News

Rising costs threaten Palo Alto's 'iconic' bike bridge

City Council to consider scrapping selected design for Highway 101 overpass, start process anew

It was supposed to be the centerpiece of Palo Alto's biking renaissance -- a slender, elegant bridge that would span U.S. Highway 101 and offer cyclists and pedestrians a beautiful new entryway into the Baylands.

It was supposed to be at once subtle and iconic, sensitive to the expansive marshlands and yet fancy enough to attract attention and appreciation from passing motorists.

And in March, when the City Council directed city staff to negotiate a contract with Moffatt & Nichol for the understated, ribbon-like bridge the firm proposed, it seemed like money was no object, given that the city had already received about $8.3 million in grants for a project that had an estimated budget of $10 million.

Now, however, Palo Alto's hoped-for signature bike project is on shaky grounds. Its budget has swollen to more than $17 million and the city is preparing to sever ties with Moffatt & Nichol. With construction costs climbing, Public Works staff is also now recommending that the council consider a more traditional – an affordable – bridge and launch a search for a new engineering firm to build the structure.

If the council approves the new plan on Dec. 14, the bridge at Adobe Creek wouldn't be built until fall 2019.

According to Moffatt & Nichol, the main reason driving up costs is the volatility of the construction market. When its team submitted its design to the city-sponsored design competition, the estimated price tag for the structure was $9 million to $9.5 million -- well within the parameters of the competition, which the city launched in late 2013. But things changed dramatically this past spring, just after the selection of Moffatt & Nichol's low-key suspension bridge over a more glamorous, arched structure proposed by firm HNTB. Though the arched bridge won the design competition, the council ultimately went with the subtler option, arguing that it would fit in far better in the Baylands environment.

In May, the company submitted a new estimate showing that the total cost for the project would actually be $16.6 million, which includes about $12.2 million in actual construction costs and contingency spending and another $4.5 million for engineering, construction management and right-of-way purchases.

In a May 17 memo to the city's project manager, Elizabeth Ames, the firm cited the Bridge Cost Index, a quarterly report that is published by Caltrans and that tracks costs on transportation projects. The firm's initial $8 million target budget was based on a 2011 planning-level estimate, the Moffatt & Nichol memo states. According to Caltrans data, the "cost index" for bridge construction went up from 313 in 2011 to 456 in 2014, connoting a cost increase of about 50 percent.

"Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that a bridge cost as high as $12 million . . . may be realized by the time the structure is designed and prepared for bid," the May memo stated.

The revised numbers mean that if the city sticks with the design, the bike bridge would among the most the most expensive structures of this sort constructed in the Bay Area over the past decade, according to comparison data provided by Moffatt & Nichol. To date, the Mary Avenue Bridge that Cupertino completed in 2007 has been the most expensive of the bunch, with a total construction cost of $10.2 million (though the total project cost was $17.6 million). Construction of a bridge earlier this year in Larkspur cost $9.5 million; for a pedestrian bridge that Belmont completed in 2011, the figure was $7.6 million.

On Dec. 14, the City Council will consider whether to pursue the Moffett & Nichol design despite the larger cost or to look for a new contractor to work on the project. Public Works staff is recommending that the city cease negotiations with Moffatt & Nichol and pursue a more traditional process for bridge design: a "request for proposals" for a firm that would build the structure within what is now the anticipated budget of $11.4 million. Staff is also recommending that the city pursue additional grant opportunities, in hopes of ending up with a budget of $13 million to $17 million.

One potential funding partner that has already stepped up is Google, the Mountain View-based tech giant that leases offices in several Palo Alto locations. According to a letter from John Igoe, Google's director for real estate and workplace services, company officials held a meeting on Nov. 13 with city staff to discuss a possible contribution. At the end of the month, Google sent a letter to Assistant City Manager Ed Shikada confirming Google's offer of "up to $1 million" to directly support the Adobe Creek bridge.

The contribution, however, comes with a few strings attached. For one, it hinges on the council pursuing a "more affordable design" for the bridge, "with the low profile suggested in the past as well as being 'bird safe.'" While this shouldn't be problematic for a council that has already expressed a strong preference for a low-profile bridge, a second condition could be more controversial: It calls for Google to "receive credit as a traffic mitigation measure for any future development application." Thus, even though Google's letter refers to the $1 million as a "donation," it also makes clear that the contribution should be factored into future land-use decisions involving its applications.

So far, this condition has not deterred Public Works staff, which is recommending that the city enter into the partnership with Google. The city could also make a bid for the roughly $4.5 million in Santa Clara County funds that were given to Stanford University for construction of trails. Stanford has subsequently relinquished the grant and opted to build the trails around its campus with its own funding, leaving the county looking for a new recreation project to fund.

The council could also direct staff to negotiate with the team led by HNTB, the firm that actually won the design contest only to see its bid rejected by the council for being too showy for the Baylands. Even so, the arched design known as "Confluence" had its share of fans, including the majority of the design-contest jury and the city's Architectural Review Board. Even in selecting the understated Moffatt & Nichol design, several council members praised both finalists.

"I think the community was provided two exceptional designs, and I think the process in that sense did work very well and it will benefit the community greatly over what we might have had as an alternative over the process," Councilman Pat Burt said at the March meeting.

Given the community and council feedback, Public Works is not recommending this course of action. After conferring with other experts, officials concluded that unknown costs for the slender bridge are likely to further increase the project's budget. Complications, according to a new report, could include unexpected soil conditions, site complexities that require utility relocations, additional columns and new requirements imposed by Caltrans as part of the environmental-clearance process. The report also notes that staff has reviewed the Moffatt & Nichol design with "bridge designers and contractors who have expressed their opinions that the final cost would be significantly higher than $17 million."

The proposed suspension bridge included a host of bike- and pedestrian-friendly amenities, including a plaza on the Baylands side and a stairwell on the west side; a raised sidewalk to separate pedestrian traffic from bicyclists, benches and artwork.

Now, that the city is preparing to hit the reset button, some of these features are likely to disappear. The list of strategies submitted by Public Works for reducing costs and making the design more "standard" includes narrowing the bridge deck, making the plaza smaller, more columns, standard railings and "elimination of the stairwell, raised sidewalk, enhanced lighting, railing, benches, large plaza areas and similar amenities." A new request for proposals, the report states, offers the best choice to receive proposals that would meet the new criteria.

Brad Eggleston, assistant director of Public Works, told the Weekly that while the request for proposals would focus on "a more conventional, standard type of design," the city would try to integrate "aspects that came out of the design competition."

"We're still thinking of a low-profile sort of bridge, but probably not as slender as in the Moffatt & Nichol design," Eggleston said.

If the council agrees with the staff recommendation, the request of proposals would be released within days of the Dec. 14 meeting and design work would begin in April. Under the present schedule, the design work would conclude in November 2017 and the new bridge would be constructed in 2019.

