Town Square

Post a New Topic

Proposed growth to strain Stanford's traffic-fighting effort

Original post made on Oct 20, 2017

A new report for Stanford's general-use permit application shows the university's expansion will create "significant and unavoidable" traffic impacts along numerous road segments and intersections.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 20, 2017, 7:01 AM

Comments (23)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 20, 2017 at 7:14 am

Stanford, along with Palo Alto itself, is missing a large method of reducing traffic congestion.

For Stanford, extending the Marguerite, which is an efficient service they already run, to the parking lot on Page Mill at the 280 off ramp, would give incoming commuters an option other than driving to their place of employment.

Following this pattern, parking lots at 101 off ramp could be serviced by Marguerite shuttles as well as dedicated city of Palo Alto shuttles to take commuters to downtown and other areas of high employment.

People living on the coast, or in the East Bay, or basically anywhere outside the Caltrain corridor, have very few realistic means of commuting to Palo Alto. Giving them the means of getting from the highways to their job in an efficient manner that is an alternative to parking in congested areas.

Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 20, 2017 at 8:51 am

I agree with the mayor. Stanford needs their own fire services.

For National interest, stanford needs to grow to 50,000 students. Otherwise we will be behind China India Russia on innovations.

Out of the box thinking Stanford and CalTech may merge to be great institutions for great research to cure cancer, find new galaxies and new metals power sources environmental cleanup etc.

Whether they grow it at this campus or elsewhere is a critical decision. The nation needs innovative universities that generate innovation not other mundane fields like art history world history lawyers except IP lawyers.

The nation is counting on us to be the think tank for 21st century.

The usual PaloAlto concerns about traffic are valid. We need to get gasoline cars out of here soon.

Innovation a must. Otherwise we will fall to lower tier not top league.

It might be ok with some.

OBut don’t sell yourself short mighty USA.


Posted by resident
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 20, 2017 at 9:32 am

Overpasses and double turn lanes are counter-productive since they make those streets significantly more cumbersome and/or dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists, thus encouraging more people to drive. Stanford should put their money into into improving public transit options, including increasing their shuttle bus system farther into the neighborhoods where their students and employees live.

Posted by Miriam Palm
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 20, 2017 at 10:27 am

Miriam Palm is a registered user.

Please PLEASE put in the long-promised right turn only lane from Oregon Expy to El Camino, for cars turning north on the corner where Sunfield retirement is located. This is a real bottleneck for cars traveling West on Oregon/Page Mill at all times of day.

Posted by macbaldy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 20, 2017 at 11:08 am

Stanford recently announced that it has contracted with Menlo Park to replace Palo Alto's fire protection service for SLAC; PA retains the service component of the central campus fire station. That's a sensible overdue adjustment, since MPk is adjacent to SLAC. If that gores PA's ox, bummer.

Stanford's adult night school program is an regional attraction that draws a lot of late-day traffic from all directions.

Stanford's athletic events are significant traffic generators and Stanford has the largest, most successful intercollegiate program in the nation.

Stanford cultural events are a popular regional traffic source; there's more public educational and cultural activity on the Stanford campus than in all of the surrounding communities. All of this Stanford-centric activity props up home prices--and property values. Some local gripes are valid and deserve attention; some local gripes would pluck the golden goose...those flawed attempts are obvious.

Posted by Joyce
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 20, 2017 at 11:10 am

I am responding to the article titled "Planned growth to strain traffic around Stanford" and the readers' comments. Either I am misinformed, or the article misrepresented the facts.

Stanford already has its' own Fire Station

Also, Stanford is creating more housing spaces for staff that are so close to the campus they can walk or ride their bikes. This will reduce traffic.

Parking is also difficult on campus and this encourages staff to use public transportation as well.

Finally, Stanford has moved many of their medical offices to a campus in Redwood City that is just off the highway. This should also reduce traffic

Posted by CM
a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2017 at 11:12 am

A big hurdle for many employees is lack of options other than a car for those living on the western side of Santa Clara Valley. Public transit is non-existent or so slow as to be useless. Driving a long way to get to CalTrain, along with parking problems for CalTrain, and then the time to take the train and then Marguerite or even biking to campus --well, that adds too much time to the commute. A regional solution to transit, or perhaps Stanford shuttle routes from Sunnyvale/Cupertino, is needed.

