News


Menlo Park: Willows residents plead with city for traffic relief

Council to consider action to ease acute congestion Dec. 5

Desperation is mounting in the Willows.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, a time when many seek respite to spend time with their families, a group of about 30 Willows residents gathered to draft a petition to the City Council, and collected about 350 hard-copy and online signatures (as of Nov. 29) in favor of immediate action to curb unprecedented levels of cut-through traffic, according to Willows resident Amar Murugan.

Though residents have for years complained about commuters cutting through the Willows, the recent installation of temporary traffic signals at the Willow Road/U.S. 101 interchange as part of Caltrans' project to rebuild the interchange has resulted in blocks of residential streets being gridlocked from roughly 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. each weekday.

Some locals took their concerns to the City Council on Nov. 29, regaling council members with horror stories of being locked out of their neighborhood, of kids experiencing near-misses with frustrated drivers going down the wrong side of the road, of angry commuters shouting and refusing to let residents out of their driveways.

As might be expected, residents of the side streets closest to the Willow Road/U.S. 101 entrance have been hardest hit. Residents of Durham, Chester and O'Keefe streets say that in recent weeks their street is a logjam of angry commuters, backed up blocks to Laurel Avenue starting around 4 p.m., and farther down the street at evening peak times.

Birgit Greschner, a resident of Chester Street, said that the traffic has become a major quality of life problem and a safety concern. Starting as early as 3 p.m., she said, she's had cars idling in front of her house. She's taken to parking blocks away from her home, even after grocery shopping runs, since she can't get in or out of her driveway.

Chris DeCardy, who is a member of the Environmental Quality Commission, but was speaking to the Almanac as a resident of the neighborhood, said that in his time on the commission, he's never seen a neighborhood so united in its desire for immediate action.

The petition itself is straightforward. It reads, "We are Willows neighbors concerned about the safety of our streets due to the unprecedented speed and volume of traffic during many hours of the day. This ongoing problem has been exacerbated by construction of the Willow Road / Highway 101 bridge. We urge the City Council to take immediate measures during this construction period to restore our neighborhood safety by addressing speed and volume of traffic while protecting the character and vitality of our neighborhood, including residences, schools and businesses."

A simpler version of the petition online at change.org had attracted 208 signatures as of Dec. 1.

What can be done?

On Tuesday, Dec. 5, the Menlo Park City Council was scheduled to discuss some short-, mid-, and long-term ideas to ease congestion. The council could act to approve the short-term ideas Tuesday; city staff are recommending the council hold off on implementing the others until the short-term ideas have been enacted and their effects studied.

Short-term ideas

• Install signs prohibiting right turns onto Willow Road from O'Keefe, Chester and Durham streets between 3 and 7 p.m. on weekdays.

• Add "Keep clear" pavement markings on Willow Road at O'Keefe, Chester and Durham streets.

• Add signs prohibiting left turns from Woodland Avenue to Baywood Avenue between 3 and 7 p.m. on weekdays.

• Add signs saying "No access to Willow Road" on Laurel Avenue at Chester Street and Menalto Avenue at Chester and Green streets.

• Create a partial "bulb out" at Middlefield Road and Woodland Avenue.

• Dedicate $275,000 in funding to coordinate traffic signals. (The city has applied for a grant to do this, but putting city funding into it would speed the process.)

Mid-term ideas

• Prohibit right turns from Gilbert Avenue onto Willow Road.

• Prohibit right turns from the Pope-Chaucer bridge onto Woodland Avenue between 3 and 7 p.m. on weekdays.

• Prohibit left turns from Marmona Drive onto Gilbert Avenue and from Woodland Avenue onto Blackburn Avenue.

• Close Clover Lane at Willow Road to create a cul-de-sac.

While these changes might deter cut-through commuters, they might also make it harder for residents to get around the neighborhood, according to staff, so they're being held for consideration at a future date, after the short-term ideas are implemented.

Other ideas

Staff presented a third tier of ideas that, according to a staff report, "would have potentially significant unintended consequences."