The project is among the most ambitious and expensive in the bicycle and pedestrian master plan that the City Council unanimously adopted in 2012. The plan, which also includes myriad bike projects and trail improvements, identifies the overcrossing at Adobe Creek as "the preferred alternative for improving connections across Highway 101 from South Palo Alto to the Baylands and Bay Trail." Currently, the only access to the Baylands in the Adobe Creek area is an undercrossing that is generally only open from mid-April to mid-October. The master plan notes that the path surface in the undercrossing is "only one foot above dry-season water level and is regularly covered with mud and debris by even moderate storm flows." The new bridge, by contrast, would offer users a pleasant, year-round alternative for reaching the Baylands, according to the plan.

"An estimated 100,000 bicyclists and pedestrians would use the bridge each year, a figure that would rise as adjacent bicycle connections improve and area land uses adapt," the plan states.

Comments

40 people like this
Posted by Bike Commuter
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 9, 2015 at 9:24 am

We need year-round bike and pedestrian access to the east-side of 101! Adobe Creek tunnel will certainly be closed most of this coming winter which will force bikes to mix with cars on San Antonio (scary).

Using the Embarcadero bridge doubles the commute distance to the Shoreline office park from south PA neighborhoods.

Please build the bridge that can be completed on time and on budget so bike commuters don't have to get in their cars each winter when traffic is at its worst.


80 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2015 at 9:30 am

I can't believe that the city funded this bridge in 2011 and now it won't be built until 2019. The big mistake was turning this into an extravagant art contest, which caused years of delays as well as soaring costs.

If the city had bothered to ask the southern Palo Alto residents who would actually use this bridge what they really wanted, the number 1 request would be to get the bridge done quickly. The existing bike path under Hwy 101 at Adobe Creek is currently flooded and locked shut. Residents trying to cross the highway to get to the Baylands have to use dangerous San Antonio Road or walk miles out of their way to Embarcadero Road.

A pedestrian bridge similar to what Menlo Park has at Ringwood Ave or what Mountain View has at Permanente Creek would be more than adequate and could have been installed years ago for a reasonable price.

This is the problem with southern Palo Alto infrastructure being managed by a northern Palo Alto city hall. Where are southern Palo Alto city council members to stand up for southern Palo Alto resident needs?


70 people like this
Posted by Get a clue
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 9, 2015 at 9:32 am

You could see this fiasco coming a mile away . With Holman gushing about the need for an iconic bridge as a symbol of the city and the typical Palo Alto delusions of grandeur this was all in the cards. Just build a simple bridge across 101. People who are clueless about reality should recuse themselves from the discussion


22 people like this
Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2015 at 9:43 am

"After conferring with other experts, officials concluded that unknown costs for the slender bridge are likely to further increase the project's budget. Complications, according to a new report, could include unexpected soil conditions, site complexities that require utility relocations, additional columns and new requirements imposed by Caltrans as part of the environmental-clearance process. The report also notes that staff has reviewed the Moffatt & Nichol design with "bridge designers and contractors who have expressed their opinions that the final cost would be significantly higher than $17 million."

When managing municipal finances, fiscal prudence is wise. Time to re-think the bridge.


21 people like this
Posted by Jaded
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 9, 2015 at 9:46 am

It's our own version of the Bay Bridge fiasco.


47 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2015 at 9:49 am

This is exactly what so many of us were expecting when it came to this monstrosity of a bridge.

We need a simple, efficient bridge. It is a bridge over a highway. We don't want drivers on the highway to even notice it.

Get it done, get it done economically, get it done quickly. Stop messing around.


45 people like this
Posted by Just build it.
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 9, 2015 at 10:03 am

Please get this DONE. Riding busy surface streets to commute south is really challenging for any bicyclist (even very skilled and experienced cyclists) in the winter when it is dark and wet. This provides a year-round, safe, off-road alternative. It also gives the public wonderful bike access to the beautiful baylands open space.

Every day of delay is a day of risk for bike commuters who need this. Please build it as quickly as possible. We don't need an iconic bridge. We need a functional bridge. We have needed it for more than a decade.


18 people like this
Posted by Ihab Awad
a resident of Southgate
on Dec 9, 2015 at 10:07 am

At the risk of seeming redundant with other posters: Why does bicycle infrastructure have to be something other than just that -- infrastructure? Why does it have to represent Art, or be Iconic? Are all highways through our city Iconic? Does Highway 101 constitute Art?

I hope this state of affairs is not a statement on the merits of bicycle infrastructure *as such* as seen by the City Council -- but I fear it might be. I hope I am proven wrong.

And soon. We need that bridge!


34 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2015 at 10:18 am

Does anyone see a pattern:

* Mitchell Park Libarary (late by a couple of years)
* the remodel the City Hall Lobby (budget ballooned from $1 million to $4 million)
* El Camino Park renovation (late by over a year)
* Bike Bridge (from $10 million to $17 million)


6 people like this
Posted by Mona
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 9, 2015 at 10:33 am

The fastest path would be to have the selected design team build the same bridge without the "trimmings" - lovely bridge, but a simpler version


21 people like this
Posted by mutti
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 9, 2015 at 10:37 am

Please -- plain, vanilla bridge that will get me from point A (my house) to point B (baylands) in a fairly straight line. No grand designs needed. Go find the plans for the bridge that goes over at Embarcadero and use them again. It's a perfectly adequate bridge. Why re-invent just to be 'different?' We don't want drivers on 101 looking at a piece of "art" when they should be looking at the road in front of them.


8 people like this
Posted by Mike-Crescent Park
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2015 at 10:41 am

Mike-Crescent Park is a registered user.

Icons are really nice if they are affordable but this one is not. Plan B needs to be a functional bridge that's affordable-if affordable is even possible anymore.

The referenced current pedestrian crossing at San Antonio and EB 101 exit ramp is invisible to motorists on the exit ramp. A nice move would be to install flashing crossing lights- although you will still have to get off your bike and judge very carefully when it's OK to cross.


12 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 9, 2015 at 10:49 am

@ Get a clue........You nailed it. Key words being "fiasco" and "delusions of grandeur." It's the Palo Alto way.


7 people like this
Posted by Engineering
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 9, 2015 at 10:56 am

It makes me sad that we all want to give up on something cool yet functional, at the first sign of problems. This is SILICON VALLEY -- we have the world's BEST engineers! Why can't we build cool stuff -- and do so reliably and quickly, for a reasonable price? What happened to our engineering spirit?


11 people like this
Posted by Jim H
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 9, 2015 at 11:12 am

Palo alto city and council need to understand that the number 1 priority is fixing and improving infrastructure quickly. Even if the bridge could have been done for 10 million, a simple low cost bridge built quickly is what we want. Maybe we could use the savings to build more bike infrastructure or fix potholes? Who needs an iconic bridge? How do we get the message across? No more council and city ego trips! Please.


