Belle Haven traffic plan in development | August 8, 2018 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - August 8, 2018

Belle Haven traffic plan in development

by Kate Bradshaw

Each day, tens of thousands of cars pass through a couple of key intersections in Menlo Park's Belle Haven neighborhood, and after years of requests for help from some frustrated residents, a plan is in the works to reduce cut-through traffic and improve safety.

During a recent count, the Willow Road/Newbridge Street intersection had 33,100 vehicles pass through in one day, while 26,800 vehicles passed through the Willow Road and Hamilton Avenue intersection, according to Menlo Park city staff.

Staff developed a series of recommendations and options that were considered by the Complete Streets Commission, such as adding bulb-outs at intersections, installing bike lanes, painting shoulder stripes, extending curbs, and installing speed humps, among other steps. Each option that staff presented came with pluses and minuses to be weighed. For instance: Installing bike lanes narrows vehicle lanes. That helps reduce speeds and separate bikes from cars, but also removes on-street parking. And in some places, it may not be feasible because the roads are not wide enough.

Similarly, bulb-outs are good for improving pedestrian safety because they shorten the distance that pedestrians have to walk unprotected in the middle of the road, but they carry the downside of claiming parking spots and making it harder for emergency vehicles to make turns.

Staff also recommend adding crosswalks and fixing curb ramps to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as soon as possible.

Go to online to see the full range of options that were considered.

The commission directed staff to keep working with the neighborhood to develop a draft plan by mid-August, which will be put on display for several weeks at the Belle Haven neighborhood service center, senior center, and branch library, where people will be encouraged to provide feedback, according to Kevin Chen, Menlo Park associate transportation engineer. Input will also be collected by phone at 650-330-6770, and by email at More information will be available via social media and at

After comments are collected, staff plan to bring the draft plan back to the Complete Streets Commission in September and to the City Council for final approval in late 2018 or early 2019, according to Chen.

Steps taken

A number of steps have already been taken to improve neighborhood traffic, according to staff.

In June, the City Council approved the installation of "No through traffic" signs to be placed at four entrances to the neighborhood. The city has also installed left-turn restrictions from southbound Chilco Street to eastbound Hamilton Avenue during evening commute times; bulb-outs at the Chilco Street and Hamilton Avenue intersection; a traffic circle at the Ivy Drive-Market Place-Ringwood Avenue intersection; and speed humps on Terminal, Henderson, Windermere, Hollyburne, Sevier, Madera and Carlton avenues and Pierce Road.

The city also established a 15-mile-per-hour school zone near Hamilton Avenue, Chilco Street, Ivy Drive and Almanor Avenue. In addition, it closed traffic on Henderson Avenue at Ivy Drive, on Howard Street at Windermere Avenue, on Windermere Avenue at Chilco Street and on Ivy Drive in front of the Belle Haven Branch Library.

To implement some of the alternatives proposed, the city will need the cooperation of other agencies, staff noted. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission controls swaths of Ivy Drive because the roadway sits atop the Hetch Hetchy right-of-way and Caltrans controls Willow Road.

Also, different groups want sometimes conflicting accommodations. The Menlo Park Fire Protection District has as a priority a wide roadway and minimal new barriers, which could make it harder for emergency vehicles to turn. And residents might not want to eliminate street parking to enable bike lanes to be installed.

The traffic study and any permanent changes made to the neighborhood as part of the traffic calming initiative will be paid for by Facebook as part of an agreement the company made with the city when it secured permission to build the new office buildings it is constructing between the neighborhood and Bayfront Expressway.


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