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City Council proposes new Newell bridge

A plan to replace the Newell Street Bridge on the San Francisquito Creek has begun under joint work between the City of Palo Alto Public Works Department (CPPWD), the City of East Palo Alto, the San Franciscquito Creek Joint Powers Authority (JPA), and the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD). The primary purpose of replacing this 100-year old bridge is to improve the flood control in the surrounding area. Additionally, the bridge is thought to be functionally obsolete due to its narrow width, severe vertical profile, and poor sight distances.

The current bridge is 18’ wide by 40’ long (one and a half cars distance across), and has no provision for bicycle or pedestrian traffic. The proposed replacement bridge will be a 45-foot-wide by 86-foot-long structure with two 16- foot-wide shared lanes (11-foot vehicle lane and 5-foot bike lane/shoulder) and two 5-foot sidewalks. It should also be noted that the new bridge would be realigned to create a traditional four way stop on the EPA side of the creek, as opposed to the current offset pattern.

Obviously the primary goal of the reconstruction is to decrease possible flood damage. A secondary benefit of the bridge is an alleviation of traffic on University Avenue. This improved Newell Street crossing would undoubtedly draw attention as a throughway and an alternate route.

Conversely a major downside is increased neighborhood traffic in the adjacent region of Crescent Park. Other problems relating to bike and pedestrian safety may be present with the inflow of traffic, especially as the intersection of Newell and Dana is a major crosswalk for Duveneck Elementary.

Recently there has been major pushback from the residents in the surrounding area, (from both PA and EPA sides) who have begun to mobilize an effort to deny this request.

The joint vote to approve the bridge continues to be pushed back because of unfinished Environmental and Traffic Reports that have been scheduled by the City of Palo Alto.

If approved, the Newell Road Bridge Replacement Project is currently scheduled for construction during the spring and summer of 2014.

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