News

Plan to replace aging bridge gains approval from Palo Alto board

Project aims to improve flood protection, traffic safety

An effort to replace the narrow Newell Road Bridge and improve flood protection around the San Francisquito Creek received a long-awaited boost last week when Palo Alto's Architectural Review Board unanimously backed the project.

The board's vote in favor of the project sets the stage for the City Council's final approval, potentially allowing construction to begin later this year. Construction is expected to take about a year and a half.

The replacement of the 1911 bridge connecting Palo Alto to East Palo Alto is considered a necessary prerequisite to replacing other flood-prone bridges at the creek, which runs along Palo Alto, Menlo Park and East Palo Alto. These include the Pope-Chaucer Bridge, which connects Palo Alto and Menlo Park and which was covered by water during the February 1998 flood that caused about $40 million in damages to the three cities.

Since then, the three cities have been working with the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority, at improving flood control. The agency, which includes council members from the three cities and representatives from the two water districts in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, scored its first major victory in this effort in 2018, when it had reconstructed levees and widened the channel in the particularly vulnerable area downstream of U.S. Highway 101.

While flood control is one major goal of the project, traffic safety is another, according to city and state officials. The funding for the Newell Road Bridge project is expected to come primarily from the state Department of Transportation, which in 2011 deemed the structure to be "functionally obsolete," making it eligible for grant funding to pay for design and environmental analysis. Once the council approves the Environmental Impact Report, the city will apply for grant funding to pay for construction.

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A main reason for the designation is the narrow width of the span. The bridge, which connects the Crescent Park neighborhood in Palo Alto and the Woodland Park neighborhood in East Palo Alto, currently has just 18 feet of width curb-to-curb, barely enough to comfortably accommodate two cars passing each other.

The design that the Architectural Review Board approved Thursday would expand the curb-to-curb width to 28 feet, which will include a 10-foot vehicle lane and a 4-foot bicycle lane in each direction. The vehicle lanes would have "sharrow" markings to encourage shared use between bicyclists and drivers. The new bridge would also have raised sidewalks on each side for pedestrians.

The size of the new bridge has been a point of contention over the course of the design process, with some residents arguing during public hearings and in letters to the city that wider lanes would only encourage more traffic. Peter Forgie, a Palo Alto resident who lives near the bridge, argued in a letter to the city that "a huge bridge that virtually invites increased traffic would only exacerbate the decline of the area."

"Newell would become a freeway and I'm sure most of us nearby would have to move," Forgie wrote in June. "People already drive too fast and don't stop at the intersection of Newell and Edgewood. How would making the road wider improve this? It would effectively constitute an attractive nuisance."

Yang Shen, whose Edgewood Road residence stands next to the project site, said he opposes the project. His attorney, Paul Gumina, wrote to the city that his clients have no objections to the flood-control aspects of the project and acknowledged that removing the bridge over the creek would be beneficial. Shen's only dispute, Gumina wrote, is "whether the bridge should be rebuilt, and whether it is in the best interests of the neighborhood and its residents to permanently close Newell Road to the traffic south of Woodland Avenue."

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Gumina also told the board Thursday that his client is afraid that the construction project will stall out, leaving a staging area next to Shen's backyard with no completion date in sight. Shen will be forced to bear "the brunt of the negative impact of this project, which he opposes," Gumina told the board.

Others argued that it's well past time to get the project done. Xenia Hammer told the board that the project has already gone through an "extensive" community input process.

"The project has been scaled down as much as possible in response to the community input," Hammer said.

Hamilton Hitchings, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, also urged the board to approve the design for the new bridge, which he said, "dramatically improves pedestrian and bicycle safety." Hitchings said the 1998 storm caused the flooding of more than 400 homes in his neighborhood, which is near the Pope-Chaucer Bridge. The city, he noted, needs to replace the downstream Newell Road Bridge before it can move on to Pope-Chaucer.

The board widely shared this view. Board member Alexander Lew said he owns property near the bridge which experienced flooding in 1998.

"For new owners, you do not understand how traumatic that was," Lew said. "That happened in the middle of the night. My neighbors were fleeing their house in the middle of the night to go to a hotel," Lew said. "It took weeks to clean up the damage from the flood. We've been waiting for over 20 years for this. And we're ready for it. We need it."

His colleagues agreed that it's time to move the project forward. Board member Grace Lee said the new bridge, with its enhanced bike amenities, will be an important element in both cities' efforts to improve the bike network.