Those ideas are to:

• Temporarily lift the overnight parking ban along Woodland Avenue.

• Restrict access to the neighborhood to locals only. This would require giving about 2,500 local residents (including residents of East Palo Alto west of U.S. 101) placards and monitoring the neighborhood's 15 entrances. The city would also have to figure out a way to allow business and school employees, students and patrons access to the neighborhood.

• Make Willow Road one-way during evening peak traffic hours.

• Add lanes to Willow Road by removing parking or bike lanes.

• Add stop signs on Central Avenue and Laurel Avenue at Walnut and Elm streets.

• Close the Pope-Chaucer bridge to car traffic and allow only pedestrian and bike access.

City staff members said that many of the ideas haven't been vetted with a formal community outreach process, but noted that some of the recommendations come from a neighborhood traffic study completed in 2011. At the time that study was completed, according to Assistant City Manager Chip Taylor, residents could not reach consensus as to which measures should be implemented, so the study was shelved.

Other recommendations have been compiled from residents' comments and suggestions on how to ease the problem.

What's been done so far

To address the Willows traffic crisis so far, the city has installed "No Thru Traffic" signs at several Willows neighborhood entry points: on Woodland Avenue at Middlefield Road and the Pope-Chaucer bridge, on Baywood Avenue at Woodland Avenue, on Blackburn Avenue at Willow Road, and on Menalto Avenue at Chester Street.

The yellow "advisory" signs initially installed were replaced with white "regulatory" signs, but, staff note, the signs "do not appear to be enforceable."

Caltrans' contractor has added some pavement painting at the interchange to make it less confusing, and more traffic signs have been ordered and will be installed soon, staff say. Caltrans and the city are working on coordinating the traffic signals along Willow Road from Durham to Newbridge streets, according to the staff report. The city has also increased police enforcement and presence in the construction and neighborhood areas.

Meeting information

The Menlo Park City Council meets Tuesday, Dec. 5, starting at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at 701 Laurel St. in the Civic Center.

See the meeting agenda online here and watch the meeting online here.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story indicated the city was considering a left-turn ban from the Pope-Chaucer bridge onto Woodland Avenue. The ban under consideration would be for right turns, according to Menlo Park transportation engineer Angela Obeso.

--

Sign up for Almanac Express to get news updates. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

19 people like this
Posted by SUP
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 1, 2017 at 6:28 pm

I predict that this will become a permanent problem once the Greenheart and Stanford multi-use complexes on ECR come online in a few years -- even if a new 101 interchange. But that train has already left the station.


7 people like this
Posted by Clunge
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 1, 2017 at 6:56 pm

Add more housing and businesses to Menlo Park!!!! I've lived on the same street for 50 yrs-- the city council planner etc are ruining Menlo Park.


18 people like this
Posted by It's just politics
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Dec 1, 2017 at 10:03 pm

Best idea on this list is to remove the existing Chaucer St Bridge. This would also give the San Francisquito Creek JPA the opportunity to control the flooding issue. The downtown Palo Alto office workers and Stanford employee commute traffic are using the Willows as their most direct route to 101 and the east bay. These poor drivers will do anything to get out of the University Ave. congestion. The Willow Rd interchange is a new wrinkle to a problem that has been growing over the past 5 years. If the city is finally listening, there must be a city council race around the corner. Could any of our council members be looking to run again? Why has Palo Alto allowed so much office development downtown and on Stanford campus? Why has Menlo Park allowed Facebook to grow, adding millions of square feet of more office?
SUP and Clunge you have good sniffers and something stinks.


14 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of another community
on Dec 1, 2017 at 10:44 pm

Won't it even be worse, or at least as bad, once the Willow/101 interchange is completed, given that it is being changed from a full cloverleaf to a half cloverleaf? It will be like the half cloverleaf at University/101, which is a big cause of the backup on University.


