Viewpoint - November 2, 2011

Guest opinion: Alpine trail is the trail that nobody wants

by Lennie Roberts

(This letter was addressed to the Board of Supervisors.)

The Committee for Green Foothills (CGF) is opposed to further consideration of expanding the existing sidewalk/trail known as "Lower Alpine Trail," unless it avoids the Stanford Weekend Acres area and the dangerous at-grade crossing of the northbound off-ramps from Interstate 280 onto Alpine Road.

Expansion of the existing sidewalk/trail at Stanford Weekend Acres would increase, rather than reduce, hazards to trail users because the trail crosses 21 private driveways and five streets in less than half a mile. Attracting more walkers, runners, cyclists, and other trail users traveling in both directions on the residential side of heavily impacted Alpine Road would greatly increase the dangers to trail users, as documented by studies compiled by Rob Decker, former Ladera Community Association president.

The at-grade crossing of the northbound I-280 off-ramps is particularly dangerous, as drivers merging onto Alpine do not expect to see cyclists and pedestrians coming from the right. The trail should be re-routed to cross under (or over) these off-ramps as it does at the southbound on-ramps.

Supervisors have twice rejected Stanford's offer of funding for the Lower Alpine Trail due to its unacceptable impacts to Stanford Weekend Acres residents, impacts to the creek/riparian areas, and impacts from massive grading of the hillside across from the Bishop Lane curve.

Supervisors Rich Gordon and Jerry Hill spent countless hours attempting to craft a feasible compromise, but were unable to do so. They concluded: "This proposal does not have the support of impacted residents in the Weekend Acres area. The plan does not have the support of the environmental community. Implementation would probably lead to lawsuits against San Mateo County."

These reasons are still valid today. Stanford Weekend Acres residents are overwhelmingly opposed to expanding the trail in their area.

It would be a waste of time, money, and other resources to reopen consideration of this matter unless both Stanford and Santa Clara County, which has veto power over alternative alignments, agree that the trail could either be stopped at Piers Lane, or rerouted along an alternative alignment.

There are at least two alternative alignments for the trail that would avoid the Stanford Weekend Acres area. One is the existing "Dish Trail" which crosses Stanford land in Santa Clara County, generally to the east of Stanford Weekend Acres. The other is a western alignment, which would parallel Alpine Road beginning at the back entry to SLAC opposite Piers Lane, cross over the hill, and return to Alpine Road near Stowe Lane. This alignment could also connect to Sand Hill Road near Branner Drive, which would have the additional benefit of avoiding the extremely dangerous mega-intersection at Alpine/Junipero Serra/Sand Hill/Santa Cruz Avenue.

Lennie Roberts is the San Mateo County legislative advocate for the Committee for Green Foothills


Posted by Not a 'No One' , a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Nov 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Really "No One" wants a better bike path? I am disappointed with the one-sided view that this opinion letter offers. And since when is attracting more walkers, runners and bikers a bad thing?

The author is perhaps suggesting that we should all drive, and not ever walk or bike. I have seen a number of others who have suggested that they, or their children could benefit from a new path that would allow the hundreds of kids, parents, etc. to opt out of their cars to get from Portola Valley or Ladera to Menlo Park.

Perhaps the author of this piece prefers cars to walking, or has no interest in other perspectives. I wonder if we should reconsider what a Committee Member for Green Foothills should mean?

I am someone -- not a No One.

Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Nov 2, 2011 at 5:57 pm

This will give you some insight as to who the letter writer is.

Web Link

Posted by No one two, a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Nov 16, 2011 at 8:37 am

The title of the guest opinion makes me think this paper has become "The Onionac". The title is false.

The existing trail desperately needs repair (and that is an understatement).

$10,000,000 is available now to fix the trail. The money does not come from San Mateo County, it comes from Stanford. No bond is reqiured, there will be no increase in my property tax bill.

If one's agenda is to have a better alternative to the automotive commute on Alpine, then this is a no brainer. Fix it!

Alternate agendas...

Reasons NOT to fix it:

I'd like to spend the money elsewhere. - Great there are lots of places to spend money but, if the funds are not used for the trail, they will go for improvements to recreational facilities that benefit Stanford residents(more volleyball courts? a skateboard park?).

Not in my front yard (NIMFY). - This is an incredibly selfish attitude that is frustratingly depressing to me. The existing trail and land that the trail is on belongs to all of us.

It would encourage people to use it. - YES! How could this be a reason to not improve the trail?

It would make SWA more difficult to get in and out of. - If I am not on my bike on the trail then I am on the road with my bike or my car. The impact is the same to the SWA ingress and egress.

The existing trail is ok - oh come on, try using the trail.

It is dangerous - yes, mostly because of it's current condition but, how is the road less dangerous?

The improved trail will be more dangerous. - Since no plan exists to fix the trail, how can anyone make statements about an increase or reduction in hazards? But seriously, does anyone really believe that when a plan to improve the trail is created, a plan that makes the trail more dangerous will be approved?

There are alternatives. - No, the agreement for the money is specific, improve the trail or use the money for the benefit of Stanford (basketball courts, frisbee golf?).

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