"I understand this is part of a gesture at connecting a larger bike network, a larger regional thinking in terms of pedestrian safety, linking East Palo Alto to Palo Alto, considering how all those pieces play together," Lee said.

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Plan to replace aging bridge gains approval from Palo Alto board

Project aims to improve flood protection, traffic safety

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, May 11, 2020, 12:36 pm

An effort to replace the narrow Newell Road Bridge and improve flood protection around the San Francisquito Creek received a long-awaited boost last week when Palo Alto's Architectural Review Board unanimously backed the project.

The board's vote in favor of the project sets the stage for the City Council's final approval, potentially allowing construction to begin later this year. Construction is expected to take about a year and a half.

The replacement of the 1911 bridge connecting Palo Alto to East Palo Alto is considered a necessary prerequisite to replacing other flood-prone bridges at the creek, which runs along Palo Alto, Menlo Park and East Palo Alto. These include the Pope-Chaucer Bridge, which connects Palo Alto and Menlo Park and which was covered by water during the February 1998 flood that caused about $40 million in damages to the three cities.

Since then, the three cities have been working with the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority, at improving flood control. The agency, which includes council members from the three cities and representatives from the two water districts in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, scored its first major victory in this effort in 2018, when it had reconstructed levees and widened the channel in the particularly vulnerable area downstream of U.S. Highway 101.

While flood control is one major goal of the project, traffic safety is another, according to city and state officials. The funding for the Newell Road Bridge project is expected to come primarily from the state Department of Transportation, which in 2011 deemed the structure to be "functionally obsolete," making it eligible for grant funding to pay for design and environmental analysis. Once the council approves the Environmental Impact Report, the city will apply for grant funding to pay for construction.

A main reason for the designation is the narrow width of the span. The bridge, which connects the Crescent Park neighborhood in Palo Alto and the Woodland Park neighborhood in East Palo Alto, currently has just 18 feet of width curb-to-curb, barely enough to comfortably accommodate two cars passing each other.

The design that the Architectural Review Board approved Thursday would expand the curb-to-curb width to 28 feet, which will include a 10-foot vehicle lane and a 4-foot bicycle lane in each direction. The vehicle lanes would have "sharrow" markings to encourage shared use between bicyclists and drivers. The new bridge would also have raised sidewalks on each side for pedestrians.

The size of the new bridge has been a point of contention over the course of the design process, with some residents arguing during public hearings and in letters to the city that wider lanes would only encourage more traffic. Peter Forgie, a Palo Alto resident who lives near the bridge, argued in a letter to the city that "a huge bridge that virtually invites increased traffic would only exacerbate the decline of the area."

"Newell would become a freeway and I'm sure most of us nearby would have to move," Forgie wrote in June. "People already drive too fast and don't stop at the intersection of Newell and Edgewood. How would making the road wider improve this? It would effectively constitute an attractive nuisance."

Yang Shen, whose Edgewood Road residence stands next to the project site, said he opposes the project. His attorney, Paul Gumina, wrote to the city that his clients have no objections to the flood-control aspects of the project and acknowledged that removing the bridge over the creek would be beneficial. Shen's only dispute, Gumina wrote, is "whether the bridge should be rebuilt, and whether it is in the best interests of the neighborhood and its residents to permanently close Newell Road to the traffic south of Woodland Avenue."

Gumina also told the board Thursday that his client is afraid that the construction project will stall out, leaving a staging area next to Shen's backyard with no completion date in sight. Shen will be forced to bear "the brunt of the negative impact of this project, which he opposes," Gumina told the board.

Others argued that it's well past time to get the project done. Xenia Hammer told the board that the project has already gone through an "extensive" community input process.

"The project has been scaled down as much as possible in response to the community input," Hammer said.

Hamilton Hitchings, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, also urged the board to approve the design for the new bridge, which he said, "dramatically improves pedestrian and bicycle safety." Hitchings said the 1998 storm caused the flooding of more than 400 homes in his neighborhood, which is near the Pope-Chaucer Bridge. The city, he noted, needs to replace the downstream Newell Road Bridge before it can move on to Pope-Chaucer.

The board widely shared this view. Board member Alexander Lew said he owns property near the bridge which experienced flooding in 1998.

"For new owners, you do not understand how traumatic that was," Lew said. "That happened in the middle of the night. My neighbors were fleeing their house in the middle of the night to go to a hotel," Lew said. "It took weeks to clean up the damage from the flood. We've been waiting for over 20 years for this. And we're ready for it. We need it."

