Study recommends widening Newell Road Bridge | June 14, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - June 14, 2019

Study recommends widening Newell Road Bridge

After years of contention over various options, environmental report recommends a new bridge that's twice as wide

by Gennady Sheyner

The Newell Road Bridge is old, narrow and, according to the state Department of Transportation, "functionally obsolete."

This story contains 2375 words.

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Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at [email protected]


30 people like this
Posted by Let's Get it Built
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 14, 2019 at 12:37 am


I live right near the bridge on the Palo Alto side and fully support replacing it with the proposed modern structure. Doing so will help with our huge regional flooding problems and make things better for pedestrians, bikes, and cars using the bridge.

The proposal approved by the Planning Commission majority is fine. I've looked through the traffic study and agree that widening the roadway, adding sidewalks, and fixing the sight lines won't increase traffic in any significant way. Most of the trees that block southbound Woodland and eastbound Newell cars from seeing each other until they're in the intersection are eucalyptus (non-native) and can be replaced. Fixing the sight lines will help bikes and pedestrians too. The argument that keeping it narrow makes it safer just doesn't wash.

The short bridge is already protected by stop signs at both the Edgewood and Woodland intersections. Traffic signals are NOT needed! Let's get it built.

35 people like this
Posted by ?
a resident of Duveneck School
on Jun 14, 2019 at 4:10 am

Wait, why can’t they just remove the bridge? 3000 cars use it daily, which backs up Embarcadero Rd. because they trigger the Newell Rd light at all hours. Drivers should be on arteries like Embarcadero instead of driving through residential areas, especially a road with many student bicyclists to Duveneck and Greene.

[Portion removed.]

20 people like this
Posted by CP Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 14, 2019 at 6:44 am

^^^ I too would like to see the bridge removed for the reasons cited above.

Widening and/or deepening the creek for flood control is OK though.

18 people like this
Posted by Norman Beamer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 14, 2019 at 7:45 am

Fixing the bridge to eliminate the blockage of the creek is an urgent need. No more delay is acceptable. The preferred option should be approved. Concerns about traffic are totally bogus. If you want speed bumps, put them on the roads just before and after the bridge.

22 people like this
Posted by Norman Beamer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 14, 2019 at 7:48 am

To those who want the bridge removed: Forget it. Totally unacceptable -- that option has been categorically eliminated. For one thing, East Palo Alto would veto it.

4 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 14, 2019 at 7:52 am

[Post removed.]

19 people like this
Posted by Tim
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 14, 2019 at 9:55 am

Get rid of the bridge!

19 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 14, 2019 at 11:24 am

The size of the bridge is one issue.

Another issue is the layout of the intersection.

There is no good way to make this an acceptable intersection without it being huge.
There is not, nor should there be enough traffic in that area to justify it either.

They mostly need to rationalize the "bridge-intersection system".

The thing that has always bothered me is that leaving this up to people
to stop and allow others through does not work in this bridge for some
reason. So people, if they think they can go charge across the bridge as
if they are in a military operation. If the person ahead of someone like this
goes, they jump in behind them so the person waiting on the other side
cannot go.

When a large SUV or truck goes across there is only room for one vehicle
anyway, so just set it up for one car at a time, or cars from one directions
at a time regulated by a stop-light.

It's also hell for bicyclists or pedestrians at times.

I think the most appropiriate, fittting and smallest scale option would be
to have a light on all four sides of the intersection, and one about 20
feet back into Palo Alto from the bridge and to allow one lane of controlled
traffic to cross the bridge at a time in a synchronized manner.

This would discourage massive traffic increases, make the intersections
safer. Cameras could be installed if there are too many scofflaws and
they could be ticketed. Finally, everyone else could drive across that
bridge with less anxiety and chance of an accident.

Maybe even pedestrians could get a timeslice to cross so they do not
have to risk their lives every time they want to cross.

It would also cost less to do this. It just makes more sense to me.

8 people like this
Posted by Fairmeadoe
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 14, 2019 at 1:05 pm

The small bridge is a natural break that makes people think twice about driving into that community, and that is basically what people in the Palo Alto side want (so nothing will be done).

I would offer just add large mirrors so people can safely see the traffic on both sides before crossing.

13 people like this
Posted by YSK
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 14, 2019 at 1:56 pm

Leave the bridge. It's fine. It definitely slows people down better than any other part of the city. The last thing we need is for Newell road to become another speeding thoroughfare a.

11 people like this
Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 14, 2019 at 3:22 pm

YP is a registered user.

I agree with a couple of the posts above. There maybe many reasons to replace the bridge such as flood control but safety is NOT one of them. Counter intuitive but the narrow bridge forces people to be cautious, a wider bridge will result in faster traffic and more accidents I guarantee it.

14 people like this
Posted by Charlie Brigante
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 14, 2019 at 5:07 pm

This bridge has no sidewalks so it has always been extremely dangerous for pedestrians!

4 people like this
Posted by Robert Neff
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 14, 2019 at 10:38 pm

Robert Neff is a registered user.

Yes, sidewalks, finally, on both sides.

