Building Bridges: Connecting the Community to the Baylands
City Council recently approved a construction contract to build a new bicycle and pedestrian overpass over U.S. Highway 101, connecting the community to the Baylands and furthering the Council’s transportation and traffic priorities
The City Council recently approved a construction contract with Granite Construction to move forward with building the Highway 101 Pedestrian / Bike Bridge that will provide year-round access to the Baylands and connect East and West Bayshore Roads. This blog provides details about the exciting work underway, the community benefits of the bridge and what the community can expect over the next several months as the bridge construction begins.
Improving Access to Baylands Nature Preserve, East and West Bayshore Road Businesses and More
The Highway 101 Pedestrian/Bicycle Overpass Project includes the construction of a new year-round, grade-separated, shared bicycle and pedestrian crossing over Highway 101 and the Adobe Creek Reach Trail.This project will replace the existing seasonal Benjamin Lefkowitz underpass, generally open for public access six months during the year (April 15 to October 15) due to flooding issues.
Fun Fact: Did you know the main span of the bridge over Highway 101 will weigh about 200,000 pounds!
One of the many benefits of the bridge is it will improve access to the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve, East and West Bayshore Road businesses, and the regional San Franciso Bay Trail network. The project includes completion of the Adobe Creek Reach Trail that provides direct access from East Meadow Drive to West Bayshore Road and the over-crossing. In addition, it will support pedestrian and bike connections year-round, allowing the community to access nature no matter the weather conditions. It will also allow employees to get to work easily on bike or foot as opposed to driving, with the goal of getting more cars off the road.
Council’s priorities this year include Traffic and Transportation and Climate Change. The new bridge will reduce Palo Alto’s carbon footprint by giving the community another option for walking or biking instead of driving when going to the Baylands or frequenting businesses in the area. The project is also consistent with the Palo Alto Comprehensive Plan and the Palo Alto Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan.
Bridging the Gap
The Highway 101 Pedestrian/Bicycle Overpass Project has a thoughtful design that includes prefabricated steel trusses over Highway 101 and East and West Bayshore Roads, concrete approach structures, and landscaping, lighting, amenities, and signage. Bids came in above the City’s expectations due to rising construction and material costs, including high costs for concrete and steel. Due to the higher bids, a budget amendment of $4.2 million was needed to proceed with construction. Total project costs are $23.1 million.
Palo Alto’s bridge differs significantly from the East Palo Alto bridge recently constructed. Palo Alto’s bridge is about 22% longer and spans both frontage roads. The City’s change in design direction early on in the project development meant a longer design duration and more construction escalation costs. In addition, there were several environmental constraints to consider including connections to the Baylands and integration of the west side landing with Adobe creek.
Investing in Community Infrastructure
One of several Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) projects in Palo Alto’s Infrastructure Plan, the bridge project is one of nine key projects adopted in 2014 by the City Council. The Infrastructure Plan’s funding comes from an increase in the Transient Occupancy Tax (hotel tax) from 12 to 14 percent that was approved by more than 76 percent of Palo Alto voters in November 2014, and an additional increase to 15.5 percent approved in 2018. Other funding sources for these infrastructure projects come from the City’s Capital Fund, the Stanford Hospital development agreement, parking in-lieu fees, parks development impact fees, and state grants.
Community partners are also investing in the bridge construction, including a $1 million grant from Google and a $4 million grant from Santa Clara County. In addition, the project has received a grant totaling $4.35 million from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s One Bay Area Grant (OBAG) Program. A total of $9.35 million in grants has been secured so far towards this infrastructure project. City staff is seeking additional contributions from other community partners.
Construction will begin in January 2020 and construction completion is anticipated in June 2021. The bridge is being prefabricated off-site and once ready will be hoisted over Highway 101 overnight.
To learn more about the project, head to cityofpaloalto.org/101