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Momentum Builds to Stop Skyline Boulevard Widening

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

San Bruno residents are gearing up to block the widening of Skyline Boulevard between Sneath Lane and Highway 280 from two to four traffic lanes, which they say will only create bigger traffic jams, more hazardous conditions, dirtier air, and more greenhous gas emissions.

City and county officials have worked for decades to widen this southernmost and last remaining two-lane stretch of Skyline Boulevard, which is quieter and safer than the four-lane section to the north. They estimate it would cost between $35 and $44 million, depending on whether cut slopes or retaining walls are used. Any widening option would remove a long swath of trees along the street; the number of trees that would be killed to build the additional traffic lanes has not yet been estimated.

Advocates opposed to the widening project were buoyed when City Council Surface Infrastructure Subcommittee members Vice Mayor Ken Ibarra and City Council member Rico Medina voted on July 27 against advancing the project to the next stage of environmental review, a Caltrans Project Initiation Document (PID). City Council member Marty Medina has met and discussed the project with local residents opposed to it, and reported that he is still undecided. Mayor Jim Ruane and and City Council member Irene O’Connell declined to state their positions on the project upon being asked by project opponents.

A complicating factor came on October 5 when the San Mateo County Transportation Authority (TA) Board of Directors declared that all future highway projects funded with the agency’s Measure A money must include a minimum ten percent match from the applicant city. This means San Bruno would have to search for another funding source (or sources) to raise that $3 to $4 million, or pay it from the city’s General Fund. In any case, the TA’s policy change means that only the most committed cities will be awarded Highway Program funding, and those less enthusiastic about highway expansions will decide to invest that money in other endeavors.

The San Bruno City Council will decide on October 10 whether or not to advance the Skyline Boulevard Widening projects to the PID phase.