After a decade of anticipation and two years of construction, Palo Alto's new bike bridge over U.S. Highway 101 will officially open to the public on Saturday morning.
The city will mark the milestone with a grand opening ceremony next to the new bridge, a $23 million structure that will replace an existing seasonal underpass at Adobe Creek. Located about a third of a mile north of San Antonio Road, the bridge offers bicyclists and pedestrians in south Palo Alto year-round access to the Baylands. The project also includes a new Adobe Reach Trail, which opened in late October and which connects trailheads at East Meadow Drive and West Bayshore Road.
Weather permitting, the event will begin at 10 a.m. on the Baylands side of the bridge and include ribbon-cutting ceremonies on both sides of the highway, near the bridge entrances at East and West Bayshore roads. Attendees can also enjoy free ice cream courtesy of Treatbot, the karaoke ice cream truck (the city's announcement confirmed that there will be no karaoke). The event will also be available via livestream.
For the City Council, the bridge represents both a key infrastructure priority, one that council members have been discussing for years before including it on its 2014 list of most-needed projects. The list also includes replacement of old fire stations near Rinconada and Mitchell parks (the new Rinconada station was completed in March 2020), a new six-level garage near California Avenue, which was also completed last year, and a new public safety building, which is now getting constructed a site next to the garage. The list also includes another major project that aims to benefit bicyclists and pedestrians: streetscape improvements along the Charleston-Arastradero corridor.
The bridge was designed and constructed by the firm Biggs Cardosa. The council approved the construction contract after abandoning a prior design, which came out of a specially commissioned design competition. Council members agreed to scrap the winning design after concluding that it would significantly exceed the project budget.
The city's bike and pedestrian plan, which the council adopted in 2012 and which recommended the bike bridge, estimates that about 100,000 bicyclists and pedestrians would use the bridge each year, a figure that the plan predicts would rise as adjacent bicycle connections improve and the area's land uses adapt.
The project benefited from a $4 million grant that Santa Clara County awarded in 2012. The city also expects to receive $4.35 million grant through the One Bay Area program, according to the city budget.