Bike/Ped overpass at 101

The newly opened bicycle/pedestrian bridge in Palo Alto over Highway 101 makes for a striking image when lit up at night. The bridge, which opened last month, connects travelers with Baylands parks and preserves.

For cyclists, hikers and stroller-athletes, three ongoing bicycle/pedestrian projects aim to make some of the busiest local crossings kinder to nonmotorized traffic.

A bridge that debuted last month on the Mountain View/Palo Alto border connects bicyclists and pedestrians traveling from the south to Baylands parks and preserves. The new 1,400-foot bridge spans Highway 101, stretching from West Bayshore Road, near the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center and San Antonio Road, to the East Bayshore Road landing just west of Shoreline Lake.

The $23.1 million project, which replaced an underpass that spent half the year closed by seasonal flooding, provides a Class-1 trail connection that is Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant. The new overcrossing connects to the Baylands Nature Preserve, Byxbee Park, the San Francisco Bay Trail and Baylands Golf Links.

Regional grants helped fund the project, including $5.5 million from Santa Clara County’s Stanford Recreation Mitigation Fund, a $1 million grant from Google Inc. and $4.35 million from the One Bay Area Grant Program.

Palo Alto worked with Biggs Cardosa Associates to design the bridge, with 100-foot steel trusses cantilevered 30 feet above the highway. The central truss required total road closures along San Antonio and Embarcadero roads for its installation.

In addition to the principal span, made of self-weathering steel, the project included east and west concrete entrance structures, three trailheads and the Adobe Creek Reach Trail, connecting to East Meadow Drive and West Bayshore Road. Lighting along the bridge illuminates its length with a glow hovering over 101 after dark.

Other crossings for foot and bike

Farther south, the cities of Mountain View and Sunnyvale are scoping out designs for a separated pedestrian and bicycle pathway to build as an undercrossing at Central Expressway and Bernardo Avenue. The pathway would connect north and south Bernardo, which are currently completely severed by Central Expressway and Evelyn Avenue. The crossing is intended to go beneath the Caltrain railroad tracks and Central Expressway.

South of the Ferry Morse Way overpass, crossings have been limited, and exposed, for nonmotorized travelers. An underpass would provide access from the south to Encinal Park and from the north to Sylvan Park, and provide pedestrians and cyclists with an alternative to the giant span of auto lanes and somewhat grim bike/pedestrian spaces found on the Central Expressway crossings at Mary and Mathilda avenues.

The Bernardo Avenue Undercrossing project, which is still in its planning phase and led jointly by Mountain View, Sunnyvale and the Valley Transportation Authority, will provide a separated pedestrian and bicycle pathway and no auto connector at Bernardo.

In downtown Mountain View, two intertwined projects aim to transform the experience of the northeastern end of Castro Street, already so altered by the past two years of pandemic-driven road closures and outdoor dining. The pandemic-inspired road closure stretching along the downtown core of Castro Street may continue even after health orders lift. But an entirely separate nonpandemic project, and closure, intended for the northeastern edge of Castro has been five years in the making, and a series of work sessions and public workshops vetted concrete options this fall. The Mountain View City Council is evaluating a pedestrian mall or public plaza plan for the block of Castro between Evelyn Avenue and Villa Street, as part of an extended restriction of vehicular use in that area.

Two of the three designs maintain at least one block of Castro as an auto-free zone, rerouting traffic via Villa and Evelyn. The plaza options dovetail with a planned total closure for the automotive vehicle crossing over the railroad tracks from Castro to Central Expressway, which has already been greatly restricted by the temporary closures along Castro. The city’s traffic analysis estimated that none of the plaza options would notably impact local vehicular traffic, given the downtown area’s proliferation of side streets.

The Mountain View Transit Center Grade Separation and Access Project plans for an undercrossing of the rail tracks at Central Expressway for pedestrian and cyclists, eliminating the existing, and potentially hazardous and slow, route that traverses the busy roadway and train tracks.

The project includes entirely closing the grade-level Castro Street road crossing at Central Expressway, rerouting auto and bus traffic north to the Shoreline Boulevard overpass and south to the Ferry Morse Way overpass.

The grade separation and associated underpass would change the classification of the crossing. With no one walking, biking or driving over the tracks, train engineers would no longer need to sound their horns as they do at public-grade crossings, and traffic would no longer wait for train-related red lights.



Eliza Ridgeway edits the Food & Wine, Camps, Bridal, Celebrations and Beyond the Classroom sections at the Town Crier, as well as reporting for all sections of the paper.