On Tuesday evening the Menlo Park City Council accepted an offer from Stanford University to pay half of the cost, up to $5 million, of a bike and pedestrian tunnel under the Caltrain tracks at Middle Avenue as part of the 300 – 550 El Camino Real mixed-use project. 143,000 square feet of (non-medical) office, 10,300 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and 215 housing units, including 10 below market-rate units, and 930 car parking spaces will be built. The Menlo Park Caltrain Station lies 1/3 mile to the northwest along Alma Street.
The Middle Avenue tunnel closes a critical gap in the city’s bicycling and walking network. The tunnel will provide convenient access to Safeway for neighborhoods east of El Camino Real, while creating a safe route to the Menlo Park Caltrain Station via Alma Street for future residents and office workers.
Initially Stanford had argued that the entire cost could be covered by public grant sources, but later agreed to pay up to $3 million for the tunnel, then up to $5 million as a result of negotiations with the city beginning in March. To sweeten the deal, Stanford also agreed to pay $100,000 per year to the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation for ten years.