The Caltrans project to add auxiliary lanes to U.S. 101 between Embarcadero Road in Palo Alto and Marsh Road in Menlo Park includes reconstruction of the pedestrian/bicycle overcrossing (POC) located at Ringwood Avenue due to the construction impact on the bridge supports. The new POC will also be required to comply with new Americans with Disabilities Act regulations. (more information regarding the requirements in the FAQ section (updated 6-11-09) below)
April 26, 2012
Overnight Closures Notice in San Mateo County on US 101 Menlo Park – Caltrans will begin demolishing the old Ringwood Avenue Bicycle/Pedestrian Overcrossing in Menlo Park on May 1st, 2012. To ensure safety for work crews and the public, FULL overnight freeway closures along southbound US Route 101 between Marsh Road to Willow Road in Menlo Park will be required. The new Ringwood/Pedestrian Overcrossing will be opened to the public on the morning of Monday, April 30th 2012.
August 8, 2011
In the next 1-2 weeks, Caltrans' Contractors will begin construction work on the new pedestrian overcrossing. The old overcrossing will remain open while the new one is being constructed. The construction of the overcrossing is expected to take approximately 6 months to complete.
February 23, 2011
Based on the latest information from Caltrans, the Auxiliary lanes project for US 101 has just began advertising for bids. Bids are due to be opened in mid-April and construction should begin in early June. It is expected that the Ringwood POC will be one of the first orders of work, but once a contractor is on board we will get a more definite schedule.
May 11, 2010
The next meeting for the overcrossing has been scheduled for May 27, 2010 at 7pm at the Senior Center, 110 Terminal Avenue.
The meeting with provide an opportunity for the residents to provide input on the landscaping, ramp aesthetics, fencing and other security features of the bicycle/pedestrian overcrossing.
The meeting is a follow-up to the community meeting held in October 2009 that selected the preferred alternative for the overcrossing design.
October 30, 2009
The Preferred Alternative for the Ringwood Overcrossing was selected by the residents in the area at the October 12, 2009 meeting. The preferred alternative is linked on the left side of the webpage.
A separate meeting will be held to allow participants an opportunity to provide more specific input on landscaping, ramp aesthetics, fencing and other security features of the pedestrian overcrossing in the near future.
September 24, 2009
The next Meeting is set for October 12, 2009 at 7pm at the Senior Center, 110 Terminal Avenue
This meeting will help determine the preferred alternative between Options 2 and 4 as narrowed at previous meetings. A graphical depiction of Options 2 and 4 is attached on the left side of this webpage.
A separate future meeting will be held to allow participants an opportunity to provide more specific input on landscaping, ramp aesthetics, fencing and other security features of the pedestrian overcrossing.
August 5, 2009
Contractors working for Caltrans will be surveying for utilities and conducting soil analysis over the next few months. The work is to be done along sections of Van Buren and Pierce Streets in preparation for the proposed auxiliary lanes for Highway 101.
June 12, 2009
Since the community meeting was held in March the City has been working with Caltrans and some of the residents in the area to answer questions and determine next steps. The FAQ section below has been updated with new information received from Caltrans.
Caltrans has also worked to reduce the length of the ramps through more detailed information. Caltrans has agreed to move forward with more detailed information on two design options for the overcrossing. The two design options include options 2 and 4 with the new bridge construction occurring to the north of the current bridge and the ramps traveling back to their current entrance/exit locations. option 2 includes a longer single ramp, while option 4 has a switchback ramp design.
These two options were selected based on several factors including aesthetics (especially views from Oakland and Newbridge), levels of landscaping, and the ranking conducted at the community meetings. Aerial photographs with the conceptual overcrossing designs for options 2 and 4 including the longer ramp design presented in March and the updated shorter ramp design are linked on the left of this webpage.
There are further opportunities for the community to provide input on which of these two options is chosen as well as other features of the overcrossing. Caltrans is working to provide more detailed information regarding the two designs. Once this work is complete a meeting will be scheduled with the residents. The residents can provide input and rank the two designs and provide input on landscaping features, fencing along the structure and a discussion of security features. A date has not been set for the meeting, but will likely take place in August.
In October 2007, staff received a notice from Caltrans that they were in the “Environmental Study” stages of the project. Caltrans asked to meet with the City’s Bicycle Commission to receive input on whether the POC at Ringwood Avenue should be replaced and where the access points should be located to best serve the community. The Bicycle Commission held a meeting in November 5, 2007 and residents within 500’ were notified via a mailed postcard, by the City, of the meeting. The Bicycle Commission voted to recommend to the City Council that Caltrans replace the POC with the entrance and exit points at the same location.
