University Avenue Streetscape Project

  • Project typeTraffic and Transportation

Project Description

University Avenue is an important transportation corridor that links residential, commercial, and educational centers through the heart of Palo Alto's historic downtown.  Downtown is a popular destination for both locals and the region.  However, the COVID-19 pandemic as well as changes in the retail economy have impacted local businesses.

In 2020 and 2021, the City closed a section of University Avenue to facilitate outdoor dining and enhance the retail experience in an effort to support local businesses.  Closing the street offered both benefits and drawbacks for stakeholders. The City re-opened University Avenue to vehicular traffic in Fall 2021. Building upon this experience and in collaboration with the community and stakeholders, the City seeks to transform University Avenue providing a venue for people-centric activities creating a vibrant and inclusive space enhancing commercial activity. This effort could include repurposing streets, sidewalks, curbs, and parking areas. 

The goal of the project is to adapt the public realm to maximize pedestrian and bicycle use, reduce congestion, accentuate and enhance the retail environment/economic activity, while maintaining vital two-way vehicular access, parking opportunities, delivery and loading zones, ride share spaces, and other amenities including performance space.

Scope of Work

The project implements a phased approach to develop a concept for University Avenue. Phase 1 focuses on public outreach to understand needs. This effort in coordination with a series of technical studies will result in a preferred plan that will be presented to Council. Upon Council’s review of the preferred plan, future phases including design, bidding and construction would be developed.

Phase 1 Includes:

  • Stakeholder coordination and public outreach.
  • Data collection to define the existing conditions such as tree health, utility conditions, and general topography.
  • Transportation assessment, which includes vehicles, transit, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
  • Conceptual design alternatives for University Avenue.
  • A community preferred plan for University Avenue.
  • Cost estimate, funding and assessment planning.


Community Engagement

Thank you to all who attended our in-person workshop. In case you weren't able to join, a new online survey is available for the community to weigh in on your thoughts and ideas for the University Avenue Streetscape configuration. Community input will help shape the street's character and features.

Take the Survey Here

Project Timeline

Stage 1

  • Fall 2022

    Project Kickoff

  • Winter 2023

    Setting priorities and defining needs for University Avenue


  • Spring & Summer 2023

    Alternatives assessment


  • Fall 2023

    Finalizing community preferred plan


Project Documents

Staff Report ID. 13609 Approval of University Ave Streetscape Design Contract(PDF, 2MB)