36 pm

@Annette -- ADA ramp code is 1:12 maximum slope. Required vertical clearance on 101 is 18.5 feet. Add a couple feet for bridge thickness, plus 101 being a little higher than the bike-paths on either side, and do the math. Call it a 25 foot climb and you have 25x12 = 300 feet of ramp on each end. For the convenience of able-bodied pedestrians there are stair-step shortcuts on both sides. I am not defending the expense, and have a bad feeling we will be selling naming rights or advertising before this is over. I am thankful that Dark Sky compliance is encouraged for any nighttime lighting -- should be a firm requirement.

(If I were still a rock-climber I'd already be salivating over that 90-foot high arch.)


3 people like this
Posted by Build it. We will come.
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 23, 2014 at 11:02 am

Build it. I don't prefer the "canoe" option, but the other two seem fine to me. It is evident to me that many people on this thread either don't live in south PA and/or don't bike much. Folks who bike for recreation and transportation know that the existing Lefkowitz Tunnel is closed most of the year and therefore is a very broken link in the network. From the new bridge there will be amazing bike connections to all kinds of destinations around the bay--to jobs and to recreation destinations via bike networks in many Bay Area cities.

This is a great project--visionary in terms of creating a true regional bicycle NETWORK that provides off-road options that take bicyclists out of car traffic. It will also give PA families a safe year-round pedestrian and bicycle connection to the natural wonders in our southern baylands (some of the best marsh bird watching in the country).

As a senior citizen now, for many years, I have supported auto infrastructure to the exclusion of bike infrastructure with my tax dollars while I have wished for safer bicycle facilities. I am glad to see some balance being achieved here--especially as numbers of bicyclists are increasing rapidly.

Build it, please....SOON!


Like this comment
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 26, 2014 at 6:31 am

@Musical - thank you!


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

El Camino: Another scheme to increase congestion?
By Douglas Moran | 25 comments | 2,668 views

Salt & Straw Palo Alto to open Nov. 23
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,390 views

Trials of My Grandmother
By Aldis Petriceks | 2 comments | 1,318 views

Lakes and Larders (part 2)
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 1,055 views

Can we ever improve our schools?
By Diana Diamond | 0 comments | 14 views