Portola Valley approval allows community trail to be built

The community trails to be built by Stanford University received further support on Wednesday evening when the Portola Valley Town Council unanimously approved a trail segment that will run along Alpine Road.

The 1-mile segment approved Wednesday evening means that a new paved trail, including native plant landscaping and creekside stabilization, will run from Arastradero Road to the Ladera Shopping Center. The segment is part of the C1 trail route that goes through Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Stanford, San Mateo County and Portola Valley.

"We're very excited. I think everybody will be very happy to have that section of trail improved," said Portola Valley Town Council member Ann Wengert. "Our trails serve not only Portola Valley but people from throughout the surrounding communities.

"Universally, we've had very strong and positive relationships with Stanford. With a trails agreement, you often can end up with differences of opinion. In this case, everyone was very responsible and reasonable," Wengert said. "There is great support in the community in terms of what has been designed."

Howard Young, public works director for Portola Valley, said that the trail will improve safety by rerouting the current path and moving it off Alpine Road and stabilizing creekbed areas.

"The new alignment takes the trail into forested areas and creates a more rural experience for trail users," Young said. "It also will be very good for the Portola Valley scenic corridor by including landscaping with native plants."

Stanford University will pay for the $2.9 million cost of the trail as part of its general land use agreement with Santa Clara County. The Portola Valley connection represents the third of four pieces of a trail that will eventually connect Page Mill Road and the campus with recreational areas in the Stanford hills and surrounding communities.

Two weeks ago, the State Supreme Court dismissed a challenge from the Committee for Green Foothills, which did not agree with a trails agreement approved by Santa Clara County. This dismissal of the lawsuit enabled Stanford and Portola Valley to move ahead on the C1 trail and for Stanford to move forward on construction of the S1 trail along Page Mill Road.

Portola Valley's approval completes a four-year process of review and collaboration with Stanford. "We greatly appreciated the hard work of citizen volunteers on Portola Valley committees," said Larry Horton, Stanford's senior associate vice president for public affairs. "The roll-up-your-sleeves citizen collaboration and professionalism of the Portola Valley staff made this project a success."

Portola Valley officials said they would immediately begin the permitting process to construct the C1 trail along Alpine Road. Once permits are obtained, construction will take four to five months.