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Foothill Expressway widening project concerns residents

An upcoming Foothill Expressway widening project has nearby residents concerned about traffic diverted to their side streets.

At a Feb. 4 workshop at Los Altos City Hall, several residents who live on University Avenue and Milverton Road expressed fears about inherited traffic as commuters seek to avoid expressway construction during the course of the 160-day project, set to begin next month.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to minimize the traffic impact on the community,” said Khoa Vo, principal civil engineer for the Santa Clara County Roads and Airports Department.

To address concerns, the county proposed installing four temporary speed humps, two each along University and Cuesta Drive, both of which run parallel to Foothill.

Still, Vo did not sugarcoat the effects of construction on the well-traveled expressway that will involve lane closures and work during daytime hours, nights and weekends from March to November.

“There is going to be a lot of traffic, and the congestion is going to be bad,” he said.

While a few attendees at the Feb. 4 meeting questioned the effectiveness of speed humps, a show of hands revealed overwhelming support for their installation. Milverton residents suggested adding speed humps to their street as well.

Los Altos City Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins, who has been involved in the project throughout the process, recommended that city and county officials consider adding stop signs as another traffic mitigation “tool in the toolbox.”

The $6.6 million project is intended to improve safety and address a commute bottleneck along the expressway between the El Monte Avenue and San Antonio Road intersections. Project elements include additional lanes in each direction; a second through lane on westbound El Monte; a second right-turn lane on southbound Foothill onto El Monte; and squaring all four corners at the Foothill-El Monte intersection to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety, replacing the current rounded corners that allow vehicles to merge without coming to a complete stop.

Tom Madalena, the city’s transportation services manager, vowed to keep residents informed and updated through social media and other avenues.

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