4 people like this
Posted by Rachel
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Dec 2, 2017 at 12:55 am

Anything but making Willow one way. Most traffic in the evening is going east toward the Dumbarton. The residents of the Willows, Vintage Oaks and Menlo Oaks are trying to get home from Facebook or the 101 going Westbound. If we get off on Marsh or University it’s a hardship for us and it just moves the traffic over to those exits. I’m all for no right turns on the streets coming out of the Willows. The residents of MP go left or straight on those streets. K


13 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 2, 2017 at 6:07 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

A third reversible lane could easily be added to Willow simply by removing the bulb outs and some parking.

And such a lane would facilitate emergency access.


7 people like this
Posted by Quinn
a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2017 at 8:12 am

Post providing context from previous article:

"Posted by Gary Lauder
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 15, 2017 at 11:26 pm

This article and most of the comments to it are about the temporary(?) consequences during the construction period.

The real travesty will be the waste of time and emotional energy from the worsened traffic jams that this interchange change will result in from 2019 until ????. In economic terms, the cost of the incremental wasted time will measure in $billions, which will make the $70M that is being wasted to do this pale in comparison.

I tried to warn the city council about this starting in February of 2016:

A year ago, I made public comments at a CC meeting and provided this handout:
Web Link (abbreviated version of above)

The only council members who tried to fight it were Catherine Carlton and Ray Mueller (although they were more genteel than I would have been).

PO & RC did talk with me, but did not act.
KK and Alex McIntyre never responded to multiple attempts to communicate about this.
Ultimately the latter 4 are responsible.

The disaster is not finalized. If the MPCC were to acknowledge that CalTrans's plans are flawed, they can mitigate the problem by restoring it to a cloverleaf (and using the wider bridge for proper bike lane(s).

In politics, it is rare that people or government bodies admit an error and change plans. Usually the people have to be changed out for that to occur. Time will tell whether these individuals will be the rare exceptions.
-GML"


8 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 2, 2017 at 12:38 pm

I have to disagree with Kate, I think Desperate is the wrond word, frustrated is more like it. We are frustrated that most of us saw this coming when they announced plans to change the Willow/101 intersection. This was brought up in meetings with council members months before the project was started and it fell on deaf or uncaring ears. Had anyone with the authority to make changes happen been proactive this would not be a problem now. Instead many of us can not enter or leave our homes for hours a day, emergency vehicles can not get through to people who need them and people are speeding down neighborhood streets to save a couple minutes.


2 people like this
Posted by Never going back to a full cloverleaf
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 2, 2017 at 3:13 pm

I don't think the interchange is ever going to revert back to a cloverleaf, so we might as well accept that. The trend of CalTrans statewide is do away with full cloverleafs and this is a project that has only just started and won't be stopping any time soon.

I still am in favor of the reversible lane idea or limiting right turns onto some Willows streets during the rush hour (which is enforceable, unlike "no thru traffic signs").


7 people like this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 2, 2017 at 3:38 pm

Why does Caltrain want to get rid of cloverleafs? I don't get it. Surely an intersection with no lights is better than one with lights.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 2, 2017 at 3:40 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

There is nothing that the city can do to reduce the number of cars wanting to use Willow Road.

Putting Willow Road on a "road diet" has simply caused constipation and has forced traffic into the side streets.

Put in a reversible third lane NOW.


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 2, 2017 at 3:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Why does Caltrain want to get rid of cloverleafs?"

To eliminate the very dangerous merging of cars that are entering and cars that are leaving the highway.


13 people like this
Posted by Waste of Money
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 2, 2017 at 4:26 pm

There was no record of dangerous merging conditions at Willow and 101. The intersection change was driven by those seeking a way to make it safer for bikes and pedestrians to cross the bridge, even though there already exists a separate bike bridge, and special interests trying to make it easier for cars to get off the freeway to get to Facebook and Dumbarton, at the expense of confessing traffic ileaving Menlo Park. The City Council approved this project and paid millions for it. Two Councilmembers tried to fight it but lost. Now we are stuck with this mess.


10 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 2, 2017 at 4:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"There was no record of dangerous merging conditions at Willow and 101."

