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Menlo Park studies lane changes on El Camino Real

The quest for lane changes on El Camino Real in Menlo Park -- maybe with three travel lanes in each direction -- is moving forward, but as always, the wheels of progress, like those of commute traffic, turn slowly. The project would also add a right-turn lane at the intersection of northbound El Camino Real and Ravenswood Avenue.

Right now, the consultants from Whitlock & Weinberger Transportation Inc. are conducting a $460,000 study of current road conditions along El Camino Real from Sand Hill Road to Encinal Avenue, and possible alternative road designs.

They're also looking for the community's input. Approximately 30 people attended a workshop in April to discuss what El Camino Real is like right now, according to the city. Interim Transportation Manager Nikki Nagaya said the primary concerns came as no surprise -- traffic congestion and safe access for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Traffic counts identified some interesting patterns, Ms. Nagaya told the City Council on July 15. The segment of El Camino Real near Sand Hill Road experiences the highest daily volume -- an estimated 46,700 vehicles per day. The daily volume decreases to 44,100 near Middle Avenue and then to about 34,000 cars between Ravenswood and Glenwood avenues.

The timing of changes in traffic volume, as measured along El Camino Real at Santa Cruz Avenue, did have some surprises. Northbound traffic starts to rise during the morning commute, and continues to increase throughout the workday to peak at approximately 1,500 cars per hour by early evening.

Southbound El Camino Real sees a different temporal distribution, with a bump to about 1,500 cars per hour during the morning commute, then tapering off to a relatively consistent level of approximately 1,300 into the early evening, according to the city's data.

During the presentation, Councilman Peter Ohtaki noted the El Camino Real intersection at Ravenswood Avenue has a reputation as a bottleneck. "Three lanes going northbound coming into Menlo Park, and then it squeezes down to two lanes," he said. "...That's what causes the brake lights and congestion."

Ms. Nagaya said that the addition of a right-turn lane on northbound El Camino at Ravenswood Avenue and another northbound through-lane is expected to decrease congestion, but until the analysis is completed, the extent of the decrease remains unknown. She added that the right-turn lane is identified as a traffic mitigation measure in the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan.

Go to the city's website for more information and to participate in an online survey regarding this project through Sept. 12.

A second workshop to identify possible street reconfigurations will be held on Oct. 2, and a draft analysis of the options will be presented in December, along with a third workshop.

Comments

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Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 30, 2014 at 10:34 am

Me thinks we need a new interim transportation manager - "Ms. Nagaya said that the addition of a right-turn lane on northbound El Camino at Ravenswood Avenue ..."

There already is a northbound right-hand turn lane at Ravenswood and has been for many years.

Also the figures given are for current traffic. What are the expected figures after all the planned and desired developments are built and full on ECR in MP, Palo Alto and Redwood City and the expanded Stanford Medical Center and the new Facebook campus?

Let's do the report properly, plan for the future traffic impacts.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 30, 2014 at 10:55 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"There already is a northbound right-hand turn lane at Ravenswood and has been for many years."
No - the third lane is used as a right turn lane; what is being considered is a new northbound right-hand turn lane at Ravenswood that would be in addition to the existing third lane.


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Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jul 30, 2014 at 11:23 am

Peter,

You may want to check this again. Northbound El Camino at Ravenswood has a left turn pocket lane, two northbound lanes, and a dedicated right turn lane.

Try driving it around commute hours and you'll see how people get into the dedicated right turn lane thinking it goes straight ahead, and then decide they need to change left to get back into a northbound lane. It makes for a lot of confusion and congestion.


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Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 30, 2014 at 1:14 pm

No Peter
The lane ends at Ravenswood, thus it is a dedicated tight turn since you get a very hefty ticket if you get caught going straight. Not all of us drive a fire truck which would be allowed to go straight in an emergency situation.


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Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 30, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Oops, that's RIGHT turn not tight turn.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 30, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

To clarify - the current third lane is a right turn lane - what is being considered is returning that lane to through traffic and adding a new right turn lane. As I stated earlier " what is being considered is a new northbound right-hand turn lane at Ravenswood that would be in addition to the existing third lane."


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Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 30, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Peter
Read what she said "addition of a right-turn lane on northbound El Camino at Ravenswood Avenue and another northbound through-lane" nothing about changing what a lane does. She's saying she wants to add TWO lanes where only one is needed. Gee maybe she wants TWO right hand turn lanes.

