Skip to content

Posts from the Peninsula Category

4 Comments

Santa Clara Proposes New San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail Detours

Santa Clara closes a 1.2-mile segment of the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail to the public during events at Levi's Stadium, forcing people walking and bicycling on a two-mile detour. Photo: Andrew Boone

Santa Clara closed a 1.2-mile segment of the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail to the public during events at Levi’s Stadium, forcing people walking and bicycling on a two-mile detour. Photo: Andrew Boone

On Tuesday, the Santa Clara City Council approved a proposal [PDF] to build new detours of the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail, over two years after the construction of Levi’s Stadium has resulted in ongoing closures of the trail “to limit security breaches” on days with stadium events over 20,000 attendees. Despite objections from both the public and council that the stadium should pay for the improvements, city staff intend to seek up to $4 million in public grant funds instead.

“Fixing this problem should not be shouldered by any taxpayers. It should be shouldered squarely by the 49ers,” said Santa Clara City Clerk candidate Deborah Bress at the meeting. “This is a residual part of the construction of the stadium.”

The trail closures have forced people walking and bicycling on a confusing two-mile detour on city streets and through parking lots that includes heavy bus traffic. Now the city is proposing to construct a slightly shorter detour including a new path on the east side of the creek as a short-term fix for $1 million and a new undercrossing of the trail under the stadium’s pedestrian access bridges as a permanent solution for $3 million. Read more…

21 Comments

SamTrans Pushes Both Transit and Traffic Expansions for Dumbarton Bridge

Bicyclists approach the Dumbarton Bridge from the west. Photo: Jun Seita / Flickr

Bicyclists approach the Dumbarton Bridge from the west. Photo: Jun Seita / Flickr

SamTrans officials presented an update on the agency’s Dumbarton Transportation Corridor Study at two community meetings this week, fielding questions from residents on ways the agency is hoping to provide better transit service over the Dumbarton Bridge. Facebook donated $1 million to the agency in January for the transportation study, which it hopes can expand commute options for its workers and cut traffic near the company’s Menlo Park headquarters on Willow Road.

While the long-envisioned Dumbarton Rail project to rebuild a cross-Bay rail bridge to carry passenger trains between Redwood City Caltrain and Union City BART is still alive in the study as a long-term (2030) option, a more frequent and expanded Dumbarton Express bus service tops the agency’s list as the most effective improvement that can be funded and implemented within five years.

“The cost of the [rail] bridge rehab ranges from $330 to $348 million in 2011 dollars, which would be up using 2016 dollars,” said Principal Planner Melissa Reggiardo at Monday’s community meeting in Newark.

Read more…

16 Comments

San Mateo County Highway 101 Expansion Moves Ahead With Express Lanes

Options for Highway 101 in San Mateo County include widening it from 8 to 10 traffic lanes to install standard carpool lanes or express lanes, or converting an existing lane into an express lane. Image: TransForm

Options for Highway 101 in San Mateo County include widening it from 8 to 10 traffic lanes to install standard carpool lanes or express lanes, or converting an existing lane into an express lane. Image: TransForm

San Mateo County’s effort to expand Highway 101 from eight to ten traffic lanes moves ahead next month when an $11.5 million update of the project’s environmental review begins. County transportation officials had planned since 2009 to expand the highway with standard carpool lanes, but agreed last year to consider installing Express Lanes as well, an option favored by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).

Express lanes are free for buses and carpools, but charge a toll to solo drivers during congested hours to ensure the lane remains free-flowing, and have been installed on Highways 680, 880, 580, and 237. If built on Highway 101 in San Mateo County, express lanes would someday extend for 58 miles from San Bruno through San Mateo and Santa Clara counties to Morgan Hill.

“The idea here is that we would create a more reliable travel time within that lane and that overall we increase the person throughput,” explained San Mateo County Transportation Authority (SMCTA) Deputy Project Manager Leo Scott to the agency’s Board of Directors in May when the express lane options were announced.  “We only expect more trips later, and with limited right-of-way, the best use of [Highway 101] is to get more people in fewer vehicles.”

Read more…

7 Comments

South Bay Cities Build Region’s First Separated Bike Lanes

A 15-foot wide path marked for walking and bicycling is under construction on the north side of Chilco Street in Menlo Park. Photo: Andrew Boone

A 15-foot wide path marked for walking and bicycling is under construction on the north side of Chilco Street in Menlo Park. Photo: Andrew Boone

New on-street bike lanes separated from auto traffic are nearing completion in Palo Alto and Menlo Park, and a handful of neighboring cities have plans to install them too. Separated bike infrastructure gained traction among local planners after Caltrans approved Class IV Separated Bikeway design standards [PDF] in December 2015. The first protected intersections were built last year in a handful of North American cities.