I personally saw numerous accidents and many near accidents at that merge!


14 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 2, 2017 at 4:37 pm

Peter Carpenter, you should have represented CalTrans at the Menlo Park City Council meeting earlier this year, when they said they didn't have a record of such events to present. Could your memory be biased by the fact for years you have argued Willow needs add more lanes and now with the new intersection and added congestion you have a basis for to get your way? Won't be long before you get that expressway to Stanford Hospital.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 2, 2017 at 4:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Caltrans EIR for this project lists 22 ramp accidents between April 2008 and March 2011.


19 people like this
Posted by Waste of Money
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 2, 2017 at 4:55 pm

22 accidents over four years? Are you serious? How many hundreds of thousands of car trips occurred over that same time period at that intersection? How many of those accidents you cite were serious injury collisions, as opposed to minor incidents? That is a very small number of accidents for an intersection with so much volume. Good try. We aren't buying it. The project is a total waste of money.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 2, 2017 at 5:13 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"There was no record of dangerous merging conditions at Willow and 101."

Wrong - as I reported accidents occur on the ramps on a frequent basis.


20 people like this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 2, 2017 at 7:58 pm

So because six idiots a year can't merge without getting into a fender-bender, the entire road is going to be in permanent traffic light gridlock? What's the safety and sanity cost of that?


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 2, 2017 at 8:03 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The 101- Willow interchange design is final and being built.

The amount of traffic on Willow Road exceeds its artificially constrained capacity.

So we need to deal with the reality.

Add a reversible third lane to Willow now.


11 people like this
Posted by road to nowhere
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 2, 2017 at 9:36 pm

Adding a lane to West Willow will just make it a bigger parking lot.
The issue is the intersection's new design and Willow East of 101 to the bridge.
The only benefit of the new intersection is maybe better traffic flow on 101 NB, which is a parking lot anyway during rush hours.

The best and cheapest fix would have been to leave the leaf alone and improve East Willow to Dumbarton.

I guess that would have been too easy.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 2, 2017 at 9:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The 101- Willow interchange design is final and being built.

So we need to deal with the reality.

Add a reversible third lane to Willow now.


16 people like this
Posted by Peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2017 at 10:41 pm

"Add a reversible third lane to Willow"

"Adding a lane to West Willow will just make it a bigger parking lot"

You're both right. Adding capacity to Willow rd is part of the solution; the problem is that making at capacity effective requires Palo Alto being a good partner in moving traffic thru the main arteries of Willow, University, middlefield, Sand Hill etc.

Unfortunately Palo Alto actively works on pushing traffic INTO Menlo Park. You will get no cooperation from them unless you go to war with them.

My suggestion: implement Carpenter's suggestion contingent on Palo Alto making middlefield 4 Lanes to University, as it was earlier in the year.

If they don't, make Willow 2 lanes, with larger shoulders (for emergency vehicles) and no bulbouts, no turns during commute hours, only 1 left-turn at Willow/middlefield and more stoplights. Make Willow road so hideous that commuters go to University.


7 people like this
Posted by Jim
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 2, 2017 at 10:52 pm

How about, add reversible lane to the Dumbarton? That is where the cars are going.

Adding lanes to Willow just creates a larger parking lot.

Also, why should Menlo Park attract new traffic? Only if University and Marsh and lanes also. Otherwise Menlo Park becomes the preferred route. Add the wider parking lot, then those cars start cutting through.


5 people like this
Posted by Jim
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 2, 2017 at 10:59 pm

Only a regional solution can solve this. It's only fair to widen Marsh and University too, simultaneously. We don't need both Palo Alto and Atherton dumping their traffic onto Menlo.

But even that is no real solution, unless the Dumbarton creates a reversible lane. Like "the zipper" on the Golden Gate bridge.


10 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 3, 2017 at 10:48 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"It's only fair to widen Marsh and University too, simultaneously."

I agree.

