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Menlo Park council OKs 'traffic calming' measures in Willows

Original post made on Dec 6, 2017

A little less than a month since Caltrans installed new traffic signals at the Willow Road/U.S. 101 interchange – and in rapid response to the debilitating congestion in the city's Willow neighborhood that has resulted – the Menlo Park City Council approved Tuesday a number of actions to address the problem.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, December 6, 2017, 11:39 AM

Comments (27)

6 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 6, 2017 at 12:06 pm

How about no right turn from northbound Middlefield onto Willow during morning and afternoon rush hours and no left turn from westbound Willow onto Middlefield during morning and afternoon rush hours. That would eliminate a lot of the traffic to and from Palo Alto.

2 people like this
Posted by New restrictions
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Dec 6, 2017 at 12:29 pm

Will the newly approved 3pm-7pm no right turn from Durham to Willow have an exception for buses (SamTrans 83)?

5 people like this
Posted by I Hope It Works
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Dec 6, 2017 at 12:54 pm

The same signs are posted on Chilco street (that feeds from Bayfront Expressway) and Hamilton Ave. There's a no left turn between 3pm and 7pm sign that is hardly, ever enforced (more than 30 days since it's been up). I hope that there's actual enforcement of those signs, if not, then what's the point.

21 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2017 at 1:22 pm

OK, those implementations may in fact help the Willows neighborhood. It's worth pointing out that that signage will apply to EVERYONE...including willows residents.

That said, I LOVED these items from the article:

'He suggested the possibility of cutting off access to Willow Road from Palo Alto, at least temporarily, "until they sober up."'

Not sure if that's feasible (as much as I like the idea).

"Regarding the Willows area congestion, she suggested the city install a stop sign at the intersection of Middlefield Road and Woodland Avenue. That way, she said, when traffic invariably backs up, it will be a Palo Alto problem."

YES! I LOVE the idea of a stop sign there. It's such an elegant pushback on PAs un-neighborly "traffic calming" tactics. MP should do this.

Good for you, yes, making Palo Alto feel the pain will make it clear that Menlo Park means business and will force them to work with MP instead of against MP.

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Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 6, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Yes these restrictions apply to everyone, including the residents and there were no exceptions for busses discussed so I would guess that the answer is no. Also as a side note there was a person from Facebook at the meeting and he was made aware of the Facebook busses cutting through the Willows and agreed to stop that from happening as well.

1 person likes this
Posted by New restrictions
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Dec 6, 2017 at 1:57 pm

I guess SamTrans will need to change its 83 school route then. Wonder whether any other school routes will be affected.

Will most of the traffic re-route to Gilbert? Maybe Gilbert can be re-striped to have a separate lane turning right onto Willow so that traffic going straight on Gilbert (for example between the two Laurel campuses) is not stuck behind Willow traffic.

15 people like this
Posted by Clunge
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 6, 2017 at 1:59 pm

No Right Turn from Durham, Chester and O'Keefe between 3-7 pm. So now everyone will be taking Gilbert, which in turn will back up all the side/ feeder streets and make it IMPOSSIBLE to get OUT of the Willows at those times.
Fix the light patterns, police the side streets for speeders and think about NOT building more businesses and homes in Menlo Park.

2 people like this
Posted by New restrictions
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Dec 6, 2017 at 2:14 pm

Clunge I am thinking about that too but maybe there are alternate routes.

For example folks picking up kids from Upper Laurel and heading home to the other side of Willow could go down Durham to Willow to Coleman/Gilbert/etc.??

9 people like this
Posted by Moratorium
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Dec 6, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Perhaps the two cities could influence each other not to build anymore and band together to sue the State for their recent "grab" of local controls over their land use with passing the Housing Package.

Put a moratorium on building anything until the State and the region deals with its traffic problems. No BS stuff like solve traffic and parking problems using apps and stupid ideology about building near public transportation.

People invest in their homes and provides stability for the family. People travel to their jobs where they find a job.

10 people like this
Posted by MP Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 6, 2017 at 4:30 pm

RE: Right Turn Exception for Buses

As a working parent who counts on the buses to move our kids about to/from school,
I would like to see an exception made to allow SamTrans buses (#83 & #88 are school buses) and yellow school/district buses to continue on their existing routes. These are school buses that parents count on - with routes SPECIFICALLY to service residential streets.

White tech buses (e.g. Facebook) should NOT be cutting though the Willows and should be part of the regular commute traffic.

@MP City Council & MP Police - please make this exception happen.

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Posted by What about us?
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 6, 2017 at 7:32 pm

I guess the residents near Willow Road won out over residents closer to University Ave. Congrats to them, I suppose. Those of us near O'Connor and Woodland are going to get screwed.

3 people like this
Posted by Gwyn
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 6, 2017 at 7:53 pm

I have to agree with "What About Us?". While I applaud the City Council for taking some action, I fear that these measures are only going to make traffic worse on Gilbert and closer to Woodland. When taking my dog for a walk today, it took me more than five minutes to be able to cross Gilbert -- a parade of cars in both directions, people running stop signs and then speeding -- and then I had to do it at a run. And Woodland already is a stream of cars -- with almost none of them coming to full stops at stop signs.

