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East Palo Alto Pedestrian Bridge Open In 2019

East Palo Alto’s pedestrian bridge over Highway 101 at Newell Road is expected to be finished by 2019. Image: Alta Planning + Design

Yesterday evening East Palo Alto officials announced that a groundbreaking ceremony for the city’s long-anticipated Highway 101 pedestrian/bicycle bridge will take place on November 30, kicking off the construction of the bridge which is expected to last two years. The 12-foot wide bridge will span the highway from Clarke Avenue to Newell Road, putting the Ravenswood 101 Shopping Center to within walking distance of the populous Woodland neighborhood, and connecting it directly to Palo Alto’s excellent bicycling network via Newell Road.

“This is a historic moment for the city,” said Assistant City Manager Sean Charpentier at yesterday’s City Council meeting. “The pedestrian over-crossing will reconnect the two halves of the city that were separated with the construction of Highway 101.”

East Palo Alto city staff began planning the ped/bike bridge project in 2012, and won an $8.6 million construction grant from Caltrans in 2014. Another $2.5 million came from a settlement with Facebook over the social networking giant’s expansion in neighboring Menlo Park. The bridge’s total bill, including planning, design, and construction, comes to $12.9 million, of which the city has contributed a modest $677,000.

Last night the City Council unanimously approved a final additional $100,000 in design work from Alta Planning + Design, bringing the total paid to the firm since 2013 for consulting and design work associated with the project to $1.2 million.

“This is the last part of many contracts for the design and construction of the bridge,” said Public Works Director Kamal Fallaha. “We’re going to move forward with construction as soon as possible.” The bridge is expected to be completed and open for public use in mid to late 2019, 18 to 24 months after construction begins.

The city’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Clarke/Newell ped/bike bridge is scheduled for Thursday, November 30 at 9:00 am at the corner of Clarke Avenue and East Bayshore Road.