News

Palo Alto eager to start work on new bike bridge over Adobe Creek

City obtains key permits, looks to approve construction contracts this fall

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.

One 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.

Related content:

Key agreements pave way for Palo Alto's new bike bridge

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Comments

18 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 22, 2019 at 8:37 am

It would be wise to pay attention to the crime that has appeared on the new EPA bridge before building this thing. Criminals have adapted and are taking advantage of the fact that these bridges have one way in, one way out, and are the perfect place to rob or assault unsuspecting citizens.

The bridge needs to be redesigned to be wider or have more safety features. Back to the drawing board.


4 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2019 at 8:37 am

Does "complete the project in winter 2020" mean January 2020 or December 2020?


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 22, 2019 at 9:04 am

Correction. We were eager to start work on this bridge 10 years ago. In the meantime both EPA and Mountain View have bridges finished and used (although we must note the crime aspect and put in deterrents, but I feel sure a tunnel would be just as worrisome).

From the article, we still don't have a start date.

Palo Alto, get a move on. History moves faster than we do.


27 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2019 at 10:29 am

The EPA bridge cost $14 million (report in in 2019) and was planned to cost only $8.6 million (report in 2018)

What is the reasonable expectation of what this bridge will cost? Going in with an expectation of $18.7 probably means that it will eventually cost $30 million. it is clearly not worth $30 million to put a bike bridge over 101.

Why are we paying $3 million to an outside contractor to manage this project. What are the city employees getting paid for?

/marc


13 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 22, 2019 at 2:03 pm

"Staff estimates the cost of the overcrossing to be between $5.4 million and $9.4 million, depending on the design" -- from Nov 2011 Web Link . We have handily exceeded every commenter's wildest pessimism in cost or schedule, before even breaking ground.


3 people like this
Posted by Let's get excited
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Jun 22, 2019 at 4:09 pm

[Post removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 22, 2019 at 8:55 pm

It should be brightly lit, have clear sight lines and working cameras with notices: “Notice: you are being recorded on and adjacent to this bridge.”


9 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2019 at 10:19 pm

Realistically, I doubt that this bridge will be any more dangerous than any of the other pedestrian paths around town. Yes, there have been attacks on some of the other paths. We need to improve lighting and step up police patrols on all these routes. This means police on bicycles or on foot. Many of these pedestrian routes are not visible from patrol cars.


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 22, 2019 at 10:35 pm

[Post removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by Gennady Sheyner
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Jun 23, 2019 at 8:12 am

Gennady Sheyner is a registered user.

@Resident,

To clarify, the bridge is currently expected to be completed in late 2020. Sorry for the confusion.


11 people like this
Posted by No Easy Solutions
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 23, 2019 at 2:08 pm

Unfortunate to hear about the attempted robberies at the EPA ped bridge. I've used it several times running to and from the bay lands. It appears safe to me, wide and spacious compared to the Embarcadero bike bridge, which is narrow and obscured by vegetation. Crime can occur anywhere so best to be vigilant.

Am looking forward to the Adobe Creek crossing when it is finished.


7 people like this
Posted by Watcher
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2019 at 8:18 pm

I will be glad to see this bridge finished and put to good use.

I will suggest that signage be added to memorialize the fact that our elected leaders detailed this project in a fit of vanity that unnecessarily added years and millions of tax payer dollars to the completion of this project.


33 people like this
Posted by Marroll
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 24, 2019 at 1:11 am

Accepting the reality that this bridge will be built, I still maintain that it amounts to nothing more than an unnecessary vanity project spurred on by a vocal minority and niche group. Hard to fathom that the final expense will ever equal its legitimate use. We already have a centrally located and functional bridge spanning 101 from the east end of Oregon Expressway to the Baylands area. Millions of dollars in tax payer money could have been saved by simply asking cyclists to walk or slowly pedal their way across the existing bridge. A minor issue that would have millions.

