Atherton working to make 10-week Marsh Road closure less painful to neighbors

Additional public meetings May 7 and May 11 in Redwood City, North Fair Oaks

Atherton officials answered questions May 4 from anxious neighbors and users of Marsh Road about the planned May 31 to Aug. 11 closure of a section of the road.

At a public meeting in Holbrook-Palmer Park, Atherton's new city engineer, Mary Grace Houlihan, said Marsh Road will be narrowed to two lanes from the current four from Bay Road to Fair Oaks Avenue, allowing access for residents and local businesses only, while the drainage culvert along the road is replaced and a new steel barrier erected to keep cars on the road.

During construction, one-way traffic will be allowed from Fair Oaks Avenue to Middlefield Road, but only for residents who have driveways on the street. "No one else should be going through there," she said.

A number of local nearby streets in Atherton and North Fair Oaks will be limited to local use only. To assure that motorists trying to avoid the detour don't cut through the nearby neighborhoods, residents will have to display placards on their cars to show they live there, she said.

Four-way stops will be added at several intersections just off the detour route with flaggers posted to check for placards. If motorists ignore the flaggers and try to pass through, local police have offered to help, Ms. Houlihan said. She said a driver can be ticketed for ignoring a flagger.

Placards will be delivered to neighbors in coming weeks by the contractors, Ms. Houlihan said, and the residents will be supplied enough to give to friends, family and workers who regularly visit. Delivery vehicles will also be allowed through, she said.

The flaggers will "be able to redirect that cut-through traffic," Ms. Houlihan said. "Hopefully (drivers) will realize it's faster for them to go the way we want them to go."

"The issue here is cut-through traffic," she said. "We're trying to encourage folks to use collectors, arterials to get to your destination. Don't use the local streets. They just aren't designed for that."

"It's not going to be business as usual," she said, adding that everyone needs to schedule extra time to get where they're going in the area.

A number of neighbors asked to have the flaggers start before construction hours, at 6:45 a.m.

Flaggers will also be stationed on Middlefield Road near Fair Oaks Lane to help bicycles cross at high-use hours, she said.

Neighbors who expressed concern that they would have trouble getting out of their neighborhoods in an emergency were reassured that there will not be barriers erected, only signs.

Some neighbors praised the town for paying attention to concerns they had voiced at earlier meetings. Mike Brownstein, who lives on 15th Avenue in North Fair Oaks, said he is "very pleased to see that the concerns that I and other North Fair Oaks residents raised ... that our concerns were very, very well taken care of."

"I want to thank the town of Atherton for their responsiveness," Mr. Brownstein said.

After hearing from residents at an earlier meeting, Atherton added more North Fair Oaks streets to those that will be closed to through traffic.

To make sure the plan is working, traffic counts will be taken before and after the detours start, and the town is also asking local residents to inform it of any problems.

Construction hours will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, with no work on Sundays or holidays.

In addition to the noise of construction and traffic delays, the project will also generate dust, Ms. Houlihan said. While the contractors will take steps to reduce dust kicked up by the demolition of the old culvert, "you can never get it down all the way to zero," she said.

The new channel, which serves as a retaining wall for Marsh Road as well as a conduit for water, will be poured in place, with several crews working at the same time, she said.

In order to protect trees growing on the side of the channel away from Marsh Road, some of the existing channel wall will stay in place outside the new wall. It will be buried so it won't show, but the tree roots should be protected, she said.

Signs will direct motorists to avoid Marsh Road by using Bay Road or Middlefield Road to get to Willow Road in Menlo Park, Woodside Road in Redwood City or 5th Avenue in Redwood City. After June 21, with school out, signs will direct motorists to use Ringwood Avenue in Atherton and Menlo Park. Freeway signs will direct motorists to use Woodside Road and Willow Road.

A number of streets will be closed to through traffic to stop motorists from cutting through, including Holbrook Lane, Palmer Lane, Oak Drive and San Benito, Placitas and Encina avenues in Atherton, plus sections of 6th through 18th avenues in North Fair Oaks.

The town has allocated $4.2 million to pay for the project.