On December 3, 2007, the Caltrans’ manager of the project sent a letter to the City saying that Caltrans was currently in the environmental review process and that, to keep the project on schedule, the City needs to determine whether it wanted the POC replaced in the same location, replaced in another location, or removed completely.
The Council considered this item on December 18, 2007. The residents within 500’ of the POC were notified of the Council meeting via a postcard mailed by the City. The Council voted to retain the POC and keep the entrance and exit points of the POC at the same location. The Council also directed staff to work with the neighborhood on the design of the POC.
Caltrans completed the required environmental documents for the Auxiliary lane project including the POC. A Negative Declaration was prepared by Caltrans indicating that there were no significant impacts from the project. The draft proposed negative declaration was made available for public review from May 12, 2008 to June 12, 2008. The notice of availability was published by Caltrans in the Palo Alto Daily News and the San Mateo County Times and fliers were placed at the local libraries, city centers, and community centers. In Menlo Park, this included the Main Public Library, City Chamber of Commerce, Girls and Boys Club and Senior Center.
The City of Menlo Park requested a public workshop meeting on the project for the public to ask questions and provide input on the environmental document. Caltrans held an open public workshop meeting at the City’s Recreation Center on July 24, 2008. Notices of the Public Meeting were placed in the Palo Alto Daily News and San Mateo County Times on July 17, 18 and 19, 2008 by Caltrans. The notice for the meeting was also placed on the City’s website.
The Negative Declaration for the project was determined by Caltrans on September 16, 2008 and the Finding of No Significant Impact was determined by the Federal Highway Administration on October 1, 2008. The design phase of the project was initiated after these determinations were made.
Based on Council direction, Caltrans worked with the City of Menlo Park to provide six different design alternatives for the POC. These design alternatives are included as an attachment to the webpage on the left side. Caltrans and the City held two neighborhood meetings to rank the various alternatives, so Caltrans can move toward more detailed design. The meetings were held on March 19, 2009 and March 25, 2009. The meetings resulted in option 4 as the highest ranked design alternative based on the ranking criteria used at the meeting.
Unfortunately, not all residents within 500’ of the POC were notified due to an error in the City’s address database. This error only affected these two neighborhood meetings and not the prior Bicycle Commission and City Council meetings in 2007. The notification was also posted on the City’s website.
At these neighborhood meetings several questions were raised. These questions are answered below in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) area.
(Developed by Caltrans in coordination with the City)
1) How will the residents in the vicinity of the POC stay updated as to the design process?.
The City website will include information regarding the status of the POC including meetings with the community. The website will allow the ability for users to be notified via email if changes and/or additions are made to the webpage. The City and/or Caltrans will also mail a postcard to all residents within 500’ of the POC if there are any future meetings regarding the project.
2) What other cities on the 101 corridor empty into a residential community? We would like to see designs and understand the unique process in which the bridge emptying into a residential area was implemented? When might we expect this answer and from whom?
Caltrans is looking into other similar locations where POC are accessed at residential neighborhoods and will provide the designs and process for development by the end of May 2009. Typically, any issue that affects the local community is discussed with the city and it is their decision how to involve their citizens. Concerns from the community are also addressed through the environmental process.
3) What Environmental Process was conducted for the POC?
As this is a Caltrans project, the City is not involved in the Environmental Process. Caltrans is the agency responsible for the project and conducted the Environmental Review of the project. The POC was evaluated as part of the US 101 Auxiliary Lanes from Embarcadero Rd to Marsh Rd project. The POC was determined to not result in a significant adverse visual affect. There were no public comments submitted to contradict this determination. The environmental process is considered implemented and completed, with the level of environmental documentation considered appropriate.
4) Has it been determined, that the current bridge cannot be maintained by moving the columns out of the path of the US 101 improvements?
Yes, the structure has been analyzed by a structural engineer and it has been determined that the existing Ringwood POC must be replaced in order for the auxiliary lanes to be constructed. Moving the columns outside of the soundwalls would create span lengths that could not be supported by the structure.
5) Will the POC be required to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements? Can a waiver be granted to reduce the footprint of the new POC?
For new construction, a waiver from ADA requirements is considered only when the accessibility design standard is structurally impracticable and only in those rare circumstances when the unique characteristics of terrain prevent the incorporation of the accessibility standard. The Ringwood POC is technically feasible. Caltrans is obligated to comply with ADA because it is the Law; it is a Civil Right of persons with disabilities. It would be too costly to the Department if it failed to comply, or accommodate individuals. The cost of not complying can result in law suits against Caltrans and increased federal scrutiny, including fines or curtailment of funding and activities on our part that take away from our primary mission.
