News

Palo Alto's new bike bridge is almost ready to debut

City to hold Saturday ceremony to mark completion of $23 million project

Palo Alto will hold a ceremony to mark the opening of its new bicycle and pedestrian bridge near Adobe Creek on Nov. 20, 2021. Photo taken in June 2021 by Gennady Sheyner.

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.

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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.

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Palo Alto's new bike bridge is almost ready to debut

City to hold Saturday ceremony to mark completion of $23 million project

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 9:24 am

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.

Comments

Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2021 at 10:40 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2021 at 10:40 am

It is good to have this facility opening. It has to be a long awaited victory showing how painful the Palo Alto process is and shows no prospect of changing.

Is there any way to monitor the numbers of how many people and at what time the bridge is used? Estimating usage is very old school. A better way of recording crossings by both bikes and pedestrians, the time of day and day of the week would be useful. This was never done by the old tunnel and in my opinion a more accurate count of before and after crossings would be useful before any other "improvements" are made to our infrastructure.


Carl Jones
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Nov 18, 2021 at 11:34 am
Carl Jones, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2021 at 11:34 am

Ah, finally.
When the Google pedestrian bridge (just down the road) was built, it cost $1 million.
When the first serious talks of getting a simple bridge built, it was going to be $4-8 million.
When the bridge competition was over, the price was $13 million. The winner was rejected by the City Council because, of course, they knew better. Then negotiations with the design team that the council chose fell apart because it was too much money.
More time passed.
And now we have a bridge that cost $26 million.
It *is* a very nice bridge, don't get me wrong. But we could have had a bridge perhaps as nice for a lot less money and a lot longer ago.
So much for the "Palo Alto way".


David V
Registered user
Greenmeadow
on Nov 18, 2021 at 2:03 pm
David V, Greenmeadow
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2021 at 2:03 pm

If you want to attend the ceremony on the east side you still need to use the old routes until they cut the ribbon and complete the self congratulatory crap. That's intelligent democracy.


mjh
Registered user
College Terrace
on Nov 18, 2021 at 3:46 pm
mjh, College Terrace
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2021 at 3:46 pm

An ill-considered then council member(s) ego fuelled vanity project from the start. A juggernaut with an increasing amount of money and staff time allocated to the "competition" and design process. Saner voices suggesting a similar design to other freeway bike bridges at a fraction of the cost ignored in the name of Palo Alto's exceptionalism.

During council discussion of the original budget during the design phase, the breakdown of the cost per bike trip over the new bridge was estimated to at $25 per bike trip. With the eventual cost of the bridge more than doubled presumably that figure has increased to a minimum tax payer subsidy of $50 per bike trip. Possibly higher if in future fewer people are regularly commuting to offices using the bridge.

Does anyone think that this what we got is much of a design improvement on any of the other peninsula freeway bike bridges?


mjh
Registered user
College Terrace
on Nov 18, 2021 at 3:51 pm
mjh, College Terrace
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2021 at 3:51 pm

I believe about three million of the original budget for the bike bridge may have been allocated from the last Stanford GUP negotiated community benefits.


Bruce Karney
Registered user
Mountain View
on Nov 18, 2021 at 4:27 pm
Bruce Karney, Mountain View
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2021 at 4:27 pm

I knew Benjamin Lefkowitz, the namesake of the tunnel under 101, when we both worked at Allstate Research and Planning Center in Menlo Park. I was 25, he was probably 45ish. He was wonderful mentor. All the men at Allstate had to wear suits and ties at that time, so that was his bike-commuting attire. Here's a link to an article about him: Web Link


ArtL
Registered user
Barron Park
on Nov 18, 2021 at 5:35 pm
ArtL, Barron Park
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2021 at 5:35 pm

Google also contributed $1 million to the bridge project - a good investment as many of their employees who live in Palo Alto will now be able to bike to work
Web Link


JK
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 19, 2021 at 12:41 pm
JK, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Nov 19, 2021 at 12:41 pm

Why does it look like it is rusting already?


Anonymous
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2021 at 12:45 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Nov 19, 2021 at 12:45 pm

I’m just happy to see it finally built.


Jonathan Brown
Registered user
Ventura
on Nov 19, 2021 at 1:38 pm
Jonathan Brown, Ventura
Registered user
on Nov 19, 2021 at 1:38 pm

Better late than never. The Adobe Reach Trail portion is perhaps the most exciting. If we could similarly open up all the easements around the city along creeks and utility right-of-ways, we'd have a really safe, well-connected bike and pedestrian network all across our city at very little cost.


mjh
Registered user
College Terrace
on Nov 19, 2021 at 4:47 pm
mjh, College Terrace
Registered user
on Nov 19, 2021 at 4:47 pm

Is $26 million very little cost?


Ted
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Nov 22, 2021 at 4:53 pm
Ted, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Nov 22, 2021 at 4:53 pm

I read the account for the new bridge with some interest; I may even try using the bridge sometime soon. However, the rather long discussion of cost and politics failed to provide the basic information I or anyone else would need to trip across 101 without injury.

Mr Sheyner might have revealed the location of this bridge to encourage Palo Altans and any one else to try it out with some actual street names. "One third mile north of San Antonio" just doesn't do it. A simple map would be even better.


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