His colleagues agreed that it's time to move the project forward. Board member Grace Lee said the new bridge, with its enhanced bike amenities, will be an important element in both cities' efforts to improve the bike network.

"I understand this is part of a gesture at connecting a larger bike network, a larger regional thinking in terms of pedestrian safety, linking East Palo Alto to Palo Alto, considering how all those pieces play together," Lee said.

Comments

George
Midtown
on May 11, 2020 at 12:51 pm
George, Midtown
on May 11, 2020 at 12:51 pm
9 people like this

[Post removed.]


resident
Downtown North
on May 11, 2020 at 1:11 pm
resident, Downtown North
on May 11, 2020 at 1:11 pm
37 people like this

What is the price of this project? With car usage and city revenues both way down these days, we need to think about ending road building projects that are not absolutely necessary. How about removing the bridge and letting cars take another route. This isn't an island with no access other than this one bridge. If this is an important pedestrian route, replacing the car bridge with a pedestrian bridge will be much cheaper.


Historic or not
Downtown North
on May 11, 2020 at 1:17 pm
Historic or not, Downtown North
on May 11, 2020 at 1:17 pm
10 people like this

My goodness. Do people ever think about the comments they make? A freeway? Another example of the blatant exaggerations that some residents use to try to derail projects. Enough already. This project has been discussed for years.
But if the bridge is from 1911 isn't it historic? Can it be torn down? Karen?


Marie
South of Midtown
on May 11, 2020 at 1:18 pm
Marie, South of Midtown
on May 11, 2020 at 1:18 pm
12 people like this

I fully support replacing the Newell Bridge.... someday. Neither the state of CA nor the city of Palo Alto have funds available to move forward with this bridge and the bicycle bridge and the downtown parking facility). IMHO, The CA parking garage is essential and must be finished as that construction is very negatively affecting existing businesses. The public safety building is critical but could possibly be postponed if our budget is still in total shambles when it is time to issue permits to build. Today is the time to conserve what money we have for public safety. Not one dime should be spent on optional projects where a couple years delay will just add to the long time it has taken to get to this point, with little or no impact to the most resident. I don't think these projects should be cancelled, just postponed until we have sufficient funds for Palo Alto's critical functions

Arguably, waiting a year would also mean that construction costs would be much less than today.

I also think now is the time for a minimal business tax based on headcount (like $5 a head), so the city will finally get the data it needs on exactly who is doing business in Palo Alto, how many they employ, how they get to work and what resources they use. This information is critical in planning for the future - and even measuring the business closures happening now.

The city administration has been unable or unwilling to collect this information when there has been no way to enforce businesses to provide this information, despite city ordinances requiring them to do so. It is similar to code enforcement which minimally and selectively enforces our codes, only worse.


Sky
Crescent Park
on May 11, 2020 at 1:46 pm
Sky, Crescent Park
on May 11, 2020 at 1:46 pm
4 people like this

Finally!!


A Beautiful Bridge!
Crescent Park
on May 11, 2020 at 3:11 pm
A Beautiful Bridge!, Crescent Park
on May 11, 2020 at 3:11 pm
6 people like this

Judging by the artist's rendition, it's going to be a beautiful bridge...creating further ease of access for our EPA neighbors to connect with Palo Alto.

Nothing wrong with that and flooding concerns should not pose any engineering or design problems.

I suspect that the objections are more related to property value concerns.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 11, 2020 at 3:14 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 11, 2020 at 3:14 pm
33 people like this

At the same time, they are complaining about lower revenue and making budget cuts. This is not the time to discuss another expensive project.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 11, 2020 at 4:01 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 11, 2020 at 4:01 pm
30 people like this

No new building projects. We don't have the money.


YP
Crescent Park
on May 11, 2020 at 4:36 pm
YP, Crescent Park
on May 11, 2020 at 4:36 pm
19 people like this

Not sure this is a huge priority right now given all the other fiscal issues, But if it does go forward they should add speed bumps on Newell all the way to Jordan Middle School, long overdue

My view is when you make this bridge wider it will make it MORE unsafe as people drive faster, I've rode my bike over the bride hundreds of times, cars slow down , stop see who is coming. Everyone is cautious. When you make it wider people will be more aggressive . Guaranteed!!