Key, I think, is to prevent through traffic on Woodland, as well as some kind of barrier to endless cars turning from Palo Alto Avenue on to Chaucer. Let Palo Alto absorb its own traffic and not send it on to us!!

And also key is enforcement. While running a couple of errands this evening, I narrowly avoided accidents with cars rolling through stop signs and turning into the path of oncoming cars.

So I urge the MP City Council to implement measures that will help ALL of the Willows neighborhood and that will not simply funnel more cars to other streets in the neighborhood!

2 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2017 at 8:15 pm

Sandhill will never ever be connected to Alma St. in Palo Alto. To do so would be to commit municipal suicide by linking 280 to 101 via downtown Palo Alto. That would be crazy and that will not happen.

30 people like this
Posted by Richard Vaughan
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2017 at 8:18 pm

As someone who commutes regularly by bike to Hillview MS from Redwood City, I see the daily increase in traffic and can only wonder why more and more people aren't 1) Making the transition to e-bikes 2) Going en-mass to every SM County Board meeting and local City Councils to complain about the regional explosion of development without taking into account a realistic look at transit infrastructure. Yes, Facebook has completely screwed the Dumbarton corridor so Willow, Marsh and University can come to a complete standstill at least 3 out of every 7 days and back up onto local streets. Today, Marsh was backed up onto Middlefield. Unbelievable! But it is only going to get worse. 280 is now a stop and go parking lot from 4-7 most nights, 101 is a crap shoot every day from 7am-9pm. HIllsdale & 101, 92 & 101 - we know that these are now choke points on the mid-peninsula but Woodside Rd is about to become the next HUGE bottleneck. By the time the Willow interchange is finished, it will be this new problem. Stanford is building an enormous admin complex where MidPoint Technology Park used to be, Broadway Plaza, where Food Co used to be is being razed by Sobrato for new development. The area on the other side of 101, Jay Paul bought the Malibu site and wants to build seven 5 story residential towers. All of this with no regional public transit upgrades. Where is light rail? Where are the Dumbarton Corridor trains? Where is BART? Where is the "vision" For my .02, run HSR up the middle of 101, forget the NIMBYs on the Peninsula, get a Swiss boring machine to extend BART under ECR from Millbrae to San Jose and mandate that every new large development contribute to installing light rail. We have to focus on getting people out of their cars and making it easier to reach destinations by other means - otherwise the peninsula is going to gridlock. Honestly, I can't think of any reason why a new company would want to move to this region - unaffordable housing for new workers coupled with poor transportation resulting in lost income, time, and productivity. It's "lose/lose" as far as I'm concerned. Time to Wake Up! The peninsula is such a wonderful place to live but we are cooking our Golden Goose. The solution has to be both individual and regional. It should fall on both San Mateo and Santa Clara county to develop a regional plan that has interlinked public transit as a fundamental piece to the solution of our traffic woes. Until then, I will be the one on my bike pedaling by.....

2 people like this
Posted by Marty
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2017 at 10:55 pm

As an easy bay resident who commutes to Menlo Park daily, I feel your pain at seeing what has happened to the Willow corridor and the residential streets that intersect since the partial cloverleaf lanes were changed. There's about 20 businesses on Willow who might as well close from 430-630 pm because one would have to be insane to attempt to access them by car. These are restaurants and such.

I can't imagine this getting better. Construction is done and daily commuters have adjusted to the design. And the result is not good.

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Posted by Gary Lauder
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 7, 2017 at 12:18 am

The e-mail that the author referenced that I sent the city council is here:
Web Link
That also references this document about the problems anticipated for the interchange if it's completed as planned:
Web Link

This project is ill-conceived in many ways.


10 people like this
Posted by Willow Road Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 7, 2017 at 3:04 pm

The traffic calming measures will only move vehicles to other streets and cause problems elsewhere. Soon there will be complaints about Gilbert, Coleman, and other neighboring street about the lack of access to their own home.
The residents living on Willow Road has endured this problem for years. These calming countermeasures are not the solution and shouldn’t be considered as permanent. Any “other considerations” to create another lane is a horrible idea. 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 resident 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. Children riding their bikes often use the sidewalks in fear of being hit by a car. 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.
There once was a “No Right Turn On Red” signal at northbound Middlefield onto Willow. It helped control the throughput down Willow, but caused cut through problems through the neighboring streets. Now the restriction is gone. And now there’s a constant flow of vehicles from PA turning right down Willow and the cut through. The spigot is flowing more water than the funnel can handle. Don’t make a larger funnel. Turn down the spigot!
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? Willow Rd is NOT the expressway for ECR, Stanford and PA during rush hours or football games. We need to work to reduce the number of vehicle on the road rather than increasing and encouraging it.

