A main San Mateo County thoroughfare in North Fair Oaks will be converted into three lanes of traffic with bike lanes and parallel parking if county supervisors ultimately approve the recommended plan for its multi-million dollar makeover.
The county is investing $12.5 million to spruce up Middlefield Road between Pacific and Fifth avenues — a key business district — and has held a series of workshops and meetings to winnow down possible redesigns. On Thursday, the North Fair Oaks Community Council signed off on the draft recommendations which will now go back to the community in September and ultimately the Board of Supervisors in late October.
The goal is creating a commercial corridor that is walkable, safer and a draw to visitors from those outside the largely Latino area.
The favored changes include having three traffic lanes on Middlefield Road with bike lanes. During a walking tour of the area in July, business owners and Supervisor Warren Slocum, who represents the district, pointed out the safety challenges of bike riders sharing space with cars speeding down the street.
Whether to have four or three lanes of traffic was a pretty tough decision and the council split, said Ashley Quintana of North Fair Oaks Forward which is implementing the North Fair Oaks Community Plan and working on the revamp.
“The biggest concern with three lanes was that it may stop emergency vehicles. But one of the biggest things we’re striving for is a more vibrant downtown feel and three lanes gives us the ability to make the sidewalks much wider and have bike lanes,” Quintana said.
The wider sidewalks — from the existing 5.5 feet up to as much as 12 feet — will accommodate benches, trash and recycling receptacles, street and pedestrian lighting and public space. The sprucing up doesn’t stop there; the plan also suggests greenery and street art.
Along with bike lanes, the renovated road will also use parallel parking rather than the diagonal spaces that jut out. The change helps accommodate the sidewalks and bike paths but also does away with 30 percent of the parking stock, said Deputy County Manager Peggy Jensen.
The hope is identifying an off-street lot that can be used for parking or even — although a more expensive option — building a garage.
Along with developing the draft design, the North Fair Oaks Community Council asked staff to prepare a report on possible parking solutions to make up the difference. Two other reports were also requested: one on traffic management and another on local business sustainability.
The next step is actually creating the design. Although components like the number of traffic lanes is set, public comment can still help shape elements like exactly how wide the new sidewalks will be, Quintana said.
A desire to renovated Middlefield Road has been on the county wish list for the last five to six years but only became a reality after voters passed the Measure A half-cent sales tax increase.
If the Board of Supervisors signs off on the recommendation, county officials estimate conservatively that design and construction will happen between November 2014 and 2019.
The redesign community meeting is 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23 at the Fair Oaks Community Center, 2600 Middlefield Road, Redwood City.
The Board of Supervisors meeting on the final recommendation is 9 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21 in Board Chambers, 400 County Center, Redwood City.
More information on the redesign including traffic analyses is available at nfoforward.org/nfo-forward/middlefield-road-redesign.
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