Norman Beamer
Crescent Park
on May 11, 2020 at 9:11 pm
Norman Beamer, Crescent Park
on May 11, 2020 at 9:11 pm
6 people like this

1. The money for this project is provided by the Dept. of Transportation via a specific grant just for this bridge, so the current budget problems are not an obstacle and delaying or cancelling the project wouldn't make the $$ available for something else. (Caveat -- I suppose the State could "back out" of the grant given the current emergency -- if so then the project would unfortunately be in trouble).
2. Aside from the above money issue, this is an essential and important project. The flooding issue is a matter of life or death, not to mention huge financial threat from property damage. (The 1998 flood caused water from the Chaucer diversion to flow through Crescent Park and gather in the East Midtown area to depths that were life threatening).
3. I'm sorry about the immediate neighbors -- yes it's a burden on them. But this is a classic case of the interests of the public as a whole simply outweighing the interests of a few adjacent owners.
4. The complaints about Newell traffic are overblown. Whether the bridge is narrow or wide, if someone wants to speed down Newell, they will do it either way. Solve speeding with speed bumps on Newell.


Rainer
Mayfield
on May 12, 2020 at 2:48 am
Rainer, Mayfield
on May 12, 2020 at 2:48 am
3 people like this

For many years I have pointed out in comments and letters to, and conversation with, Palo Alto Planning and City Council members, that Palo Alto generally pays about twice the going rate for anything it touches.

For projects like the redoing of California Ave I rely on the experience of family members, and other architects, who are responsible of such and bigger projects for Bechtel size companies.

For bridges I have my own experience with steel structures I needed as Program manager at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, and where smart designers I had steered me to off-the shelf / catalogue items.

HERE I re-post something wiiiiith practical hints and help, for the planner who is not in the pocket of locL construction forces.

Originally published as a comment at Web Link on May 21, 2019 at 2:41 am
By Rainer Pitthan
RE: Landmark East Palo Alto $14Million Bridge, the bridge to architectural fame for the Palo Altos! Finally!
There are five types of bridges, and these are, Girder, Arch, Cable, rigid framed and Truss. Each has its unique features and uses. And then there is the Palo Alto bridge, build from epoxied $100 bills. If we would have used $50 bills, which have the same structural strength, we could have built 2 bridges for the same price.
This overprized 14M utility project is just another misguided example of Silicon Valley’s, and in particular both Palo Alto’s, efforts to create an elegant looking land mark bridge, which is worldwide admired.
But the actual cost compared to what a company like www.USBridge.com would charge for an off-the shelf, or at least catalogue, pedestrian and bicycle bridge, is so astronomical that it smells like small town corruption. See e.g., Richard Alexander and Ken Alsman Web Link , p91.
Great, practical, cheap, and elegant Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridges designs are available worldwide. The actual bridge you can then buy from a catalogue or even pre-fabricated off-shelf at a fraction of the price of $14Million.
When a VW beetle cost $2,500 in the 70s, studies showed it would cost a multiple if build individually. This applies to bridges as well.
So start with simply googling, for example “bowstring truss pedestrian bridge” [ gets you this Web Link ] and click on “more images” and then vary parameters while googling.
Or google “parallel chord truss bridge”.
For the planned San Francisqito Bridges between Palo Alto and Menlo Park you would add parameters like:
• 2-lane and 40 feet length, or some such parameter. Or just simple “small 2-lane bridge”.
• With a prefab bridge it should not take more than a week, and not nine months, to interrupt he traffic and swap out the bridges. Germans in my old hometown seem to be able to demolish the old bridge and put in the new on prepared Widerlager (abutment) within 24 hours.
Or go to www.usbridge.com and play with their software.
Or play here: Web Link and flip through their recent projects.
Or look here: Web Link
Why are bridged so expensive in Palo Alto? Why does construction takes so long? Who pays off whom in Palo Alto? Local contractors? What is wrong with Palo Alto? These are not Nuclear Reactor vessels (which I helped design in my youth).


So, let me try this agin by re-posting the following:





Rainer
Mayfield
on May 12, 2020 at 3:37 am
Rainer, Mayfield
on May 12, 2020 at 3:37 am
2 people like this

I made a mistake above in quoting the link to Richard and Alsman. 5 years after their original posting, it still seems to describe the the corrupt and corrupting way of doing business by the City of Palo Alto quite well.
So here is the original letter to he "authorities", which they have ignored just like they will ignore some of the very good comments here.


Ladies and Gentleman, 2/10/2019

One third of a century ago when the Palo Alto City Planning Administration apparently was less in the pocket of developers than now, the Council enacted a downtown commercial cap on construction. Foresightful people who understood the power of exponential growth worried about compound traffic and parking problems. After all, this is Palo Alto, we know math.

