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Contrasting views of offer to rebuild the Alpine Road trail

Original post made on Nov 19, 2011

Editor's Note: The Board of Supervisors has given Stanford until Dec. 13 to accept three additional options for a total of six alternate Alpine Road trail plans, or very likely the $10 million in funds provided to improve the bicycle-pedestrian trail on Alpine Road will be turned away. Here are contrasting points of view about whether the trail should be improved.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 12:00 AM

Comments (4)

Posted by confused, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 19, 2011 at 7:11 am

Of course ALL San Mateo residents will be affect by the Alpine Trail decision since it will be our money that is used to make the plans to fix the problems that currently exist. The county has no plans, not even plans to make plans, and no ballpark on how much repairs will cost. Repeatedly these figures have been requested to no avail. The supervisors fear how much of the Stanford money will be wasted on simply making plans, yet are quite willing to accept the cost for having to create some of these same plans on the taxpayer's dime. The county does not even have the money to repaint the bike lane under 280 to alleviate the death trap there.

The Alpine Trail needs to be repaired. It is a community resource that predates many of the homes in Stanford Weekend Acres. It certainly predates just about all but three or four of the residents. The rest of these residents bought their homes next to the trail. No one is forcing a new Trail upon SWA, we want to fix the existing trail and make it safer. SWA uses a portion of the trail more than any other community as a sidewalk to get to their school bus stop. This is an opportunity to change Alpine to make life better for SWA residents by at least putting in a stop sign so their children can one again have their bus stop on the opposite side of Alpine Road.

The creek is already undercutting Alpine Road, in some places as stated in public meetings. The repairs need to be planned and completed. We've put this off for a decade now thanks in part to campaigns against the trail that have created illusions of how the path would ruin our lives. We make the plan. There is no plan currently.

The Trail is unsafe. This has been said by both sides, though the idea that 20+ homes' driveways cross the path is ludicrous. Exactly TWO driveways cross the trail at the SWA. All of the other driveways and roads cross the trail when it is using the frontage to Alpine, that in one stretch used to BE Alpine Road. We dismiss the "sidewalk" studies because the trail at those points in not a sidewalk. We all know what sidewalks look like, they are all over our cities. We would all agree that riding bikes on them would be dangerous due to driveways. That is not how the Trail is arranged. Where bikes use the trail in SWA they are on a road. Are the SWA residents afraid to use this road? Noting the cars parked on it, and the basketball court, I would say, no.

Alpine Road has been changed in the past in ways that benefitted SWA giving them a frontage road and extra parking it seems. Parts of Alpine Road were expanded and put on top of the Trail, or right next to the trail. Some of those changes can be alleviated without creating the feared "Alpine Expressway" that is the current illusion being used as a reason to turn down the money to make our own plans. No one wants an expressway. Stanford is not making the plans. If anything, we all would like to slow down the traffic and allow ways to get SWA residents in and out of their neighborhood safely.

Traffic along Alpine Road is only going to get worse, though a stop sign that will apparently be put at the 280 off ramp due to the Hospital's EIR might convince many not to bother trying to get off the highway as 280 is backed up.

There are a couple points along the path where the Trail has been impinged by Alpine Road. This was not done by Stanford, but by the county that took the cheapest means to widen the road for bike lanes. Stanford is willing to pay for Alpine to shift a bit onto their land to allow for the trail space. If SWA can come up with a different plan, then let's start planning. They can't push the trail elsewhere. The Trail ends at Junipero Sera and connects to the trail that Stanford was already forced to improve. Could it cross and climb the hill? Perhaps, but it won't take a lot of money to know if the grade is too steep to qualify as a multi use trail.

If Stanford wanted a four lane expressway down Alpine Road, why didn't they construct a wider bridge?? Is Stanford really that short sighted? If our children are supposedly safer in the bike lanes of Alpine Road with it's increased traffic, and OUR trail is so dangerous, then please post the facts from the Alpine Road Corridor that would prove that point. The bike paths in Palo Alto have thousands of driveways that cross them compared to very few that cross the Alpine Trail. Can we figure out how to get around the 280 off ramp? No, we can't, not without some money to make plans


Posted by PJ Utz, a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Nov 20, 2011 at 11:42 am

My opinion piece was modified and edited extensively by Tom Gibboney, the Editor of the Almanac, to the point that it does not resemble what I wrote. I demanded that it be retracted and that an apology be published. Tom refused. I emailed again multiple times to complain and he stated it is their policy to do whatever they want. I'm on many editorial boards for scientific journals and am very familiar with fair editing. The Almanac has repeatedly shown that they are completely biased on the trail issue. The editors should be castigated for their unfair practices. I spoke to another well-respected editor of a local newspaper who told me he would never, ever, publish an opinion piece that had been edited withour first asking permission and providing a red lined copy with changes to the author. I will not be publishing in the Almanac again under these circumstances. To others who write - beware that Tom has made it clear he will alter what you write without your permission.

As for Gunter's attack on the outstanding piece by Chris, and Peter's equally excellent comments above - please remember that this is AN EXISTING COUNTY TRAIL and that every one of us loses if the Supervisors vote no - except of course Santa Clara County and Stanford Faculty who live on campus who will get $10M! I'll probably still ride in on bike each day anyway, largely because traffic is going to get so bad with the new hospital anyway that it will be faster and healthier to ride on the trail anyway, dodging all the parked cars on the trail/SWA frontage roads!

[Editor's Note: I am sorry that Mr. Utz is unhappy with the editing at the Almanac. On the Viewpoint pages, our goal is to present both sides of all issues as was the case here. We also try and focus guest opinions on the topic, not the personality of other writers. As for bias, we have been covering the trail issue since 2005 without ever being accused of bias. Also, I would like to remind readers that our editorial position on an issue like the Alpine Road trail NEVER influences our coverage. TG.]






Posted by Janet, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 22, 2011 at 8:10 pm

"Confused" is just that. There never has been a "trail" along SWA. It has always been a neighborhood PATH not a trail. I know because I've lived here nearly 50 years.
Secondly,The Almanac is an outstanding paper that reliably reports in an unbiased manner and has done for many years. One may sometimes disagree with the Almanac's own Editorials, but they are always FACTUALLY CORRECT, and they do not cast aspersions on individuals, a point that Utz should consider.
Thirdly, the author of the piece cited by Utz as "outstanding" had many misrepresentations in the piece and had the audacity to call Lennie Roberts a liar! Lennie has been honored for her tireless work to make recreational trails available to the residents of the County


Posted by JB, a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Dec 2, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Call it a trail, or call it a path, it has existed for at least the last 35 years. It is also distinctly NOT purely a neighborhood path. It connects out to a paved pedestrian route that goes all the way out into Portola Valley.

For people living in Ladera or eastern Portola Valley, it is also the *only* practical route into Stanford, PA, and MP for pedestrians and young bicyclists who choose not ride on a road where the speed limit is 40 MPH.

It has been used as a connector trail in this fashion for at least the time period I mentioned above.


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