Highway 101 lane closures scheduled for Friday, Saturday nights

Fewer lanes to be open in Palo Alto from Embarcadero to University

To prepare for the replacement of bridges over San Francisquito Creek, lanes along U.S. Highway 101 in Palo Alto will be closed overnight this weekend, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has announced.

Multiple northbound lanes will be closed between Embarcadero Road and University Avenue starting on Friday at 9 p.m. and extending until Saturday at 8 a.m. to ensure the safety of work crews, Caltrans stated.

Multiple southbound lanes will be closed between University and Embarcadero starting Saturday at 10 p.m. and lasting until Sunday at 9 a.m.

Traffic will be shifted towards the outside shoulders in both the northbound and southbound directions, with the auxiliary lanes temporarily removed.

The $18 million bridge project, which has a completion deadline of 2017, will remove and replace the Highway 101 bridge over the San Francisquito Creek at the border of San Mateo County and Santa Clara County. The project will also remove and replace the West Bayshore Road and East Bayshore Road bridges over the creek, according to Caltrans.

The work is being done to prevent predicted flooding of neighborhoods along the San Francisquito Creek.

The Highway 101 bridge was constructed in 1931 and widened in 1957 to include the frontage roads on either side of the freeway. Over the years, the bridge has deteriorated from wear and tidal action, Caltrans' website states.

Due to a history of flooding in this area, the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority (SFCJPA) has proposed improvements to the creek, including new bridges, to increase the hydraulic capacity both upstream and downstream.

The new bridges will have lower maintenance cost and provide protection from flooding, Caltrans states.

The state agency is working on the project with the creek authority, whose members include the cities of Palo Alto, Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the San Mateo County Flood Control District.

Construction is expected to occur over three seasons with most of the work taking place from June to October.

Real-time traffic conditions and road closures can be viewed on the Caltrans Quick Map.

More about the bridge project is posted on the Caltrans page.

Related articles:

San Francisquito Project sees breakthrough on much-delayed permit

Revamped creek-bridge planned for Highway 101

Editor's note: The article has been corrected to state that southbound lanes will be closed starting on Saturday night, not Friday night. The Weekly regrets the error.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff

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28 people like this
Posted by Tom Purcell
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 8, 2015 at 11:53 am

Is there any more information about lane changes beyond last Saturday? The entrance/exit lanes were blocked today (Monday 6/8/15) and 101 was totally screwed up in both directions all morning.

18 people like this
Posted by Edward
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 9, 2015 at 4:02 pm

Today (Tue Jun 09, 15), 101 was still jammed badly in both direction in this section for the whole morning due to lane closure. Is this going to happen every day for the next few months?

9 people like this
Posted by Driver
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 9, 2015 at 4:50 pm

I was stuck in this gridlock Sunday afternoon. I was aware of work being done overnight, but didn't expect a Sunday afternoon to feel like a weekday commute.

10 people like this
Posted by RM
a resident of another community
on Jun 9, 2015 at 9:58 pm

The lane re-alignment is not temporary at all it seems. 101 traffic has been a nightmare the past 2 days!

12 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 9, 2015 at 11:44 pm

Sounded to me like various lane re-alignments will persist for three years.
I haven't looked at the current situation in-person yet, but plans were in stages.

We're at the shifting of both 101 directions away from the median,
so they can turn the median into lanes for southbound 101 traffic.

After southbound 101 traffic gets moved to the median, they can rebuild
the southbound 101 bridge and West Bayshore Road.

Southbound traffic then gets moved to its new bridge, and the median part
of the old 101 bridge can be torn up and replaced.

Then northbound 101 lanes move to the new median bridge, allowing the
old northbound bridge to be demolished and replaced.

Then northbound traffic is moved back to its new bridge, and the median
lanes get a barrier built down the middle, so both north and south traffic
can repopulate their halves of that median and regain full capacity.

The East Bayshore Road bridge also gets rebuilt in the mix somewhere.

That's my reading of the March 2011 Environmental Assessment.
People look at me and call it "musical" chairs.

10 people like this
Posted by Jessica
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 11, 2015 at 10:26 am

I work at a Stanford off site laboratory off of Page Mill Rd. I take public transportation (Dumbarton Express) to and from. The week of the 8th is when this mess started. It is taking the bus one and one-half hours (no exaggeration) to get from El Camino/Oregon Expressway to the on ramp to 101 North. This is adding two hours to my commute. I live in Pittsburg and my commute is already very far. Good thing I found this posting because the city of Palo Alto told me that nothing is going on and that it is probably "traffic from graduations". Thanks a lot. How long is this going to go on?