18 people like this
Posted by A
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 9, 2015 at 11:13 am

Kudos for stopping the boondoggle before it got too far. I commute by bike under 101 when I can. The alternatives are downright life threatening with current traffic. One route or the other has to be fixed ASAP if the town is actually serious about encouraging bike commuting.


Like this comment
Posted by Neil O'Riley
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2015 at 11:14 am

Just build it. Ask Bill Gates - he'll pay for the whole thing, he's super rich and loves engineering.


7 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 9, 2015 at 11:25 am

Good to know about the increase before breaking ground instead of after-the fact when we'd be stuck with the cost. Why not sell naming rights? If Google wants to pay the biggest chunk, call it the Google Gate Bridge and move forward. Or scrap the fancy plan and build a simple bridge that is easy to build and maintain.


9 people like this
Posted by PleaseBuildABridge
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 9, 2015 at 11:34 am

For crap sake build a GD bridge already!
I was more than happy that money was 'found' to build a particularly nice bridge, but (1) nobody in a vehicle on 101 gives a damn about it being 'iconic' or belonging to Palo Alto, and (2) everyone who has been waiting for years to use the bridge just wants to get across 101 safely and ALL YEAR ROUND.
When the 'google' bridge was built, I got a number of less than $2 million for its construction. Granted, the PA bridge in its location is not as simple as the google bridge, so we can expect a greater cost. BUT WE JUST NEED A BRIDGE.
Ramp up, bridge across, ramp down.
Please.


11 people like this
Posted by What about Google?
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 9, 2015 at 11:35 am

Ask Google for some help. Their employees need it for bike commuting to all of their hundreds of thousands of square feet of office space along the baylands. Just get it DONE! Good grief. I have written to Council and VTA so many times over so many years with this project, I feel like a broken record. This project is long overdue. I don't care if we get an iconic bridge. I just want a functional bike/pedestrian bridge with year-round accessibility so we can visit the baylands without using a car and so we can bike commute south more safely without using surface streets.

Thanks for listening.


4 people like this
Posted by What about Google?
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 9, 2015 at 11:35 am

Ask Google for some help. Their employees need it for bike commuting to all of their hundreds of thousands of square feet of office space along the baylands. Just get it DONE! Good grief. I have written to Council and VTA so many times over so many years with this project, I feel like a broken record. This project is long overdue. I don't care if we get an iconic bridge. I just want a functional bike/pedestrian bridge with year-round accessibility so we can visit the baylands without using a car and so we can bike commute south more safely without using surface streets.

Thanks for listening.


4 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 9, 2015 at 11:48 am

Iconic??! This design is the most pedestrian design possible.


4 people like this
Posted by cowper
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 9, 2015 at 11:52 am

I think it's worth spending a little extra on public infrastructure. Every time I drive on 280 through Sunnyvale, my heart gladdens at the sight of their pedestrian bridge. Said Cupertino city manager David Knapp, "This says if you're gonna build something, and it's gonna be there for over 50 years, then it should be pretty."

Web Link



8 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 9, 2015 at 12:10 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Can anyone think of a reason for the long delay between completion of the design work in November 2017 and the beginning of construction two years later in Fall 2019? Does it really take that long to start construction. Recently, Stanford completed a trail construction project that went along El Camino from Embarcadero to Stanford Avenue, plus all of the trail and parking construction on Stanford Avenue from Nixon School to Foothill. I admit, I don't know how long the project had been in the planning stages, but I am pretty sure it wasn't two-three years. Why does the City of Palo Alto take so long to do anything? I'm not looking for the typical nasty comments that show up here on PAOnline - hopefully someone knows what it is in our city's approach to construction projects that takes so long.


12 people like this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2015 at 12:34 pm

We already have a "low profile bridge". It goes right under 101! Ja ja, it rains occasionally. For 17 million $ you can hire an army of of public works folks or volunteers to shovel off the mud and reopen the underpass every time it rains. How many days in the year is it actually underwater in a year? I bet no one has a clue! At least until the lip flappers get a clue some one could organize this operation. My gosh I suppose this is too complicated because they would actually have to go out there and monitor the creek. There is no reason the underpass has to be closed half the year! Come on council, do something besides yak, yak yak.


5 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2015 at 1:02 pm

I thought I read about the bridge design being a contest that bidders had to bid a bridge design
that comes in under a certain amount of money?

I guess it doesn't matter, not matter what, no matter how the Palo Alto process always breaks,
costs ten times and much and takes ten times longer ... so we can pretend we can brag about
being ten times better than everyone else when we all know the reality.

Man alive, am I sick of reading about Palo Alto f-ups?


16 people like this
Posted by A neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 9, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Please, please just build a functional bridge. We don't need iconic bridges, we need to be able to cross 101 in South Palo Alto safely.
I am so saddened that the schedule keeps getting extended further and further into the future. Such a waste of our time. We need more council members who are from south of Palo Alto.


8 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Is anyone surprised by this development?

Willie Brown and Jerry Brown...please meet the PA City Council...


11 people like this
Posted by Matt Austern
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Dec 9, 2015 at 1:15 pm

Yep, the highest priority should be getting a bridge, *any* bridge, built soon. It's too late to have construction completed in 2015, but 2016 would be a good target. Really, is there a reason for this to be a multi-year project? Neither design nor construction should have to take a significant fraction of a decade.


16 people like this
Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2015 at 2:40 pm

Make it simpler, make it cheaper, but DON"T make it narrower! Lots of room is what is needed to avoid conflicts between pedestrians and bicyclists.


10 people like this
Posted by Hans Boehm
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 9, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Please any bridge soon, but with reasonable and safe access. The current underpass is not only closed half the year, but the approach is terrible. Most of us can't really get there on a bike without riding on the side walk on the wrong side of the street. And the silly barriers make it almost impassable to wheelchairs.


16 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2015 at 3:11 pm

How is it that a simple bike/pedestrian bridge will cost so much money and still not be completed until 2019?

Is this the same road map for construction as the new library?


20 people like this
Posted by bp, no not that BP
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2015 at 3:18 pm

Oh Dear God, just build the bridge! To those who think we need an "Iconic Entrance to Palo Alto", where you when the design for the Mitchell Park Library was approved or all these buildings that look like discarded packing boxes?
The only recent structure that has some character is the restored building that formerly housed University Arts. And just think, it is right across the street from City Hall. How is that for ironic?


14 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2015 at 3:37 pm

Palo Alto is known for its Eichler-designed homes. Eichler conveys a "working simplicity" and clean yet minimalist design.

Why can't Palo Alto have a bridge that is similar -- clean, usable, simple and, best of all, less expensive? People don't not drive by an Eichler and see a flamboyant display of wealth. They were created as sensible homes for sensible people -- and many people today appreciate that history and design.

