The existing bridge is considered functionally obsolete due to the following:
In addition, San Francisquito Creek has a flow capacity of 7,500 cubic feet per second (CFS). The bridge abutments encroach into the channel and limit the flow to 6,600 CFS. As such, the structure presents flood risks to the adjacent communities. Replacing Newell Road Bridge is the next step in the series of projects necessary to minimize the flooding risk. Specifically, the SFCJPA completed the San Francisquito Creek Flood Reduction, Ecosystem Restoration, and Recreation San Francisco Bay to Highway 101 Project in October 2018, which improved flood control in areas downstream of Newell Road.
Once Newell Road Bridge is replaced, it will allow SFCJPA and Valley Water to replace Pope / Chaucer Street Bridge which has flow capacity of 5,400 CFS. Pope / Chaucer Street bridge cannot be replaced in advance of Newell Road Bridge, because it would transfer the flooding risk to the downstream communities. Replacing Newell Road bridge will improve the safety for all modes of transportation, provide a designated crosswalk for pedestrians, and will enable the creek channel to convey more creek flow and minimize the risk of flooding to the communities of Palo Alto, Menlo Park and East Palo Alto.
The City of Palo Alto Architectural Review Board will review the project and make a recommendation on the project design. The City of Palo Alto City Council will then issue a decision on the proposed project and the associated environmental analysis. There are five alternatives under consideration for the replacement of Newell Road Bridge. The City of Palo Alto has secured funding for project design and environmental assessment, 88.5% is coming from Caltrans’ Highway Bridge Program and 11.5% from Valley Water.
The bridge replacement alternatives include the following:
- No project alternative (keep existing bridge as is)
- New bi-directional one-lane vehicle bridge with traffic signal controls
- New two-lane vehicle bridge using existing bridge alignment
- New two-lane vehicle bridge with a partial realignment with Newell Road in East Palo Alto
- New two-lane vehicle bridge fully realigned with Newell Road in East Palo Alto