Middlefield Road in Palo Alto is scheduled for some updates that officials hope will improve safety around Jordan Middle School, provide better access to Lucie Stern Community Center, reduce speeding and improve safety for bicyclists. The design changes will include the narrowing of lanes on Middlefield between the two legs of North California Avenue and addition of crosswalks and bike lanes from Forest Avenue to Oregon Expressway, according to plans recently released by the city. Road work will take place in two phases, starting this summer and concluding next year.
The first phase, from Oregon to Embarcadero Road, will also include changes along a stretch of North California Avenue from Alma Street to Newell Road.
Middlefield Road changes will include re-striping of lanes at some intersections to improve turning by vehicles; adding new marked crosswalks; reducing the width of car lanes to discourage speeding; and constructing a new, separate bikeway and a widened sidewalk in front of Jordan Middle School.
There will be no changes to on-street parking or the number of lanes on Middlefield.
Work along North California will entail adding bicycle lanes on North California by removing one parking lane; adding a wide, separate bike lane on North California; signal changes on North California at the Middlefield Road intersection to simplify car and bicycle turns; and extending a separate bikeway to Newell and Jordan Middle School's secure bike-parking area.
The bikeway should help cyclists at the North California Avenue/Middlefield Road dogleg intersection to cross more easily, according to city planners. High-visibility crosswalks, directional signage for cyclists, and advisory signs for drivers should improve safety and provide students a convenient bike connection to the Bryant Street Bike Boulevard and improved safe access to the bike parking area for Jordan Middle School students.
Narrower car lanes on Middlefield and a simplified centerline striping will aim to calm speeding and better vehicle turning movement. Speed data will be collected and analyzed before and after the changes to determine their effectiveness, Chief Transportation Official Joshuah Mello said June 9 at a public meeting on the road changes at City Hall.
To address cars that typically speed and pass aggressively and unsafely on the right at Middlefield and Kingsley Avenue, the city plans to narrow lanes, paint cross-hatched areas near the intersection, and install 6-inch-tall "traffic buttons" in the pavement, which would improve safety for traffic turning on to Middlefield from Kingsley.
A similar cross-hatched section of roadway will be installed near the Walter Hays Elementary School driveway to prevent cars from passing, and a new right-turn lane will be striped on Middlefield to let drivers entering the school to pull to the curb and keep the road clear.
Narrower lanes will also slow traffic near the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo and the Lucie Stern Community Center. To shorten crossing distances and increase visibility for pedestrians, a concrete bulb-out and crosswalk will be added to the north side of Kingsley.
Seale Avenue at Middlefield will also gain a high-visibility crosswalk.
In addition, two new dedicated left-turn lanes will be added from both directions of Middlefield onto Embarcadero Road. The traffic signal at the intersection will be adjusted in the future, Mello said.
Other changes north of University Avenue at Middlefield, where residents have called for fewer lanes, will be addressed in a separate phase, Mello said.
More information and renderings of the project are available online at cityofpaloalto.org/transportation.