We don't need a $17 Million bike bridge. We need a simple bridge that can do what it is created for -- bridge a highway -- without flamboyantly screaming "look at us" to pedestrians.

Something tells me that a beautiful bridge like this could cost less than $8 Million if the city really wanted one.


3 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2015 at 3:38 pm

*don't drive by an Eichler and see....

Forgive my typo. I blame Swype. :-)


8 people like this
Posted by Bright side
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 9, 2015 at 3:39 pm

Luckily the city didn't choose the most elaborate bridge design preferred by a local architect, or the cost would be even higher.
She wrote that she had a "strong preference for Option A. It is the most elegant, uplifting, functional..." design.
The city chose a simpler design.


18 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 9, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Quit fooling around with trying to create an icon.

Buy an already designed and proven wood structure - they are beautiful and far less expensive than $17 million.

Web Link

Here is a magnificent example of what a well designed wood bridge looks like:

Web Link

And this breathtaking, 160-foot long “pinned arc-style” pedestrian bridge costs $720,000 and has become an icon!

PS. I have no financial interest in this company but I did buy a beautiful footbridge from them and I watched them replace a huge failed beam in the Bowmer Theatre at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.


14 people like this
Posted by Al
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 9, 2015 at 4:51 pm

Agree with comments above. We don't need fancy expensive bridge. We just need plain bridge.

This is exactly same thing as with library on Middlefield. Contractors bid unrealistically low so they get selected. Then they balloon costs after they are selected. I totally don't buy the argument that construction costs unexpectedly doubled over the past few years. Everybody who submitted bids knew perfectly well what realistic price-tag for their design is going to be. At least with this one, unlike the library fiasco, the construction hasn't started yet.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 9, 2015 at 4:53 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

And here is a 280 ft clear span wood bridge :

Web Link

BTW wood is a renewable resource.


1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 9, 2015 at 5:00 pm

Monday will be a long night at City Hall. This Action Item is slated for 10:00-11:30pm.
Any bets on when we actually get to it? Council agenda here -- Web Link


12 people like this
Posted by south Palo Alto
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Dec 9, 2015 at 5:07 pm

I so love the wooden bridges Peter Carpenter linked to--that is your iconic bridge waiting to be built and at low cost. Gorgeous. Do it.

And I'm with everybody saying just get it done already. I recently saw a pedestrian step into the pedestrian walkway marked straight across the end of the 101 offramp at San Antonio, expecting cars that were coming off the freeway to see her and simply stop for her and get rear-ended at high speed. Insane! But hey, there was a crosswalk, right? That's when I realized just how dangerous it would be to be trying to bike or walk that every day. Yow. (But at least wait for the cars to clear out, okay, guys?)


5 people like this
Posted by Noah
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 9, 2015 at 5:14 pm

The Permanente Creek bike overpass in Mountain View only cost $9 million, and included a large underpass. Without the underpass it was projected to be $3 mllion.

Web Link

Even some temporary ugly thing would be welcome -- like the library, this is taking way too long.


8 people like this
Posted by ANOTHER MIDTOWNER
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 9, 2015 at 5:19 pm

This is another example of Palo Alto idealism gone rampant. Compared to the need for parking space and auto traffic throughput and the comparative few people biking across the freeway, ANY expense on this fantasy bridge doesn't make sense. Palo Alto's old Council members authorized this disaster. The new Council members should sweep this boondogle away. $17 mil now, and by 2020 it will still be unfinished and there will be a new estimate of $25 mil for completion. This will be followed by a lawsuit and a change of contractors and another delay. Following that, it will be discovered that the bridge is not earthquake-proof and has to be refitted for another $10 mil.
Of course, in the while we will close off more Palo Alto streets for bicyclists and "calming traffic' until we strangle the city, drive out innovative new firms, and collapse the housing market.
Hey ... let's build high profile bridges.
Let's built a monument to Palo Alto's folly.
In fact, that would be a good name for the bridge ... Palo Alto's Folly!


13 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 9, 2015 at 5:31 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"If the council agrees with the staff recommendation, the request of proposals would be released within days of the Dec. 14 meeting and design work would begin in April. Under the present schedule, the design work would conclude in November 2017 and the new bridge would be constructed in 2019."

Abandon this effort and write off the sunk costs.

A wooden bridge could use existing designs and be fabricated in Oregon and completed by late 2016 or early 2017.


16 people like this
Posted by Old Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 9, 2015 at 5:34 pm

It is amazing how costs escalate in government-run projects like this (Mitchell Park Library, for example, or the new Bay Bridge), but no one seems willing to admit the High Speed Rail boondoggle will suffer the same fate.


19 people like this
Posted by Save us from karen
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 9, 2015 at 5:38 pm

Another midtowner-- actually it was karen holman, our current mayor, who insisted that this bridge be iconic so it will be noticed. She also pushed for the too long design contest. Then we had meetings were holman waxed on and on about the kind of bridge SHE THINKS the city needs. This is all her little pet project-- her close colleagues on the current council will not sweep this away. This is another example of our councils ego getting in the way of common sense and fiscal responsibilty


5 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2015 at 6:48 pm

The Palo Alto Way bites again :-) Since we are hitting the reset button, how about fixing the pedestrian/bike access to the J.C.C. and San Antonio and then fixing the access to the San Antonio Overpass and forget this iconic $17 million bridge altogether.


9 people like this
Posted by Margaret
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2015 at 7:09 pm

What nobody seems to mention is that City Manager costs are already $1.5 million for this bridge before a stone is laid

Palo Alto cannot do anything cheap because this over-yuppied royally paid office exacts a huge 'carrying charge' on anything interesting we try


7 people like this
Posted by tomas
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2015 at 8:03 pm

I thought I was going to live long enough to use the new bridge. Now, I don't know.

Please, please, no icon, just a simple, safe way to get over 101.


2 people like this
Posted by Mona
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 9, 2015 at 8:09 pm

"long delay between completion of the design work in November 2017 and the beginning of construction" is due to Environmental Review and Government Agency permitting requirements related to building near creeks, baylands, power right of ways etc.

Much of the cost is due to the width of the bridge - a narrower bridge would be much less expensive

And to save time, best path is to work with the same team on a simplified, perhaps narrower version of the bridge rather than start over....


4 people like this
Posted by TheReasonWhy
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 9, 2015 at 8:10 pm

We are governed by idiots. It's then no surprise when they do something idiotic.

...and by no surprise, it was pointed out by many people that the design contest would produce cost overruns.

In advance.

We ALL knew.

We can only conclude that we are governed by idiots.


8 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2015 at 8:46 pm

@ Peter Carpenter: That is a fantastic idea! The wooden bridges look amazing. My only concern is whether or not they would meet the requirements for a bridge. If it meets such standards, I think that this is a perfect solution!