The bridge width under consideration is the minimum that CalTrans will fund. Grants from CalTrans and the Water District cover the building costs.

The EIR scope did not require any evaluation of usability for bicyclists (other than -- "It is a road, and bicyclists can ride on the road".) With the new bike/ped bridge over 101 linked to this Newell bridge, I think decision makers need some analysis for bicycle suitability, especially where bikes will have to mix into rush hour traffic. What will that be like with these design choices?

7 people like this
Posted by Old Timer With A New Perspective
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2019 at 12:36 am

Before you vote my post down, consider the future for a moment.
University Ave is already gridlocked most of the day from the moment you exit 101.
How about making Newell Road another entrance route to Palo Alto and Stanford?
Begin it at 101 (or spur it off the current exit), and cut right across that small section of EPA, the creek, and run it up to Embarcadero - past the Library & Art Center (our old City Hall), and end at the new fire station on the corner of Embarcadero.
I saw them do this to Oregon when I was child - to make easier access to the Stanford Research Park and HP.
This involved moving some houses, but it WAS done. And today we have Oregon Expressway.
I know all of this may seem frightening, but things change.

Take a look at the layout of Newell Road on Google maps to understand what I am talking about.
Web Link

18 people like this
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 15, 2019 at 12:37 am

Personally I've always advocated to remove the bridge entirely. First of all both the Palo Alto and EPA communities would benefit from the flood control this would provide.

Widening the bridge and providing greater access to commute drivers is unreasonable. We should not create an environmental traffic condition that would undoubtedly result in heavier traffic flow, especially through largely residential areas. Newell Road is not designed or equipped to serve as a commute arterial.

With the bridge removed and not replaced it would also insulate residential areas on both sides from unreasonable traffic increases. That traffic would be likely routed to the University and Embarcadero Road corridors which are much better equipped and designed to handle those conditions.

I see the bridge providing much greater convenience to residents of EPA and commuters who live outside the area. The benefit to Palo Alto residents far less. Removing the bridge would provide Palo Alto residents living in the adjoining Crescent Park the benefit of ending the residential permit parking program. No bridge, no people living outside of the city and county using their city streets for overflow parking, no need for the permits.

It makes sense on so many levels, with the added collective benefit of saving tax payer dollars on building a new bridge. Take the thing down and end the conversation.

15 people like this
Posted by ?
a resident of Duveneck School
on Jun 15, 2019 at 11:39 am

So they are going to make the bridge wider for more cars to travel on Newell? How many drivers who use the bridge are Palo Alto residents? Why does the Palo Alto City Council help everyone else except their residents? Extra traffic in a residential area will impact both residents and students. Newell /Embarcadero is a huge crossing for elementary and middle school students. Extra cars turning on red lights can be fatal. And no, Norman Beamer, speed bumps will not make Newell safer. Also, cannot just install speed bumps anywhere, there are rules.

On Thursday, in two separate incidents, pedestrians were attacked by teens on the Palo Alto/EPA pedestrian bridge: Web Link

17 people like this
Posted by Tuasosopo
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2019 at 5:49 pm

The Newell Road Bridge is a convenient gateway for some EPA residents to enter Palo Alto, especially those living along Woodland Avenue.

It also provides ease of acess for residents along Woodland Avenue who are forced to park their vehicles in Palo Alto due to the parking congestion.

A wider bridge with walkways will alleviate many of the these inconveniences and Palo Altans should consider doing their best to be a good neighbor.

8 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 15, 2019 at 10:22 pm

> who are forced to park their vehicles in Palo Alto due to the parking congestion.

Force to, eh?

Parking in this part of EPA should not be something Palo Alto has to solve or work
out for EPA. EPA has shown in several ways they are quite capable or solving problems
and moving forward when they want to, I don't see why they can't put their heads
together and solve the parking problem or push the apartment complexes in that
area to solve their parking issues.

I would not be unhappy to see the bridge removed, but I do think it is reasonable to
keep this point open to Palo Alto, but I don't think it should be expanded, hence my
comment above.

11 people like this
Posted by Woodland Avenue Resident
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 16, 2019 at 1:14 pm

Unfortunately many of the apartments along Woodland Avenue do not provide adequate parking for multi-car residents/room mates. Fortunately, the adjacent PA neighborhood just across the Newell Road Bridge provides a viable area.

The bridge will be needed for some Woodland residents to be able get to their cars during the course of a day. Without the bridge, parking will become problematic.

13 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 16, 2019 at 2:02 pm

> Without the bridge, parking will become problematic.

Parking is problematic now .... but, it should be problematic only for East Palo Alto, not for the people on adjacent streets who did not buy their houses to provide parking for apartment owners to cheap to solve their own problems. If people insist on parking across the bridge, it's another point in favor of demolishing the bridge.

10 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2019 at 2:59 pm

I think we should tear down the bridge and erect tolls at all entrances to Palo Alto. It's clear from all the rhetoric in these discussions that Palo Alto considers itself an island unto itself. So let's make it a physical reality.

