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Artist's rendering of the proposed Palo Alto pedestrian and bicycle bridge over Highway 101 to provide access to and from the Baylands.

Artist's rendering of the proposed Palo Alto pedestrian and bicycle bridge over Highway 101 to provide access to and from the Baylands. (Alta Planning + Design)

Stanford, Palo Alto partner to propose improvements for hikers, bikers

Stanford and the City of Palo Alto have collaborated to propose $10.4 million in enhancements to area biking and pedestrian trails. The resulting integrated set of trails, if approved by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, would link the Baylands and the Arastradero Preserve.

Stanford and the City of Palo Alto have partnered to propose using $10.4 million in Santa Clara County recreational funds to improve bicycle and pedestrian paths, creating five trail links from the Baylands to the Arastradero Preserve.

The joint city/university proposal was approved unanimously by the Palo Alto City Council on Tuesday and will be presented to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors today (Sept. 6).

If the county approves the proposal, the funds would:

  • Create a new Stanford Perimeter Trail along Junipero Serra Boulevard between Old Page Mill Road and Stanford Avenue; Stanford Avenue between Junipero Serra and El Camino Real; and El Camino Real between Stanford Avenue and Quarry Road.
  • Extend and enhance the Park Boulevard bike path between the Oregon Expressway and Charleston Road, connecting to the new Stanford Perimeter Trail.
  • Extend a bike and pedestrian path along the existing levee access roads of Matadero Creek, linking the Bryant Street bicycle boulevard and Greer Road.  
  • Complete the design phase for a bridge over Highway 101 that would improve access to the Baylands. The completion of the bridge design would allow the city to then secure additional construction funding.
  • Replace and widen selected areas of the trail located along the north side of Arastradero Road between Foothill Expressway and Purissima Road in Los Altos.

The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the grant proposals on Oct. 9. (PDF: map of proposed trails)

"The City of Palo Alto is very pleased to partner with Stanford University in furthering our joint goal of enhancing regional recreational opportunities," said Greg Scharff, vice mayor of Palo Alto. "These opportunities will further enhance the historic connections between the city and the university."

BMS Design GroupArtist's rendering of a proposed continuous trail along Stanford Avenue from El Camino Real to Junipero Serra Boulevard.

Artist's rendering of a proposed continuous trail along Stanford Avenue from El Camino Real to Junipero Serra Boulevard.

The proposal also drew the “enthusiastic” support of Jim Sweeney, president of the Stanford Campus Residential Leaseholders, professor of management science and engineering and director of the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center.

The intent of the Palo Alto/Stanford proposal is to complete an integrated set of paths and trails that would allow pedestrians and bikers to travel unimpeded between the Baylands and the Arastradero Preserve – or what the proposal calls "Bay to Ridge," said Larry Horton, Stanford senior associate vice president for public affairs and director of government and community relations. The proposal is consistent with the Palo Alto Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan 2012.

The $10.4 million is part of a special fund administered by Santa Clara County as part of the General Use Permit (GUP) agreement the county made with Stanford more than a decade ago. In August, the county requested proposals recommending how the funds should be used. Specifically, the funds must be used for mitigating "the adverse effect on recreational opportunities for existing or new campus resident and facilities users" caused by Stanford campus construction under the GUP agreement.

The request for proposals was made after San Mateo County turned down Stanford’s $10.5 million offer to use the funds to improve its trail along Alpine Road. By previous agreement, Stanford then turned the funds over to Santa Clara County to benefit campus residents and community members who use Stanford recreational facilities.

Santa Clara County action on the $10.4 million will bring to a close a decade-long debate on the use of the funds. As part of the General Use Permit agreement, Stanford pledged to build two trails. Stanford has already constructed several trails, including the new Matadero Creek Trail.