14 people like this
Posted by Sal
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 9, 2015 at 9:02 pm

Sadly, another classic Palo Alto episode of GIANT egos meddling in what should be a simple bike bridge and blowing the already ridiculous budget sky high. Thank you Mayor for insisting that a new bike bridge over 101 should be 'iconic'. With that the budget balloon started inflating, then the contest with, as I recall had one simple design and 3 needlessly overthought testaments to ego. Of course, simple would not do. Simple might actually be built and operational by now, but that would make way too much sense for this dysfunctional city govt.

Good Grief, the bike underpass has been closed for a long time, and the mayor and staff fiddle about the aestetics. Hello! it's just a bike bridge. Make it functional, simple, and safe, leave egos in the ditch, and get on with it.

No thanks to Google for their 'gift' with a mile of strings attached.


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 9, 2015 at 9:23 pm

We need an iconic bridge, but the powers that be chose this design instead.

Wood bridges are great if the objective is to maximize construction and maintenance costs.


7 people like this
Posted by Donale
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2015 at 9:30 pm

Wooden bridges are not acceptable. They have been used at San Mateo Drive (Menlo Park to Stanford), Wilkie Way, Stevens Creek Trail and other locations. The wood is slick when wet, which is hazardous to bicyclists. It also makes for a VERY rough ride after a couple of years. All of the bridges mentioned above have abandoned wood after a few years and replaced it with concrete. Let's do it right the first time at Adobe Creek and not put in a wood bridge that will be hazardous and need replacement after a few years.


2 people like this
Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2015 at 9:33 pm

Correction to my previous post. The Wilkie Way bridge has not had wood replaced with concrete, but the wood surface became problematic and has had rubber put over it several times. This extra work would not have been necessary if a decent material had been used in the first place. Wood may be attractive but it is not safe or durable in these applications.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 9, 2015 at 10:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.


" My only concern is whether or not they would meet the requirements for a bridge"

Clearly these gluelam wood structures neet very high standards:

"Designed and fabricated by Western Wood Structures, the Placer River pedestrian bridge is a 280-foot camelback truss bridge believed to be the longest clear-span glulam timber truss bridge in North America. Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the bridge is the latest addition to the U.S. Forest Service's Whistle Stop Railroad project, a unique summertime travel experience created in partnership with the Alaska Railroad that takes visitors into the heart of the Chugach National Forest.

Due to its proximity to Spencer Glacier, the bridge needed to be constructed high enough to eliminate potential collisions with icebergs; additionally, ice floes in the river would make protection of interior piers difficult. These requirements resulted in a height of 25 feet above the water line with a clear span of 280 feet.

In addition to a 90-psf pedestrian load, the bridge will face numerous other stresses due to its location—most notably wind gusts up to 120 mph, 200-psf ground snow load, flooding potential, and high seismic events. Lateral loads due to wind and seismic events are resisted by both vertical portal frames at each truss panel point and horizontal chevron bracing in the planes of the top and bottom chords. The bridge was analyzed as a three-dimensional structure using SAP2000, and the design conforms to the current AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specification."


5 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2015 at 11:28 pm

Just go with a tried and true design - something attainable.
A wooden bridge is outside the local experience and would not fit
it. Who's to say how much it would cost here just because somewhere
else it cost some amount? That is not how it works.

I am also kind of say to say it, but a wooden bridge no longer fits
Palo Alto's image ... but with all the high tech buffoonery maybe
a nice holographic bridge might be nice ... and we can imagine
a nice virtual ride over it ... maybe with 3D glasses on, that ought
to only cost us a few more millions.

ANYWAY ...

Here is a link to a page that shows bridges that have already been
built, maintained and sustained locally by local cities on the Steven's
Creek Trail.

Web Link

Maybe people do not realize it when they drive on Hwy 85 but they are
doing right under a very nice bike/pedestrian bridge that got put up
pretty quickly years ago.

I knew this cockup was going to happen in this Palo Alto process and
tried to argue for the simple option to get just a nice, plain, functional
reasonable cost bridge that local people know how to build with
local materials and local design.

It is when people lose focus of how hard and expensive is it to get
anything done in this world, and start reaching for icons, and trying
to outdo other cities that we have problems. This is the same thing
that happens when you go to a car dealer, when you fall in love and
want every imaginable option on your car ... suddenly a Corolla
costs $30 thousand bucks - and you're still left with a Corolla.

Look at the link and then demand that the city drop the fooling
around ... like they do with everything under their responsiblity and
get some concrete ... no pun intended ... DONE.

Look at the flood situation if you need to be reminded ... this city
only does anything they hear one loud clear voice telling them to
get off their butts and just do it!



3 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2015 at 11:34 pm

This is a nice REAL shot of the REAL ALREADY BUILT bridge over Hwy 85 in
Mountain View on the Steven's Creek Trail.

I've ridden over it many times and it is very nice.

Web Link

This is what we need crossing 101. Do people not know this? Are people
not family with this? You can get on your bike in Palo Alto at Byxbee park
and ride about 10 miles all the way up the border of Mountain View and
this bridge without having to cross any streets. Mountain View has done a
great job on their part of the Steven's Creek Trail.

By now it probably goes even farther past this bridge, but I have not been
out there recently.


1 person likes this
Posted by gunn class of '67
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 9, 2015 at 11:59 pm

Iconic? C'mon editors, expand vocabulary ~ from so overused 'ICONIC' - 2015 word of the year....


6 people like this
Posted by well-said
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 10, 2015 at 12:09 am

Echoing Donald's post: Make it simpler, make it cheaper, but DON"T make it narrower! Lots of room is what is needed to avoid conflicts between pedestrians and bicyclists.


4 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 10, 2015 at 1:25 am

When it ends up with barriers and "Walk Your Bike" signs, I'm gonna scream!


8 people like this
Posted by Getting embarrassed....
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 10, 2015 at 6:35 am

On how ineffective our leadership has been managing our city for the good of it's residents.... this was a good idea and would add a ton of value to residents who want access to the Baylands, but we made it a circus and now can't afford the tickets to get in.


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 10, 2015 at 6:55 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Re wood bridges -"Who's to say how much it would cost here just because somewhere
else it cost some amount? That is not how it works."

Actually it does work that way because these bridges, including the approach decks approaches, are fabricated at the Oregon factory so the fabrication costs are known, stable and the same as for the same size bridge being built for another location. Only the foundation piers need to be built on site and those will require less concrete and hence less cost than a steel bridge.

These types of bridges have been in service for yerars and the decking, made of pressure treated glulam requires no maintenace for foot and buicycle traffic.

Take the time to look at the cited examples above.

Think different. Think less than 24 months and about $3 million.


2 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 10, 2015 at 7:12 am

@Margaret - please elaborate on the City Manager "carrying charge" that you mentioned. What is it? What triggers it? Is there a set percentage? And how did you learn of it?

@Please Build a Bridge: you mention a bridge that Google built - where is this bridge?


