The dream of reconnecting the two halves of East Palo Alto divided by Highway 101 with a bicycle/pedestrian bridge moved one step closer to reality last month with the release of the project’s draft feasibility study [PDF].
Alta Planning + Design, which conducted the $300,000 study, examined five different possible alignments for the bridge, which are estimated to cost between $6.5 million and $9.5 million to design and construct. According to Alta’s estimates, the bridge would be used for 130,000 to 230,000 trips per year (350 to 630 per day) — an unusually high volume for bike/ped bridges due to the dense residential and commercial development on either side of the highway.
EPA City Council members who reviewed the study at a meeting last Tuesday didn’t indicate a preference for any of the bridge designs, though all four of those present voiced their support for the project (one, David Woods, was absent).
“The current overpass over the 101 freeway is not safe,” said Council Member Laura Martinez. “I see this project as a solution to get our residents across town. This is a major connection for our residents to get to schools, shopping, our grocery store. This overcrossing encourages walking and biking.”
When planners gathered input on the project at a series of community meetings last year, “issues of traffic safety rose immediately to the top,” said Alta’s Casey Hildreth.
As Mayor Ruben Abrica noted, East Palo Alto is one of the last Peninsula cities divided by Highway 101 to receive a bicycle/pedestrian bridge. “There has been a pedestrian bridge in Menlo Park, there has been a pedestrian bridge in Palo Alto, for many years. We are the only ones who don’t have one,” he said. “It’s good for business, it helps children get to school, it connects us more to the surrounding communities, and to the Bay.”