Just another example of our city leaders and elected officials ignoring the greater good and common sense, and buckling to special interest groups for vanity sake. Irresponsible and pathetic leadership.


7 people like this
Posted by Nancy the real Nancy
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 24, 2019 at 6:53 am

Nancy the real Nancy is a registered user.

Can’t the current under crossing be retrofitted to a tunnel for year round access?


6 people like this
Posted by Thad
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2019 at 7:56 am

Several people in the above comments cannot see the utility of this bridge.
Do you never need to cross the highway by walking or biking? Of course not, just take the bently or tesla, duh.


33 people like this
Posted by Marroll
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 24, 2019 at 8:35 am

Dear Thad, I sincerely did attempt to see the utility in the bridge. I would totally agree with the project if it weren't for the fact that we already have a centrally located bridge traversing 101. It's already there, functional, and at no additional cost. I realize it may not be optimum in every respect, but certainly functional and gets the job done. Considering the multi-millions of dollars it would save tax payers, it's beyond me how this expenditure can be justified. Again, for the greater good and tremendous cost savings, I don't believe it would be too much to ask cyclists to slowly ride or walk their bike over the existing bridge.


17 people like this
Posted by Maury
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 24, 2019 at 8:49 am

$18.7 Million? Is it a moving platform? That's a lot of money for a simple bike bridge. The one that was supposed to be completed 6-7 years ago was a fraction of that cost. Now, the studies have been completed. Yet, a bigger bridge now costs up to twice as much?


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2019 at 10:19 am

I truly believe that Google (and perhaps Facebook) should be paying big bucks towards this bridge since it will ultimately join their campus in Palo Alto to their HQ for pedestrians and bikes. I don't even care if they want to have naming rights as long as they leave it open for non-Google people.

For those in south Palo Alto, the Oregon bridge is quite an added walk on both sides of the freeway if the ultimate destination is the Google campus, although it works well for Facebook. I strongly suspect that most usage of these bridges and tunnels should be looked at as commute routes rather than just Palo Alto residents wanting a recreational walk or bike ride around the Baylands. Yes, access to Baylands is a useful byproduct, but really it is the commute route aspect that makes it a necessity.

Has Google been approached on this? They seem to be throwing money at transportation and housing lately.


5 people like this
Posted by Judith Wasserman
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 24, 2019 at 11:09 am

Judith Wasserman is a registered user.

The current overpass/bike bridge at Oregon is not an accessible walkway, and it is quite a distance if your destination is south. A new, accessible, bridge on which 2 bikes can pass each other w/o bumping handlebars is a good addition to the Palo Alto non-vehicular transportation system.

Yes, the council (the old one) screwed up on the design competition by not selecting the first choice of the jury and deciding they knew better than the experts. Now we have a very pedestrian pedestrian crossing (I couldn't resist) that costs a lot more than it would have if it hadn't been delayed for years. But at least it's proceeding.


3 people like this
Posted by Carol
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 24, 2019 at 11:33 am

I am looking forward to a crossing bridge that has better visibility when on a bike, is wider and gives a safer and reliable access to south Palo Alto and MV, especially when biking alone or when grand-kids are biking with me. I have never felt safe going on the underpass, which s closed half the year and crossing at San Antonio just doesn’t feel safe.


2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 24, 2019 at 11:54 am

@Resident - the article does say that Google is paying $1 million towards this project. I believe Google offered to help pay for the bridge many years ago if it could be build expeditiously. Palo Alto thumbed their nose at that ida and delayed the project for many years, but I am glad that Google is still making the donation.


3 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 24, 2019 at 12:16 pm

Hulkamania is a registered user.

Thad said, "Several people in the above comments cannot see the utility of this bridge. Do you never need to cross the highway by walking or biking? Of course not, just take the bently or tesla, duh."

Word.

Carol said,"... crossing at San Antonio just doesn’t feel safe."

