Letters | February 1, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - February 1, 2013


Keep the status quo


The obvious solution for the Newell bridge is to replace it with one that fixes the flood problem, that maintains two lanes of traffic as today (one in each direction, although perhaps a tiny bit wider, so two cars fit side by side) and that add a small lane on each side for pedestrians and people on bikes, who currently have a dangerous time crossing the bridge. This essentially keeps the status quo while implementing the flood management plan and while adding to the safety of people not in cars.

For those concerned about slightly improved automobile lanes, speed humps could be added to the end of the bridge, complementing the stop sign at the other end, in order to calm traffic.

People in nearby neighborhoods who don't like the status quo should have considered buying elsewhere.

Andy Robin

Walnut Drive

Palo Alto

Explore trench option


Cars under tracks at Churchill, Meadow and Charleston? No way!

Side streets joining Churchill, Meadow and Charleston within 600 feet of the tracks would be cut off. Numerous private homes would be taken. To maintain connection of cross streets with Alma, cars on Alma would be forced to go through a dipsy-doodle at every intersection.

Worst, school kids on foot or bikes would be forced to cross Alma at the bottom of the pit. Imagine a kid on a bike, rolling down the ramp and losing control, shooting out into Alma traffic.

Compare the cost of trenching with the cost of underpasses. Two stretches of trench are required: one between Adobe and Matadero creeks for the Charleston and Meadow crossings, and one under Churchill. Each trench has 1,000-foot ramps at each end. For comparison, three underpasses would require a total of 600 feet of street at depth plus 12 ramps 600 feet long from depth to the surface.

Cost elements are cubic yards of soil excavated, cubic yards of concrete poured, relocating utilities, taking of private property, and measures to keep the trains rolling during construction. My guess is the cost of trenching would be somewhat more than the underpasses, but not a lot more, so the obvious benefits of tracks-in-trench outweigh the higher cost.

A competent engineer could get a good ballpark number in a week or two, so let's do the math and settle this issue once and for all.

"Big Bill" Cutler

Park Boulevard

Palo Alto


Like this comment
Posted by Roland Hsu
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2013 at 9:52 am

In reply to the recent letter about the demise of the new grocery store at Alma Plaza: I suggest that it is more helpful to examine the facts. The neighborhood of Midtown/South of Midtown recently benefited from:
1. Removing the eyesore of the abandoned Alma Plaza lot
2. New construction and employment
3. Retail open for business
4. A grocery store ("Miki's") that offered the finest produce, cheese and wine, delicatessen, and in-house bakery, and dedicated, knowledgeable employees
5. Respectful and supportive employer-employee relations
6. New neighbors (residential and commercial) eager to make friends

All of this was brought to our neighborhood, all within a short walk of our homes.

The reasons for the failure of Miki's Farm Fresh Grocery store are:
1. Undercapitalization of the business, without corporate franchise backing to weather a full business cycle
2. Property owner and developer failed to open in time the walk way from Ramona St. to ease and attract local shoppers
3. Design for car traffic ingress/egress controverts the typical model of acres of asphalt parking in front to attract car traffic from Alma.

While it is true that the developer -- McNellis -- contrived a concession to rezone, reduce the viable commercial space, and build too close to Alama Street, I suggest we face the fact that the buildings are built, and nice neighbors are trying to bring their lives and livelihoods to join our community. Residents are bringing their families to the housing, and proprietors such as Miki's (and the next grocer) are trying to bring outstanding value to our walkable shopping neighborhood center.

Instead of the predictable complaint from those who insist on viewing new neighbors and neighborhood development through the clouded lens of anit-government, anti-social, libertarian ideology, it is more helpful to come together, face facts, and support the next grocer who -- although not likely to be as dedicated to fresh market goods and knowledgeable employees -- at least will be trying to attract new friends and neighbors to come and meet at our local community center.

Roland Hsu