Most of us see things in real world views, terms and perceptions rather than in Peter's.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 30, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Some people just can't read. Here is what the article clearly states:
"The project would also ADD a right-turn lane at the intersection of northbound El Camino Real and Ravenswood Avenue."

and
"Ms. Nagaya said that the ADDITION of a right-turn lane on northbound El Camino at Ravenswood Avenue

What is not clear about that?


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Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 30, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Peter "Some people just can't read." You're right Peter you can't read.

Paragraph 8 above. "Ms. Nagaya said that the addition of a right-turn lane on northbound El Camino at Ravenswood Avenue AND ANOTHER northbound through-lane is expected to decrease congestion, but until the analysis is completed, the extent of the decrease remains unknown."

As you said, what is not clear about that?

Caps are for your benefit. Semantics are treacherous Peter. But as they say if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. If you're not familiar with ducks you can check 'em out at the pond in front of MP city hall.

I'm not trying to duck out of our wonderful discourse Peter but it's time for me to return to important concerns. It's been fun.

My important concern is that we make sure that the nearly $500,000 traffic study takes a serious look into future traffic increases as I mentioned in my first comment above.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 30, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The current third lane is a right turn lane - what is being considered is returning that lane to through traffic and adding a new right turn lane. As I stated earlier " what is being considered is a new northbound right-hand turn lane at Ravenswood that would be in addition to the existing third lane."


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Posted by End of discussion
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 30, 2014 at 10:18 pm

The future of El Camino Real has already been determined by a star chamber of elilists and transportation agencies seeking more money. It is called THE GRAND BOULEVARD INITIATIVE. End of discussion.


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Posted by Manlo Punk
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2014 at 7:26 am

Agree, it is poorly written,

The people who cannot "read" are the ones who do not see the BIG right turn arrow, clearly in that lane, that has been there for years and clog up traffic trying to turn right. I've always had the impression it is a right turn lane only.

They proceed straight out of that lane into the next "Right turn Lane", at the BBC, and do the same thing.

Short of it, traffic through this stretch is a mess. For some reason local governments always seem to think that hiring expensive consultants who only point out the obvious, or completely miss it, is the only way to go.


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Posted by George C. Fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2014 at 6:53 pm

"The quest for lane changes on El Camino Real in Menlo Park -- maybe with three travel lanes in each direction -- is moving forward, but as always, the wheels of progress, like those of commute traffic, turn slowly."

What quest is this? Have any decision been made. What happened to the Specific Plan vision for E/W connectivity. Have safe pedestrian or bicycle crossings been provided for over 6 lanes. Is that how Kids get to MA from West Menlo, or Hillview from East menlo. Who is making these decisions? Am I wrong that all options are being studied? If decided what is the El Camino Corridor study holding workshops and taking surveys. Why is atherton studying moving to 2 lanes in each direction. What will the timing be for crossing at middle? Santa Cruz? Roble? Valparaiso? Oak grove? Will any of these or others be underground. Is it time to divide the city in two?

The specific Plan added 13, 385 trips per day, not including the new Greenheart project, but ignore infrastructure. The only funding for infrastructure was primarily Transit occupancy Tax from the Hotel projected by the Fiscal Impact analysis on the Stanford Site. Stanford reneged and violated the 'Trust Tree. Where are funds coming from.

Who is running this show?

Why has the public lost faith in City Council and sponsored an initiative?


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Posted by Play it again George
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 31, 2014 at 7:53 pm

The initiative wasn't filed because residents don't trust the City Council. The initiative was filed because some residents in Allied Arts didn't get their way. Yet the mighty storm of supposed discontent has yielded just two city council candidates to challenge the incumbents. Ironically one of them can't even vote on the Specific Plan. The other has been on planning commission less than 3 months. The campaigns look to be more of opportunity, than passion for the initiative. If the initiative's "slate" can't yield even one candidate who is passionate about defending it, why on earth would anyone ever consider voting for it.


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Posted by not whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 2, 2014 at 9:37 am

Apparently "whatever" has reading comprehension issues, since I found the article very clear on Ravenswood.

"Ms. Nagaya said that the addition of a right-turn lane on northbound El Camino at Ravenswood Avenue and another northbound through-lane is expected to decrease congestion"

The idea is to add a third "through lane" (that continues north from Ravenswood) so that there is no bottleneck for through traffic. Again… all three lanes would continue through the intersection at Ravenswood. A short fourth lane (a turn lane) would be added at Revenswood for traffic turning right there. Is that so hard to understand?!


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