News


Atherton: Marsh Road closed today from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for fence repairs

Another accident takes down fence on Marsh Road

Marsh Road will be closed on Tuesday, Dec. 22, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., to make repairs to the Atherton Channel fence, something the town of Atherton has had to do at least four times since March after vehicles ended up in the Atherton Channel.

The most recent accident was reported at about 11 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 20 and the driver was arrested on the scene for driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license.

Sgt. Anthony Kockler of the Atherton Police Department said Fausto Gutierrez, 43, of Redwood City also had a misdemeanor warrant from Fresno County on charges of driving with a suspended license and driving under the influence there.

Sgt. Kockler said the accident was similar to several others that ended with vehicles in the channel. Mr. Gutierrez was heading eastbound on Marsh Road when he turned the Ford F-250 pickup truck he was driving to the right; the right-front tire was caught by the curb and the bumper was then entangled with the fence, Sgt. Kockler said. Once that happens, Sgt. Kockler said, it is very difficult to recover.

The truck ended up on its side in the channel and firefighters from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District pulled the driver, who was not injured, out of the truck, Sgt. Kockler said.

In the meantime, Atherton is trying to get permission from state and regional officials for work on the channel that would stabilize it and make safety improvements. City Manager George Rodericks said the design is for a cast-in-place concrete U-channel "that allows for the possible cover of the channel at some point in the future."

The project includes a "more substantial guardrail" to replace the existing barrier and chain link fence, Mr. Rodericks said. While the new barrier "will not prevent a vehicle traveling at high speed from breaking through and into the channel," it should prevent or deter most accidents, he said.

The town is waiting for approval from the Regional Water Quality Control Board, which had promised to get back to the town by last week, but did not do so.

Mr. Rodericks said the town is going to put the project out to bid "so that when we do receive approval we are shovel-ready to award the contract."

Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Harold Schapelhouman said he is concerned about the regularity with which accidents are occurring along the Atherton Channel. "I've seen what the channel looks like when it is full of rushing water," he said, "and I'm concerned about not only the safety of the public but our firefighters who will attempt to rescue people in harm's way despite the danger to themselves."

The eastbound lane of Marsh Road between Middlefield Road in Atherton and Fair Oaks Avenue in Redwood City will be closed on Tuesday, Dec. 22, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to repair the fence. The westbound lane be open all day.

Alternate routes to Redwood City or Highway 101 include:

● Ringwood Avenue east to northbound Bay Road and back to Marsh past the closure, or

● 5th Avenue east to southbound Bay Road and back to Marsh, or

● Woodside Road from El Camino to Highway 101, or

● This alternative not for trucks, eastbound Holbrook Lane from Middlefield Road to Fair Oaks Avenue and back to Marsh Road.

Comments

15 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 21, 2015 at 12:48 pm

maybe it is time to cover the creek and add a much need 3rd traffic land to Marsh road. Of course the houses next door would loose their moat.


7 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 21, 2015 at 1:59 pm

Sounds to me that the problem is DUI not the road. We need to crack down harder on DUI.


11 people like this
Posted by booze or bad design?
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 21, 2015 at 3:22 pm

"said the accident was similar to several others that ended with vehicles in the channel"

Not the first time. Won't be the last. And booze isn't always involved.


10 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 21, 2015 at 4:07 pm

really? is a registered user.

Marsh Road has always been a bad example of where different communities meet and no good solution is ever carried out. Marsh is narrow with no shoulder because of the creek. It's impossible to cycle along, even though it should be a prime artery for bike trips going East and West.

It's time to turn the ditch into a culvert and create a safe Marsh Road


12 people like this
Posted by ErnieC
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Dec 21, 2015 at 4:10 pm

I'd like to see the channel covered and a bike lane put in. I don't think another traffic lane would do much as the single lanes on middle field pretty much constrain the over all flow


27 people like this
Posted by Snoop
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Dec 21, 2015 at 5:47 pm

I did some snooping today. The four accidents reasons break down like this.
drunk driving 3
texting while driving 1
creek reaching up and pulling people in 0.

No need to get too excited!


3 people like this
Posted by Mar
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Dec 21, 2015 at 5:50 pm

Yes. I agree to covering the channel and adding bike lanes. How or to whom shall people voice their opinions to make a change?


Like this comment
Posted by Not necessary
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 21, 2015 at 6:15 pm

It should not be covered up, the channel can't handle the volume it carries now, constraining just forces that problem up river. If for some reason they did cover it the need to add another lane for vehicles, not for bikes.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 21, 2015 at 9:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Every time Marsh is closed emergency response times on that route double or triple.

