Portola Valley: New bridge in town


There's a new bridge in Portola Valley, across Los Trancos Creek just east of Ford (baseball) Field at 3329 Alpine Road.

Over the past several weeks, the bridge has gone from an object sitting in the grass, to sitting across the creek but without a way to drive up on to it, to what it is now: a functioning two-lane bridge with a driveway.

The bridge will provide access to 4.1 acres of undeveloped residential property in Santa Clara County. With no access to that property via Stanford University lands, Portola Valley in the early 1970s granted the property owner a 30-foot easement for a driveway in San Mateo County, from Alpine Road to the creek (and a bridge), according to architect and Kelley family representative Carter Warr.

The easement was part of an agreement by which Portola Valley bought 7.1 acres in San Mateo County next to the creek -- what is now Ford Field -- from the real estate development firm Hare Brewer & Kelley, according to a staff report for the town's Architectural & Site Control Commission.

The bridge and driveway were installed at no cost to the town.

The commission, whose oversight is limited to the aesthetics and structure of the bridge and driveway, recommended that the driveway "appear more as a gravel or dirt service road," which has been done, Mr. Warr said. The commission asked for a curved railing on the bridge, but the Kelley family decided against that due to cost, Mr. Warr said.

The agreement also allows for a mailbox in San Mateo County, a mail-carrier turnout, utilities and a fire hydrant, but these elements have been set aside by the property owner pending submission of a residential development proposal, according to the staff report. The commission recommended that the mailbox be of simple design, and that there be no lighting or formal landscaping.

The bridge's steel components are already rusted, but the rust is intentional a protective feature of the steel alloy of which the bridge is made, Mr. Warr said.

If Stanford were to buy the property or allow access to it from the Santa Clara County side, that would likely represent an opportunity to vacate the easement and remove the bridge, Mr. Warr told the commission, but added that Stanford had shown "no interest" in the property.

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