It was irresponsible for Atherton to spends millions replacing a two lane Marsh Road with another two lane Marsh Road. The new Marsh Road should have included a third reversible lane.

And a thid reversible lane could be easily added to University Ave.


28 people like this
Posted by Peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2017 at 1:52 pm

"It was irresponsible for Atherton to spends millions replacing a two lane Marsh Road with another two lane Marsh Road."

In fairness, Atherton did have the foresight to rebuild the Atherton channel to support another lane on Marsh; that was impossible with the old, decrepit channel. It's not exactly wasted millions considering the old infrastructure didn't support another lane and the new one does.

Also...I'm going to be a bit pedantic here, but the following observation is spot on...Mr. Carpenter DID just agree that expansion of Marsh and University (and Willow) should be done simultaneously ("widen Marsh and University too, simultaneously." "I agree."). At the time Marsh was rebuilt, there were no real efforts to increase capacity on Willow or University, and in fact my recollection is that several people (including Mr. Carpenter, IIRC) have advocated for Willow capacity increases, only to meet resistance and/or deaf ears from Menlo Park and its residents.

It's hypocritical to demand OTHER communities increase the capacity of arterial roads, when you (Menlo Park and Palo Alto) are unwilling to increase the capacity of your own. At least Atherton...despite its substantially smaller budget...has spent funds for arterial capacity increases and has planned ahead.


What has Menlo Park done for capacity expansion at Willow? NOTHING. You've done nothing.

What has Menlo Park done for capacity expansion on El Camino (where it goes from 3 lanes each way to 2, then back to 3, causing backups on El Camino)? NOTHING. You've done nothing.

What has Palo Alto done for capacity on University? NOTHING. They've done nothing.

What has Palo Alto done to allow traffic between Alma and San Hill? NOTHING, and they continue to insist on pushing U-turn traffic into Menlo Park.

What has Palo Alto done for capacity expansion on Middlefield at the PA/MP border? Worse than nothing, they've intentionally added a bottleneck at the City border to create gridlock in Menlo Park.




6 people like this
Posted by Jim
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 3, 2017 at 2:25 pm

Can anyone show me where this 3-lane concept is actually used? I think they mean, that a crew comes out 2 or 4 times a day and moves pylons back and forth to redefine the lanes. The only place I can think of is the Golden Gate bridge. And the main place I think this would actually help down here is the Dumbarton bridge. That is the source and the destination of all the cars. Without starting there, wider Marsh, University, Willow (even simultaneously) simple results in bother parking lots called streets, since the Dumbarton remains the mother of all our bottlenecks.


7 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 3, 2017 at 4:41 pm

If the problem is primarily afternoon westbound traffic, then you don't need a reversible lane. Since residents don't appear to be complaining about congestion headed east during the morning commute, set up two westbound lanes and one eastbound lane. Do this for University, Willows, and Marsh.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter F Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 3, 2017 at 5:37 pm

Wash DC runs Connecticut Ave with a reversible lane AM and PM in the demand direction with only overhead lane signal lights and no cones or divider.


14 people like this
Posted by Jenson
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 3, 2017 at 5:38 pm

The idea of widening willow will simply make traffic twice as bad. There are so many cars now that an extra lane will do nothing to ease the problem. It will just be a bigger parking lot as others have said.
Removing bulb outs and parking along Willow to add lanes is not a good idea. Where do all those bike riders go that use the bike lanes and what happens to all the bus riders if you have no room for bus stops. Why penalize those who DO use alternate transportation and DO live in Menlo Park. Peter, your idea is not helpful for Menlo Park/ Willow Rd residents

Make Willow a toll road and if you live outside Menlo Park you pay a hefty fee for the privilidge of using it. Drivers will go elsewhere. If you live in Menlo Park you don't pay at all. Give the road back to residents and create a revenue stream that will pay for the expense of the change over. It's time to think out of the box


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 3, 2017 at 7:33 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Make Willow a toll road" - not legally possible.

Either make it easier for traffic to flow on Willow or accept the perpetual overflow into the adjacent neighborhoods - there is no other choice.


