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Wednesday: Atherton looks at ways to reduce traffic congestion

 

While its lack of commercial and multifamily zoning has kept the population of Atherton relatively stable in recent years, town officials have become increasingly concerned about the problems caused by traffic passing through Atherton as the cities surrounding it and the region continue to grow.

On Wednesday, April 17, the City Council will look at the results of two recently completed traffic studies and the fixes they recommend. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the town's council chambers at 94 Ashfield Road.

One study looks at the Alameda de las Pulgas corridor specifically, while the second looks at the town as a whole and measures two types of traffic -- pass-through (vehicles starting and ending their journey through Atherton on one street) and cut-through (vehicles that use more than one street to pass through Atherton).

The studies found that on Alameda de las Pulgas, 89% of southbound traffic is pass-through and 6% is cut-through. Northbound, 70% of traffic is pass through and 20 percent cut through. In both directions on Middlefield Road, 75% of traffic is pass-through and 20% cut-through.

The consultants also suggested how to reduce the impacts of traffic in their reports.

Among the recommendations is the installation of traffic lights on Alameda de las Pulgas at Atherton Avenue, Stockbridge Avenue and Camino al Lago; on Middlefield Road at Fair Oaks Lane and Watkins Avenue; and on Valparaiso Avenue at Elena and Emilie avenues. The studies say that the traffic lights would significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to pass through those intersections during commute hours.

Also on the agenda is a discussion about seeking an alternative to the town's current garbage and recycling service provider, Recology. A report says that the contract with Recology is due to expire at the end of 2020, and the cost of service from that company is likely to increase significantly over the 15-year term of a new contract.

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Comments

4 people like this
Posted by MEMBERONE
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 16, 2019 at 12:14 pm

Lets also limit/eliminate pass thru traffic via Lindenwood. The signs are ineffective and illegal (ask the Atherton PD or City Manager)...
Not only are people cutting through but also not observing the 25mph speed limit.
Perhaps employ the model PA uses with Waymo to not show Lindenwood on their routing.


Like this comment
Posted by Frank Quinn
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 16, 2019 at 12:26 pm

Certainly we should encourage through traffic to use 101 or 280 instead of clogging up our streets!


Like this comment
Posted by Build a wall?
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Apr 16, 2019 at 1:10 pm

Wow, up to 95% of the traffic on Alameda is just from people cutting through the town? That road is cancer during commute times. Almost makes one want to build a wall around the city and eliminate all of the traffic. But it's not like 101 or 280 or El Camino can handle any more traffic during that time, so no place for that traffic to go.


5 people like this
Posted by Sensible
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 16, 2019 at 1:42 pm

While considering Atherton's traffic concerns, don't overlook the elephant in the room known as "The Grand Boulevard" scheme which consists of decreasing the number of lanes on El Camino going thru Atherton. They want to remove one entire southbound lane and replace it with a bicycle/pedestrian pathway. How very short-sighted! Just what we need, more traffic congestion! Look at the clogged traffic in Menlo Park on the El Camino and you'll see what it will be like in Atherton if they are allowed to go ahead with this terrible idea. The Atherton Planning Commission and City Council are working currently on approving this absurd idea. Residents should attend the meetings or at least write a letter to the Commission and the Council telling them to scrap this impractical idea to impede traffic on El Camino on the pretense of accommodating bicycles and walkers who don't really exist.


4 people like this
Posted by TomS
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 16, 2019 at 1:47 pm

Wouldn't adding a traffic light to these streets only increase the amount of people using Stockbridge, Atherton Ave, Watkins, etc as cut-through streets? That seems counter productive to what I imagine most people in town would like to see.


3 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 16, 2019 at 2:54 pm

Atherton should work with Redwood City and Menlo Park instead of going alone. If they attempt to push traffic onto streets in those cities they are likely to face opposition and possibly traffic mitigation efforts from those cities that will impact Atherton. I am also curious, the south side of Camino al Lago is Menlo Park and not Atherton (I believe the city limit runs down the middle of the street) so I am not sure how Atherton could put a stop light in when they do not actually control the entire intersection?


7 people like this
Posted by P. Anders
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 17, 2019 at 3:21 pm

Traffic is a mess, but Atherton is little to blame. Our sister cities on the Peninsula continue to attract new commercial development and add housing while ignoring the fact that the effects of their actions don't stop at city limits. Peninsula leaders needs to work with companies to consider other locations to move to and/or open satellite offices. Our country is filled with cities and town who would love to add new housing and jobs. The Bay Area is busting at the seams and we're choking with overcrowding. Spread out people. Spread out.