It is only a matter of time before a secondary disaster occurs due to the closures of Marsh Road.


3 people like this
Posted by Louise68
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 21, 2015 at 11:40 pm

That channel should be covered -- and ASAP. Make Marsh Road from Middlefield to Fair Oaks 3 auto-only lanes: 2 eastbound and 1 westbound. And, to protect the properties abutting the new slow lane of eastbound Marsh Road, install a heavy-duty guardrail and a thick reinforced concrete wall behind that guardrail from Middlefield to Fair Oaks.

NO bicycles should ever be allowed to use Marsh Road. Why? It is simply much too dangerous, because there is no room for bicycles and because Marsh Road is a major arterial and carries a lot of traffic. And acceding to demands for bicycle lanes only benefits a tiny fraction of the population. And those bike lanes use space that should be used for other things. Such as wider lanes for motor vehicles or shoulders to be used in emergencies by motor vehicles.

When a bicyclist chooses to ride on Marsh Road, especially in the part between Middlefield and Fair Oaks, he or she always lessens the carrying capacity of that major arterial, because he or she simply cannot go as fast as motor vehicles can. The lack of room forces all vehicles to slow down a lot and follow that bicyclist, who thus is acting with no consideration for the legitimate needs of the rest of the public.

Riding a bicycle is never safe when done on any road that is ever used by motor vehicles. The laws of physics are immutable, no matter how many people refuse to acknowledge them. In any collision between any motor vehicle and a bicyclist, the bicyclist always loses.


9 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 22, 2015 at 8:00 am

really? is a registered user.

There are over 1000 people moving in to the other end of Marsh Road across 101 in the next year. They need connection to Menlo Park, and a dedicated bike lane will be the answer, not an extra lane for traffic, only to neck-down to single lanes at Middlefield.


7 people like this
Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 22, 2015 at 9:48 am

Tunbridge Wells is a registered user.

Louise68, your anti-bike attitude is out of step with the times. The fact is that a single-driver car takes up an enormous amount of space. A person on a bicycle takes up a fraction of that space. Given the growth in population, combined with the need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions (36% of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, it is the largest category- Web Link) the simple truth is that we need MORE bicycles on the roads. An extra lane for cars on Marsh won't have anywhere to go once it reaches Middlefield; but a properly designed bike lane will allow bikes to travel with increased safety, which will encourage more people to bike, and help reduce traffic congestion.

Finally, Atherton, Menlo Park and San Mateo County have all adopted Complete Streets policies, which call for designing our streets to support all modes of transportation- walking, cycling, mass transit, and cars. This means that we will be doing a better job in the future of making streets safe for all users, and Marsh Road is an excellent place to start.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 22, 2015 at 10:38 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Finally, Atherton, Menlo Park and San Mateo County have all adopted Complete Streets policies, which call for designing our streets to support all modes of transportation- "

Actually the Complete Streets policy calls for a community's entire system of streets to meet the needs af all users, not that every street meet the needs of all users.

"An extra lane for cars on Marsh won't have anywhere to go once it reaches Middlefield;"
A third lane vehicle lane would make a huge difference for emergency responders as it would provide space for cars to pull over to yield to emergency vehicles.


8 people like this
Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 22, 2015 at 11:14 am

Tunbridge Wells is a registered user.

Correct Peter Carpenter. But given the paucity of streets that connect east-west, Marsh is a critical street. You have made the same argument about El Camino; you can't use that argument on every single street. The next street that connects Bay Road to Middlefield is Ringwood, a significant distance away, and a detour of that length is enough to discourage many potential cyclists. Marsh Road is a critical gap in a transportation network that is safe for all users-not just cyclists, but pedestrians as well- there are bus stops on Middlefield, and people walking to those bus stops need to be able to get there safely.

Also, adding a traffic lane increases traffic volume. This is a phenomenon that has been well-understood since the 1960's. To improve travel time for emergency responders, buffered bike lanes would provide room for cars to move out of the way (an improvement on the status quo.) If you want improved emergency response times, the LAST thing you want to do is add a lane for cars.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 22, 2015 at 11:57 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Holbrook Lane is a perfect alternative and much safer bike route rather than Marsh Road.

And a properly protected bike lane on Marsh Road would not permit cars to move over to yield to emergency vehicles.


