Thu09182014

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Passerelle plans to study Foothill Expressway intersections


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Passerelle Investment Co. will fund a study of two Foothill Expressway intersections to increase pedestrian and cyclist use.

Passerelle Investment Co.’s Community Development Director Brooke Ray Smith told the Town Crier that her company has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to study Foothill Expressway’s intersections at Main Street and Edith Avenue.

The goal of the study is to determine a way to make it safer to cross the Santa Clara County roadway, which could encourage more residents to walk or bike to downtown. Smith announced the company’s intentions at the Dec. 20 Los Altos City Council meeting and said she hopes to kick off the study sometime in January.

“We’re interested in seeing all the different ways people can come in and out of downtown without using a car,” said Smith, who added that the study will examine each intersection’s level of service, and Passerelle will likely schedule public meetings for input.

Smith, who expects to have the study completed by the end of March, said she crafted the RFP with feedback from city and county staff prior to its release. She plans to lean on their advice more as proposals roll in so that the study can meet the level of scrutiny typically required by public agencies.

“Anything that has to happen with the city and county has to run to their standards,” she said.

Smith described the study as “pretty open” in terms of approaches the company’s yet-to-be-hired consultant will take in examining the intersections. Among other things, Smith noted that the study aims to develop creative solutions that enhance pedestrian and bicyclist safety without the unintended consequence of negatively impacting an already congested expressway for motorists.

“The intent isn’t to be completely prescriptive about what this study has to say. … This should kind of be considered a living document,” Smith said. “We just want the best study possible. … What we wouldn’t want to have happen is to have the study go through, finish and have someone say that the consultant wasn’t effective.”

Smith noted that improving the intersections in the future could lead to “more feet on the street” in downtown Los Altos via increased pedestrian and bicycle traffic, among other benefits. In addition, Smith said the act of residents walking or riding bikes together into downtown builds community based on common interests.

According to Smith, the study’s findings could also lead to public-private partnerships to fund intersection improvements in the future and encourage alternative modes of transportation that could potentially alleviate another current concern for downtown visitors – the lack of parking.

“Everyone’s always talking about parking and congestion problems,” she said. “If we can get people within one-quarter of a mile to walk and bike to downtown, that would be a huge offset.”

For more information, visit passerelleinvestments.com.

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