Saturday, July 31, 2010

Trail Extensions in Mountain View

From the Mountain View Voice (via Cyclelicio.Us):

City approves $14 million for new trail crossings

The City Council approved highway over-crossings for the Stevens Creek and Permanente Creek trails on Tuesday.

The council voted 5-2 in favor of extending the Stevens Creek trail over Highway 85, with council members Laura Macias and Jac Siegel opposed.

The city will now take bids from construction companies for the project, which largely consists of a new pedestrian bridge over Highway 85 from the trail's southernmost point, Sleeper Avenue.

Siegel and Macias urged the city to wait until October for news about $4 million in federal funds requested by Anna Eshoo's office for the project. City staff urged the council to move forward with the project anyway, saying that the federal funding was uncertain and could delay the project for a year. They added that construction costs are currently low and could increase soon, and the project is already fully funded from various sources, including $1.25 million in Shoreline property taxes, $2 million in park funds and $800,000 in grants.

The city had originally hoped construction could begin to Dale-Heatherstone by April of this year. The city now hopes to obtain permits from Caltrans by August.

The next extension of the trail makes its way to Mountain View High School where another bridge crosses back over Highway 85. It is likely to be more difficult as portions of the trail go through private property, requiring easements from owners or eminent domain. City staff hope Eshoo's $4 million funding request can be interpreted broadly enough to help pay for it.

Permanente Creek Trail extended

Also Tuesday, the council approved a $9 million extension of the Permanente Creek Trail over Highway 101 and under Old Middlefield Way. The pedestrian bridge and tunnel will connect an existing trail from Shoreline Park and Google's campus to residential neighborhoods on the south side of Highway 101.

The council voted 6-1 in favor of the project with member Laura Macias opposed. Macias said she was wary of the project because it was coming in at "three times the original cost" of $3 million. City staff said the cost increase occurred when the tunnel under Old Middlefield Way was added to the project in order to protect pedestrians from cars speeding off Highway 101.

Council members cited the need to provide more connections to and from the North Bayshore area, where limited access causes traffic problems on Shoreline Boulevard and Rengstorff Avenue.

The steady inexorable extension of the Stevens Creek Trail is cool--I could have used this once a few years ago trying to bike back from Cupertino to Mtn View (no convenient surface streets parallel the 85; also, the store I was looking for in Cupertino had moved to Campbell, and it rained--still better than being stuck in a car, though!).

The Permanente Creek trail is short and pricey, but will make a useful link between central Mtn View and the Shorelike Park/Googleplex area.

View Permanente Creek Trail Extension in a larger map

It will also allow a nice loop ride from downtown Mtn View (where I work)--out to Shoreline Park via the Stevens Creek Trail, back via Permanente, or vice versa.

Anyway, good for Mtn View. Up here in the mid peninsula, it'd be great if RWC/San Carlos/Belmont were to copy this idea and give us some safe bike/ped routes over the 101 too.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Up to the City with Nathan

Nathan & I rode up to SF on CalTrain. It was a game night last night, so things were pretty crazy, but he doesn't seem to mind crowds. For this type of outing I have an elastic strap to tether our wrists together. Yeah, it's more or less a baby-leash, but in this sort of situation he actually gets more freedom this way, because otherwise I'd just have to carry him!

We had dinner at the Panera across the street from the station, which is a nice place to watch streetcars.

We strolled past the busy ballpark to the playground at South Beach Park, which is a good one for little kids; it has a rider-powered merry-go-round, which are rare these days.

We visited Borders (bought Nate a new book), and noted but didn't have time to visit a new FroYo place, before heading back to the station.

It'll be nice to get CalTrain extended downtown someday, but in the meantime at least there's a few things to do within walking distance of 4th & King.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

San Mateo County Proposing VLF Fee--Tell them to Fund Transit--Write Today!

From the Green CalTrain blog I read that San Mateo County is planning a $10 VLF (car registration) fee for November's ballot. The mixture of transportation areas to be funded is still open, and will be discussed at a meeting tonight. Per the GCT link above, you can email your comments to Richard Napier,

Here's what I wrote:

Dear Mr Napier

I am writing you in support of the proposed VLF fee which would fund transportation in San Mateo County.

I am also writing to urge that as much of this be dedicated to transit funding as possible.

Conventional wisdom will tell you that since driving is the most popular form of commuting, that a transportation tax weighted towards roads is the only one the public will vote for.

Conventional wisdom turns out to be wrong. Note that many regional counties, such as Marin and Monterrey, have repeatedly voted down roads-only tax initiatives.

Farther afield, Seattle Area residents voted down a 50/50 roads/transit initiative, and a year later, voted in a transit only one.

I think San Mateo County residents are also smart enough to realize that auto-centric transportation has reached the "end of the road", and would favor a VLF fee targeted towards SamTrans and CalTrain. Road-related projects have merit too, but we should focus on community-enhancing initiatives such as the El Camino Grand Boulevard, safe routes for kids to walk to school, and filling in gaps in our bike route network--rather than pouring more money into the bottomless pit of highway widening and pot-hole repair.


Nicholas Kibre, PhD