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 10, 2015 at 7:30 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Douglas fir glulam treated with pentachlorophenol preservative was used for the truss members, floor beams, purlins, and all bracing members. The treating specifications required adherence to "Best Management Practices for the Use of Preservative Treated Wood in Aquatic Environments," which minimizes the amount of preservative chemical available to leach into the environment, while providing a clean surface on the timber members and an anticipated 75-year service life.

The Forest Service in Alaska promotes the commercial use of Alaskan Yellow Cedar (AYC) as a structural material. AYC was chosen for the deck, posts, and rails since it is naturally decay-resistant and does not require preservative treatment. This allowed for no preservative use in the pedestrian contact areas.

The 15-foot-wide structure features a 6-foot walkway, ample enough to accommodate administrative vehicles. The 280-foot trusses are 15-feet high at the ends and more than 27-feet high at midspan. The structure rests on steel H-piles driven about 40 feet into the ground at the east and west ends. ASTM A588 weathering steel, which blends nicely with the color of the treated wood, was used for all truss member connections."

Sounds pretty durable and eco-friendly and note 75 year service life.


14 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 10, 2015 at 7:39 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Two beautiful bridges and both cost less than $3 million each :


Web Link

Web Link


Palo Alto needs to get out of its concrete and steel box mentality.


7 people like this
Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 10, 2015 at 8:10 am

PAmoderate is a registered user.

"We can only conclude that we are governed by idiots."

You are governed for whom you vote.


5 people like this
Posted by Oh Palo Alto
a resident of another community
on Dec 10, 2015 at 9:26 am

This is a classic example of Palo Alto being Palo Alto. Don't ever change.


8 people like this
Posted by John Galt
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 10, 2015 at 10:44 am

DOES NO ONE KNOW THERE IS, HAS BEEN, AND WILL FOREVER BE THE SAN ANTONIO BRIDGE WITH A SIDEWALK MERE BLOCKS FROM THE REDUNDANT "WONDERFUL STATUS SYMBOL" BRIDGE?


8 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 10, 2015 at 12:24 pm

I propose converting the San Antonio Road bridge to pedestrian/bicycle only until a safer year-round route can be built. Cars have plenty of other options (Rengstorff and Oregon are just a minute away), but pedestrians and bicyclists do not.


3 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 10, 2015 at 12:32 pm

"The list of strategies submitted by Public Works for reducing costs and making the design more "standard" includes narrowing the bridge deck, making the plaza smaller, more columns, standard railings and "elimination of the stairwell, raised sidewalk, enhanced lighting, railing, benches, large plaza areas and similar amenities."

You don't save much by cutting the least costly elements.


3 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 10, 2015 at 12:38 pm

"Two beautiful bridges and both cost less than $3 million each :"

Get real. Show us examples of:

a) Similar bridges built in this area in the past 3 years, with the cost adjusted to current realities, and

b) The present condition and current annual maintenance costs of similar bridges in this area that are in active use for their designed purpose and which are currently being maintained.


2 people like this
Posted by TK
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 10, 2015 at 1:45 pm

@Annette
I think they were talking about Permanente Creek Trail Bridge over US 101.

@ Peter Carpenter
I like the design of the wood bridge, but Caltrans may not like the idea of wood bridge over US 101. Also, does $3M include the cost of the bridge approach that would have to be approximately 300 to 400 ft long (max 5% slope, approx. 15 ft vertical clearance in US 101) on each side of US 101?


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 10, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Leadership requires thinking beyond "show me local examples"

The work done to date defines the footprint, the required property acquisitions, the approach gradients, etc.

Why not use that information to set a spec, create an RFP and open up the process to competitive bidding with the cost being locked in at the front end?

My bet would be that a fabricated wood bridge would win that competition.


8 people like this
Posted by AlexDeLarge
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 10, 2015 at 2:23 pm

The ugly Soviet style bridge that spans 101 @ Oregon seems to work fine, as ugly as it is.


7 people like this
Posted by Matt Austern
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Dec 10, 2015 at 3:17 pm

The ugly bridge over 101 near Oregon works pretty badly, actually. I don't mind the fact that it's ugly but I do mind the fact that it's too narrow for two-way bike traffic, and, even more, I mind the fact that when you get across the bridge to the east side you see a sign telling you to use a bike path on the other side of Bayshore Rd -- with no signal or even crosswalk to let you cross over two lanes of fast-moving automotive traffic. But yes, it's better than nothing, and the most serious problem with that bridge could be fixed without spending a whole lot of money.

I'd be completely satisfied with an ugly and functional bike bridge near San Antonio. It needs to be safe, it needs to be functional (all the time, not just in the summer), and it needs to be built now, not some time next decade. Making it beautiful and iconic is completely unimportant.


2 people like this
Posted by Mike Alexander
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Dec 10, 2015 at 3:44 pm

If construction is $12.2M under the new index (456), it would have been $8.4M under the old index (313). That plus $4.5M engineering etc., comes to $12.9M, 35% higher than the cost estimate given during the competition. The estimate was "within all parameters," but it may not have been honest. The City should definitely walk away. Too bad. It was a nice design.


6 people like this
Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 10, 2015 at 4:15 pm

NO TO WOOD! It may be attractive and inexpensive to install, but it is dangerously slippery when wet and it does not wear well, requiring expensive maintenance after a few years. Doing that over 101 will be extra costly.


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 10, 2015 at 4:23 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" but it is dangerously slippery when wet and it does not wear well, requiring expensive maintenance after a few years"

Wrong. Do not confuse a plain wood surface for one which has been designed and fabricated for this specific use.

Van Damme State Park has had bridges made by Western Wood Products for years. No wear, not slippery and used by both bicyclists and hikers. The key is that the treads are made from glulams and textrured to give a non slip surface.

Web Link

I have a 28 ft footbridge made by them that has been in for years and it requires no maintenance and is not slippery.


10 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 10, 2015 at 4:27 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is an even better picture of one of the Van Damme woood bridges:

Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Steven
a resident of another community
on Dec 10, 2015 at 4:49 pm

Donald is right. Look at the bridges on the Stevens Creek Trail build by Mountain View. The first one had a wood deck. The U-turns were so dangerous that they were removed and replaced with cement after a few years. The rest of the deck is still wood, but is now very rough and noisy. When they built the second bridge, over Moffett Blvd, they learned their lesson and put in a cement deck. No slip, no wear, no problem. These brigdes get a lot more use that Van Damme State Park, and they are longer with complex curves and turns. Let's learn from our neighbors in Mountain View and install something sensible.


3 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 10, 2015 at 4:59 pm

"Leadership requires thinking beyond "show me local examples"

That part has been very well accomplished by the design contest participants.

However, the present issue is cost. The author of the above quote in this thread has proposed wood bridges as low cost alternatives. That author has been challenged to show us realistic local construction costs for wood bridges of this type; low ball examples cherry picked from elsewhere don't cut it.