Like this comment
Posted by it's only going to get worse
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 4, 2017 at 2:45 am

it's only going to get worse is a registered user.

Peter,

How long would it take to set them up and take them down each day.

Would it back up traffic when they are being set up/take down

What do the barriers look like.

btw,I agree with you it's the only meaningful fix. Everything else is a band aid

I also suggest adding a lane by taking out one side of parking, pop outs, bicycle lanes etc.

Also an fyi There is more new space being built in MP andPA that the traffic we have now will look like nothing.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 4, 2017 at 6:49 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

It's only going to get worse:

it doesn't have to get set up and taken down each day. You only need to go to Lafayette Street in Santa Clara to see how it works. It is controlled with light signals. That is all that would be needed on Willow.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 4, 2017 at 7:40 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Connecticut Avenue1
is a two way major arterial running north-south through the study
area. There is a total of six lanes on Connecticut Avenue with a reversible lane in
operation during the AM and PM peak periods. As shown in Figure 2, Connecticut
Avenue operates with four southbound and two northbound lanes during weekdays from
7:00-9:30 AM and four northbound and two southbound lanes during weekdays from
4:00-6:30 PM. No parking is allowed on Connecticut Avenue during AM and PM
reversible lane operation. During off peak hours and weekends, Connecticut Avenue
operates as two-lanes in each direction with parking allowed on both sides of the road.
There are parking meters on both sides of Connecticut Avenue from Albemarle to Van
Ness Street and on the west side of Connecticut from Van Ness to Tilden Street. The
posted speed limit is 30 mph. There is no median on Connecticut Avenue. "


Like this comment
Posted by Sheldon Kay
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 4, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Why aren't people looking past the end of their noses?
There are relatively easy fixes that will help the flow of Willow evening traffic. That is the real cause of the problem.

1. Get rid of the right turn light at Willow & Bayfront Expressway. Put in a few hundred yards of pavement and have Willow traffic merge freeway style on to Bayfront.

2. Because there are 2 new lights at 101/Willow that makes Willow traffic worst, take away 2 lights. Coleman & O'Brien.
There are ways the traffic that uses those lights can cope.


9 people like this
Posted by Sawn
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Dec 4, 2017 at 1:12 pm

I feel your pain. Traffic has been terrible in the Belle Haven neighborhood for the last couple of years, but since the interchange, it takes me 40 minutes to get from the backup on Bay Road to the other side of 101. And I'm getting to the back up at 4:15 - which used to be early enough. I've parked at the bike bridge and walked home more times in the last month than ever before. And a 3 hour gap between the end of day and nighttime meetings is no longer enough to warrant going the three miles home. It is a terrible situation and ALL the residents of Menlo Park need some traffic relief.


17 people like this
Posted by Willows resident
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 4, 2017 at 1:30 pm

There is no good solution (for the whole Bay Area) other than people switching to public transportation and bicycles. Another, much less effective, possibility is adding a connection to 101 from Bay Road between Willow and Marsh. At this moment, the only thing that can be done to improve traffic flow at all is the opposite of what most people are saying: make it easier, not harder, for traffic to use all available streets and find alternate routes. Forcing everyone onto Willow only makes the situation worse (even with an extra lane, which would have no appreciable effect), trapping people on their own streets and greatly hindering emergency services, which depend on Willow Road being passable. Many of the suggestions would turn the Willows into a prison. We are living in a city: all public streets must be available for all vehicles at all times.


7 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 4, 2017 at 2:53 pm

A long term solution could be restarting Dumbarton Rail. It will likely take more than a decade to do since BART to San Jose is consuming all regional mass transit funds it can find.

I don't see any other way to increase capacity lest you want to build a direct freeway connection between 101 and Dumbarton. But that would only solve delays getting on the bridge. The bridge itself is still congested.


