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.