To help get more cars off the road, San Mateo is working to build a pedestrian and bicyclist overpass to make crossing Highway 101 on Hillsdale Boulevard safer.
The City Council met Monday to discuss the Hillsdale Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge project that would create a separate path for people to cross Hillsdale Boulevard without having to encounter oncoming vehicles entering or exiting Highway 101.
“There’s a number of reasons for the project,” said Aaron Lam, associate engineer in the city’s Public Works Department. “It’s a mode shift, a way to get people out of their cars. So ease up a little bit on traffic, it’s also a healthier mode of travel.”
The proposed 1.2-mile bridge would create a safer multi-use connection from the Hillsdale Caltrain Station and the Los Prados and Lakeshore neighborhoods. The proposed bridge would begin near the Kaiser Medical Center at Bay Meadows and end at the Norfolk intersection, Lam said.
The city is also considering adding additional access connections at Hillsdale Court on the west side and La Selva Street to the east, Lam said.
As the project is in the Caltrans right-of-way, the city is in the midst of preparing documents to prove the necessity of the project and staff hopes to submit its proposal to Caltrans later this week, Lam said.
If approved, the city will begin an environmental review process before any actual design work is done, Lam said.
Highway 101 is a major barrier for pedestrians and bicyclists traveling and the existing layout of the Hillsdale Boulevard interchange ramps can be dangerous as low-speed pedestrians or bicyclists are crossing the path of high-speed vehicles, according to a city staff report.
Another primary reason why the project is necessary is there isn’t another bike and pedestrian crossing for nearly two miles, Lam said.
Hillsdale Boulevard is currently the only overpass accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists with the closest being 19th Avenue to the north and the Ralston Avenue bridge in Belmont to the south, Lam said.
On Tuesday night, the city held a community meeting to gauge the public’s interest in the additional connections, Lam said.
“The direction we receive from the community will help us guide the discussion with Caltrans, so when we get [approval], we won’t have to hold that up and come back to the community to talk about it,” Lam said.
The community expressed concerns and the need for education when a pedestrian or bicyclist approaches the end of the bridge, Lam said.
The city will take public input into consideration as it looks for possible design techniques that would increase safety and awareness as one nears the bridge’s intersections, Lam said.
Earlier this year, the city held a community workshop and council study sessions to gather input as the project moves along. The public expressed an interest in creating a timeless design that draws from the surrounding environment and would become a city landmark, according to the report.
Input from the meeting also included a desire for amenities such as benches or rest areas. The public also touched on safety concerns and would like to see lights and possibly security cameras installed, city staff said previously.
Currently, the project initiation phase and environmental documents will be funded by a $480,000 grant from the San Mateo County Transit Authority with the city contributing another $120,000. However, depending on the final design, actual construction of the project could range between $17 million and $32 million, Lam said. There is no identified funding source but the city will continue to seek federal, state or county grants, Lam said.
The city hopes to hear back from Caltrans around October and Lam said the next environmental stage to take about a year to a year and a half. It could be some time before any construction is completed as designing the project may take another year or two, Lam said.
Both the Public Works Commission and City Council will hold study sessions about the project as it proceeds but none have yet been scheduled. The city will also create an online poll for potential users to provide feedback regarding the additional connection points, Lam said.
For more information visit the city’s website at www.cityofsanmateo.org.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106