Let's charge everyone a fee (including residents) to enter or leave Palo Alto. Then we can see how well Palo Alto survives as a self contained community that never wants to cooperate or coordinate with it's neighbors.


6 people like this
Posted by GoodNeighbors
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 16, 2019 at 4:36 pm

[Portion removed.]

I support @OldTimerWithNewPerspective's post of viewing Newell Road from 101 to Embarcadero as a new cross road to Channing Ave (@Google Maps) with wide enough lanes like Channing Ave (with bike lanes on both sides) Yes, there are schools on Channing Ave also with no accident history.

Instead of worrying about more traffic, appreciate your help in decongesting Univ, Embarcadero and Oregon arteries. Helping out local people that suffer on a DAILY basis with LONG hours of manual work and LONG hours of traffic, while you soak in your expensive bathtub in your $10M mansion. Be part of solving US, California and Bay Area wide inequality problems by starting locally, being good neighbors, and becoming YIMBY as opposed to NIMBY.

9 people like this
Posted by Alternative 2
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 16, 2019 at 5:17 pm

Alternative 2 keeps the current bridge alignment, which is a natural inhibitor to cars speeding. The side walks and two lanes dramatically improve safety for pedestrians, bicycles and cars, coupled with improved sight lines entering the bridge. It's the smallest alternative that Caltrain will pay for 85% of the project. Also, since East Palo Alto is joint owner of the bridge with Palo Alto, they, rightly, will not agree to remove the bridge so its not an option.

For those Palo Altans who were not here in 1998, about 400 hundred houses had over the floor flooding (which requires a remodel and not being able to live in your house for 9 months). Channing Ave was a river during the flood. This project is required before the Pope Chaucer bridge can be replaced, which will significantly increase flood protection for Palo Altans.

For these reasons, I strongly support Alternative 2.

11 people like this
Posted by Truth Teller
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 17, 2019 at 9:15 pm

I am a Resident of East Palo Alto since 1955.

It appears that (as usual) This matter is already decided upon.
And what I say here doesn't make a bit of difference. So therefore I'll say it anyway. (with candid truth).

The Powers that BE want the expansion so the people that have influence will be able to drive their expensive Cars FREELY, avoiding University Avenue. A quick Exit.
(I guaranteed to you that very FEW, E. Palo Altoians are driving Tesla's) across that Newell Bridge.
They also slipped in a Tesla Charging station in the Ravenswood Shopping Ctr.

No More Arteries driving in and taking any more E Palo Alto land, just to expand Newell Bridge.
Build and expand the Artery down
Embarcadero Rd, just like they did Oregon Expwy. (by the way) they dumped all of those homes that they took from Oregon Expwy and placed them in EPA, off of Pulgas. Beach St. down to Runnymede.
Pulgas Avenue is where the Traffic is creating a Artery barreling through EPA.
They enjoy (dumping) problems into EPA. The reason the OLD Romic Chemical Plant stayed there from
the 1950's and the current Owner still hasn't clean the mess up.

The E Palo Altoians that want the Newell Bridge expansion, want this only to accommodate their Own Selfish Habits.
They are the same Ones that advocated for The Walk over Bridge that is crossing over 101.
That action, cost over $15 Million Dollars. That action is serving a very small population. And the Cyclist that travel from
Palo Alto & Stanford, that cross the Newell Bridge, to get to the Wilderness. All of This could have been built further down 101 in the Palo Alto Wilderness territory.

Someone up there said that E Palo Alto would Vote something down? Hardly.
Abrica has an Agenda and he caters to HIS Constituents that WALK.
This has changed the character of the Neighborhood. These same Selfish people claim that they are Forced to PARK in PAlO ALTO. (give me a break). We don't care for you parking all your Cars inside E Palo Alto either!
The People that are parking on Palo Alto Streets, have FORCED the Residents in obtaining Parking Permits in The Crescent Park Area ONLY.
The parking congestion is caused by Households in EPA, that aren't monitored for overcrowding.
What gives anyone the right, in trying to change the Palo Alto Neighborhood & visa versa?
Those People paid for Their Neighborhood NOT to be littered with your Cars parked in front of Their Homes. (likewise in EPA). The same demographic in Menlo Park are overcrowding parking in EPA.
Palo Alto once talked about closing the Bridge off because of crime. Now they want to WIDEN it?
I say CLOSE it altogether then.

The influence is coming from those that don't want to Travel down CLOGGED University Avenue.

I would like to see the Bridge either REMOVED or It can stay the same and Widen for practical measures and that is Flooding ONLY!

9 people like this
Posted by Shortcut to where?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 18, 2019 at 9:40 am

I don't think that Newell bridge is a short cut from University Ave to anywhere. Much faster just to get off 101 at Embarcadero. I do think Newell is useful for EPA resides to go to and from their neighborhood.

3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2019 at 9:02 pm

Why not add sidewalks and make it a true one-way bridge with traffic lights to control the flow direction. This works in many places, e.g. various coastal and coast-range mountain roads where washouts narrow the road to one lane. A true two-lane bridge will just increase traffic. There is too much traffic on Newell already.

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