More meetings

Two more community meetings will be held to discuss the detours:

● Saturday, May 7, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Fair Oaks Community Center, 2600 Middlefield Road in Redwood City.

● Wednesday, May 11, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Sports House, SAL Community Room, 3151 Edison Way in North Fair Oaks.

The town has a webpage about the project with updated information, maps of the detours, the presentation slides from Wednesday's meeting and answers to questions asked at the public meetings. The web page also had contact info for project managers and Ms. Houlihan.

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9 people like this
Posted by acomfort
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2016 at 12:51 pm

It would be very helpful if you could post the map with higher resolution (bigger) so that even the details can be read.
We need to be able to print a readable version and give it to those who are
and are not familiar with area but will be driving through this area.


6 people like this
Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on May 6, 2016 at 12:57 pm

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

You can download the map directly from the town's webpage on the project at Web Link . Or download it directly here: Web Link . We uploaded a 2MB version of the map to our website, but I believe limitations of the website do not allow you to grab the full resolution version.

5 people like this
Posted by tiny pictures
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 6, 2016 at 1:22 pm

acomford makes an excellent point. Nearly every graphic posted to is much too small to be of any use with no option for viewing a larger version. I've lost track of how many times I've clicked on an image interested to learn more but couldn't because all of the detail is completely unreadable -- just impossibly small.

Here we are in the heart of Silicon Valley, in 2016, and our primary source for local news cannot deliver images any larger than 8% of my screen (I measured).

Like this comment
Posted by K. Skogstrom
a resident of another community
on May 6, 2016 at 1:27 pm

I am so happy to hear that the many mature trees growing near the area to be covered, will be spared. I'm not looking forward to the even worse traffic congestion than that which currently exists on our Marsh Road area streets.

Thank you,
K. Skogstrom

P.S. Is there a reason "Redwood City" is not a choice in your pulldown menu for neighborhoods?

Like this comment
Posted by MP parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on May 6, 2016 at 1:33 pm

The map is a bit confusing. Will the streets off Ringwood be closed only after June 21? Edge should still be open for Laurel School traffic, yes?

10 people like this
Posted by A neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2016 at 3:50 pm

How nice for those neighborhoods. What about the rest of us that live near Bay Road and Ringwood. The traffic will be horrific.

Like this comment
Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on May 6, 2016 at 3:51 pm

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

MP Parent - The Atherton city engineer says that the streets off Ringwood will not be closed, but will have signs posted saying they are open to local traffic only. Ringwood will not be posted as a detour until June 21.

Like this comment
Posted by Everest mom
a resident of another community
on May 6, 2016 at 5:00 pm

It would also be good to pay attention to the school schedules in Redwood City, especially those that have academic summer programs. Everest HS is directly on 5th Ave, and Summit HS is on Broadway. I understand these are the Town of Atherton's plans; surely Menlo Park and Redwood City are prepping for this chaos as well?

Like this comment
Posted by Everest mom
a resident of another community
on May 6, 2016 at 5:09 pm

Also, the Middlefield/5th Ave stop light cycles are already a mess that doesn't handle traffic patterns properly, so San Mateo Co. might need to fix them?

Like this comment
Posted by MP parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on May 6, 2016 at 5:47 pm

Thank you Ms. Wood.

3 people like this
Posted by Mark L
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2016 at 8:43 pm

While I suggest it would be a good idea to follow the city's signs and/or "road entrance enforcers" and avoid the restricted areas, I believe it would be in violation of the vehicle code to enforce it, so feel free to go where you want:

CA Vehicle Code:

21101.6. Notwithstanding Section 21101, local authorities may not
place gates or other selective devices on any street which deny or
restrict the access of certain members of the public to the street,
while permitting others unrestricted access to the street.

4 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 6, 2016 at 10:03 pm

@Mark L

I believe the vehicle code section you cite refers to permanent road closures. In this instance, this is temporary restriction due to construction activity, which would allow local officials to restrict traffic.

21100.3. It is unlawful for any person to disobey the traffic
directions of a person appointed or authorized by a local authority
to regulate traffic pursuant to subdivision (e) of Section 21100 when
such appointee is wearing an official insignia issued by the local
authority and is acting in the course of his appointed duties.

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