Newell Road/San Francisquito Creek Bridge Replacement Project

Project Description

The City of Palo Alto, in partnership with the City of East Palo Alto and the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority (SFCJPA), is evaluating options for replacement of the Newell Road Bridge over San Francisquito Creek. The existing bridge, built in 1911, requires replacement to accommodate a 1% (100-year) flood event. Replacing the bridge will enable the creek channel to convey up to the estimated 1% creek flow rate and mitigate the risk of flood. The design and aesthetics for the replacement bridge will be subject to review by the following review bodies: City of Palo Alto – Architectural Review Board, Planning and Transportation Commission and City of East Palo Alto – Public Works & Transportation Commission, Planning Commission. There are five alternatives under consideration for the replacement Newell Road Bridge (listed below in Project Status). The City has secured funding for project design and environmental assessment, 88.5% is coming from Caltrans’ Highway Bridge Program and 11.5% from Santa Clara Valley Water District.

City staff  hosted a community meeting on Thursday, September 3, 2015. The scope of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for this project was presented and the EIR process discussed. Attendants were encouraged to review and comment.

Project Status
NV5, Inc. and ICF International, the project design consultants, have begun conducting studies that will support the EIR and assessing the potential impacts of the project alternatives. The Draft EIR is currently under preparation and is expected to be released in early winter 2017 with the Final EIR expected in spring 2018. The completion of the detail design and the permits from Regulatory Agencies is expected in December of 2018. The construction of the bridge is scheduled for spring 2019.

The bridge replacement alternatives include the following: 

1.       No project alternative (keep existing bridge as is)
2.       Bi-directional one-lane vehicle bridge with traffic signal control
3.       New two-lane vehicle bridge using existing bridge alignment
4.       New two-lane vehicle bridge with a partial realignment with Newell Road in East Palo Alto
5.       New two-lane vehicle bridge fully realigned with Newell Road in East Palo Alto

Project Background
The abutments of the existing Newell Road Bridge over San Francisquito Creek are located within the creek bed, causing a flow constriction in the channel of the estimated 1% (100-year) flow event. The Newell Road Bridge is one of the bridges under study by the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority (SFCJPA) that needs to be removed or replaced to accommodate the 1% flood conveyance capacity in the creek and increased flood protection to area residents and businesses.

On July 11, 2011, City Council approved a budget appropriation for a new capital improvement project to replace the Newell Road Bridge and authorized staff to accept the Caltrans Highway Bridge Program grant funds to pay for the majority of project’s design costs.

On April 9, 2012, Council approved a contract with Nolte Associates, Inc. (now known as NV5, Inc.) for the design and environmental assessment of the replacement bridge.  Council also approved a cost share agreement with the water district to provide local matching funds to supplement­ the Caltrans funding.

Based on concerns shared by residents in previous community meetings and technical analysis, the City identified the five project alternatives to be analyzed in the environmental document on February 27, 2014. Alternative 4, a two-lane bridge on a full realignment of Newell Road, was requested by the City of East Palo Alto’s City Manager, Magda Gonzales (see letter below).

In June 2015 the project resumed after an extended delay due to funding issues with Caltrans and Santa Clara Valley.

Project Documents:

Letter -  East Palo Alto City Manager Magda Gonzales
Letter – Scoping Meeting; Thursday, September 3, 2015 [English]
Letter – Scoping Meeting; Thursday, September 3, 2015 [Spanish]
Letter – Notice of Preparation [English]
Letter – Notice of Preparation [Spanish]
Presentation - Community Meeting; Thursday, February 27, 2014
Presentation - Community Meeting; Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Screening Analysis Report - Alternatives including the associated Traffic Study
Technical Appendices – Newell Road Traffic Study
Staff Report ID# 3599 - Amendment No. 1 to Newell Road Bridge Design Contract
Staff Report ID# 5549 - Amendment No. 2 to Newell Road Bridge Design Contract

Contact Information:
Public Works Department
Project Manager: Joe Teresi
Project Engineer: Rajeev Hada

Last Updated: Oct 3, 2017