4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 7, 2017 at 3:20 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The capacity that Willow Road was designed for should be maintained."

Willow Road was designed as an ARTERIAL.

Return Willow to its original configuration - no parking and no bulb outs.

Unless that is done traffic will continue to overflow into the neighborhoods.

4 people like this
Posted by hahaha
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2017 at 7:25 pm

"Councilman Ray Mueller pointed to yet another place where Palo Alto's traffic problems leak into Menlo Park: near each of the foot bridges. He said that Palo Alto's downtown parking program "does not work," and that employees in downtown Palo Alto park their cars on the Menlo Park side of the pedestrian bridges and walk downtown from there."

Oh, the irony. After literally DECADES of Menlo Park residents parking along Palo Alto avenue in the evening and walking back to their houses...!!!

3 people like this
Posted by Bad joke
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 7, 2017 at 7:53 pm

@hahaha Palo Alto Avenue borders Mountain View, not Menlo Park. Next time check a map.

2 people like this
Posted by hahaha
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2017 at 8:16 pm


Well, someone obviously doesn't live near the Willows: Web Link

9 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 7, 2017 at 8:40 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Happy Peter Carpenter does not live in Menlo and doesn't get a vote on what happens to Willow. He would be the first person screaming if someone tried to connect Middlefield to Bay through Lindenwood.

As for the changes approved by the City Council on Tuesday. They were approved to help all of the Willows not just the people on those three roads. It does this by removing the benefit of cutting into the Willows and racing down the neighborhood streets. If they can't get out then why enter in the first place. It was noted that Gilbert could become an issue and while the council did not approve turn restrictions there because of other consequences, it could in the future or make other alterations (No left from Marmona) should the need arise.

3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 7, 2017 at 8:46 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

From the Fire Chief's letter to the MP Council:
"The Fire District would like to have further dialogue regarding these items and potentially taking even stronger and further action such as:
· As recommended for years, completely removing all center Islands on Willow Road to create a continuous center lane for public safety use (This would include the new overpass which will have four bike lanes and NO lane dedicated for emergency response – That is unacceptable)
· Install camera’s for use by Public Safety on Willow Road, Marsh and Bayfront Expressway – For improved situational awareness!
· Completely closing off Middlefield Road at San Francisquito Creek, as well as other routes into the Willows from Palo Alto, during peak commute hours for a period of one week as a test.
· Partner with Caltrans to use Drones, from pre-designated areas (Nests), to fly over roadway accidents for emergency first responder information gathering and situational awareness. The Fire District will sponsor this initiative!
· As the Fire Chief, I will be proposing to the Fire Board, at its December 19 meeting, to change deployment and increase the number of East Side Fire personnel and units to insure public safety in Belle Haven, M2 and East Palo Alto by January 2018. This would create a large enough effective force to responsibly protect these already very busy and difficult to serve areas, which has only been made more difficult by these developments."

3 people like this
Posted by Jeff Fenton
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Dec 8, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Step 1: The simplest, nearly no-cost solution is to make both sides of Willow Rd. eastbound-only from 3-7 p.m., Mon.-Fri., all the way from Middlefield Rd. through to the second Hwy. 101 interchange signal. (Willow Rd. would resume being bi-directional at that point.) Nearly all the traffic demand is eastbound, and clearing the eastbound commuters through as quickly as possible would reduce the congestion on neighborhood streets as well. Step 2: Implement Peninsula Resident's idea for a stop sign at Middlefield and Woodland (low cost) and Gwyn's idea by closing the Pope-Chaucer Bridge 3-7 p.m. M-F. Step 3: Implement Peter Carpenter's idea to remove parking and bulb-outs on Willow Rd. (a little more cost, but still simple to do).

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Posted by MP parent
a resident of Laurel School
on Dec 10, 2017 at 7:02 pm

Under Mr. Fenton's proposal, if a child at one of the schools in the Willows has an after school activity at Burgess/Arrillaga, how would a parent drive the child there?

Schools are dismissed after 3. If there are going to be time restrictions maybe those could start at 4?

4 people like this
Posted by frustrated MP family
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 11, 2017 at 1:34 pm

Maybe traffic from ECR and Atherton should use Oak Grove and Greenoaks through Lindenwood instead of Middlefield and Willow. Wouldn't that make PC happy? Maybe Bay and Ravenswood should be two lanes also. We can eliminate street parking and bike lanes there too. Then every street in MP could be congested for the 80% traffic that's serves hwy 101 and the Dumbarton.

Of course I’m only kidding. We need to maintain a safe and good quality of life in ALL streets and neighborhood.

2 people like this
Posted by Willows Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 11, 2017 at 1:50 pm

Under Mr. Fenton's proposal.
Then all resident and business will be forced to go Eastbound even though they need to go Westbound towards Burgess or downtown? Local business and residents rely on the counter commute route to run errands and drive their children to after school activities. Not everyone in MP is trying to get to 101 and the bridge.

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

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