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Tensions resurface over bike/pedestrian bridge
Original post made
on Apr 14, 2009
Long-simmering tensions surrounding a bike/pedestrian bridge over U.S. 101 at Ringwood Avenue in Menlo Park are boiling over again, as Caltrans evaluates design options for a new bridge.
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Wednesday, April 15, 2009, 12:00 AM
Posted by The Truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 3, 2009 at 7:35 pm
This article represents the least biased view written to date on this subject, so I'll acknowledge that at least the Almanac tried to present some truth, unlike the PA Daily News recently. However, it's unfortunate that the Almanac's article still manages to completely whiff on the background for WHY the petition was about stopping the rebuild AND the primary reasons for a majority of Flood Triangle residents who signed the petition.
We ARE NOT against access, the bridge, or a rebuild of that bridge. We ARE against a rebuild of a structure that is currently proposed to be 5 times the size of the current overcrossing, and having a large visual impact to a much broader group of residents in the community. Our issue is a matter of public record, as stated and can be seen on video for the Apr 14 City Council meeting on the city of Menlo Park's website. If you have a problem with this simple statement, then we'll have to agree to disagree. But coming on here and elsewhere and making statements about racism and segregation only divide the community further, and are just a sign of people being too lazy to understand the issue, or too ideal to consider that the IMPLEMENTATION of such a bridge should be sensitive to Menlo Park residents on BOTH sides of Highway 101.
The city of Menlo Park and CalTrans have done a very poor job of informing residents of the community about the existence of this project, the scope, and the options. Many of us only found out about the plans a little over a month ago, in late March. In spite of yet another failure to adequately notify the community by Menlo Park's transportation manager and CalTrans, thankfully word got out through some neighborhood email groups, and we were able to scramble up some reasonable attendance for the 2nd of two sessions called to review build options for the overcrossing.
In finding out that night that all the options are 5x or more the size of the current structure, all the current proposals were seen as unacceptable by the vast majority of attendees, and there were no conclusive designs that stood out above the others, both in terms of voting and polling based on design criteria and impact. What also stood out was how little preparation and follow through has happened since the original meetings that decisions were made 16 months ago. There is little creativity or thought provided towards the goal of an implementation with a similar footprint and impact to the neighborhood as the existing structure. And with no minutes taken, there is little communication, little accountability for what was discussed, or what was decided. It is very unfortunate that this is a recurring theme with the City of Menlo Park and CalTrans on this issue.
With that in mind, we were told at this meeting on 3/25 that the decision to rebuild was already made, that these were the only options under consideration, and our only recourse at this point to force other alternatives was to petition to stop the rebuild. Hence the petition and its title.
CalTrans doesn't give a **** about neighborhood impact. Large, "cookie cutter" designs that are more suitable to commercial zones are what they are focused on at this point, along with lobbying from bicycle commissions for structures that are more "bicycle friendly", which seems to translate to long and wide and low grade inclines, conveniently disguised under the umbrella of building to American Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance. It's almost comical, because people should be walking their bikes across these overcrossings, as most have signs posted to this effect for the safety of pedestrians who share the use of this bridge, but these design encourage opposite behavior.
The city of Menlo Park made the decision that the bridge should be rebuilt and, in making that decision, they should also take responsibility for an implementation that is neighborhood friendly. The current overcrossing was build 50 years ago, and essentially all the residents on both sides of Hwy 101 bought/rented their residences with the knowledge that the overcrossing was there. However, changing it's shape and size and impacting many more residences directly is a valid concern, just as providing reasonable accessibility across the highway is a legitimate concern.
I support a decision to maintain continuity of access between the two Menlo Park communities. However, I don't do so blindly, and this issue has been handled to date in a VERY ONE-SIDED manner, much like these posts here, and on other sites discussing this topic. Just because CalTrans will foot the bill for the rebuild doesn't mean the city can wash it's hands of the effects and implementation, ALTHOUGH THIS IS CURRENTLY THEIR STATED POSITION. The city has responsibility for design impact, as part of their initial decision to OK the rebuild. The city needs to act equitably on this issue, else its decision making is nothing short of irresponsible. This call to action translates to PROACTIVE and much more aggressive demands on CalTrans to provide more palatable design options.