Posted by anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 20, 2017 at 11:20 am

If this doesn't get Palo Alto residents to act NOW, then we deserve what we get - some good, but there is a lot of bad consequences for us that we will live with day after day. Last night our own County Supervisor Joe Simitian held a forum on Stanford's plans in City Hall. It was excellent. My neighbor told me that a video of the forum will be available on his website where all can watch it. No one explains things better than Simitian. I urge you to view the video and you will have an excellent understanding of this matter - so smart. Then act now. As he is says -
"If you believe the EIR needs to be robust, if you believe it needs more work, we'd rather hear it now than later in the process."

Stanford's planned development will effect us in substantial ways that really matter. Act!

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 20, 2017 at 11:31 am

Stanford employees need to take advantage of their employer's vanpool and carpool options.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2017 at 11:43 am

Stanford has managed its growth much better than Palo Alto has. Palo Alto's growth pressures stem from the areawide Silicon Valley growth pressures.

Note that Stanford's development plans include moving almost 3000 staff OFF CAMPUS to Redwood City.

Posted by Arthur Keller
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 20, 2017 at 12:38 pm

@Joyce: Stanford's Fire Station is operated by the Palo Alto Fire Department.

Posted by mj
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 20, 2017 at 2:16 pm

Humm-"Stanford employees need to take advantage of their employer's vanpool and carpool options."

They do. What leads you to believe they don't?

Posted by Tom from Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 20, 2017 at 2:21 pm

Tom from Midtown is a registered user.

It seems the article commits a serious oversight in not even mentioning Stanford Redwood City (also noted by Neighbor), which has been in the planning for at least a decade and has already broken ground. The first phase is scheduled to open in 2019 and will be where 2700 staff go to work each day. See for more info. Given Stanford's efforts to house faculty and especially students on or very near campus, it is staff who are largely responsible for the number of car trips through Palo Alto and onto and off campus each day (I know - I was one of them until I retired!) This will not solve the problem but I expect it will put a huge dent in it. I also agree with Neighbor that Stanford has managed its growth much better than Palo Alto.

Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 20, 2017 at 2:53 pm

To @SeaReddy -

Regarding your idea of Caltech and Stanford merging. Wow, that is completely mind-blowing and would be very cool if it came to pass. But I don't think elite universities have ever merged in the history of mankind. Still, very cool to think about and I appreciate you bringing up an idea out-of-the-box.

Re. Stanford traffic, something needs to be done (i.e., traffic reduction plans in place) BEFORE we approve expansion. I hope we don't go down the road of approving expansion first and then say "hey, we'll worry about the consequences later".

Posted by margaret heath
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 20, 2017 at 4:47 pm

Stanford's traffic impact from their proposed new campus development should be linked to the huge and continually increasing number of vehicles generated by their Stanford Research Park properties. Particularly because the companies Stanford now leases to are offices densely packed with employees, which was not the case in the past.

As regards the proposed double lane turn from Page Mill onto Hanover, Hanover quickly narrows to one lane in each direction. Perhaps Stanford could be required to shave off twenty feet of their landscaping along Hanover and their California Avenue frontages to accommodate a separate road to serve those research park employees? Thereby relieving congestion on Cal Ave to serve the through commuters, and safer for school children and bicyclists.

Perhaps Stanford could be required to build a new connection from 280 down to Deer Creek Road to relieve some of the congestion caused by cars currently backed up along the freeway exiting onto Page Mill Road.

Stanford definitely needs to be required to extend shuttle buses to serve large parking lots at the 101 and Embarcadero-Oregon and at the 280-Page Mill intersections. Also serving non-campus employees.

It is at best wishful thinking, and more likely downright misleading, to state that Stanford won't generate any new automobile trips with all this proposed expansion. Predictions that commuters will be increasingly use public transport? Public transport would have to be completely transformed. How likely is that to happen in the foreseeable future? Trains? Already packed. Railway electrification will only accommodate one additional train per hour, from 5 to 6 maximum in each direction. Longer trains? Restricted to the length of the platform. Car-pooling? Not practical for everyone. Uber and Lyft? Cars on the road, also circling around waiting for their next ride. Self driving cars? Replaces a non-self driving car. No time frame for more futuristic solutions.