6 people like this
Posted by The 99%
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 17, 2019 at 3:49 pm

Atherton logic:

Since, we, the creators of wealth in the Valley are privileged, we hereby proclaim:

- that the private aviation that we enjoy needs to not pass through our airspace. route it over someone else's neighborhood, unless of course, we have to get to Coachella before the headliner goes on stage

- that the plebes of neighboring communities that we have built our wealth upon the backs of need not use our roads. maybe they do pay taxes on those roads, but we pay more taxes (in theory), so our rules trump their access to the commons

- while making improvements to public transportation might help lessen these issues, we are a quiet, pastoral village that need not be burdened with the sound of trains and the ungodly sight of berms that enable the transport of "those" people

- that building a privately funded baseball diamond in our park is a crime against humanity and will only lead to derelicts living beneath the bleachers. kids and families from outside our walls be damned! and a snack shack? oh, the humanity!!!

- whilst our economic success has helped created these problems, they are not our problems to solve. we will wall off our community of walled off estates and make East Menlo Park and East Palo Alto pay for it. heck, that's kind of the story of Palo Alto / East Palo Alto from the 1950s, right?

Ok, not totally fair, but I will opine on the solutions proposed. Essentially, they are making it less painful for pass-thru traffic by controlling the flow. The stop signs at Atherton Ave / Alameda de las Pulgas create a painful bottleneck. Even without increased flow, a stoplight there would likely dampen the mental aggravation at least, unless of course you have to sit through multiple cycles... Now, with more stop lights on AdlP, it may lead to bigger pass thru issues on the Atherton side streets... but so what, the homes all have walls anyways...

The Middlefield and Valpo recommendations seem smart at first glance. All of those intersections are a nightmare during commute hours and could use better flow control.


4 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Apr 17, 2019 at 4:38 pm

I sympathize with atherton on this. I wouldn’t be too happy if neighboring towns (ie mp or Woodside) grew and then attempted to route traffic through PV. Towns need to realize if they are going to grow they have to do so responsibly. Atherton is simply standing up for an injustice caused by Menlo Park growth and Palo Alto. Not fair to them as Atherton population has not grown, so why should they share the burden?


3 people like this
Posted by Island?
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 18, 2019 at 12:27 am

Well, the elephant in the room is that Atherton's population or housing has NOT grown with all the neighboring communities. Atherton needs to share in the investment in housing, infrastructure, and the like as much as any community. It is not an island. How many 10s to 100s of thousands of employees/contractors are employed because of the decisions of executives in Atherton?


28 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 18, 2019 at 4:01 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

A roundabout at Atherton Ave and the Alameda would be much more efficient than a traffic light. And much more suitable to different traffic levels at off peak hours


4 people like this
Posted by Lydia
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 18, 2019 at 8:34 am

Lydia is a registered user.

To Sensible and others who object to bike lanes on El Camino, I definitely sympathize with your fears of traffic congestion. However, creating a speedway down ECR through Atherton doesn't help much for cars either if there are bottlenecks at both ends. By making it safer for people to get around via bicycle or foot, we have a chance of getting some of that through traffic off the road.

Those "bicycles and walkers who don't really exist" currently do exist. Remember those tragic collisions between cars and pedestrians who have died on ECR? The bike/pedestrian-operated lights that have been installed are one step towards making ECR less dangerous. There are many workers who commute by bicycle (who presumably can't afford a car) between Redwood City and towns south. If you look for them, you'll see them.

El Camino Real is a state road that bridges all the communities along the Peninsula and has the potential to be much better than a congested minor freeway. Being able to bike or walk to retail, restaurants and services and take fast, efficient public transportation for longer distances is a delightful luxury that people seek out on their travels worldwide. We could have it here too.


28 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2019 at 10:08 am

"Atherton needs to share in the investment"

It's worth pointing out the following:

1: The Atherton town government does in fact make|advocate-for investments in infrastructure. The most recent example of this is the rebuild of the Atherton Channel next to Marsh Road; and there are others, such as the work towards creating a water treatment facility (politically divisive as it may be, it's clearly an example of investing in infrastructure), and their advocacy for stoplights on El Camino Real to improve pedestrian safety.

2: People commonly conflate the town's revenue and the wealth of some of the town's residents. For some context, here are the projected 2018-2019 revenues of several nearby government agencies:

* City of Menlo Park: $148,570,000
* City of East Palo Alto: 39,401,700
* Menlo Park Fire Protection District: $54,600,000
* Menlo Park City School District: $51,232,991
* Ravenswood School District: $42,138,994
* Town of Atherton: $15,760,043

(sources:
Atherton: Web Link
MP: Web Link
MPFPD: Web Link
MPCSD: Web Link
EPA: Web Link
Ravenswood: not included due to site's 5-weblink limit)

Atherton, by far, has the smallest revenue to work with. To put it in perspected, the next smallest (EPA) has a revenue projection that is over 2.5 TIMES larger than Atherton's.


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