Burlingame is moving forward on a project to give its downtown boulevard a much-needed facelift, and planning a number of citywide bike improvements.
Key features of the four-block Burlingame Avenue Streetscape Project include a gateway, wider sidewalks, shorter crossings, street furniture, large bulb-outs, “play areas” with public chess sets and parklets. The project was approved earlier this year by the city council, which got an update on the design at last week’s meeting.
“We have been looking at how to make the street more pedestrian-friendly and less vehicular oriented…and encourage more bike riding and walking,” said Jane Gomery, program manager for the Burlingame Public Works Department. The city hired San Francisco-based RHAA Architects to come up with the design, based on feedback from residents and merchants.
Burlingame, population 29,000, has a charming and historic downtown, across from the Caltrain station, but the streets are often congested with automobiles. Downtown Burlingame Avenue — billed as the liveliest part of the city with hundreds of stores and restaurants – is surrounded by a number of surface parking lots, and narrow sidewalks are cluttered and uneven, creating an unpleasant environment for pedestrians. Angled parking also creates conflicts between autos, pedestrians and bicyclists.
Under the streetscape plan, angled parking will be replaced with parallel parking and about 10-percent of parking spaces will be removed to make room for pedestrian amenities. Gomery said the city plans to purchase smart parking meters, and set demand-based rates that will discourage long-term parking, and more turn around.
James Engels of RHAA Architects said the bulb-outs will be 80 to 100 feet wide, and the at-grade intersections and sidewalks will be comprised of pavers and concrete. ”The material palate will promote a richer experience,” he said, adding that the parking stalls can be used as parklets, allowing restaurants to spill out into the street.