News - May 25, 2011

Portola Valley: Alpine Road trail work to begin soon

by Dave Boyce

The next six months will see limited access to the hiking trail that runs along Alpine Road from Portola Valley's border with Ladera west to Arastradero Road.

In an agreement that obligates Stanford University to pay as much as $2.9 million for the project, the town has engaged contractors to reroute and resurface parts of this mile of old, cracked and often bumpy asphalt, add a pedestrian bridge and some new landscaping, and stabilize the creek bank.

(In a related development, the section of the trail between Arastradero and Westridge Drive will be closed until June 3 so that workers from Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. can relocate a utility line, the town said.)

Stanford's paying for the trail upgrade fulfills one element of an otherwise contentious 2006 initiative that will allow the university to proceed with plans to develop open space on the Santa Clara County side of San Francisquito Creek, which forms a boundary with San Mateo County.

Residents of the unincorporated neighborhoods of Ladera and Stanford Weekend Acres flatly rejected the university's offer — good until December 2013 — to spend $8.4 million to improve the rough and mismatched sections of the Alpine Road path from the intersection with Junipero Serra Boulevard to the Portola Valley border.

Confronted with the notion of a smooth, wide, speedy — and traffic-inviting — bikeway instead of their uninviting, untrafficked and meandering passage, Ladera and Weekend Acres residents decided against the change. The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and the Committee for Green Foothills backed them up.

If the San Mateo County-based parties hold to their position beyond the deadline, Stanford's agreement with Santa Clara County has the $8.4 million going to that county's Parks Department.

As for the Portola Valley portion of the trail, Stanford will deposit money with the town as needed to pay for the work, thereby relieving the town of any upfront costs, Public Works Director Howard Young has said.

The town will post signs along the trail as needed to advise walkers and bikers of upcoming closures, and the dirt trail on the north side of Alpine Road will remain open and available, according to a statement from the town.

For more information, call the Public Works Department at 851-1700, ext. 216, or send e-mail to


Posted by Los Alto trail, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm

They should take that money and use it to build a bike path from Old Page Mill Road under I-280 to the Arastradero Preserve. Wasn't this in the original trail plan?

Posted by trail user, a resident of another community
on May 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm

The Santa Clara County Trails master plan showed a route for the Matadero / Page Mill trail that passes under 280 along Page Mill. A County EIR for the Stanford portion of the trail, studied that route and other alternatives for crossing 280. The County, Los Altos Hills, Caltrans and Stanford never reached agreement on an alidnment that could safely cross 280 at Page mill or points north. The 2006 agreement included the Matadero Trail Route that recently opened as well as an offer to improve an existing Los Altos Hills trail that connects to Arastradero preserve. Neither conditions of the County's 2000 General Use Permit (GUP) to Stanford nor the resulting 2006 Trails Agreement require Stanford to build a trail connecting to the Arastradero Preserve.

The article also mistakenly reports that the trail requirement and other GUP conditions were levied in exchange for the right to develop open space.

It helps to know the facts when expressing an opinion.

Posted by Will Kohler, a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Jul 30, 2011 at 12:23 pm

As a long-time homeowner and resident of Stanford Weekend Acres, I'm in favor of maintaining the current Alpine Trail, which has deteriorated over the years. However, I think the trail should be kept as a pedestrian walkway. Alpine Road already has bike lanes on both sides, so I see no need to widen the Alpine Road trail for use by bicycles. Like many of my neighbors in Stanford Weekend Acres, I'm disappointed that Stanford is unwilling to develop a trail on the other side of San Francisquito Creek in the relatively undeveloped "dish area". But rather than lose trail funding, I would like to see improvements to the existing trail along Alpine Road. Such a plan would benefit the local community, without inviting extra traffic along the already crowded Alpine Road corridor.

Posted by jimmae, a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Aug 11, 2011 at 8:41 am

Will Kohler writes:
"However, I think the trail should be kept as a pedestrian walkway. Alpine Road already has bike lanes on both sides, so I see no need to widen the Alpine Road trail for use by bicycles."
I Say:
No more pedestrian only paths in our neighborhood. Pedestrians already have every path available in Portola Valley-Ladera neighborhoods.
This trail along Alpine would allow for FAMILY skill level(kids) bicycle riders access to Stanford shopping center,hospital areas w/o entering the auto scrum on Alpine Rd.
And, Alpine Rd only has bike lanes at Hwy 280, all the rest is simply fog striped roadway, not bike paths.
This makes a huge difference in design features, especially for the occasional rider.
I suggest Mr Kohler take a walk out on Alpine rd, then come back+share what a glorious time he had doing so....Only then would I consider riding bicycles w my family out there...

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