The 2.3-mile Charleston-Arastradero Corridor is a heavily used, residential, four-lane arterial road, serving as an east-west connector for the southern section of the City of Palo Alto (City). This corridor services 11 schools, several parks, shopping centers, community centers, senior living facilities and a library. The corridor has little to no traffic calming features, lacking protection for bicyclists and pedestrians, which is particularly an issue during peak traffic hours. For years, residents and other stakeholders have expressed their concerns regarding safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers; lack of integration with the surrounding community; and diminished community value due to minimal vegetation and tree in the right-of-way.
Scope of Work
The City’s objective is to address the needs of the nearby residents and surrounding community, who have requested an improved corridor with slower speeds, safer conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists, and various vegetation treatment improvements to improve aesthetic quality of the corridor and improve water quality.
• Enhance school commute safety for K-12 students, and improve the quality of bike and pedestrian experience through new design features such as bulb-outs, widened sidewalks, additional cross-walks, modifications to intersection geometry, and enhanced bike lanes and facilities.
• Reduce the amount of very high speed vehicles by incorporating the above-mentioned improvements that serve to enhance roadway safety and operational issues.
• Enhance streetscape and quality of life in the corridor for local residents and surrounding community by incorporating landscaped medians, street trees and other streetscape improvements, and GSI.
The project adds approximately 140 trees, 5,800 shrubs, groundcover, and grasses, and 16,000 bio-retentions plants. These plants are scattered through the 42,000 SF of added landscaped medians, bulb-outs, and bio-retention areas. Landscape plantings are a mix of native, low-water use, and low-maintenance species.
The project serves to replace existing painted “medians” with landscape or hardscaped areas to prevent cars from taking dangerous turns and also to protect bicyclists and pedestrians. Curb heights and types of plantings were designed and selected with consideration of the Fire Department’s concerns of accessibility to homes or buildings when hardscape elements are added to the corridor. Pavement markings are also being used to highlight pedestrians and bicyclists for drivers. The corridor has a dedicated or buffered bike lanes and green bike lanes. Yellow high-visibility crosswalks are used in areas close to schools.
Construction is tentatively phased to accommodate grant funding expiration dates. Phase 1 includes the corridor sections of Miranda Avenue to Coulombe Drive and Alma Street to Middlefield Road. Construction in Phase 2 includes the corridor sections of Coulombe Drive to Alma Street and Middlefield Road to San Antonio Avenue. Phase limits of work are subject to minor adjustments based on the final design.
The planning of the Charleston-Arastradero project began in 2003 and has 14 years of stakeholder outreach and active engagement to date. The conceptual plan line for the corridor was approved by City Council unanimously in September 2015. At this time, the project design is approaching 65% completion, and it is anticipated that the design will be finalized in August 2017. City staff recently met with stakeholders on April 13 to review the 65% plan set. The project’s landscaping plan is tentatively scheduled to be reviewed by the Architectural Review Board (ARB) in June 2017. The project will be scheduled according to two phases due to its significant scope, grant award timelines and other factors.