4 years ago such prediction were ignored for the California Ave. district. Large number of owners in Palo Alto Central gave detailed and quantitative descriptions of the traffic problems around the 2555 Park B. Construction project. They were only given lot of CEQA bull, and in short order several more projects were authorized which were (and still are) under parked by more than 300 parking spots. Project owners had paid for (virtual) spots for years into a fund, but the places were never built. The planned CalAve District Parking Garage would barely make up for the deficit, but it is already supposed to account for the future grandiose administrative and residential development. Already CalAve is self-strangulating, very similar to the Mountain View San Antonio District, and I have not seen a good trip and parking analysis.

The City Council is slated to vote on 2/11/19 on whether or not to end the wise 33-year-old cap on Downtown commercial growth, worsening Downtown's traffic and parking problems, intensifying the city's job/housing imbalance, and taking away opportunities to build housing. The cap is also one of the laws currently preventing the conversion of the President Hotel Apartments into a hotel. The cap also will prevent a number of unwise projects, which the City Planners then will approve, like they always have.

The reality of life in Palo Alto has been succinctly described by Alexander Richard and Ken Alsman nearly 4 years ago, much better than I would. And thanks to an invention of my fellow student in 1968 in Darmstadt, Peter Grünfeld, we now have seemingly unlimited storage capacity on disks drive the size of a matchbox, so I could easily find their letters in 20 years of emails on my laptop:

Parking in the city

Dear Editor: Parking in neighborhoods attracts workers because it is cheaper than parking in the downtown garages, which are empty.

Employers, who pay $6 to $8 per square foot a month for their office space, cram in lots of employees and provide no parking for their staff. Office owners and employers distributed the economic disadvantages of parking onto the public, especially neighborhoods adjacent to downtown. If we installed smart parking meters in neighborhoods, provided for variable charges and gave residents transponders to allow free parking, we would solve the headache, incentivize drivers to use empty parking garages and could charge big-city parking rates that would generate substantial revenue and encourage greater use of public transportation.

On the parking issue, Downtown North parking activist Nielson Buchanan has provided more insight in the past several years than everyone in the Planning Department, where 44 development projects were approved without an environmental impact report. I have long thought that if this was New Jersey, somebody got paid off. I once put that out of my mind. But now I am not so sure. The magnitude of the blowout of Palo Alto is significant. There is so much money driving this mess that unless citizens step up, it will continue unabated.

Please join the coalition to bring some sensibility to growth. Sign on with me and others at http:// paloaltoville.com/cac-reform.

Richard Alexander

Palo Alto

August 20, 2015?

The Self-Administering CEQA

Dear Editor

Last week you had a story about a Palo Alto Councilman protesting the State for trying to avoid a CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act). The State must have been looking at what Palo Alto does: OVER 40 commercial projects approved with staff prepared studies of “No Significant Impact,” no need for the developer to do more analysis, no need for the Council to deny these projects. For those projects staff has found “No Cumulative Impacts” on traffic (Try getting into or out of town), parking, housing demand, jobs/housing balance, the environment. Likewise they found no conflicts with the City’s Comprehensive Plan dealing with neighborhood quality or protection, impacts of commercial on residential, traffic etc.

The public has questioned their process and objected to the conclusion but to no avail. How could in good conscience staff, the Community Development Director, the City Attorney and the City Manager let this violation of the intent of CEQA to continue? Pressure from the City Council? From Developers?

The Palo Alto (LET’S FORGET CEQA) Process – Gotta Love It.

Ken Alsman, Palo Alto, June 23, 2015


When the previous Planning Director Hilary Gitelman quit, She got a well-deserved good buy in the Palo Alto Weekly:

Posted by We Do Need a Change
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 19, 2018 at 12:32 pm

Our planning department is well-known for its contempt for residents and the law. It instead lets developers get away with massively inadequate parking, blatantly illegal uses, unchecked permit violations, and far more. Let's hope for new leadership that respects the law and the public and works to improve the department's badly-damaged image.

But listening to the (now newly installed) new Planning Director Jonathan Lait in recent meetings, it has gotten worse. While Gitelman was passively reacting to pressure from the developers, and maybe input from corrupt staff members, Lait seems to believe it is his task to accelerate and advance development. He knows better than the citizens and the City Council. So much, that in December even the City Manager was upset and joked about “deep state”.

