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Skyline Boulevard Widening Reconsidered

San Bruno is considering widening Skyline Blvd from two to four lanes, but ignoring multi-use sidepaths as a traffic congestion cutting solution. Photo: Google Maps

Note: Please attend the September 13 San Bruno Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and request that the committee recommend to City Council to build bike/ped paths NOT widen Skyline Boulevard to four lanes!

Where: San Bruno City Hall Room 115, 567 El Camino Real, San Bruno
When: Wednesday, September 13 at 7:00 pm Facebook Event

San Bruno is once again revisiting the city’s Skyline Boulevard Widening Project to widen 1.5-miles of the street south of Sneath Lane from two to four lanes, with standard bike lanes included. It would require chopping down a swath of trees along the roadway on the steep slopes of Sweeny Ridge. Artificial “cut slopes” would cost $35 million, while the use of retaining walls would take $44 million (in 2018 escalated cost dollars).

“The reduction of travel lanes from Sneath Lane to Highway 280 creates traffic congestions during peak hours, not only for San Bruno residents but also for regional commuters,” stated Public Services Director Jimmy Tan at a December 13, 2016 City Council review of the project.

The city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) will review the project’s merits this Wednesday, September 13 in order to prepare a recommendation for the City Council. The city’s Traffic Safety and Parking Committee (TSPC) voted on September 6 to proceed with the Skyline Widening project, while the Surface Infrastructure Subcommittee (City Council members Ken Ibarra and Rico Medina) voted on July 27 to cancel it.

“Today my girlfriend and I printed out some flyers and knocked on doors and left flyers at almost all the houses immediately east of Skyline where trees would probably have to be cut down for the widening,” reported BPAC member Adam Cozzette on Sunday. “A few people were even very strongly against the widening and said they would spread the word further among their neighbors.”

The four-lane widening concept dates from a 1986 Caltrans report that predicted dire traffic congestion if it weren’t built. Delays for motorists travelling through the intersections with Sneath Lane and with San Bruno Avenue during the peak hours of 7 – 9 am and 4 – 6 pm were found in September 2015 to range from 17 seconds to 69 seconds (Automobile Level Of Service B to E). At most times of day there are minimal or no delays at all.

San Bruno traffic planners want to widen all of Skyline Blvd to four lanes with standard bike lanes. Photo: Google Maps

An $850,000 feasibility study published in June 2016 claims that to prevent the longest delay, weekday mornings from 7 – 9 am at Sneath Lane, from becoming 45 seconds longer, Skyline Boulevard south of Sneath Lane will have to widened from two to four traffic lanes. No option considering the installation of separated bicycling and walking paths instead of additional traffic lanes was considered, nor have any costs been estimated for such an option.

“Caltrans reviewed in 2015 that expanding a highway merely attracts, or induces traffic demand. San Bruno doesn’t need more auto lanes, it needs cycle tracks,” said BPAC member Jeffrey Tong at the December meeting. “Please champion the reduction of [Skyline Boulevard from four to two] lanes from Sneath Lane to Westborough by converting the excess four lanes to two and using the excess for two-wheeled vehicles.”

“It’s time for Caltrans to consider Skyline not merely as a highway for automobiles, but as a Complete Street. It’s time for City Council to think about reconnecting our community by building seamless networks of bicycle lanes and pathways that make it easy for residents to get where they want to go safely and stress-free without a car,” said Tong.

“We have two very viable volunteer committees available to the residents, if we keep advised by the BPAC and the Traffic Safety and Parking Committee to stay on top of this,” said Ibarra.

Both the San Mateo County Transportation Authority (SMCTA) and the San Mateo City/County Association of Governments (C/CAG) have included the widening project in their spending plans. SMCTA is the more likely funding partner and would pay for 80 percent of the costs, with San Bruno footing the bill for the other 20 percent.