Guest opinion: Alpine trail is the trail that nobody wants
(This letter was addressed to the Board of Supervisors.)
The Committee for Green Foothills (CGF) is opposed to further consideration of expanding the existing sidewalk/trail known as "Lower Alpine Trail," unless it avoids the Stanford Weekend Acres area and the dangerous at-grade crossing of the northbound off-ramps from Interstate 280 onto Alpine Road.
Expansion of the existing sidewalk/trail at Stanford Weekend Acres would increase, rather than reduce, hazards to trail users because the trail crosses 21 private driveways and five streets in less than half a mile. Attracting more walkers, runners, cyclists, and other trail users traveling in both directions on the residential side of heavily impacted Alpine Road would greatly increase the dangers to trail users, as documented by studies compiled by Rob Decker, former Ladera Community Association president.
The at-grade crossing of the northbound I-280 off-ramps is particularly dangerous, as drivers merging onto Alpine do not expect to see cyclists and pedestrians coming from the right. The trail should be re-routed to cross under (or over) these off-ramps as it does at the southbound on-ramps.
Supervisors have twice rejected Stanford's offer of funding for the Lower Alpine Trail due to its unacceptable impacts to Stanford Weekend Acres residents, impacts to the creek/riparian areas, and impacts from massive grading of the hillside across from the Bishop Lane curve.
Supervisors Rich Gordon and Jerry Hill spent countless hours attempting to craft a feasible compromise, but were unable to do so. They concluded: "This proposal does not have the support of impacted residents in the Weekend Acres area. The plan does not have the support of the environmental community. Implementation would probably lead to lawsuits against San Mateo County."
These reasons are still valid today. Stanford Weekend Acres residents are overwhelmingly opposed to expanding the trail in their area.
It would be a waste of time, money, and other resources to reopen consideration of this matter unless both Stanford and Santa Clara County, which has veto power over alternative alignments, agree that the trail could either be stopped at Piers Lane, or rerouted along an alternative alignment.
There are at least two alternative alignments for the trail that would avoid the Stanford Weekend Acres area. One is the existing "Dish Trail" which crosses Stanford land in Santa Clara County, generally to the east of Stanford Weekend Acres. The other is a western alignment, which would parallel Alpine Road beginning at the back entry to SLAC opposite Piers Lane, cross over the hill, and return to Alpine Road near Stowe Lane. This alignment could also connect to Sand Hill Road near Branner Drive, which would have the additional benefit of avoiding the extremely dangerous mega-intersection at Alpine/Junipero Serra/Sand Hill/Santa Cruz Avenue.
Lennie Roberts is the San Mateo County legislative advocate for the Committee for Green Foothills