Greetings Rainer Pitthan

Web Link


---this is not a Government supported domain,
so we do not lie---


John
East Palo Alto
on May 12, 2020 at 7:47 am
John, East Palo Alto
on May 12, 2020 at 7:47 am
5 people like this

Yes, yes, yes!!! The current bridge is a shame!! It is a gate between poor and rich communities, when it should actually be a link!! I’m so happy to hear they are going to widen it. I had about reaching out to the City to do it.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2020 at 10:00 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2020 at 10:00 am
2 people like this

Posted by Norman Beamer, a resident of Crescent Park

>> 1. The money for this project is provided by the Dept. of Transportation

100% of the money? If so, I will withdraw/modify my comments. I thought some of the money was local.

>> via a specific grant just for this bridge, so the current budget problems are not an obstacle and delaying or cancelling the project wouldn't make the $$ available for something else. (Caveat -- I suppose the State could "back out" of the grant given the current emergency -- if so then the project would unfortunately be in trouble).

The State budget is in much worse trouble than Palo Alto.

>> 2. Aside from the above money issue, this is an essential and important project. The flooding issue is a matter of life or death, not to mention huge financial threat from property damage.

Yes, flooding is THE issue. Otherwise, we could turn it into a dedicated bike/pedestrian bridge and forget about it.

>> 4. The complaints about Newell traffic are overblown.

No, they aren't. Traffic is dominated by cut-through traffic trying to avoid arterials. The city has the right, and the obligation, to manage through traffic on residential streets.

>> Whether the bridge is narrow or wide, if someone wants to speed down Newell, they will do it either way. Solve speeding with speed bumps on Newell.

I hate speed bumps. Big, heavy SUVs blow past them, while small, efficient compact cars have to slow way down. What we need is traffic enforcement. We have zero traffic enforcement now, despite the huge city police budget. This could -easily- be fixed, if the City Council wanted to. The current PACC seems to like speeding because it serves their out-of-town constituencies. They know that politically, they can't raise the official speed limits, so, they just don't fund enforcement. Easy peasy.


EPA resident since 2002
Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on May 12, 2020 at 12:27 pm
EPA resident since 2002, Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on May 12, 2020 at 12:27 pm
Like this comment

Great to read the Newell bridge is closer to being rebuilt. It's been difficult to read about the possible rebuilding of this bridge for so many years, with the plans and approval process seeming to take place at a snail's pace.

Based on the architectural rendering shown in the article (looking North from the Palo Alto side towards Woodland Avenue), it's nice to see pedestrian sidewalks included on both edges! I noticed the "Sharrow" on the street (insignia to encourage drivers to share the road with cyclists) and indicating that cyclists may have to contend with vehicular traffic at the bridge in each direction's traffic lane, just like the old design.

This new bridge design would be even better if it had *separated bike lanes in both directions* next to the walkways. Another alternative would be to at least to have the entrances of the pedestrian walkways ramped so people with wheelchairs and/or cyclists could more easily access the walkways in the event traffic is heavily backed up in the vehicle lanes (i.e. during commute hours, or backed up due to Hwy 101 closure).

I know separated bike lanes may not be considered as cost effective, or as clean and modern as the current design rendering, but including separeted bike lanes would be an opportunity to "Do the right thing" for all communities that use the bridge.


Rev. Dr. Eileen Altman
East Palo Alto
on May 12, 2020 at 10:03 pm
Rev. Dr. Eileen Altman, East Palo Alto
on May 12, 2020 at 10:03 pm
1 person likes this

Residents's comment: "This isn't an island with no access other than this one bridge."

From the Palo Alto perspective, the area is not an island, but for those of us who live in East Palo Alto, on the other side of the bridge, it is. We have only three access points to get in and out of the neighborhood. When one is closed, as West Bayshore was during the first flood abatement project, or when there is an accident that blocks a road, we have to rely on the other two. (Much of the complaining about excess traffic on Newell was during that 2017-18 construction project. I had no other choice of a route to get to work during that project other than the Newell bridge, but once West Bayshore reopened, traffic on Newell calmed down again.)

It is anxiety provoking for our neighborhood whenever one of our routes into/out of the neighborhood is cut off. Permanent closure of Newell would put our neighborhood in considerable danger from a public safety perspective. Our neighbors across the bridge who threaten to sue, etc. if a new bridge is built "fry my bacon," as my mama used to say. Folks who fail to wonder, inquire, or respect what a roadway means to the people on the other side of the bridge represent the worst stereotype of Palo Alto.


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