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Palo Alto Widens Page Mill Road Intersections

Palo Alto plans to replace this free-flow right-turn channel and pork chop island into a standard right turn lane. Photo: Bing Maps

On Monday August 28 the Palo Alto City Council is set to approve funding plans to expand two Page Mill Road intersections with new turn lanes and bike lanes. The modifications will fix some safety hazards but also increase peak traffic capacities at both intersections. The city will cover costs with $3.2 million in traffic impact fees, while Santa Clara County will chip in $2 million from its $750 million Measure B Expressways Program.

At Page Mill Road & El Camino Real, the free-flowing right-turn and “pork chop” island on the southwest corner will be replaced with a standard right-turn lane, a huge safety improvement for pedestrians. But at the same time Palo Alto will widen the other side of Page Mill Road to at total of seven lanes, with a new right-turn only lane for car traffic on the northeast corner. The city will also reconstruct El Camino Real’s central median on the south side of the intersection slightly to the west “to provide efficient operations” (translation: more car traffic).

At Page Mill Road & Hanover Street to the west, dedicated left-turn lanes and continuous bike lanes will be installed on both sides of the intersection on Hanover Street. Bike lanes are currently missing on Hanover for a quarter mile from Page Mill Road in both directions, resulting in a critical gap in the city’s otherwise robust bike lane network. With left-turn lanes on Hanover, the traffic signal will be switched to a standard left-turn-protected eight-phase operation, which allows for more car traffic to stream through the intersection. Palo Alto also wants to add a second left-turn lane for car traffic heading westbound on Page Mill Road to southbound Hanover Street, but doing so would likely require either narrowing or removing the bike lanes on Page Mill Road.

Santa Clara County staff had pushed a number of additional turn lanes and traffic signal modifications to allow higher peak-hour traffic volumes on this section of Page Mill Road, and wants to widen the street from four to six lanes between Foothill Expressway and Highway 280, and install a grade-separated interchange at Page Mill Road & Foothill Expressway. The Palo Alto City Council slammed those proposals during a July 2015 review, but agreed in concept to widen Page Mill Road to six lanes with carpool lanes in May 2017.

Palo Alto expects to complete the Page Mill Road intersection modifications in 2019.