2 people like this
Posted by Pete L
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Dec 4, 2017 at 4:01 pm

Jim -- an example of an excellently-implemented 3rd (middle) reversible lane can be seen on Lafayette St. in Santa Clara near Santa Clara University. The direction of traffic for the middle lane is indicated by an overhead light during commute hours. During non-commute hours, the lane serves as a turning lane. This has been in place for years (decades?) and is very effective in moving commute traffic through the area.


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 4, 2017 at 4:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It is time for the angry electorate to demand action by the City Council - NOW.

A concerned City Council could add a reversible third lane to Willow within months.

There is nothing else that can be done to alleviate this problem in less than 5 years.


Like this comment
Posted by Insanity
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 4, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Just read an article about a driver brandishing a gun at other drivers in the Willows traffic last week:

Web Link

This is getting nuts.


5 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 4, 2017 at 5:14 pm

I don't know the situation down there as I avoid it like the plague at the times discussed.
However, my impression was that the main difficulties are getting onto the 101 and getting over Dumbarton.
If these are the problems, it seems like the people saying that you will just make a bigger parking lot.

Is the number of cars getting onto the 101 limited by the supply of cars from Willow?
Is the number of cars getting onto Dumbarton limited by the supply from Willow?

Could someone advocating for more lanes on Willow explain how it will get traffic flowing? Peter? Anyone?

I personally don't see a solution with so many drivers wanting to drive in their own car all at the same time.
A regional solution could make a dent (widen Marsh and University at the same time), but it won't last. More developments coming to ECR in Menlo soon, and they are already talking about updating the specific plan to allow even more development. Yeah growth! Quality of life be damned.


6 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 4, 2017 at 8:01 pm

Brian is a registered user.

expanding Willow is not the answer, make it wider and you just get even more cars in the gridlock. There are some short term solutions that the City is likely to try to help the problems experienced by the residents but a bigger solution needs to involve Palo Alto and Atherton. The City also needs to get tougher with Stanford which is adding to the problem by developing more office space without care for tie impact to traffic in Menlo Park or Palo Alto.


12 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 4, 2017 at 8:06 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Let me elaborate on my previous comment. If Willow being one lane in either direction were the bottle neck then it would reason that once it becomes two lanes in each direction (especially East bound where the problem is) it would open up and flow a lot faster, but that is not the case. Willow Road is a parking lot from Durham (where it widensto 4 lanes) all the way to Bayfront Expressway. Adding a second lane from Middle Field to Durham will just provide parking for that many more cars while adding more fumes to the people who live on Willow and closer to them since you would need to reduce or eliminate the bike lanes. Not a solution that should even be considered.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 4, 2017 at 8:39 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Make a third Willow Road reversible lane a 3 person pool lane and you would see an immediate reduction in the number of cars.


7 people like this
Posted by Willow Road Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 6, 2017 at 1:50 pm

The residents living on Willow Road has endured this problem for years. Creating additional lanes will encourage more vehicles into the gridlock during commute hours or an expressway on weekends and off peak time. The posted speed limit is 25 mph through the residential zone. Cars typically race through the street like a freeway or idling while stuck in traffic.
Willow Road is already unsafe for children taking the bus to school daily. Eliminating parking and bike lanes that's essential for local residents is unfair and doesn’t solve the traffic problem that’s created from poor planning and over development.
The capacity that Willow Road was designed for should be maintained. Why should capacity through Willow Road increase if University and Marsh remains the same? We need to work to reduce the number of vehicle on the road rather than increasing.


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

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

After experiencing harassment, owner of Zareen's restaurants speaks out about Islamophobia, racism
By Elena Kadvany | 28 comments | 7,574 views

Don't Miss Your Exit (and other lessons from an EV drive)
By Sherry Listgarten | 14 comments | 2,502 views

Goodbye Food Waste!
By Laura Stec | 8 comments | 2,447 views

Good News: The New Menlo Park Rail Subcommittee Hits A Home Run
By Dana Hendrickson | 12 comments | 1,634 views

Premarital and Couples: Tips for Hearing (Listening) and Being Known
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,028 views

 

Register today!

On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Learn More