Foothill Expressway design plans up for review today in Los Altos

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Improvements suggested for Foothill Expressway, above, include widening the road from four to six lanes.

Santa Clara County representatives are scheduled to present an update on the Foothill Expressway Improvement Project before members of the city’s Complete Streets Commission 7 p.m. today at the Los Altos Youth Center, 1 N. San Antonio Road.

Officials for the county, responsible for the upkeep of the heavily traveled expressway, have proposed constructing auxiliary lanes between El Monte Avenue and San Antonio Road, widening the expressway from four to six lanes by extending right-turn lanes and improving the intersection at El Monte and San Antonio.

Plans also include adding a second through lane on El Monte crossing the expressway – a welcome change for commuters who have been complaining for years about only one El Monte through lane.

“The changes here are pretty dramatic,” said city spokeswoman Erica Ray, who noted that the proposed redesign is based on residents’ feedback over the past few years, including meetings last June in Los Altos.

“The (Complete Streets Commission) is promoting the meeting to the public so they can hear firsthand the proposed traffic and pedestrian improvements included in this project,” Ray said.

Among the improvements proposed:

• Adding auxiliary lanes in each direction along Foothill between El Monte and San Antonio, where rush-hour bottlenecks are common.

• Incorporating improvements at the intersections of El Monte and San Antonio, including a second through lane on westbound El Monte and elimination of right-turn islands at the El Monte-Foothill intersection.

• Road widening, geometric modification, modification of traffic signals, pavement resurfacing and other related upgrades.

Staff with the county’s Road and Airports Department, in collaboration with Los Altos city staff, has conducted several public outreach meetings since the project planning phase began in 2014. The county developed three alternatives, presented at a Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Commission (renamed the Complete Streets Commission) meeting June 28 and at an additional public meeting June 29.

County staff explained the design alternatives and discussed the advantages and tradeoffs of each option. Based on further technical analysis and input from the commission and the public, county officials settled on a proposed design for today’s meeting.

Funding for design work is already allocated, but actual construction funds from the 2016 Measure B sales tax depend on the outcome of a legal challenge over the measure’s validity. If the county prevails in court and Measure B funds become available, county officials anticipate that construction on the Foothill improvements could begin as early as this summer.

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