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On a Roll

By Paul Bendix

About this blog: A 32-year resident of Menlo Park, I regularly make my way around downtown in a wheelchair. This gives me an unusual perspective on a town in which I have spent almost half of my life. I was educated at UC Berkeley, and permanentl...  (More)

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Take Back Our Street

Uploaded: Nov 11, 2014
The big one, the six-lane state highway that divides Menlo Park unpleasantly and serves the region ineffectively. El Camino Real could indeed be royal – a 21st-century thoroughfare – and there are plans to test a prototype nearby.

The first idea is to turn a sleepy regional bus route into truly rapid transit. Santa Clara County's VTA (Valley Transit Authority) envisions moving passengers fast along a revamped El Camino Real. This Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line would use dedicated lanes to move rush-hour passengers at speeds that could outpace cars.

VTA's draft environmental impact report projects only a 2% impact on automobile traffic. It's a trade-off. With Silicon Valley booming, freeways and Caltrain are at capacity...and we are running out of options. The region has run out of space. And without housing and transit, Silicon Valley will run out of luck.

We need to support, and extend, VTA's basic idea with amenities that enhance El Camino for pedestrians, bicyclists and local retailers.

One idea is to narrow the median in areas with dedicated bus lanes – and make more room for bicycles, pedestrians and on-street parking. With buffered bike lanes, El Camino would be a much safer, more comfortable place to ride. In many areas, sidewalks could be extended in "bulb outs" that would reduce pedestrian crossing distances. VTA's plan calls for eliminating much on-street parking, but critics dispute the need for this.

Whatever your thoughts, now is the time to share them with VTA.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by steve, a resident of another community,
on Nov 11, 2014 at 7:51 pm

I was unaware of VTA's plans for El Camino, thank you Paul!

A few points:

El Camino in Menlo Park has been a traffic disaster for decades, and in my opinion, Menlo Park has no one to blame but itself. The ridiculous notion put forth and acted on in the 80's that pinching El Camino from 3 to 2 lanes in Menlo Park would reduce traffic by somehow keeping it away has proven to be just that, ridiculous. It is possible that anything VTA does will improve traffic flow in Menlo Park.

The consultant cooking up the plans for VTA appears to be the engineering firm Parson. Unless I'm mistaken, they are essentially running the CA High Speed Rail Authority in Sacramento, and they thought that a giant berm with 4 tracks on top was great solution to their problem of how to jam fast trains through Menlo Park and other cities on the Peninsula.

Considering Parson's complete disdain for public input, recall their dismissive response to local concerns about High Speed Rail, how they have the best interests of Menlo Park, or any other city along this bus corridor, in mind?

Readers might find this link informative, plus in it there is a link to the VTA documents Web Link

Posted by Cynthia J., a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera,
on Nov 18, 2014 at 7:13 pm

The writing has been on the wall for several years. The regional plan is to exclude personal vehicles from the "Grand Boulevard" (formerly known as El Camino Real) starting with bus-only lanes that will bring other (non-emergency) vehicles to a stand still. Welcome to Red China.

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