2 people like this
Posted by Too Loud
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Dec 10, 2015 at 5:40 pm

The bridge is too loud.

I think the planes landing and taking off at SFO are probably the reason it is so loud. The sound of that bridge is keeping me up at night.

Or maybe its the lights shining in from that large Ken Hayes building across the street. Or maybe the sound of those train whistles sounding off at they cross the at grade intersections.

Brrrrrrak ak ak ak

Oh forget about it.

All I really need is a safe way ride my bike across 101 at San Antonio Road.


4 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 10, 2015 at 6:06 pm

@ Curmudgeon: Why does it have to be local? Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Peter Carpenter saying that these wooden bridges are largely fabricated out of state and then delivered to other areas for installation?


3 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 10, 2015 at 6:11 pm

@ Steven: I suppose that it would be possible to account for such things in the design. There are faux wooden alternatives for the parts that might need it.

I like the idea of a wooden bridge because it seems -- even if only by appearance (if it is indeed synthetic) -- more natural and fitting with the idea of the "Palo" part of "Palo Alto." I suppose that it could be partly wooden with concessions made for durability and usability.

BTW, who decided on this design? I understand the process, but who exactly had the final say? It would be nice if members of the community or "permanent community" (e.g., property owners) were able to vote on such things.


4 people like this
Posted by JC
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 10, 2015 at 6:51 pm

Palo Alto deserves to have an elegant, functioning bridge that can be utilized by pedestrians and cyclists and enjoyed visually by passerbyers. While utility has its place, the aesthetic contribution must be considered when building something so permanent. It makes no sense to not move forward with the beautiful bridge design that won the support of the Palo Alto City Council in March of this year. If we wait and don't move forward with the bridge that was selected, dealing with the dangerous situation on San Antonio Road when the bike path is flooded continues longer than necessary.
Costs are going up no doubt. Delaying will only result in paying for an ugly, functional bridge probably at the same cost as the beautiful bridge had we just moved forward. Please build the beautiful bridge that will be enjoyed by many for years and years to come!


2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 10, 2015 at 8:17 pm

"@ Curmudgeon: Why does it have to be local? Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Peter Carpenter saying that these wooden bridges are largely fabricated out of state and then delivered to other areas for installation?"

They are fabricated or sub-fabricated at a variety of places. For example, the bike/pedestrian bridges over SF Creek were built by the Excel Bridge Company Web Link, brought here, and placed using big cranes. (Significantly, the present steel bridge at Waverley Street replaced an existing wooden bridge that was coming apart after only 25 years. I think its rusted steel patina presents a better visual appearance than the wood bridge. Come look.)

I am challenging Peter Carpenter to back up his assertions about inexpensive durable wooden bridges with documented facts for this area. Costs depend on not only the fabrication site, but transportation, local building codes, and erection costs at the point of use. Peter often demands documentation of claims; it's his turn to provide some now.


7 people like this
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 10, 2015 at 9:41 pm

As predicted what should have been a practical and modest project has turned into another expensive debacle. The need in this case does not justify the price tag. City funds should be allocated toward critical infrastructure needs that benefit everyone. A bike bridge does not rise to that level by any stretch in my opinion.

One could reasonably argue if the bridge is even needed. I get the convenience points, but we already have a freeway crossing bridge that cyclists can access the Baylands area from the west side of 101. It is centrally located on the east end of Oregon Expressway. Even if a cyclist has to walk their bike this short distance it's not too much to ask considering the millions of dollars that would be saved. It's there, it's in the center of town, it's accomplishes the goal of safely traversing the freeway, and most importantly, it's completely paid for. During the dry weather months the tunnel further south would also be available.

This project has always leaned more on the side of vanity and the niche activity of cycling than it has on common sense and logic. Either build a very inexpensive simple bridge or scrap the plan all together.


Like this comment
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 11, 2015 at 7:50 am

the_punnisher is a registered user.

If you want a cheap, functional bridge, just get several railroad flatcars to do the job. There are several examples in Colorado across Bear Creek along CO 74. Unique, fully functional and RECYCLED, which fit well with what Palo Alto is all about. Many flatcars have stake pockets, so you could add the wood touches as well. A win-win for everyone!


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 11, 2015 at 8:18 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

For the very technically inclined here are the stndards to which the Placer River pedestrian bridge, a 280-foot camelback truss bridge believed to be the longest clear-span glulam timber truss bridge, was built:

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 11, 2015 at 9:13 am

@Peter Carpenter: Don't wood bridges burn? Couldn't a teenager with a can of gasoline soak the wood and light a match?


3 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 11, 2015 at 11:01 am

How about we have city referendum. Citizens can decide what they want of the bridge and council will have to abide.


4 people like this
Posted by Polly Wanacracker
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 11, 2015 at 12:56 pm

"Couldn't a teenager with a can of gasoline soak the wood and light a match?"

Ageism! Ageism!


2 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 11, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Weird as it was the statement about vandalism or accident of a wood bridge is
valid. If there is a crash and the flames get high enough to touch the wood off,
poof. Or if we have just someone who wants to be a pest, it would be easy to
cost all of us millions of dollars. Just read "The Three Little Piggies" ... a
concrete or metal bridge makes more sense. [Portion removed.]

Marroll nailed it ... the Palo Alto "process" just has a way snatch inaction out the jaws of action ... every bloomin' time.


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 11, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Glulam performs very well in the intense heat of a fire, where temperatures can achieve 1,650° F or higher. Unprotected steel members typically buckle and twist in such high temperatures, causing catastrophic collapse of both the roof and supporting walls.

Wood ignites at about 450-500° F, but charring may begin as low as 300° F. Wood typically chars at a rate of 1/40 inch per minute. Thus, after 30 minutes of fire exposure, only the outer 3/4 inch of the glulam will be damaged. It is important to note that the adhesives used in the manufacture of a glulam beam burn at about the same rate as the wood and do not affect the overall fire performance of the member. The char that devel- ops insulates the glulam member and, hence, raises the temperatures it can withstand. Most of the cross sec- tion of a large glulam will remain intact when exposed to fire, and the member will continue to support load.
Thus, depending on the severity of the fire and after a structural re-analysis by a qualified design profes- sional, it is often possible to salvage the glulam members by merely removing the fire-damaged material and refinishing the surface of the member."

I am confident that the Palo Alto Fire Department would respond in well under 10 minutes.


8 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 11, 2015 at 2:43 pm

How about a solid, functional bridge of a proven design? It needs to be ride-on, ride-off, and wide enough to share easily between bidirectional bike traffic (this is a major commuting and leisure route) and pedestrians.

Something like the Ringwood bike bridge would be just fine - cheap, straightforward, proven engineering and materials.


