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Old 04-08-09, 11:07 AM   #1
johnny99
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Menlo Park NIMBYs try to block bicycle/pedestrian bridge over Hwy 101

If you live in Menlo Park, you may want to call your city council and let them know what you think about this.

http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_12095885

Menlo Park bridge sparks controversy — 16 months after decision

By Mike Rosenberg
Daily News Staff Writer
Posted: 04/07/2009 11:30:25 PM PDT

A Menlo Park neighborhood is circulating a petition asking the city council to rescind a decision made 16 months ago to build a new bridge that connects them to the low-income Belle Haven community after the old, existing one is demolished.

Once the 53-year-old Ringwood Avenue pedestrian bridge over Highway 101 is demolished by Caltrans as part of the state's $81 million project to add a freeway auxiliary lane, no overcrossing should replace it, say residents of the Flood Triangle neighborhood west of 101 between Marsh and Willow.

In December 2007, the city council could have chosen to simply leave the area without an overcrossing, replace the existing bridge with a bigger one or have an overcrossing built in a different location — all on Caltrans' dime.

Some Flood Triangle residents have complained the overcrossing gives criminals an easy getaway to the Belle Haven neighborhood on the east side of the freeway. They also contend the new bridge, to be larger than the current one to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act standards, would lower property values and result in the loss of privacy.

A group of residents say they just learned last month about the plan to build a new bridge in early 2011, which is why they started the petition drive two weeks ago in hopes of forcing officials to revisit their decision. The petition has more than 200 signatures and residents plan to submit it to the city Friday with nearly 300 names, all from the west side of the bridge.

At the Tuesday city council meeting, neighborhood representatives will publicly lobby the council to revisit the issue at a future meeting.

The residents' main argument is that the neighborhood is only now hearing about the project and the city did not sufficiently inform them of the project while it was in the planning stages.

When the council approved the project in 2007, it decided that the design of the bridge should involve residents' viewpoints. That requirement led to a public meeting March 25 that alerted Flood Triangle residents to the issue.

"Literally everyone I'd talked to about this petition had not heard of this issue, or had heard of it in the last couple weeks," said Flood Triangle resident Mark Throndson, one of the petitioners. He said his house has been broken into, and police subsequently arrested someone who came over from the east side of the bridge.

Menlo Park Transportation Manager Chip Taylor said Caltrans, which is funding and operating the $5.7 million year-long project, issued broad notices to properties around the bridge prior to the council meetings, but that some of them apparently arrived late.

The city also had alerted property owners within 500 feet of the bridge before the project was approved, Taylor added, noting that the meeting when the decision was made was packed with residents.

But residents such as Cathy Tokic argue the project also affects homeowners farther from the overcrossing and insist that most residents are just now learning of the council's decision.

"The people in this neighborhood have spent millions of dollars remodeling their homes," Tokic said. "People's homes have been broken into multiple times; windows broken multiple times."

Taylor said although council decisions are rarely re-examined, it should be legally possible to do so. Ultimately, such a decision would be up to council members, he said.

Tokic said the petition appears to be the only avenue residents have in their crusade to have the decision reversed.

Ideally, she said, residents would prefer that the Willow Road overcrossing be rebuilt to and made safer, although that bridge is about a half-mile away from the Ringwood Avenue walkway. In addition, she said Menlo-Atherton High School students, who make up a majority of the bridge's roughly 50 daily users, should be given better bus access across the freeway.

Taylor said the bus option would be costly and it is inconvenient for pedestrians to travel out of their way to Willow, the closest access across the freeway from
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Old 04-08-09, 11:26 AM   #2
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Lame... I think the residents in Belle Haven should counter-petition.

Take kids that are walking to school (good) and stick them on a bus or their parents' cars (lame). That sucks.