Building 100,000 new housing units in Palo Alto is predicted to lower prices by 10%, so great is the local demand and strong marketing in other countries by some local realtors. Unlikely most Stanford employees will afford to live near close by, at least for the foreseeable future.

Stanford could build more housing on campus. But what about the spouses who work elsewhere and will add to the number of cars needing to drive across town? As will be the case for Stanford employee spouses moving into Stanford's big new housing development at the top of California Avenue.

Posted by no net truths
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 20, 2017 at 10:44 pm

Good to see that people acknowledge that "no net commute trips" is a great slogan but it isn't true. There is no way to add 9,000 students, faculty and staff and not increase traffic and congestion. 9,000 translates to about 20,000 people when you realize they have spouses, children, meetings, household help, and visitors.

The brochure says "Stanford would actually reduce the Bay Area's average number of vehicle miles traveled on on a per-capita basis."

Notice Trick words:
Bay Area - not Palo Alto
average number of vehicle miles - not number of trips
per-capita basis - not the actual number

Posted by Ryan
a resident of another community
on Oct 21, 2017 at 5:29 pm

City of Palo Alto needs to terminate the fire service contract with Stanford. Stanford wants to reduce the contract fee by 1 and half million dollars per year. Also, Stanford contributes nothing to the pension or medical benefits of the retired firefighter. This contract has become a big loser for Palo Alto and a big winner for Stanford. It's time.

Posted by Rose
a resident of Mayfield
on Oct 21, 2017 at 6:20 pm

How about some Google-style buses to bring the SU employees from long distances (SF, SJ, East Bay)?

Posted by Donald
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 21, 2017 at 7:10 pm

The notion that Stanford's continued expansion of housing and office space will result in "no net commute trips" is simply absurd.

Posted by Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 23, 2017 at 11:56 am


Stanford IS creating more housing. But I notice a LOT of the students being housed on Stanford are parking their CARS in Palo Alto, and biking or walking over to Stanford. They live on Stanford, as they carry their groceries and leave their cars parked on Palo Alto lands for days or weeks on end.

Stanford MAY be creating more housing, BUT they are failing to create appropriate number of parking spots to go with their housing. They really need to dig underground and create underground parking spaces for their units they create for students, or married couples.

Palo Alto residents living near Stanford are now dealing with issues like parking on their streets.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 23, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Web Link \

This May Stanford paid $130,000,000 to house its people in Los Altos.

"LOS ALTOS — Stanford University, seeking to provide an additional housing choice for faculty and staff near the campus, has paid $130.5 million for an upscale apartment and retail complex in Los Altos.

The university bought Colonnade Los Altos, a complex of 167 apartments and 12,000 square feet of retail space, located at 4740 El Camino Real."

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 23, 2017 at 12:29 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Sorry. Here's the link to the above story: Web Link

Maybe Stanford doesn't need to grow so aggressively?

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 24, 2017 at 4:24 pm

Stanford ought to pay for significant road improvements in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Redwood City and Mountain View. It is unrealistic to pretend everyone can or will use transit here. Minor efforts to improve cycling and busses are fine, but token efforts, in my opinion. Let's make noticeable improvements rather than politican feel-good projects. Get the major thoroughfares and intersections operating efficiently, like Page Mill and El Camino Real, Alma and El Camino Real, Page Mill and 280, Willow Road, etc. Otherwise, you're looking at an increase in speeding, internal neighborhood cut-through traffic, and that is not OK! I think Embarcadero Rd should be widened and improved, even if it's by half a foot. Stanford should pay, they create a ton of aggressive daily traffic on Embarcadero.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

How quickly will we electrify our homes?
By Sherry Listgarten | 13 comments | 2,932 views

Sulbing Cafe brings internationally popular shaved ice dessert to Santa Clara
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 1,774 views

Everything Falls – Lessons in Souffle
By Laura Stec | 7 comments | 1,625 views