A new traffic-separated paved path is nearing completion along Chilco Street in Menlo Park, where a speeding drunk driver hit Balbir and Kamal Singh from behind while they were walking their dog in October 2013, killing them. With no curbs or sidewalks, two 90-degree curves, and poor nighttime lighting, the street’s former design encouraged speeding and crashes involving drivers exiting the roadway.

“I am elated to see how quickly this project has moved forward. The design looks fabulous,” said resident Sheryl Bims of the new Chilco Street when it was approved by the City Council in February.

The new paved path, 15 feet wide and separated from the street’s two traffic lanes by a one-foot concrete curb topped with yellow soft-hit posts, is marked for two-way bike and pedestrian traffic. It will extend for one half mile on the north side of Chilco Street from the Dumbarton Rail tracks to Constitution Drive, where the path will transition to existing standard bike lanes. A standard bike lane, but no sidewalk, was installed on the south side of Chilco Street.

Read more…

10 Comments

Budget Busting Interchange Expansions on Track Despite State Funding Cuts

An expanded partial cloverleaf interchange at El Camino Real and Highway 92 (bottom) will allow more car traffic during rush hours compated to today's full cloverleaf (top) Image: Caltrans

An expanded partial cloverleaf interchange at El Camino Real and Highway 92 (bottom) will allow more car traffic during rush hours compared to today’s full cloverleaf (top) Image: Caltrans

Desperate to keep expanding San Mateo County’s highways for more auto traffic, the Transportation Authority (SMCTA)’s Board of Directors voted last week to advance $16.3 million in local highway funds to avoid delaying the construction of two major interchange reconstruction projects.

County highway planners were counting on this year’s State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) to contribute $10.4 million to rebuild the Willow Road and Highway 101 interchange, and $5.9 million to rebuild the El Camino Real and Highway 92 interchange. But lower gasoline sales taxes and revenues forced California to postpone awarding $754 million in transportation projects statewide. Rather than wait, SMCTA opted to fill the funding gap with its own surplus Measure A Highway Program funds, to be repaid by the STIP in future years.

“The advancement of funds through this process will fully fund these two projects and allow them to begin construction in late summer or early fall [of this year],” reported SMCTA Director Joe Hurley at last Thursday’s Board meeting.

Both interchange reconstruction projects are full cloverleaf to partial cloverleaf conversions, which replace free-flowing on ramps and off ramps with signalized intersections on both sides of the highway. The updated designs accommodate more rush hour auto traffic on widened ramps and reduce the hazards posed by free-flowing auto traffic to people walking or bicycling. Read more…

9 Comments

San Mateo Holds First Bike Ped Advisory Committee Meeting

San Mateo County's new Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meets quarterly at San Mateo City Hall. Photo: Andrew Boone

San Mateo County’s new Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meets quarterly in San Mateo City Hall Conference Room A. Photo: Andrew Boone.

San Mateo County’s new Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee kicked off its first meeting on Thursday evening at San Mateo City Hall. Ellen Barton, San Mateo’s Active Transportation Coordinator, proposed that they develop criteria for safer street striping ahead of the county’s annual resurfacing program. Other projects they discussed included establishing bike parking standards, evaluating progress of the county’s 2011 bike/ped plan [PDF], developing Safe Routes to Schools programs, and supporting the county’s annual bike and pedestrian count.

“It’s an American dream that you can bike or walk to school,” said 17-year Woodside resident Susan Doherty, who represents Safe Routes to Schools efforts on the committee. “And we’d like it to be a dream as opposed to a nightmare.”

“The county presents a tremendous challenge because it’s both rural and urban,” said Redwood City resident and long-time safety advocate Bob Page, one of only two members of the public in attendance. “I hope that the advisory committee will play a vital role in fostering communications and cooperation within and among the cities in developing safe regional bikeways.” Read more…

18 Comments

Bay Area Transit Agencies Build on Parking Lots

202 housing units are now under construction on Caltrain's former San Carlos Station parking lot. Image: City of San Carlos

202 housing units are now under construction on the former San Carlos Caltrain Station parking lot. Image: City of San Carlos

Last Thursday representatives from Caltrain, the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) presented [PDF] current plans for building housing and offices on top of station parking lots, at the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) in downtown San Jose. Rail station parking lots offer the ultimate in “Good TOD” – Transit Oriented Development that guarantees new transit riders while providing housing and commercial space that can be conveniently reached car-free.

“There are many beautiful sites along Caltrain that could be ripe for development and become a revenue generating source for Caltrain,” said Caltrain Principal Planner Jill Gibson. “Often developers goals are in direct conflict with transit needs…so it’s imperative that we identify long-range transportation goals early on.”

Caltrain is working with those cities that have already completed station area redevelopment plans and adopted appropriate TOD zoning near stations to support mixed-use developments. The long-debated San Carlos Transit Village, now under construction, will bring 202 apartments to the former San Carlos Caltrain Station parking lot along with 26,000 square feet of commercial space. The project was scaled down in multiple iterations from a proposed 453 apartments.