Although I do agree with making the the Willow overcrossing safer, I'd rather use that if it was reconfigured. However, that's for bike traffic. Pedestrians in those neighborhoods, however, should get the bridge... that neighborhood is poorly connected and needs it.
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Old 04-08-09, 11:29 AM   #3
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When bike commuting from Foster City to Union City, I would use that bridge all the time...it gets a lot of use from both bikes and pedestrians.

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Old 04-08-09, 11:44 AM   #4
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It looks like the City and Caltrans are planning on building it.

Just some rogue rich people getting in a fuss about it. Hopefully their efforts fail.
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Old 04-08-09, 11:49 AM   #5
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That article could have used some more quotes from the annoying Flood Triangle jerks 'n' bigots. I'm sure, if they looked, they could have found someone who wants the bridge replaced with a large wall to keep out the poor (and thus criminal) pedestrian riff-raff.
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Old 04-08-09, 11:57 AM   #6
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I live in Menlo Park and even though I've only used this bridge once it is sad to hear about people trying to remove it.

I spend way too much time staring at maps and envisioning potential bike routes. Specifically I like looking for bike/pedestrian paths and bridges, and ways I can ride through neighborhoods instead of expressways. There's nothing like a good freeway, railroad track, or creek to really destroy connectivity. If there's ever going to be any hope of reducing people's reliance on cars then we need to be increasing the number of ways for bikes and pedestrians to cross these obstacles, not getting rid of them. Hopefully these petitioners won't get very far.
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Old 04-08-09, 12:03 PM   #7
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Going off on a tangent, did anyone else ever notice that the section of 101 near this bridge has a sidewalk? At least northbound it does. Street view link
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Old 04-08-09, 12:11 PM   #8
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Going off on a tangent, did anyone else ever notice that the section of 101 near this bridge has a sidewalk? At least northbound it does. Street view link
Provides (maintenance) access to the RR tracks overcrossing

BTW: That set of RR tracks goes across the bay on the Dumbarton Rail Bridge... which is supposed to have an operating rail service in the near future.

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Old 04-08-09, 12:11 PM   #9
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Going off on a tangent, did anyone else ever notice that the section of 101 near this bridge has a sidewalk? At least northbound it does.
I have indeed noticed that. I figured it was a leftover from the pre-freeway days.
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Old 04-08-09, 12:29 PM   #10
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Provides (maintenance) access to the RR tracks overcrossing

BTW: That set of RR tracks goes across the bay on the Dumbarton Rail Bridge... which is supposed to have an operating rail service in the near future.
Depends on your definition of "near future". They have been talking about a passenger rail service over this bridge for at least 20 years. I would be very surprised to see it happen anytime in the next 10 years. BART to San Jose has been sucking up all the available public transit money, causing many cheaper and more useful projects to be canceled.
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Old 04-08-09, 12:55 PM   #11
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Depends on your definition of "near future". They have been talking about a passenger rail service over this bridge for at least 20 years. I would be very surprised to see it happen anytime in the next 10 years. BART to San Jose has been sucking up all the available public transit money, causing many cheaper and more useful projects to be canceled.
You are correct.

However, some development projects in the works around the RWC/Menlo border might be forced to contribute some towards the area infrastructure. This might help timetables, but it's a big maybe.
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Old 04-09-09, 12:29 PM   #12
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Depends on your definition of "near future". They have been talking about a passenger rail service over this bridge for at least 20 years. I would be very surprised to see it happen anytime in the next 10 years. BART to San Jose has been sucking up all the available public transit money, causing many cheaper and more useful projects to be canceled.
I thought some of the rail bridge over the bay burned a few years ago and that put a damper on the whole project.
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Old 04-09-09, 01:49 PM   #13
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I thought some of the rail bridge over the bay burned a few years ago and that put a damper on the whole project.
That fire was in January 1998 (11 years ago) and was apparently not critical. In 2004, Caltrain started planning work to restart the passenger rail service. They were supposed to start service in 2010. Then the date was pushed back to 2012. Now BART has stolen all the money, so the Dumbarton rail service is postponed until 2019 at the earliest.
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Old 04-09-09, 02:17 PM   #14
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That fire was in January 1998 (11 years ago) and was apparently not critical. In 2004, Caltrain started planning work to restart the passenger rail service. They were supposed to start service in 2010. Then the date was pushed back to 2012. Now BART has stolen all the money, so the Dumbarton rail service is postponed until 2019 at the earliest.
Yep, you can blame MTC for that one.

