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The Menlo Park El Camino Gridlock

Original post made by stop and stop, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park, on Feb 15, 2009

Mon-Sat 7:30am to 6:30pm El Camino through Menlo Park and the very southern edge of Atherton is gridlock. Why? There's only two lanes each way Valpariso to Middle. Is this due to CalTrans, the County or Menlo Park. Let's get rid of the parking on those blocks and bring back three lane lane through traffic. No more gridlock and a less polution from cars and trucks sitting endlessly in traffic.

What have you got to say city council?

Comments (11)

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Posted by observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 16, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Getting rid of parking on El Camino is no solution. It has been promoted by Reg Rice for years and thank heavens never been approved.

If you think it is bad now, it is only going to get worse, much worse. Stanford with its never ending expansion plans is a major cause.

They want to expand the shopping center and add a hotel and then the huge major hospital expansion.

Stanford has already moved about 300 workers from the Medical School admin staff over to SRI. Why? Well it moves that traffic into San Mateo County, where they don't as yet have a limit to how much they can generate. That is increasing the traffic load here in Menlo Park. Then they are opening the auxiliary facility in Redwood City. Think of all the extra traffic that is going to bring as traffic between the campus and Redwood City facility get wound up.

Watch for immense pressure being built up to again bring up the Willow Road express way through Linfield. Of course all of this traffic really belongs in Palo Alto, but they have managed to move as much as possible to Menlo Park. But even Palo Also is now feeling the pressure on their section of El Camino.

This is all in the name of progress. As the greedy developers push for higher density in Menlo Park, they really don't care what the effects are.

It is sure going to be fun, when they start construction on the HSR. It will take an hour to go from Watkins through Menlo Park. Enjoy the quality of life folks. Listen to some in town and start using bicycles.

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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2009 at 8:38 am

I'm clueless when it comes to traffic management, but I have heard for years that one of the biggest issues with regard to traffic tending to stack up in MP is the lack of use staging/timing technology on the street lights. I've also been told that the reason this technology has never been approved for implementation is a belief by some that, basically, if you make it easier for traffic to flow through, more traffic will come. If the above is not urban legend, maybe its time to affect the cure since the illness isn't going to get any better. I really don't think it matters whether the culprit is Stanford, HSR, or just more cars on the road every year.

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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 17, 2009 at 10:49 am

I think the problem will get better if intelligent traffic lights are installed. When traffic lights are operated based on variable traffic conditions, they will improve the flow.

As a side note, Menlo Park will probably have to spend a couple of million dollars for a study.

We live near Stanford. Surely the solution lies in their hallways.

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Posted by observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 17, 2009 at 7:37 pm

Some years ago, around 1 million dollars was spent to implement smart traffic lights on this section of El Camino -- I believe this was done during the time Paul Collacchi was on Council. Thus the suggestion that this be implemented, beware it has already been done. Maybe it could be improved, but there has already been efforts in that regard.

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Posted by Have to commute to work
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 18, 2009 at 7:54 am

6:20 PM last night (Tuesday) and El Camino was gridlocked through Menlo Park.

The "smart" systems and associated sensors are improving with each new generation - there is hope that improving the technology yet again will help.

And yes, maybe parking needs to be eliminated so that another lane can be added to El Camino, at least during rush hour.

I'd rather see some growth, than stagnation and decline. Stanford needs to improve and expand its hospital, etc.

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Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 18, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Based on the premise that improved traffic flow increases traffic flow, here is a counter-intuitive suggestion. Don't improve ECR traffic flow, either by parking removal or anything else. Indeed, reduce the number of lanes to two in each direction, but improve curb lane exit and entry from cross streets. Widen and "green" the center island for pedestrian use. Make it easier for pedestrians to cross ECR by making it a two stage process. Discourage through-flow on the 8500 ft. of ECR in Menlo Park. The better traffic flows on El Camino, the more traffic will flow through Menlo Park. How does that benefit us?

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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Martin-Martin-Martin, I am so disappointed to read your last post. Your input on HSR has been so helpful and well-informed, I hate to see that you buy in to this "don't build it and they won't come"mentality. No city is an island on the mid-penninsula. Of course people who either work in MP and live a city or two north or south are going to use ECR to commute. Same thing holds true for people who work in PA and live in RWC or maybe San Carlos or visa versa. To not make the stretch of ECR as usable as possible is short sighted, and we certainly don't need the expense of making the center island green, nor the ongoing expense of then maintaining its greenness.

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Posted by Minnie Cooper
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 19, 2009 at 11:16 am

It may be slow going on ECR through Menlo Park, but good luck trying to get across ECR in Menlo Park. The signals take FOREVER! And the red light cameras are constantly going off, thanks to the homicidal idiots who run the reds.

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Posted by Have to commute to work
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:45 am

North of Chicago, the towns of Evanston, Glencoe, Wilmette, and Winnetka elevated (or put below grade, depending on the town) their version of the commuter train that is like CalTrain. This was done many, many, decades ago: The communities continue to reap the benefits in improved pedestrian and vehicle safety, and there are no delays at the bridge or underpass crossings.

And in these same towns, there is a dedicated bicycle path next to (and fenced off from) the train tracks. Bicycle commuters can ride miles without having to stop for an intersection or stoplight.

Sure, the period of construction of elevated Caltrain tracks in Menlo Park will have some traffic delays, but it is worth it because it is a long term solution. This should help both El Camino traffic, and traffic that is crossing El Camino. And prevent pedestrian-train fatalities at the crossings.

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Posted by sharpton
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 20, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Have to commute,

Well said. A little bit of inconvenience is a small price to pay for something that will be so helpful.

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Posted by suzy
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 21, 2009 at 9:39 am

The traffic challenges on El Camino are not at all confined to the stretch where there are only two lanes each way, so modifying that would not solve much, if anything.
One of the BIG problems is that Sand Hill does not go through to Alma. Hence, lots of cars need to do a u-turn at Cambridge. This delays traffic flow considerably. Stanford and Palo Alto must be part of any conversation about traffic. Things will get much, much worse with the proposed projects.

Another suggestion is to look really hard at your own traffic patterns. Many of us cannot change the time of day we are on El Camino, but many can. I find it quite amazing that by about 6:30 PM there is hardly any traffic. We can learn from other communities about how to spread traffic around, but each of us can do our own part.

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