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Original post made
on Jun 18, 2009
Grand Boulevard indeed! Don't hold your breath. Europeans have Grand Boulevards. We won't. Grand Boulevards are very wide; have wide setbacks and wide sidewalks. They often have pedestrian islands running down the middle, with benches, water features, kiosks, etc. They become an amenity as well as a refuge island whenever there is a pedestrian crossing.
Even though there are high-rise buildings, such as apartment houses with retail on the first floor lining both sides of the Grand Boulevard, this is quite acceptable since the street plus sidewalk is so wide that one gets a strong horizontal rather than vertical canyon feeling from it. Can you see El Camino in Menlo Park becoming anything like this? Fat Chance.
Take a look at 1906 El Camino, at Watkins, where a new dental building is going up. Note that the corner of the building is almost on top of the corner of the curb. It's an anti-set-back. And, with the building fully erected, it will be a challenge for drivers trying to see high-speed oncoming traffic.
I have mentioned the set-back/wide sidewalk concept with various council members in the past. Apparently, that information did not migrate from short-term memory to long-term memory.
That's the quality of planning we get in Menlo Park. Question: How do you run a city? Answer: Hire consultants to do studies.
El Camino Real is the Royal Highway and has been since California was Mexico.
The "real" problem with El Camino Real, especially in Menlo Park is that it takes too long to get my royal ass from Atherton to Palo Alto!
This highway was a main thoroughfare prior to 101 and 280, and still serves as one of the primary routes to travel up and down the Peninsula. Every town and city along El Camino has a separate main street for shopping, strolling etc. But now, some task force has been set-up to discuss how to spend billions giving El Camino Real a makeover? Give me a break. Even the name sucks. Bet you more than one guest speaker will refer to the road as "the" El Camino. The the.
SInce CalTrans controls ECR (it's a State highway), I wouldn't hold my breath on anything happening anytime soon on a "grand Boulevard.
CalTrans is one of THE most difficult, intransigent bureaucracies to deal with. Case in point, their resistance to the Devil's slide tunnel over decades (in favor of a garish 6-lane gash on the side of Mount Montara). To get the tunnel accepted by CalTrans eventually required a County-wide referendum which passed by a wide super-majority.
WHo knows what g etting all these communities AND CalTrans to agree on a Grand Boulevard plan will take. But one does have to admit, until Menlo Park started putting tress alongside it, ECR was pretty UGLY (Junipero Serra wouldn't reconize it at ALL -- and he was traveling on horseback (or donkey), so I guess he was probably getting from the Palo Alto border to Atherton border much slower than a car even when congestion is heavy and one had to stap at several traffic lights).
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