Caltrans approves some safety elements for Alpine at 280

We’ve received encouraging news from San Mateo County’s Public Works Department regarding the Alpine Road/Highway 280 underpass, a project that we’ve previously discussed here and here. Essentially, Caltrans regulations have put Public Works in a position where the department either needs to proceed with a design that SVBC did not originally support, or do nothing at all to the highly problematic interchange. We responded to that situation with several suggestions, presented in this letter.

Department representatives met with Caltrans recently to determine which of SVBC’s suggested design elements could be accepted without further analysis, and some positive news has come from that meeting. Though Caltrans generally requires 12-foot minimum outside lanes, they will accept an 11-foot through lane and reduced width for 280-southbound traffic. This will free up space to provide eight feet for bicycle traffic, which will be utilized for a four-foot bicycle lane with two-foot painted buffers on each side. Moreover, Caltrans has agreed to our request for green coloring on the bike lanes in conflict zones (areas where auto traffic merges across the bike lane) and is in the process of confirming whether green lanes will be allowed to extend beyond the conflict zones. We encourage them to allow this safety enhancement.

Though we still face a situation in which Caltrans prioritizes fast moving automobile traffic over the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians, at SVBC we’re glad to see progress being made. We’re also appreciative of the County’s efforts to work with the cycling community throughout this process – and we are following up with those staff members to see if we can add other suggested safety features like flexible stanchions and lighting under the highway overpass. Hopefully, we can continue to work together and, bit by bit, change Caltrans’ entrenched pro-car priorities, bringing about change that extends beyond our area, across California.

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