Anyone biking over the San Antonio overpass has a death wish.


1 person likes this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 24, 2019 at 12:39 pm

I have a hunch Marc will be close to hitting the mark on his estimate of the final and actual cost of the bridge. I don't own a bike but I might buy one just so I can bike over that new bridge for the grand opening celebration ceremony. It could be a short ride. Adobe Creek is a short distance up the street from my home. I'll keep checking Craig's list and yard sales. Maybe I can pick up a Schwinn or a Raleigh for cheap. I'll let Karen Holman be my pace biker on that ribbon cutting day.


1 person likes this
Posted by Palo Alto native
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 24, 2019 at 12:46 pm

What's wrong with the existing underpass? We've been using this for so many years.


7 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 24, 2019 at 12:58 pm

@Palo Alto native - did you read the article? The underpass is closed by flooding 6 months every year. That is completely unacceptable for a commuter route. The best alternative is to use the San Antonio Road bridge, but poor lighting and speeding car drivers make that route very dangerous for winter commuting (when the underpass is closed).


4 people like this
Posted by PleaseGetItDone
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 24, 2019 at 2:09 pm

Kudos (read sarcasm here) to the City Council who in March 2015 rejected the design competition winner, then in December 015 rejected the 2nd place finisher because it might cost more than the $11-13M allocated. It is now 4 years later and we are going to spend in excess of $18M on the bridge alone and approaching $3M to consultants! Would that I could tar and feather those council members.


4 people like this
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 24, 2019 at 3:17 pm

More Bike/Ped Bridges & Tunnels at

Charleston -
East Meadow -
Churchill - Get the kids off the road / at grade crossing.

Just like we have at Oregon / Cal Ave, Page Mill, & University


Like this comment
Posted by Palo Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 24, 2019 at 3:33 pm

Jeff: We are talking about bridges over Highway 101


22 people like this
Posted by Marroll
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 24, 2019 at 4:55 pm

Ms. Wasserman, as accurate as your points might be, I still find it unfathomable that this bridge will ever come close to equaling the multi million dollar cost. For the niche groups and special/minority interests who pushed this agenda it represents an advantage. For the vast majority of PA tax payers it's a huge expenditure that does zero for the greater good.

The exiting bridge at the east end of Oregon may not be ideal for a cycling enthusiast, but it gets the job done of safely traversing 101. Fact is most PA residents are not cycling enthusiasts or people who would be choosing this mode of transportation outside of simple recreation. It may take a few minutes longer, they may have to pedal a little slower than they like, or even walk their bike a short distance. For the relatively small number of people utilizing the bridge regularly, all a small price to pay in order to save millions of dollars that could be invested elsewhere.

Frustrating to see our city leaders and elected officials bowing down to another special interest group. The bridge will be another symbol of feel good projects that were approved to placate a vocal minority. No matter common sense, fiscal responsibility, or the common good. Like I said before, pathetic leadership.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2019 at 4:59 pm

Perhaps if the CC had not spent money on Ross Road and various other feel good traffic hazards around town, this bridge could have already been built and financed.


Like this comment
Posted by Richard
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 24, 2019 at 6:58 pm

Can we name the Clowncil, sorry, I meant Council members who rejected the previous designs? So in case they run for higher offices, we know where their priorities lie.

As for the bridge itself, it's a great idea that we needed 10 years ago.


Like this comment
Posted by Richard
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 25, 2019 at 4:56 pm

Yeah! The Liz Kniss Commemorative (Superfluous)bike bridge is going up a few blocks from the pedestrian and bike overpass at San Antonio! Millions for her "Legacy"! Congrats Liz!


6 people like this
Posted by @Richard
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2019 at 5:26 pm

Easy enough to convert the current San Antonio bridge over Hwy 101 to bicycle and pedestrian only. Let cars use Oregon or Embarcadero or Rengstorff of Shoreline. Those are only minutes away at car speeds.


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