3 people like this
Posted by Driver
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 11, 2015 at 10:52 am

This is getting very tiresome.

This is all I could find on the Caltrans website. Web Link Sadly it is wrong as the delays are continuing with no update or explanation.

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 11, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Thanks for the link @Drive. It led me to a 5 megabyte pdf -- Web Link -- that describes the stages of construction which I outlined in my previous comment. News to me is that stages 2, 3, and 4 may occur in any order, so we don't know what to expect next.

Like this comment
Posted by Jessica
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 11, 2015 at 12:45 pm

Thanks for the link. Am I reading it correctly? Work is to be completed from 2100-0500 (night time???). I can't tell. I'm going to email the contact in that link to see how long traffic will be impacted, if she knows, going up Oregon.

6 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 11, 2015 at 3:22 pm

Thank you for posting about this. I was stuck late yesterday PM in a ridiculous Palo Alto/Menlo Park traffic jam for almost 2 hours. Someone could have run out of gas - I had the sense nobody had anticipated this gridlocked situation. Did others clearly understand that the local area would be virtually undrive-able?! I was glad I had purchased some gas recently as I had been low.
We all know what heavy traffic is and experience it sometimes, but when intersections are blocked by frustrated drivers and there are NO police to dirt traffic fairly through Middlefield X Willow and a long time is going by, people get frustrated because we all have places to be and things to do.
I sympathize with anyone trying to get to SFO! I have to go there periodically myself and am now very concerned about the reliability of being able to use 101 up there!
I also think the Caltrans should manage their projects better with some respect for us thousands of drivers here.
Make a number of clear detours, for example!

Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

on Jun 11, 2015 at 7:26 pm

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3 people like this
Posted by Srikant
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 12, 2015 at 10:43 pm

From the Hill Top - VMware Campus to Fremont - ( 9.10,11 Jun) the TUE/WED/THU commute became horrible and So i decided to stay back at home on Friday . What the hell is going on ?

7 people like this
Posted by reader
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 13, 2015 at 1:20 am

The Mercury-News explains why Hwy 101 in Palo Alto will be FUBAR for at least a month (and possibly 3 years): Web Link

5 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 13, 2015 at 5:09 am

I'd bank on a three-year bottleneck. Mr Roadshow is a bit brief on the complexity of replacing a bridge while still providing for traffic flow. Maybe Caltrans could have done it all in one construction season if they just closed 101 completely (and worked 24/7).

7 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 13, 2015 at 12:32 pm

The congestion on the surface streets is expected to last through 2017!! while this work is going on. You'd think they might wait to work on Bayshore while the work is going on, but no!

So expect all the spillover traffic on the residential streets for the next 2 years at least!

Web Link

4 people like this
Posted by Johnny
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 13, 2015 at 2:47 pm

The real issue that the 4th lane now magically becomes a carpool lane... they painted fresh diamonds on it, the bastards! Shoving all the rush hour traffic into 3 lanes through what is actually a very short bottleneck.

The entire HOV concept is completely broken and there should be no HOV lanes. It is never enforced, people routinely violate it and when CHP is in the mood they can cherry pick solo drivers and slap them with a $500 fine. If there isn't a more pernicious way of generating revenue...

Just be honest that it's about $$$ and change them into "Lexus Lanes".

If someone drives a Leaf or a Tesla, they're superior to others because of the car they own???
And I thought its about carpooling so which one is it?

6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 13, 2015 at 2:57 pm

Re Jessica's comment about the Dumbarton Express bus, they now seem to be diverting onto Middlefield betweeen Oregon and Embarcadero.

A few days ago, one of their bus drivers got impatient and decided to create his own lane on Middlefield, passing stopped cars and barreling into the wrong lane and almost colliding with me.

If this is going to continue until December 2017, one of our fine traffic professionals really needs to do something before someone gets seriously hurt.

Like this comment
Posted by Quit Palo Alto
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 16, 2015 at 7:06 pm

[Post removed.]

5 people like this
Posted by jrtpaca
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 13, 2015 at 6:26 pm

The fact that this will take 3 years on a small section of roadway is absurd. The social and economic costs of creating a traffic nightmare without any plan for dealing with the result is a show of poor management at CALTRANS that has had a policy of accelerating the work on this type of project. A three year plan sounds like the opposite. Judging by the number of workers and the lack of an around the clock effort, the plan is to just snub the community and the commuters who are forced to travel on 101 and down University/Willow/Embarcadero. Do we have State Representatives and Senators that are in touch with our community?

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 14, 2015 at 12:58 am

101 still has EIGHT lanes on that bridge. How many would be enough?

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