A long-term lease agreement is now being negotiated with Sares Regis Group to develop 100 to 150 apartments on the Hayward Park Station parking lot, along with at least 50 parking spaces available to Caltrain passengers, 29 electronic bike lockers, and space for six SamTrans buses.

BART and VTA are developing real estate at their stations on a much larger scale than Caltrain. BART has already built several major developments on its parking lots [PDF] and is “engaged in 18 transit-oriented development projects at its stations, representing over $2.7 billion in private investment” according to the agency’s property development website.
Read more…

18 Comments

VTA Sales Tax Promises Transit Lanes On Highway 85

The Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) estimates capital costs for Bus Rapid Transit service on Highway 85 - bus stations and transit lanes in the median - at $1.2 billion.

The Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) estimates capital costs for Bus Rapid Transit service on Highway 85 – bus stations and transit lanes in the median – at $1.2 billion. Image: City of Cupertino

After planning for the past decade to install express lanes on Highway 85, the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is now pitching its $350 million sales tax funding request to widen Highway 85 as “transit lanes.” On June 24, the VTA Board of Directors [PDF] struck any reference to “express lanes” from the Highway 85 project description that they had approved on June 2 along with $6.3 billion in transportation projects:

This category will To fund a managed lanes project that includes an express lane new transit and congestion relief projects on SR 85, in each direction, and a new transit lane in each direction on SR 85, including a new transit lane from SR 87 in San Jose to U.S. 101 in Mountain View. Additionally this category will fund noise abatement along SR 85 and will provide funding to study transportation alternatives that include, but are not limited to, Bus Rapid Transit with infrastructure such as stations and access ramps, Light Rail Transit, and future transportation technologies that may be applicable.”

Express lanes are free for buses and carpools, but charge a toll to solo drivers during congested hours of the day to keep the lane free-flowing. Transit lanes would allow only transit vehicles – buses or light rail – but not carpools or solo drivers. VTA installed express lanes on short sections of Highways 237 and 880 in 2012 and has been planning since 2007 to convert the existing carpool lanes on Highways 85 and 101 to express lanes, completing Santa Clara County’s portion of an envisioned 550-mile network of San Francisco Bay Area Express Lanes.

Read more…

3 Comments

Menlo Park El Camino Real Bike Lanes Delayed Again

This proposed expansion of El Camino Real to six lanes at Ravenswood Avenue was cancelled in early May, freeing up $1 million for other transportation projects in Menlo Park. Image: City of Menlo Park

This proposed expansion of El Camino Real to six lanes at Ravenswood Avenue was cancelled in early May, freeing up $1 million for other transportation projects. Image: City of Menlo Park

Menlo Park’s plans to fix El Camino Real’s safety hazards were postponed yet again by a city council that is now split on whether to go ahead with the installation of even a bike lane pilot project. Proponents continue to demand that the city take action to prevent injuries suffered by residents in traffic collisions.

“The goals of Menlo Park roadway infrastructure changes should be to serve more people and to make our roadways safer for everyone,” said Bicycle Commission Chair Cindy Welton at the May 3 City Council meeting. “Our status quo street design that we’ve inherited is not working. No one is served by our high collision rates.”

Citing concerns the city is making too many safety improvements too fast, and under continued pressure from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District to cancel the ambitious project altogether, the council voted to postpone it until after the city installs bike lanes on Oak Grove Avenue later this year. A total of 112 car parking spaces will be removed for the Oak Grove bike lanes.

Read more…

73 Comments

VTA Sales Tax With Massive Highway Expansion Program on November Ballot

The Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) hopes to use $350 million in new sales tax revenue to widen Highway 85 with new express lanes, free for buses and carpools but charge a toll to solo drivers. Image: VTA

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA)’s half-cent “Envision Silicon Valley” transportation sales tax is now headed to the November 8 general election ballot in the county, after receiving the unanimous approval of the transit agency’s Board of Directors on June 2.

The new sales tax would fund a massive highway expansion program, spending $1.85 billion on expressway and highway projects over the next 30 years, along with $1.5 billion to extend BART to Santa Clara, $1.2 billion to repave streets, $1 billion for Caltrain upgrades, $500 million for VTA bus and light rail operations, and $250 million for pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements.

“I love driving my car, and I think 97 percent of our population does as well,” said VTA Board and San Jose City Council member Johnny Khamis at the June 2 meeting. “More than 52 percent of this budget is dedicated to transit and less than 48 percent is dedicated to roads. In the meantime, 97 percent of population uses roads, whether you’re on the bus, or a car, whether it’s hybrid or electric, or on a bicycle, you need a road. We don’t float on air.”

Read more…