After years of delays, debates and design revisions, Palo Alto is preparing to break ground on a new bike bridge over U.S. Highway 101 at Adobe Creek this fall.
The project, a central component of the both the City Council's infrastructure priorities list and the city's bike master plan, has been in the works since 2012, when the city secured a $4 million grant from Santa Clara County to help pay for the overpass. The council then held a design competition for the new bridge, only to veer away from the winning entry in 2016 because of concerns over cost overruns.
Since then, the city and its consultants, Biggs Cardosa Associates, have been drawing up plans and going through the permitting process. The latter process received a boost in late May, when the state Department of Transportation (Caltrans) approved a right-of-way certification for the project. And last week, Caltrans gave the city the necessary encroachment permit, City Manager Ed Shikada told the council on Monday.
Now, all that's left is for Caltrans to issue an authorization for use of federal funds that have already been allocated for this project (what's known as an E-76). According to a new report from the Department of Public Works, city staff expect to receive this authorization in June or July.
"As soon as the E-76 is issued, we'll be out to bid," Shikada said,
The new bridge will span the highway at Adobe Creek and provide a year-round connection between south Palo Alto and the Baylands. It will replace the existing Benjamin Lefkowitz underpass, a seasonal and flood-prone passage that typically remains closed in the winter and part of spring.
If things go according to plan, the city will launch construction this fall and complete the project in late 2020, according to the Public Works report.
To move the project along, the council is preparing to approve a new $466,569 contract with Biggs Cardosa to assist with the bidding process and with the construction phasing for the project. This includes review of contractor documents, biological monitoring during construction and preparing a quality-assurance plan for materials manufactured or fabricated off-site, according to the report.
The agreement will bring the city's total contract with Biggs Cardosa to $2.4 million. The bike bridge is expected to cost $18.7 million, according to the fiscal year 2020 capital budget that the council approved last week.
In addition to the county grant, the project is also benefitting from a $4.3-million One Bay Area grant and a $1 million contribution from Google.
The council expects to review and approve the construction contract for the bridge in August or September, according to Shikada.
Once built, Palo Alto's new bridge would be the second new overpass spanning the busy highway. Last month, East Palo Alto held a grand opening for its own bike bridge, a $14-million span connecting Clarke Avenue and West Bayshore Road.