Project information downloads can be found below the Frequently Asked Questions.
For more information, please contact:
Virginia Warheit, Sr. Planner
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the El Camino Real Caltrans Demonstration Grant project all about?
This feasibility study will result in a master plan for the Caltrans right of way on El Camino Real in Palo Alto. The revised street design will continue to convey current and projected increases in vehicle traffic; improve the safety and comfort of people who walk, bike or take the bus on El Camino Real; provide more space for large canopy trees for improved appearance and environmental benefits; and support reinvestment in private development along the street. The Master Plan will guide applications for future road construction projects, landscape improvements and minor street improvements.
2. Will this project reduce the capacity of the street for motor vehicles?
3. Why is the city studying the possibility of reducing some sections of El Camino Real from six travel lanes to four? Won't that cause a traffic "bottleneck"?
The ability of the road to carry traffic is determined at the major signalized intersections (especially at the El Camino Real intersections with Embarcadero and Oregon/Page Mill, and also at Alma and Charleston). At these intersections, many travel lanes are needed because traffic is brought to a stop to allow for large volumes of cross traffic and for turn movements. The same amount of roadway is not needed away from these intersections where traffic is moving and there are no major cross streets delivering additional traffic to the street
Current traffic flow shows a "spiking" pattern, with speeding occurring along the stretches between major intersections and then traffic bunching up at the intersections. The appearance of lots of open space on the road encourages speeding. The high speed areas have higher than average accident rates, especially for speed related accidents such as rear end collisions. A more even flow of traffic would be safer, while conveying the same number of cars in approximately the same travel time.
It is possible that at one or more locations away from major intersections traffic can move satisfactorily with four travel lanes. The reason for studying this possibility is that a four lane street in these areas would be significantly more attractive, comfortable, and safe for all travel modes, by discouraging speeding and providing more generous amenities such as wide sidewalks and medians, safer pedestrian crossings, and more large canopy trees.
4. Why doesn't the city just plant large canopy trees in the medians now without waiting for completion of this study?
5. Are there really people walking, riding bicycles, or taking the bus on El Camino Real?
6. Is the road work now underway on El Camino Real at Adobe Creek part of this project?
7. What are the next steps, and when will the El Camino Real Caltrans Demonstration Grant Project be completed?
August-September, 2002: After additional traffic analysis and meetings with Caltrans in August, revised alternatives will be prepared. These will be presented for review and comment by the public at a Community Open House on Saturday, September 28 from 9:30 to 1:00 pm at Mitchell Park Community Center.
October- December, 2002: Based on input from the Community Open House, a draft final set of possible changes to the street will be prepared for public review by the Planning Commission, Architectural Review Board and the City Council.
Since this project is a feasibility study and not a proposed construction project, the City Council's action will be to determine which, if any, of the proposed changes to the street should be pursued by seeking grant funding for further analysis and preparation of more detailed design plans.
January- December, 2003: Begin planting large canopy trees along sidewalks and in medians on El Camino Real that meet Caltrans current or expected new standards. An initial prototype tree planting can be installed in these areas beginning in January, with additional planting to follow as medians are modified to meet Caltrans' requirements or Exceptions to the standards are obtained.