Almanac

News - March 16, 2011

Meeting: How hospital expansion impacts city

by Sandy Brundage

After reviewing the environmental impact report (EIR) on the Stanford hospital expansion, the Menlo Park Transportation Commission decided to postpone making a recommendation to the City Council.

Instead, Commissioner Ray Mueller is drafting a preliminary recommendation that will be discussed during a special meeting of the commission set for 1:30 p.m. Friday, March 18, in council chambers at the Menlo Park Civic Center at 701 Laurel St.

"The sheer volume of information discussed at the meeting required a thoughtful drafting of the recommendation," Mr. Mueller said.

The $3.5 billion project would bring about 1.3 million square feet of new development and more than 2,200 new employees to Palo Alto by 2025.

It could also add an estimated 10,000 new daily car trips to the area, making the additional traffic in Menlo Park a primary concern for the commission.

Commissioner Martin Engel said the problem isn't just the Stanford expansion, but also the Bohannon Gateway project, which is predicted to generate a similar amount of traffic.

Facebook coming to town — even though the corporation says 40 percent of its employees use alternatives to driving to get to work — along with the potential Cargill development project in Redwood City makes the local traffic situation even more worrisome.

"Traffic increases have a synergy or multiplier effect," Mr. Engel said. "The whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts."

"The effect will be the Manhattanization of Menlo Park," he said, and added that the traffic studies are artificially low-balled.

"As a city, we are doing far, far too little to mitigate the effects of that. It is my wish that the city council take a very strong oppositional stand to all these potential traffic incursions."

Go to http://tinyurl.com/SUMC-EIR to read the environmental impact report on the Stanford hospital expansion.

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