Newell Road/San Francisquito Creek Bridge Replacement Project

San Francisquito Creek Bridge

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, is functionally obsolete. The bridge presents flood risks and does not accommodate traffic needs. Replacing the bridge will enable the creek channel to convey more creek flow 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, City of Palo Alto – Planning and Transportation Commission, City of East Palo Alto – Public Works & Transportation Committee, and City of East Palo Alto – Planning Commission. 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 Santa Clara Valley Water District.

A community meeting was on Thursday, September 3, 2015, where various staff presented the scope of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for this project and discussed the EIR process.

Project Status
NV5, Inc. and ICF International, the project design consultants, have begun conducting studies that will support the EIR and assess the potential impacts of the project alternatives. The Draft EIR is currently under preparation and is expected to be released in early winter 2018 with the Final EIR expected in spring 2019. The completion of the detail design and the permits from regulatory agencies is expected in December of 2019. The construction of the bridge is scheduled for summer 2020.

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, presenting a potential flood hazard. 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 increase flood protection and increase traffic safety.

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.

Project Documents

Letter – Notice of Preparation of EIR - Recorded Copy
Presentation – Newell Bridge EIR Scoping Meeting Presentation - September 3, 2015
Letter – Scoping Meeting - September 3, 2015 [English]
Letter – Scoping Meeting - September 3, 2015 [Spanish]
Letter – Notice of Preparation [English]
Letter – Notice of Preparation [Spanish]
Letter – East Palo Alto City Manager Magda Gonzales
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: Michel Jeremias
Project Engineer: Rajeev Hada