2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 11, 2015 at 4:38 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 11, 2015 at 4:44 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

All levity aside, RAILROAD bridges have the same requirements as a bicycle base platform. A circular staircase at each end will not work. However, when you add a coin operated elevator on each end, such an idea is feasible. That also allows bicyclists to put their money where their mouth is.

I hope the glulam process is not another type of CHIPBOARD ( AKA S--tboard in the construction industry ) process. I have had bad experiences with these kinds of OSB construction.


10 people like this
Posted by Matt Austern
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Dec 12, 2015 at 10:39 am

I can't find a cost figure for just the Permanente Creek Tail bike bridge over 101, but the trail extension as a whole, including the bridge and a tunnel under Old Middlefield, cost $9 million. Design was finalized in 2008 and the bridge was finished in 2012, with construction itself taking a year an a half. It's not an iconic piece of art, but it's a safe, usable piece of infrastructure. That's all we need.

18 months for construction still seems pretty leisurely to me, but it's tolerable, and Mountain View has demonstrated that it's possible. We don't really need to take two or three times that long, do we?


18 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 12, 2015 at 11:11 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The City Council should adopt these basic principles regarding this project:
1 - It must serve the functional need as of pedeestrian and bicycle bridge over 101
2 - It must be completed within 24 months
3 - It must be economical
4 -It cannot be ugly but it need not be beautiful

Given those principles then the Council should:
1 - Terminate the existing contracts
2 - Using the data produced to date develop a simple RFP that requires commitment to a fixed price
3 - Solicit a diversity of responses from that RFP
4 - Select the best response which properly balances total cost with other features such as appearance and life cycle cost
5 - Build the darn bridge


2 people like this
Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 12, 2015 at 5:39 pm

"The City Council should adopt these basic principles regarding this project:
1 - It must serve the functional need as of pedeestrian and bicycle bridge over 101
2 - It must be completed within 24 months
3 - It must be economical
4 -It cannot be ugly but it need not be beautiful"

[Portion removed] This is a political thing. Here is political reality:
1 - Whar constitutes functional need is highly debatable: what functions we need, and do we really need them, and above all who is demanding what functions.
2 - Impossible
3 - The definition of economical is infinitely debatable. Likewise the real cost of Google's "contribution."
4 - Both ugly and beautiful are highly debatable.


3 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 12, 2015 at 5:54 pm

I like the Baylands very much and - sigh - would like a reasonable access to them with a bike. I have a small car and can't transport a bike over there. Walking there from my home would mean walking over the Embarcadero Rd overpass of 101 --- WAY to risky to do. I do drive over and walk/jog in the Baylands - fine. But THIS Palo Alto City Council has pontificated about how important bicycling is and how THIS city is a leader on that -- yet, look how this project has gone so far.
Government bureaucrats screwing up?! I tell you, I'm shocked, shocked.
I wish Google were funding and building and operating this bridge. Sheesh. Private industry knows how to get things done.


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 12, 2015 at 6:06 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]

As a former Palo Alto Planning Commissioner and a long time local elected official II have considerable understanding of what is possible given strong leadership.


1 person likes this
Posted by Veda
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 12, 2015 at 6:12 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 13, 2015 at 6:57 pm

"As a former Palo Alto Planning Commissioner and a long time local elected official II have considerable understanding of what is possible given strong leadership."

Whatever you say, sir. I can only evaluate a proposition by what is presented.

As any experienced elected official--or perceptive observer of elected bodies from schoolboards to Congress--will tell you, one does not simply dictate an outcome to elected bodies. Even the acknowledged leaders of those bodies cannot do that. Leadership <> dictatorship.

The Palo Alto City Council will work its way to a solution. Unlikely it will be the exact solution any one of us wants, or arrived at expeditiously. Such is democracy.


15 people like this
Posted by Amateur Hour
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 14, 2015 at 10:24 am

This is what Council gets for picking the design that they *thought* would work in spite of the proposal all the design professionals said was by far the superior choice both in terms of design criteria and cost estimate. Has everyone forgotten that the design competition winner selected by the design professionals was not THIS design? The Council's choice to ignore the competition and pick the runner up wasn't been properly thought out. They left it up to a random slice of public opinion to weigh in on selecting the project, it doesn't pencil, and now we are going to get something completely underwhelming and banal.


1 person likes this
Posted by Keep 'em separated
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 14, 2015 at 1:05 pm

The council chosen bridge design was also the most dangerous because it COMBINED pedestrian traffic with bike traffic. The competition winner separated the two modes and that is actually the safest and most ideal configuration. I hate to see us go through this process again, but do an opportunity. Bike and pedestrian travel are two very different things and often solve different problems. Whenever, however this bridge gets built, let's keep them (bikes and peds) separated.


2 people like this
Posted by Please just build it. We will come.
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 14, 2015 at 3:35 pm

Please just get it built. I have been advocating for this bridge for almost ten years. I can't believe we are still waiting.

When I consider the appalling sums being spent to widen 101 for motorists this bridge is a microscopic drop in the bucket in comparison. How about we take it from that budget?


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 14, 2015 at 3:40 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the CalTrans design guidance:

"1003.1 Class I Bikeways
Class I bikeways (bike paths) are facilities with exclusive right of way, with cross flows by motorists minimized. Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code describes Class I bikeways as serving "the exclusive use of bicycles and pedestrians". However, experience has shown that if significant pedestrian use is anticipated, separate facilities for pedestrians are necessary to minimize conflicts. Dual use by pedestrians and bicycles is undesirable, and the two should be separated wherever possible."


2 people like this
Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 14, 2015 at 9:04 pm

PAmoderate is a registered user.

"The council chosen bridge design was also the most dangerous because it COMBINED pedestrian traffic with bike traffic."

Yep. All you need to do is walk in the Cal Ave. underpass and deal with the bike riders (who apparently can't read "WALK BIKES") zoom by and almost run over pedestrians.

Lovely folk, these two-wheeled demons.


Like this comment
Posted by Four-wheeled demons do more damage.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Not as bad as the four-wheeled demons. A driver who blew though a STOP sign almost killed me today as I used a crosswalk. She missed me (with my daughter) by about three inches.

Let's all be more considerate of each other. Life is better that way.


Like this comment
Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 15, 2015 at 4:09 pm

PAmoderate is a registered user.

"Not as bad as the four-wheeled demons."

Yeah, but we're not building another car bridge to the wetlands. So - in other words - whatever. Bottom line is that apparently spandex inhibits the ability to read English.


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

He said – she said – who is lying? Justice Brett Kavanaugh or PA resident Christine Ford
By Diana Diamond | 69 comments | 4,686 views

Global Warming Diet
By Laura Stec | 6 comments | 1,400 views

Couples: "Taming Your Gremlin" by Richard Carson
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,325 views

Preparing for kindergarten
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 758 views

Let's Talk Internships
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 594 views

 

Race is tomorrow!

​On Friday, September 21, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run, or—for the first time—half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Learn More