San Mateo city officials presented residents on Wednesday with updated information about its Highway 101/Peninsula Avenue Interchange Project, designed to improve public safety and reduce traffic while removing the Poplar ramps to the south.

The project would address long-term safety and traffic operations and reduce travel times within the Peninsula Avenue interchange area for San Mateo and Burlingame residents. It would include improved bicycle and pedestrian travel options on Peninsula Avenue from just west of North Humboldt Street to North Bayshore Boulevard. City officials said the project would improve safety in the area near schools, reduce travel times and accommodate future traffic. San Mateo expects to have a significant traffic congestion reduction in the area during peak hours in the morning and early evening.

It would relocate the existing Highway 101 southbound on- and off-ramps from East Poplar Avenue to Peninsula Avenue, creating a single, full-access interchange at Peninsula Avenue and Airport Boulevard. Poplar Avenue’s ramps would close, as they do not meet current standards and causes traffic congestion. The city is moving the southbound ramps to Peninsula Avenue because it has two lanes in each direction, no parking or driveways and has shoulders and bike lanes, all advantages over East Poplar Avenue. San Mateo has two options for the design, a spread diamond interchange or a tight diamond interchange alternative. The tight diamond interchange would have closer spaced ramp intersections and was proposed to minimize right-of-way impacts, or the need to acquire private property. Both alternatives would also involve local road improvements and parking changes in some surrounding areas, like North Amphlett Boulevard and Peninsula Avenue.

The three primary partners are San Mateo, the project sponsor, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, the funding partner, and Caltrans, responsible for reviewing the environmental process and approving the project. San Mateo is responsible for moving the project forward and obtaining funding for the project, said Matthew Zucca, deputy director of Public Works. San Mateo will work with Caltrans to select a preferred design and produce a final environmental document.

The city has been interested in improving safety at the East Poplar Avenue off-ramps for several years and began a traffic study and stakeholder engagement in 2017. The project is currently in the environmental studies and preliminary engineering phase, expected to be finished by May 2022. It focuses on traffic analysis, getting public input, drafting an environmental document through a public process and getting the final environmental document and overall project approval by Caltrans. The city will be starting the California Environmental Quality Act review process in a couple of months, with a CEQA scoping meeting expected to be held in April. An environmental document would be available for public review and comment in late 2021.

The city currently does not have funding for subsequent project phases, which could cause some delay from the May 2022 phase completion date into the project design phase. The two final phases are the project design and right-of-way acquisition phase and the construction phase.

The city will likely have a property acquisition process if the project is approved. Both proposed alternatives could affect some commercial property structures along North Amphlett Boulevard. The spread diamond right-of-way alternative could affect the structure of the Bayview Apartments parcel on North Amphlett Boulevard. The city said it would focus on negotiating with properties to avoid eminent domain. The soonest the property acquisition phase could start is May 2022, following project approval.

“We are not anticipating, based on the current project layout, any single-family homes themselves would be touched,” Zucca said.

Residents from the Lyon Hoag neighborhood of Burlingame also attended the meeting due to their proximity to the project site. Zucca said city representatives could go before the Burlingame City Council if that is a desire on its part to hear more information.

People can watch the meeting online at

(650) 344-5200 ext. 102

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(1) comment


There is another alternative and is build the on/off ramp on the freeway side of the sound-wall.

That was discussed years ago and the then PW’s deputy director said it was a possibility.

That freeway side of the sound-wall would NOT need to take any properties on the city side of the sound-wall.

That would potentially save approximately 25 lots from acquisition (that may turn into an eminent domain process). With properties worth +$1 million per, and the relocation costs of moving displaced owners/renters/businesses would save $25 million to maybe over $30 million.

The cost to build it on the freeway side should be about the same as on the city side, so that $25 million to maybe $30 million would be a savings to the project.

Will be talking to Bethany and Matt this week. Think Matt was not on staff and maybe does not know of the effort to place it on the freeway side.

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