6) Can an elevator be used instead of ramps for the POC?
Caltrans does not own and operate elevators for public use because of the problems associated with maintenance and safe operations. ADA standards require facilities to be made available to the disabled without interruption. Other public transportation facilities where elevators are used, such as train stations, have a history of mechanical breakdowns of their elevators. Where staff is onsite, this can be readily reported and repairs can be made. However, the POC will not be staffed, so misuse of an elevator is likely to cause more frequent breakdowns and render it unavailable to users of the POC.
Information was obtained from the City of Emeryville related to a pedestrian overcrossing with elevators they constructed over railroad tracks at their Amtrak station. Due to excessive maintenance costs, continual breakdowns and vandalism, they are not going to use elevators for their upcoming project that is similar in scope (pedestrian bridge over railroad tracks). They will be using ramps instead. Caltrain has four stations that use elevators and they have had problems with breakdowns (one elevator cost $125,000 to repair), vandalism and high maintenance costs for their elevators. Their call buttons for service go directly to the local police office and they have to spend their time handling the problems. The cities pay for all service (electricity, license fees) and maintenance (routine and repair) costs associated with the elevators either directly or through reimbursement.
7) Can a Shuttle Bus be used to provide pedestrian and bicycle connectivity instead of the POC?
A Shuttle Bus would not provide the same level of service and/or convenience to pedestrians and bicyclists. A shuttle would run during limited hours of the day and would not provide the same connectivity as the current POC.
8) What type of things will be done to minimize construction impacts?
Work will meet local noise ordinances and dust will be minimized. Traffic Management Plans will be developed to minimize traffic disruption.
9) What type of notifications will be sent to residents regarding construction?
Residents will be notified prior to work starting and can be provided with regular updates on progress. Caltrans can work with the city to determine the best way to notify residents.
10) How long will construction last?
We are estimating 6 months of construction time for the entire removal and reconstruction. This estimate can be more accurately provided once the design is completed, the contractor is on board and a work schedule is developed.
11) What times will construction activities be allowed during the day? Weekday or weekend work?
Caltrans tries to have it's work done in a manner to least disrupt the residents and traveling public. Construction of the ramps can be done during the weekday but the portions over the freeway may need some night work if freeway lane closures cannot be accommodated during the day. This will be held to a minimum since worker safety is a concern during night work. As the design progresses, we will be able to provide more details as to when work will be allowed. Input from the city will also be welcomed and efforts will be made to accommodate.
12) What are the costs of design options 2 & 4?
A preliminary cost estimate during the environmental phase was done only for option 1. The $5.7M estimate we have includes the removal of the existing POC, the construction of the POC over the freeway and ramps on both sides of the freeway. Option 2 would be similar in cost to Option 1. The estimate for option 4 will be slightly more (10 - 20%). We have not done enough design work on either option to provide a reliable estimate because we were hoping to get a decision on which option was preferred before moving forward with more detailed design.
13) Are drawings available with height information for design options 2 & 4?
The elevation of the ramps as they go over the existing soundwalls is controlled by the vertical clearance requirements over our freeway. This vertical clearance (18.5 ft) is measured from the roadway to the bottom of the structure. Since this is the minimum standard, we will have to design it to be slightly higher to allow for construction tolerances. The elevation of the 'floor' of the ramps (where pedestrians will be walking) is dependent on the type of bridge deck that is used for the structure. The preliminary design is for a box girder type of structure with a range of deck depths of 3' - 6'. This would mean a pedestrian standing on the POC would have their feet at a height of at least 21.5 ft - 24.5 ft above the road surface. This will drop down as the ramp comes down to street level. Both options 2 and 4 will have the same elevation as they go over the soundwall, but the switchback ramps will be approximately 11 ft closer to residents (laterally) for the segment that is highest. Drawings will be provided as soon as they are available. Caltrans will work to minimize the thickness of the structure to provide a thin a design as possible to reduce the overall height.
14) What is the height, width and length of design options 2 and 4?
The new bridge dimensions are as follows:
-10 ft wide (10' is the outside width of the structure. The usable pathway is 8' wide. This is both an ADA requirement to have 4' minimum clear width in each direction and a bicycle standard for 8' minimum width for two-way travel)
-Will vary from 3 - 6 ft deep depending on the span length.
- The ramp lengths on either side of the overcrossing are 350 ft for option 2 and 370 ft for option 4. The total length of the overcrossing including the ramps would be approximately 870'.