But alternative sources of funding and policy changes can happen. Also, in planning, 10-years from now is kind of like near future.

In all honesty though, BART in the S. Bay probably will provide a greater benefit to the region than Dumbarton Rail, although it is FAR from the most cost effective. Clearing up the 880 corridor, and adding transit connectivity between the E. Bay and major employment centers S. of Milpitas would be very good.
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Old 04-11-09, 09:52 AM   #15
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Here is a petition to save the Menlo Park bicycle bridge:
http://www.petitiononline.com/mpbridge/petition.html
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Old 05-01-12, 01:04 PM   #16
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The new bridge is done! It just opened yesterday and I rode it for the first time today. It works a lot better for bikes than the old one, which had a weird spiral ascent and descent that always spooked me a little at night (good place to jump someone).

Here is the location in case anyone is interested, shown as an example of someone commuting from Menlo Park Caltrain to Facebook: https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=m...&z=15&lci=bike
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Old 05-01-12, 02:51 PM   #17
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I drove under it on the way to drop people off at SFO last week and noticed that it sure looked done, but had road closed signs up at the top. Good that they wrapped it up.
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Old 05-01-12, 03:27 PM   #18
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Thanks for the update. I thought the spiral ramp on the old one was mildly entertaining (where else do you get to ride up something that tight/steep around here?), but mostly a nuisance- I have lots of toe overlap on my bike and have almost tipped over a number of times on the ramp when my foot hit the front wheel making the turn!
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Old 05-02-12, 03:39 PM   #19
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How is the Belle Haven neighborhood these days? I have friends who used to live on Ringwood, and we did a ride once across that overpass, then across 84 for a ride in the East Bay. But I did that ride back in 1997. Belle Haven looked a bit run down back then, but that was no reason to remove a bike/pedestrian bridge.
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Old 05-03-12, 12:39 PM   #20
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> connects them to the low-income Belle Haven community

Of course. The class war continues.
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Old 05-03-12, 02:10 PM   #21
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Now that Facebook has move their headquarters to near the east side of this bridge, I expect people living on the west side of the bridge will see a nice bump in their home values because of the bridge.
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Old 05-03-12, 08:37 PM   #22
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Poor rich people, now they have to deal with all the rif raff and renters.
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Old 05-04-12, 04:59 PM   #23
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Thanks for the update. I thought the spiral ramp on the old one was mildly entertaining (where else do you get to ride up something that tight/steep around here?), but mostly a nuisance- I have lots of toe overlap on my bike and have almost tipped over a number of times on the ramp when my foot hit the front wheel making the turn!
Well, there is the one near Lawrence and Lakewood in Sunnyvale if you still need a spiral ramp fix. Not recommended for trailers, though.
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Old 05-04-12, 05:40 PM   #24
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How is the Belle Haven neighborhood these days? I have friends who used to live on Ringwood, and we did a ride once across that overpass, then across 84 for a ride in the East Bay. But I did that ride back in 1997. Belle Haven looked a bit run down back then, but that was no reason to remove a bike/pedestrian bridge.
It's basically a barrio. 68% hispanic, 25% black, 3% white, 44% foreign born, 42% high school dropouts. As far as crime goes, there are worse places than Belle Haven. Most houses don't even have bars on windows. KGO-TV crime map shows 51 incidents in Belle Haven since the beginning of the year, vs. 11 incidents in Flood Park in the same period of time.
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