10 people like this
Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 22, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Tunbridge Wells is a registered user.

Holbrook is indeed a perfect alternative if one is fortunate enough to be west of the train tracks. Let's not forget that East-West connectivity is a huge problem. If your origin or destination is east of the train tracks, Marsh is your route. If you are heading southbound on Middlefield, Marsh lets you make the left turn with the benefit of a light; Holbrook does not.

Again, let's not make the perfect the enemy of the good. A fully protected bike lane would certainly be optimal; but let's not refuse to make a significant improvement, from Zero to 80%, because we can't get to 99%. A buffered bike lane would be a vast improvement over the status quo, would not lead to increased car volumes, would allow for improved emergency vehicle access.

We've had this exchange before. I've given up on persuading you, but I think it's important that other readers of the Almanac understand that Peter Carpenter is not the authority on bike lanes.


2 people like this
Posted by Sybille
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Dec 22, 2015 at 12:38 pm

Can the creek be widened (under the road perhaps or maybe into some adjacent properties: the latter are rather big after all) and/or deepened and maybe a metal grill put over it to accommodate overflow water if that were still to happen, and have that as a bike lane? A bike lane has been long overdue there.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 22, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It should be noted that an underground channel under the four lane County portion of Marsh Road already carries all of the water in this channel.


2 people like this
Posted by many thoughts
a resident of Encinal School
on Dec 22, 2015 at 1:22 pm

1) I've lived in the area for most of the last 25 years. I don't recall cars falling into the channel ever until this year (It's likely happened, but no way with this frequency). Did drivers just get dumber?

2) I'm mostly with Tunbridge Wells' pro-bike-lane point-of-view, though I'll point out that in order to have a safe-enough bike lane on Marsh you'd need a divider that makes the bike lane inaccessible for motor vehicles to use as pullover space while emergency vehicles pass by.

3) Considering the location of Fire Station #5, I'm puzzled by this statement: "Every time Marsh is closed emergency response times on that route double or triple." Station #5 has immediate access to both sides of 2-lane Marsh without using Marsh (15th, Palmer, 17th, Holbrook and Fair Oaks Ave. It's remarkably perfectly located, IMHO, and MPFD deserves kudos for that).

A google-maps inspection makes it look pretty clear that Station #5 can avoid Marsh, so I'm unclear why response times would be affected by a Marsh closure considering the station has copious routing options. Is the point here that an accident on Marsh affects traffic on tributary roads? Please clarify.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 22, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Marsh Road is a designated primary emergency response route. If Marsh is closed the alternative routes are all impassable to a fire engine because they are jammed up with no place for cars to pull over.

Almost all fire calls involve more than one fire engine. If Engine 5 is "first in" then the second engine usually comes from Station 1 on Middlefield.

Here is a detailed analysis of the Standards of Coverage for MPFPD:

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 22, 2015 at 1:36 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is another excellent professional reference:

Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 22, 2015 at 2:08 pm

really? is a registered user.

For a bike lane, I'll be happy with just a shoulder and a painted stripe (like along Middlefield), keeping all the drivers and firetrucks happy. No need to over-work all of this.


2 people like this
Posted by Jeremy
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 22, 2015 at 4:38 pm

I see several challenges adding bike lanes to Marsh Road.

1) Cost. Almost everyone asking for bike lanes in the comments section is from Menlo Park, but Menlo Park isn't going to pay for Atherton bike lanes. Maybe the county will, but bike lanes on Marsh won't be cheap nor politically easy as it seems outside of how Atherton feels about it. Covering a channel requires approval from an alphabet soup of state and federal agencies. At a minimum, they will demand an EIR and consultant reports. Then, they will demand mitigation for flood risk increases or harmful environmental impacts.

2) Marsh Road vicinity residents. Adding bike lanes to the western half of Marsh Road requires the eastern half also to have bike lanes, at least to Bay Road. That eastern half of Marsh road would need to lose one of its four lanes or street parking in the westbound direction to accommodate new bike lanes. Either way, some neighbors in the area are going to strongly object.

3) Conservationists. The CA Regional Water Quality Control Board has been pressuring Atherton to turn the channel into a riparian channel. The board is using its powers to review any channel repairs as leverage to get Atherton to do this. If the board remains adamant, that would prevent channel from ever being covered. Conservationists are very much against ever covering the channel.


2 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 23, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Yet another demonstration of why license renewals should include a road test!

If you can't pass a road test *today* you should not be driving.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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